Monday, October 31, 2011

My year with Contiki

Taking that year off from Post Secondary was a very good decision. Although that Travel Bug bites hard!

I didn't pack my bag, quit my job and head off to Europe to backpack, But I did travel with adventure. Traveling with Contiki Holidays is an life time adventure. You see and do such amazing things that you normally get a chance to do, and you meet so many awesome, wonderful people through Contiki and while On tour - you know who you are!

First Trip, (Dec 2010/Jan 2011) only six months to save up... I had booked my very first Contiki Holiday - San Francisco New Years in July of 2010. To be honest i was nervous, not knowing what to expect but yet at the same time super stoked and excited.
With a Contiki Holiday - you instantly become friends, like one big family. (Alex, Corey, Brooke, Myself, Robb, Cameron and our Fabulous Tour Manager Monte). Which is what Contiki is, one big family! From biking the hills of San Francisco, Ferry ride over to Alcatraz, going IN n' OUT Burger, walking down Market Street, Pier 39, Walking the Golden Gate Bridge and Biking It to Ending the First Contiki Experience on a Dinner Cruise on the San Francisco Bay watching some pretty fabulous fireworks.

As many of us do, we have major contiki withdrawals after we return home. One way to fix it, book that next Contiki as soon as possible. Another way to help ease that withdrawal is attend a Contiki Party, even if that means to drive 3 hours to attend - it's well worth it!

My first Contiki Party: VIP Euro Bash (February 2011)- It was great meeting you all and thanks for a great time! hugs xo

Then (April 2011) my second Contiki Party - Yup i drove another 3 hours... Contiki Suitcase Party at Hudsons Taphouse downtown Calgary. What can i say, I was on my way to become a Contiki Champion!

My first contiki reunion with Trina....  (April 2011)

My Second Tour, (July 2011) This was quite a decision making process on what I would be doing for my next tour, but i knew if i wanted to do two more tours this year i couldn't have afforded Sydney New Years just yet, so i settled with LA Explorer but made sure it landed on my Birthday! Since Contiki does know how to party, thought it was a good decision - Pub Crawl even landed on my Birthday ;) bonus!
Drai's Hollywood the last stop on the Pub Crawl, OH MY GOSH! Talk about Hollywood style and for my 24th Birthday. If it was not for Contiki I would not have been partying Hollywood Style. Rooftop overlooking Hollywood with a pool, pole dancing, outside private sittings.
Favorite part of the Tour was - Universal Studios Studio Lot Tour. I had no idea that Movie Lot was huge! They do everything there.

Explorer Tours - I defiantly recommend - they really show you the city inside and out.

My second Contiki reunion with Brooke...
(July 2011)

then not even a month home, My third Contiki reunion with Richo in Jasper..... (August 2011)

Although there was no Contiki Party awaiting my return but Contiki meetups with some fabulous people :) and some first time meetings are just as fabulous. You know who you are!

Third Contiki of the year.... Paris for New Years! (Dec 2011/Jan 2012) You know when you are in Paris when you see the Eiffel Tower from the Contiki Coach upon entering the City. I do not know where to begin. Beyond Excited. Started in London England, Where i finally got to set foot into the famous Contiki Basement. It was pretty exciting ;)! Even though I did not get any fireworks for New Years, It did not need fireworks - It was Paris for crying out loud - that is a pretty big firework if you ask me. I even got to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle up at night <3 goregous. Some Highlights from the Tour: Musee Du Perfum, The Lourve, River Cruise on the Seine, Eiffel Tower. Dinner with Contiki I tried escargot - When in Paris! Then Moulin Rouge Carbaret Show. You can see the Eiffel Tower from every angle you go within Paris.

Summary: I started the year in San Francisco and Ended it in Paris, France - what a world wind it was! Meeting a lot of great people along the way from all over the world, from England, South Africa down to Brazil up to North America over to Australia and New Zealand.

7 things to do in San Francisco

It feels just like yesterday that i started the year off in San Francisco.... 

1. Walk the Golden Gate Bridge
Okay this is a MUST do even if you have to take a taxi straight to your hotel, drop your luggage and head out right away. Although it is a not short walk but the view from the middle of the bridge is gorgeous. Just a suggestion, do not press the little round red button on the yellow boxes. They are there for people thinking about committing suicide, and you will notice they are only on the right side of the bridge that's facing the city. December 30, 2010 is when i took my first walk across the Bridge - the Bus dropped the group off on San Francisco side of the bridge and walked across into Marin County.

2. Golden Gate Park
Similar to New York City Central Park but 20% larger. A large urban park consisting of 1017 acres of public grounds. With 13 million visitors annually, Golden Gate park is the third most visited city park in the United States after Central Park in New York and Lincoln Park in Chicago. This windmill in the picture above was built in 1913 and was used to pump water throughout the park, the blades shown were onced covered canvas sails.

3. Smugglers Cove
The neatest place to grab a drink, to chill and hang out with your friends. Most drinks come in a skull. Located 650 Gough Street, Just a 15 minute walk from Hotel Whitcomb.

4. Alcatraz
A lot of history are inside these walls, They show a short video clip at the beginning a brief history of the place right when you walk in and then from there you grab your self guided radio and headphones and work at your own pace. Only way to and from the island, by ferry and there are only four during the day so make sure you do not miss it or you are stuck on there. And I wouldn't want to be stuck there - talk about creepy!

5. Public Transportation
Experience the city as a local. Taking a Bus at Rush hour, 4pm is an experience to have here in this fabulous city of San Francisco. The Buses are so crammed it is hard to move around and hard to get on and off the bus. Brooke and I got up from our seats heading to the exit and this little lady was pushing us more away from the doors so she could have our seat. Not very polite she was. We missed the stop we wanted to get off, it took 20 mins to go from one stop to the other. It was faster to get out and walk back to the hotel.

Taxi's are another fun ride to take in San Francisco and the cheapest. From the airport to the Hotel, only took 10-15 minutes. They weave in and out of traffic so fast. And being so fast when they go up and down the hills in San Francisco, Fun! The front tires actually leave the pavement.

6. Little Italy
The closest thing you will get to Italian Pizza without actually being in Italy. You will know when you are in Little Italy by the light posts - they will have a Italian Flag painted on them.

And after lunch we were left to explore San Francisco on our own, well everyone split into groups. Groups form quickly on a Contiki tour!

7. Bike and Roll San Francisco
Bike and Roll the streets of San Francisco and those hills are steep. At least our Tour guide for the Bike and Roll was nice and gave us a small hill to start but then the Second hill was a steep one and half of us, okay maybe a little more than half had to get off their bikes and walk the rest. We got to ride on the other side of the Bridge (Left side) so that helped less pedestrians walking and being in our way. That wind that day, whew! Not easy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The time I returned home from NYC

You hear people returning home from Disneyland/Disneyland with Mickey and Minny hats and disney bags full of souvenirs but you never hear or see what New York travelers come back with besides fabulous memories. I remember as it was yesterday, well almost. New York City - it was the best ever and where my love for travel really began.

From the airport to downtown Manhattan we took the Subway and the Bus, why take a taxi when there is public transportation. Public Transportation allows you to experience life the local way. Which took us right through Harlem. Yes, the neighbourhood everyone warns you not to go or becareful in. But truly everyone was friendly and was willing to help us. So what i am saying, do not let others scare you from visiting Harlem.

It was busy times touring the city that never sleeps - our days would start at 9am and end at 2am. There is always something to do and see. Time Square, Central Park, Trump Tower, Fashion District, Financial District, 9/11 memorial site, Empire State Building.

I am even proud to say I got to visit the old Yankee stadium before they tore it down to build the new stadium - I got to see and walk through history of the Yankees. Saw Derek Jeter's locker, sat where the team sat during their games, and walked the field. It was a marvelous day and one that i will never forget.

Returning home in the airport I must have gotten many looks, believe it or not i was all decked out in my Yankee attire - Yankee Jersey, Yankee Visor, Yankee Flag. So you can imagine what i looked like - but I did not care! I was a Yankee fan. I loved NYC.

I arrived a tourist, and left a traveler. Oh and a Yankee Fan!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Top 5's Best to do in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles the city of angels, La La Land, also known as Hollywood and the place where all your dreams come true. It is defiantly one of those places you need to see just once, just so you can say you have been.

#1 City Hall- Walk up to the observation level that is open the public on the 27th floor to see the marvelous views of Los Angeles Downtown. Closed on Sundays. While you are downtown, take a walking tour. Angels Flight, Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA Live, Staples Center, (to name a few).

Fun Fact: Walt Disney Concert Hall -  Some residents of neighboring condominums complained about the glare caused by sunlight that reflected off the convave sections stainless steel, matte finish walls to a parabolic mirror.

#2 Santa Monica Beach - one of the most famous beaches in the area and one of the most busiests. It has the Pier with a restaurant, mini amusement park, third street promenade is one block away and is considered to be a premier shopping and dining location. Has stores for everyone!

Fun Fact: Third Street Promenade is approximately Three blocks long.

#3 Hollywood Walk of Fame & Chinese Theatre - Try and find that favorite actor of yours (it is not as easy as you may think) from Mickey Mouse to Adam Sandler or see which actor has the same size feet and hands as you.

Fun Fact: only the actors that have thad heir movies shown at the Chinese Theatre gets their hand printed in the sidewalk in front. The new addition to the family, was Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe this summer 2011.

#4 Universal Studios lot Tour - See where they make all the movies that we love to watch so much. Might be able to watch some demostrations, see some vintage cars, Go on set of the desperate housewifes, and much much more.The Lot is much bigger than you'll think.

Fun Fact: They've had eight fires over the course of it's life and they had to build the buildings higher after the eighth fire to cover the mountains in the background.

#5 SixFlags - although Disneyland is not to far away i would still recommend SixFlags. The Extreme Rollercoasters are the best. Make sure you carry your park map or you'll get lost. And make sure you pack A LOT of water and stay hydrated through out the day, as it's in the desert.

Fun Fact: worlds largest amusement park and maintains 14 properties through the north america and has hosted 23.9 million guests.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Drai's Hollywood

Now it had taken me two months to track down the name of this Amazing Nightclub I went to in Hollywood, where I had a privilege to finish my birthday celebrations at - It was well worth the wait!

What makes this Nightclub so amazing, well..... Very cool place... The best club in Hollywood, defiantly the place and scene to be at in Hollywood. Atmosphere is great! The View is a Plus and one of the best views of the City. (My Review) 

Located: Drai's Hollywood located - 6250 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028-5325, United States. 

Dari's Hollywood Pool 
requires a Upscale Fashionable Beachwear meaning no jeans, basketball shorts, boots, inappropriate athletic wear or swim wear.

(picture left)  Private booths, swimming pool, with an amazing views of Hollywood and a large crowd with fine tunes.

Defiantly up there for THE Hollywood Nightclub.

amazing view of Hollywood, Los Angeles. Rooftop. couldn't have asked for anything better for my birthday celebrations in Hollywood!

It will be hard to top this, but it will be fun trying. defiantly on my tops.

Dari's Hollywood Nightclub
required attire is Upscale fashionable - good thing i was wearing my birthday dress!

Here visit the Nightclub in a 360 degree view:

(picture right) dance floor

Our Hollywood Pub Crawl chauffeurs left us here as this was the fourth and final stop on the Pub Crawl. Contiki Holidays knows how to give their Passengers a good time by taking us to the amazing places, - Especially on ones Birthday!  <3 

(Picture above) by the staircases two booths over was were we were sitting on the steps in front. Taking photos of everyone 'Planking' - No lie, we were planking by the pool (The lying down game).

Now skim across the photo to the other side, now here is the great viewpoint to see Hollywood, Los Angeles city view!

If you can't make it to Hollywood, Los Angeles do not worry because there is a Drais After-Hours Las Vegas.