Saturday, June 23, 2012

Alberta's Heaven.... Banff

There are two sides of Alberta, there are prairies which aren't too exciting but then there are also the rocky mountains which are heaven. You can't help but sink inside when you see the Mountain view, it is just so goregous.
Leaving the Prairies behind, and Entering Heaven.
Now I have been to three of the national parks in Alberta. Waterton National Park, Jasper National Park and Banff National Park that i can cross off my bucket list officially.

Started out my journey at 7:30am - typed in the address of the Hotel i was suppose to go to for my interview and not long after my drive my GPS decided to go Flat on me. Stupid car's cigarette lighter had no power to it which would have been lovely to know before hand so i could have charged it the night before. But I was fine and actually knew where i was going without a map or somewhere telling me where to go. Good thing I am a born Albertan. But just in case i did purchase a Paper map, Yup i went back to those good old days where all you needed for a road trip was a map to see where and which way you were headed. I can't believe paper maps are still some what expensive, i thought they would have decreased in price due to the technical generation we are in now. $6 - do you think that is expensive or priced right for a paper map?

Also i had foursquare so I also used that as my Travel Journal to keep track of where I have been, wonderful tool foursquare is. - Rocky Mountain House - Caroline - Sundre - Cochrane - Ghost lake Village, Morley - Kananaskis County - Dead man's Flats, Banff - Canmore - Banff National Park Gate - Banff - BeaverTails - Banff Park Lodge - Nordegg.

I almost made it to banff on a one tank of gas but then i had to stop at a gas station on the side of Highway 1 from Morley the Ghost Lake Village turn off - which by the way it was the sketchiest gas station I have ever been to. Hold your purses ladies!

By then i was in the mountains and I keeping my eyes peeled for that Contiki coach - to be honest every coach that drove by i was looking. You get such a Rush of excitement that leaves you smiling for hours once you have spotted that Contiki Coach. Yes we have already established i am a contiki nut, I heart Contiki, but who doesn't.
Couldn't take a fast enough picture. Contiki!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Look what else I have spotted. Trafalgar :)
Now that I am in Banff, Which by the way it costs 9.80 for a day pass and that is good for all the national parks so if you plan on driving to all the national parks in one day but i recommend not to because there is a lot to see in just one national park. It was VERY busy little town and it is defiantly a tourist town, trying to find parking on the street which by the way is 2 hours max is very difficult. They also have paid parking garage but I wasn't there for that long so 2 hour parking was plenty. As i was making my second loop looking for a parking spot, guess what i spotted... Yupp Beaver Tails!!!!!!!!!! Oh my God i was ecstatic, My friends in ottawa was raving about them and i was not to lie getting a little jealous, i wanted to try a beaver tail. By then i had found a parking stall, and walked straight for those Beaver tails. 
I am Officially A Canadian, Eh! Haha
When you see a whole bunch of vehicles on both sides of the road that generally means tourists have spotted wildlife that they haven't seen before, so just slow down. And remember you are in Bear country. Black Bears are common to spot on the side of the highways and Mule Deer or Whitetail Deer. You may be able to spot a Elk or a Moose but it is not common on the side of the highways, but really in the National Parks there are a 50/50 chance of seeing every kind of animal if you keep your eyes peeled.
Where's the Black Beer?
 Where to Find:
Whitetail Deer  Mostly valley Bottoms.
Mule Deer Mostly valley Bottoms
Elk valley bottoms and open areas. Commonly sen around townsites.
Bighorn Sheep Near steep rocky terrain.
Mountain Goat Near steep rocky Terrain.
Moose Wet and marshy areas.
Wolf Mainly valley bottoms
Coyote Valley bottoms, well adapted to humans
Caribou Alpine and subalpine meadows. Threatened species. Only exist in Jasper and Mt. Revelstoke.
Red Squirrel Coniferous forests, scampering up trees.
Columbia Ground Squirrel meadows, roadsides and townsites in ground colonies.
Marmot Alpine and subalpine meadows, rock piles and scree slopes.

In the mountains the weather can be anything. It can be sunny and cloudy in one spot and Rain in another complete different spot. And there is no radio station reception so make sure you have that ipod or CDs or just enjoy the quiet and take in the scenery. The further deep you get into the mountains you will feel a chill in the temperature, no wonder these mountains can have snow on them all year around.
Mountain Top zoomed in.
What a great way to spend your Friday!!
Many more visits to come....

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Discovering Los Angeles with Contiki Holidays

1. Scenic Drive through the City.
  • Mann's Chinese Theater done See.... Johnny Depp and I are a match, I got to touch his Hands :) *stars in eyes* ... sigh!! haha!!!
  • the "Walk of Fame" done There is so many stars on the walk.....
  • Drive along famous Sunset Strip done
  • Visit Santa Monica & Venice Beach done  You either love or hate Venice Beach and be aware you will see people dealing drugs or smoking them. As soon as my Tour Manager mentioned that and I got off the bus, guess what i saw.... yup someone just smoking joint down the sidewalk. I wouldn't say I hate Venice beach because Hate is a strong word but I did not find that I loved it. It was dirty and it was a different atmosphere compared to the rest of the city. 
  • See Rodeo Drive and Melrose Avenue done
 2. Scenic walk through downtown.

Get an insiders look into what makes Los Angeles, well LA on a walking tour of downtown with "Mike the Poet." Very in depth walk of the historic of downtown Los Angeles and great way to see it and learn, hear what you are looking at. Afterwards the day is yours to explore. Either check out the new "L.A. Live" entertainment venue, visit the Grammy Museum or see more on an optional 'hop on hop off' tour of Los Angeles. 

  • Grammy Museum (Next Time)
  • Hop on Hop off Nice way to get around Los Angeles, besides the fact you have to wait for the bus and it can be while if you are there to catch the last bus of the day. Tip: Taxis are expensive and their hard to grab!!
  • Hollywood Behind the Scenes Tour (Next Time, but I do not remember this being an option on my Tour)
  • Movie Star's Homes tour Not worth the money. Only home we were able to see visibly was Courtney Cox & David Arquette's Home. Other than that the home's weren't that fabulous on the outside - I am sure they are much more glamorous inside. They should run tours that go insides their homes, now that would be better. Instead of just seeing Beckham's Chimney and Jennifer Aniston's. Beverly Hill's is just another neighbourhood in the city of Los Angeles. Oh and do not get me started on Orlando Bloom's house. Oh my word - those people are paranoid!!! But again I can see why they would be and i probably would be to, to keep the public from prying into my life.
  • Universal Studios 1Day/1Park Tip: Get to the park as soon as it opens and make your way to the ticket line to purchase a 'Front of the Line' pass - it is well worth the money because once that park gets busy in the afternoon you'd be waiting in the rides line up's for a very long time. Jurassic Park ride was the best - probably because you got soaked at the end of the ride and that helped being a HOT summer day in Los Angeles. My favorite part was the Universal Studio Lot Tour. Oh man that Lot is huge!!! They film everything there. Got to go on the Desperate Housewife set :), that was cool!!! Only place where you can go from New York City to the Wild West in matter of seconds!!! 
  • Disneyland Transfer with Park Hopper Tip: do not miss the shuttle back to the hotel. Or you will be spending $100 for a taxi to get you back.
  • Disneyland Transfer with Pick a Park
  • Hollywood Pub Crawl The most fun you will ever have on your Contiki Tour is on this Pub Crawl that is included. There are four bar stops, where the last stop is the most fabulous nightclub you will ever go to in your life. I felt like a Hollywood star that night on my Birthday being at this club - 'Drai's Hollywood.' The view from the rooftop club is glamorous and the Pool... There is so much to say so lets just say its definitely Hollywood's Hotspot!!  
Extra Tidbits to do in Los Angeles: 

  • Tonight show with Jay Leno Greatest birthday present to myself, free tickets to the taping of Jay Leno. July 29, 2011 taping with Emma Stone. We were sitting right across from the band. It's a small studio - looks bigger on TV, but again what doesn't look bigger on TV, Everything!!!
  • Rent a Car Easiest cheapest way to get around the City of Los Angeles. Even though you make think buying gas is not cheap - it is well worth it. Compared to taking taxis and the hop on hop off tour bus. This way you can the flexibility to go and come where ever you please.
  • Newport Beach Oh.... I could live there!!! Fabulous. That is all I have to say!!!
  • Pasadena Tunnels (Next time)
  • Beer Pong in Glendora with Friends <3 - drinking all that beer at the end of your Contiki tour is a lot, i was exhausted after my tour and that beer did not help. It just made me crash and sleep like a rock!! But i still found time to go to the Contiki offices in Anaheim!!!
  • Griffith Observatory If you are into space science then this is a must stop for you, Pretty cool!!! And great views of Los Angeles. They have telescopes out that allow you to see specific plants, etc depending on the night.
  • Hollywood Sign Not as fabulous as i thought it would be. It is just a sign that reads Hollywood on a mountain, where it used to read 'Hollywood Land.'
I was not sure why I did another four day tour because it is never long enough but i am glad i did this tour because it really showed me the city of Los Angeles. To be honest, I do not see the big deal, big hype over this city. Yes, it is where all the "Hollywood Stars" live but really that is all the hype the city has. I wouldn't rush back to see Los Angeles now that I have had a in depth visit with Contiki Holidays. Time to see what the hype is about in other parts of the world ;)!!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Discovering San Francisco with Contiki Holidays

Ever imagined what the Gold coast was like without the craziness, busyness of Los Angeles? December is cold in San Francisco at this time of year so make sure you bring warm clothes and also it is very busy during the holiday season so please be aware that you may have to be flexible if need to juggle/change the itinerary schedule. 

I, being from Canada did not find it that cold - it was nice 'sweater weather'! walking down the street i have had a few questions like "arent you cold." Nope you should live where i live then you would know what cold is haha. San Francisco is a fabulous city! highly recommend visiting.

Day One: Meet up with your Tour Manager in the Hotel Lobby and sign in. Climb onto the bus and tour the City of San Francisco. Drive by Ocean beach through Central Park of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park. Ever watched the TV Series Full House? You'll love the next stop. The Seven famous houses in San Francisco, and no you will not find the Tanner's house - sorry to disappoint some of you. Walk the very long bridge, The Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County. Drive the rolling hills of San Francisco through to Little Italy where you will stop for lunch. Afterwards it will be your free time to wander the streets of San Francisco. Walk to Pier 39, Shop, Coit Tower, Lombard Street and Fishermans Wharf.

Day Two: Start your day early with a Tour of Alcatraz, front of line passes. Take the walking guided tour through Alcatraz with your headset and wander the prison walls and see how the other half lived. Could you imagine being locked away on an island with knowing the City of San Francisco was right there? It would be tough. Make sure you do not miss the boat back to the mainland or you will be spending the night on Alcatraz island. After you make your way back to the mainland - grab a quick bite to eat before the "San Francisco Workout" Bike and Roll. Either enjoy a meal at IN N' OUT Burger or Subway that is located minutes from Bike and Roll. Start off with a small hill then go big. Yeah half of us walked the Big hill half way up, then Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge which is a lot of work with that wind blowing. On the other side you can either take the Ferry back or you can be adventurous and Bike back.

Then Later in the Evening watch fireworks explode over the spectacular "City by the Bay" & Ring in the New Year on the included Dinner party cruise with an open bar and dance the night away. 

Day Three: Go out for breakfast with the group and then either ride on a historic cable car, shopping in trendy Union Square, feeling the hippie vibe in Haight-Ashbury or chill out with great views from Golden Gate Park. It is your day to explore the City.

Day Four: Say farewell to your new friends.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Trevi Fountain - coin or no coin?

It has been said that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain you are bound to return.

I had an opportunity to go back to Italy with contiki but i was persuaded into doing Spanish spree because I have already seen and been to Italy and the other stops on the particular tour I originally picked.

And plus I like to explore different countries, places instead of going back to the same old place over and over again. Keep that mind wide open for new opportunities and possibilities. But that does not mean I will never return, when the time is right I will return but it will not because I did not throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain.

Scams to watch out for when in Rome The String scam, where they come up to you and place a bracelet around your wrist and leaving a string of the bracelet still attached to them so you can’t walk away so you are more obligated to pay for it. My one tip with this, carry small euro change with you in the pocket so you can pretend this is all that you have on you.

Gelato only the best ice cream in the entire world and you think you already have a tough decision on which ice cream to buy at the grocery store, you have not yet been to Rome because it is 10x tougher., there is so many more choices. Oh and a little fun fact, did you know you can get gelato at early in the morning? Not a lie it is true.

Do not sleep with your room window open It was quite warm and we had left the window open for allowing breeze to flow through. Yeah there is only an hour maybe two break in traffic. It is similar to New York City; you know that city that never sleeps.

Italian DVDs You might want to pick up some Italian movies to bring back home so you can watch movies in Italian on those rainy evenings. Think twice before doing so, they have a completely different region code and unless you plan on watching the movies on your computer do not stock up with too many.

Pasta, Pasta and Pasta you will eat a lot of pasta so I hope you love it. I have ate Pasta at restaurants which was delicious and then some more Pasta at the Family’s, which was more delicious than the restaurants.

Pizza they literally put EVERYTHING on their pizzas and I mean everything. Ever seen French fries and hotdogs on pizza? You will in Italy.

Hours of Operation If you are arriving into Rome at 4 o’clock, it is best to go to the local grocery store down from your accommodations for a bite to eat because you will not find any restaurants open for dinner at that hour, Not until about 8 o’clock.

Crossing the street CAUTION defiantly look both ways before crossing and best to cross when there is a big crowd that way the vehicles have to stop. It will be hard to cross with just the two of you, but it can be done it will just be a little tougher. Rome drivers are insane!


When in Rome why not witness a drug bust. Well that is actually what I did get to see across from my accommodations. My mother and I were waiting for my Brother and Aunt when this whole shindig unfolded. The gentleman came to a screeching stop and threw the drugs underneath the car so when the Police got a hold of him he did not have it on him. The officer moved his vehicle and found it laying on the ground, by the looks of it he wanted to punch the guy and yelled something in Italian, but not speaking the language I did not understand and only went off emotions. What a way to end my visit to Rome, Right?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Domingo de aventura

Exploring in your backyard and still learning a little piece of history is the fun part.You'll never know what you will find or see, you may think you know the area but be careful it might shock you with what you find. Explore with an open mind.

Can you believe it and this is only an hour outside the capital of Alberta and yet you can not feel the city atmosphere at all. It is like two different worlds.

I just felt like going for a little hike on this partly cloudy Sunday after running errands. As everyone was packing up their trailer and heading back home for the day, my adventures and fun was just beginning.

First it started with driving down a road the way i always go towards Evansburg and i was like what is over there down that road, so i followed it. I passed a golf course, yet another one if i may add. And after that it was only peoples acreage after acreage and then,

Well I better turn around or @TravelJenB might see me in Dawson City lol! #CuriousSunday 

Just right inside the provincial park of Pembina there are four concrete pillars and they are the remains of which there was a railway bridge back in the 1913 by the Canadian Northern Railway. Where the settlement of the Pembina river area coincided with the extension of two railways - The Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian North.

Both companies decided to build railways from Edmonton to the pacific coast via the yellowhead trail. the Grand Trunk Pacific reached the Pembina first in 1910 and chose the easiest route across the river, and then Canadian Northern Railway reached the river in 1913 and spent one year building a bridge across the Pembina River.

The Duplications of the two railways along the river proved inefficient and forced both companies to default in 1917. Where Later in 1922 the bridge built by the Canadian Northern Railway was dismantled but only to leave the four concrete pillars as a historical remainder of the railway race.

Walked as far as i could along side the river - boy the water level has gone up. Tubing on this river in the summer time would be so fun. 


No matter how far one is from one another there is always a reason to smile!! Like when I smile every time he sends me a email. We'll call him Chuck for this blog. 

That is an issue of doing a very short Contiki tour - you feel rushed to see everything the city has to offer and you do not get the time to visit and hang out with many people from the Tour Group before one leaves to go back home or onwards to another tour. It wasn't until the end of the tour when we got back to London when Chuck and I hit it off. The remaining Tour who came back to London went for end of tour drinks at the London Pub outside the Royal National.

We started playing drinking games. But before that Chuck and I just sat in the corner by ourselves just having a conversation. Then one of our Tour Friend came over okay you guys have been over here talking a lot, it is time to kiss.

That was the first warning. 

After we played two or three different drinking games. The bar was closing so we had to move over to the hotel bar where we continued having our conversation, Chuck and I. And then she came back over and wouldn't leave until we did kiss this time.

Friday, June 08, 2012

What life could have been

Arrived at work this afternoon and I was asked "Did you get Married?" I was like uh I hope not, I am not done traveling and living my life to settle down.

There used to be another Katelyn working at the Front Desk before I and many guests get me confused for her, as i always have to tell them uh nope that was not me, another Katelyn.

But, now that made me think on how much my life would have been if I had said Yes to my guy friend who at the time lived in Spain when i was twenty years old, now he lives in Amsterdam. Parts of me wanted to say yes at the time but even now I couldn't have imaged where I would be or how I would be If i had moved to Spain and eloped with him. I guess it will be one of those life's secrets in ones past that one will never know......

Questions we will never know the answer too....
  • Would i be living in Europe or would he have moved to Canada?
  • Would I have traveled Contiki earlier? 
  • Would I have been Happy?
  • Would I have finished my Marketing Diploma? 
  • Would I have been better off?
  • Why didn't I say yes?
  • Would I have been fluent in Spanish?
  • Would I have become a different person?
You can't read much into something in your past too much, you can dwell upon it for a day and just ponder.. What if! but then tomorrow you have to move on or you might miss out on something great in your present or possibly your future.

I know back then i was still much of a child back then when he asked me... but I do not know, maybe it would have helped me grow up faster?! I know this far, that I never saw the light at the end of the tunnel back then, until now. It wasn't until I started traveling with Contiki that i started seeing that light at the end of the tunnel and life became that much more clearer and I knew what i wanted! ..... Australia!

Funny how that much time what it had done and where i was, to where and whom i have become. amazing! And yet i am still moving forward to who knows where......

Cheers Xo

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Today I added some Bounce into my Life!

Today as i was driving into Stony Plain running errands before work, 102.3 Now Radio was playing odd ball of songs that they do not normally play. It was way scattered and was making my head spin and to be honest not enjoyable to listen to because they were jumping all around the place. It was like the Radio Station has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).

It was too much for me to handle so I switched to 91.7 The Bounce for some more upbeat music, for being such a gloomy Tuesday afternoon. And I found myself dancing in the car again, as I once was when i was listening to 102.3 Now Radio but the past few weeks I have not found myself dancing in the car to Now's music. They have lost their Wow factor.

As of 2 o'clock 102.3 Now Radio had lost a Now Family member and 91.7 The Bounce had gained a listener. I ended up being in a better mood after listening to 91.7 The Bounce for just a couple hours. They put the Bounce back into my life, That Now Radio had taken away.

The Bounce's music is more upbeat and actually has a rotation to play through, not like 102.3 Now Radio how they, I have noticed have been playing a lot of the same songs over and over again because the Now family listeners are requesting the same songs over and over again. I may be wrong but that is just what I have been hearing. And it was getting tiresome so I did something about it, once i turned that channel on the radio I felt refreshed and smiling again!

I need a break from the Now Family, and I need some Bounce in my life! "Put some Bounce into your Life and Listen to 91.7 The Bounce today"

Monday, June 04, 2012

Hollywood Rooftop, Drais

Everyone loves to party in style right? Not only are you partying at one of the hottest clubs with a swimming pool and pole dancing but you also get a magnificent view of Hollywood, Los Angeles and you just might see a celeb spotting.

Upscale fashionable required where all ages are welcome before 10pm nightly. After 10pm Enjoy a drink inside sitting at a booth mingling with your friends while watching pole dancing or dancing with your friends.

Or chill outside on the pool deck and without having to walk back inside to grab a drink, there is a bar outside on the pool deck. So Enjoy! 

Then grab that drink and over look the magnificent view of Hollywood - it's marvelous! I really felt like a VIP that night. Contiki Holidays have your hookups.

Where is this Fabulous nightclub you ask?  
6250 Hollywood Blvd
12th Fl

Los Angeles, CA 90028
Neighbourhood: Hollywood

And for more Information:

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Why I Didnt Fall In Love With Paris

Driving into Paris on the contiki coach was magnificent, seeing the Eiffel tower defiantly not in Kansas anymore. I am not saying I do not like Paris but i did not feel what people are suppose to feel when they visit Paris, it was a different experience that is hard to explain but never the less has defiantly have taken into consideration of how I live my life, always moving forward. As I say every time I visit Europe it changes me, I do not know how but it changes my outlook, perspective and i am more sure of who i am after each visit from Europe.

Safety. I did not feel comfortable walking around the city always cautious on how i was carrying my bag. As the first night we were touring around the city, and the bus dropped us off to have dinner and whoever wanted to go back to the hotel was to meet at a specific spot to get back onto the coach or continue exploring Paris and take a taxi back to the Hotel. Some of us went back onto the bus and as we were driving onwards back to the Hotel, we happened to see a mugging or fight. Not to sure what it was but by the looks of something, one guy was trying to take another gentlemen fanny pouch of some sort and he was getting mad, and the third guy was trying to hold him back.

Weather. Do not go to Paris in December/January it is rainy and cold and nothing is open New Years Day so not much for you to do except for walking the hallways of the Louvre, which is not a bad thing because that place you can take two days and still not see everything - it is defiantly the place of art :), or walk the streets of Paris or do people watching at a local cafe.

Time. The length of time i was in Paris was short. Arrived December 29 and left January 2. I am sure if i have been in Paris longer and actually got to see and spend some time I would have enjoyed Paris much more, Not saying that I did not enjoy Paris. Just the fact that it was too short. Although I feel i saw more of London then i did of Paris and i was in London for shorter if not the same amount of time. You defiantly need 5+ days in any destination you travel to.

Getting around. Especially from the Contiki hotel we stayed at, to get into Paris. It just seemed quite far. Until you get into Paris, for example we exited the Louvre and planned on finding the Metro to take us to Notre Dame but instead it turned out to be a few blocks north, which was nice that it was semi close by. The Metro was a little bit harder to figure out, which track to take to get us to this destination and so forth. I do not know why but I did not feel safe riding the Metro in Paris.

Language barrier. I had forgotten my translation, lonely planet french book at home so I did not have that with me. Which if i did have so i would have felt more comfortable communicating and be more willing to try. I had not taken a French lesson since elementary school, even I had burrowed some french discs from the library and listened to them each and every day was still not the right approach to learning a new language.

Beggars. Especially watch out for the deaf people that try and come up to you to ask for money. Oh my gosh, i have not seen that many Vendors in Paris since my trip to Italy and still then I think Paris has Italy beaten for how many vendors they have. And most of the Vendors are ripping you off. Best bet is to buy your souvenirs in a store on the streets of Paris - that is how i bought my Key Chain Eiffel Tower, for 0.25 Euros. Watch out for the Gold Ring & String Ring Scam... especially on Montmatre & Champs de Mars.

Gold Ring Scam: a quick and simple summary; A Girl drops a fake gold ring in front of a tourist and tries to persuade him/her to buy it for far more than it is worth. 

Alone. Would have been nice to have someone to share New years in Paris with. Although it did help having Doug, a previous Contiki friend from a previous tour there. It is tough traveling alone and I give myself a lot of props traveling around the globe by myself meeting strangers that soon become friends, Thanks Contiki Holidays for making it easier to travel by one self.

Groups were separated. There were two buses with 50 people on each bus and there were a few people that i had met few months prior on facebook that i have only got to meet one day prior to the tour in London. It would have been nice to have been in the same hotel at least or close to.Just would have been more fun to have more people to share the experience of Paris with and get lost walking the streets with.