|Whitewater rafting time!|
In case you missed my first installment of my Contiki trip down memory lane, I’m
commiserating celebrating the fact its been 10 years since this most magical travel time, and reliving my memoirs through my blog. Hence it is time for our Assault on Austria and an eerie presence in Venice…
A chilly Monday morning greeted us as we departed Lucerne, bound for Innsbruck, Austria. And the chill did not lie in the weather alone – for many the cold was heightened with the gnawing feeling of dread that stirred uncomfortably in the respective stomachs of some. Ah, yes. The day for white water rafting had arrived…
|Wrestling the waterways with my gal pals|
Unfavourable weather conditions had as well done nothing to placate the nervous few who had unwillingly singed up either out of some false sense of bravery, or askew responsibility (yes, big sister, that means you!) but I can tell you that from Day One I knew I was going to be on that raft with or without my sis Sheree.
And I was not to be disappointed! What a thrilling experience to crash through tumultuous rapids at high speed, the sounds of eight girls petrified shrieks and screams of sheer joy echoing around us as we conquered swell after swell without the loss of even one person overboard!! Not bad when you consider we were the only all girl raft out there tackling the swells, and I must say that this watery adventure was indeed one of the main highlights of Contiki for me.
To counteract the cold conditions of rafting in Austria, the consumption of a few local drops of Schnapps was in order to thaw the ice from our bones that evening. And if you are ever in the Innsbruck vicinity, may I suggest you do not mix combinations of Pear and Apple Schnapps, Baileys, with a dash of Lemonade as you will find yourself with one horrendous hangover if you are lucky enough to be able to pry your eyes open the next morning! I should have taken it as a sign when I clumsily dropped my freshly purchased bottle of said Schnapps, wanting to weep as it smashed to smithereens at my feet. It would appear awkwardly trying to grasp alcohol in one hand and manoeuvre my oversized backpack into place is a skill I am yet to master on my travels… Luckily (unluckily?) my fellow Contikians generously offered to share their wares…
|A “shot” shot!|
Alternatively, I can vouch that vanilla schnapps was divine, as was the Glacier shot concoction (while not sure exactly what it entailed) but the feeling of it practically burning all the way down my throat certainly went well in adjusting my body temperature!
Tuesday was soon upon us, and myself and fellow under the weather Contiki pals farewelled the Germanic countries en route for our five days and four nights assault on Italy. Venice was our first stop and blissfully, for the first time since we had left London, the brilliant sunshine had decided to make a belated appearance. We witnessed a glass blowing demonstration and then found ourselves let loose among the winding and often confusing little lanes that combine to be Venice.
|The breathtaking St.Marks Basilica|
St Marks Basilica was truly amazing and once inside I was overcome with the most bizarre feeling of peace, like nothing I can accurately explain. Strange as it sounds, I felt as if a familiar presence of a loved one lost years before had settled on my shoulder… As if my Uncle Trevor, who passed away when I was seven, had hovered amongst the masses, waiting for me to visit this holy spot. I lit a candle for him, and began a tradition that I’d then carry out in every sacred Basilica or Chapel I crossed paths with in my entire travels.
We also wandered through St Marks Square, fending of the masses of pigeons who call this place home, and along the waterfront, often ducking out of the grasp of the many merchants who attempted to lure unsuspecting tourists into parting with their cash for imitation Pradas.
|Cruising the Venetian Canals|
And what trip to Venice would be complete without indulging in a Gondola ride through the canals? Sure, given I was sharing my experience with a group of girls meant I missed out on the romance factor but it was still amazing to soak up something so unusual for me, that to Venetians is just a way of life.
Exhausted, and still slightly hungover (or still VERY hungover if you were Sheree) we headed home late that evening, just as St Marks Square was beginning to flood, (something we were told it was prone to do, approximately 70 times a year) with the thought that all roads lead to Rome lulling us to sleep.