Kate is one of a kind - friendly, caring, supportive, endlessly humorous and always keen for a new friend or a bit of fun! Within the short few days I have known Kate, it's evident her sole purpose is not only to help us enjoy our time in Europe whilst staying safe, but also to ensure we don't regret ANYTHING on this trip. And that she does, constantly providing refreshing reminders of what the options available are and gently but adventurously encouraging us to indulge in as many experiences as we possibly can.. She's like everyone's best friend, our positive subconscious, and our healthy dose of "just do it".
Kate's always making sure EVERYONE on this Contiki tour has as much fun as possible ! (Thanks Kate!)
Not one to waste any time, Kate takes advantage of the time on the bus to explain all the necessary (and the I-want-to-know) information for our adventure in France on our ride there.. Carefully detailing all the necessary tips and tricks - everything from transport/timetables to what pubs are best/busiest/cheapest to find a good drink (which I have come to discover is vital information to most people on Contiki tours).
But she also shares a lot of motivating, uplifting and inspiring little anecdotes and quotes that lift your spirits and give you an extra little push to help you jump out of your comfort zone right when you need it.. Three things Kate impresses upon us on the trip toward France:
1. Smile. A positive attitude and a smile can get you anywhere
even when you don't know the language
2. Be comfortable getting outside your comfort zone - that's where life's adventures start.
Immerse yourself in the cultures "they're not wrong, just different"
3. Just do it - #no regrets
And she was entirely right..
As well as good, early planning, a smile can help you get almost anywhere, wherever you may be! Not just in Paris! And at the very least, it helps to make those around you a little brighter in spirit, more open and friendly in return to you, and your simple smile or caring gesture might just make their day.. And there isn't much in this world that feels as good as turning someone's day around or sharing some happiness throughout the place!
Every destination that isn't familiar has the potential to be confronting, make us uneasy, test our resilience and force us out of our comfort zone and into a new experience. And that in itself feeds our curiosity, and gives us that sense of liberation, freedom, reckless abandonment and adventure, happiness and a little bit of crazy - all those things that make for those memories we will be remembering with smiles and laughter in decades to come.
Kate's recommended "to do list" for Paris included some new experiences certainly … no matter how unusual and unfamiliar they seemed: trying éscargot (snails), frog legs, crepes, etc - the French cuisine! Climbing the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, shopping down The Champs Elysées, walking under the Arc de Triomphe, catching the metro (underground train) etc - capturing the sights that only Paris has to offer!
For some, the list wasn't too overwhelming, outrageous or discomforting... But for others, a few of these things were actually incredibly daunting, even the thought of finding one's way around a new city was frighteneing. And Kate did her absolute best to ensure everyone engaged in and experienced as much as humanly possible - supporting each and every one of us to "do" Paris in a way to inevitably build a memorable and remarkable experience!
We are living to the hashtag #noregrets - as a new contiki group, who 24 hours ago were strangers, we are now collectively indulging and immersing ourselves in a whole array of different foods, places, cultures, language and experiences … We are certainly living to the hashtag #noregrets and are throwing ourselves into every possibility and opportunity that emerges ... Eating, partying and moving our way through Europe - irrespective of the costs and the calories (those two things we can worry about when we get back home Kate says). Because there is nothing worse than saying "I wish I had done this" or "I wish I had gone there"… Instead, we will be the people saying "I DID this" and "I went there" and "it was AWESOME!"
Contiki provides a solid foundation and the ultimate framework and support for being in the right location and mindset to do these things and to have the possibilities to truly LIVE. But on top of the regular, scheduled activities, Contiki also provides a whole list of other optional activities which are unique, traditional, cultural, thrilling, educational, overwhelming or just generally awesome! These activities are what makes a regular experience, an unforgettable moment. They are not compulsory, and do come at an extra cost, but most Contiki goers (emu's as our contiki likes to call ourselves!) do try some of these extra activities to make the most of the trip!
In Paris, we went to the Moulin Rouge! And i'm not being over dramatic when I say it was easily the best show I have ever seen!!! The glitz, glamour, glitter, feathers, costumes, jewels, lycra, boobs, bras, miniature horses, puppies, ventriloquists, gymnasts, paired roller skaters (craziest thing I have EVER seen!), dancers, a pool of pythons, and even some audience involvement..
It. Was. Amazing!!!
Girls AND boys! I cannot recommend this show any more to you! There is even a large air vent just outside the famous Red Windmill Moulin Rouge building upon which you can experience your own Marilyn Monroe moment afterwards!! And for those wishing to continue o into the night with the fun and good company, there is nearby an Irish Pub (apparently unrivalled), if you would like a drink whilst in the red light district of Paris afterwards. (PS. The Moulin Rouge girls are known to head there for a post-show drink also).
Paris, you unlocked my heart with your intricate and detailed, delicate beauty as well as your loud, colourful extravagance.. Everything from the melodic language, the exquisite architecture, the characters, the culture, the theatre, the endless pastries and delicious sweets, to the fair weather, the pace of a living city and the limitless exploring that is possible. I could bask in your heart and revel in your spirit forever!! ..it's inevitable I will return to your touch.
Bring on Switzerland.. Lucerne, see you soon!
Love and light,