Terracotta tiles sheltering Tuscan-coloured houses, lining endless cobblestone streets. Black pebbled beaches, sparkling cyan waters, infinite blue skies and a thriving art scene. Architecture designed with detail and intricacy, vibrant gelato to satisfy both the eye and the tummy, buzzing nightlife and limitless sights and streets to explore.
One of the most beautiful places in the entire world ... Côte d’Azur’s and its capital – Nice.
Entering the French Riviera, driving down the curvaceous cliffsides, surrounded by the homes, cars and views of the rich and famous, was no less than breathtaking. A smile formed from ear to ear, and an instant sense of surreal contentment overwhelmed my body, warming my soul and filling with my lungs with freedom...
This trip, I experienced Nice Contiki-style. Now while Contiki is one of the most popular and well-known brands for package travel for young people, in recent years it has been working to shift that stereotypical perception of Contiki that it is only about drinking and partying. So throw someone like me in the mix and you can see that Contiki can also be about fitness, forging friendships, food and unforgettable fun experiences. The FUN factor hasn’t changed at all.
I have had so many people ask me whilst I was in Europe and since I have been back, how my experience with Contiki was, considering I don't drink… I don’t really enjoy the taste of alcohol, so I will never have a drink just for the sake of “drinking”, or for fun. I have never needed alcohol as an excuse to have fun.. or act silly.. or be clumsy.. or to dance badly.. or to make bad decisions.. I can and do all that even if I only drink water! I do think I was the only one on the trip who didn’t drink at all... but there was definitely every night always one or two or even a handful of others who would decide to have a night off also so I was always in good company!
The human body can only handle so much – it needs rest and recovery from a big night or it rapidly burns out. Some were learning this the hard way, yes. As you can imagine, there were a dozen or so party-positive people who were always on the look out for another bar, beer or an excuse to drink.. These people seemed to be enjoying themselves a lot! But I am not so confident they will remember much about their trip when they return home and sober up!
But that the Contiki experience offers so much more than that was reinforced when one traveller stood up on “self introduction day” and said they had been on this exact Contiki tour before, but had partied to excess the whole time and couldn’t remember anything other than that they had a blast! She was doing Contiki again so she could do it a little differently this time and take in as much of her surroundings and experiences as well as have a memorably fun time – that’s what I call balance.
There was also another large group of people who were predominantly on Contiki for the experience, friendships, sight seeing and exploring …These travellers would still go out every second night or so, but return at an appropriate hour so they could stock the following day up with adventuring! There are certainly a lot of different intentions and partying philosophies involved when it comes to Contiki tours, and no intention or expectation is any better than any other. As long as the soul is enjoying itself and having no regrets, then there really is no problem! “It’s not wrong, it’s just different” as Kate our Contiki leader liked to say…
And I found Contiki certainly caters for those differences.
I arrived in Nice and couldn’t wait to get to the beach and start exploring!
The first night in Nice took the form of a traditional all-inclusive (ie included in cost of Contiki tour) pre-dinner drinks and three-course dinner where the focus in “social” and “togetherness” - traditionally a rather large night for those who wish to indulge. I definitely ate a lot! After dinner, our Contiki leader, led the group to one of the rowdiest, funnest (is that an actual word ?!?) and most exciting clubs in Nice. It’s known for its promotion and acceptance of table-top dancing and became for some a night they’ll never remember and for others an experience they will remember forever.
And then back into the fun and adventuring the next day with sourcing fresh ice cream, climbing cliffs, soaking in the exquisite views of both charm and elegance, visiting perfumeries...
I only had two days in Nice and with Contiki, but I managed to fit so much in … But it is definitely a destination featuring on my Bucket List. I will for sure return!