Alas, all good things must come to an end. Even the great things like my Contiki tour.
I didn’t really plan this effectively because flying into Nashville, Tennessee (which is like my most favourite city in the world) should’ve been the time of my life. Due to my Post Contiki Depression (shortened to PCD), I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have.
Nashville was everything I pictured it to be. It really is a beautiful city and seeing it in person reminded me of why I loved this place so much.
So, funny story, the CMAs were on the night after I flew into Nashville but because I’m dopey af, I wasn’t aware of this until the day I left Sydney. Naturally, there were no tickets left, so I watched the CMAs from the comfort of my hotel room while the real thing happened a few minutes down the road from me. Thanks a lot, Country Music Association.
After settling into my room, I went across the road to get some dinner at a nice pub called the Tin Roof. The service there was lovely and the food wasn’t too bad either. What really amazed me, however, was when I looked up from my phone and casually saw Chris Young standing in front of me. I’ve been a big fan of his for who knows how long, and all I could muster up was a giggle. Or several giggles. Okay so I just sat there laughing as Chris Young spoke to some other people. He then walked past me and looked at me and right there was the perfect opportunity to strike and ask him for an autograph and/or a picture. But no. I kept staring with a stupid look on my face and laughed again. And then he had left the pub. And my opportunity had left me.
Oh, and they had this cute ass sign in the pub as well.
The next day, to deal with my PCD, I went shopping at the fancy mall in Green Hills. Sadness and a credit card does not equal great things. I bought more than I should have.
Thankfully, there was a Tiffany’s there and after some begging, they were ordering in my double chain charm bracelet to be delivered the day before I flew out. And with that, #Tiffanys has come to a peaceful rest.
After eating at the Cheesecake Factory, I watched The Intern at the cinemas (tickets were just under $10… that is outrageous!) which was a cute af movie. I returned to my room and sat in my PCD and sadness and went to bed at like 9.
I spent the day after to accomplish all my touristy goals: I went on a tour of the Grand Ole Opry which was absolutely amazing. We got to walk around backstage and even went through the artist’s entrance into the Opry AKA the entrance all the stars take when they come to perform. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing this tour was, and ot make it better, my tour guide was amazing. God bless her I can’t remember her name.
After the Opry I went to the Johnny Cash Museum, and if you know me well, you are aware that I lurrrrrve Johnny Cash, so this small museum blew my mind. I thought I knew everything about the Man in Black but this taught me a lot about my country idol. DID YOU KNOW that he voiced the coyote in that Simpsons episode where Homer’s wiggin’ out and he’s sitting on top of a pyramid looking for his spirit guide which turns out to be a coyote which turns out to be Johnny Cash? Mindblowing.
A cheese pizza and cheesy garlic bread slices later, I waltzed on over to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which was a bit different than I thought it would be; notably, it was a lot more interactive and child friendly than I imagined it was. It was great to see so much country music culture in one building, and then standing in the physical Hall of Fame was ridic.
The day after was my final day in America, so naturally I spent most of it sulking about my holiday finishing. I went to another bar across the road from me for lunch called Two Bits, which turned out to be the greatest bar I’ve ever been to. Its a bar that has free arcade and console games inside and the staff there encourage you to play and get your game on as you eat and drink to your heart’s content. Umm, amazing, right?
I made a friend there who later invited me out for drinks and dinner. He paid for everything. And I gave him a fake name. I kind of feel bad, but at the same time, I don’t.
Oh, and I picked up my Tiffany’s bracelet. It’s beautiful. I have a love affair with it.
Free drinks and dinner ended my holiday and it was unfortunately time to head back home.
I won’t bore you with the details of my 28 hour travels back home (including the sweet old man sitting next to me on the plane who snored directly into my ear) but I will leave you with my final thoughts and shout outs to those who made my holiday as magical as it was.
Toni and Stacie: Thanks for breaking me into travelling and holding my hand as I got used to the wonders of airport security. I have been bitten by the travel bug and don’t plan on being home much anymore.
Tayla: Thank you for our drunken cousin night out. The D&M we had was one of the best I’ve ever had and I would not want to have that conversation with anyone else.
Brandon: My BFFL. Thank you for taking me all over Salt Lake to find my Edelman jersey, and thank you for being the devil on my shoulder and making me spend way more than I should have. And, also, thank you for being so understanding.
Jodie and Joey: My two first friends on Contiki! Thank you for being the first two to speak to me and make me feel comfortable. The times we had together were amazing, and if it weren’t for the nicknames we made, I wouldn’t have known who everyone was by the end of the trip. I’m glad you two don’t live too far away from me because I plan on hanging with you guys all the time. My holiday would not have been as great if I didn’t meet you guys.
Georgia: My bestie… what can I say? I broke down when I had to say bye to you because I was obviously closest to you and there was a reason to that. You are such a great person and I’m glad to have travelled with you for those 13 days. Thank you for being there to pick up the pieces for when I fell apart (twice) and thank you for your weird ass shoulder kisses and your antelope neck. I love you too Feddo.
Nate: Bae should really stand for “Best At Everything” when it comes to you because you’re so great at everything you do. Thank you for being my Contiki boyfriend and for warning off unwanted attention. And thank you for dancing with me in Dallas just so I felt included. You don’t know how much that meant to me. Love you always, my sexy awkward middle walk.
Hannah: My partner in crime. You’re just amazing. There’s nothing more to say. Your wit and sense of humour is as on point as your beautiful face. Thank you for all the good times we had together, and thank you for misreading the menu and ordering a salad wedge and providing me with the best memory I have of my holiday. See you at the inaugural Mac and Cheese Convention in Dallas.
Michelle and Andrew: PLESSSSS. STOP LOOKIN AT MEHH. WHY CAN’T I JUST BE NORMAL? I love you guys. Simply put, thank you for being you. Michelle, you are one of the greatest people I have ever met and I lowkey have a massive crush on you. Andrew, you now have to live with the fact that you have two other alter egos now: Carlos and Rear Exhaust Pipe. Oh, and thanks for letting me take your shirt off while dancing on a bar.
Genevieve: The Queen of the Planned Orgy. You are one of the kindest people I have ever met, and the most humble. Your spirit is as beautiful as your face and I am so glad to have met you. It feels like I’ve known you my entire life, and it has been like three weeks. Thanks for all the orgies as well, you saucy little minx you.
Tony and Mitch: My Enzo and Cass. Tony – thank you for walking me home in Durango and for keeping me warm. Thank you for dancing with me in Dallas and making me feel special. Thank you for holding my hand as I tried not to break down. Thank you for coming to my room and D&Ming with me as you cheered me up. Mitch – thank you for cuddling me on the coach when I was cold. Thank you for giving me your jumper in Dallas when I was cold (I see a pattern here). Thank you for carrying me and putting me to bed in New Orleans when I was too blind to do so myself. And thank you for reiterating that yes, I may be high maintenance, but everyone still loves me for it.
Elaine: Thank you for just being you, really. Your spirit really lit a fire into the group that we needed. And thank you for coming to my room after Halloween bearing french fries from Maccas and listening to me talk about why everyone pissed me off that night. You’re fantastic.
Tui and Memory: Thank you for assuming I can speak Samoan when I’m clearly white-washed af. The term “Memory Loss” doesn’t have the same meaning for me anymore. MEMORY, ALL ALONE IN THE MOONLIGHT. I love you guys.
Scott: The ultimate man of my dreams Scotty. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me, and for really listening when I spoke to you. Thank you for hunting me down that night in Amarillo to make sure I was okay, and thank you for holding my hand that night as I cried to you. You’re a top bloke, whether you want to see it or not.
Alex: The best roomie one could ask for… kind of. Thank you for being you. I thoroughly enjoyed picking up your pieces every night you came back to the hotel blind drunk and I’d have to take care of you. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. And thank you for knowing which bed was mine automatically.
Serena and Ricky: Queen Bee Serena and Big Daddy Ricky. Thank you for giving me the greatest fortnight of my life. There is nothing more I can add to that.
The rest of my Contiki group: You may not get your own individual shout out but you all meant so much to me. You have all left a lasting print in my life and I’m thankful for it. I know that I have taken 50 lifelong friendships with me, and I truly do consider you family. I love you all.
The guy in Nashville who paid for my drinks and dinner whose name I don’t know: What’s good.
I’m already starting to plan next year’s holiday in Europe. While I highly doubt it’ll be as great as this holiday, who knows?
After misplacing three pairs of sunglasses, missing a flight and crying to speed through the lines, breaking a pair of boots in Salt Lake, splitting a pair of jeans in Durango, leaving my niece’s snow globe in Fort Worth, and throwing a chair across a room in a fit of drunken rage in New Orleans, I am home.
Here’s to an end of a marvellous holiday and possibly the greatest five weeks I’ve ever had.
– by Noah La’ulu