The Problem of Being a Princess Traveller

Three and a half stars is my absolute minimum.

If you can’t tell by the travel part of Widow’s Lure, I absolutely love to travel. Seeing new places, meeting new people, trying new things… it’s all such an incredible experience. But so far, as a 24-year-old man, I have only been able to visit four countries (five if you include Australia).

But if I’m going to be honest, my country count probably won’t increase so much because I am a self-confessed Princess. And that really hinders my opportunities of travel for several different reasons.

Hanging a spreadie on top of the Rockefeller Center like a Princess.

If you want proof, just ask the people I went on my two Contikis tours with. In both End of Tour Contiki Awards, I won the Princess award. By a landslide.

Young Australians, including many of my friends, can pick up and go and travel across Europe and South America and stay overseas for months or even years. How do they do it? They stay in hostels, volunteer at organizations looking for young workers, and visit less-fortunate countries where the Aussie dollar has more value over there. I can honestly say that I am comfortable doing none of the above.

If you haven’t gathered by now, I have expensive a very specific taste in life, and my taste in life comes at a very high cost. For starters, I cannot stay at a hostel. Like point blank refuse will not do ever don’t even think about it. I don’t care how cheap the accommodation is there, why on earth would I want to share a bathroom with people I don’t know when I could have a bathroom to myself. In saying that, I can’t even stay at motels or hotels that are less than three and a half stars. I was once booked in a two star hotel in Los Angeles, and it was that traumatic that I don’t even want to discuss the finer details of it. Needless to say, I am alive and well. Also, a couple of the hotels I stayed at on Contiki had more than one floor, and no elevator. Like. I just can’t.

My style of travelling also means I can’t do it as much as other young people do. The other style of traveller can find cheap plane tickets, stay in Europe for six to nine months, live at a hostel or volunteer at an organization that offers food and accommodation, and Bobsuruncle. It’s so cheap that they could probably go back to Europe in another month or so. Meanwhile, I get flights, stay in hotels everywhere I go, eat out for every meal, and can essentially only afford to travel for five or six weeks. And that’s me done for about a year or two. My style of travelling is expensive and doesn’t last as long, but at least I am comfortable with it. I wish I could travel as long as the hostel travellers, I really do, but contradictory to what some may believe, I fund my own lifestyle. I don’t have handouts from the Bank of Daddy, and I am not swimming in inheritance money.

While I am interested in experiencing different cultures, I can’t see myself visiting the less than fortunate countries. I would like to think I am a decent person, and would love to volunteer for charity organizations in third-world countries that would need help, but the small problem of “I would have to stay there in those poor living conditions” is a red light for me. And I can’t do it. I need a bed, a roof over my head, some clean stylish clothes, and a nice meal on a dinner plate with a fork and a knife. If that makes me a snob, then so be it. I am a snob.

Culture shock for me was going to Subway in Texas and finding out that they didn’t have veggie patties. Imagine this Princess going to a country like Bangladesh… the culture shock would be so overwhelming that I may pass out. Admittedly, I will only ever feel comfortable visiting other westernised countries, like England, New Zealand, Ireland and Wales.

There will be some avid travellers out there who could potentially read this and think that I am a piece of shit for pretty much saying I am too good to visit certain countries, but I don’t regret saying any of this. It’s the fascination of humans; every human is raised differently, and therefore grows up differently. My parents raised me to appreciate the finer things in life, which means that I am too precious to stay in a motel with a single bed and a kitchenette. You are free to live your volunteering in a third-world country, but it isn’t for me, as much as I would like it to be.

Now, something that frugal travellers and Princesses alike can appreciate. Contiki. I cannot recommend it enough, even if some of the hotels don’t have elevators, and you’re stuck standing there waiting for someone to carry your suitcase up the flight of stairs because you just don’t do that kind of thing. If you’re looking for a unique kind of travel experience, and an opportunity to meet some new people, visit the Contiki website and book through your travel agent immediately.

– by Noah La’ulu

#LauluCruise2017

I only just realised that I hadn’t written about my first cruise ever. Tl;dr – it was amazing.

Along with going on an amazing six-week holiday with Miss Kate, I had another holiday to go on only a few months later. Daddy wanted all of my family to get together and go on a family holiday – our last official family holiday was in 2011 – so not only was it going to be a great bonding experience for everyone, but it was going to be my first time going on a cruise.

On February 14, my family and I boarded Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, ready to spend the next eight nights on board. Not only was my immediately family attending – myself, my two parents, two brothers, two sisters, two sister-in-laws, a niece and a nephew – but we also had extended family and other friends with us, so in total, there were about 30 of us on board.

Instead of going through my days in chronological order and listing what I did daily, I’m just going to tell you everything I had done on the cruise in general.

First of all, it’s important to mention for anyone with a beating heart that food is free (with the exception of some specialty restaurants, but honestly, why would you pay to eat when almost everything else is free)! The only time I ever paid to eat was when I ate at Johnny Rocket’s, which was only a $7USD surcharge fee, and then everything on the menu was yours for the taking.

Each morning, I would go to the Windjammer Marketplace for breakfast, which is the Explorer’s version of a buffet. I can’t tell you about the variety of foods they had there for your first meal of the day, because I only ever ate hash browns and croissants; if I was feeling a bit adventurous, I’d chuck a tub of yoghurt on there as well.

While everyone in my family were free to do whatever they wanted during the day and night, we always got together at 6pm in the Sapphire Dining Room for family dinner. this was the Explorer’s version of fine dining. I’m not a fan of fine dining, really; I prefer a burger and fries over some overpriced salad that takes up a quarter of the plate. But God damn, the Sapphire Dining Room was outstanding! The food was great – and there was always one or more choices for vegetarians – but what made this dining experience really great was the service. My family had the absolute pleasure of dining with our waiters Ikomang and Imade, two lovely gentlemen from Indonesia who spared no expense in making sure our time with them was always 11/10.

The types of activities on board cater to everyone also: there is trivia and gallery viewings for the more introverted; there is ice skating and rock climbing for the physically adventurous; and there’s karaoke and outrageous game shows for the attention hogging types (me). I can’t even begin to describe the amount of fun I had on board, from playing putt putt with my nephew and niece, to playing as Novak Djokovic on Virtua Tennis in the arcade, the Explorer of the Seas had almost limitless amounts of activities to do. There were also different shows available, with ice-skating extravaganzas taking place on the ice skating rink, and broadway style shows in the Palace Theater. And if you were confused as to what you wanted to do that day, they gave out day sheets for everything that would be running that day.

I can’t speak for the other types of rooms available on board, but my two sisters and I shared a room with a balcony – because we can’t not have fresh air in our room. How gross. The room was pretty small, and the bathroom and shower left no room for me to effectively shave my legs, but when you consider the amount of time you would actually be spending in the room as opposed to everywhere else on the ship, then it was worth it. My sisters had the double bed whereas I had a hidden bunk bed that appeared from the ceiling. Great use of space, Royal Caribbean!

The island visits were also amazing! On my cruise, we were able to visit two countries and three islandsNouméa, New CaledoniaMystery Island, Vanuatu; and Maré, New Caledonia. Nouméa was beautiful in its own different way; it wasn’t what I expected it to be, but then five minutes down the street, it was… if that makes sense. My siblings all had ice cream from this place – which they said they had imported from France – and said it was the best dessert they’ve ever had, so there’s that? (I opted not to buy anything because why would you when the food on the ship is free). Mystery Island was actually paradise: the ocean was crystal clear and had this amazing shade of azure blue that it looked like I was staring at a postcard; the natives who visit the island to greet tourists were so adorable and friendly and had several goods and services for sale; and the sun was beaming down on the island as if we were the only place on earth. Admittedly, I didn’t get off at Maré, because I was too damn burnt from Mystery Island and everything hurt everywhere.

And finally, if you have read this far, there is the nightlife on board (yes there is nightlife on a cruise). Depending on which drink package you get – if you even choose to get one at all – then drinks on board can either be pricey, or already paid for.  The alcoholic drink package, which is around $45USD a day, guarantees virtually unlimited alcohol for the entire duration of your cruise. I suggest that if you’re a big drinker, or even if you can go through at least five cocktails a day, then this package is for you. The Explorer had several options for you if you were nocturnal or just liked a good night out – there was the casino (don’t ask me about it, I have no idea how to gamble other than playing Blackjack terribly), the Star Lounge (which was like a fancy music-playing bar) and Dizzy’s (the nightclub). Having experienced the latter two, I can say that the nightlife on the cruise was pretty damn good. And when Dizzy’s shut, you were free to head to the pool deck where the drinks would continue until the early morning.

The people you meet on board are pretty amazing as well, and if you’re lucky like me, you’ll take some friends away from your short trip. Everyone… meet my new little brother Alex.

Oh, and there was also a gym on board.

If you’re interested in doing a cruise – or you’ve done one with another company – I highly recommend cruising with Royal Caribbean. It was a pleasant 10/10 experience for everyone in my family, and I am more than excited to do another one with them.

– by Noah La’ulu

#NKinNA16: Part 6 – The Credits

Six weeks seems like a long time, especially for a holiday.

But when you’re travelling with the best travel partner and the most amazing group of friends, then that time will just fly by, and soon you’ll be sitting back in your home, typing furiously away at your laptop keyboard about your experiences because you refuse to let go of what once was.

What I would like to do now is write about all the people who made this trip incredible. Without you, I wouldn’t be writing this #NKinNA16 travel blog, because my experience would have been horrible and I would have nothing to write home about.

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The obvious starter for my round of shout outs is Kate: for six weeks, I got to wake up to you every morning, travel the great continent of North America with you, eat a rotation of cheese pizza and portabello sandwiches with you, and overall have the greatest time on the other side of the world with you. You are truly an incredible person, an amazing friend, and the best travelling partner I could have ever asked for. Thank you for snuggling me after our nights out with the group so we could talk about our feelings. Thank you for bringing me meatless Big Mac meals even when I didn’t expect it. Thank you for “taking walks” at the last minute. And thank you for being as selfless as one can be. This has been the adventure of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to take more with you.

To my family ElleNate and Aidan: thank you for taking Kate and I around Salt Lake City and being the best hosts ever. I can’t wait to see you guys again, when all three of you eventually move (back) to Australia. I’m not giving you a choice.

To my friends on the other side of the world who took the time out to see me, Emma and Nick: I love you both. Nashville was great because I got to see you, Emma, and reminisce on how totally not innocent we both were. Nick, thank you for bending over backwards to accommodate me in Cleveland, but next time, we have to spoon.

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To my original Mean Girls, Angela and Eliza: we clicked from day one, and judging by how much I miss you, it’s clear to see why. You girls were the best, plain and simple. As a Regina, I couldn’t have asked for a better Gretchen and Karen. And to your respective room buddies Russell and Simon, it was a darn pleasure getting to know y’all, and I can’t wait to catch up with all four of you some time in the near future. Perhaps Kate and I will join you for another round at Cheesecake Factory somewhere? #squadgoals (Somehow, somewhere, I will get a recording of you in Kanab, Russell, and I will hold it over your head forever)

Mike and James: I got along with the both of you very quickly, and always felt at ease when surrounded by one or both of you. If you’re reading this on your current journeys, don’t have too much fun without me. I’ll get jealous. Also, I didn’t get to sing Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me to you, so I guess that means I’ll have to see you when you get home.

To my bitches colloquially referred to as the “Adelaide Girls”, Courtney, Ashley and Georgia: keep Ashley in check. We all know how slutty rowdy she can get. I love you girls, and am glad I got to know you during the short time we had with each other. When I come to visit Kate, y’all better get Radelaide prepare for #CycloneNikki. Also just a sidenote to Ashley: shake shake shake shake shake.

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My two protectors on tour, Big Red and Micco: I could get away with 90% of the stuff I did on tour because I knew y’all were there to back me up if I needed it. Big Red, I loved my cuddles from you, and I think you’re a spectacular person that deserves the world. I just hate your grubby NRL team. I also miss saying “Big Red! Where are you? Aren’t you meant to carry me everywhere?”

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My rowdy Chicago taxi ride home crew Ally and Lauren: I miss y’all so much, and along with the boys from Melbourne and Eliza, missed you two the most from North by North East. Ally, we were destined to get along; after all, we are the Bottle Blonde Bitches together. Thank you for enduring the rape-by-water jet boat ride with me, and for being a vulgar nympho with me. Lauren, I can’t send you my sneaky pictures anymore for obvious reasons, but somehow I will keep our tradition alive.

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To both of my lovers on tour, Jacob and Esther: I love you both. Jacob, you are sensational in every sense of the word because you are not afraid to be true to yourself. You have this infectious personality that affects everyone around you, and people can’t help but want to be in your general vicinity. Esther, you are by far one of the most beautiful souls I have met. Your insides are as beautiful as your outsides (which is a lot). Can’t wait to see you somewhere in this small world of ours. Also, my mum is excited to meet her new daughter-in-law.

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My boys Brandon, Lochie and Rohan: catch you guys on the flipside. I loved meeting all three of you, and having the privilege of seeing you again after you got off tour. Lochie, you are one of the true gems of the world, and I will always love you for who you are. Rohan, I don’t know if you remember, but Kate entrusted a drunken Nikki to you one night in Boston, and you got me home safe and sound. I will never forget that. Brandon, McGregor is better than Diaz. Deal with it.

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My Grand Canadian girls Samantha, Jessica Lee and Ellie: all three of you are just great. There’s nothing more I can add to that. I will miss our bitchy messages to each other, Sam, but I think we’ll find a way to keep it going. Ellie, I will see your fine ass around. There’s no way a bond like ours can be broken by time.

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My breakfast buddies Ashleigh and Ashley: I apologise for not video chatting you when I had breakfast without you guys so I could keep our tradition alive, but lack of data got in the way. Alternatively, it was too awkward to do it in front of a bunch of old people. When I slather strawberry-flavoured cream cheese on my toasted bagel, I will think about our times together and smile.

To my Kiwi boys Johnny and Hadleigh: kia kaha. It was pre-determined that I would love you guys, and y’all didn’t let me down. Hadleigh – thank you for being mine and Sasha’s protector in the now infamous haunted house experience, and for being an all-around top bloke. Johnny – you stay true to yourself, because you’re a rare light in this dark world of ours.

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My Contiki Awards Committee 
JJ, Amber and Amy: I have no worries about you girls, because I know we’ll stay close friends in the future. I’m so glad I had the chance to get close with all three of you, and am happy about the experiences we shared together: from our near-death experience at Pie for the People, to mine and Amber’s “proposition” in Chicago. We truly lived Contiki with #noregrets.

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To the backbone of the tour Bree and Sasha: if you two weren’t on tour, I can guarantee it wouldn’t have been as near as fun as it was with you. Both of you clicked so naturally, and it was easy to see why; you both radiated this positive euphoric energy that was hard to miss. I’ll miss our intense grinding sessions on the DF, our late night hair dyeing sessions (Bree), and making seemingly-innocent-but-really-ditzy comments to the disappointment of others (Sasha).

469To the other members of the Thunder from Down Under crew Veegz and Tarni: it was such a delight having the opportunity to meet you and get to know the both of you. Veegz, stay as beautifully blunt as ever, and keep up your outspoken crusade against animal cruelty. Tarni, you’re just going to have to move to the east coast to catch up with those of us over here. It has to be done.

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To my handsome boys – whom I am now dubbing “The Three Musketeers – LukeMax and Jacko: getting to spend 14 of the 26 days with you boys was a pleasure. Luke, you’re a genuinely beautiful soul, and your girlfriend is lucky to have someone like you. Also, I need to mention the elephant in the room, which is your big, round, perky butt. Max AKA ‘Arry, probably one of the best people I’ve ever met. You’re an amazing guy, and I want to protect you from the world forever so you will never lose that smile of yours. Jacko, while we may have started off rocky (because you’re an asshole, but also because I’m a stubborn bitch), we ended up okay. I mean, we almost got married, so that’s saying something? As you may know, I’m a needy fiancee, so you’re gonna have to deal with that for the rest of your life. Soznotsoz.

To my true blue Aussie blokes Ben and Jeremy: we’re proof that polar opposites can still get along. I almost had nothing in common with the both of you, but grew to truly love you for who you were. Can’t wait to attend your 21st Jeremy, so you can introduce your father to the enigma that is Nikki.

Bec, Jess and Becky: thank you to the former two for teaching me how to play the wheel spinning game at Harrah’s. Bec, thank you for sharing your “experiences” with me so I could (happily) live vicariously through you. And Becky, you beautiful Geordie soul, thank you for giving me the most intense massage of my life, and for being a pure radgie like. Proper mint like you are.

The dynamic duo of Hayley and Mish: you girls were sent from the heavens to join this tour, and I’m glad I met the both of you. Hayley, thank you for helping me through my first experience playing blackjack at a table. Mish, thank you for dancing with me and promptly kissing me afterwards. It was great.

To my awesome Contiki leaders Phil and Ray: thank you for giving me the best Grand Northern experience I could have ever asked for, and for letting me be me. Even if Phil refused to play Clueless for me, I wouldn’t have changed anything about my tour. Plus, I will never forget to bring ma trash.

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And to my wonderful host and friend in LA Serena and your beautiful mother Beatrice: thank you for having Kate and I on our Contiki detox. You guys were the best and more than accommodating, and I’m glad that after meeting you last year, we were able to keep our friendship alive.

And to everyone else on tour who contributed to this awesome experience, simply thank you.

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Until my next adventure…

– by Noah La’ulu

#NKinNA16: Part 5 – All Good Things

“Flames to dust, lovers to friends, why do all good things come to an end?”

Yaaassss Nelly Furtado, speak the truth.

Welcome back to #NKinNA16, and we’ve unfortunately reached the end of the tunnel. That’s right; my six week journey is winding down and reaching the end of the track, and I am not the slightest bit happy about it. But the show must go on, so let’s continue.

After leaving Kanab the place we do not speak of, we were headed to probably the pinnacle of this tour, especially for those who joined us in Chicago: Las Vegas, Nevada. Now, if you haven’t been to Sin City before, it might surprise you that Las Vegas – the world’s busiest 24/7 city – is literally just placed in the middle of a desert. You’ll be driving through sand and road, and you’ll sneeze and all of a sudden see all the bright lights of Vegas.

After all of the sightseeing, national parks, and unforgiven hotel room parties, the crew were excited to be in civilization again, let alone Sin City. It was a bittersweet moment forever: this was the stop everyone was waiting for, but it was also the last stop, but let’s not dwell on the latter just yet…

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We got to Harrah’s Las Vegas (our hotel for the next three nights), and after getting settled in our rooms, we got ready for our included dinner at Planet Hollywood. I’ve been here before and knew what was coming – a delicious blue alcoholic concoction served to you in a bloody fishbowl – but because the restaurant weren’t expecting so many fishbowl orders, they had run out of fishbowls. So we had two normally-huge-sized cocktail glasses full of this delicious blue drink, and here’s the picture to prove it.

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Afterwards, we were taken to the Grand Norther Contiki SURPRISE optional. Just in case anyone is reading this and is thinking of doing this tour, I won’t spoil it mention what the surprise is, but I will say that you will enjoy it.

What soon followed was a trip to the Old School Vegas, AKA Fremont Street, which featured a pretty awesome Imagine Dragons light show. I love my Imagine Dragons, so I really got into it. Oh, and Fremont Street also played host to some giant ass alcoholic slushies, so seeing the size of them, Jacko and I decided to share one. I still don’t know how we managed to finish it. It was neverending.

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Our first night out in Vegas soon followed, and we hit up a place called Ghost Bar. Now, I enjoy my nights out just like every other Joe Blow does, but what I really don’t like about partying in Vegas is the long, painful process to simply get into a nightclub. We had VIP treatment thanks to these two wanky douchebags who don’t look like they’ve done a proper day’s work in their life VIP club promoter guys, and we were still waiting in line for like half an hour. Also, the sexism in Vegas is so real.

After some dancing, drinks, and all around fun with the crew, I finished my night a bit early and returned back to the hotel. Not without some excitement and drama at 2am in a hotel corridor, but whatever.

The following day – after Kate and some others were denied entry to the Chainsmokers Pool Party because the tickets they rightfully purchased weren’t sent to them on time like it bloody should have – Kate and I decided to walk around Vegas and hit the Fashion Show mall. We also looked around the Strip to see what else it had to offer, which is pretty much everything.

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Dinner was fend-for-yourself, so Kate, Angela, Russell and I caught up with our Grand Canadian friends Courtney, Georgia and Ashley and had dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. I stan portabello mushroom burgers so much, and boy do Hard Rock Cafe do a mean ass portabello mushroom burger.

My year-long goal was about to be accomplished, because JJ, Tarni, Veegz, Angela and I waltzed on over to the Excalibur where we would attend our first Thunder from Down Under show. If you have no idea what that is, just picture Magic Mike but with Aussie men (so basically sexier, less mannequiny looking men).

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It was definitely an experience to be had, and it was also marginally better than the traumatising experience I had in the Montreal strip club with the “shake shake shake” girl. The dancing wasn’t too crash hot – or maybe that’s because I have a dance background and am judgmental about it – but the guys were nice to look at… at least from afar. Once they got close and started gyrating their genitals in my face, my mind changed. And they took that as a challenge.

This picture accurately shows you what I saw…

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Anywho, after our successful second night out in Vegas, JJ and I played a couple of games downstairs in Harrah’s before calling it a night and heading to bed.

Our third day was full of shopping – like, full of it. Thinking I would be able to fend off everything and not spend a cent, I ended up leaving with MORE Harley Quinn merchandise, some clothes for my niece and nephew, and this wicked ass Jordan’s that I only really bought because Nikki Bella would wear them. They’re pretty cute, I guess.

As it was our last night together as a family, we went out to the XS Nightclub after an included limo ride down the strip with free terrible, terrible tasting champagne. XS Nightclub is a bit fancy… and by a bit, I mean a lot. It was a bit too uptight for my liking, so I didn’t last long there. (What’s with my hating the nightlife in Vegas?) I did befriend these really lovely Samoan gentlemen though. All around the world, right?

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Not wanting to end my last night in Vegas on a sour note, a few of us went back to the casino in Harrah’s and played some roulette and table blackjack. I’ve never played blackjack at a table before, so I’m glad I got to break that virginity in Sin City. Also, I lost all of the money I stole borrowed from Hayden and Big Red. Oops.

The following morning – after a stellar buffet breakfast in Harrah’s – we went back onto the coach for our last trip together forever. We farewelled Hayden and Shaun, who were staying in Vegas for the remainder of their trip, and boarded the coach to Los Angeles, California. Despite desperately needing sleep, I wasn’t going to sleep on our last journey ever.

The coach trip was spent sharing favourite memories, talking among our new family members, and all-around general banter. Near the end of our ride, we were allowed to dedicate songs to other people on tour, so of course I got up and dedicated All In My Head (Flex) by Fifth Harmony to Kate. She knows what’s up.

We arrived at our destination in LA – where we were surprised by four of our former Contiki friends – and the goodbyes soon followed. I cried. A lot. I loved my Contiki Grand Northern family so much. I couldn’t have asked for a better group… but I’m getting too ahead of myself. That’s what part five is for. I’m going to miss my banter with Philip as well; one of the few men who can call me a slut and live to tell the tale.

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After saying our goodbyes, Kate and I headed on over to Burbank (a cute suburb of LA) to join our Contiki tour manager from last year Serena, who hosted us for the last three nights of our American trip. After dinner and some quick grocery shopping, we settled for an innocent girl’s night with second-attempt popcorn, Harry Potter, and chats catching each other up over the last year.

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Our first proper day in LA was standard: we went to Disneyland! Serena, who wasn’t even “on duty” as they say, was the best tour guide around Disneyland, and told us where everything was, showed us where we could buy what, and made sure we went on every ride and show possible.

Story time: so I wanted to crack one of the Disney actors and make them break character, so my first target was Gaston. Serena asked him for a selfie, and in perfect Gaston character, he turned her down. After this, I asked him if he wanted to make out later, to which he swiftly replied “I’m taken!” Disney – 1, Nikki – 0. We went to go see the Princesses afterwards (Cinderella, Snow White and Ariel), and I tried each of them. Told Ariel I was going to dress up as Nicki Minaj for Halloween, to which she says “Is she a Princess?” Although when I said “Waddup Ariel”, she did reply “Waddup”, so that’s like half a point to me. Disney – 2, Nikki – 0.5. When Snow White asked what kind of pie she should make the dwarves, I said “Apple pie, although you don’t really have a good track record with apples, do you?” She giggled and shook her head, and suggested some other form of pie. Disney – 3, Nikki – 0.5. Said “Sup Cindy” to Cinderella, and she says in her sick, sweetly voice “Oh hello there!” Not only that, but when I mentioned the plane ride from hell from Australia, she said “Did you fly by pumpkin carriage?” Disney – 4, Nikki – 0.5. Winner: Disney.

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Anywho… the rides were great. Disneyland isn’t as great as Disneyworld in Orlando, but it did the job. Splash Mountain was my favourite, and not just because of Kate’s face in this mid-ride shot.

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Serena had to leave to go to a hockey game, so we met up with our Contiki friends who were also at Disneyland and spent the rest of the day with them, including a nice Italian dinner in Downtown Disney. Being drained from all of the walking around Disney that day, Kate and I were out like a light that evening.

The next day, we were fortunate enough to get a free walking tour around the Warner Bros lot thanks to Serena’s beautiful mother. We got to ride a broomstick from Harry Potter, see the Suicide Squad costumes up close in the WB Museum, sit on the sofa from Friends and pretend to drink some form of coffee, and I also got to walk around Rosewood from Pretty Little Liars. All in all, I’d say it was a great experience.

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Serena then took us to Hollywood Boulevard, to which she warned me to “lower my expectations”. I did, and luckily I did, because Hollywood Boulevard is kinda underwhelming. Besides the long ass Walk of Fame and some other little tidbits, it wasn’t great, so we left Hollywood and took a scenic drive through LA, including Mulholland Drive where we happened to run into my pole goddess Hayley and her husband. WHAT ARE THE ODDS, RIGHT?

We dropped Kate off at Russell and Ange’s hotel, and Serena and I took off to do our own thang, which included Girls Night Part Two. With more snacks and more Harry Potter to watch, I’d say I spent my last night in LA very well. Oh, and we also had facial masks and more hair dye, so for about ten minutes, I looked like this.

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My last day in LA was spent in Santa Monica with my favourite people. Serena and I went on a walk along the pier, went on the rollercoaster (which GTA replica’d to a damn tee), and sat down on a swing and watched a very muscular, shirtless, attractive man work out the scenery at Mini Muscle Beach. As we were saying our goodbyes, we ran into Kate and our other Contiki friends, so Serena and I bid farewell to each other and I re-joined Kate, all the while tugging my luggage behind me up and down Santa Monica.

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Now, I’d rather not talk about the goodbyes and the journey home, so let me just leave you with this group shot of us before Kate, Russell, Ange and I headed to the airport for our loooooong flight home.

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What made the wait at the airport bearable was that us four also ran into Bree and Sasha, so all six of us sat around eating Panda Express and sharing our favourite (and unfavourite) moments of Contiki.

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And thus ends my #NKinNA16 trip. Six weeks, two countries, too many cities to count, all the amazing friends one could ask for, and the best travelling partner I could have. America and Canada 2016, you were the best, and I can’t wait to travel you once again in the future.

You might think my #NKinNA16 travel blog finishes here, but I’m not done. Not just yet. I’ve reserved part six for the most important part of any travel blog: the shoutouts. Because this trip wouldn’t have been so amazing without the awesome people who made it. For me, it’s not about the sights or the journey or trip, it’s about the people. The people really make your trip, and my new family certainly did.

Until then…

– by Noah La’ulu