#NKinNA16: Part 2 – Cray Cray in Canada

And so it continued…

My New York City journey had ended, and so my Contiki adventure had begun. Kate and I met the people we would be travelling with for the next however-many days, including our tour manager Phil, and our coach commandeer-er Ray AKA Ray Ray. Our first stop from New York City was Boston, Massachusetts, where Phil was conveniently from.

With a few stops along the way for breaks, one of these included a quick visit to Yale University in New Haven, Conneticut. I had been instructed from my sister to find her a husband from an Ivy League school, so with my first chance in front of me, I probably picked the worst candidate for her who stopped for a quick chinny and then ran off to class. Soz Stace.


We finally reached Boston – after doing Awkward Coach Speed Dating – in the late arvo, so I did what anyone else would do with a few spare hours on their hands… I took a bloody nap. Dinner that night was at a place called Dick’s Last Resort, and as most Americans or others who know about this place, you’re in for an experience.

Dinner was shit. Service was terrible. That’s all I’m going to say about it.

Our first night to bond with our fellow Contikians was at a karaoke bar in downtown Boston. Now, you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t remember the name because I was sippin’ the skank happy juice, but it was a night one would never forget. After asking everyone on Awkward Coach Speed Dating whether or not they would do karaoke, I put my hand up to be the first from Contiki to participate in karaoke. Not knowing how to hold a tune even if it introduced itself to me, shook my hand, and then slapped me in the face, I chose to rap one of the few songs I know all the words to… Anaconda by Nicki Minaj.


Nikki rapping Nicki, right?

I had twerked so hard in the interludes of my karaoke performance that by belt snapped in half. Yes. You read that right.

As this was the first night for bonding, I made some very good friends very early on. Any doubts I had about my group were quickly flattened, and I grew to like this crew already.

On our second day in Boston, we were given the opportunity to tour Harvard University, led by our friendly and somewhat charming tour guide Cormack. Again, I couldn’t find a suitable suitor for my sister, so I apologise. The history behind Harvard University is quite interesting, and I would recommend a tour of this historic educational facility to anyone… although I must warn you: no filming is allowed on the campus of Harvard, so Legally Blonde wasn’t actually filmed there…


After our Harvard tour, Kate and I wandered around the city of Boston by ourselves, including a stop by the original Wahlburgers. I could safely say that the best burger I have ever had was courtesy of Wahlburgers, and not just because Marky Mark’s beautiful face is staring down at you from a painting.


A mediocre second night out in Boston soon followed, where most of us were back at the hotel and in bed by 1am. Most of the fun to be had was on the first night, so the second night had no chance.

Bags to the coach at 7:45am and soon my newfound friends and I were crossing the country borders up north and entering Canada. Our first official stop? Quebec City, Quebec. It would soon be established that as far as nightlife partying would go, it was a one-on-one-off situation, meaning our first night in Quebec City was going to be great.

After having a lovely included dinner in downtown Quebec City – and a quick visit to a relatively empty bar that had cheap af drinks – we went to one of the coolest night clubs I had ever seen on any continent. The best part about it? I was allowed to wear black denim short shorts, a Nikki Bella t-shirt, and black hi-tops. I am all for clubs with lax dress codes. Also I got to use my six years of French study in high school.


The following day, we had an included bus-and-walking tour of Quebec City. I had no expectations of what Quebec City was going to be and what it would look like, so I can say I was blown away when I was shown how beautiful this city was. While it may not have been my most favourite stop on tour, it was definitely one of my favourite cities on tour as far as scenery goes. It’s a charming old city with history and heritage, and I definitely recommend it to those who are both into and not into partying.


As this would be the off night, the bulk of us stayed at the hotel while some went to go watch a free circus in town. While it may have been an off night, the drinks were still flowing, and soon one thing led to another, and I was getting my hair dyed blond in Bree’s Hair Salon. And so did Micko… except he chose to dye the front and back parts of his hair and not the entire thing.


After an alcohol-fuelled hotel corridor slash room slash pool party, bags were at the coach the following morning so we could head to our next Canadian destination: Montreal, Quebec. And again, before you get your hopes up… no, I did not see neither Maryse nor Kevin Owens there.

The views here were beautiful, and we went up to the most perfect lookout of this French speaking city. Our first night out in Montreal actually played host to one of my favourite bars called the Winston Churchill Bar, which had cheap af drinks, and a ton of friendly locals in the area. We also crossed paths with another Contiki tour here, and it was great to hear some more Aussie accents.

Oh, and innocent not-so-innocent Ashley and I were dragged to a strip club. It was an experience I’m glad I had, but I would be happy not to see another naked woman saying “shake shake shake shake shake” as her breasts wobbled in my face ever again.


The following day, we were free to do whatever we wanted in Montreal, which for me was a trip to the ice skating rink in town. When in Canada, right? Well, no one told me that the ice skates in Montreal were a tad different to the ones I was used to at ye olde Norwest Ice Skating Rink, and my ankles and shins ended up bruised and scratched after my efforts on the rink. Our night was capped off with a big group visit to the laser tag joint in Montreal, and our journey from Maryseville was finished.


Our final Canadian stop – and the last city we would be in with our Contiki Grand Canadian friends – was Toronto, Ontario. Now, not to mislead you or anything, but where we stayed in the heart of Toronto city was unfortunately no where near Trish Stratus’ Stratusphere yoga studio. Epic sadface.

After our included dinner at the Pickle Barrel, the squad and I headed off to a bar called the Madison Avenue Pub. This pub was quite crowded for a rather quiet night, and it was awfully hot and humid in there, so I didn’t particularly enjoy my night there. I did participate in a Bud Light Fan Draft competition (and I am still waiting for my prize for clearly winning), but after that, I headed on home for an early night.


The following day, Kate and I were lined up to have a Steamwhistle Brewery tour, which required us to be at the brewery at 11am, but then we accidentally slept in… so no brewery tour for us. We decided to walk around Toronto town by ourselves and see what this city had to offer besides Trish Stratus. And maple syrup.

Being the night off – and everyone else had gone to a Blue Jays vs Red Sox game – I stayed in the room and watched the most confusing movie ever called Triangle. Still to this day, I don’t understand what happened in that movie, but yolo.

The following day, we got to visit one of the world’s most beautiful treasures… which has been unfortunately tainted by the man. Niagara Falls baybay! In theory, it sounds weird that people will flock to see a waterfall… but then I saw Niagara Falls, and I understood why people were so captivated by it. It was a sight to behold… and what better way to celebrate it by twerking in front of the falls on a boat. Or taking peace selfies in front of it.

166What’s so hideous about Niagara Falls though, is the man-made “come drop all your money at our feet” gift shops, arcades, bars, haunted houses, and everything else under the sun, area that’s literally across the road from the falls. Speaking of haunted houses, though… let’s talk about that time Hadleigh, Sasha and I went into a haunted house for the lolz and long story short, my awkward knee-jerk reactions to being scared resulted in me kicking the actor in there. Like foot-hitting-his-midsection kick. Oops.

After our adventure around the Falls, we returned back to our hotel where we got changed for our included dinner at Spring Rolls, which featured one of the most delicious vegetarian pad Thai’s I’ve ever had. Since it was our last night with our Grand Canadian friends, the crew went out to the bar across the road.


So this is where I should mention that I was absolutely blotto this night, and don’t remember much from this. I remember snippets of the night, including falling down the stairs at the bar, attempting to sleep in front of an elevator, and professing my love to Jacob… or Esther. Either one.

This was the night, though, that everyone really felt the love. With the Grand Canadian friends leaving, we all took the time to bond and appreciate each other, and with a huge chunk of our group leaving to go to the other side of Canada, there would be a huge void in the group without them.


This would end the portion of mine and Kate’s holiday entitled “Cray Cray in Canada”, as we would venture back into the land of free soda refills after this. Stay tuned for more of my #NKinNA16 blog, where I will eventually get to the story of how I threw up outside a bar and screamed at everyone to stop looking at me… all at the same time.

– by The Black Widow

#NKinNA16: Part 1 – Just Us Two

You knew another holiday post was coming… I couldn’t be contained to one continent.

Ever since my last trip to the US of A, I have been itching to get back onto those heinous, long plane trips to explore something different. Meeting her on my last trip on Contiki, Kate and I began planning our next holiday, having been bitten by the travel bug badly. One would think that after exploring the southern half of USA that we would head off to do something different, like Europe or South America. But as we looked into our European options, something told me that I had to do the rest of the USA that I didn’t touch with my previous trip.

A few discussions later, and Kate and I had decided that it was time for us to explore the northern half of USA. Squeezing in small visits to Salt Lake City (solely to visit my grandad and other family members) and Nashville (because it’s my damn favourite city in the world), Kate and I decided to do Contiki’s Grand Northern tour – the opposite of the Grand Southern that we did last year.


What began as a discussion in early January of this year recently turned into reality, and on August 26, 2016, Kate and I flew out of Sydney and touched down in Los Angeles to begin our trip – #NKinNA16 (Nikki and Kate in North America).

On our plane trip, we were sat next to a handsome man returning home from an Australian trip to go back to work as a physical education teacher. We were quick to befriend the friendly chap, and this would set the tone for the next six weeks.

Our first stop in USA was Salt Lake City, Utah, which would serve as our jetlag stop after getting absolutely no sleep whatsoever on the plane. As mentioned in my travel posts from last year, I have family here which is the only reason why I would come back here because it’s the most boring city in the world, so it was nice to be back. We spent our first night napping, eating, and sleeping some more, all the while fighting the crippling jet lag that had hit us.


On our second day, we were graciously shown around by my cousins Aidan and Elle, and her husband Nate. Our first stop of interest? Cheesecake Factory, of course. And while Salt Lake doesn’t have much to offer in the form of sightseeing attractions (unless you consider Temple Square a sight…), it does have some great shopping. However, this was our first stop, and I wasn’t about to blow all my money on my first city.


After exploring this boring city – and catching some pretty damn cool Pokemon along the way – Kate and I bid farewell to my cousins and the next day, caught up with my uncle, aunt, grandad and his wife. As my sole surviving grandparent, I have a special bond with him, and was happy to sit there and listen to all of the stories in his life. With a lunch-time flight, we left Salt Lake and moved onto our next stop – Nashville, Tennessee.

This city is my favourite city in the world, and one of the reasons behind this would be Two Bit, a bar that encourages you to play free-to-play video games while you eat, drink, and be otherwise social with the people there. With friendly staff, good food, and Nintendo 64 on tap, this is probably my most favourite bar in the world, or at least in North America.


A quick visit to the Johnny Cash Museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, it was night time, and I had the privilege of catching up with a long time friend Emma, whom I hadn’t seen in almost eight years. Isn’t it amazing how small the world is, and how great long-lasting friendships are? I can’t expand on how great both of the aforementioned museums are. It doesn’t matter how many times I visit the Johnny Cash Museum, I will cry every time. And I thoroughly enjoyed the new Blake Shelton exhibition at the Hall of Fame and Museum.


The following day – after another mournful visit to Two Bit – we flew to our last destination as a duo before starting our Contiki tour… the infamous New York City, New York. Now, I had never been to NYC before, so this was my first time. As per usual, I was expecting great things from this city since everyone goes on about how bloody fantastic it is.

And boy it was.


With three nights and two days in NYC, we had a lot of touristy stuff to accomplish. The first on everyone’s NYC list should obviously be Central Park, so with the help of a very informative hotel receptionist, we boarded a hop-on-hop-off and saw what NYC had to offer. After visiting a couple of museums and quite literally chucking a spreadie in front of someone’s tomb, Kate and I explored Central Park the only way one should: via horse carriage.


The horse’s name was Snow White and she was a friendly girl, albeit a bit scary when her big chompers were out to play. The carriage rider showed us all the celebrity hot spots around Central Park, and where certain films were filmed throughout the park, and we sat in this carriage for a full 50 minutes looking around this beautiful landmark.

Our Central Park visit was followed by the most important New York City attraction of all: visiting the Tiffany’s. So many floors of diamonds and jewelery and more diamonds and more silvery goodness. Urrrrrgh. With a quick visit to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, our first day in NYC was done.


Next up: Times Square. In my sweet and humble opinion, Times Square is its own world in a world. Words cannot explain just how fascinating Times Square is, so I hope this expertly taken panoramic shot can do the trick.


Another personal check off on my bucket list was to recreate the Sleepless in Seattle scene at the top of the Empire State Building, but when I got to the top, it looked a lot more different than I had expected… so I had no idea what I was doing. At least I go to stand at the same place as the legend himself Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan the uber babe.


After some much needed sustenance, a random visit to the Museum of Sex ensued. Yes. You read that right. There is an actual thing called a Museum of Sex. I don’t really have to explain what was in the Museum of Sex, but I should say that if you’re expecting a watered-down version of a sex museum, then you would be wrong. The first thing you walk into is an old-school style painting of vaginal penetration. Yep.

It’s tradition that the day before your Contiki tour starts, you meet the night before for a “Kickstart” meeting. Basically the tour manager just gives you the 411 of what you’re doing, gets you to sign these emergency forms, and Bobsurbloodyuncle. Finishing our time in NYC off at the kickstart meeting, Kate and I bid farewell to the beautiful city of NYC with some mediocre af Thai food and bed.

This was just the beginning of my adventures, so stay tuned for more #NKinNA16 travel spam, as Nikki and Kate take North America.

– by The Black Widow

#NoahTakesAmerica2015 Part 3: Black Widow Mourning

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 The Black Widow