6 June 2012. This was the day that my Contiki tour was going to start. We were told to meet in the lobby at 7am, so Tiffany and I did our best to be ready on time. We were also told that we had to have our bags weighed and that it cannot be more than 20kgs. Mine was already 20.2kgs, so technically I already failed. With the commotion of 49 other people (excluding Tiffany), it was actually easy to just not get our bags weighed. So of course, we didn’t. Who wants trouble like that before the trip has even started.
We casually made our way to the car park where the bus was to arrive. We began scouting around the place to see who was in our group. Some people were really quiet and standing by themselves, and the only couple I noticed was a Chinese girl and a guy that looked Indian. There were also a pair of twins, who were quite good looking, but too short – at least, for me, cos I’m taller than most girls my age…in South Africa at least. Here, however, I felt a little short because a handful of girls were really tall. Not abnormally tall of course, but at least 4-5cm taller than I am.
Anyway, after getting having our bags loaded, Tiffany and I found seats next to each other in the second row from the front, on the right hand side behind Tour Manager Steve. I say Tour Manager Steve because the bus driver’s name was also Steve, so we called him Driver Steve.
After a brief introduction by TM Steve, we were told about the plans ahead, and how paying for optional extras would work. We had about a 2.5 hour drive to Dover, where we were scheduled to catch the 11am ferry. He also told us about how punctual everyone has to be since Contiki runs on a tight schedule and how unfair it would be for so many people to wait for one person. Fair enough. We were all made extremely paranoid though as we were warned that we would be left behind and would have to find our own way back if we delayed others.
When we finally reached Dover, we had arrived a little early and so had to wait in quite a queue to board the ferry. Another Contiki bus had parked in front of us and we noticed that they were leaking oil. Both Steve’s got out the bus to assist, but eventually everyone decided that they could not proceed in that bus and had to request another one. Poor people, don’t know whatever happened with that.
Once we parked on the ferry, which was absolutely massive, we could go upstairs and kill some time. By then, we were starving. I had not had my morning coffee or anything, so when I came across a little shop that sold hot drinks, cakes and sandwiches, I was really happy. Then, I saw that they had a special for around €3 where you could get a slice of cake with any coffee. Woohoo! Cappuccino and carrot cake it is! And wasn’t it marvellous. What a big slice, and absolutely delicious. Tiffany went for a sandwich, but I can’t remember which.
After we had eaten, we decided to walk around for a bit and go see the White Cliffs. We made our way to the deck where it was freezing and windy as hell. Over there, we got to take some pictures of the cliffs and coincidentally we bumped into Mpho again. Even though they had left the hotel an hour before us, we were on the same ferry! Poor her. What a waste, she could have slept an hour longer had they let her! We also met a strange girl who we thought was a guy, and who could not get her cigarette lit because of the wind. The lighter stood no chance. After getting our hair well tangled and our faces sprayed with sea water, it was time to head back inside and make ourselves look more civilised before the end of the Channel crossing to Calais.
While we were almost at Calais, it was amazing to see what I thought was the shadow of clouds on the water, but what was actually a shoal of fish. Several actually. It was a massive grey area in the water and it was quite something seeing the entire thing change shape so quickly, and then merge with another. I had some time to admire the view of the French coast and enjoy the sea breeze from an area more sheltered than the upper deck before the announcement was made for us to head back to the exits in order to board our coach again.
The ferry was extremely busy, so it took a while to wait in the line for the loo (its a worldwide problem that there’s never enough toilets for the ladies because there’s always queue) and eventually head down to the bus. We did not have to wait long at all before Steve started up the bus and we found ourselves in France.