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Carmen

Carmen Jenner is a travel, food, and lifestyle writer, wanna-be photographer and the founder of Fluffy Towel. She specialises in travel memoirs, destination pieces, hotel reviews, guidebook contributor, travel advice, restaurant reviews, family travel, and copywriting.

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Perth, Australia

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Contiki Tip 34: How to use a map

filed13 Nov 2010 from

So there we all were, waiting, waiting, waiting, and waiting for our ferry to take us to Venice. A very exciting prospect indeed as I was dying to see one of the most romantic cities of all time. However, there was nothing very romantic about our situation. We were at the very dodgy port of Patra, aka the Rats of Patras, waiting to board our ferry for a two night cruise to Venice.

We were about halfway through our 34-day Contiki tour, the hotel option of course, and we were weary as we had left Athens early in the morning, and now it was 10.00p.m. and there was still no sign of our ferry. Apparently, this is normal practice in Greece, as our illustrious tour guide informed us.

Needless to say it wasn’t all boring as there were men running around with machine guns to discourage the Albanians from trying to smuggle aboard. And how could I forget the drug deals and the prostitutes selling themselves. Our tour guide started a game of football, however we soon realized that it might be more fruitful to stand guard by our bus so no-one could sneak on. Little did I know that although I was tired of waiting to board the ferry, my fiancé was still struggling with the disastrous results of the fish soup he had encountered on Mykonos a couple of days earlier. Just as we were about to board, he ran off to relieve himself again, however this time in particular, he looked a bit shocked and said that he would fill me in on the details later.

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Two days later as we glided past the unforgettable St Marks Square our leader prepared us with an uplifting spiel about how disorganized the Greeks and Italians are and to be prepared for a lengthy disembarkment. He was right and he suggested that to pass the time we should have our maps of Venice ready so we could explore the city as soon as we as set foot on land. My map had vanished and my fiance was adamant his was gone, despite my pleads with him to look through his bag again. Frustrated at the wait and all the screaming foreigners around us I insisted he empty his bag. He refused. Things became heated for a while there until he very quietly said, “I left it in Patra…remember my stomach…and I couldn’t find any toilet paper…promise not to tell the group?” But of course darling!

Even a Contiki tour can become romantic with a gondola glide.

For the story behind Contiki read “Only two seats left!” http://www.onlytwoseatsleft.com/orders/