May 14, 2014
This morning we said arrivederci to Italy, as we left Venice and headed towards Austria.

My bruise had popped up overnight, and I freaked out when I caught a glimpse of it in the mirror of the hotel room. I’ll spare you the photo here, but it was about the circumference of a coffee mug – huge! Normally, I wouldn’t have been concerned about a bruise, except that it was in a very inconvenient position for sitting (right under my bum), and I had a five hour bus ride to endure that day, plus white water rafting, a mountain bike ride, and paragliding were waiting for us in Austria. Bad timing!

I was already considering backing out of the white water rafting, when yet another reason popped up. The temperature had been pretty moderate when we left Venice, but that didn’t last long. Just a short time after we crossed the Austrian border into the Tyrol region, the snow started.

IMG_0710

I figured they would cancel white water rafting if it was snowing, right?! Nope. As the snow cleared up, we trotted off the bus and down to the equipment pickup at Feelfree, who would be hosting our rafting adventure. (Edit: This activity was an optional extra, and cost 41€ or $55 USD). Jon Snow and the others had talked me into trying the rafting (“Hey, the cold water will probably feel good on your leg!”), so I slipped into the wet suit and the rest of the gear and gave myself a little pep talk. I had been looking forward to this excursion, so while I was here, I would enjoy it for all it’s worth!

10509532_10203554577898769_3133079670926390462_n
“I feel like we’re suited up to go into space. Armageddon-style.” – Shandi

After a quick lesson from our guides, we were lugging our boats down to the river and jumping in. I was in a boat with Canada (Brett, Geoff, Mark and Craig), as well as Shandi, Alex and Krista. In the other boat were Pat, Dicky, Chris, Ashlee, Emily, Jacinta and Paul.

10565229_10203554578098774_6235327388354190134_n

We got to rolling down the river and had so much fun! The commands were easy enough to follow, and soon we were hitting our first rapids.

2014-07-24_2300

We had fantastic guides for this adventure as well. They kept us out of trouble, and kept us laughing the whole way. (“Hey, you see that Church up on the hill? Have you seen the Sound of Music? Yeah, it wasn’t filmed there.”)

The scenery was pretty incredible along the way. I didn’t have a waterproof camera, so my friends Krista and Chris provided these snaps:

10501938_10203554582138875_6545858275871997495_n
10421608_10203554579978821_1847558727398096595_n

2014-07-24_2123

2014-07-24_2318

I hung in there just fine at the beginning of the trip, but after being dunked into the icy water a few times, my body was completely frozen. I had the time of my life, and I wouldn’t have opted out if I could go back, but I sure was glad to step off that boat and into the hot shower once we stripped off the wetsuits.

10376745_10203554578898794_9063193988054061737_n

We cleaned up in the showers at Feelfree, before heading into their snack shack for hot coffee and hot pizza. Despite the hot shower and dry clothes, my hair was still soaked and I could just not warm up! I cuddled up to Pat on the bus ride into Hopfgarten, hoping that would help, but I wasn’t truly warm again until I finally climbed into bed that night.

We arrived in Hopfgarten shortly before dinner, and were greeted by other Contiki staffers at our hotel, Haus Lukas. Our group would have the hotel to ourselves that night, and we would have another included dinner downstairs in the dining room. The hotel had a full bar serving schnapps (an Austrian specialty) in just about every flavor imaginable!

That night, we feasted on a roast, veggies and potatoes, accented by schnapps, and turned in a bit early. We’d had so many late nights out in the last week that it was nice to sit around and relax, and get a decent night’s sleep. I climbed into my warm bed and listened to the rain outside until I fell asleep in yet another amazing country.

Next up: Soaring Over Austria


Check out my other Contiki posts:

Introduction: An American Girl in Europe
Day 1: Oh hey, London
Day 2: Bonjour, Paris!
Day 3: Parisian Adventures
Day 4: Lookin’ Good, Switzerland
Day 5: All Things Swiss
Day 6: Switzerland, Italy, France…oh my!
Day 7: Bond. James Bond.
Day 8: Buongiorno Italia!
Day 9: When in Rome
Day 10: That’s Amore
Day 11: Vatican City to Venice
Day 12: The Last Italian Adventure
Day 13: Hop-fer-gerten
Day 14: Soaring Over Austria
Day 15: München
Day 16: Bittersweet Symphonies
Day 17: Vienna to Prague
Day 18: Ahoj, Prague!
Day 19: St. Goar, Rhine Valley
Day 20: Amsterdamage
Day 21: Even more Amsterdamage
Day 22: Back to the Start
Day 23/24: The End of a Great Adventure
Contiki in a Nutshell: Know Before You Go
Contiki: What Should I Pack?