Too much to capture, a quick debrief to date

Okay so in true Tash style this blog is not at all up-to-date... I tried to keep a running narrative of all of my adventures, but with something happening most every moment of everyday I have failed utterly. I will update it one day, or maybe I will write a book, as at the moment it really feels like my life is getting written - like the Will Ferrell movie "Stranger than Fiction" I can just imagine someone sitting at at desk very pleased with them-self over the incredible twists and turns they seem to keep coming up with...

Not only this, but I started out writing about 'One Kiss...' well that is all very well and good, but now that everything is a little more recent, it is maybe a bit too fresh to be writing about any such kisses... so you will all just have to wait for the release of the book one day when I am grey and old and don't mind 'kissing and telling'.

So I am going to stray slightly from this theme, though I will maybe give details here and there. But in the mean time, this was meant to be a tale to keep friends up to date with my adventures and where I am - thankfully I am pretty sure that they are all wise enough to realize that the story didn't end in Italy, and have not been waiting with abated breath to find out what was in store next; nevertheless I shall try and recap...

After Italy I head straight to Istanbul to go to the head office, and then on a tour of Turkey. Upon arriving in a completely foreign country where I do not speak the language and am not sure who exactly is meeting me at the airport... I see a sign for my travel company, so I head to the guy holding the sign, he says a few words, takes me to a van where he jumps in the front and talks to the driver for half an hour in Turkish while I sit in the backseat with images from "Taken" flashing through my mind, and oh good, Taken 2 has just been released and is based in Istanbul...

But all is well that ends well, and after a while this lovely gentleman turns to me and starts talking in English (thank god), then as we  get to my hotel he opens the door, helps with my luggage and hands me his card as he says "if you ever want to get a coffee or tequila... give me a call" - oh good, 1 hour in the Country and I already have a date with a Turkish man...

I then get to go on a tour of Turkey - as 'training' (amazing), meet some incredible people, am roomed with a very like-minded girl - we talk love, life, the Universe - you know the usual, and she has now given me something for my 2012 list (which I will not say what it is, only when I do it).

Side note: Turkey is such an amazing Country, I really had no idea of the boundless history, and ever changing landscape, if you haven't yet, this must be on everyone's list!

Then it was on to Croatia where my tour leading adventure begun, I wasn't sure what to expect, but this was hands down the best summer of my life!!

Some highlights...

I have always loved being around people, and though it was extremely full on going from tour to tour, being around 30 people 24/7, I can truly say I never got sick of it.

I was always asked:
"doesn't it get boring and repetitive?"
The honest answer is... NO, not at all. Yes I went to the same destinations, restaurants, bars every week... BUT every week was completely different because of the people I was with. Every group brought a new energy and dynamic with them, which made visiting each destination different for that very reason. I learnt you can't recreate something - if for instance you had a great night with one group going to a certain bar, you can never recapture this, but just have to bounce with the energy of the new group - and it never ceased to deliver!

"don't you get sick of people?"
Again I can genuinely say that NO, I never once had a week where I was dying to get rid of a group, maybe I was lucky with my groups, but I loved every week. In over 200 people on my trips, I can count on one hand how many people I would never want anything to do with again - and it wasn't even because they were unbearable, just a few negative people that I would feel no need to socialize with in the real world. Other than that I now have such new and amazing people in my life, I just can't believe it.

Also my favourite thing about each group - is that there was always someone who surprised me - in a good way! Having worked in hospitality my whole life, I am used to being around people, and have learnt to never judge a book by its cover, but through all this we naturally make a few first impressions. But I was continually, pleasantly surprised...

Like the guy with the Bunderberg tattoo (kind of says it all you would think) - he was extremely loud, always chanting and shouting, the kind of guy you would see out and want to steer clear of from the initial reaction... Well this same guy was the biggest softie! If I ever did need to reign him in slightly, or get him to chant "who let the dogs out" just that little bit quieter, he would immediately apologise and do as I asked, one time even saying "I hope I haven't disappointed you Tash"... oh bless his little cotton socks!

Then there was the drunken aussie guy on the first night - who didn't do anything too outrageous, but first time he saw me the next day he apologised if he had done or said anything out of line (I always respect and appreciate someone that has the courage to apologise for anything straight away).

A cute, innocent looking kiwi girl, who got extremely drunk in Dubrovnik and started stealing bottles of booze from behind the bar - I would normally discourage this, but as it was a club that had continually ripped my passengers and even myself off, I had to laugh - and even drank some with them in the toilets...

The group of SAFA guys, who I had many a d&m with

The very loud Aussie girl who immediately told us a million stories about herself - most about sex, who would maybe initially have seemed over the top, but she actually seemed to bring the group together and everyone out of themselves a little - and it's always good to be around someone who can laugh at them-self!

The group of Wollongong lads who I thought would have difficulty with, but ended up loving them by the end and still get regular email life updates from one

The gorgeous group of girls who I thought would be a bunch of princesses, but ended up having the most hilarious and not to mention - filthiest conversations with ever!

And of course, one of my highlights from the season - the guy that lit himself on fire!! That is right, lit himself on fire. Okay maybe this one needs some explanation - I had a talent contest one night, and he decided to pour some alcohol over himself, and light it (which he had done before, kind of successfully..) anyway there was a mix up with who was meant to throw water over him, so he ran and jumped off the boat.. Needless to say he suffered some pretty serious first degree burns, but he was so great about it and the nicest guy I think I have ever met - he was more concerned that his antics may stop everyone else partying, so once he was bandaged up he asked to be moved to where everyone was so they could see he was ok. Also one of my favourite memories of him (trust me there are a lot), was after every time I gave a speech on the history of the destination we were heading to, he would come up to me, put his hand on my shoulder and say with all ounce of sincerity "thank you for that Tash, that was really great". Sweet heart!

I could write a million and one stories on the summer season alone, but will just leave it with these few for now, as there are just too many to recount. But lets just say everyday was full of wonderful and weird surprises.

My next favourite question: "Being a tour leader you must score all the time?...
I have to tell the truth I was wondering about this myself at the start of the season... and here is the answer, there were a couple of pash and dashes (which I just don't see the point of now that I am over the age of 17). A couple more snogs (yes that is right, I am using the word snog..)

And there may have been something a bit more with a couple of people.. but honestly I was hardly ever really attracted to anyone. I don't know if it was because:
a) being the tour leader you are always making sure everyone else is having fun - and I genuinely loved just going out with everyone to have fun, so you are not exactly on the pull. OR

b) maybe I just saw the same sort of guys week in week out - all aussies and kiwis on holiday and if they are single - out to pull.. it just seems to kind of lose the appeal...OR

c) maybe I am just getting too old, and the idea of a one-night stand doesn't really do it for me anymore (I actually can't really remember the last one-night stand I had that made me... you know...)

Whatever the reason, the answer is, no I did not get that much action over the season. In saying that one of the other tour leaders had a boyfriend, and the other one is very straight laced, so I still looked like the hussy of us with my few pashes...

Oh and: "Surely you have hooked up with one of the crew?"
Ha, the answer to that is a big NO, never screw the crew - rule no.1 - I learnt that lesson the hard way at the start of this adventure.

But yes, obviously if you wanted to, you could score every night and/or have a boy in every port if that is what people wanted to know. On the same note, after a summer sailing around, and being around drunk single people - it was the couples I envied most... If I was to hook up, that is all it could ever be - one night, where I would have to sneak them on and off the boat - as 'stranger danger' was not allowed... It wasn't sex that I was craving (though it is always nice), but affection. Seeing all the couples on tour - this is who I was jealous of. I love the current life that I am leading but sometimes worry that it leaves no time or space for romance or anyone else, what if I am a traveling nomad forever and never find love?... Woops, sorry that was me stuck in my own reverie...

Other than those questions here is also a selection of some of my favourite tour leading questions (if I do it again, I am going to make a CD, hand it out to everyone, and refer to the track no. when one of these is asked)
1. where are you from? What did you do? How did you get this job? What are you doing after this?
2. where is the ATM, toilet, rubbish bin?
3. How much money will I spend?
4. What should I wear?
And so on and so forth... love it!

Any hoo, all in all I cannot even begin to explain how amazing this summer was, not just my passengers - but all of the locals on the islands I came to know and love. They became like my family, and saying goodbye after only a few months was heartbreaking. But I have a beautiful golden anchor necklace from the crew on my boat to remind me of this time, and maybe I will return next season, though who knows where my life may be at that stage. All I know is that Croatia will always have a piece of my heart...

I will now leave you with a few images that capture part of Croatia...

And we are almost up to date, a bit more to go, but I think this is enough of an entry for now!

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