Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Topdeck Old School Style

Friday, October 7th, 2011

by Kara Segedin

In 1984, Germany was divided between East and West.

Girls Just Want To Have Fun and I Just Called to Say I Love You were two of the best selling singles.

The first Apple computer went on sale.

And my aunty spent five weeks travelling around Europe on a Topdeck trip.

Things were a little different in those days. Men had impressive moustaches, passengers slept, cooked and cleaned on the bus and trips operated on a flexible itinerary.

Let the adventures begin!

Let the adventures begin!

Despite the changes in today’s trips the spirit of the Topdeck adventure remains the same.

As all good kiwis did (and still do) my aunt Maria was busy working at a pub in Paddington, London.

Once she had settled in and saved up a bit of money she decided to take time out and do a tour of Europe.

“After some research I decided that the Topdeck tour called ‘Central Europe 5 Weeks’ was the one for me. “

Maria thought the idea of travelling around on a bus was fun and knew she would meet like minded people on the trip as well.

Back in 1984 the trip cost £497 which included £85 pounds.

“It was a great itinerary and good value for money,” she says.

Early one September morning the group met at the Enterprise in Earls Court to climb aboard the bus that would be their home for the next 5 weeks - called Platt.

Back then Topdeck travelled on double-decker buses. The lower deck was fitted out with tables, seats, a cooker and sink while the ‘top deck’ had bunks and space for luggage.

“Whisper was our driver (named for his soft voice and quiet nature). He was a safe and reliable driver. The tour leader was an experienced and confident guide.”

While on today’s trips expert Topdeck Chefs rustle up tasty local cuisine, in 1984 everyone had to take a turn at cooking and housekeeping.

Maria buy supplies for her turn as trip cook.

Maria buy supplies for her turn as trip cook.

“This meant we had to go shopping in foreign cities and turn out a meal from the bus’s cooker. That was a fun challenge all by itself!”

As with today’s trips the majority of travellers were Aussies and Kiwis, with a couple of South Africans on board as well.

“I enjoyed the team spirit of the trip - it is still one of the best times of my life.”

The trip went through France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands before returning to London.

“The highlight for me was Florence. I adored it, still do.”

Like today’s trips that pass through Germany in September, Maria’s trip visited Beerfest in Munich.

“It was awesome – the biggest event I have ever been to – cannot believe how many people can get drunk in one place at the same time.”

The hyjinx haven't changed, but the facial hair certainly has!

The hyjinx haven't changed, but the facial hair has! Oh, and you could smoke on the bus!

Maria says the bus was a refuge for anyone who was sick or tired or simply too lazy to go anywhere

“We felt safe leaving our belongings on the bus too which was a bonus. No dragging suitcases around Europe, our hotel came with us!”

“I always tell people to go on a Topdeck trip as they are guaranteed to have a good time.”


Follow the next generation of Topdeck travellers as the Tadpoles crew make their way from London to Sydney in true old school style!

An old school brochure from 1984

An old school brochure from 1984

Tadpoles from London to Sydney - a Topdeck adventure

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

by Kara Segedin

Imagine spending over 100 days driving from London to Australia retracing the steps of the original Topdeck pioneers?

For one group of young travellers this dream is about to become reality.

Jealous much?

We are!


Early on Monday morning, eleven young people from all over the world left London to travel 10,000 miles to Australia in a vintage double decker Topdeck bus.

Making their way through Europe, the Middle East, Central and South East Asia, they plan to roll into Sydney in January 2012.

Tadpoles' new crew ready to hit the road!

Tadpoles' new crew ready to hit the road!

The Originals

Way back in the in the early 1970s, Aussie expats Bill James and Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner bought a 1958 double-decker to take eager young travellers across Europe.

The duo started out providing trips along the hippie trail to Morocco and Kathmandu and the rest was history.

The New Crew

Now, 40-something years later, the brains behind the project is Canadian Jordan Cross.

Jordan was inspired to make the epic journey after reading the appropriately named Top Deck Daze, Bill James’s hilarious account of the company’s early days.

“It’s such an incredible story of how these guys came over here with nothing and didn’t always play by the rules and stumbled their way through a lot of things,” he said.

“All their success hasn’t changed them – they are just amazing guys with amazing stories.”

Tadpoles in all its glory!

Tadpoles in all its glory!

The Ride

The legendary Tadpoles is a Bristol Lodekka (a type of double-decker bus for the non-bus spotters among you) and started life working on the Isle of Wight for the Southern Vectis bus company in 1958.

After 20 years of service the bus was bought by Topdeck and fitted it out with bunks and a kitchen and soon Tadpoles was making tracks across Europe and Asia including travelling from London to Nepal more than 20 times.

The last double decker running for Topdeck, Tadpoles was taken out of service in May 1998 and given to the Isle of Wight Bus Museum on permanent loan.

But Tadpoles’ adventure didn’t end there. In 2010 it was brought out of retirement to carry a new generation of travellers over the historic route.

The Journey

The guy at the wheel of Tadpoles on its latest adventure is Australian Mitch Turner.

Mitch previously worked driving trucks in Western Australia’s mining industry so is no stranger to operating large vehicles.

As a warm up, Mitch and the new crew took Tadpoles on a short training trip around several small European cities to get the hang of driving the 53-year-old bus.

The double-decker’s size proved to be a challenge on Europe’s old, narrow streets and it sometimes took a dozen attempts to get it around any tight corners.

“There’s no power steering and it’s very heavy so corners and parking are difficult,” said Mitch.

“Even with all the work that’s been done to it 45 miles an hour will be our max speed.”

Tadpoles is sure to get plenty of honks from fellow motorists, let’s just hope it’s in appreciation of this unique vehicle and not for holding up traffic on Germany’s Autobarn on their way to Oktoberfest!

Jordan said the main idea of the project is to see how people change over the duration of the trip and how one experience can impact you for life.

“We want to do it as real as Bill and Skroo did back in ‘75 and track their route as much as we can.”

Just like the original crew, all the cooking, eating and sleeping will be done right on the bus.  Also like the originals they are operating on a rather fluid schedule – unlike today’s organised itineraries.

So while the style of travel may have changed a little (okay, a lot!) over the years the Topdeck spirit is still alive and kicking.


Follow Tadpoles’ progress through the team’s website, facebook and twitter.

Topdeck will also track the journey on our blog, facebook and twitter along with other old-school Topdeck titbits.

PS If you, your parents or maybe even grandparents would care to share any memories from Topdeck in the 70s and 80s please comment below.

The Madness of The Edinburgh Festival with Diane Spencer

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

by Kara Segedin

Which festival combines a grand military showcase with music, theatre, fireworks, comedy and the bizarre? None other than the Edinburgh Festival!

Made up of 12 different festivals including the Military Tattoo, International Festival and Fringe, Edinburgh is world’s largest cultural event.

During festivities the city’s main street, the Royal Mile, becomes a Mecca for performers as every bar, restaurant and available space is transformed into a venue for arts of all kinds.

On the back of a 4 star review at last year’s Fringe, British (and one time Kiwi) comedian Diane Spencer will be entertaining the crowds with her latest hilarious (and sometimes shocking) offering - All-pervading Madness.

Topdeck sat down with Di to chat about her experiences in Edinburgh…

How many times have you performed at Fringe?

This is my third annual visit in a row - third time’s a charm they say too. This year better pull something special out!

What makes the Edinburgh Festival so unique?

It’s the largest arts festival in the world, in the hilliest place in the world, which means that you get a fair amount of walking in. Though I wonder how disabled access friendly it is. There are lots of steps and I’ve seen some muscular dudes in wheelchairs pushing the “long way” round up slopes.

Anyway (totally distracted) - the city of Edinburgh is also beautiful, historic - there’s the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and because this festival operates at many tiers, you can usually find something to meet your budget. You can splash out and go see loads of famous comedians in big beautiful venues or you can plunder through the free Fringe programme. It’s really unique because it’s so large, there’s something for everyone.

Best Edinburgh Fest experience?

That day I got my first four star review. My Mum sent me the text all in capitals with the word “FANTASTIC!” She was really proud, I was so chuffed. It was lovely - because that’s like an end of year exam, or a job appraisal. You’ve been working so hard all year and then you get examined!

Worst Edinburgh Fest experience?

A couple of boys stole my phone and purse from my bag when I was onstage. It was such a violating feeling. Then to have to go to the police station, cancel all my cards, and it was raining of course. You just have to keep an eye on things.

What have been some of your festival highlights?

I’ve seen so many brilliant performances from a variety of sources - some in the theatre, but once, I was walking up the Royal Mile, it was oddly a quiet time of night, and suddenly the sky exploded in fireworks and I sort of just fell in love with the feeling and stood there on the street just being the happiest person on the planet.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform?

I enjoy Asher Treleaven, an Aussie Comic. Also like vintage diva Lili La Scala. The Boy with Tape on his Face has a new show too, and he’s a Kiwi. I’ll definitely catch Carey Marx’s new show - I’ve sort of made it a tradition to see his show each year. Oo, and Nick Helm, he’s always good fun.

Where do you go to get a bite to eat?

For the ultimate steak, but obviously at a price, you have to go to the Scotsman Hotel brasserie. Proper HUGE bit of

cow. In terms of amazing coffee - the Wellington Coffee house on George Street. They also do really nice warm scones with jam and clotted cream.

What are your must-see sights in Edinburgh?

Just by walking around this beautiful city you come across really interesting and wonderful items. I did take a trip into the Edinburgh Dungeons one year - that was gruesome but fun.

Why should people come and see you?

Because I am hilariously funny, silly, rude, naughty and funny AGAIN. Also this year I won an award, the Chortle Best Newcomer 2011, and then this show, which I’m performing at Edinburgh now, was nominated for “Best Comedy (Emerging)” at the Adelaide Fringe Awards. So I’m funny now!

Tell us a joke….

I’ll have to invoice you for that if I do.

If you’d like to get in on the Edinburgh action join us on our Tattoo & Festival trip departing 26 August and get 20% off!

Diane Spencer: All-pervading Madness

Venue: Gilded Balloon

Dates: 3-28 Aug (no show on the 16th)

Time: 5.45pm

Why would you go to Venice?

Friday, July 29th, 2011

by Kara Segedin

“Four days in Venice, isn’t that a little long?”

“Well, it’s more like three days, four nights…”

“You know it’s full of tourists, locals who will scam you and it smells, right?!”

And that is how one conversation went when I told an acquaintance we were off on a summer holiday to the famous Floating City. Had we overestimated the time we’d need? Was it going to be one big stinking hot mess? What had we gotten ourselves into?!

Luckily for us, said acquaintance couldn’t have been more wrong.

From the moment I first stepped foot in Cannaregio, the northernmost of Venice’s six historic districts, I was in love.

Ahhh, Venice

Ahhh, Venice

It was well after 11pm when we dropped out luggage at the hotel and despite the fun of budget airline travel we were ready to hit Venice’s cobbled streets!

But before we could go anywhere I was in desperate need of a gelato and thankfully (dangerously) there was an amazing gelato shop right at the door of our hotel *bliss*.

We had arrived in town on the eve of Festa del Redentore (more about that later) so the streets were fairly deserted as we strolled over the famous canals for the first time.

However, come the morning the city was buzzing.

Traffic Jam: Venice Style

Traffic Jam: Venice Style

Travellers of all ages and all nationalities wandered up at down the streets while men opened their stalls selling souvenirs and replicas of traditional Venetian masks and Murano glass.

It’s fairly easy to spot the authentic stuff – they are usually found in dedicated stores and have price tags that reflect the quality.

With nowhere in particular in mind we made our way slowly into the middle of the island.

I would recommend spending at least one day getting totally lost, wandering up and down the thousands of small alley ways that sprawl across the city.

They are also a great escape from the crowds and the hot summer sun.

Making our way into the heart of Venice, we followed the official (and handmade) signs showing the way to Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge and were joined by an ever increasing number of fellow travellers.

The square is massive and in the blazing midday sun we were grateful for the shade from the shop front canopies.

Chilling in Piazza San Marco

Chilling in Piazza San Marco

If you’re tired of walking, or fancy doing some sightseeing from the water, the best way to get around is by waterbuses (vaporetti).

That night after take a rather long detour on a vaporetti we found ourselves on the island of Dorsoduro right in the middle of Festa del Redentore celebrations.

Hundreds of tables filled with big Italian families ran the length of the canal looking out across to the city centre. They feasted on giant plates of local food (it smelt so good!) and glasses of wine. Grandparents, parents, aunties, uncles and cousins singing, dancing and gossiping the evening away, waiting for the main event – the fireworks!

And what a display!

For at least 45 minutes pyrotechnics took over the city. Colours lit up the night sky and booming explosions echoed around the ancient street – if you didn’t know better you’d swear it was a war zone!

Festa del Redentore = Fireworks!

Festa del Redentore = Fireworks!

The following day we tried a bit of island hopping, Venice style. First stop, Murano.

Famous for its glasswork, the island was largely empty on the Sunday we stopped by.

Still, there were plenty of opportunities to pick up pieces of jewellery and take in the sights.

It was a recommendation from a colleague that proved to be one of my trip highlights - the island of Burano

Every Venetian lagoon seems to be famous for something, and in Burano’s case it is lacework and rainbow coloured buildings – my kind of place!

The first thing you see when getting off the boat is a rather frightful looking wailing woman – no idea what she represents, but it can’t be nice.

Why is she so upset?

Why is she so upset?

Thankfully your eye is quickly caught by the brilliant red building to your left and from there you can’t help but smile at the array of pinks, blues, yellows and oranges of the town.

The Rainbow Island or Burano

The Rainbow Island or Burano

Oh, and I also ate the best pizza I have had in my whole life! Cheese, mushroom, artichoke and prosciutto – delish!

Simply the Best Pizza Ever!

Simply the Best Pizza Ever!

Venetians are a lovely people – very friendly and helpful.

Despite the extraordinary lack of Italian language skills in our group we managed to get by.

As long as you can point and say hello, please and thank you you’ll be fine in this largely English speaking (or at least understanding) place.

Our final day was spent catching up on all the little things we had missed – a last stop here, a last stop there.

St Mark’s Basilica was one such destination and there in the July sun we joined a surprisingly fast moving queue to enter the 11th century church.

St Mark's Basilica

St Mark's Basilica

Many European churches still enforce a traditional dress code meaning men and women must cover their shoulders & knees.

I specially brought a church-suitable dress with me, but if you forget to wear appropriate attire it isn’t such a big deal as the staff will provide you with lovely papery shawls to wrap around you.

Be careful of the men on the door though – they are more like nightclub bouncers than church ushers grabbing visitors showing too much skin as they walk passed.

While it lacks the grandeur and quiet spiritual aura of St Peter’s in Rome, the interior and exterior are stunning nonetheless.

So how do you put the perfect finishing touch on a perfect holiday in Venice? With a gondola ride of course!

That's Amore - Gondola Time

That's Amore - Gondola Time

Lying back in our luxury boat it was hard not to feel like royalty gliding through the narrow canals the vaporetti can’t reach, our gondolier filling us in with bits and pieces of local history.

And that was it - what more can I say? We ate, drank and sweated our way through this magnificent island, cameras always at the ready.

Bellini, gelato, pizza and spaghetti. Fireworks, bridges, canals and history. The list goes on!

Venice, you surprised me. I didn’t expect to love you this much!

Arrivederci Venezia!

Arrivederci Venezia!

Want to see Venice for yourself? Here are a few of the Topdeck trips that take in this amazing city!

Venice Carnival

Pronto Italia 2011

Gondolas Go North 2011

Eastern Express 2011

Petra, Jordan: The Real Indiana Jones Adventure

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Topdeck Travel’s festival manager, Amelia Lawrence, gets all Indiana Jones in Jordan’s famous historical city of Petra.

When visiting the archaeological wonder of Petra, right in the heart of Jordan, it is impossible to not feel a bit like Indiana Jones. In fact, even before going through the entrance gates, I was tempted to buy a “genuine” Indiana hat from the Indiana Jones Gift Shop, right on Petra’s doorstep! Don’t call me Junior indeed!

To get into Petra requires a walk through a long, narrow gorge called al-Siq, which just adds to the drama of the approach. The gaping pink hued chasm looms over visitors, emphasising the natural beauty of this area. As you get closer to the end of the one kilometre gorge the excitement builds all around; some tourists walk slowly to eke out the process, other break into a run to reach their final destination. And that destination is the Treasury, or Al Khazneh.

Al Khazneh

Al Khazneh

The Treasury is Petra’s most famous, and most impressive, building. Carved directly into the sandstone rock face it is truly an archaeological and architectural wonder. Even the most blasé travellers would find it hard to remain unimpressed by this phenomenal building. And its location at the very end of al-Siq means that the beauty of the building is only increased by the dramatic first glimpse you catch of it, through a dark split in the sandstone, just like Indiana himself!

However, there is so much more on offer in Petra. The city gradually unfolds, boasting more and more amazing buildings, tombs and temples built into the sheet sandstone rock faces.

A climb of (only) 600 or so steps takes visitors up to the Monastery, or Ad Deir, a monumental building measuring 50 metres wide by 45 metres high, which is open for tourist to climb in, on and around at their leisure. Lookout points nearby give stunning views over the valleys and cliffs which make up this historical marvel. There are tombs upon tombs, towers and temples, and several sacrificial altars with breathtaking views of the city.

At the end of a long day, we headed back to al-Siq to make our way out of Petra, still wishing we had more time to see the rest of what this amazing city had to offer.

It was as the archaeological site was closing down that we experienced the biggest rush of the day: a chance to take our photos at the Treasury with absolutely no other tourists around. Just us, this amazing building and a lone tourist humming the Indiana Jones theme song.

For more information about Topdeck’s trips to Jordan, visit

Egyptian Adventures

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Guest travel blogger Emma Flynn shares her recent journey to Egypt with Topdeck.

I’ve been so excited about visiting Egypt for a very long time. In fact its been about 11 years or so of dreaming! Finally, At the beginning of May, after three false starts over the past 11 years, I finally realised my dreams and travelled to this amazing country.

We’ve all seen the news reports on Egypt and the revolution. I had followed the news intently, praying everything would settle down so I could travel. It did and at the beginning of April, Topdeck started operating in Egypt again after a 2 month break. I was so happy. I figured that if Topdeck were operating their trips, it was safe to travel again.

We arrived a couple of days before our tour started, and on our first day we ventured out into Cairo by ourselves. It was certainly a culture shock. Jumping into a taxi and out into the Cairo rush hour traffic was an eye opening (or tightly closed!) experience in itself. As we wandered around in the controlled chaos of Cairo, nervousness and apprehension soon melted away as we came across numerous friendly people in the street, and even walked through Tahrir Square (the scene of the January revolution), which was full of people going about their daily lives.

Our next day we were up early (the first of what would become a recurring theme!) to take the Topdeck optional excursion to Alexandria. On arrival we met our passionately Egyptian guide, Jimmy, who showed us the key sites, including the site of the famous lighthouse, the catacombs, and the new library.

Having met our trip leader the night before after returning from Alexandria, the tour began. The Egyptian museum in Cairo gave us our first taste of the ancient civilization. Most of the relics found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb are now here in the museum. It was amazing to see the jewels and possessions of the boy king. Things range from his leather shoes, jewellery, beds, under ware and even and ancient form of contraception so only his royal wife would bare him a child! The other highlight was the mummy room. In my opinion, it was well worth the additional 100 LE just to see 3000 year old people still with hair, teeth, eyelashes and fingernails!

After the museum we headed out to the last remaining wonder of the Ancient world, the Giza pyramids. We were lucky enough to be able to go inside the small pyramid. This experience alone was worth going to Egypt for!

From Cairo we headed south to Aswan to meet our boat to cruise to Luxor.

Egypt wasn’t all about the tombs and temples however. In Aswan we did get to relax by taking a felucca down the Nile, sailing past Elephantine and Kitchener islands on our way to a Nubian Village, including a stop for a dip in the Nile! We didn’t sail straight to the village, but stopped about 20-30 minutes away to climb on to a camel to take us in the rest of the way. Being on the Nile was so peaceful and relaxing, and we got to spend 3 nights aboard a 4-star cruiser. So in between all the sites we could take a dip in the pool on the sun deck, or if we were still feeling energetic, a game of ping pong.

There were a few early mornings… We were up early to visit Abu Simbel, up early to take a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings, up early to miss the heat of the sun! So many early mornings, but so very worth it!

My favourite day was probably also the busiest day! We visited the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple, Karnak and Luxor temples. We were very lucky to have visited at a time when there were not many other tourists around. It felt sometimes like we were the only people in the temple. Our Egyptologist for the day was a local called Sam. Sam seemed to have an undying love for the Ancient Egyptians. While most of us melted in the 40 something degree heat, Sam scribbled away on his clip board explaining to us the meaning of the Heiroglyphs we were looking at and drawing us a family tree of the Pharaoh’s, so we knew who’s tombs we were looking at.

Egypt was mind blowing. Never had I been on a holiday where everything was bigger and better than I had imagined. We visited (almost) every major tomb and temple across the country, but for me there were some places that stood out more than others, however the experiences will stay with me forever.

Sunbake, swim, party, sleep, repeat!

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Croatia Sailing - A day in the life of a Topdeck passenger.

By Liana Szwajlyk

Let me set the scene; waves subtly lapping against the boat, the sun high in the sky with that warm touch on your skin for ultimate relaxation, and you – lounging on deck with your new mates, followed by a dip in the sea, then onto explore a new island. Yes, I am talking about Croatia Sailing with Topdeck.

This could be your day….

9:00AM9:00am: The smell of fresh sea air, the sound of water gently lapping against the boat, the Adriatic gleaming under the waking sun....time for a delicious brekkie cooked by your onboard crew!

The smell of fresh sea air, the sound of water gently lapping against the boat, the Adriatic gleaming under the waking sun.

9:30AMCheck out that view...WOW! Now time for a delicious brekkie cooked by your on board crew!

Check out that water...WOW! Now time for a delicious brekkie prepared by your on board crew!

11:00AM A morning full of card playing with new friends, followed by a refreshing dip in the sea and sunbaking on deck. This afternoon’s destination: UNESCO World Heritage City, Dubrovnik.

A morning full of card playing with new friends, followed by a refreshing dip in the sea and sunbaking on deck. This afternoon’s destination: UNESCO World Heritage City, Dubrovnik.

3:00PMThe sun painting the water a deep jade, time to dock in Dubrovnik.

The sun painting the water a deep jade, time to dock in Dubrovnik.

3:30PMAncient fortress walls surround the Old Town, inside which, gleaming marble streets are lined with Baroque style buildings.

Ancient fortress walls surround the Old Town, inside which, gleaming marble streets are lined with Baroque style buildings. Head for the 'Place', or main square.

4:00PMWith plenty of free time to soak up the atmosphere of this stunning city, why not savour an espresso in one of many cafes? Or why not explore the back streets and alleyways, which offer countless surprises.

With plenty of free time to soak up the atmosphere of this stunning city, why not explore Dubrovnik's back streets and alleyways, which offer countless surprises. Or savour an espresso in one of the many cafes?

5:00PMDubrovnik's walls are the most intact and impressive in the Adriatic. These walls were built over hundreds of years at the end of the Middle Ages and measure more than 2km in length and stand between 5m and 25m in height, depending on which part you are looking at.

Dubrovnik's walls were built over hundreds of years at the end of the Middle Ages and measure more than 2km in length....time for some exercise!

5:30PMScale these famed walls for superb views over both the city and surrounding scenery and coastline. Not to be missed!

Scale these famed walls for superb views over both the city and surrounding scenery and coastline. Not to be missed!


Followed the signs that point to cold water, along the walls of Dubrovnik. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you come across a small hole in the castle walls. Through the hole leads you to cool cliffside hangout - a secret little bar!

6:30PMTake a plunge in the crystal clear waters below, kick back with a cocktail & nibbles or perch atop the rocks to watch the ships dreamily pass by at sunset. Truly blissful!

Take a plunge in the crystal clear waters below, kick back with a cocktail & nibbles or perch atop the rocks to watch the ships dreamily pass by at sunset. Truly blissful!

8:00PMThe Old Town at night is certainly as beautiful as it is during the day. It’s the perfect place to unwind with a glass of local wine!

The Old Town at night is certainly as beautiful as it is during the day. It’s the perfect place to unwind with a glass of local wine & incredible view!

9:00PMVenture off the worn cobblestone path and check out the small local seafood restaurants for dinner. Dalmation squid ink risotto – highly recommended!

Venture off the worn cobblestone path and check out the small local seafood restaurants for dinner. Dalmation squid ink risotto – highly recommended!

11:00PMA few ‘bucket’ style cocktails in a funky alleyway bar, anyone?

A few ‘bucket’ style cocktails in a funky alleyway bar, anyone?

5:00AMBack to the boat in time to catch the first sunrise views - tomorrow, Mljet and new horizons. That's what travelling is all about!

Back to the boat in time to catch the first sunrise views - tomorrow, Mljet and new horizons. That's what travelling is all about!

Topdeck Croatia Sailing - Sale on now, save up to 20%

Running with (or away from) the bulls!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Topdeck’s travel blogger, Liana Szwajlyk, relives her first-ever (and only!) Pamplona experience.

Singing erupts from a sea of white and red. Viva San Fermin!! It’s 8.00am. The first rocket focuses my attention, a second signals the bulls are on their way. The sea is now moving. Slow at first but running, turning, now faster as the hooves descend.

“Why am I here?” This was the thought going through my mind as I prepared for the enierro, the famous Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. The night before, I’d been cruising Pamplona’s bars, fuelled with Sangria induced bravado. “I’m a pretty fast runner” I thought. I could outrun a bull or two. “What the hell, I’ll give it a go.”

A few sleepless hours later, there I was standing – knees shaking – on Santo Domingo Road for what could have very well been the last day of my life. Waiting impatiently with a few hundred adrenaline seekers, my stomach churns and I now realise what actual fear feels like.

8.00 am: The sharp shot of the first cannon sounds. Some run already. Having absorbed the advice of every ‘expert’ I’ve talked to, I hold firm - until the second cannon. The crowd’s nervous tension is released as they take off.

People are yelling and hollering; it seems I’m one of them. As I start into a full-out sprint, I have a horrifying realisation: I can run only as fast as the people in front of me. At this moment, self-preservation takes over, and I switch from a running-in-sheer-terror tactic to a run-push, run-push strategy – focussing on nothing but the next step in front of me.

The roar of the crowd grows louder and the ground shakes as the bulls hurtle along the course. They’re coming. People manically scramble to save their skins. As I look to my left I realise I’m now running with the bulls, rather than away from them…

The next five minutes are a blur until the third rocket sounds.

The enceirro is over!

Happy to be alive and happy to be alive…did I say that twice?

As the bulls continued course (and are way out of sight), I decide that I’ve had enough adventure for one day and leave to share my war stories over many more glasses….well perhaps jugs, of Sangria!

Relief and celebration!!

Check out Topdeck’s 4 Day Pamplona Hotel trip and 7 Day Picador package.

Models wanted: nominate your mate!

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

One company, one pub and a bunch of generous people.

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Last Saturday (26/03/11) Topdeck Travel and Shepherds Bush Walkabout teamed up to raise funds for those sadly affected by the Earthquake in Christchurch.

Fantastic entertainment, an auction overflowing with travel prizes, the drinks flowing and a bar full of those ready to give generously. Various raffles were held and many got involved in the live auction, bidding for prizes from trips around Europe to 6kg of Pineapple Lumps! Many Aussie and Kiwi bands supplied the high spirited atmosphere and the crowds raised over a fantastic £11,000 that goes straight to the official Earthquake Appeal.

A huge thanks to everyone who kindly contributed to this total, your support is greatly appreciated. If you were unable to attend on the day and would like to offer your donations, you can use this link and follow the directions: