This is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules..” Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) The Big Lebowski
It was a decent wake up in New Orleans. The bus wasn’t leaving until 8:45 which was a nice sleep in. We took advantage of this and slept in prior to a quick breakfast at the hotel and a sad goodbye to some of our Contiki family. We were hitting the coach today to travel through our 13th state – Alabama. Of course we couldn’t not listen to ‘Sweet home Alabama’ as we rolled in. That was a great 3 or so minutes and set the vibe.
We stopped in Mobile, Alabama. This was a quick lunch stop so we pulled up at a pub and got a feed. We grabbed a buffalo chicken sandwich with fries which was pretty good. Definitely one of the better meals we have had here. On the way back to the coach we went through a park and we saw our first squirrels. There were about 30 of them, it was pretty cool to see. I would imagine for Americans this would not be exciting, but it was the first we have seen them in our lives and it was a nice little moment.
We wanted a coffee for the coach but couldn’t find a decent place, we ended up stopping in a diner which provided us with a black coffee with some powdered creamer – gross. We needed the caffeine hit so we still drank it. We were then onward to our 14th state and one we’d be in for the next 5 or so days – Florida.
Our stop for tonight was Panama City Beach, Florida. Braden explained it as being the “Redneck Riviera”. Basically it is a big party town and all of the rednecks from the south go on their beach vacations here, spring break is also huge here and they shoot ‘girls gone wild’ here too, so you can imagine what it is like.
We finally arrived and checked into our room which was pretty cool cause it is across the road from the beach and there is a lagoon behind the hotel that has about 100 turtles swimming in it. It’s cool. We dropped off our gear and headed right over to the beach. We had about an hour to kill before dinner so we walked around the beach and got our feet wet.
It’s a really nice beach but as an Australian, nothing can compare to what we have. That was nice and the weather was beautiful. We have had a lot of rain recently and to get some mild weather with a cool wind was refreshing.
After that we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our included dinner at a place called Hofbrau. It is a German-American restaurant run by a young couple. The woman is German and the bloke is American. Everyone sits at long tables and the waitresses wear German clothes but in a sexy way. They also sell Steins which contain a litre of lager. We had to order one each.
The guy that runs the place gets up on the stage and gets games happening while dinner is going on. Ronnie got called up onto the stage to be a part of a US trivia game against 4 others in our group which he won.
His prize was a miniature beer stein that is the size of a shot glass to keep plus a shot of any alcohol of his choice. Jäger it was. Lovely! We ordered the salmon for dinner as it came with broccoli and we are dying for vegetables. It was delicious and the broccoli was much needed. By the end of this dinner, it was safe to say that we were very intoxicated.
We hopped on the coach and sang songs all the way back to the motel. Right next to the hotel was a bowling alley that had a bar, a roller skating rink and arcade games. We knew where we were spending our night. We bowled 2 games with some legends on tour. Beers and bowling just hits different in America. Then we went for a roller skate. Aimee crashed immediately, so she gave up. Ronnie was cruising around the rink for a bit but the skates hurt his feet so we didn’t do that for long. There was something very American about this moment which felt nice.
Then we hit the arcade games. They were quality and new games which was refreshing compared to the arcades in Australia. We spent the night playing these with some people on the tour as we continued to drink and enjoy ourselves. It was such a fun, but also laid back night compared to ones we have had recently.
After that we strolled home which was actually quite later than we thought. Panama City beach was a great time. We feel that we could easily spend a few more nights here but alas, we must move on.
Ronnie & Aimee.