Reconnecting with the ex….

Its not how it sounds, really, I swear! Ladies and Gents, its been a blissful, busy, bright and brilliant three weeks off. I got my itchy feet out of Vienna and returned to an old love – the Road. That enticing mistress of adventure, uncertainty and joy that I thrive on.


Officially I gave up my Topdeck job last year, after two incredible seasons – moving on to my new life in Vienna and consequently a new, grown-up, real life job. Topdeck was my employment-ex. The much beloved, always wistfully mentioned, ‘dream job’. So when the email came through three months ago, asking if I wanted to do just one cheeky trip…well what’s a restless girl to do?? Topdeck & Trip Leading have been the ‘what if’ spectre hanging about in the back of my brain and secret chamber of my heart for months and I had to find a way to get it out of my system. Not only for my own sanity, but to really and truly start my life here in Vienna, I needed to shake the feeling that I was ‘missing out’. Essentially banish my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, for those who don’t speak the slang of Youths these days!).

A short and sharp 11 day trip was the answer – not so long as to cut into my annual leave, and just long enough to hit all the high points of a good solid lap around Europe. The itinerary? Paris – Lauterbrunnen-Venice-Munich-Rhine Valley-Amsterdam. Two nights everywhere except Munich and Rhine Valley where we had one night each. Stunning.

A small visual guide to what I got up to in my spare time. As in, when not managing 46 mostly drunk/hungover hilarious and fun loving passengers that had a fairly tight itinerary to see 9 countries in 11 days!!

Paris – I hired a bike and rode around the sights, stopping in at Shakespeare and Co. Bookshop for a few treats – hipster bliss!

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View over the Trocadero Gardens and some old, iconic structure

Eglise Dom

 This is the Eglise Dom where Napoleon is buried, he’s a subtle kinda guy.

Switzerland. Got my inner Austrian on for a hike up the Grunnenwald, I must be integrating better than I thought because I actually enjoyed this kind of excercise!

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Up close with some local cows, not as friendly as expected

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View of Jungfraujoch Mountain from little Cafe Hut

Italy – Skipped the hot, sweaty crowds wandering the sunny streets of Venice and caught up with some old friends beside the pool. Heaven.

Venice Canal

The coolest place to be in Venice – on water. View is from Accademia Bridge

Munich – Beers in Hofbraühaus. Apparently we were having an excellent time ‘cos I have no photographic evidence of this!!

Rhine Valley – managed to take the optional River Cruise down the Rhine River, sipping beers in the sun with some of my favourite passengers. Incredible countryside!

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Oh,  this was the view from our Hostel room in St Goar, which was, ahem, a Castle.

Amsterdam – Got into the facepainting spirit and night then enjoyed my free day bike riding, visting the newly opened Rijksmuseum to see Rembrandts Night Watch AND got some gifts in the Heinekin Museum. Winner!


National monument – Dam square, Amsters 

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Brugges – always the final day slog, but this time around, we were on time, relaxed and oh so happy to have such a wonderful last day together.


 Final city stop, treated myself to a lunch in the main square. Job well done.

The result? A perfect trip. I honestly could not have asked for a better group, easier itinerary, nicer driver or happier experience. It was the universe gifting me one last hurrah. What I came to realise though, was that as great as the job is – I’ve moved beyond that lifestyle. The thing I love most about it is sharing the excitement of travel with young people who are equally interested and keen to learn more, see more and enjoy everything about their journey. That includes the partying nightlife alongside the historical stories and architectural marvels. I love getting people excited about travelling, sharing their experience the first time they see the Eiffel Tower, or taste Italian Gelato, or try and lift an authentic Stein. Its other traveller’s enthusiasm and joy that I love, above and beyond the job itself.   Which means, I’m finally ok with leaving that Job and that life behind.

I have one delightful group of people to thank for this…these guys:

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Adorable group shot in the Netherlands 

That madcap bunch of people made my trip unforgettable. I am so greatful to have such enthusiastic, excited passengers who were up for any-and-everything! Calling any one trip a favourite is impossible, because each and every single one is special, but this will, I think, be memorable as the final fun one!

Like any good relationship, Topdeck made me grow as a person, figure out who I really am and what I really want. It challenged me, made me happier than I’ve ever been and more exhausted than I ever could have imagined. It was at once uplifting, traumatic and hugely satisfying -sometimes all in one day. To anyone even considering a change of lifestyle or career I can only say DO IT if you have the strength. Its not easy, and its not always fun, but it will change you for the better. It taught me to be selfless, to savour the small moments you get for yourself, to be more helpful, to be thankful everyday for every opportunity. It will always be the most significant ex for me, because it changed my life so completely. I left Australia with a one way ticket, on the hope of getting a job – I really had no idea of what I was in for. Three seasons later, I’m living in Austria with the love of my life, I’ve experienced the best Europe has to offer – counting Rome, Florence, Berlin and Paris as my office – and made friends with the most incredible people along the way. Lucky? No, I worked damn hard for it. Grateful?Hell yes, and always will be.

A motto for all Topdeckers...

For now though, I can say (with 98.99% certianty)that my Trip Leading days are done. I’m putting down my roots here in Wien, starting new challenges, and finding a new way to share my love of travel – online here with you guys, and soon, out in the real world with a new venture that’s shaping up to be pretty exciting! Mostly though, this is for myself and S, to banish all talk of ex-loves and truly begin our new life here, together.

The new beginning…


  1. ellaguilia


    I’ve just found out that I have been offered an interview for a European tour manager position in Brisbane. I’m freaking out! I know I am out going, social and I’ve got some smarts about me, but I have no history background. I work in mining in finance and have a science background. I really want this job, Im taking the huge step of leaving a well paid job with a good company to travel and work overseas!

    Any tips! 🙂 Daniella

    • carlyhulls

      Work hard, study up and don’t try to be anything other than yourself. They can spot a fake a mile away 😉 If you’ve gotten this far you are going to be fine!

  2. valec3r

    Hi Carly!!!
    I’ ve read this post with great interest! In ten days I’m going to have an interview in London, trying to become a Topdeck Tour Leader! Can you please give some advises? I want that job more than everything else in my life!!
    Thank you!!

    • carlyhulls

      Hey Valentina!!

      That’s so exciting! ! All I can say is be yourself. A huge part of the job is being a positive person for 24/7 and if you’re not yourself in the interview the Topdeck recruiters will see straight through it. Study your European history and be passionate about it – tour leading is the best job in the world but you have to be 110% dedicated and willing to sacrifice your ‘normal’ life completely. Other than that good luck!! Let me know how you go I’m more than happy to help! !

      • valec3r

        Thank you so much!!!I really want to have the job!!I’m so motivated and I hope that they will feel it!For sure I’m going to give my best!I will let you know…fingers crossed!

      • valec3r

        Hi Carly!!I’m so happy to tell you that my interview in London went good and that at the and of April I will start the Training Trip. To be honest I’m completely scared about it! I’ve just reiceived the list of all the things that we need to prepare and study… and I guess you know already what I’m talking about!
        Do you have suggestionsts for this “study phase” and for the training trip?
        do you have some study material or anything else that could be helpful for me to send me per mail?even per post..and of course I would pay the sending! I know I’m asking you a lot…but your help will be soooooo precious!!

      • carlyhulls

        That’s amazing!! The adventure begins – congratulations!! I have a whooolllee heaps of stuff but to be honest, for the starting phases its actually easier to research yourself and work with the other guys who are on your TT because if I send you my crazy-balls notes it won’t make any sense to you at all, I swear. Once you’ve done TT you’ll know what I mean, you kinda need to wrap your head around how you need to study and what info you like to spiel about, and then you can add all the extra info. Please please keep in touch i’m definitely here for moral support, the number one piece of advice to survive this crazy time? You need to believe you’re perfect for the job – that’s the only thing that got me through TT. At the lowest moments I just stubbornly knew I deserved that job and worked my arse off to make it happen. Do the same and you’ll be fine. Good luck, have fun on the ride!!

  3. Nev

    Absolutely amazing words Carly! Wouldn’t have been the same trip without you! I think I can speak on behalf of everyone on top deck, that those 11 days were life changing! The memories and experiences will carry on for the rest of our lives! L.O.F.T.D

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