I’m Bored . . Let’s Go To Vietnam

I was overcome with that feeling as I stood in line to check in my backpack. It’s that feeling that I can’t describe. As the attendant hands me my boarding pass, that feeling boils like a pot of stew. Then walking through the tunnel to get on to the plane; that is when the eruption of excitement, nerves and happiness begins because I’m actually about to do this crazy, spontaneous thing. It’s when I realise that this is what I was born to do.

**

I booked my flights to Vietnam one week ago. I don’t even think I realised that I booked it until I went to bed and thought, “oh shit, I guess I’m going to Vietnam on Monday”.

A lot of things led me towards this spontaneous trip. In a nutshell, the biggest thing would have to be disorientation. Everything happened so quickly when I got back from Europe and I was thrown into situations, which I thought I wanted, but I didn’t. Months past and one day it suddenly hit me that I needed a positive change of direction.

People think that quitting something is weak, but it actually isn’t. If you quit something because it’s not for you, then it shows strength. It’s society’s rules that make people question their decisions. It’s really simple though. If you don’t like something, then change your attitude. If that doesn’t work, then change the entire situation.

The past five months that I’ve been home have been exhausting. I haven’t had time to just take a moment and actually realise what I was doing. I lost motivation to write or do anything, and was stuck in a rut. I can gladly say that I am now 100% back to my old self, and could not be happier. I’ve overcome all the physical, emotional and mental things that I was going through and have come out so much stronger and so motivated to work on my career and my life.

So just a bit of advice to everyone as we embark on this Vietnamese journey together. . Do whatever the fuck you want in life. People always ask me why I go here, how I go, don’t you have to work, blah blah blah. I seriously just do what I want, it’s truly that simple guys. People don’t realise how precious life is. I’m not going to sit back and wait for things to happen for me. I’m not going to wait for the ‘right’ moment. What is the right moment? If you wait for that, you’ll be waiting forever.

Wanderlust: a strong desire to travel.

Wanderlust: a strong desire to travel.

The End of The Eurotrip

I never thought I’d be the girl searching for the 1 penny that she dropped on the ground as she rummaged through her beaten down Mimco wallet for the correct change to give the restaurant. Oh damn, now he’s delivered my beverage and poured it into my glass while putting one arm behind his back. He flashed a beautiful smile and walked away. Ah, does this mean I have to tip him now? I guess I better fumble through and see what I can dig up. How’s 1 Euro? Ah, but I was saving that for a congratulatory beer tomorrow night. Shit, I’m so poor. Maybe it’s a good thing that I’m nearly home.

**

I guess its goodbye Europe. We had some good times, didn’t we? Just thinking back to Granada, Hvar, The Greek Islands. . It’s like a distant memory now.

I look out the window as the plane slowly drives on the runway in Helsinki. It’s covered in beautiful white snow, which is amazing because through the whole trip, I hadn’t seen snow properly, until I left my hostel. As I leave to slowly make my way home, snow is falling and I’m greeted with beautiful pale scenery that I will never forget.

What are the chances that on the last day of my Eurotrip, I see snow! -Helsinki, Finland

What are the chances that on the last day of my Eurotrip, I see snow! -Helsinki, Finland

The trip was a hell of a ride, but I wouldn’t change any of it. The experience made me so strong and a truly feel like a different person than who I was before I left. It’s like a new sense of maturity, independence and gratitude has been found.

Challenges were seen everyday on this Euro trip. I want people to know that it isn’t as glamorous as it seems, especially doing it alone and for a long time. But, the feeling is so liberating when you get past the hardness of it all. It’s something so indescribable, but it overcomes your mind, body and soul.

Backpacking gives you this feeling which I can’t completely explain. . it’s like you finally find what you’ve been searching for. .until the next craving of wanderlust, of course! ;)

Stay tuned! xo

The Bavarian Boy – Munich, Germany

I walked through the city of Munich like I had been living there for years. There was a certain comfort that the town brought out in people, along with delicious beer and great food.

Strolling through Marienplatz, I heard the sounds of Latin music. In front of the Glockenspiel, there was a zumba class that was taking place on a huge stage for International Women’s Day.

As I stood there and watched the various characters dancing, a guy approached me and began speaking to me in German. He had luscious brown hair and deep green eyes with a perfect tan.

“Ah sorry, English?” I said, awkwardly of course.
With his Ray Bans hanging in his blue checked shirt, he laughed and introduced himself in perfect English as we continued our conversation.

The zumba performance was coming to an end, so the German asked if I wanted to grab a drink. Not feeling bothered to socialise, I thought one drink couldn’t hurt, and since he was a local, he knew where all the good beer gardens were. It was like I had my own personal German tour guide!

We sat on a crowded table (the only way!) and enjoyed a litre of beer each and a pretzel while getting to know each other. The sun was so warm on my back and the water by the garden was moving ever so peacefully.

Pretzels and Beer, what more do you need!

Pretzels and Beer, what more do you need!

With the sun slowly going down, the German took me around Munich and told me about the significance each area portrayed. We ended up at his favourite coffee shop/bar and had a few more beers before heading back to his apartment to chill out.

It was so strange being in somebody’s home as I hadn’t been in that kind of environment for eight months. It was a beautiful apartment. The lights were dim and the open space of his living room and study made it very relaxed. His whole wall was a bookshelf, which was my favourite.

The German got some cold beers as we chilled out on the couch and watched movies. We had already gotten to the stage where we didn’t need to talk constantly. We were happy just quietly enjoying the company of each other. . that was before our tummies started to grumble! Getting in a cab, we found the nearest German pub and indulged in pork knuckle, schnitzel and more beer.

An epic Bavarian meal!

An epic Bavarian meal!

After an amazing feed, the German took me to a number of local pubs and clubs. What I loved about this was that there were no tourists, just Germans everywhere! We drank more beer until I realised that the 4 litres of beer was slowly hitting me. The German walked me back to my hostel with his hand grazing against mine, as we said our final goodbyes and never saw each other again.

One drink had turned into a 4 litres of beer, 3 bars, 2 movies, 1 amazing Bavarian meal and a great 12 hour friendship.

The Never Ending Journey – Lisbon, Portugal

The time was 6:00am when I thought I had arrived into Lisbon. As I hopped off the train, something felt weird. The station didn’t look very safe, and considering I was in a well-known town, it should have.

Walking through with my pack, I looked back over to the train tracks and noticed a wooden bridge that people were running across to get to the next track. I knew that was unusual, so I said to a little Portuguese woman, ‘Lisboa?’ Her eyes grew large and she shook her head and said the name of some town, which is where I was. “You, unsafe!” She told me and scurried away.

Completely exhausted and furious, I didn’t know what to do. Everyone was staring at me like I was crazy. A man who was on my same train tapped me on the shoulder. “Where are you trying to get to?” His English was perfect and I could tell he was from Spain. He explained to me that I had to go to the ticket office and get a new ticket to Lisbon. The ticket centre was over the tracks, so I began my walk.

As I got onto the tracks, rain started belting down heavily. It was so intense that I felt like I was about to fall over due to the force it had. As I sang Kanye West’s ‘Stronger’, I somehow made it to the ticket office and approached the officer. He didn’t speak a word of English and couldn’t help me at all. What was I meant to do!?
Thankfully, the Spanish man from my train had come to the rescue. He spoke to the officer and they told me what train to catch. Because of the time zone, I had gotten off at the wrong station and ended up in some rural town! After 25 hours, I finally made it Lisbon at 10 o clock in the morning.

After a much needed proper shower, I headed out with a guy from San Fran who had moved to Lisbon in 2010. He showed me around the cool city and took me to a cool art exhibition, which was done in a little village. The exhibition consisted of painted photographs that were hung outside houses, and when you would look inside the houses, you would see a similar scenario being played out. For example, one painted picture was of Portuguese men drinking coffee. When you looked into their house, you saw these men sitting around the table, drinking coffee!

That night, some of the guys at the hostel took us around to different Portuguese restaurants where we got to try traditional food and drink. These places were hidden, so it was an authentic experience where locals surrounded us. After a few shots of the traditional liquor, I could feel exhaustion sweeping over my body, considering it had been two days since I had actually sleept in a bed. I let one more shot of the warm liquor hit my stomach as I curled up in my bed and slept for 12 hours.

The most photographed street in Portugal!

The most photographed street in Portugal!

Too Much Tapas – Granada, Spain

I arrived into Granada with a dead phone, no idea where my hostel was and a really bad hangover. Jumping in a cab, I didn’t even know what to tell the driver. “Donde?” he asked me while flicking through the Spanish radio stations.
Finally, the hostel name came to me. “Oasis ahh backpacker?” I told him in excitement. He looked at me puzzled and handed me his phone with a Google search open.

Five euros later, I made it to my hostel. Absolutely starving, I put my pack down and ventured off to find some yummy food. As I began walking through the Arabic influenced streets, two men called out to me. Without even realising, I turned around and we made eye contact.
Just a tip to solo female travellers; never ever make eye contact with a man, especially if he is trying to talk to you. Why? Well, because they will follow you.

Arabic influences in Granada, Spain

Arabic influences in Granada, Spain

These two men followed me for quite some time. I managed to stay on the busy streets, but they just wouldn’t leave me alone. Finally, I found refuge in a little kebab shop, which was fairly busy. I thought I had escaped these guys, until I saw them waiting for me outside, staring at me with a disgusting look on their faces.

After a while, they disappeared and I ran back to my hostel. At that stage, I didn’t like Granada at all and actually felt a little unsafe. That was until I entered my room and was greeted by my new roommates, aka Julio and Consuela, who had given me the nickname Shakira. It was apparently a thing they did in Spain where everyone had a different, exotic name.

That night we went out for tapas and drinks. If you don’t know the tradition in Granada, it goes a little something like this. When you order a drink at a bar, you’re given tapas for free! Amazing, right?!
We hopped from bar to bar and ended up meeting a lovely Canadian couple (could’ve guessed they were lovely without me saying it) as we stumbled through the city drinking tinto verano (red wine, lemonade and ice) and eating paella and jamon (cured ham).

Jamón!

Jamón!

After a few days of exploring, we started our final day together at noon as we ventured off to grab ‘breakfast’. Julio decided he was going to go out for a drink and tapas, so of course I tagged along.
One drink and tapas turned into eight drinks and we ended up getting back to the hostel at 5:00pm. We got ready and joined Consuela who was waiting for us to watch the Flamenco. She had brought about six new backpackers and we had a few with us as well. The group was ever expanding.

Pura Vida! with Juan, Juanita, Julio, Consuela, Alejandro, Enrique, Lucia, Rosa & Carmen

Pura Vida! with Juan, Juanita, Julio, Consuela, Alejandro, Enrique, Lucia, Rosa & Carmen

The flamenco is a must in Spain. I had never seen anything like it. With the passion and love in the dancers eyes, the performance was so powerful and left us speechless. I can still hear the music and beat when I close my eyes.

The night carried on as we hopped from bars to clubs. With tinto verano, mojitos and shots, you can imagine how crazy the night got, especially since Julio and I had been drinking since noon.

I crawled back to my hostel at 7:30am and I had to be on a train at 9:00am to make my way towards Lisbon, which was going to be a very long journey. As I got off the train from Granada and into Madrid, the hangover had hit, very hard. I had a nine-hour stop in Madrid as I waited for my overnight train towards Portugal. Too sick to do anything, I put my backpack down in the middle of Madrid Atocha train station, and took an uncomfortable nap with a police guard standing next to me the entire time.

As my next train was from a different station, I jumped on the metro to begin the journey. I have never felt so sick in my entire life that I had to get off the metro three times as I thought I would be physically ill. It was at that moment where I just wanted to be in my warm bed and needed someone to tell me it was going to be all right. I stretched out on the metal seat at the metro and cried for a solid amount of time because the pain was too much.

Finally getting on the overnight train to Lisbon, I started to feel a little better after taking advantage of the disable bathroom in Madrid. With its facilities, I freshened up and threw away all the clothes I was wearing that crazy night in Granada (the full story is quite vulgar), and cleaned myself up. Even though the hangover was the worst thing I had encountered, Granada will always be one of the best times in my life and one of my favourite places in the world.

No Hablo Espanol! – Barcelona

An elderly man comes up to me as I’m sitting in the common room of the hostel reading the English to Spanish dictionary. He begins talking in Spanish as I tell him, ‘no hablo Espanol’. He responds with ‘English?’ I nod as he continues rambling on in Spanish.

After about ten minutes, I realised that this man speaks perfect English, but he was trying to help me learn. Reaching into his bag, the man takes out a bunch of worksheets and continues to tell me in Spanish that he teaches English to Spanish children. . I think. Well, that’s what I figured out through the random English words and the worksheets.
By the end of our conversation, I gathered that this man was a writer/poet and he used to be in the military, where he lived in a house in Morocco for 2 years! After giving me his card, he offered me a cheap rate (for Spanish lessons, I hope!) and we continued sitting together in the common room to watch Spanish game shows. It just shows that there is always a way to communicate, no matter what language or culture you find yourself in.

**

There has always been hype about Barcelona, and I truly see why. You could spend years in the city and still be amazed with all that it offered.

To gain a historical understanding of the incredible city, I took a tour with an Irish lady who had been living there for 5 years and knew all there was to know about the city.

Being in a small group of 6, we were able to connect more with our Irish-turned-Spanish guide. She told us random stories about markings that were on buildings, the significance behind street names and certain events that had happened in non-touristic areas.

What I loved about Barcelona was the contrast splash that fills the city. There’s modernism on one side and then Gaudi’s infamous work blended with medieval and gothic themes on the other. The little alleyways and streets create an exciting vibe, which I think makes Barcelona so cool.

After the tour, the group ended up sticking together and finding a cute little restaurant for lunch. As it was a Thursday, it meant that all the restaurants would offer Paella (a traditional Spanish rice dish) as a starter in the ‘menu of the day’. This special ‘menu of the day’ is a 3-course menu that is available during lunch hours for a cheap price, usually between 7 to 11 Euros.

As we finished off our Sangria jug, we trekked to the beach to take in the view. The palm trees, the warm weather and the waves were a beautiful combination. We strolled along and ended up jumping in a cable car to go to the castle. . or ‘cas-tell’ as my new South American friend would say.

Barcelonnaaaa beach!

Barcelonnaaaa beach!

After a long walk, we finally found this ‘cas-tell’ and the view was worth the hour and a half hike. The gorgeous beach just looked so peaceful as it lay against the architecture that looked like little monopoly houses all stacked against each other.

As I looked around for my new friends, I realised that everyone had gotten lost during the hike except my South American friend. Obviously finding it hard to switch between speaking in Spanish and English, she began rambling on in her native tongue which made me realise that the English to Spanish dictionary didn’t do anything. I screamed ‘no hablo espanol!’ and that’s when I realised that I needed to learn the language quick. I can proudly say more than no hablo espanol now.

The South Of France Friendship

Nice and I shared a special connection. It was like a home away from home. I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t want to leave. An extra day turned into an extra week, and before I knew it, it was like I had become part of the furniture at the Meyerbeer Beach Hostel.

Using Nice as my base, I made my way to various cities in the South of France. I spent days lying on the beach in Cannes drinking 1 Euro wine and writing my name in the sand. Other days were spent visiting the second smallest country in the world, Monaco, which was a sight for sore eyes. Full of fancy cars, expensive yachts and classy men in suits, the tax haven is everything you would expect it to be, and more.

Monte Carlo Monaco

Monte Carlo Monaco

After a big day in Monaco, I began walking through the station to head back to Nice when I could feel the vibration of music overtaking my body. I looked around but couldn’t see anyone. As I followed the sound, I found myself standing in a corner of Monaco train station watching a group of boys dancing with one of those huge old school rectangle stereos.
I watched for one hour and realised that I really wanted to join them. I ran in, threw my bag on the ground and stripped of my sweater. We did the usual ‘hey, how you doing’ head nod and they moved back and let me have the floor. After a good half hour of freestyle battles, I picked up my stuff, did the typical handshake and casually walked away. I watched them watching me from the glass elevator as we waved and smiled to each other. I didn’t know their names, but the notion of dance connected us in a beautiful way.

After seeing nearly everything in Nice twice, I met a local who took me out into the smaller town of Antibes, which is famous for the Picasso Museum as well as beautiful views of the French Riviera. We strolled through the old town until he found a beautiful lookout where we indulged in Nutella crepes and discussed where our lives were going. A great friendship was formed, not only with him but with the south of France.

Stop and Smell the Roses – Nice, France

“Alright, lets take the picture and go”, the young girl said to the rest of the Australian tourists as they stood over the picturesque landscape overlooking the entire city of Nice. As they finished up taking their pictures, they continued on walking without even taking a second look at the breathtaking scenery that was right in front of them.

**

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I reached a viewpoint in Parc de la Colline du Chateau. It was one of those moments when you realise how little you are in this big world. I looked out and was amazed at the contrast that was in front of me. On one side there were snowy mountains, which looked like melted scoops of vanilla and blueberry ice cream. In front of these mountains there were these beautiful old buildings next to busy main streets that lied comfortably against the French Riviera. I felt like I was in a peaceful painting, which transported me to another planet. I didn’t understand how people could you just ‘take the picture’ and go.

Is this what travelling has become?

I understand everyone wants to get that special picture for their numerous apps, whether it’s for that Instagram post with that LoFi setting, or that quick Snapchat to make your friends back home jealous. These days, it’s as if we click away at our Apple or Samsung product and walk past the garden instead of noticing the assortment.

Being in one of the most photographed areas in the south of France, the cinematic panorama is something that should leave you speechless and in awe that such beauty exists. Next time you find yourself in a moment like that (wherever it maybe), pause for a few seconds and truly appreciate it. With everything going on in the world, it’s important to stop and smell the roses from time to time, instead of just walking straight through the garden and taking a selfie at the end.

Picturesque Nice

Picturesque Nice

A Tough Journey – London to Amsterdam

Sometimes the road gets tough when you’re travelling. You’ve been away for a while, and everything seems to just be going wrong. I could tell that it was going to be one of those weeks.
It had been a busy several days or so. I arrived into London from Edinburgh on a Friday night. They almost didn’t let me on the bus because I accidentally booked my ticket for the wrong day. After a few phone calls, they let me on the bus, only if I would pay 30 quid at the company desk when we stopped off in Newcastle for a 15-minute break. The bus driver said he would turn a blind eye if I decided to hide out in the bathroom for that time, but I just couldn’t do that. Mind you, the bus ticket was only 15 quid, so I would’ve been paying an additional double on top of that. For a backpacker, that’s a lot of mullah.. It’s your ticket for a pub-crawl!

Finally arriving into London, I spent the weekend with a good traveller friend I had met more than two years ago when I first began travelling. We had met on a Contiki tour on the west coast of America and just clicked, and all this time later, it was like nothing had changed.
We ended up having a great, yet exhausting Australia Day weekend. From Saturday night, to Sunday afternoon and Sunday night, we celebrated Australia Day as lifeguards and enjoyed the company of hundreds of fellow Australians, drinking and smashing out those sing a long tracks.

Aussie Day Fun!

Aussie Day Fun!

On the Monday night, I had my bus into Amsterdam at 9:30pm. I thought this was just going to be a nice easy bus, which went straight from London into Amsterdam from night till 9am the next morning. I mostly expected this because when I did the Amsterdam to London, it was like this. I was ready to get comfortable and catch up on some much needed sleep. Oh, was I wrong.

A couple hours through, we had reached the passport check. When the bus driver put the lights on, it was like looking straight into the sun after coming out of a movie theatre. We did the customs check and all headed back on to the bus.
Trying to get comfortable again, I slowly drifted off to sleep, only to be woken up again. Apparently we had to catch a ferry now to cross over! Gathering all my stuff, we got off the bus and headed onto the ferry. I had no idea how long we were meant to be on here, so I couldn’t sleep in peace. Also the fact that the gaming room was so damn loud!
After a couple of hours on the ferry, we got off and had to get back onto the bus. It was 4am by this stage and I needed sleep. I put my pillow to the window and tried to get into a position that was right, but the guy in front of me had fallen asleep with his seat pushed all the way back, so I was squished, cold and sore.

9:00am had arrived and we finally made it to Amsterdam. After two trams, I made it to my hostel by 10:30am and kindly enough, the receptionist let me check in straight away, instead of waiting till 2:00pm. I put my backpack in my room and the lady who I was sharing my bunk with got really mad that I was there. She basically didn’t want me to sleep on the top bunk above her and asked me to move to the bed opposite. I don’t think she understood that beds are assigned for a reason. By this stage, I wasn’t in the mood for anyone’s stupidity, so told her that she should move if she had a problem.

I was starving, so I decided to go and get some food, come back and have a nap before exploring Amsterdam again but as I was leaving the hostel, I saw that the collection for the tour was being organised. I decided to join in, and from there I had a fully packed day in Amsterdam. I didn’t get back to by hostel until 10pm that night, and going with 38 hours of no sleep, I crashed as soon as my head hit that small pillow.

Beautiful Amsterdam

Beautiful Amsterdam

I left Amsterdam a couple days later, and got on a train towards Brussels for a change over. Unfortunately, I slept through my alarm that morning and everything got messed up. I woke up at 7:20am, and had 10 minutes to get my backpack sorted, get ready and walk to the tram.
I arrived at the station at 8:03am, and my train journey began at 8:18am. Of course, I didn’t make it, but the lady was nice enough to organise a new journey to Marseille for me. As I began running to get my train, my Tesco bag ripped open, and in the middle of central station all my food scattered around.

As I chased for that damn tuna tin, I felt a feeling of exhaustion weep over my body and caught a glimpse of myself in a reflection. I saw me, myself and my backpack, and realised that if anyone can get through a shitty day of travel, it’s me.

Inspiration via Edinburgh

I looked out the window of the train as I headed towards Edinburgh, Scotland. I was overcome with a feeling of joy as I notice the lights shining beautifully, just like little diamonds on a silver bracelet.
Though it was hard leaving Keele, the place I called home for 4 months, being back on a train gave me a sense of peace and happiness. I like the thrill of being alone and trying to figure everything out for myself.
People always say to me, ‘don’t you get lonely?’. The only time I’ve ever felt lonely was at Keele when everyone in my block had gone home for Christmas and I was still there counting the days down till my flight into Paris. Apart from that, I have to say that I am very content with travelling independently and I prefer it.

Don’t get me wrong, travelling with someone is good as well, but I think when you’re young, there are things you need to do yourself to help shape the way you develop as a human being. Travelling, and studying abroad are a few of them.

When you’re young, you’re overwhelmed with everything that life throws at you. You go through school, jobs, career paths and sometimes you get caught up in this routine where you feel like your life isn’t going anywhere and you’re stuck in the same thing day in and day out. The trick is to get out. Get out of that routine for a while and everything starts to make sense.

Ever since I was 14, I’ve been employed. I saved my money and went to Fiji for an after school celebration when I was 17. When I turned 18, I got a job as a waitress and at the end of that year; I went to America for 5 weeks, which was my first big trip. After that, that’s when I knew I was meant to travel the world.
I worked two jobs, studied a full load at uni and 2 years later by the time I was 20, I had saved enough for a best friends wedding in Queensland, a complete Euro trip and an exchange program in the UK. I barely went clubbing, I hardly bought anything for myself and I kept my social life to an extreme minimum. It may sound boring to some, but I was happy with my work-study routine and wouldn’t change any of it.
Why? Well, because of everything I have seen so far and the fact that I am reaching my goals.

I sat first class on my way to Scotland that night, I sipped on some apple cider and enjoyed a delicious meal while a waitress asks me if I would like anything, instead of the other way around. I couldn’t have felt better at that moment.

I understand travelling may not be for everyone, but the point of this is motivation. With everything going on in the world, you really need to grasp life with both hands and realise how lucky you are to have the opportunity to conquer your dreams. So many people work and study, but they have no goals and they just do it for the sake of it. You need goals and you need passion in life, or there is no point. I love to write and I love to travel. I work because I want to see the world, and I continue learning because I want to become a better writer.
When I quit my 2 and a half-year job back in Sydney, it was an amazing feeling because that’s when I knew I had achieved my financial goal, therefore meaning that I was ready to undertake my travel one. I was ready to break free out of my comfort zone, experience new things and get lost in culture with nothing holding me back.

So whether it’s a mortgage, music, fashion, a holiday, backpacking, a dream job, art, overseas working/volunteering, a car, sport, an Apple product or a business idea; just find that passion that’s inside you and get motivated.
Work and live towards something, because everything will start to make sense.

Edinburgh.jpg