All good things come to an end [beginning].

All good things come to an end [beginning].

My last full day. So many emotions! I didn’t have too much time to think about them because I had plans to meet my childhood best friend and her husband for coffee. I picked a cereal cafe because I know how much she loved cereal, it would be reminiscent of the 90s and she was pregnant and probably craving sugar. I love cereal cafes so much too! If there was one nearby where I lived I would go often. There was a man in the shop who was thinking about franchising in SoHo, NY. I think that was a sign… It was so great to catch up and it felt just like old times. After saying goodbye to them. I decided I needed a run, to clear my mind, and because I just ate cereal with cream on top.

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I ended up jogging to meet a friend who was in London for work. It was a beautiful day so afterwards she, Amber and I sat in a park with some wine and cheese. We chatted for a long time and took in the warm sun. The park was crowded and it was fun people watching. Eventually we decided it was time for dinner so we walked to a nearby pub and had some food. Eventually it came time for goodbyes, which is never a fun thing especially knowing you won’t see the person for awhile.

It was a little bit easier for me because I knew I was going home. However, as I sat in my bed later and edited by final recap video, it started to hit me that I was ending this adventure. I started to re-watch all of my old recap videos and it warmed me to look back on all of the great memories I made. I’ll never forget those moments, and I know that no one else will truly ever understand how great they were for me.

I then began to think of potential background songs for my final video. I found the perfect one, “I hope you dance”. My mom first introduced me to this song years ago, and the lyrics were perfect for how I was feeling now. Even though this particular journey was ending, I still will hold on to the sense of wonder that I had while exploring new places, I’ll remain hungry for new experiences, not taking anything for granted, never feeling empty, appreciating my small part in a big world, not feeling afraid that this door is closing because other doors will open, not sitting out on opportunities no matter how distant and scary they may seem, not settling for the easy path, and most importantly, continuing to take chances.

I enjoyed every moment so far, good and bad. And while I was going to miss the adventure, I was ready to go home and focus on what’s next. I’m taking with me new friendships from like-minded people (from all walks of earth), an appreciation for the beauty the world has to offer, a new patience for things that may not go as planned, memories of getting lost and frustrated but also getting lost and having it turn out better than any plan, the ability to live with less, a new found bravery and confidence, better surfing and French speaking skills, relief that I avoided injury or bedbugs or kidnapping (mostly a parent’s concern, not mine), appreciation of friends who stayed in touch, understanding that time zones change but train times do not, the necessity of creating a routine, the necessity of carbs when you are walking 20,000 steps a day, appreciation for fashion risks, deeper love of accents and culture, and all around a happier version of me. 

I may never get the chance to do this again, and every piece of me is glad I did this now. I’m lucky that I had the ability and I wish more people realize how attainable it is. Maybe not as long or as far, maybe not in the exact same way, but just seeking an adventure that makes you uncomfortable. Travel is one way to do it but not the only way. Along the way I did hear that I inspired others do do something new. Some chose travel, some chose to join a club, some were content living vicariously through me, and some haven’t pulled the trigger but are a little closer to doing something new. Perhaps most importantly, I inspired myself.

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Tourist Tax.

Tourist Tax. I think this is a great thing. All the hotels and restaurants benefit from tourists, but many of the public places, i.e landmarks and green areas are only hurt from it. From the wearing down of materials–to trash on the ground, tourists can cause a big mess. I know it would impact my travels, but I truly wouldn’t mind if some places limited the numbers of tourists, or at least large tourist groups that come through.

I say this because there have been a few places along my way that I probably would have rather not seen because of the crowds. I know, this might sound spoiled of me, but I don’t mean it that way. I just mean, I think they can lose their impact/effect when you have to look past thousands of people to see the actual thing you came to see. Not to mention people only interested in getting a good selfie. Meanwhile, having to say no to all of the people selling fake purses outside. Although the ones selling bottled water and phone chargers can be very useful.

Often, my favorite places have been those which are less popular, and which I’ve had to myself. It becomes more intimate and you’re able to appreciate what your witnessing more. Sure, you might argue that there are landmarks that you MUST go see. But why? How many people have said they were disappointed in the Mona Lisa, yet still tell you to go see it?

My advice–Take a moment to think about what you like and seek out those things when you travel. For example, I know I don’t really enjoy art museums (I love art, but my art interests are very different that what is considered famous/popular). I like architecture, but the kind that shows culture or the kind that is the most “out-there”. I don’t really have interest in seeing too many churches or temples, but I am a fan of castles and palaces. I like any tour that has a nature and cardio element to it (hiking or canyoning) or one where I can learn a skill (candy making or landscape painting). And most importantly, if I don’t see something, I’m not going to stress about it. I hopefully missed it because I was enjoying my lunch in a cafe so much and lost track of time, or maybe I missed my train which is less enjoyable but equally as likely.

Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but if we all just did the things we truly wanted to, and not what we were told to do, our footprint would spread out a bit more.

Elephant Kisses, not Elephant Rides.

Elephant Kisses, not Elephant Rides.

I eagerly woke this morning knowing what was in store for the day, hanging out with elephants! First, was an hour and a half van ride to the North. In the van we watched a video on the history of the Elephant Nature Park which included some heart wrenching videos of elephant mistreatment. They torture these creatures to get them to do things for us, just for our entertainment (riding, circuses, street begging, etc.). I’m glad people are talking about it more and refusing to partake in riding elephants, without demand the bad businesses will hopefully die out.

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Oz-ta La Vista!

Oz-ta La Vista!

So long Australia! (Oops I’ve been gone for 6 days but this never posted). It has been wonderful but I can’t say I’m not looking forward to getting my adventure on in New Zealand!

What a great day to end on yesterday… I ventured over to Burleigh Beach yesterday with a new friend, Michael. We were going surfing together and I borrowed one of his boards. I tried to hide my fear when I saw he didn’t have a soft foam board. I’ve never used one of the harder surfboards before, and I know they are more difficult. The benefit of this board is that it weighs way less, which especially paid off while push-biking to the beach with a surfboard under one arm. I laughed the whole way as it was one of the more challenging things I’ve done and I struggled.

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Soooo I may have oversold my skills… as the first beach we went to had very big waves and a strong swell. After a few failed attempts we moved to a beach where the waves are easier. Much better. I was able to paddle out, catch my own waves, and stand for a bit. It was harder to stay up on this new smaller board, but it’s about time I took my training wheels off. Afterwards, we had a much deserved lunch. With newfound energy, we took our bikes over to a creek where I could practice for my upcoming bungee jump. Standing up on the bridge looking down at the water made me question what I was getting myself into next week. You think it’s all good until it actually comes time to jump. I’ve learned it’s just a matter of just turning off my brain (which is always over thinking) and going for it. Which I did, and was worth it, of course! We swam around a bit in the creek which had really cool sand banks.

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After catching the rainbow sunset with some Sauv Blanc, exchanging good stories, making up new slang and listening to tunes via the classic phone in cup speaker, we met up with Becky (my German roomie) and hit up a local bar to play some pool. I’m glad I had a few drinks in me because my hostel doubles as a hotel and night club and they sure turn up on weekends. I  remember dozing off to the latest Cardi B song and had dreams I was in an Australian rap video.

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The next morning I had a panic moment while mid sip of my coffee down the street. I looked at my calendar to see that my flight was in 40 minutes. I started running back to grab my luggage whilst calling an uber. How did I miss this?! There is NO way I’m going to make it. About 10 f-bombs muttered to myself later, I realized that the calendar flight notification said Cairns to Gold Coast. Thank goodness. That was my flight that I originally had for today but moved a few days earlier and just never deleted. Approximately 4 hours later I actually headed to the airport…with plenty of time to spare.

Australian Summary:

Highlight: Figure 8 pools.

Lowlight: Surfer’s Paraside.

Things I learned: Don’t be so quick to book a flight without looking at weather, give yourself a private room every few weeks, and ask what’s in coffee before ordering.

Things I wish I had: Heels. Just a small wedge. This probably won’t be relevant in my next few countries but would have been nice in Bondi.

Missed opportunity: Everyone said Byron was their favorite, I wish I would have made time for that. Melbourne probably would have been next. All in all, I liked my itinerary!

Would I come back: This may seem a bit backwards, but I wouldn’t come back to just holiday. I would come back to live here though. It is a great vacation spot– lovely beaches, good weather etc., BUT I can get that in other places for much less and closer to home. That said, it was such an easy transition because everyone speaks English here. So, I think I would live in a big city or in a nice surf town.

Change of Plans

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
― Allen Saunders

I arrived in the Gold Coast yesterday or maybe it was Miami…I really can’t tell the difference! Don’t get me wrong, Miami is great, just not what I’m looking for on this trip. A few people in Bondi warned me of this, but the flight was booked and I am the type of person to come to a conclusion on my own. I also didn’t really love my hostel..it was very different from my last one. Skewed younger, not as nice, and I didn’t get a super friendly vibe. To top it off, I chose Surfers Paradise to surf, but the winds were too strong and coast guard wasn’t allowing it. For those keeping track, that is still 0 waves I’ve caught.

I bailed. For as much planning as I did for this trip, I knew there would be moments like these. The best thing you can do is not get upset about it and make your next move. So, where to? Cairns. Why? I love diving, I feel at peace under water and the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on earth… for now… it’s slowly dying and who knows what there will be to see in a few years from now. Global warming is real people! So do your part to leave a smaller footprint: consume less, recycle, walk more, etc.. PSA over. I also love rainforests. Reasons enough that Cairns was the place. I booked a new hostel and a flight for the next day.

In the meantime since I didn’t feel like shopping, gambling or getting exfoliated by a wind storm on the beach, I did some swiping (you know, getting to know the local culture). I met up with a guy for a beer near the beach. He was from Burleigh which I’ve heard from others is a cool spot. He explained Surfer’s Paradise perfectly: you never hear of locals in Las Vegas going to the strip. The same with Surfers Paradise, it’s a great tourist spot and maybe good for an occasional night out, but you don’t hang out there often if you’re from the Gold Coast. We had good conversation, but eventually, I had to dip out to catch my flight.

Landed! Took a short 10 minute ride to hostel and immediately I like the vibe better. It’s funny how quickly you can get a feeling about a place. I’m staying at Mad Monkey.. don’t judge a name… says the girl who’s name is spelled like a beer. The check-in staff were extremely friendly, the facilities are great (super nice and great social areas), unheard of amenities (such as free breakfast, a gym, a real A/C unit and a free towel!!! Good because I needed to wash mine), and the best part…..I have my own room. Sure, I’ll sacrifice meeting instant new friends, but I’m not worried about it at this place. What I get in return is: all 4 outlets to myself, freedom to leave things out, a place to write without people wondering why you came to Australia to sit on your laptop, and no one dropping a cellphone from the top bunk onto your bottom bunk in the middle of the night (yes this happened). Oh and this room happens to have a queen bed. I’m currently making myself into a large X and taking up as much space as possible.

In summary, I’m happy with the change of plans, and I think I’ll be even more happy when I’m bumping elbows with the fish on the GBR tomorrow 😉

Why travel alone?

Why travel alone?

Why travel alone? I get know myself. I’m the type of person that can’t go anywhere without music. Even in my short 3-block walk to work I plug in my headphones and enjoy 1.5 songs. I love alone time, but do you know how many thoughts cross through your mind every minute? 35-48 to be exact!

In a recent solo trip to Chile I didn’t have the audible luxury of headphones. Alanis Morissette could have written a song about the irony of losing my headphones on the first leg of my trip. Delta was kind enough to provide headphones to watch movies, but the latest iPhone doesn’t take basic headphone jacks anymore, so no more music upon landing. I decided I would buy bluetooth ear buds or an adapter during my next layover. Not so lucky for me, immigration was backed up and I barely had time to use the facilities without missing my flight, let alone buy headphones.

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