Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Daily Grind

I have officially caught the travel bug. Being back home for a good week has made me feel once again rather bored. Stuck in a 9 to 5 mundane office cubicle job and off to begin yet another gruelling semester of uni I'm feeling the great boredom of the daily grind. How I wish I could spend the rest of my days without a care in the world, traveling the world. No work, study or controlling parents, just me and the world.

Having seen the wonders this planet possesses I simply cannot fathom the likes of those who stick to what they know, who they know and where they live, work and play, how can they not want for more?

Just back from a cold climate I am melting under our schorching sun. I take to the public streets and my eyes look upon people clothed in nothing but singlets, barely there shorts and thongs by the plenty. It is so odd, the sight seems so foreign to me, people look almost naked. You get use to the big heavy coats and boots, seeing exposed skin suddenly almost seems wrong, maybe a little indecent. I once again see the bogan masses of which Brisbane is polluted with.

People might find me a little ungrateful so I would also like to mention there are many things that have made me happy about being back. As I walked my usual route through the city I couldn't help but smile. This is my city no matter how often I criticise it. The air smells so very fresh and clean, birds chirp their morning song, clouds of cigarette smoke is almost non existent and cars politely stop at pedestrian crossings. The feeling of being a down right local is wonderful, my first day back and a stranger asks for directions; being able to help with ease is strangely fulfilling. I love my city. It feels good to eat at my favourite cafes, relax in my favourite park, sit on my prefered bus seat, walk my favourite routes and shop at my favourite shops. Familiarity provides you with comfort and a feeling of true belonging. It may not have ancient architecturally beautiful structures, or history worth telling your grandchildren as they sit listening with trepidation. It might not warrant a lonely planet guide or place in the top ten most beautiful cities but it is gorgeous in its own right. Being away for about 2 months my city looks fresh, buildings I usually walk straight past, I sit and admire for a while, places are thought were mediocre suddenly seem rather extraordinary and shops I took for granted look all the more appealing.

So although I am devastated to be back working the daily grind I am also rather elated to see my city just as it always was, a place of relaxed personalities, casual dining and open spaces. I know my fanciful dreams are merely dreams and being a constant trekking the globe nomad is simply out of the question, so I shall simply injure and persist, for I'm sure all this hard work will pay off eventually. My travels have taught me to make the most of each day, find adventure where you can and find your passion in life.

Carpe Diem!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

What I Have Learnt

Well after seven splendid weeks I have returned home in high spirits (and some major jet lag). I have finally recovered and am now reflecting on all that has past; the good, the bad, the unforgettable and the most influential. So here is what I have learnt from one hell of a travel experience:

1. Long haul flights stuck in cattle class are a nightmare

2. When you are a young and reasonably innocent looking girl you can smile your way out of certain sticky situations

3. Often it is wise to simply forget about your budget and spoil yourself

4. Speaking of said budget, maybe you should also check the bank accounts often

5. Don't be afraid to leap outside your comfort zone - you will be surprised at how much you can achieve and experience

6. And you might actually enjoy yourself in activities you would never think twice about doing back home

7. Either go budget backpacker or opulent traveller; never take the mediocre - hostels trump cheap hotels any day

8. Find time to just sit and relax, don't try and cram so many activities into one day, take it easy; you will admire places and sights much more and your body will love you for it as well.

9. Laugh as often as you can, even when trains fail you, service wrongs you, language beguiles you or luggage absolutely fatigues you

10. Try to see the beauty and unique colours in each destination, no matter how much it might disagree with you

11. Immerse yourself in the local cuisine (diets are strictly forbidden)

12. Learn a few phrases in the language

13. Stay in one place for more than two days; you can only then begin to appreciate and feel the mood of a city; try to blend, be a local

14. The people you meet along your journey come from different walks of life, embrace the diversity; you can learn so much about the world, people and yourself

15. If it is possible, walk as much as you can. It is the best way to get your bearings as well as seeing a place in its' most true and purest of ways.

16. If you are travelling with someone, always find time to be alone once in a while; swimming in your own thoughts can sometimes be peaceful and calming (especially if you sit quietly with a journal a pen and a steaming hot cup of coffee looking out onto a picturesque landscape)

17. Similarly take time to talk to each other seriously, happily and utterly carefree - the person you travel with will end up experiencing so many things the same, you become rather a like, dependent and extremely trustworthy of each other - you form a very strong bond.

18. Pop into supermarkets - they are a great place for a cheap bite and yet another place to explore a locals day to day scene

19. It is ok to be that crazy tourist taking silly photos (sometimes)

20. Play games like spot the asian, hear the aussie, see the red head...

21. Americans who travel are really lovely people who actually understand that there are countries apart from USA

22. Starbucks and Macdonalds can be a great comfort for tired eyes and lost souls - they provide familiarity when it is sometimes needed and of course free wifi

23. Pack as light as possible, so you have ample room to take more home

24. If you are on a budget save wherever you can but do not let this hinder your cultural experiences (it is perfectly fine that your clothes might reek a little, that's $20 saved by not using a laundromat)

25. Come home with the knowledge that you have seen wonders beyond your backyard and let all that you have experienced influence you for the better.

All the people I have met and all the times I have had whether they were bad, perfectly perfect or slightly mediocre I will remember them always. These experiences have changed and affected me for the better. I have learnt new ways of thinking and being. When you travel you get to know yourself wholeheartedly, you learn who you are and who you want to be. You get to know your preferences, your dislikes, your limits, your fears and your vulnerabilities. You grow as a person and you come home feeling that little bit more worldly and complete. At the same time you yearn to see more of the world but you also feel comfort in your safe little house, knowing you have friends and family waiting for you always.

Soon reality hits you, you must return to your grounded life, dutifully there are obligations and tasks one must fill in order to grow, learn, create a life worth living and one that will surely lead to more adventures.

So world, listen up: don't go closing your beautiful eyes any time soon, because this girl certainly aint done with you yet!

This marks the last of my European travel entries. Look forward to more frivolous writings on day to day observations and trivial matters soon!

Ciao for now.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Magical Munich

Germany: how very friendly and clean this country is. One of the best things about it are the people. For the majority their English is perfect. A free walking tour took us to the most important sights of the city. I was left feeling a great appreciation for Germans.

For all the unspeakable horror and devastation these streets have seen I am simply grateful all the beauty remains. Buildings reconstructed, some to the very minute details of the past.

Although I wish such a history never happened you wonder how such cities would have progressed differently today. Would they be as dynamic? From destruction can come beauty. Whether we choose to make something of our past, improve our features or not is up to the individual. For Germany they chose to move on, progress and the result is something they and the world should be most proud of. Thank you for giving me yet once again another gorgeous European city.

Only one more day in magical Europe. How I will miss all it's beauty and charm.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


I have left beautiful Napoli behind and miss it tremendously. What makes travel so special is very much the people you get to meet. I stayed at this hostel run by the most wonderful Italian man you could ever have the pleasure of meeting. His name is Giovanni and he is the most generous, wise, fun and giving person i have come across on my travels.

On arrival he insisted on cooking us lunch, making sure we would be able to see as much of Naples as possible, ensuring we would be safe and smiling at all times.

He cooked everyone dinner as we sat around singing along to his animated Italian as he effortlessly strummed his guitar and blew his harmonica, he knew all our names and would go to limitless lengths to help wherever and whenever he could.

He took me on a gorgeous motorbike ride through the city under the bright night lights looking over all of Naples. The freedom you feel when you are on a bike is infinitely enchanting. He taught me life lessons and made me feel happy about myself. He has seriously changed me for the better.

How I wish I knew there was so much to see in Naples! We visited Herculaneum a city also destroyed by mount Vesuvius and so well preserved, trekked up to see the impressive crater of said volcano and walked the ruins of Pompeii. A day full of peace and awe as you stroll down old roman streets and imagine how life once was.

We dined at an amazing pizzeria and sampled gelati flavours of all sorts; having moments of complete satisfaction and love of Italian food. Giovanni also taught us a very important lesson: the only correct way to eat mozzarella is warm and by itself, only then can you truly taste the beauty of mozzarella. "when you eat like this, it is a total different planet".

So here I am in friendly Munich feeling all the more enriched for the people I have met, the conversations and experiences I have had. Here is to Giovanni and more wonderful times in Munich!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Roman Ruins

Roma! Once you arrive in such a gorgeous place you feel as if you haven't lived before. Walking through the colosseum was amazing, I felt a little sad there isn't more of it still standing. A walk through the roman forum was simply majestic as your eyes wander and imagine what it once was, so much grandeur and opulence.

Just nearby a building so ostentatious stands tall and mighty. The Romans have nicknamed it the wedding cake. Mussolini dedicated it to one king; too much maybe? Or maybe he was really that great...

As you wander the streets ancient buildings stand on every corner. I guess the one downfall about these beautiful cities is the tourists, everything is such a cash grab. If only you could have the place all to yourself or if only it was exactly like how it is in the movies. Gregory Peck riding you around on a Vespa as you stop for gelato on the Spanish steps and dance under the roman skies, place your hand inside the mouth of truth with no one around.

The Trevi fountain equally something to sit around in awe. I toss a coin in hoping for the best in life and love. The pantheon is an impressive sight as you admire and are left feeling gobsmacked wondering how they made such an epic structure so long ago.

Similarly the Vatican stands alone in all it's power. As I walk through the basilica I gaze at the grand paintings and the intricate ceilings feeling a little detached. The Catholics walk the floors with so much enchantment and worship, I can only imagine how they must be feeling.

Equally as wonderful are the people, friendly and absolutely Italian what with all their hand gestures and passionate speech. It is true what they say, Italian men really do have some serious confidence!

My last day here and I am left with the impression that maybe the Romans were more advanced then we are today. After seeing this city you understand the saying so much more; Rome really wasn't built in a day.

Ciao for now!