Tag Archives: home

Approaching the end

So here I am, in the final days of my travels. When the number of days until I return home almost equals the number of months I’ve already been away.

Upon hearing how close I am to the end of such an epic trip, fellow travellers inevitably follow up with the same question: “so, how do you feel about going home?”.

It’s a question I haven’t yet figured out the answer to. I brush it off with a vague “oh, you know, excited, but I wish I could stay here (wherever “here” is) a bit longer”. Which is true – I am looking forward to being home. Or, to be more precise, I’m looking forward to being back in my home. It’s strange, but one of the things I’ve missed most while away is my house. My sunny backyard, my veggie patch and the chooks. Riding my bike through the quiet Northcote streets. Cooking dinner for friends and housemates, drinking wine on my front porch. So yes, I’m looking forward to going ‘home’.

On the other hand, I don’t feel finished with this trip. My three months working in Thailand was like pushing the re-set button; 12 days is a ridiculously short ‘holiday’ to finish on, it should be more like another six months. After being on the road for nine months, 12 days seems like nothing, like it will pass in the blink of an eye. It is barely enough time to find a quiet beach or out of the way mountain village and start to settle in to holiday vibe.

Yet 12 days is all I have left, as I’m beckoned home by my increasingly negative bank balance and a welcome, much needed job tutoring at Uni during semester 1.

So, a ‘holiday’ it is. I’m writing this from a cafe in Ubud, Bali, where I had planned to pass some days relaxing with a view over rice paddies, doing yoga, exploring the beautiful landscape around. Yet, as is my style, I’ve decided to change my plans and move on, to the Gili islands for some sun, beach, and yes, maybe even some yoga. Sounds like a nice holiday to me. And although this trip may be drawing to a close, as I commented on a recent facebook status, “a traveller’s journey never ends”. I get the feeling that this “get it out of my system” trip has done just the opposite. But, until my next adventure, I plan to make the most of the precious days I have left.

**Edit** I’m posting this from magical Gili Air – I’ve found my paradise

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Changing seasons/transition time

September came and went, and with it, the four month marker of me being away. Four months since I handed in my thesis, packed up my room, and left Melbourne to commence this epic trip of mine.

On the one hand, that date – the 23rd of May – when I got on a plane with my parents and sister and, 30 hours later, got off in Rome to begin our two week family holiday, seems like only yesterday. Time flies hey? But on the other hand, it really does feel like four (plus) months have passed. It’s a long time to be on the road, living out of a backpack, constantly changing cities and figuring out bus timetables and getting up at the crack of dawn for red eye flights with Ryan Air.

Over these months in Europe, I have seen summer come and go. I have caught up with old friends who I never knew if I would see again, and I have met so many amazing new people. I have been overwhelmed by peoples’ hospitality, friends and family who have given me a room/bed/couch/floor to crash on for a night or two, sometimes many more, and who have taken time out of their busy lives to show me around their cities, take me out for drinks or dinner, introduce me to their friends, and generally take me into their lives for just a short time.

And yet, as I have alluded to in past posts, this constant moving, and constantly being around people, has been tiring. As I felt the seasons turning, and watched the leaves around me changing colour and the German skies becoming more and more grey, I was beginning to feel a sense of travel fatigue.

But I had one stop left in Europe. Originally my plan was to fly out from Rome, but I decided to end my trip in the city that still feels, after all these years, almost as my second home: Copenhagen.

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I left Dresden in the pouring rain, but almost as soon as we boarded the ferry the clouds seemed to clear, and there was nothing but (albeit still cold) sunshine and blue skies ahead. When my bus finally arrived in Copenhagen that night, I was met by Mikkel, and we made our way back to his apartment where I would again be staying for the next ten days.

When I left Denmark after my exchange in 2009, it felt like really saying goodbye – when would I ever possibly be back, when would I see all these friends again? In fact I was back only the following year with my then (Danish) boyfriend, and although it was an amazing month, it was a completely different experience. Roskilde festival, camping with his friends; staying outside of Copenhagen with his family; a few crazy days and nights partying in town.

This time, this visit, seems almost like my entire collection of experiences, friends, histories in this city, blurred into one.

I caught up with two old exchange friends – Jamie, who I’d met up with a few times in London and who was visiting Copenhagen for the weekend, and James, a fellow Australian, who had moved to Copenhagen a few years ago and was about to embark on another huge move, to Aarhus to study (in Danish!).

I partied through the night at KB18, an old favourite from when I lived there, and at PB43, a new space right near where I was staying on Amager.

I drank coffee and Baileys with my old friend Christopher, who is the reason I have such a great group of Danish friends to begin with, and stayed up late drinking beer in Eiffel bar in Christianshavn, another regular hangout of ours.

I went out to a party in nordvest with Christopher, the birthday and housewarming of someone I vaguely knew. And I walked in the door to come face to face with so many familiar faces, friends old and new, and ended up staying until I was one of the last three stragglers reluctant to admit that the party was over.

I spent many a day/evening/night on the couch at Signe and Joakim’s (and now, their beautiful son John’s), having their post-wedding celebrations, going to the zoo, watching stupid movies, and staying up late talking and playing card games in their old caravan out the back of their house.

I went for coffee all over Vesterbro, my original neighbourhood, rediscovering old favourites and being introduced to the new.

And I finally did what was missing from my last two visits – I found a bike, and rode (and rode and rode) around town, over the bridges, along the canal, criss crossing from one side of the city to another. You haven’t experienced Copenhagen until you’ve experienced it by bike.

The ten days passed so quickly, but in the end I was ready to leave, and begin the next chapter of this adventure: Sri Lanka, and south east Asia. Even though I was sad to say goodbye to Copenhagen, and all my friends again, I now know it won’t be the last time I go back, and that my friendships won’t disappear in my absence.

So Europe, this was not goodbye, but rather ci vediamo/hasta luego/vi ses…until next time.

Back to Berlin

A word of warning – for those of you who have been following my posts chronologically, sorry, but these recent ones have been a bit all over the place. Bratislava before Berlin (whereas in reality they came the other way around) and now, my second Berlin post while a write up of my time there with my brother, back in early September, still sits unfinished in my drafts folder.

But there I was, back in Berlin after an epic loop through Slovakia, Vienna, Munich, Freiburg and Bamberg. Travelling by bus and car pooling, almost 2000km in less than two weeks. There is something about Berlin that keeps pulling me back.

This time, rather than staying in the bustling heart of Kreuzberg, I was staying in the quiet suburb of Biesdorf with Aischa, a friend from IFSS.

Actually that’s not completely true – arriving late on Friday evening, I checked into a hostel near Kotbusser Tor, and had planned a quiet night before meeting Aischa the next day. Until I realised Clare, a good friend from Melbourne, was in town. And so the night began. Drinks at her place across the canal, drinking beers in a cubby-like mezzanine of a local bar, a house party in Friederichshain. A wonky ride back to the hostel, arriving in the dawn hours to the common room empty and my bunk bed calling.

Berlin is like that. I can understand why so many travellers get stuck there, coming for a few weeks and ending up staying for months, or even years. There is so much going on in this crazy city. When I went with James it was Berlin music week, this time, Berlin art week. On Saturday night, Aischa and I had planned to go to a Brazilian music concert, but got distracted by the lure of a colourful poster advertising Balkan beats at a local club. The night after that, planning a short tour around Mauerpark, we got stuck listening to a Dutch street performer playing funk, reggae, and even the odd Prince, then later found ourselves in a small square with a small beer garden and live music stage set up for the night.

Still, for all its charms, I was thankful to be staying outside the city this time. I woke up on Sunday morning and drank my coffee outside in Aischa’s dad’s sprawling backyard, enjoying the sunshine and the feel of damp grass on my bare feet. We went for walks in the forest with her dog Oskar, and made pumpkin soup mixed with apples picked fresh from the old trees in the garden. And I slept the best nights sleep I’d had in goodness knows how long, away from the endless sirens and car horns and church bells and street noise I have been surrounded by for the majority of these four months.

These are the things I’ve been missing from home.