It has been 3 years and 7 months since my solo backpacking adventure. In that time, I have continued to see more of the world and tick more items off my bucket list. I am often told that I should have continued my blog which I originally started for my friends and family. I never imagined I would eventually get over 500 followers!
I enjoyed writing mainly for myself as it was a great way to remember dates, places, details and emotions and I learnt that it was also a great help to other people who wanted to visit the places I had been. And so, I have decided to start writing again for upcoming trips. But as these trips are in the future, for now, and to help me get back into writing, I thought I would just jot down where I have been and what I have done in the past 4 years and if any of my followers would like more information on any destination or activity then please comment and I will happily take a trip down memory lane.
Countries visited and re-visited since January 2014: –
Ibiza, Spain (four times)
Lloret de Mar, Spain (twice)
Budapest, Hungary (twice)
Antigua, St Kitts, St Martin, Saint Martinique, Grand Turk, British Virgin Islands, St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados – Caribbean Cruise
Those of you that have a bucket list are probably like me and tick one off – add another three! Going back to my original bucket list which I posted back in October 2013, on top of the items I ticked off whilst backpacking, I have also ticked off, ‘go to an underground jazz bar’, ‘parasailing’ and bettered my original ‘zip lining’ and zip lined over canyons in Mount Snowdon, Wales. A cruise was never on my bucket list, but I would now totally recommend for others to add it to theirs.
I look forward to sharing my next trip with you.
With my flight back to England fast approaching, I had to make the most of my time in Australia. Melbourne is a fantastic city and I had met some lovely people but I had also seen and done so much already in Melbourne and I wasn’t quite sure what else I
could do to fill my time. Money was running very low and so I very easily came to the decision that I would like to spend my last full week relaxing in the sun, back up north in Airlie
Beach. I really enjoyed the few days I had previously spent in Airlie Beach and knew this is where I wanted to be. After a lot of internet time, I found a very cheap return flight and set off for Airlie Beach.
I flew into Hamilton Island Airport which meant an hour’s ferry crossing over to Airlie Beach and as soon as
I stepped off the ferry I could feel the lovely Australian heat. Wearing black jeans and black t-shirt (the weather in Melbourne at 5am is not very warm) and backpack on back I took the 20 minute walk to Nomads Hostel, where I had pre-booked 2 nights, due to the
fact that it had a swimming pool. By the time I arrived, I was soaked in sweat but had a huge smile on my face as I knew instantly I had made the right decision.
I spent the week just as planned, jogging every morning, swimming in the lagoon and sunbathing by the hostel pool. Being on a very tight budget I went shopping with $30 and bought a supply of food for the week. It is amazing what dishes a backpacker on a budget can come up with. I met so many more lovely friends and spent my last precious nights partying with
them. I spent my last night with Alice from England and Jimmy from Sweden and not wanting my time in Airlie Beach to be over, we partied through the night until it was time to get my ferry. No sleep and a quick shower I set off on the 20 minute walk in the
morning heat back to the ferry. I was sad to leave Airlie Beach but I still had 3 days in Melbourne before the dreaded flight home.
And what a lovely 3 days in Melbourne
I had. I was lucky enough to be able to stay with Dan and his housemates again which meant I was able to accept an invite to The Australian Open with Alan (Dan’s housemate) and his friends. The Australian Open is a major tennis tournament held annually in January in Melbourne. It was the first day of the Open and I was fortunate enough to see some big tennis names playing or practicing. We were at the match where Ana Ivanovic won her first game and we saw R.Nadal and Hewitt practice. It was also the first day of the start of a heat wave for Melbourne. You can imagine my delight! I spent my last day in Australia on the beach of St Kilda in the 43 degree heat and watched the beautiful sunset over
A few weeks ago Christmas was just an inconvience making my travels complicated and expensive. I had always planned to be on a beach on Christmas day, regardless of the weather and whether I was alone with a good book or with new friends, but I can now say I had the best Christmas!
I booked back into Base Hostel in St Kilda for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so that I could be by the beach. I met up with Julia, the Brazilian girl I had met on my first day in Melbourne and we sat on a grass area opposite the beach drinking in the sun and chatting with the many others doing the same.
As the sun was setting we got ready to go into the city to spend the evening with a group of French girls Julia had met. They lived in an apartment in the city and put on a buffet and we sat chatting and drinking for hours. We then went to a bar in the city where we finished the night.
Waking up Christmas morning did not feel strange at all. I think I am that content in hostels they must feel like home! I woke up, cheerily wished my room mates merry Christmas and tried to facetime friends and family. I was only able to get through to 2 of my friends as they had just got home from a night out, it was so nice speaking and laughing with them and once I had spoken with them
I was even more cheerful. I went downstairs to have breakfast and started speaking with a guy and 10 minutes later we were arranging the day at the beach. By 12pm I was sat in 34 degree heat on the sand surrounded by hundreds of people in swimwear and Santa hats, sat with a great bunch of people with the music blaring and the alcohol flowing! It is amazing how a “good morning, merry Christmas, what’s your name?” can lead to when you are backpacking!
At 3pm it was time for Christmas dinner. I had paid the hostel $20 and myself and 40 (plus) backpackers sat together enjoying turkey with all the trimmings and pulling crackers with new friends. It was not long before I was back at the beach partying with a new bunch of great people until an amazing sunset. We enjoyed the sunset together and as they began to disperse I was invited over to party with another great bunch of people. By midnight there was 3 of us left standing and so we made our way to a club to see in Boxing Day morning.
My alarm was set for 8am Boxing Day as I had booked myself onto a tour to visit the set of Neighbours. Neighbours is an Austrslian TV programme which is very popular in England. It was extremely popular back in the 80’s and as a child I was a huge fan. I have not seen the show for about 15 years but I wanted to visit the set as it was a big part of my childhood. Admittedly I did not recognise much but I did recognise the houses and the street and that was enough to make me happy. I spent the rest of Boxing Day window shooping at City Docklands, watching some of the Ashes (cricket) on the big outdoor TV screen in Federation Square and walking around the city.
I met some wonderful people and I will never forget my fabulous Christmas of 2013.
544 miles from Sydney and a 17 hour bus journey is Melbourne, ‘Australia’s cultural capital’ and (what should be) my last destination before flying back home to England.
I was lucky enough to be invited to stay with a friend of a friend whilst in Melbourne, but for my first night I booked a bed at Base Hostel in St Kilda. I have grown to love hostels as they are a great way of meeting like-minded people and with Christmas approaching I felt it would be nice to meet more people. St Kilda is also Melbourne’s most famous beach and when I booked my ticket to go travelling the one thing I knew I wanted the most, was to be on the beach on Christmas Day.
When I arrived in Melbourne I was greeted by a dark sky and pouring rain. The bus dropped me off in the city and I had to make my way to St Kilda. I knew there was a tram that would take me there but having never used a tram before it was a long process. First I had to find the correct tram stop and then I had to find somewhere that sold tickets as you cannot buy them onboard. After a 17 hour bus journey, walking around with my backpack and 2 other bags in the pouring rain wasn’t much fun. But as soon as I arrived at the hostel I was greeted with a friendly face who let me check into my room early for a shower & change of clothes. When you have spent the past 2 nights on a bus and had your morning wash in McDonalds this is ‘Christmas come early!’
After a hot shower and a chat with the people in my dorm I set off to explore. St Kilda Beach reminds me of the beaches back in England. There is a theme park called Luna Park situated in front of the beach and although the sea is clean and clear it is more of a grey colour than a nice bright blue and with the dull sky, it really felt like England. I had met a girl from Brazil, Julia ,at breakfast and we were to go on a free walking tour of the city. Unfortunately we didn’t make the tour on time so we wondered around the city ourselves and came across the Exhibition Centre where a James Bond exhibtion was being held. We then wondered through the streets of Fitzroy, home to lots of quaint and quirky shops and cafes. It was then back to the hostel where I had a few drinks with my room mates.
At 10am my friends friend, Dan, came to collect me. Dan lives in Richmond which is about 5 miles from St Kilda. The weather was still dull and so we went to Chadstone Shopping Centre, the biggest shopping centre in Australia!
After 2 months in hostels, it was nice to be in someones home with a home cooked meal and a double bed in a room all by myself. But, the following day it would be back to the hostel for Christmas celebrations…
Byron Bay will always be in my memory as this is where I did my skydive. The town itself is a lovely beach town and has a very laid back hippy vibe. A lot of the people I met at my hostel, Backpackers Inn at $32 a night, had been in Byron Bay for a few months. No one seems to want to leave but it is easy to see why.
On my first night the hostel held a bbq which was a nice way for me to meet a nice bunch of people, but unfortunately I had to leave them all early as I had my skydive at 7am the next morning.
My adrenaline was pumping and I was bursting with excitement following my skydive but I managed to calm myself down and spent the day relaxing on the beach and exploring the little town. I only had 1 more night in Byron Bay so I met up with one of the guys I met in Fraser Island and along with 2 other girls he had met, we had a good night out. Despite a late night and a slight hangover I was up early to make the most of my last day. My bus was leaving at 5.30pm.
Byron Bay has a lighthouse and I thought it would be a good idea to walk for 3 hours up and down hills and steps in 35 degree heat. Once I got to the top I walked around the lighthouse taking photos of the lovely scenery and walked out onto a cliff which is the most easterly point of mainland Australia. Just as I was about to make the descent back, I spotted 7 dolphins jumping in and out of the water below. Such a beautiful sight to end my stay in Byron Bay.
Back on the bus and 13 hours later I arrived in Sydney. My bus arrived at 8am and my next bus to Melbourne was leaving at 3.30pm the same day, so I only had a short time in Sydney. I had chosen this schedule because I had been to Sydney before and so it just broke up the long journey to Melbourne from Byron Bay. Luckily the bus terminal allowed me to leave my backpack behind their counter so I could go out and make the most of my day. I found a free bus which took me to Circular Quay which is a great place to see the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It was lovely being back, the sun was shining and I instantly felt that lively Sydney vibe. I was in Sydney at the begining of the year for a holiday with one of my best friends and we did the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, saw Frankenstein the play at the Opera House and explored The Rocks, so this time I just wandered around enjoying the Sydney atmosphere.
Back on the 3.30pm bus for my longest bus trip yet, 17 hours to Melbourne in time for Christmas celebrations.