I’ll bet you’ve been in this predicament before. If not, I’m envious. I can only bet $1 though – two minute noodles have gone up this week.
Just over one month ago, I returned from the most inspirational and educational adventure of my life. I travelled lonesome to Europe for 15 weeks, 109 days and a gruelling (just kidding) 9,417,600 seconds. I couldn’t wait to see the world, but only now do I realise that I’ve barely scratched the surface. Come with me and learn a bit more about places you mightn’t have heard of, and what travelling solo was like in the eyes of a 21 year-old novice.
Okay, folks. We’ve got a lot to cover. 26 countries and goodness knows how many cities. We’ll get through this together!
Prague, Czech Republic
- Charles Bridge is THE BEST for people-watching.
- The Torture Museum is a great way to regurgitate your lunch.
- Sharing the road as a cyclist is bloody terrifying if you’re a first timer. I recommend doing a bike tour!
- Looked nice from inside my hostel where I was bedridden for 4 days. Woe is me; I can hear the violins.
- Edinburgh Castle provides spectacular views of the gorgeous city. Visit St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh.
- One of its burger joints felt comfortable dishing me up an unripe avocado with my meal. I didn’t complain, but my heart was sad.
- As someone who considers Australia’s warmth normal, London’s weather can be a shock to the system. The chill makes it cosy, though, and the extra hours of sunlight during summer is a bonus for anyone on limited time.
- Londoners stand to the right on escalators and walk on the left, so make sure you observe the etiquette to avoid groans of commuters maneuvering around you. I learnt that the hard way!
- It truly is a city that never sleeps. At any one time, there could be Yoda stealing children’s hats in Trafalgar Square, crowds of huddled tourists watching a surprisingly average electrician van exit the Buckingham Palace, and a squirrel munching on an acorn in Hyde Park.
- Pigeons are aggressive. They do, however, provide free entertainment as you watch them attack others. Have I become Satan?
- The sound of water lapping against your gondola while you take in the surroundings of stone bridges and colourful buildings, has all the ingredients of a tranquil experience. I kept getting tingly goosebumps.
- The Bell Tower is the best way to view the city whilst rubbing shoulders with every Tom, Dick and Harry out there.
- Safety precautions are minimal when it comes to parasailing. Granted, I’m alive to tell the tale as with most people, but I’d say it’s safer to save those activities for places with stricter regulations.
- Away from the crowds of the main Greek islands, Corfu is the perfect place for peace and serenity.
- Car hire offers accessibility to the island’s many divine beaches.
- Apartments on a bridge? Need I say more.
- Home of Summer Santa.
- The Red Garter karaoke bar promises an amazing night. It turns into a nightclub later in the evening and their cocktail buckets are to die for!
- Nice place indeed (terrible pun, sorry). I remember gazing at the stars one night and saying, ‘You know what the best part about the sky is? No matter where you are in the world, it can always remind you of home.’
- Rocky beaches are best enjoyed with reef shoes to avoid hobbling like a one-winged penguin in your bikini getup.
- Prepare to climb 1,000,000,000,000 steps to view Nice’s beauty from above. Rest assured, it’s worth it.
- The wildlife at Anzac Cove is a welcome reminder that even through war and tragedy, life will always prevail.
- The war memorials are beautiful. At one of them, you can write your own prayer and plant it around the gardens or next to headstones.
- Beach campfires (check where it’s legal first) are a great way to unwind at night. If you’re dared to do a naked run around the fire like I was, wobble your bits with pride.
Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia
- It’s a medieval walled city where many Game of Thrones scenes are filmed.
- Perfect city to explore by foot. I’m quite the professional at getting lost, so places like Dubrovnik are ideal to wander off the beaten track whilst knowing where you are.
- Rock jumping is exhilarating!! If you’re not a fan of heights, stick to the low rocks where you’ll make friends sun bathing or poppin’ a champers. There’s a cliff-side bar, too!
- Lauterbrunnen makes every tourist feel like they’re in a postcard.
- The playground at Camping Jungfrau Holiday Park isn’t just for kids. I nearly pooped myself on the slide!
- The waterfalls cannot be switched off, despite my tour guide fooling me into thinking two of them were man-operated. You win, Danny.
- Turkish baths are a very weird and wonderful experience. Embrace the ‘adult baby’ while being scrubbed naked from head-to-toe by middle-aged Turkish men and women.
- Clothing that doesn’t cover the knees is deemed inappropriate. One girl from my tour had a rock thrown at her and another was name-called, based on what they were wearing. It’s important to respect different cultures whilst travelling, especially when it affects your safety.
- The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest indoor markets in the world. There’s ornaments, food, games, clothes and accessories. You could shop for hours, maybe even years.
- The Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge is surreal. You’ll be yelled at for moving too quickly or too slowly, though. I got both, ha.
- Guinness is darn good.
- Game of Thrones fans, The Kingsroad was filmed at The Dark Hedges, Northern Island. Unfortunately I’m yet to jump on the GOT bandwagon, but it’s a stunning sight nonetheless.
- Host of the annual SZIGET music festival. This year’s artists included Macklemore, PINK, The Chainsmokers, Wiz Khalifa and Major Lazer. Add this to your bucket list!
- Spa parties are both filthy and sexy. It’s basically a raging orgy whilst bathing in urine and alcohol. The more you drink, the better it is.
- River cruises down the Danube are a must. Be sure to pose for a photo outside Parliament at night; it is truly exquisite.
- I challenge you to weed out (pun totally intended) the sober peeps from the potheads. If you’re not looking at someone with cannabis, you’re at least smelling it.
- Sex shows are a unique experience to say the least. One lady pulled out 20 metres of string from her hooha as she slowly paced the stage; you might need to hold your jaw up during that number. If you volunteer yourself for one of the acts, you may get a prize! I was given an elephant condom that isn’t contraceptive. Ironic, hey?
- The Red Light District is treated with respect, as it should be. Amsterdam is a very progressive place when it comes to social issues.
EDITION 2 coming soon ♦
I was sixteen when I spotted my first grey hair. My boyfriend and I laughed it off humorously, knowing very well it was probably blonde and I was being melodramatic. To be honest, I wasn’t fazed by ageing at that stage. I couldn’t wait for the days of pimple parties and itty bitty titties to seize. I wanted a driver’s licence, full-time job, place of my own, and money; as if it would all be handed to me on a silver platter. When you’re young, you view age as opportunity and knowledge, awaiting the world to greet you with open arms and pat you on the back for graduating adolescence.
At nineteen, adulthood came pounding on my door. ‘Can I pull off the fake managerial experience I’ve claimed to have on my resume?’ ‘Why do I have to pay tax?’ I’d been to university twice and deferred twice: unsure of my career aspirations. The world was finally at my fingertips and I had nothing to show for it. I was lost, unmotivated, unhappy, and concerned that my potential would never be more than just that. Instead of dancing through life in a protective bubble, I was now dodging bullets from my own gun. Welcome to the real world.
And then, just as I was wallowing in self-pity, the ‘sigh’ came knocking without invitation. You know, the infamous sigh of relief that happens after you sit down from overexertion that isn’t warranted, letting you know that your limbs are past their best before date. That’s it. I’d reached my peak and it was all downhill from there. The days of picking up the dropped juice lid were long gone, as it became a question of whether the lid was worth my suffering. Wrinkles were on the cards soon, and I wasn’t sure if sticky tape would suffice. The only thing I had going for me was libido.
And yet, the closer I came to diminishing libido, the more I realised that signs of ageing are our medals of privilege. The looser your skin and thinner your hair, the more stories to tell at family barbeques or nursing home speed dates (that should definitely be a thing). So far, my medals represent becoming an aunty to my two favourite little humans, backpacking around Europe for four months, having an education and loving home, and witnessing same sex marriage legalisation in Australia. Okay, you caught me. That last one ain’t true yet but it’s years overdue.
There are actually many perks of being an adult. On the odd occasion that my parents drive me somewhere, I’m a queen being chauffeured out the palace gates as she waves to peasants in the left lane. Cake for dinner? Try stopping me. I can flaunt that top that’s a bit too booby or wear slippers to the shops because I’m a grownup now and grownups care less about what people think. Whilst part of me face-palms at the idea of turning to granny panties and Millers button-ups for comfort one day, I can’t wait to uncover the wicked tales that lie in the future of Angela Jan. I’ve learnt that with age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes gratitude.
Stick around awhile, grab a cuppa and your fluffy cat who probably hates me, and let’s grow old together. Oh, and when you spot my next grey sucker, tell me it’s blonde. See you soon, friend. ♣
Me: an outgoing introvert who loves people, but pencils into her calendar more evenings spent alone than conversing with fellow humans.
Guess what? I have been vegan for one month! *applause*
For those of you who don’t know, veganism is an animal-free lifestyle, steering clear of meat, dairy, egg, animal-tested products and animal clothing. Why have I made the switch? Well, I met some inspiring people on a cruise I was recently on and from there decided that I no longer wanted to support any industry or lifestyle at the expense of other beings.
So, as a newbie to the clan, I’m going to share 6 things that I wish I knew about veganism long ago!
Substitute, don’t eliminate. This tip applies to those who don’t often think before they eat (chocoholics – I hear ya). Don’t know how you’d live without chicken nuggets, bacon, cakes, or cheese? You can still buy all of those things. Unless you’re eating a strictly wholefood diet, you can find cruelty-free alternatives to all of your favourite junk *squeal*. Over time, however, it’s best to weed out processed foods and nurture your body with the nutrients it needs to look after you.
You will receive scrutiny at some stage. In our modern form (dating back 200,000 years), humans have always been carnivores. Hence, for some people, the idea of an animal-free diet contradicts our instincts and the ‘way of life’. I try not to impose my views on others, so an effective reply for me is to acknowledge that unlike other species, humankind is intelligent enough to make choices for itself. I tell them that although we may differ in opinion, I’m going to be the best person I can for both myself and the world I share.
You don’t have to know all the answers straight away…or ever. I’ve been asked so many bizarre questions, like: ‘So, are you against toad-culling?’ ‘Should farmers not be allowed to drink from their own cows?’ And my favourite: ‘So, what can you eat?’
Initially, I felt obliged to respond thoughtfully whilst squirming under pressure. I’ve now realised that I don’t have to answer to anybody else, nor is there always going to be an easy or correct reply.
You need to find your motivation. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, the chances are it won’t stick. It’s so easy to sneak in that party pie that Aunt May made for your birthday party, especially at the sight of everyone else helping themselves. Granted, you may slip into those cravings from time to time, which is why you need a trigger that will remind you of why you were inspired by veganism in the first place.
Avocados will become your life. My bloody goodness, what doesn’t avo’ taste delectable with? Be warned, however, they’re pricey! My latest phase is avocado, tomato, pepper and garlic powder on toast. Drooool.
Not all vegans are the same, neither is what they eat. One thing I was guilty of before becoming vegan was assuming that all vegans were hippie-like, strictly wholefood, opinion-pushers. In reality, though, some vegans eat healthy and some eat poorly; some vegans are private whilst others are vocal advocates. We shouldn’t stereotype anybody based on what they do or do not eat.
It could be the best thing you ever do.
Yesterday was the big day.