“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
I have been in Australia for one month today. It’s amazing how much I have been through in such a short period of time. When I landed in Sydney it was 11am. I was amped from flying for 14 hours, really sweaty and feeling slightly lost. I was able to get through the immigration line very quickly and miffed because I never got my passport stamped. They just scanned my face and sent me on my way. I haven’t been to very many places, so believe me when I say I want that stamp! I earned that sucker after 5 months of planning and saving, I feel like it’s a symbol of my dedication to get here, a badge of honor if you will. Enough of that now- I will revisit this stamping business when I’ve formulated some sort of plan to get it! The airport was surprisingly easy to navigate and I quickly found myself seated and waiting for a shuttle to my Wake Up! Hostel.
I cannot even tell you what I was feeling in the moments while I waited for a friendly airport staff member to direct me to the correct place…mostly contented, slightly nervous and a whole lotta lost. After being told to follow a tall guy with chicken legs who thought it was a sick joke to run through the airport with 20 lost souls desperately running to keep up, I met a woman named Natasha. She was from New Jersey and we quickly became fast friends. I spent all of that night hanging out with her and getting comfortable in my new home away from home.
I HAVE TO SLEEP WHERE?
Hostels are an interesting breed all on their own. I quickly learned that my naive little American mind was going to be broadened hella fast! Had you told me ahead of time what it would be like, I’m not sure I would have been so up for them. The communal kitchens are a GF girl’s worst nightmare! Hello cross contamination, I’d like to just make a reservation now for feeling like shit for the duration of my stay. In all seriousness, I had gotten used to managing my allergies by buying and preparing my own food, so this was a hard one for me to wrap my brain around.
The Wake Up hostel is set on a busy intersection in the middle of downtown Sydney. It is constantly bustling and there are numerous people going in and out/ waiting to be checked in/ using the Internet or waiting for their transportation. I am not a city girl, so this was quite a shock to me. So many people everywhere I looked. I was checked in and quickly figured out why it is titled a “hostel” instead of hotel. In my brain I thought that was an Australian equivalency to a hotel in the US. I was shocked to open my door and see three sets of bunk beds, and only one bed available. A set of lockers allowed for me to secure my laptop, passport and wallet. I quickly went in search of my new friend who was one floor above me, staying in a ten person room. Natasha and I went for a walk in search of some dinner. My gluten and dairy allergies have been a huge barrier for me and a constant struggle. Every open door we walked by had different food smells pouring out. We were in China town near the Haymarket. The thick and aromatic smell of curry stuck in my nostrils and steered us in the direction of Thai food.
It’s amazing the connections you get with people while traveling. It’s hard to explain it, but it’s almost like you cut through all of the bullshit and immediately utilize new people as your supports. Over dinner, I quickly found myself spilling my guts about the last five years of my life, my failed relationships, what brought me to Australia and what I wanted for myself while I was here. It’s amazing how being all alone and traveling by myself, I craved the support and comfort from home, even though that’s exactly what I was running from. I was so thrilled to have met Natasha and we quickly were what each other needed to feel safe while in a foreign city.
Now I must say, my first impression of Sydney was not so great. Call it jet lag or exhaustion, but I really thought to myself: what’s all the hype about? To be fair, I grew up in the country. By country I mean, we only had 4 neighbors close enough to walk to and only one of them had kids to play with. It took us an hour on our school bus to get to and from school because everyone’s homes were spread so far apart. And we never locked our doors growing up. I literally have no idea if my parents’ house has a key to it or not. Our protection has always been German Shepards and my dad has shotguns. Life was slow and easy where I grew up. We had vegetable gardens and played outside in the dirt as kids.
So it was an incredible shock to me to be in Sydney. The traffic is loud, the streets are busy and the buildings are tall. I was surprised at the amount of people on the sidewalks and the vibe of the city itself. It’s almost electric. By day you feel the frenetic pace of everyone bustling to and from work, shops, sightseeing, and running to catch the buses and trains. By night the city feels like it is vibrating with energy. People are dressed up and ready to party, with too much makeup and too little clothing. There is sound everywhere you turn and music bumps from bars, clubs and people’s vehicles.
I remember how nervous I was that first night. I craved any sort of familiarity to feel safe in my new “home.” My only saving grace was knowing that I would be heading to Surfcamp in the morning. I crawled into bed exhausted but ready for the next week of fun in the sun ahead of me.
A WORD OF CAUTION TO MY FELLOW GF WANDERERS:
Just a side note to any of those other gluten intolerant travelers like myself- if the person you talk to about their gluten-free options can’t pronounce the word or doesn’t know what it means, RUN! It’s not worth it…trust me there will be a place two doors down that you can discover with options to accommodate you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been seated with water and left after realizing there aren’t any suitable GF options. Ain’t no shame in my game ;0)
LESSON #1- LET GO, YOU NEVER HAD ANY CONTROL ANYWAYS.
Traveling alone is hard. Especially when you are an attractive American female. Traveling alone as an American female with food allergies, slight control issues and a dash of neuroses on top of an overwhelming fear of getting sick in public- was hard as hell! I had to basically trust that people scrubbed their dishes enough, trust that I would find a bathroom before impending doom and also let go of the idea that I had any control over anything anyways…No big deal right?