“Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.”
Jodi Picoult, Handle with care.
Well friends and family, it sure has been a while. This particular blog entry has been the bane of my existence, the Moby Dick of blog posts whereby I’ve slowly morphed into Ahab. I’m definitely withering… somewhat bearded with my feminine whiskers but LUCKILY have both legs! Although, I have had to start taking glucosamine for my bung knees. I started writing this in 2013. 18 whole moons have come and gone, I know, ages right? I’ve sworn oaths and made promises that I would give updates on all of my travels, but alas life just sometimes gets in the way. My mother has been consumed by dread and unease at the thought of not knowing what her favourite, most intelligent, most emotionally intuitive, good-looking and witty child has been up to.
So it’s without further ado that I attempt to fill you in on what it is that I
have been up to. I’ve also provided a legend of sorts in case there are only certain updates you would like to read and not all of them. I’m all for the TL;DR so if you’re much more visual then skip on over to the bookmarks whereby London, Marrakech, Edinburgh, Rome, Budapest, Oslo and Lisbon,Barcelona, Riga, Salzburg, Prague, Malta, Bath AND Melbourne have all been updated.
I’ll be honest, it’s been about a year and a half since I’ve put these rusty digits to work on a new blog post, so at the time doing a legend seemed appropriate. Instead, I’m just going to nut out the real reason why I decided to write this blog post. I’ve read a lot of blogs, articles and travel guides on moving abroad and how great and life changing it all is. What a lot of these fail to outline though, is just how hard it can be in the in-between… When the novelty wears off and you find yourself in foreign place, with no friends, no family and no idea how to pronounce Worcestershire… So I’ve written up to about Italy, hopefully the next blog post won’t be so far off!
Moving overseas indefinitely is both daunting and exciting in equal measure. Living the life of the transient tourist is wonderfully freeing but it hardly leaves you prepared for what’s next – banal routine. For 2 months I walked, bussed, trained and flew across the States and Europe with a sunny disposition, haloed by that exciting anticipation of both not knowing what’s next and relishing it. I was living the dream, not having to worry about bills, sales meetings, paydays or if it was my turn to cook dinner. So when it came time to stop, find a rental, a job and an oyster card, that’s when reality and the magnitude of my decision to move overseas came crashing down on me like the mother of all realisations.
Like the infant that never learns if you touch a fire-poker you will get burned, I never seem to learn that when I make a change I’m not quite as invincible as I like to think I am. I knew that at some point I would have to settle down as I don’t have interminable amounts of cash and besides, I moved to London to further my career AND to travel, right? Unlike all of the blog posts, articles and personal accounts I had read/heard prior to leaving the 3000’s, it was not fun nor was it easy or simple. In fact, it is only now, almost 18 months on that I can admit to being settled and happy, content even. There were many moments where I contemplated chucking in the proverbial towel, but in the end I knew that going back home would only provide temporary solace before the regret of leaving not having really tried inevitably set in.
For anyone contemplating moving overseas, or even interstate, I 100% urge you to do it. I’m a big believer in taking risks and making a change, sometimes even just for the sake of it. It’s in the moments of desperation, loneliness and true disorientation that we learn that we are more than just bones and sinew. It will be really hard sometimes, and often the sadness and pangs for home comforts come out of nowhere, however, It is in these moments that I find affirmation, clarity and growth – sometimes we need to fall on our arse to remember who we are… Nothing good comes out of being stationary, unless your planking… in which case good for you.
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Blog – meet Kelly!
Kelly is a 17 year old Melburnian with a 3000 year old soul, cute little dimples, a wicked sense of humour and lightening fast wit that will cut you off at the ankles. She also has chronic fatigue which means that she’s more sloth than slow loris – big eyes, but sleepy AND lazy, very lazy.
Having Kelly with me was like coming home. KM is the light of my life, my best friend and the best sister I could ever have asked for or hoped to have had. Despite our less than humble beginnings (she came into this world almost 8 years into my being an only child, rude I know) she has come along way and is my trusty steed and sidekick, so travelling with her was always going to be super fun. I picked up a lethargic and bleary eyed SmellyKellywithabellyfullofjelly from London Heathrow at 5am in the morning, with all the excitement of a child on christmas morning… Seeing her walk through those arrival gates was THE best moment in the entire time that I have been away.
First stop for us was the newly opened cat cafe, Lady Dinah’s in Shoreditch. Lady Dinah’s was lovely, the atmosphere was a little dull as we showed up when all the cats were sleeping, but it was a novel experience and when they finally came out of their kitty coma we were allowed to play and the vibe lifted a little. That’s it really, kind of boring but the staff were lovely!
Kelly and I set about doing a pilgrimage of sorts, following in the footsteps of our father, legend and candy connoisseur, Gary. Our dad back in the 80’s served his mission as a fresh faced Aussie mormon dude in Scotland. So it was with this in mind that Kelly and I set about going to Edinburgh for what would be the first stop in our 3 country adventure.
We got up at 4:30am after a night of no sleep courtesy of our snoring hostel mates and headed to Kings Cross St. Pancras to catch the train to Edinburgh, but not before engaging in some cheesy harry potter behaviour. Standard.
The train ride itself was just under 5 hours, with picturesque scenery, lush green hills and the british coast flying past our window. I caught the train once from Sydney to Broken Hill… That was a very long journey that you would think looks like this –
…but in reality looks like this
The English/Scottish countryside…
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“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”
Alexander McCall Smith
Edinburgh, birthplace of Harry Potter and home of Arthur’s Seat is a romantic storybook city with a castle that juts forth out of a mountain like an appendage rather than a manmade construct.
Similar to how I felt in San Francisco, Edinburgh for me is like an extenuation of Melbourne. Buzzing cafe culture, artisan gelati, a thriving comedy and art scene with relaxed, easy going locals surrounded by or next to a body of water.
It was here in Edinburgh that I ushered in my 24th year with Scottish Gelati, Whisky and food. For those that know me best, know that I am an absolute gelati snob. My mother and her best friend, Sharona, make their own ice-cream/gelati so I come from reputable stock and have sampled some of the worldest finest. Mary’s Milk Bar situated in Old Town Edinburgh on Grassmarket Street is in my top 3 around the world – 2nd only to La Romana in Rome and wedged in-between Sharona and my Mum. Professionally trained at the Bologna Gelati University, Mary experiments with odd flavours to bring the perfect blend of boldness and tradition; her malt milkshakes are pretty bangin’ too.
On Sunday the 13th of April, Kelly and I headed on a day tour down to Alnwick Castle, Lindisfarne and The Black Bull Pub. Lindisfarne AKA the Holy Island has records that date as far back as the 6th Century. Originally inhabited by the Romans in 500-something AD, this beautifully desolate island was the home of the Lindisfarne Gospels of which now reside in the British Museum in London.
The relics of the old Monastery on Lindisfarne still stand as a reminder of how savage and widespread the Vikings reign went. This place, is one of the most devastatingly beautiful places I have ever been to in my life. It is still, quiet, vast and overwhelming all at the same time. I could sit for hours on a stretch of beachy grass and never get sick of it, it is a very spiritually energised place.
Next stop was Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, where Harry, Ron and Hermione learn to fly for the very first time at Hogwarts!!
Kelly and I were also lucky enough to visit Rosslyn Chapel – carved entirely out of Stone it sits atop a little hill overlooking a wonderful Scottish Glen.
L8r Scotland, I know what is under that kilt.
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“I love places that have an incredible history. I love the Italian way of life. I love the food. I love the people. I love the attitudes of Italians”
Where do I even begin? Do I talk about how delicious the food is? How beautiful the people are? How captivating the history and architecture is? Or how pleasing the language is when spoken by passionate Italians? Hedonism doesn’t even come close to describing our brief but wonderful stint in Rome.
Gelati, Pizza and Pasta… that’s all we ate, all day, every day.
The Mamouney women of my family, namely myself, Kelly and my Mum, are connoisseurs and purveyors of delectable pizza, pasta and gelati which makes us very harsh critics that are not easily pleased or seduced by semi-palatable Italian foodstuffs. Traditional Italian pizza should be lovingly coaxed and kneaded into existence and should be thin, evenly covered with fresh tomato sauce topped with Buffalo Mozzarella and fresh Basil… A lot of people mistake a thick base for quality, it’s not… In the case of Pizza, less is definitely more! SO good.
Like I said at the beginning of the post, 18 moons have come and gone, and naturally a lot has transpired since my last post. I’ve uploaded a batch of fresh photos – go nutz.
Until next time, suckers!