And so it continues. I arrived in Cairns, Australia today and it’s been an awesome 5 days since I last posted. Where to begin…I guess with the first day of being alone.
I moved out of the hotel on Saturday last week and walked to the hostel about 4 blocks away. I couldn’t check in for a while so just wandered around Melbourne for a couple hours. I was going to be staying at United Backpackers, located perfectly across the street from Flinders Station, the iconic train station in downtown Melbourne.
As this was my first day being alone, I decided to take a bit of time to just let it all sink in. Melbourne is quite famous for its laneways, small alleys between two major roads with automobile traffic. Most of the laneways contain small shops, boutiques, and cafes, and since it was my time to really see some of Melbourne, I decided to explore the laneways a bit. I found a small cafe and enjoyed a nice lunch of a burger, fries, and Australian beer by myself. It's a strange feeling the first time you're alone in a foreign city, but I wanted to give myself the chance to just let it sink in. I was experiencing Melbourne. Alone. Without knowing a single person on the entire continent. WHAT?!
Once I got back for check-in, I knew I was going to need to start meeting some people. As this was my first time staying in a hostel alone, my biggest fear was not meeting anyone during my trip and thinking that I’d be by myself for the entire time I was in Australia. Boy, was I wrong.
As soon as I checked in to the hostel, I headed down to the T.V. room in the hopes of meeting up with some people. The United Backpackers T.V. room is a small, stifling, and stinky room with 2 long couches. On a normal afternoon, there's likely 15-20 people just hanging out in there. After about 5 minutes of sitting in there, a group of 10 English-speaking people walked in and I soon realized I’d need to enforce my 5/10 rule. This isn’t official, but the rule I imposed for myself is that when traveling solo you need to have 5 seconds of bravery followed quickly by 10 minutes putting yourself out of your comfort zone. If you ever plan to travel alone, you must abide by this rule. If you can’t or are too scared, don’t bother unless you’re content with being by yourself a lot.
Within a minute of introducing myself and asking this group of 10 if I could tag along with them for dinner, I had 10 new friends. These people were from England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, and Ireland, and every single one of them was on a 1-year holiday work visa (which is apparently a thing…and it’s pretty sick).
All 10 of them have been in Melbourne for anywhere from 4 weeks to 4 months, and they’ve all just been working and traveling. For the most part, they’d all only been to Melbourne, but they’ve got plans to do a full year and just travel throughout Australia until the year is up.
I’d never heard of these things before, but it’s a really legit deal if you can swing it. They worked in odd jobs like the zoo, call centers, or as bartenders, and just stick around working in one place for a month or two and then move on to their next destination.
On the second day of my time in Melbourne i decided to do a tour of the Great Ocean Road. If you’ve never heard of it, just Google it. I got lucky and sat in the passenger seat of the bus for the enitre trip and just taked to the driver for hours. He’s an Aussie who’s lived and worked in Australia, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Portugal, and he’s spent the last 8 years just travling and guiding for a living. Legit.
I got to be really great friends with this Dutch woman throughout the trip who was also on a solo travel trip for the first time. I think she was a bit more nervous than me, but we became good mates by the end of the day.
The day pretty much consisted of driving along the southern coast of Australia, and was capped by an awesome view of the 12 Apostles, famous rock formations that have been carved out of the coast after millions of years.
Gotta run and will continue this post soon. Dinner time with a few new friends in Cairns from Canada, China, the Netherlands and India!