My first purchase in Sydney

I’ve been thinking about this so much that I had actually forgotten to blog about it. I thought I did, in fact what I did blog about was that I had to wait for a certain date to hit and after that I would provide an update. So this is the update, the one that I thought I put out that was purely in my head all along.

I’m not there yet, hence why nothing is upside down.
I got a ticket to see Muse in Sydney!  And I learned a lesson in the process. 

Sometimes it is better to just relax and not create a false sense of urgency. It can be a distraction and  make things play on your mind when they really don’t need to. I managed to miss the Muse presale and the presale by the ticket provider that was on offer a little longer. For that reason I stayed up til 3am (noon in Sydney) to make sure I got a ticket. I thought they would disappear fast with such huge demand and with Sydney and Melbourne being the only gigs announced in this continent since 2013. 

Then, a problem occurred.

A friend that I haven’t seen for a few months stopped by, meaning we had a few drinks. A few turned into a few more. I got that drunk that by 3am I had to not just concentrate on putting in the correct payment details but to find the strength to push the keys. I haven’t been that drunk for a while.

I didn’t get a ticket that night. I needed an Australian phone number. I tried again the following evening in my hotel room whilst I was in Edinburgh (sober this time) and it still didn’t take my mobile number, despite stating I could add it by typing ‘+44’ before it. 

‘+44′ had non numerical symbols.

’44’ was not recognised.

Leaving the above out was not recognised as an international number. 

It was then that I realised something that I didn’t when I was blind drunk. The ‘Don’t have a mobile phone?‘ link in small text beneath. It stated that a landline number could be placed in the box and be applicable. I tried and it allowed me to the next page. 


So here I am, much poorer but much happier!

I was surprised there were tickets, I think I was scarred by my first attempt at a Glastonbury Festival ticket, sold out within 20 minutes of going on sale. 100,000+ tickets sold by 9.20am. Incredible. 

Australia is HUGE and I guess this is a contributing factor. I can attend any gig in the UK and the flight won’t be more than an hour. Over in Oz that might be the driving distance to someone’s local store.

Qudos Arena, Sydney in December. I’ll be blogging. Probably more than usual as I won’t have a voice to speak with. 

I’ll see you there!

My first Australian dollars 

British money being waterproof is great because it rains. Australian money being waterproof is great because sweating is something I will do excessively there.

Australia is not in Europe, but it is real.

After a mild panic attack at the thought of buying flights to a fictional country, I sat and looked at my dollars. My Auntie gave me them, more than she should have. As she won’t be able to make it up to see me before I leave, she put the money it would have cost for transport in a card. I would have refused if she was here personally. I will ensure it is put to good use.


I like the colour. One thing I prefer Aus $ over US $ is the colouring. I wouldn’t care which I had in my wallet though, it would mean I was travelling somewhere and currency doesn’t rival experience.

For now, it is a bookmark for this book she also bought me as a little present. A fun read!


Tomorrow I will be in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. Expect photos of weird and wonderful street acts and beautiful architecture.

My last month in the UK

So that’s it… the last 31 days I will spend in the UK for at least a year. I feel more should be flooding through my mind right now, however I have always been one that doesn’t feel it hit home until the very last minute. This could be a great thing, if it only ever hits me whilst on the flight, I have no other choice but to see it through.

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I think this is down to my family and friends being fairly relaxed about it. They have seen me travel before, they know what to expect and I do too. If everything gets too emotional, it makes departing harder. I am trying to show more excitement than anything and that is the feeling I am receiving in return. I am not departing on a ship in the nineteenth century on a four month journey, I will say goodbye to my family on the 1st September and say hello again on the 3rd. What a time to be alive!*


*Speaking of historical travel, I found the below isochronic map on 1843 magazine. A pretty fascinating map of the world from 1914, colour coded for readers to understand how long it would take to get anywhere in the world from the city of London.

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Simon Willis writes in the article:

IN 1914 JOHN G. BARTHOLOMEW, the scion of an Edinburgh mapmaking family and cartographer royal to King George V, published “An Atlas of Economic Geography”. It was a book intended for schoolboys and contained everything a thrusting young entrepreneur, imperialist, trader or traveller could need. As well as the predictable charts of rainfall, temperature and topography, it had maps showing where you could find rubber, cotton or rice; maps showing the distribution of commercial languages, so that if you wanted to do business in Indonesia you knew to do so in Dutch; and maps showing the spread of climatic diseases, so that if you did find yourself in Indonesia you knew to look out for tropical dysentery. It also contained the map you see here, which told you how long it would take to get there from London: between 20 and 30 days.

I guess for someone of this time, losing a book would like losing a WiFi signal. Can you imagine the horror?!

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Well, moving on from the days of ocean travel taking long enough to form a long term relationship (by my standards, at least), I am thankful to have a pretty short travel itinerary, relatively speaking.

1st Aug- 30th Aug:

Plenty of goodbyes, taking clothes to the charity shop, saving money by going to the gym instead of gin, blogging.

That is basically it really, a very uneventful last month. I like to see it as the calm before the storm.

31st August:

I make my way down south to London from Newcastle.

I was actually unsure of the best way and because of how much I needed to save, I felt bus travel would be much more cost friendly than rail or air. That was until I received an offer from Virgin East Coast, offering me a first class ticket for £30. As you can see from the map below, I hit a goldmine. The image is actually from a news article stating how a man found a private plane offering to fly him down to London for much cheaper than a train ticket that day. It certainly isn’t outside the realms of reality.

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Then, one night in the Crowne Plaza at Heathrow Airport before my flight on the 1st September. I haven’t considered the route from Kings Cross to Heathrow just yet, however I am sure this will make it into my blog. Will it be a breeze or a nightmare? Regardless, you will find out as much as I will.

1st Sept:

This is it! I am on my way! 13 hours and five minutes of beer, movies and music before arriving in Singapore. A long journey that is only half way…

If you have done this trip, any recommendations on how to stay occupied would be appreciated.

2nd Sept:

17 hours and 15 minutes of layover :/

The whole day is spent in Singapore. Mainly the airport, which thankfully is very impressive. I will most definitely blog about my experience of the Free Singapore Tour that is offered to travelers with a layover of five hours or more. As far as long waits for connecting flights go, this is one I am too excited about.

3rd Sept:

I arrive in Sydney, however this is pretty much all I know so far. I have no current accommodation or a job, but that will be part of the experience. Finding my feet with the money I have saved, enjoying this new city and country as I blog about the new experiences. I don’t want to have too much to say in this post, what will I have to blog about then?

I am as excited to blog about the journey there as I am arriving. There is something about the travel that I do not want to go to waste. I don’t really like sleeping at this time, can you imagine how amazed nineteenth century travellers would be to be able to travel such vast distances in such a short space of time?

I don’t know what they would do on a flight, but I am willing to bet my plane ticket it wouldn’t be sleep!

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Opera House: Photo by Liam Pozz on Unsplash

Window with a view: Photo by Pat Taylor on Unsplash

Siri-ously!

I haven’t been home for 24 hours, work was looooong yesterday. The only time I have had to put a post out there was whilst walking through the city centre and it poured with rain. 

That’s summertime here, you’ve all watched Wimbledon on TV at one point, right?

In the mean time, I am in the waiting room to see if I need any vaccinations for my upcoming travels… And whilst I wait I would love to share with you what I was told to say to Siri last night…

If you have an IPhone, do it. I think it’s the best Siri easter egg to date! 

Pre-travel goodbyes

I love the inside of this card.

Happiness is living your dreams whilst you are wide awake…

It is getting to that point in which I receive the good lucks and all the bests. When it starts to hit me and the feelings of excitement dwindle a little, the realisation hits me of the sacrifices made in moving to another country. I won’t see my family for a little while. My ‘little while’ may be a long damn time for some, it depends how you perceive one year.

They need me and I need them. I also need to live, if my family didn’t do the same in their youth, what stories would they have to tell me? Would I be here at all?

Thank you to the two Scottish Margaret’s for this one!

The reality is that even though my family will miss me as much as I will miss them, we all have a duty to self progress. To be a little selfish and to treat ourselves as much as we want to treat those we love. What better way to show how much we love family than to give them something to be proud of? To show them how well they have raised us, the ambition and drive placed within us materialised in the form of a plane ticket and new footsteps in unspoiled sand.

My visit to Texas back in 2010 was the longest I have been without family, thirteen months. Oddly, I was always someone preffering to stay at home. I loved my home comforts. I assume university helped me out of that comfort zone, after my second trip to New York City during my degree. I realised long-haul wasn’t a scary experience and thanks to the Jet-stream over the Atlantic, the return journey home was a pretty short one. If I remember rightly it was only 6 hours 30 minutes (ish), sharing the whole back row with one friend. A journey back home from another part of the UK may take that time (driving of course) and that would be without such homesickness. Homesickness for me is prevented by not thinking of how far away my family are in miles but in time. No matter where we are in the world, family are pretty much in reach within 24 hours.

Please forgive the quality of the images below, I used a cheap camera. I didn’t have a smartphone back then and have never owned a professional photography camera. FYI, the first picture was from my first visit in 2008, when the foundations were still being cleared and prepared for One World Trade Center and memorial. My visits to NYC have been 2008, 2010 and 2011. The One World Trade Center is under construction in a couple of images, snapped in 2011 after I left Texas and flew from New York to London. I still didn’t own a decent camera!

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The first two visits were only short breaks, five days each. I remember flying to Dallas on that first long stretch away from home. As the green card was being placed on my tray and the captain announced how long of the flight was left, it finally hit me that I would be away for a year, starting there and then. A year! I am glad it hit me when it did, if I felt the same feeling of reluctance earlier I may not have bought my plane ticket. The feeling didn’t last long, my brain instantly stimulated by new accents and weather, new foods and sports. When I did need to contact home I could do in an instant thanks to Facebook and Skype. The whole experience wasn’t as daunting as I feared it would be whilst I filled in the green card. I still firmly believe it was the best year of my life.

I also seem to remember more of that year than I do all the years since combined. Despite having many more trips, a year of travel consists of so many stories and new experiences. Similar to how we feel about aging, time flies the older we get. As a child everything is new. Every colour and word, every animal and sound. The more our days become increasingly similar to the last, the less we notice the hands moving on the clock. Travel for me is a time machine slowing down life. When I think of being away for such a long in Australia come September, I think of the benefits.

Like a gym session, don’t worry about how crap you feel doing it, think of the results!!

Spain: 5 days to go

I don’t often go clothes shopping, usually it is shortly before a holiday. So when I walked into the store yesterday to the smell of brand new clothing, my senses were like ‘Hey! I know this smell… We are about to go somewhere!’

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I am only away for a week, so I bought cheap. Items that I won’t worry will get ruined during this period. In my experience, the further I travel the less I worry about what I wear. There isn’t that fashion expectation seen at home. I feel like I should care more about what I wear on my way to work or the grocery store more than what I do when I leave my countries borders. It sounds so strange to say out loud.*

Is it because I am travelling I feel less worry about what I wear? There is no need to overcompensate with designer clothing to stand out, all eyes are on us when we are away thanks to social media. Why try to keep up with the people that are walking to work in the rain whilst I am at the swimming pool? For these seven days, I’m winning!

Maybe it is because I am relaxed on holiday. I am away from my ‘normal’ life, the uncomfortable work shoes are left at home, I probably won’t wear a belt either. This is going to be a week of pure comfort. £80 jeans don’t guarantee that but £6 swimming shorts certainly will.

Also we are of course, anonymous. Apart from my six friends I won’t run into a boss or ex girlfriend. No one has any previous knowledge of me and the anonymity is great. Saying that I have bumped into a friend in the middle of New York City, which was incredibly strange to say the least. Trusting my friends to not post a picture online of me wearing some ridiculous outfit for my birthday (I turn 28 whilst I am away and I wouldn’t put this past them), I can relax knowing the embarrassing things I do will be in the minds of people I will probably never see again. There is beauty in such a seemingly sad reality.

One thing I am terrible for is packing. If I had as much ambition to pack as I would to travel I wouldn’t need to use movie images to portray the joy I feel walking through an airport terminal. I always forget something and that something always seems to be the thing I want to wear the most. Clue- it isn’t the captains hat. I steal that as I am departing the plane.

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I think I will pack more for my week in Spain that I will for my year in Australia starting September. This was the case during my year in the States, too. My 6 am flight was taken after an all nighter in a local pub followed by a drunken 3am bag pack. If you are away for so long, why not get most of the things whilst you are out there? I have spent an afternoon taking smashed glass and clothes soaked with vodka out of my luggage after a holiday. It wasn’t pretty. Some things aren’t built for air travel yet.

Where are you packing to go this year?

 

*Saying this, I was once approached by security walking through the metal detectors at an airport. He said there was nothing to worry about, he just loved my Spiderman long sleeved jumper I had on at the time. Sometimes the clothes you care the least about bring the compliments.

Destination: Sydney

Time: 00.00

Check online banking. Payday is finally here.

Time: 00.05

I head to the Australian government website and apply for the Working Holiday visa.

Time: 00.35

Online form completed, I eagerly await it being authorised and sent to my inbox.

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In fact, as I wake up this morning it seems to have already been granted. Can that really be the case so soon? Not that I am complaining, I remember how long it took to get my J1 Visa in the United States.

A bunch of forms printed, filled in and sent back, an arranged interview at the embassy down in London, train tickets purchased, a day in the embassy, security checks and all belongings taken away from me and finally, a stamp in the passport. Not that I am complaining here either. It was worth it in the end. This wasn’t so straight forward for a friend as he lost one page of his documents on route. He had to wait outside for us and come down another day. Immigration have no time for that.

Their visa was a little different. I had to work for one company for 12 months. With my Aussie visa I can work wherever the work is, as long as it is no longer than 6 months with any employer. Sounds like a good deal to fuel my years holiday. Of course if any company decides to sponsor me I can extend my stay. If I do farm work for three months I will be able to extend for another year. What I find exciting on this trip is that I have no idea where I will be heading in the next few years. Will I head back to Europe? What if I find that special someone and build a family in Australia? Being a single guy in his late twenties is a little strange like that.

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I feel everyone has some kind of advantage. If you are in a relationship, awesome. I assume the relationship is one in which both people have similar interests and can feed off each other in terms of inspiration and funds to travel. If you are single you have a free pass to do what you want , when you want with little impact to anyone. Take a week or a year out, it’s up to you. If you are reliant or have someone rely on you, blog about it, tell your story and build a following, your unique perspective of what it is like to travel will be picked up by curious ears I am sure.

This may be the last year I blog from the UK. Thankfully I have a couple of years left of my twenties to blog with as much content as I can, I will make the most of it.

It is amazing that we have the option to follow people as they travel and document their lives through blogs, vlogs and social media. I am sitting here reading about lives in lands that historical populations did not even know existed, wishing I was there as this summers day is so dark I need my standing light on despite being early afternoon. If that doesn’t motivate me to get up and go I don’t know what will.

I will see you all on the other side, I will be here until then if you want me.

First image: Liam Pozz– Unsplash

Second image: Josh Wip– Unsplash