Three months ago, over a bottle of sav, my darling best friend had the lightbulb idea that I should extend my overseas uni trip by a few weeks, to explore on my own. With a tipsy mind and the devil on my shoulder I thought, why not? Feeling all spontaneous, I booked a busabout, emailed my travel agent to change my flights, and off to bed I went.
As much to mine (and my best friends) surprise, sober minded Haylee woke up the next morning still set on a little European adventure. Not long after, I had an itinerary that told me I was spending five days in Dubai, nine in Italy, six in Barcelona, eight on an Ibiza island hopper and two in Madrid. Now, I was leaving for Hawaii in three days so these plans quickly became a part of future Haylee’s problems.
Two weeks later, I hop off the plane home in Brisbane, and get hit by what feels like a tonne of bricks with the fact that I had three weeks to get my shit together.
“What if you get lost? Aren’t you scared? What if you get into trouble? Aren’t you nervous? What if you get lonely?” – the questions that were thrown at me every day throughout those three weeks. (Yes, I’m nervous but only because you’re all making me nervous!) But what actually concerned me the most was that I’m not exactly the most extroverted type, and well… I wasn’t dying to be alone the whole time – thus I would need to find some lovely people to put up with me and show me around.
Before I knew it I was in what felt like a constant sauna – Dubai. Nevertheless, the city of gold definitely taught me that there is always better, and Dubai will constantly strive to outdo itself. It was there I met the two girls I would be taking on Italy with. We bonded over shisha, drunken nights and camel rides – standard. Needless to say, before long we were like the three musketeers gallivanting around Italy eating prosciutto pizza, drinking copious amounts of red wine and playing kings cup with the locals. I must admit I didn’t expect to stumble across friendships that I know will be for life. And from this trip I quickly learnt that every friend will teach you something worthy, thus when I left these bellas in Venice, I vowed to never lose a chance to make them.
Venice also taught me another valuable lesson – going straight to the airport after a night out, and sleeping on a concrete floor instead of going to bed is never a good idea… go figure.
And just like that – I was on my own. Bound for Barcelona, I would be truly by myself for the first time in my life. Everyone I knew was on the other side of the world.
Worried I would get bored of my own company, and not get even the slightest bit drunk for the next week – I quickly proved myself wrong, because apparently talking to receptionists and chatting to randoms in elevators will land you in a bar drinking 1.50 euro sangria on tap, and dancing until the early hours of the morning. All in all, those were nights I will always remember (sort of), but the ecstasy of being alone in such a beautiful city, doing exactly whatever I felt like doing or not doing, eating exactly what I felt like eating (I had Nutella waffles for breakfast every single day) and having the space to really think or evaluate where I am in life, and where I want to be in life. That is what has drawn me to plan my next trip already. Not only did I get to find some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever laid eyes on, I found myself while I was at it.
In the end Yes, I got lost – but those were the times I found the hidden treasures, I got so fixated with what I had found, I would forget I was even lost. Yes, I got scared – but I always found my way in the end. There’s nothing like being dropped in rural Menorca in the middle of siesta on a Monday, after a one-and-a-half-hour bus trip that was supposed to be twenty minutes, with a Spanish driver that speaks no English! If you don’t know what a siesta is, it’s pretty much the whole town taking a nap just after lunch. So yes, I rocked up to a ghost town at 2pm with no internet on my phone, and hiked my big ass back pack into town. It sucked – but I found my way. Then I spent the week partying on boats, in caves, beaches and massive clubs in Ibiza – it goes without saying, it was worth it in the end. Yes, I got into trouble, yes, I got nervous and yes, I got lonely. Being all of these things landed me on a hop on hop off tourist bus, where a cute guy sat next to me and offered up his sunnies as I squinted my eyes at the Barcelona Summer sun. This lead to partying in Ibiza and adventuring in Madrid. If I kept asking myself what if, I wouldn’t have done the things a few years back I would have only dreamt of. It’s now that I know that the best things in life won’t be granted inside my comfort zone. The past month I learnt so much about myself as a person, I realised there is a lot that I am capable of doing, and have returned home with even more personal fulfilment. Most importantly, I now know to never let anyone steer me off doing anything by myself and for myself – for my travels are the most valuable gift I have given myself so far. Adios!
– Haylee x