Goodbye to North America

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I took this photo today at the Santa Monica Pier. I rode there and back from Hermosa and it was hot and sunny and blazing. Afterwards I jumped into the sea, and then lay down on the sand and listened to the waves and chatter. This is the last piece of sky that I’ll see in North America, for now.

Five months ago I took off by myself hoping to discover new places. I have. Some of them I’d go back to and stay forever, some I was happy to leave behind, all of them I’m glad to have seen. I know that I’ll have an ongoing relationship with this whole continent and a solo trip wasn’t a bad first date.

There have been plenty of ups and not too many downs. I haven’t been lonely. People everywhere are interesting and interested. The thrill of getting onto a long-distance train armed with only a backpack will, unsurprisingly, never dull for me.

There’s probably much more I could say about it. Meeting people on the road, independence, culture shock, solitude, top ten places to visit in Canada, etc. But the reason I came here again to California, my first love, was to switch all of that off. Just the sea and the sun and, weirdly enough for Los Angeles, the peace.

I’m fine with coming home. See you soon, Sydney.

 

“New York City”

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This is the only photo I will be posting of my time in New York City. It shows me with my hair going everywhere due to the wind on the Brooklyn Bridge. If you want to see what New York City looks like, it should be easy enough to figure out. Every square metre of this city has been photographed, filmed, analysed, blogged and turned into its own web series. So yes, I’m eating bagels and drinking cawfee and walking around Williamsburg and riding the subway and all of that. I went to MoMa and saw some stand-up in the Village. Lots to do! But that’s all I’m going to say about it.

Have a nice day!

Halfway Point

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Montreal brunch – luckily I wasn’t meant to eat all of this by myself.

Two and a half months ago, I flew out of Kingsford Smith on my way to North America. Alone. It’s been, in the majority, a solo trip since and assuming all goes to plan (no September snowstorms), I’m halfway through.

It feels like much longer. My memories of California and Mexico are like a colourful dream sequence now, and that was only in April. I’m hearing an odd mashup of accents when I open my own mouth. Like everything, I’m sure that the next half of the trip will be intense and fantastic when it’s happening, and be over far too soon.

Along the way I have met dozens of solo travellers and I always feel like we’re part of a special club. We’ve discovered the thrill of going out into the unknown, armed with only wits and charms. Yes, there are a million blog posts already about how travel opens your mind and the romance of leaving home with only a few pairs of clothes and some good books. So everyone gets it. But there is something to be said about deliberately turning yourself into a complete stranger.

For one thing, people are impressed by it. You really came here all by yourself? Do you have family here? Friends? Wow! You’re brave! (And I smile to myself.) I don’t feel overly brave or adventurous, really – it’s Canada. They speak English here. I’m a dual citizen so I don’t need any scary immigration paperwork. Everyone is friendly. But I am proud of one thing – conquering my fear of being alone.

On my 25th birthday, which was a few weeks ago, I got a manicure. Then I went to a Japanese restaurant, by myself. I splurged on an expensive ramen and a beer. After that I walked over to a tiny theatre for a film screening I’d read about online. When the film was over, I made some friends by chatting about the rain and offering some chewing gum around, and we went out for more beers. It felt good to be a grown-up woman who could find her own entertainment and meet new people.

I’m planning on writing a separate post a bit later about the act of a woman going into a bar to drink alone. But it’s not too much of a stretch to say that for me, getting used to that has been one of the most rewarding treats of the whole exercise.

Maybe being happy alone is a skill that can only be learned through experience. In any case, I think that mastering it can only be useful for all the trials and errors of an interesting life.

Sometimes, in idle moments – and there are many – I think about the singular burn and sparkle of the Australian sunlight. The way everyone’s skin looks shiny after the sun sets on a hot day. Wattles, and jacarandas, and espressos and Coopers. It’ll all still be there, and I’ll get to enjoy it with all the people I miss. But I’m blessed to be young and healthy and I know who I am, which has been a wonderful thing to discover.

If you’re a woman (or man) who has travelled alone, please share your thoughts about it with me.  xx