what it all means to me

My, I cannot believe that exactly a month ago I was taking the plane, leaving Europe behind... This article is a bouquet of my reflexions throughout this month.

What it means…
… To meet the end of the road.
Like every good lesson learned, I will start with a recent example. I was in Hobart, and I really wanted to go to an event on a Saturday night. Of course, I don’t have a car, so my only hope relied on public transportation which, wherever you are in the world, is not particularly fond of Saturday nights. But nevermind that, I checked which bus would get me the closest to the place I wanted to go, and I decided to walk the rest of the distant. Pretty simple, right? I just had to follow one street…
Except that this street was steep and long as the one leading to a better place. But as so many cars were overtaking me, as I was suffering under the heat and the pain of the journey, I remembered that this was exactly what I wanted, that I actually wanted to earn the end of the road, like a prize well deserved. And it worked as a motivation, and when the final bit was finally behind me (there’s always one final bit so much steeper than the rest, right?), I was not like all those people searching for a parking space near the park, I was actually happy, from the bottom of my heart, of finally arriving to destination, by my own means (aka, my poor legs). And when the time came to go back, the walk down the road was just as nice, and while cars hurriedly drove home, I spotted my first kangaroo, and enjoyed a stroll under the moonlit sky, Orion watching over me.
That in itself is just a story, maybe not even worth telling, but for me it was characteristic of the trip I had in mind. No car, just go to the limit of the known through public transportation, and the limit of your unknown by your own means. It just makes so much more sense, it’s so much more fulfilling. Of course, the big continent of Australia may not be the most appropriate country to do this, as it is sometimes frustrating not being able to go somewhere without a car (like Cradle Mountain or Freycinet National Parks), but still, this road just lingers in my mind just like Marions lookout in Cradle Mountain National Park, because I earned the view,I earn the end of the road.

… to backpack on your own
Before I realized that backpacking was actually the best way for me to travel, I always looked at backpackers as another species remotely related to mine. In my vision, they had piercings, smoked weed, and wore Cool under all those hippy clothes. I couldn’t picture myself as one of them. Now my world is full of backpackers, and sometimes, some are exactly as described above. But most of them are just like me, discovering the world on a budget, trying to make the most of it and meeting new people. And then, I crossed the look of a girl on the street, and it might have been the exact same look I had when meeting backpackers. I wasn’t wearing any hippy clothes, I don’t have piercings, but her look was probably for the global image I gave: unbrushed hair, a big backpack, big walking shoes, no fancy accessories… So, after a month of traveling, I’m probably one of them. And actually... it feels great!
(Edit: except for one thing: flip flops. In this particular part of the world, backpackers travel with flip flops on... And I really can't understand it, as comfortable as it may seem)

Remember when I told you about “the excitement of doing things of your own”? I never thought it would be so true. My creativity, my ideas have never been so awaken, and now I certainly have the time to realize them. I probably could have found the time before, after a day of work, but the motivation wasn’t really there. But now…
Just as an example: from “My Impossible List”, I had taken away the “and make a movie about it” from the “Make a Cross Country Trip”, but I put it back, because it doesn’t seem so impossible now. I don't say that I will become the next Tarantino, but I'm still having fun collecting pieces of video and putting them together.

What are YOUR thoughts about backpacking? What do you do of your free time when you travel?

Oh, Tasmania...

After the East Coast in November, Tasmania is my first contact with what I like to think as the "real" Australia: laid back people, wildlife, very few Frenchies...

And I'm not disappointed, I must say. There I had my first and longest helpX experience, as I spent the first 3 weeks as a helpxer in a lovely olive grove which reminded me so much of my beloved Provence. The view on Mount Roland was interestingly similar to the Sainte Victoire
Mount Roland

My dear Ste Victoire
The vineyards, the olive trees, they all made me very comfortable, made me feel at home. And then there was everything that is not Provence: the eucalyptus, strange animal noises at dawn, clear and so different sky at night, the hop hop hop of the wallabies during the long twilights. It was lovely and beautiful (and yes, both adjectives are needed here).

The other wonderful point of Tassie is the quality of its food products. The meat, the veggies, the fruits (Oh, my God, the fruits...), everything tastes absolutely great, so much so that I ate products I wouldn't usually eat in Europe, like figs, plums, avocados...

A Tasmanian car plate says "Explore the possibilities". And that's true on so many levels. Tassie is full of possibilities, of potential. But people here are so laid back that nothing ever happens. They don't have any money for anything, the federal government keeps protecting areas so nothing can be done on an industrial level. The only industry that works is electricity, but they sell so much to the mainland (or what they gladly call the big island in the North) that the electricity bill is excruciatingly high (I know that because I had to do the dishes every evening instead of using the dishwasher...)

It was also funny to see that some of the Tasmanian properties belong to expats: near the olive grove, owned by a british couple who travelled the world before settling here, a Belgium developped a chocolate factory, a German developped a salmon farm, it is a real melting pot.

At some point during the helpX experience, the lady took me to the much awaited-for Cradle Mountain Nation Park.  And then again, Tassie didn't disappoint me... it was absolutely superb. A picture will tell you more than I could:

Then, after 3 weeks of my first experience of working outdoor (where I dreamt and suddenly could see myself taking over my father's vineyard for a living), I took back the "Tourist" label and went down to Hobart to visit the city and most importantly Wineglass beach.

Hobart gave me the impression of a town desperately trying to be called Tasmanian Sydney. And if you've never heard that nickname, that's proof that it's not achieving that goal. There's not much to see in Hobart, but that's ok, because I could enjoy a laidback environment, reading in a park, walking aimlessly, preparing Japan for next month at the library. And I also went to MONA.

Boy, they tell you that MONA is an experience, like no other museum you will ever see. And that's definitely true... First of all, it's less a museum than a private collection. And the art... Well, some art pieces are masterpieces, some make you think about things, and some are plain disturbing and don't make any sense. And you can really see Old and New Art side by side in the same room, trying to figure out why the Aboriginal Shield is facing some contemporary art piece. Definitely a must-see, even if you don't like the Art, because you don't get to ask yourself why Art is Art that often.

And then there was Freycinet... The road to go there was so scenic! Clouds creeping on mountains, the sea on our right, it was really beautiful. We were so lucky that the rain only started after we've seen the Wineglass Bay (named after its dramatic whale hunting history).
still better than words
Fun fact: on the way back, we passed Break-me-neck hill and Bust-me-gall hill! True story.

So, to conclude, on the whole, I was pretty pleased this month: the country was wonderful, full of wildlife, I had my first outdoor work and realized I could manage it - physically.

And mostly, I learned something: don't plan too much in advance!

I think I shouldn't have taken the return ticket from Tassie back to Melbourne, because I could have made the better of the end of summer instead of staying 3 weeks at the same place. I don't say I didn't enjoy it, but for trips like this, you have got to stay flexible, prepared to any change of plans, mostly because you do whatever you want, and if you don't want to linger too much in a place, or if on the contrary you fall in love with a place, you should be able to decide what's best.

NB: Now I know what you think, and I am well aware that "Oh, Tasmania" originating from Canada can be applied to every 3-syllable country name, and I solemnly promise to never use it again... maybe...


Why #WeGoSolo ?

"Women always need a battle to fight", they say. Well, as long as there are people (men and women alike) to start sentences with "women", there will be feminists, you know...

Lately, the Twitter world has been moved by the consequences of the death of a young American woman killed in Turkey. The consequences on female solo travel. Now, I didn't know about this terrible thing before the female travel bloggers decided to go and fight the battle for the right to travel alone for a woman. And I'm not going to talk about why, obviously, women can and should travel the world, the question has been answered several times now, and they all did a better job than I could do (see links below). You just need to type "#WeGoSolo" on Twitter and you will see numerous names mobilized for the cause.

I just want to share with you how this battle made me feel.

Since The Big Breakup, I've always considered myself more as an individual than as a woman. And when I decided to go, to leave my job, my friends and my family for a year, it was for my own personal reasons. I never even considered once that I was a woman and that I would be taking risks being alone. Why? Because I never thought I was doing anything special. A lot of people I know have used the opportunity of a Working Holiday Visa, and it's true, they were either in a couple or men.

And then I decided to write a blog of my adventures and thoughts, and again I realized how many women there were in the blogosphere who were doing the same things I was about to do. Well, not exactly the same thing, because they were either still working at home (and had a home to go back to), or they were living out of their blogs. And besides, everyone has their own reasons to travel, making the whole experience unique.

The last thing that made me conclude that I wasn't doing anything special and that I wasn't even considering the risks, happened last November, on the East Coast of Australia. On each hostels, I talked to women traveling on their own, on a Working Holiday Visa. Some of them were with another girl as travel buddies, but most of them were alone, just like me.

Going back to #WeGoSolo, this battle made me realized that I was, in fact, doing something special. For a vast majority of people, billions of which I will never meet even once in my life, what I'm doing is nuts. #WeGoSolo made me feel like I belonged to a strong community of people (again, men and women alike) firmly decided to keep travelling the world. Nobody should tell a woman, or anyone, that they shouldn't travel. And that's why I spread the good word...

So yeah, #WeGoSolo made me feel a little bit special.

For more informations on this debate, here are a few links
the truth about solo female travel and safety
the women traveling solo question
travelling solo im not brave just smart
and my personal favorite:
female solo travel is not the problem

What about you? Did you partake in the debate? Either share how that made you feel, or join the community!