Arriving in Byron Bay, you’re instantly hit with the cool, chill vibes you would expect. I guess that’s the effect of the amount of weed consumption that goes on here. There’s so much colour here and dull vibrancy, as though no one tries to be cool or ‘hip’, they just are. Except me of course. I just walk in with childish enthusiasm that is impossible to mask.
Getting off the Greyhound bus, although was an immense pleasure, also faced me with not knowing, really, where the hell I was. Thankfully, a couple of girls pointed me in the direction of my Hostel’s shuttle bus and I was saved from walking around for hours (probably not hours as Byron is tiny), looking for the place. This is where I met Hannah who I ended up spending most of the day with before we could check in at 2pm, along with the girl, Louise, who was originally sat next to me on the bus. The one that moved away from me… remember?
We went and found breakfast at this awesome cafe by the beach. And guess what I had! EGGS! I had not had eggs since I left England and they were unbelievably good. And then later we went to a different cafe for lunch and I had tea and toasted banana bread. I felt so comfy and happy with life. This was the first tea I’d had in Australia as well, and I had been warned it’s nothing like tea from home, but I didn’t care, it was good enough for me.
Between these two cafe stops, Hannah, Louise and I all went to the beach to chill for a bit (and because there wasn’t a lot else we could do). Feeling the heat of the sun already burning my face, I decided to remain safe and kept my clothes on as the burns on my boobs were already blistering. I only briefly stripped down to my bikini to have a quick ‘swim’ in the water. Swim here meaning entering the sea, stand watching the waves and then proceeding to be pushed over by said waves multiple times until I finally found my footing, was able to pull my bikini bottoms up from around my ankles, and could run back to the beach with about 20 litres of sea water in my belly, making my throat raw. But still, my sufferings were not as bad as Louise’s, who rented a surfboard from her hostel and within 10 minutes had managed to cut her lip open with it!
The rest of the day was spent getting to know my new roommates. There were two girls who had already been there since the previous Monday, then a group of four 19 year olds who were on my overnight bus and then a slightly older Dutch girl who au pairs in Brisbane and came down for the surf festival for the weekend. Being an au pair has always been a consideration of mine, and talking to Gabby (the Dutch girl), has made me consider it even more after my travels. When I return home, I have no clue what I want to do, so maybe au pairing somewhere like Canada or America could be an option? If you don’t know what an au pair is, it’s basically a nanny or child minder who lives in a host’s house to be able to look after the children whilst the parents work. Sounds like a sweet deal. I love children and I love not paying for accommodation.
Anyways, so that night was spent winning at card games, eating the FREE meal at the hostel with my new roommates, consuming a few beers, deciding we were all pretty tired and returning to our room where I fell fast asleep. Our room was sooooo big and spacious with a balcony. It just heightened the chill vibes. But there was no air con and just a fan, so we left the doors open at night, which seemed like a usual thing to do anyway.
The next day I was very cautious of how burnt I was and how much I was peeling, so to save my skin, I ended up having a very relaxed day. I went for a walk and did some food shopping and then chilled out on the balcony reading my book. One of the guys in the foursome, Connor, kept coming back from the pool or beach and we would talk for a bit. The two girls who had already been there a few days checked out that morning and were replaced by two boys from New Jersey. These boys turned out to be the bane of my life in Byron. This is where I’m going to sound like such an old granny, but I don’t care.
These guys came in and basically announced they were having pre drinks in our room. That was fine as long as they stuck to the 10pm noise curfew (I was planning to get up at 5am to watch the sunrise at Cape Byron Lighthouse). I got 1 hours sleep that night. I hate to stereotype people, but these boys were typical East Coast Americans trying to charm and flirt there way through anything. They had some friends over to pre drink and then one of the boys started chatting to the two girls from the foursome who I was meant to be watching the sunrise with, trying to convince them to go out with him and his mates. I was listening from my bed and it was all utter generic crap, like ‘it’s you and me against the world.’ ‘We’re the dream team.’ And the worst part was they were actually falling for it! They had obviously never been flirted with by an American guy before. (Sorry to all American guys that are nice, including you, Jeff!)
So after getting woken up constantly for one reason or another by the Americans, we woke up at 5am to walk to the lighthouse. The Americans actually came with us. Once we got there, they took us to some secluded area a bit further away, but I knew I wanted to watch it from the actual lighthouse. And then sunrise came and it was one of the most magical moments in my life. Cape Byron Lighthouse is the most easterly point in Australia and so is first to see the sunrise. It was a bright orange colour with a perfect reflection on the sea. It was stunning and beautiful and everything in between and totally worth the climb to get there. If you visit Byron, it’s definitely a must to trek up to the lighthouse. Not even just for the sunrise, but any time of day!
The foursome checked out and I made a new friend!!!!! Holly!!!!! It’s nice to find another solo traveller who you can just click with and is normal (normal by my standards, which isn’t really that normal). Within 10 minutes of meeting her, she had showed me her bright red, burnt bum which resembled the incident I had in The Gambia, for those of you I have shown the picture to. We went for a walk and had our free Aussie BBQ where we made friends with a lizard, then came back to find more new roommates. Two Swedish brothers and a couple, Luciana from Venezuela and G (I’m not going I attempt to spell his name) from Peru, who had been traveling together for months around Europe, Africa and Asia. There were also these two cool ‘surfer dudes’, one from South Africa and the other from California. Unfortunately, the other two American boys were still there and had announced another party.
That evening, Holly had a friend staying at the hostel who she had met in her travels, Lucy, who showed us what the accommodation was like on her side. I thought our room was good, theirs was even better!!! Proper chalet type rooms with two storeys and a hammock area in the middle of the complex. What?! Why was I only finding this now??
Once I’d had my fun on the hammock, we went back to our room at grab some things. The party was in full swing, even the foursome who had checked out earlier where there. At the moment it sounds like I’m being bitter because I wasn’t invited. In fact I was invited, multiple times, but It was not a party I would have found any pleasure of joining in with. Fortunately when we came back later, we found the room empty and were able to get into bed before the storm brought everyone back and the party recommenced on the balcony. It was strange watching a load of people we didn’t know just walking on past me, in my pjs, in my bed, in what I thought was a private area for my dorm mates and I, at 12am. Not long after the security guard turned up and kicked them all out, only for them to return 5 minutes later to restart the party yet again!!! The security guard came back quickly enough and I leant out of my bed and said, they’ve all come back!! So eventually we were able to sleep that night.
This isn’t the worst experience I’ve had in a hostel. I think it’ll be hard to beat the time in Budapest with Brittany when I woke up at 4am to the sound of a boy peeing all over my stuff. Nothing will erase the image I have of opening my eyes to a guy standing over me, holding his penis whilst a stream of wee toppled all over my bags and shoes. Happy memories.
I checked out the next day which meant an early goodbye to Holly! But we’ve agreed to meet up in Brisbane where I made her agree to go to Australia Zoo with me (I’m holding you to it Holly!). The bus ride was a lot quicker this time, but none of us realised we were entering a different time zone.
Surfers Paradise is such a beautiful place. It’s essentially a city on top of a beach; perfect for getting shade when you need it. This time I’m staying in a Hostel called Bunk, which kind of reminds me of a hotel. I think that might be because I’m only in a 4 bed room and it’s quite privatised with the bunk beds. The first night I was here I was sharing with an older lady who snored like a beast, a girl who sounded like an Aussie version of a chav and a Japanese girl who doesn’t speak any English. The second night it was just the Japanese girl and I. This meant a lot of time to myself, but I don’t mind that. I finally transferred all my videos and pictures to my iPad and made a Follow Me Around Sydney video for YouTube (link below). The kitchen is nice and spacious making it easy to cook food or grab a coffee. They even have lockers for you can lock away your dry goods without fear of them being stolen. Something which occurred at the Aquarius Hostel in Byron.
I went to the beach and I was able to leave when I wanted without feeling bad about wanting to leave early because I was burning. When I got back to the hostel I had the first proper look at my face in a while and notice just how many freckles had appeared all over my face over the past two weeks. I love my freckles, the more of them the better! I’m just now very curious as to how many I’ll have after a few more weeks in the Aussie sun.
For those of you that are worried about me getting burnt, I’m honestly putting as much suncream on as my skin will hold! The burns in the above picture are the result of me being silly on Bondi and thinking I can handle the extra 2 hours my friends wanted to stay for. I couldn’t, even after several applications of sun cream, and now I have awful blister marks on my side boobs. Lesson learnt, I promise!!!
This morning I decided to look for SkyPoint. I had been past this building (below) many times and on my search I kept thinking SkyPoint was hiding behind it, imagining a building similar to that of the Sydney Tower. Nope, it was this building. I felt like a right pleb. I did book a surf lesson whilst I was here, but unfortunately there was a miscommunication with the website I booked it through and turns out they’re not doing hotel pick ups at the moment. And the most annoying this was their meeting place is literally two minutes does the road from where I’m staying, so I could have easily have walked there had I known. They’ve offered for me to do it tomorrow morning instead before I leave the Gold Coast, so fingers crossed nothing goes wrong this time!
To cheer myself up after this ordeal, I found a pancake place and celebrated Shrove Tuesday a day late. Not as good as the pancakes back home, and way too much flour, but that coffee milkshake was spot on! I also went and found myself a couple of souvenirs; I decided I’m only getting little things from the places I love the most. I loved Byron, but Surfers Paradise wins it for me. It’s more up beat and my kind of tempo. Where ever I go on holiday, I always buy myself a pin/badge (something which I might have copied from Emma) to add to my pin board back home. I have 13 on there at the moment and have already bought 3 more…. I might need a bigger board when I get back.
I’m noticing a couple of self maintenance issues. Mainly my hair. I decided not to take any straighteners or curling wands with me as they would take up far too much room and I want to let my hair grow out as I miss my long locks. But oh my days does my hair need a lot of attention. It just turns into a massive frizz ball because of the humidity and just because it’s generally frizzy anyway. I also need to wash it every two days when I’m used to washing it every 5-9 days back home! Please grow quickly or I might shave it all off!! On the plus side, my nails are growing because they’re not constantly breaking at work and I think I’ve managed to lose a little bit of weight. Probably because of how much I’ve been sweating. Win.
I can’t believe it’s been over two weeks since I left home. In one way it feels like time has flown by too quickly. In another it feels like a lifetime ago since I slept in my own bed. What’s great about travelling now is how easy it is to stay in contact with people, and it’s so nice to get messages from friends and family and even people I hadn’t spoken to for over a year before, even if the wifi is slow and expensive.
Remember to do the things that make you happy. Expense is a material thing; memories will last forever.
P.S. It’s how the day after I wrote this and I had my surfing lesson. I may not be a natural, but I had so much fun! I was unsure about doing it as I had to catch my bus to Brisbane at 1:30pm, but it was worth sitting in the coach soaking wet for an hour and a half. I managed to stand up a few times, most the time falling off straight after. But it was incredible fun, I loved it. Oh, and of course my bikini bottoms fell down several times!
P.P.S. Follow me around Sydney video: https://youtu.be/nTCRQVcWg2c