The Kindness Of Strangers.

Back on the road again, I was sad to say goodbye to my family but so excited for what we still had ahead of ourselves.

We decided on Bosnia, somewhere that neither of us have been, but were quite interested in. We booked a small hostel just outside the main part of the city. We had to drive through the Croatian boarder to get to Bosnia from Slovenia, It was a night bus, so we slept most of the and were only woken when crossing through the boarder. Now, so far in the trip, we were quite lucky with him, he didn’t get stopped and ‘randomly’ selected as much as we first thought, I probably got selected more than him. At the boarder, we all had to step off the bus and go through the boarder on foot. We were all allowed back on the bus except him, they removed his bags from the bus and took him into an interview room, I started to get this sick feeling in my stomach when 20 minutes had gone by and he hadn’t returned. Maybe 10 minutes later, he arrived back on the bus advising it was just a ‘random’ search and that they had pulled his bags apart and he then had to repack everything, which took about 10 mins.

We finally made it to our hostel, only being booked in for three days, we didn’t think we’d stay too long. The hostel was propped up high on a hill and the walk down to the main part of town was eye opening. Like in Croatia, some of the buildings were still being rebuilt from the War and a lot of them were still quite damaged. We’d always make our walk down into town worth it, because the 20 minute walk back up the steep ass hill wasn’t as interesting! We ventured out to the city and did the touristy sight seeing, it was AMAZING. Again, one of my all time favourites!! It was very ‘Eastern European’ so many little alley ways with lots of little shops, almost like a maze, you could get so lost exploring all day.

We extend our stay for an extra week, we fell in love with Bosnia. Every morning we would be woken by the call to Prayer, something about it sounded so mystical. We made friends with the hostel owner, and with no clue where we would head to next, he advised he was driving to Serbia the day after tomorrow and asked if we wanted a lift? Why not?

We made a couple of scenic stops along the way. One particular stop, where we pulled over on a river bed with the most amazing view of all of these mountains, he explained to me, this is why he loved travelling, there are so many places in this world that are worth seeing and we wouldn’t have seen half of the places we have if we flew everywhere and we would have spent half our trip in and out of airports. This made me appreciate everything he had done for me on this trip, he so desperately wanted me to explore how amazing this life is and I was sooo happy and content with everything right at that point. As much as we had our little fights and arguments along the way every day was a brand new and I had so much to see, explore and learn.

The hostel owner couldn’t take us into Belgrade but he had some friends that would happily drive us in. We arrived at his friends house a couple of hours later, his mum had prepared a traditional Serbian feast for us. I was absolutely blown away! We were complete strangers, they owed us nothing, but yet, they still managed to make us feel so welcome! I now realised what travelling meant to him and this was a perfect example!

We got a lift right to the front door of our hostel in Belgrade. We couldn’t thank them enough for what they had all done for us. Being about 3am, we climbed into bed. We were back in a dorm room, which to be honest I didn’t like, there was just something about sleeping in a room with 9 other people that made me uncomfortable. At the beginning of my trip I would constantly beat myself up about it, but later on I realised its not for everyone and thats OK. For him, he loved it and thats OK too, we met an awesome bunch of guys and did a lot of exploring. Belgrade wasn’t a favourite of mine, and after 7 days, I was desperate to move on.

“What about Kosovo?” He said, “Never heard of it” was my reply, which was the truth, I actually had to Google it to see if it was a really country. He found a couple of hostels that were looking for a couple of workers to help out for a couple of months. HELL YES!! We booked our bus tickets and off we went!

We were going to make our decision of what hostel to work at once we arrived. I have zero recollection of the bus and/or train ride into Kosovo. Some (alot) parts of our trip I can remember like it was yesterday, others, I have absolutely no idea about but, between us, we always look back and have a giggle about something he remembers and I forgot or vice versa.
Time to get back to work…

Advertisements

More Family To Meet.

Our next stop in Slovenia was Maribor, where my grandmother was born. We stayed with my cousin and his girlfriend and just like everyone else, they were so welcoming. Our plan was to only stay three days, but we ended up staying a whole week with them, we were having such a good time.

My cousin took us to his grandmothers (my grandmothers sister) who provided us with an amazing lunch and drinks. We chatted for a while and she told me stories of when they were growing up as little kids. There was nothing I loved more than hearing these stories, it made me feel closer to them, even though I was only meeting them for the first time.

After lunch, my cousin took us to see my grandmothers two sisters and brother. Each of them just as welcoming and happy to see us as the last, some of them brought out some old photos of them all growing up, and more and more stories were told.

Meeting all this family was an absolute highlight of our trip for me! My dad is an only child, so his side of the family back at home, is just him and his mum but there is this whole new world of family on the other side of the earth that I had always dreamed of meeting and only every heard stories about.

Each of my grandmothers brother or sisters, at one point, looked at me, hugged me and mumbled something that I couldn’t understand. Later translated was ‘I cant believe your here’. I couldn’t either, I have only every dreamed to meet the family of my grandmother and grandfather, and now this is all coming true. After a big day of meeting everyone, and being fed a giant meal at every house, we were exhausted. That night, we just went home and had a night in with my cousin.

We had the hard decision again of now deciding where to next. We had now seen all of my family and we were going back out on our own. It kind of felt weird, not having all of those familiar faces around. We looked for a new and exciting country to visit. We decided on Bosnia.

On our last night, we cooked a big dinner to say thank you (well he cooked) I wasn’t much of a cook back then, he was and is one of the most amazing cooks I know. He LOVES it and you can see it in his cooking. He cooked dinner to say thank you to everyone who took us in, family or friends. He cooked a lot of traditional Egyptian food being Egyptian and everyone absolutely loved it and asked for some recipes. My cousins had some friends over that we had met whilst staying with them and we all enjoyed some food and drinks for our last night.

Saying goodbye, was always hard. I absolutely LOVED the last two months spent with family and every time we moved on it didn’t get any easier to say goodbye. But this time, there was no more family to see.  I was scared and excited at the same time.

 

It was just us two again…

Sisters.

I was just as excited about Slovenia as I was Croatia. Slovenia is where my grandmother is from and I couldn’t wait to meet more family. This time, however, I wasn’t as nervous I was more excited. I couldn’t wait to meet her brother and sisters and everyone else from the family.

We stayed with one of my dads cousins who I met many years ago when they came to visit in Australia when I was five. When we arrived, she gave me the most welcoming hug. Her house was beautiful and so inviting perched up on a little mountain. She didn’t speak much English, but had everything written down so she could read it to us, I LOVED that! We settled in for the night and I couldn’t wait for the next day because my cousin (her daughter) was coming too! I hadn’t seen her since she visited Australia over 22 years ago. I was a little nervous at first because I wasn’t sure how much we’d have in common, if anything!

When she arrived the next morning, I kind of thought we’d have to start from the beginning, like it was the first time we had met… but it wasn’t! It was like we had always kept in touch, and only not seen each other for a little while. I was SO excited to see her, we barley had to say two words to each other and I already felt like she was my long lost sister.

For the next week or so, we stayed in a small town called Lendava. Staying with my cousin and her mum lifted my spirits so high, I think I laughed all day every day, literally to the point where I had tears in my eyes and an ache in my belly. He was also amazing, he was happy to see me so happy. I was always so grateful for the way he was treated by my family, like he was one of their own. I can honestly say I fell in love with him more and more every day. Dont get me wrong, we had our fair share of fights and arguments, but I was happy, and to top it off, my cousin had a very similar sense of humour to me, which made him an easy target at pranking him and scaring him every time he walked around a corner.

One of my favourite things about staying with family, was being able to FaceTime my parents, as they were able to see everyone again for the first time in a long time. I also got to meet my grandmothers eldest sister whilst staying with my cousin (her grandmother), they looked so much alike. They Face Timed also, and it would have been the first time they were to see each other in many, many, many years. This made me happy.

We spent the next week sight seeing, we visited so many beautiful places and like in Croatia, many of the same places my parents visited so many years ago. I was so, so grateful for my dads other cousins for driving us around pretty much the whole country whilst battling an almost crippling disease, he never once showed us the pain he was in, he was just so excited for me to be there and show me around. He still kept in very close contact with my grandmother and just wanted me to experience the best Slovenia had to offer.

After probably one of the best weeks of our trip, we took a road trip with my cousin to the Ljubljana and stopped at a few little towns along the way. This city was stunning! I know, I know, I say that about every city, but this one is very, very high up there, absolutely gorgeous. We stayed in a hostel right in the heart of the city and I couldn’t wait to explore more of what this city had to offer!

My cousins mum and uncle came to visit us and take us to see more sites. We visited Lake Bled which is so stunning and picturesque and somewhere I would recommend to anyone and everyone. We were honestly so lucky to have these people who care so much to go out of their way to take us around the country. My cousin and her boyfriend also took us out quite a bit. One day they took us to these beautiful mountains where we travelled high, up a lift. He’s scared of heights, and going up this lift which probably took a good 5-10 minutes reminded me of the day we first met at the easter show. He was so scared to go on all of those scary rides, but did so to impress me (and, well, it obviously worked)

I knew how much he really didn’t want to go up the lift on this mountain but he did it anyway. He loves the outdoors, its one of his happy places so I knew he’d love it once we reached the top. Once we got up there, there was cows absolutely everywhere roaming around, we tasted some cheese and wine and just explored. One day my cousin and I left him behind so he could have a day to himself. We went on a road trip around the country and visited Predjama Castle and Postonja Cave. We stopped and had lunch and some ice-cream on the beach. It was such a great bonding day for us.

Unfortunately, this time with my cousin had to come to and end, but it wasn’t the end of Slovenia, there was, of course, more family to meet. I was so sad to say goodbye to my cousin, but I now knew, we had a bond that was unbreakable.
We were ready to meet the rest of the family…

Everything Was A-OK.

After they had done some more tests, and asked 101 questions, everyone was asked to leave the room and let me rest for a little bit. I didn’t want him to go anywhere, I didn’t want him to leave me, I felt safe when he was around. As I looked out of the door, I could see my Uncle (dads cousin) pacing backwards and forwards down the hall, he must have been really worried, which made me worry, maybe he knew what was wrong with me? Maybe it was bad? I just wanted to be back at home with my family.

A couple of hours later the doctor came into my room, she said I was very dehydrated but all in all OK and was able to head home. When he walked back into the room I was so thankful to see him, my eyes filled with tears and I just wanted to be in his arms. I couldn’t stop thinking about how well he was caring for me on the way to the hospital.

Ive never really felt protected by him, or by any one in my life. Ive always been the type of person to stand up on my own two feet and look after myself, (I think I get that from my mum) I never allow myself to get into a situation where I really need protecting, by him, my dad or my brothers. However, I know that if there ever comes a time, they would be the first ones there and the last ones to leave. Dont get me wrong, they have all at one time or another been there to help me when things go wrong or my car wont start or I need something fixed. My dad is Mr Fix It, I don’t think there is anything in this world that he doesn’t know how to fix or make. He is honestly a lifesaver for everyone and anyone who knows him.

Being the oldest of three kids, Ive always had that “big sister” mentality where I am always the one who does the protecting and looking after, I have now discovered that my baby brothers have grown up, and don’t always need their big dorky sister around and I am now the one who needs help and looking after. Those two will always be number one in my life, no matter what happens! They are and will always be my little brothers (even though they tower over me now a days) We haven’t always got along (what brother and sister does?) but we have a very similar sense of humour so when we do get along, we are always having a good old belly laugh at something, we have the absolute best time.

Annnnnnyway…

Once we got home, I was told to rest and take it easy for a while and the next couple of days were spent relaxing around the house. One night after dinner we decided to just stay in and watch a movie (I know, a movie in the middle of a country town, on the other side of the world) I was dreading having to read the subtitles all night. I turned on the TV to a random station and what movie comes on?! Muriel’s Wedding!! One of the most Aussie movies ever made!

Later that night as we were getting ready for bed, he told me how scared he was when I went into hospital, he said he felt so helpless that he couldn’t do anything or take the pain away. He told me when I was lying in the hospital bed, he was holding onto my leg and doing a small Sign Of The Cross with his finger on my ankle over and over again. My heart melted and at that point, I really knew how much I meant to him. He was my forever.

After a few days of rest, we went back and stayed with family on the coast, this was my happy place. We did a little more site seeing of the islands across the water. So magical. One day my uncle took me up to another holiday house they have and showed me around. He told me that when my dad was there visiting for the first time, him and my grandparents helped renovate the house, he showed me where they wrote their names in the wet cement. It was like an out of body experience. I was standing in exactly the same spot my dad was nearly 40 years ago with my grandparents!!

I was really sad to leave these two beautiful places, our retreat by the coast and our retreat in the country. They really meant something to me, I feel a really strong connection to them, something that I struggle to explain on paper. We headed to Zagreb and stayed with my cousin, we stayed in the exact same room, that my parents stayed in when they were visiting and staying with my cousins parents! Zagreb is another one of my favourite cities. It has the history of the old town and throughout you can see so much of where they have rebuilt since the War. In Gospic, my uncle showed me throughout the house the bullet holes that were still so visible, the stories we heard are unimaginable.

We stayed in Zagreb for a week and were free to do our own thing, my cousin also took great care of us, the both of them got along so well and had a lot in common. I loved seeing how happy he was.

We decided it was time to move on and see the other side of my family (my grandmothers side) in Slovenia. Both sides of the families knew each other and still kept in touch quite often even after all these years. Both countries being quite small, my cousin drove us to the boarder to meet the other side of the family. Croatia will always have this special place in my heart, and I am so, so, SO glad that I got to spend a European Summer at the best place in the world!

Hellooooo Slovenia…

Family.

My family is from a small town called Gospic in Croatia which is located roughly two hours south of Zagreb. My grandmother (my dads mum) who still remains in contact with all of our relatives overseas had already advised literally everyone in my family that we were in Europe and we were coming to visit, being her only grand daughter she was proud as punch that I was heading over to visit.

Arriving at the bus station in Gospic I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my throat. Although he never showed it, I knew he was a little nervous too. He remained as supportive as ever and encouraged my excitement to meet everyone. We met my dads cousin there and he took us back to his home where we’d stay. We settled in quite quickly and met a few family members. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face and I couldn’t believe where I was! I couldn’t wait to meet everyone else, there were so many people who also wanted to meet me too. I remember emailing my mum and dad and asking them to send me a family tree of who was who and how we were all related. It was a lot to take in.

We stayed on the same property where my grandfather grew up and lived before he moved to Australia. We were treated like absolute Kings and Queens. My dads cousin had built a barn out the back of the property and one day showed us around, he took me over to the doorway where my grandfather had carved his name into a panel of wood. I remember this indescribable feeling, my eyes welling up with tears as I brushed my hands over it. He did this, he was here, he touched this piece of wood I remember thinking over and over again. There was also another panel that had been framed, “Svatko je lopov tko ne radi posteno” he had carved into it, translated “Everyone is a thief who doesn’t work honestly”. I got quite attached to this because I believe in hard work, and I believe hard work pays off. I knew he was a very hard worker, and my dad is also one of the most hard working people I know and my brothers are also starting to follow in their footsteps.

Whilst Gospic was our main location, we visited and stayed with other family members in other parts of the country. We went to visit another one of my dads cousins who owns a bungalow retreat which has its very own beach on the coast. I was officially in love. This place was everything I pictured in my head when I thought of a ‘European Summer’ it was absolutely stunning. We were only there for a few days and once we left I couldn’t wait to go back.

We headed to Dubrovnik to stay with more family for a couple of weeks. My cousin and her boyfriend took us under their wings and showed us the best it had to offer. It was hot, very hot!Every day without fail, we would have soup for lunch. Soup! In 40 degree weather! He hated the heat, and every day I would have a little giggle to myself watching him try and be so polite about the food, but struggle at the same time. My cousins dad organised for us to go out on his friends boat one day, we visited three little islands and swam in the most crystal clear water. The day was everything I had dreamed of, it was amazing and I was so happy to be there sharing it with him.

I was so glad to see that he got along with every single member of my family. They loved him just as much as I did. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet any of my grandfathers bothers or sister as they had all past away in recent years. I think everyone felt a connection to me, or they felt they just couldn’t wait to meet me and get to know me because they lost their uncle so early on. Everyone loved hearing stories of my childhood and my brothers and especially my parents as they had visited and stayed in many of the same houses (and rooms) that I was staying in 30 years prior. Funny, hey?! I too LOVED hearing stories of my grandfather, they had so many to tell, not just about my grandfather, but also about my dad. His first visit back to Croatia was when he was 16 and well, we all know what 16 year old boys are like.

We had something to see and do nearly every day and on the days that we didn’t, we were treated to traditional lunches and dinners, I felt so at home. One thing I would recommend for everyone to go and see in Croatia is Plitvice Lake, this is the most amazing natural wonder I have ever seen in my life! The crystal clear water and stunning waterfalls. It was a magical day.

Later that night when we went downstairs for dinner, I started to get this really sharp pain in my chest, something I have never experienced before. I went upstairs to lay down for a little bit and not long after he came to check up on me, with fear in my eyes I said I needed to go to hospital.

As we approached Emergency I saw a number of doctors and nurses outside ‘chilling’ and enjoying a cigarette (being a country town I don’t think they get many emergencies) so I was lucky enough to have probably 90% of the emergency staff working on me.

As soon as we got there, they got me straight into a bed, hooked me up to the heart monitor and breathing machines. Everything was happening so fast and there were so many people.

I didn’t know what was happening to me…

Kissed By The Sun.

We continued our time in Prague, it has to be one of my favourite cities I visited in Europe. Everything about it was magical. After extending our time in Prague we decided to visit Hungary next. It was somewhere that neither of us were really interested in but thought we may as well see what it has to offer.

It was massive! In previous countries we visited, we didn’t do any tours and did all of the exploring ourselves, however, this place was so big we needed transport to every tourist destination. We did a magical boat cruise up and down the river one evening. Night time in Hungary is breathtaking. We only spent a few days in Hungary as we were quite eager to head towards the coast. We spontaneously one day decided to head to the bus station with all of our bags and book a bus to Croatia. Unfortunately (or fortunately) there wasn’t another bus until the next day. I was ever so nervous to meet my family. Im quite a shy person, and when it comes to meeting new people, he was always so much better at it than me, but this time I had to be strong as this was MY family. I had to lead.

We had to book accommodation for one more night in Hungary as our bus didn’t leave until early the next morning. Upon arrival we noticed that every panel in the room was painted a different colour and EVERYTHING was sticky taped together! Literally everything, from the front door, beds, toilet, tiles on the floor, cupboards in the kitchen and windows. We named it the sticky tape room. We named all of our rooms, but this one ‘sticks’ out the most. Ha!

Hungary was lovely, but it was time to move on. I didn’t want to meet my family straight away, I needed to talk myself into it, not for any other reason other than I felt quite anxious, I didn’t know what to do, how to act, didn’t really speak much of the language either and I think most of the anxiety came from me having to take the lead for a while. Im a very strong person, but I lack independence sometimes and being waaaay out of my comfort zone this was more prevalent then ever on this trip.

I never got to meet my grandfather (my dads dad) as he passed away before I was born, but I was in his home country. I cannot describe this feeling that overwhelmed me when we arrived in Croatia. I hoped that he was watching over me and knew where I was. We headed to Zagreb where we decided to stay before making our way to the coast. I had mentioned to my mum that as much as I was having a good time, I felt like I wasn’t having the time I had imaged. I imagined sun, water, coastlines, warm weather and up until now, I hadn’t experienced any of that. We were only in Zagreb for a couple of days as I was desperate to head to the coast. We booked an apartment in a small costal town called Bibinje, ahhhhhhmazing. I remember an email I received from my mum and the last line read “Hope you are being kissed by the sun and everything is Beautiful” it made me appreciate so much more what I was doing and who I was with. It put everything into perspective and I realised not everything is always going to work out how you imagined it would.

I was missing my family more now than ever, but I was glad it was now time for us to relax by the beach and let the sun shine down on us. After all, it was well into winter in Sydney.  I was in a happy place, probably the happiest I had been in a long time. We were happy.

 

Time to meet the family…

Twenty Five.

After spending just over a week with his friend in Germany we started thinking of our next destination, however, this one was going to be special because it was my Birthday!!

We were heading towards the end of June now and that meant warmer days which really excited us. We were trying to move closer to the coast so we could experience the best European summer it had to offer. We also had plans to meet my family in Croatia and Slovenia and wanted to start making our way over. I was quite nervous about this because I hadn’t met any of them before.

We arrived in Prague and we got to stay in a beautiful hotel, being my Birthday and all! It was gorgeous, classic, classy and our room was very homely. When the question was asked, “What do you want to do for you Birthday” I didn’t really have much of an idea, being away from friends and family I just thought we’d continue our normal adventure and do all the normal sight seeing. But he insisted that we do something amazing, he went downstairs and came back with some brochures of things to do around the city and said “pick anything you want” and BANG I found it, we’d go to a shooting range! We were told when we booked, that it was close to the city, we would have an English speaking guide and we would be picked up in their company vehicle.

I was lucky enough to have breakfast served in bed for the second time on this trip, he was and is one of the most amazing cooks I know. We were ready and waiting outside for the car to arrive. Both of us quite nervous but didn’t want the other to know. I finally said “I feel sick, I don’t know if I want to do this” he replied “me too” held my hand and said “but look at where we are, lets do this!” No more than two minutes later, a dodgy, old, rickety, red van pulled up, an old man hopped out and directed us in saying he was our guide and we’d be heading to the shooting range. Oh yeah! And he barely spoke English. After about FORTY FIVE minutes in this van and heading further and further away from the city, we finally pulled up to the shooting range. At this point I had to remind myself, I was on the other side of the world, with the absolute love of my life, it was my 25th Birthday and whatever was going to happen was going to happen.

What we walked into was something not even movies are made of! Movies, have proper barriers, guns are stored behind cabinets, proper protective gear etc. We walked into… a tunnel… under a train station… with zero barriers… and the guns were laid out on a table… for all to touch and see. There were literally thousands of shell cases all over the floor and we we struggled to understand what this guy was saying.

I made him go first, he fired away and loved every second of it. The smile on his face and excitement in his eyes was indescribable. My turn. My heart was going to beat out of my chest. What. The. Fuck. Am. I. Doing? As soon as my finger hit that trigger I felt this instant burst of power and willingness to just go for it.

Later that night, we had a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant in the main square of the city, which, if I’m honest we rarely did, romantic dinners I mean. We just weren’t really that type of couple. But I think it was more him than me, I mean… what girl doesn’t love to be wined and dined?!

After dinner, much to his hesitation, we went on a horse and carriage ride around the city. I had been begging him for days to do it and I guess this celebration was a good excuse.

I spoke to all of my family and friends back home that night. It was so nice to hear all of their voices and feel their love from the other side of the world. Missing them more than ever,  reminded me how happy they all were for us to be creating these memories that we will have for the rest of our lives.
Best. Birthday. Ever.

Out I step.

Austria is beautiful! One of his favourite countries. We stayed with one of his friends that he met a few years ago on Uni exchange. I think it was a breath of fresh air for him, being able to socialise with someone other than just me. I also felt a little of the weight lifted off my shoulders because he was able to go out and party without having to worry about me. It was a great couple of days and I feel it boosted us a little more. After Vienna, we headed down to Salzburg. WOW. What an amazing little city, it was picture perfect. It was one of my parents favourite cities they visited many years ago. I remember vividly one night, we decided to go out to the main square and have a few drinks. A few drinks later, I think we were having one of the best conversations we have ever had where we didn’t fight and argue, but just talked. About anything and everything, we talked about the future, family, marriage… life.

Thinking back, however, I don’t think we really came to an agreement about what we wanted, but we came to more of an understanding of what each other wanted. I understood him, and him me, we accepted what each other wanted and I guess came to a compromise that we will cross those bridges when they come, and for now, just love and support each other as much as possible. I loved him more and more every minute I spent with him.

From Salzburg we moved to Germany. We started in Munich and thought we’d try obtaining a working visa but again, it didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. One night we decided to head out and go for a walk outside of the main town centre and find somewhere to have a drink. We stumbled across a guy who welcomed us into his ‘local’ pub, it was literally the size of my bedroom at home.

We met a few people that night, one in particular who had traveled to Sydney on a number of occasions, he spoke perfect English and insisted we stay at his house the next night. I was ever so hesitant to do this, but we decided to go ahead and do it. Upon arrival he had breakfast waiting for us! It was a gorgeous little apartment. Later that day, he took us around the whole city, showed us a lot of touristy spots and a few little hidden local gems. I couldn’t believe the lengths he went to to show us around! It was nothing like I had ever experienced before. That night, we cooked him dinner to say thank you and we all enjoyed a night in on his balcony just chatting about anything and everything.

From Munich we moved to Stuttgart to meet another one of his friends. We were welcomed with open arms and stayed with him and his family in their home. Someone his friend knew was having a birthday party in a national park which I was hesitant to attend, but did so anyway. I cannot describe how badly I didn’t want to go. But with a smile on my face, I knew he wanted to go and I wanted to show him that I was stepping out of my comfort zone. That night, we were unable to go back to our friends house because it was a bit of a drive, so we ended up staying on the balcony of a ‘friend of a friends’ house. Yep, thats right, on a BALCONY on an old lounge, in the cold on a sleeping bag. I couldn’t get to sleep, I was uncomfortable, freezing, hungry and just wanted to be at home with my family.

The view I woke up to the next morning made up for the shitty, cold, sleepless night. We were smack bang in the middle of a valley and as I peered over the balcony BAM the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. Ahhhhmazing. I almost felt like I had accomplished something that night, something I never thought I’d ever be able to do. Step WAY out of my comfort zone. This, to me, as silly as it sounds, was a massive accomplishment.

Where to next?…