Here We Go Again.

Starting the new year unemployed and knowing that I didn’t want to go back into a 9-5 office job, I had no choice but to make something of my photography career. I started doing a lot of free jobs for family and friends so I could build my portfolio. Before I knew it, I had a Facebook page and and Instagram account and went wild with promoting my work.

The previous May two of our closest friends ended their relationship. This was a big shock to me, and I didn’t quite understand straight away why it all happened. I went to high school with her, so I had known her for nearly 15 years. He was best friends with her boyfriend and they had known each other since they were babies, we were like the awesome foursome, we did a lot of things together and always had so much fun.

After the break up, he decided it was time for him to pack up and travel. I think it was a great idea! In December he left with a round the world solo ticket and I couldn’t have been happier for him, it was his turn to get out there and live the absolute best life he could. There was talk of a meet up overseas somewhere for the two boys but I kept out of it, hoping it wouldn’t happen. I also kept in touch with her, there was no reason not too! She is an amazing person and still to this one day one of my closest friends.

At the end of January I was put in touch with a lovely family looking for a before and after school carer/nanny. I thought this would be a great opportunity for me as it would allow me to continue working hard of my photography.

I started at the end of January 2015 and to this day, I am still looking after these two gorgeous kids. When I am with them, I am reminded of what it was like to be a child and to not have the worries in the world that are currently on my mind. I can relate to them so much, they even go to the same primary school that I went too and I often see all of my old teachers.

I was really wanting to make something of my photography career. There were a few courses that I wanted to enrol in but Im not that type of person. Meeting new people gives me a lot of anxiety, and that whole comfort zone thing that I have spoken about a few times? Yep, this was a big part of it! He found an online course that offered a Diploma in Professional Photography however it cost $1,000 and I wasn’t prepared to spend that kind of money now that I was a part time nanny.

He was so adamant that this is something that I had to do, he knew that I was good at taking photos, but knew I could be so much better. He offered to pay for it, as long as I took is seriously and completed it properly. At first I didn’t want to accept the money because I knew how hard he had worked for it however he insisted that he really wanted for me to do this and it wasn’t up for discussion because I would only talk my way out of it. He gave me the money and told me to register in my own time but it was something that I had to do.

At the end of January, he came to me and said he wanted to go and meet his friend overseers for a little while as this would be his last ‘solo’ trip and it was something that they had talked about doing for years but just got carried away with being in a relationship and work life. I didn’t have much to say about it initially. I didn’t think he would actually go, or I thought he’d just go for a little holiday and meet him over there for a couple of weeks.

I didn’t like to entertain the idea, so I didn’t like talking about it. He would ask me on occasions if I wanted him to go, in which I obviously replied no, but in saying that I had never stopped him from doing things that he loved doing, I was never that type of girlfriend and I never intended on being one.

I tried to explain to him that, he has already done all of his travelling, WE had done our travelling and it was now time to settle down and start thinking seriously about our future. He always told me he knew all of this, and he was already saving for our future and once he got back we would get settled. I believed him.

Before I knew it, he had quit his job and booked his tickets and was leaving in two weeks! What. The. Fuck?!

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Something Was Coming.

My contract at work was supposed to finish in October however I ended up extending until December and finish just before Christmas. I knew that I wasn’t going to get too comfortable because the company who I work for was bought out by a major bank and they were starting to hand out a lot of redundancies, including members from my team and department. I almost felt quite safe with everything that was going on because I know I was there working until Christmas and anything after that was up to me.

Before I knew it, I was having my second farewell in as many years at this job, I wasn’t leaving on my own though because a few people had also decided to leave at the same time. It was kind of one big farewell! I knew I’d be back to see everyone as often as I could.

A few months ago he had started a job at a community youth home where he was a carer for young troubled kids. It was so nice to see him doing something that he loved to do. As much as I think that studying law for six or seven years and not doing anything with it is a big waste, I think what he is doing for these kids is amazing. He had odd shifts, some morning and some night, so it was a little harder to see each other as often as we once did. It was nice though because on the days where we couldn’t see each other, we would really miss each other!

He is someone who wants nothing but the best for everyone he knows. He has the biggest heart and the kindest soul and only wants to always be of help to anyone who crosses his path, he is a great role model for kids who have been in or going through some troubled times. He is very patient, understanding and loyal so I knew this job was going to be amazing for him. At the same time, I knew it would also be amazing for us. With us both working, we would be able to start saving for (hopefully) a deposit on a house or something for our future. I didn’t like to talk about this too much with him, cause I was always too scared we’d end up fighting and I felt we were in such a good place in our relationship that I didn’t want to ruin that. On the odd occasion that we did talk about it there were parts of me that just wanted to get through his thick skull what I wanted in life and I hoped he wanted the same and sometimes it would get really frustrating.

We had a massive conversation one night, and came to the conclusion that we both wanted the same things in life. But I wanted to just walk straight ahead and do it the ‘normal’ way. He wanted to go left, right, up, down, in, out, through, over and under to get there. This same thing is what ‘most’ people want. A home, a loving marriage and a family. I realllllllllly didn’t think I was asking for too much after all the years I had committed to him and his travelling and crazy ideas.

Christmas had come around again (already?!) this year was hot, really hot! But I loved it, it reminded me of being a kid and how hot Christmas used to be when we were growing up. He couldn’t attend my family lunch (which is held at our house every year and my parents put on THE most amazing day) because he was working, as much as it sucked, I appreciated what he was doing. His parents still came and enjoyed the day with the rest of my family (being Egyptian, they celebrate Christmas on January 7) so we get the best of both worlds!

After Christmas (obviously) comes New Years. We had a big party at one of our friends houses with a lot of close friends. He was so amazing that night, he looked after all the food (as I have mentioned I think three or a hundred time already, he’s a great cook!) he made sure I was having a good night and made sure he cleaned up after. It started to become a ritual, that every year I would joke about becoming ‘Mrs’ the next year, I did it last year and the year before that.

This year, though, I had a feeling, I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it, but I had a feeling that something BIG was going to happen…

One Year On.

I eventually decided that I’d go back to work, however, I’d only go back on a six month contract. The way I saw it was, I knew that if I went back to full time employment, I’d get way too comfortable and not want to change and I was so determined to work hard on my photography and make something of myself.

I have to say, I was quite excited to head back to work, after spending most of my savings overseas, I needed to get back into it and get some extra money in my pocket but I think I was most excited about heading back into a routine. I wasn’t going back to my old role, but something new, still in the same department, same team and working for the same boss.

I was dreading the first day back, I was hating every single thing about it. I was so used to spending every day with him, enjoying the beautiful summer, we were in such a happy place. As much as we were both still wishing we were back in Europe, when we were together, we were really happy and I loved that more than anything.

The first day back I had mixed feelings. I couldn’t believe that I was back there so quickly. It only felt like yesterday I was hugging everyone saying goodbye about to start on the biggest adventure of my life. It almost felt like an out of body experience. To see all of my friends again was awesome, everyone was so happy to see me and ask how the trip was. I couldn’t wait to sit down and tell everyone all about it, and try and encourage as many people as I could to one day get out there and travel!

Some parts about coming back were hard, I had to learn new procedures, new job role, new systems and meet a couple of new people. Anything ‘new’ for me is quite scary as I’m sure it is for everyone. I HATE that feeling more than anything in this world and it gives me a lot of anxiety. But I knew this was the next chapter in my life and I was ready to tackle it head on.

Before I knew it, our anniversary had come around again. I struggled to believe that this time last year, we had only just arrived in Paris and were celebrating seven years together. Now celebrating our eight years together, we opted for more of a ‘casual’ celebration of just a picnic and BBQ in a park. Usually we don’t do the whole present thing, but more often than not, I end up getting him a card and he always has little surprises for me. He picked me up and had a heart shaped balloon in the car, which I thought was a very cute gesture. “Follow the string” he said, looking at me with a huge smile on his face. Not sure what the hell was going to pop up at me, I slowly followed the string to the pocket behind my car seat. It was a memory card for my camera! That may not mean something to a lot of you, but to me, it WAS a lot. It wasn’t just the physical present, it was the well thought-out idea of how he gave it to me that meant more. He wanted to surprise me, make me happy. It was something that he had put effort into. More often that not, I would criticise or make fun of him for doing special things for me, because he ‘made’ them himself or got me something that I needed rather than what I wanted. Looking back at those times, my heart sinks at what a spoilt little bitch I was. How ungrateful!

In May he was finally admitted to the Bar after so many years of studying and working so incredibly hard. I was so proud of him, as were his parents. To say that I ever doubted him wouldn’t be a lie, but it was just hard to imagine him getting to this point. He is such a free spirit that he never seems to finish anything that he starts but this time he finally got there in the end. He would have to be one of the smartest people I know, he knew everything about everything and if he didn’t he would make sure he would research all about it for the next time it would pop up in conversation.

He was forever educating me on things. We actually balance each other out as he is very book smart, however lacks common sense sometimes, me on the other hand not so good on the books, but my common sense… lets just say sometimes I surprise myself!

June soon came around again, another Birthday, another year older. This time however, I wasn’t going to be celebrating in Prague, which was fine with me as it meant I was with my friends and family. I had being dying to go to this place call Boing Central for ages, initially I wanted to organise it for his Birthday, but he refused. He told me to be patient and he would organise it for my Birthday. Its a big ware house filled with trampolines everywhere!!! How fun does that sound?!

I’m a big kid at heart, I love playing games, and sometimes have to remind myself how old I really am. He organised for all of our friends to attend, including my two brothers. I kind of didn’t really think many of them would be interested, but I think they saw how excited I was about it, they thought they’d give it a go. BEST. NIGHT. EVER! Apart from Europe, this would have to be one of my most favourite Birthdays I have ever had! For a couple of hours, there were about 30 twenty-something year olds who all felt like we were all 5 again. It meant soooo much to me that everyone was there, especially my brothers, who Im sure loved attending their dorky older sisters Birthday.

Life was pretty stable for the time being…

Just Enjoying Life.

I was so glad that I was able to spend Christmas at home. Christmas to me means family, friends, summer, water, holidays and so much more. Before we left Europe we were tossing up whether we’d stay for a little longer, or whether we should head home. I said if I was going to miss Christmas, I’d want to stay in Europe for at least another six months, but at the same time, I missed my family so much that I just wanted to head home.

The summer holidays of 2015/2016 was like all the others, fun, hot, barbecues with friends and family. We always had awesome parties for New Years, usually at a friends house where everyone got together to celebrate. This year I joked around saying “2016 is the year I become ‘Mrs’” as all the other years, he’d roll his eyes and we’d all have a good laugh. But this year, I really thought it would be the year.

I felt that we were getting older and after seven and a half years together we would very soon be ready to settle down. I felt like, I gave him a piece of me when we went travelling. It was something that he wanted to do for ever and ever. He had done it so many times before, and its something he was always so passionate about. I always thought to myself “If I do this, maybe it will encourage him to settle down soon” not that that was the main reason for me travelling with him, but I felt it was always there in the back of my mind. I never wanted to encourage that thought towards him though, it would only anger and upset him. I always thought that as much as I am doing this travelling for me, there is a small part of me that was doing it for him. To show him that I can do it and I wanted to do it, for me, for us.

These conversations with him never ended well. We always ended up arguing or ‘agreeing to disagree’. But I was so desperate to show him what I did. I did this, me! Someone who never thought in her wildest dreams, or worst nightmares she would pack her things, quit her job, say goodbye to her family and friends and travel, without a return ticket home! I was so proud of what I did, and to some, it might be second nature (like him) but to me, it was a massive deal. To this day, I still don’t think people really understand how big that was for me. A lot of my family and friends were so envious of us and what we were doing. But for me, it meant losing control, stepping way out of my comfort zone, quitting the only job I thought I’d be at for the rest of my life, leaving my family and not knowing what the hell was coming my way.

I am someone who is always in control (or some like to say controlling) I have control of everything in my life, and when this big curve ball was thrown my way, I freaked out. I love it, every second of it, but I still freaked out, so as much as everyone was living vicariously through my travels, I hated every day that I didn’t have control of my life as such. I didn’t have my routine that I rely so heavily on day in and day out. Routine is something that I thrive off, it makes me feel like I accomplish something every day and to have my whole life ‘routine’ out of whack was a lot harder than I ever led on to anyone!
The next couple of months were slow, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. After the Christmas holidays, everyone around me started to get back into their own routines and headed back to work. I was unemployed, did I like it? Yes. But did I also miss it? Of course. I was so undecided, did I want to pursue my dream of being a photographer after falling in love with it overseas? I had no qualifications, didn’t really know how to use my camera properly and had no idea how to get into the field. Or did I go back to full time work? Find another 9-5 office job? I felt like my head and my heart were in two different places.

Whilst I felt the pressure of my parents to head back to a full time job, I so desperately wanted to follow my passion. He was so supportive during the whole situation, although I think he was trying his best to persuade me to follow my dream. He hated the thought of being trapped in a full time job and ‘confirming to society’ and as much as I agreed with him (like a lot of people I know) I knew that I needed to head back to full time work in order to start my life again, and think about my future. I wanted things, and these things don’t come cheap. I wanted to buy a house, get married and have a family.

I received a call from my old boss at my old job. He asked me to go back and work for him. I told him I’d have to think about it, and weigh up my options. The thought of a routine and a comfort zone again really tugged at my head, but the thought of following my dreams and passion tugged at my heart.

Back to the decision making…

Home Sweet Home.

Arriving back at home felt so surreal. His brother picked us up form the airport and took us back home. As my family wasn’t going to be home for about few hours, I stayed and slept at his house for the afternoon. His parents were so happy to see us home safe and sound.

Before I knew it, my brother (who was keeping the secret) came to pick me up and take me home. He told me that he had to tell mum and our other brother that I was coming home as they had made plans that night and wouldn’t be there otherwise, so really I was only surprising my dad! He got the biggest shock when I walked in the door and jumped up straight away to hug me. It was so nice to see everyone for the first time in seven months and my beautiful dog whom I missed so much! I couldn’t wait to explore the house to see any new additions that my mum had bought and my dad had to assemble (happy wife, happy life)

Later that night, I told a lot of unheard stories over a nice family dinner, including the time I went to hospital in Croatia. I didn’t want to tell them whilst I was overseas as I didn’t want them to worry about me. I went through all of my luggage and started handing out presents, I was so excited to see them open everything, after all, they were from the other side of the world and some of them I had been carrying around for months!

Later that night, I met up with my bestie and talked for hours over a couple of coffees (or in my case hot chocolates as I don’t drink coffee, never have and I don’t think I ever will, yuk!) I told her as many stories as I could think of as at this time the trip started to feel like it was all a blur. Each day started to roll into the next and it became so hard to remember what happened when and where.

The next day, I went to see my grandmother (we call her Baka (pronounced Barka) in Croatian.) She had no idea that I was even back in Sydney because like everyone else, I had her believing that I was still in Europe. When she answered the door and I said “Hi Baka” the excitement in her voice melted my heart. “You home, you home!!!” in her cute little accent. We have always had this thing that when my brothers and I were little and we would go and visit her, she would open the door and stand to the side and as we walked in, she would give us each the biggest hug. Well, the hug she gave me took me right back to my childhood.

We sat and talked for hours about my whole adventure and all the family that I got to meet and how kind and generous they were to us. I went through and showed her the photos I had with her brother and sisters and the rest of her family. I could see on her face how happy this made her and this put a huge smile on my face.

I also surprised my other Grandparents (mums parents) who also didn’t know that I had returned home. I had organised with my uncle to make sure they were home. I knocked at the door and my Grandad answered and welcomed me inside. I thought it was quite strange that he didn’t give me a hug or mention anything about my trip. I gave my uncle a big hug and sat down, he turned to my Grandad and said “Do you know who this is?” My Grandad had to look at me properly, I said “It’s me!” Well, didn’t the tears start streaming from his eyes. He couldn’t believe I was back and couldn’t believe he didn’t recognise me. I jumped up and gave him a big ol’ hug. My Nanna was on the phone in the other room and when she walked out, she too hadn’t the faintest idea who I was. She looked at me closely and stared once she figured it out, had a few tears in her eyes too! Not long after that we were all sitting around laughing about it. I believe that I get my laugh from my mum, who got hers from her mum!

I am the first born grandchild, so I think I will always hold a soft spot in my grandparents’  hearts, especially my Grandad, he calls me his ‘Pretty, Pretty’. I think being the eldest, I share a special bond with my uncle and aunties as well, and, as I get older I am starting to appreciate the childhood I had as a kid so much more. I could not have asked for anything more than what I got.

After a couple of days of seeing the rest of my family and some friends, I started to miss him, a lot, and started to get that homesick feeling for him, however, I knew that I needed to give him his space, after all we had just spent seven months living in each others pockets.

What happens now?…

Reunited With Old Friends.

We spent six freezing hours at a bus terminal waiting for our next bus to Sofia, Bulgaria. It wasn’t long until the bus was supposed to arrived when it started snowing. So magical. We arrived at about 4am in Sofia, the hostel was old, the beds were rickety, cold and very uncomfortable! We were only staying two days in Sofia so wanted to make it all worth our while. The next morning made the terrible night sleep so worth while, it had snowed all night and the city was blanketed in white! It was gorgeous, but freezing!

We only had the day to explore, we stopped at a park to draw and write in the snow. We were approached by an elderly lady who told us how lovely it was to see us so in love, enjoying life and exploring her country. This warmed my heart and put a lot of things into perspective for me. I knew we were nearing the end of our trip and I just wanted to stop and take in every last moment together.

We decided we’d head back to Germany to meet his friend from Stuttgart again and spend a couple of days in Berlin. Berlin is definitely not for me. Its a great city and lovely people, but not somewhere I’d like to live. Him on the other hand, couldn’t wait to head back there and we hadn’t even left yet!

We did all the touristy things and I was quite excited to see the Berlin Wall, we stayed with friends of people we met at the hostel in Kosovo. The absolute generosity of people in Europe continued to surprise me every where we went. I couldn’t believe how kind everyone always was to us.

One night him and his friend decided they’d go out for a big night before his friend had to go back home and I decided I’d stay back and catch up on my emails to everyone back home. We had a plan, a plan to surprise everyone when we returned home. So, whilst we were in Berlin, I still had everyone back at home believing we were still working at the hostel in Kosovo. We already had our tickets booked to head to London before we flew home, we couldn’t FaceTime for nearly two weeks because they would of course catch on to what we were doing.

I was really excited for London, we were staying with a really old friend of mine, her boyfriend and his family. I have known her since kindergarten as we went to primary school together, and he went to high school with her so we were all good friends. We got stuck at the airport for a good couple of hours as they were questioning us about our travels and how long we were going to stay in London. We ended up having to show them that we had flights booked home before they would let us into the country.

We arrived at our friends house, I didn’t really know what to expect. I hadn’t spoken to her in a few years well enough to be staying with her, and I had only met her boyfriend once when they were living in Sydney. Of course, I was worrying for nothing! The four of us got along like a house on fire, we sat up and talked for hours, we had so much to catch up on, but at the same time, it felt like we had only just seen them yesterday!

She is my longest and one of m dearest friends and to be on the other side of the world together is such a strange feeling, I still have so, so many fond memories of us in kindergarten thinking that leaves were balls (personal joke, ha!) playing at each others houses and just generally being kids.

I felt like we spent the whole week just laughing and getting up to mischief, laughing so hard it felt like my cheeks were being held up by hooks (another personal joke, sorry.) We did a lot of sight seeing, I could always see myself living in London, but there is no place like home!

We went out a couple of times and met some of their friends. London, had to be one of my favourite cities, (of course it did, what city didn’t?!) especially as it was early December and nearing Christmas, all the streets were looking really festive. It was, however, freezing and I couldn’t wait to get back home where it was already well into summer and a lot warmer than where I currently was!

As much as I was so excited to get back home and see all of my family and friends, I was holding onto the last few days that I had with him because I knew that when we got back home, our lives would eventually return to normal and I don’t think I was entirely ready for that.

I had to tell my youngest brother that we were coming home so he could make sure everyone was at home when I got there. The plane ride home was horrible, I was really sick and couldn’t stop vomiting. It was one of those times where you just wished you were anyone else or anywhere else!

We finally made it!…

I Lost Them All.

We were settling in nicely, getting to know the locals and the locals were definitely getting to know us! The people of Kosovo don’t travel much, or at all really. They have very heavy visa restrictions which makes it quite hard for them to leave the country.

In 2010, he travelled around South America with seven for his friends for around three months. He had been throwing comments out like “I cant wait to get dreadlocks” “I cant wait to grow them really long” before he left for the trip. I wasn’t the biggest fan of dreadlocks and I really wasn’t fond of the idea that he was going to get them. Upon arrival back to Sydney after his trip I was in shock… He. Had. Dreads! At first I hated everything about them, but over the years they started to grow on me, and now I cant imagine him without them, they are like is trademark, his statement. They are him.

This is why I say the locals were noticing us more than your average tourist, I don’t think many, if any of them have ever seen someone in real life with dreadlocks before. People would literally stop what they are doing and stare at us walking past, at first we felt really uncomfortable, but after being there for two months, we got quite used to it. It was like he was famous or something, people would come up and ask if they could touch them, he even got asked if someone could have a photo with him!! No word of a lie!

One day, being the organised clean freak that I am, decided to pull our bags apart and repack everything. It was at this stage that I started to hate living out of a suitcase. I mean, looking at the same old clothes day in and day out, knowing that I had a whole wardrobe of them back at home, and everything was always crunched or folded and shoved into a bag. I was going through all of our things and making sure that after five months of travelling we still had everything! I pulled out all of my memory cards and started going through all of our photos from earlier in the trip. As I started to get to the last couple, I started to panic as I wasn’t able to find the memory cards that had all of my Croatia photos on it! I went through them all and couldn’t find ANY of them, none! I really started to panic and pulled out everything again. I was really upset and told him what has happened, he held my hand, told me not to worry and that we will find them! He got on the phone straight away and started calling the last couple of hostels that we had stayed at as I wasn’t sure when the last time I had them was. I pulled the whole hostel apart and and asked everyone in there to look through their things.

After an hour of searching, and I dont know how many tears later they never turned up. I couldn’t believe it. Over 2,000 photos gone! It wasn’t that I lost the memory cards, this was the first time I had met my family from Croatia, the places and people held a special place in my heart and now all I had were the memories in my head. He pulled me close and have me a massive hug and whispered “It’s ok, its just means we will have to go back and do it all again” as funny as it sounds, it kinda made me feel a lot better. He knew how much those photos meant to me and he did everything he could to help me find them.

The next few weeks were full of lounging around, working hard, being a tourist and partying even harder. We were able to meet so many people who would come and go from the hostel, some would stay longer than others and some made more of an imprint. I got to know a really awesome girl whilst working, she was staying at the hostel for a couple of weeks before she found an apartment as she was studying in Kosovo. It was great to have a friend around when I was sick of living with so many men. We’d have sleep overs at her apartment and when she would travel for her studies I would stay at her place and catch up on me time. I love my own company, so after spending literally every day and night with 15 other people every single day, this alone time was like a dream.

Since one of us always had to be at the hostel after midnight, he was always happy to stay back and allow me to stay at the apartment. He’d come and visit and cook some amazing home cooked meals, leave me with some chocolate, wine and a kiss goodnight and be on his way. As funny as it sounds, I always felt homesick for him when he left, considering we pretty much lived in each others pockets spending one night apart felt like a lifetime.

Before I left for Europe, I told my parents that I was coming back with a tattoo and that was a matter of fact! I had no idea what it would be, but I knew I was getting one. One of the hostel owners knew a really good tattoo artist and offered to introduce us. With only days to decide what I wanted, we were discussing one night what we’d get. We joked about getting each others names or initials tattooed somewhere on us, he wasn’t too sure about that one, although I would have done it in a heart beat! He said “what about the engraving that your grandfather did in Croatia?” “Done!” I said. Sitting in that chair whilst the tattoo artist was preparing was probably the longest five minutes of my life! I will never forget the sounds of that needle when his foot stepped onto that pedal nor will I forget the feeling of it penetrating into my skin.I was holding onto his hand so tight, his fingers started to go purple. After about 20 minutes I looked down and LOVED it. “Svatko je lopov tko ne radi posteno” my first tattoo and it meant more to me than anyone could ever imagine.

Coming to the end of two months, we knew he’d have to move on eventually, we had the most amazing time working in Kosovo, meeting new people, becoming life long friends with others, the parties, the lazy days the touristy days, It’s something that I never thought I’d do in a million years but something I am so glad I did and to do it with him was even more amazing!

We said our goodbyes and off we went…

Home Away From Home.

We arrived at the first hostel which was just outside the main strip of the city centre. It was nice. We were shown around and they explained to us what our jobs were going to be. They showed us to our room and allowed us to settle in… I hated it, I felt really homesick and wanted to get out of there ASAP, I don’t know what came over me but I hated everything about it. He suggested we go to the other hostel and see what it was like and if we liked it better we’d stay there and work.

Well, it was much better and we pretty much said c’ya later, thank you but no thank you to the other place and checked into the second hostel. This hostel was owned by two young brothers and upon arrival, we were shown to our room. It was an eight person dorm with access to our own little balcony looking out onto the main square in the city. After travelling for five months I have to say this was the cleanest hostel we had stayed at AND they had REAL mattresses! A lot of the hostel beds were made out of foam and ever so uncomfortable, you’d feel your whole body sink into it, and by the morning, it felt like you were sleeping on the bed slats.

We settled in nicely and the next morning we met the manager of the hostel. He was really cool and easy going, it was a very laid back hostel, we were run through the system and advised of what our jobs were going to be. We weren’t sure how long we were going to stay and work for but I was only thinking a couple of weeks. We only needed to work on Sundays and run the pub crawls on Wednesdays Fridays and Saturdays. Easy!

I think I surprised myself with how excited I actually was. We settled in quite nicely, it was my turn to have the top bunk. We rotated at every hostel we went to, although I think every time I put on my puppy dog eyes (which was almost every time) he ended up taking the top bunk. I knew he was good for something!! The hostel only slept 14 people, so it was quite small and cozy. It was our second or third night, I was just falling asleep and he comes knocking on my bed (the beds also had curtains across them, so you could sleep comfortably without any light interrupting you (genius!!)) We had an older (I’d say about 70) man staying at the hostel. “There has been an accident and they asked if you could clean it up?” “What?!” Ill spare you all the details, but lets just say, the old guy wore adult nappies and ‘missed’ the toilet when emptying it, it was alllllllllllll over the toilet seat, sliding down the toilet and bathroom floor. “Fuck!” The next half an hour was spent cleaning. Gross! Now looking back, all we do is laugh, but at the time, I wanted to die!

Our first pub crawl – I don’t drink that much, and I get quite anxious around drunk people, so I was quite nervous about it. We started at the bar that was owned by the brothers that owned the hostel who were also big party goers. A beer was equivalent to $2.00AUD which is extremely cheap. I enjoyed a couple of drinks at the first bar, and a couple at the next and a couple at the one after that. Before I knew it, I was the drunk one! It was one of the best nights I have had out! We finally ‘crawled’ back to the hostel, where I was way too drunk to climb the ladder to my bed, so I slept in his, winning!! I face timed my brother who was on his way to work who has never really seen me that drunk, he was in stitches, I do remember showing him how I could do the worm on the floor in the common room.

The next few days were spent doing the touristy things and sight seeing so we could familiarise ourself with the city. The main strip of the city, was very modern filled with lots of cafes and restaurants. The outer streets showed the history of the country, like the other Eastern European countries it was very war torn and a lot of it was still being rebuilt.

It was a beautiful city and I couldn’t wait to call it home for a little while…