So, it’s finally happening. After months of saving, planning (ish) and talking about it to literally anyone that would listen, I’m here in Melbourne. After an extremely difficult goodbye at the airport, I was off! First stop – two days in Dubai to stay with one of my best friends. Feeling totally and utterly exhausted and flat from all the goodbyes and thoughts of home, spending a few days with a familiar face (and a not-so familiar little chappy we met on the beach… Saudi the Camel) was just what I needed, especially as she has made herself at home in a new place. I went from feeling overwhelmed at what I was about to do to excited that I might be able to do the same in Australia.
Spurred on by time in Dubai (with the exception of just one wobbly moment on the plane when suddenly all I wanted was for the plane to turn back around) I arrived in Melbourne feeling (for the most part) pretty excited. I shared my bus to the hostel with another boy from the UK who was doing the same thing as me and staying at the same place which made me feel a lot better about travelling alone. However, my feelings of readiness and calm and excitement completely dwindled when I got to the hostel. Because it was so early, everyone in my dorm was fast asleep. I was just glad there was a bed for me to check into so early but it did leave me fumbling around in the dark not wanting to be that annoying loud person at 6am. There’s something quite unsettling about building yourself up and feeling prepared only to arrive in a room full of sleeping people and just climbing into a top bunk and feeling wide awake.
I struggled to fall asleep for what felt like forever, but when sleep finally came it was amazing. When I woke up most of the people in my room were already getting up and out so I decided to just wander around St Kilda on my own. I had arranged my bank account before I left and knew I had to go and collect the card from the bank so thought I could feel productive whilst taking in my new surroundings. The first thing that struck me was how much I actually enjoyed my own company. I’m used to travelling with a friend and have often even found myself amongst a new-found group of friends, which don’t get me wrong is great, but actually just strolling on my own felt quite nice. You didn’t need to worry about what anyone else was doing or what others’ plans were, you could just be. I got myself some food to take back for breakfast and decided after to check out the free yoga being put on by the hostel. Not wanting to admit to my tiredness I thought a free event would be good for meeting people. Yoga was actually really good and I went for coffee (it would be rude not to in the coffee capital – delicious!) after with a few of the people which, thankfully, upped my levels of feeling like I had some sort of ability to actually move to the other side of the world on my own… although not quite at the levels they were at post-Dubai just yet. Already in my gym gear, I decided to go for a run so I could see more of the area. This time, I headed for the beach rather than the shops. The beach utterly gorgeous and there’s obviously a massive fitness vibe, I passed a runner pretty much every minute. I accidentally gave in to my exhaustion once I had got home and showered. After waking from my impromptu nap I got chatting to the girls in my dorm who are all really friendly. After chatting with them I went down to see what ‘entertainment’ the hostel was putting on that night.
To be completely honest, it wasn’t really my thing (or perhaps isn’t anymore, I admit organised fun was great on my gap year when I was 19) and I found it a teeny bit cringe but as a solo-traveller I was in no position to turn down a chance to mingle with everyone else there. The hostel put on ‘boozy bingo’ and, whilst most of it was actually quite fun, some of it was a bit much and a bit like being on a school trip. I did chat to lots of people and really felt I was experiencing what it was like to travel on your own for the first time. The thing I found most unsettling was that, when you’re with someone else, you look out for each other during the day/night… even if you’re chatting to or hanging out with other people you have met, you know your travel buddy is there too. Last night if the person I was chatting to went off somewhere else I didn’t have that back up of having one of your best friends there. That said, it just forces you to chat to more people which is not a bad thing.
Cut to later that night and me feeling already jet-lagged and unable to sleep and simultaneously everyone (or so it seemed) in my dorm began to snore… loudly. At first I actually quite liked it, I felt like I was truly back to the backpacker ways. That didn’t last long. After another restless night I met one of the girls who had been at yoga for breakfast and we went to the library for a bit of free wifi (true backpacker feelings increasing again). I sorted out some more bits like my tax file number and felt that entailed a suitably productive day, enough for me to just come back to the hostel and chill.
All in all I don’t think I’m quite there yet with loving being alone. I can certainly see the appeals and it is of course true what everyone always says that you’re never really alone… but just for these first few days (or perhaps weeks) I think it might just be that little bit better with a familiar face in the same position as me. Maybe that will all change…I’ll update you once it stops feeling so new and unknown! I’m sure it will come, it’s just a matter of becoming familiar with my new routine.