Wow. What a difference a couple of days makes! It was only Tuesday (although it seems simultaneously like yesterday and like a lifetime ago) that I was blogging about my initial thoughts on solo travelling.
Whilst I wasn’t totally hating it, I definitely felt lonely and, if I’m honest, I think I was being optimistic. I think I actually felt more lonely than I let on in the hope that I could kid myself into feeling more at home. Well, my real first impression of solo travelling and my advice to anyone else is just give it a few days. One week in and I am in a whole other place! I just needed a few days to wrap my head around everything. On Tuesday night I partook in a pub quiz with some people from my dorm which we proceeded to win (nothing like a joint achievement to spark traveller bonding). Our prize was a $75 dollar bar tab for the following evening… Not too bad at all. The next day it was absolutely beautiful at the beach so a huge group of us just sat and chatted all day. It was one of those wonderful days that happen so often during these sorts of trips, where the freedom of travelling leads to freedom of conversation and we chatted about everything and anything for hours on end; books, relationships, sex, work, the universe, surfing, music, love, life, family… Everything. From Game of Thrones to the worst places to do regional work in Australia, you name it, we said it.
That night the $75 bar tab proved another great way to bond – nothing like free alcohol – and that, coupled with the satisfactory feeling of spending the day in the sun, made for a great evening spent back on the beach. I had booked out of Base the next morning to explore some more areas and, on a friends recommendation, I headed off to the Nunnery in Fitzroy with a few friends from the hostel who also wanted to check it out. I had my first experience on Melbourne’s trams and I felt better and better during the journey. Whilst I am always happy chilling out by the beach, it was the city that had really attracted me to moving here and, as the tram whizzed along through the Central Business District, I couldn’t hide the smile from my face. My two new companions even commented on how excited I seemed. Finally, I was feeling myself again! Just when I thought I couldn’t be happier, I got a phone call about some potential work… things really were looking up! My advice to anyone on a working holiday visa here would be to use all available resources. Stubbornly, I had really liked the idea of finding a job all on my own and had politely declined anyone’s offers to put me in contact with this person or that company. However, whilst finding a job here isn’t hard if you’re not picky, if you’re after something in particular, use your contacts. I now have two part time jobs lined up both sourced from people I already knew.
I arrived at the Nunnery feeling on top form and the plan was to check in and then do the highly recommended walking tour of the city. However, the hostel was full. I had booked but my new friends hadn’t so they went off to find another hostel and we would meet at the tour later. I didn’t even mind, I was feeling fiercely independent and ready for all adventures so I went to find my room on my own. I’m guessing because the hostel was full, I was put in the next door ‘Guesthouse’ which was amazing. An old building with amazing features and the room was lovely. Still a dorm but definitely more homely feeling with huge bathrooms and a lovely kitchen/dining room. I was feeling pretty lucky. I met a wonderful boy in my room (who also had a partner back at home and dealing with long distance) and we headed off into the city together to meet the others for the walking tour. Unfortunately, they had to return to St Kilda as many of the hostels were full so it ended up just being the two of us for the tour. Just before it started I got yet more good news – a trial shift for the following evening for a host position at a lively restaurant and bar. I had been seeking marketing experience and this position was perfect as it was much more a part of the marketing and promotions team and also the company knew I was keen to move in this direction and had said they liked to promote internally so a move up into Marketing was not unheard of or even unlikely.
The walking tour was fantastic and our tour guide Charlotte took us around all the main areas and some interesting side streets. I was slowly falling in love with Melbourne and its mix of comforting familiarity, great shopping potential, beautiful street art and mouth-watering food outlets. Charlotte was full to the brim of hints and tips and good places to go that we would definitely not have known about otherwise. She told us about the Melbourne Noodle Market and, as appealing as going back to the hostel kitchen and cooking a cheap meal was, we couldn’t quite resist the idea of delicious street food in our new city. I had Thai Laksa and it was exquisite. Even I couldn’t finish it! We headed back to the hostel to get ready for a night out with everyone else that was staying there.
Feeling slightly more at home each day, the next day I wandered into the city on my own to buy new clothes for my trial shift (any excuse, right?) and just explored a little more. I also had yet more job news from a friend of my dad who had some potential part time work for me Mondays and Tuesdays, this would involve admin and marketing so sounded perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed my shift and hosting seemed like the perfect job for me; chatting, smiling, people watching and learning about my new city. I chatted the job through and was able to take on both jobs part time which was brilliant. Ticking ‘find a job’ off the to-do list is such a big achievement that I really did feel elated. The past few days have been spent pootling around Fitzroy with people from the hostel, a second shift, and sunbathing. I couldn’t really ask for anything better.
In short, for those travelling solo for the first time – give it a week. In truth, if someone said I had to go back home after 2 days I would have wept with joy. Now, I would beg for a little more time. You can’t expect to get your head around a big move in a few days, or even a week – I’m sure there are plenty more wobbly moments to come – but if the difference in emotions from day 2 to day 7 is anything to go by, stick at it. Hopefully by day 30 I’ll feel even more at home and even more excited. I still have ‘finding somewhere to live’ to tick off the list and I know this is not an easy task, but knowing the job is sorted makes it a little easier and hostels have weekly rates for this kind of thing. For now, I just want to soak up everything around me and do as much as possible with the amazing new people I am meeting.