the kindness of almost strangers

In the lead up to this trip, I’ve been working two jobs. My day job as per usual (with varying levels of enthusiasm and productivity), and nights and weekends at a restaurant.

This is the third stint I’ve worked at the Bouzy Rouge. It’s easily the best hospitality job I’ve had. Friendly people, great culture and – especially helpful in this case – great tips.

In a previous stint, I regularly served a group of ladies as part of a networking night. I came to know these ladies by name and often joined in on the discussion.

On returning to the job to save for this trip (two years later), I had the pleasure of serving them again. I told them all about my plans and those who’d been to the places I was going were full of well wishes and advice.

One of these ladies then requested me for a private function she was having at the restaurant. When I arrived on the night, she was there with her Italian husband and his whole family. They all knew I was starting in Italy. The Grandfather, Francesco immediately started teaching me how to order my coffee in Italian. The uncle told me about some of the better bars in the area I was staying in Rome.

Then the lady who was having the function (her name is Catherine) and her husband – a man I have never met – pulled me aside before the function had even started and said, ‘We just wanted to give you a little something to get you started. We’re so excited for you,” and handed me 50 euros.

I could not believe that someone thought of me enough to request me for their function, let alone hand over such a generous gift. People are just awesome.

The shift itself was a breeze – lovely people who were happy to be there and be with each other. They joked, they ate, they cried during speeches, and they said thank you a thousand times. I came away grinning from ear to ear and positively busting to get on the plane. If this is what Italians are like, I’m in.


may day is coming

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.”
David Mitchell

I decided a little while ago that it was time to pack up and go away for a while. It’s something I had always planned to do, but the last seven years has shot past in a blur of not enough money, not an impressive enough resume and feeling like I would be putting too many people out or letting them down by choosing that particular time to leave.

I also briefly put the plan aside in favour of buying property about 18 months ago. For a myriad of reasons the value of my savings has barely moved in that time. I’ve gone to Thailand for a wedding, had to move, there are a dozen things I have allowed to happen to ensure I’m not getting anywhere.

In the time since I’ve made my decision I’ve come ahead in leaps and bounds (not massive bounds, it’s only been a month).

The indefinite travel thing has always bubbled away at the back of my mind as something that is probably financially irresponsible to do, as something I ‘should do with a partner’, as something ‘I should have done in my early 20’s.’

Bugger it. I’m going to do it anyway.

Though it was only a few weeks ago, I’ve already forgotten the moment I moved from should to will. I talk a lot about doing things in the unspecified future (see: buying a house), so there was a considerable shift four or five weeks ago.

I’d had it. I was time for a plan. Something to work towards. Something to make me feel nervous.

taj mahal

Image credit: My own. Agra, India. 2009.

It’s time to add to the ‘coolest things I have ever seen’ list … Image credit: My own. China. 2009.

What has been stopping me?

The major factor in deciding to go was actually putting my finger on why I hadn’t already left.

The vague answer was ‘money’. But it’s amazing how you can breakdown road blocks that exist in your own head once you get a little real with them.

Last time I did a decent stint overseas (more than three weeks) was 2009. Almost a month in China and then three in India. The trip to China was booked as a holiday with a friend. India was booked after being made redundant and writing off my car.

While traveling around India I met amazing people and was intoxicated with the idea of visiting them all in their home countries (Canada, England, Germany, France). I had the travel bug bad (as you do) and was never going home. I did go home. I got a job, a lease and a car (as you do again) and saving enough for another decent length adventure quickly slipped down the priority list.

I’ve had two full time jobs since then, the second of which finally feels like a proper listing on my CV. I’m no longer petrified about getting a decent job when I get home. I’m employable, I have contacts, I’ve learned where my strengths lie. Vastly different to leaving for India at 25 in the middle of the GFC after being made redundant.

Money, CV and buying a house are the three major sticking points. I’m saving like a mad woman. My resume and contacts are in order. I’ve had to have a good hard look at myself and admit that I’m just not prepared to go into $300k debt by myself. I just don’t think I could enjoy life with that hanging over my head, for what would be a pretty shitty apartment.

Once I said ‘I don’t want to buy a house’ out loud I was straight on the UK Government website looking up working Visa requirements. I’m eligible. I’m going.

In order to make damn sure I follow through I’ve done two things; I’ve started telling people (and apparently publishing it on the internet) and I’ve set a date.

May 1, 2015. I’m outta here


abroader life