Back in Lima (and getting sentimental)

Even though staying so long in Chile wasn’t originally on the cards, I was so glad I got to see some of this amazing country. That’s one of the best things about travelling; your plans can change in an instant! I made it to Santiago Airport after a disaster of a morning when nothing went my way. It was funny because as I sat in the airport complaining to my Mum over Whatsapp about my crazy morning where the taxi was an hour late and my bag broke, I just had to laugh because I once I gave myself a reality check and realized I’d been travelling South America for three months I had no need to complain about such petty issues.

The flight to Lima was quick and before I knew it I was back in familiar territory. I was heading back to Dragonfly Hostel where I had volunteered two months early and the sense of home that I felt as the taxi sped past the pebbled beaches made me forgot all about my horror of a morning. Arriving back to Dragonfly I was welcomed not only by my friends but a banner with my face on it advertising the hostel! It was hilarious! I caught up with my friends and filled them in on my travels over a couple of beers before conking out for the night.

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What a welcome back! Pretty much A list celebrity now!

In all honesty, the next few days were laidback and relaxed. As I had done a lot of sightseeing in Lima the last time I was here, I had no reason to rush around playing tourist. I met new friends, ate some of the best ceviche, went to some cool nightclubs and generally just had a fantastic time. We went into central Lima and I actually played tour guide, it was crazy to think I knew my way well enough around this massive city! We also went to a festival one night, which had some of Peru’s best music and got sunburnt by the harsh sun at the beach.

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Chowing down on ceviche at Mercado Uno – so delicious!
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Ceviche = love
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Selvamonos Festival – crazy night!

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Coming back to Lima was just what I needed after leaving my previous group of friends. I had no time to be sad because I left one travel family and stepped right back into another. It made me realize that my previous fear of solo travel was unnecessary and that you will never be alone for long. I wasted a lot of time waiting for friends back to decide to travel with me because I was too scared to travel by myself, when really new friends were just waiting to be made. I was also a little proud of myself, for not listening to those back home that said that travelling alone through South America was dangerous and stupid. I hadn’t felt in danger once during my travels (minus the time I was 1 kilometre deep in a silver mine – but that was self inflicted!) and wanted to show everyone back home how easy it is to travel solo. It may have only been three months since I left Australian soil but I feel like I have learnt and grown up so much. Travelling alone (and with friends for that matter) teaches you things that no school or university can. While I’m not out there doing my Masters or making millions, I’m learning important life lessons that you can only get from travel… Plus it’s way more fun! I know I’m not quite setting up my life like my friends are but I wouldn’t change the experiences I’ve had for a second – no job or house deposit can replace what I’ve done! It might be the extra strong coffee I had this morning talking, but I can happily say that the path that I’ve chosen to take in my early 20’s might not be the conventional way, but it’s the way made for me. But that’s enough cheesiness for now…

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Some of the gorgeous people I met while at Dragonfly! 

After several fun-filled days I sadly had to leave Lima and continue my travels, however I wasn’t alone. My next plan was to do some hiking in the mountains of Huaraz and had made friends with a French girl who wanted to do the same so we caught the night bus to Huaraz ready to shock our bodies by heading back into the high altitude and cold weather.

Stay tuned to see how we went after five days hiking!

J. x

GoPro – Not Just An Action Camera.

Ahh GoPro, the once unknown brand that has become a household name. What was once specialised camera for action sport lovers, has transformed into an everyday camera. Every man and his dog know owns one. In fact, GoPro just released a harness that you can put on your dog to capture life from their perspective. It pretty much lives up to its brand slogan as ‘the world’s most versatile camera‘.

I’ve previously written about GoPro and my initial struggles with using it, however fast forward to this very moment and I’d like to think of myself as a rather suave GoPro user. I’d also go as far as saying in one particular aspect, I’m a pro. And that my friends, is known as the GoPro selfie.

The GoPro selfie.
The GoPro selfie.

I can see my old housemates, hardcore windsurfers and snowboarders, shaking their heads at this. I remember hiding my recently purchased GoPro from them when I first bought it early last year, when GoPro was just beginning its road to success. They both had GoPro cameras and used them for their proper function, to record themselves doing adventure sports. And here was me, ready to jet off to Europe, with my new GoPro camera that I had no idea how to use.

My not-so-humble beginnings of GoPro selfies at Groovin the Moo festival 2013
My not-so-humble beginnings of GoPro selfies at Groovin the Moo festival 2013

Over the past year I’ve slowly taught myself how to get good shots, how to edit, etc. etc. I’ve invested in extras for my camera, such as the LCD, the tripod mount and my favourite, the selfie stick.

What I believe is the cause of my already high level of vanity, has transformed this sometime selfie taker, to an absolute selfie monster. When travelling, I’m hardly without my trusty GoPro and pink selfie stick. When travelling with B, we turn into selfie addicts. And you know what, I’m not even ashamed to admit it..

“Hi, I’m Jess and I’m a GoPro selfie addict”

The selfie before the selfie.
The selfie before the selfie.

However, I’m a little bit biased. This may just be because my iPhone is absolutely prehistoric and about to die, but I don’t like any other kind of selfie. I shake my head at people trying to fit the entire view, plus their head in the shot. I feel somewhat superior whipping out my GoPro and capturing the entire view, plus a good chunk of myself without a worry. Does this mean I’m a selfie snob?

Whatever it means. I’m still going to continue being an avid GoPro selfie taker. Even if they’re as dorky as this one..

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J. x

 

p.s – I swear this wasn’t just a post to share some more photos of myself. I’m not that vain.

10 signs you’re an Australian country kid

Here’s my very first published article!!!

Super dooper excited that Matador Network featured this piece. Hopefully there will be more to come!

10 signs you’re an Australian country kid

The Problem With Travel Today..

I confess, I’m a serial travel researcher. I’m a little ashamed to admit the amount of hours I spend scouring the Internet, books and magazines. Always trying to discover new places, new things to see and adding more and more to the never-ending bucket list. Though is too much research a bad thing? Can it ruin your first impression on a place or site.

For example – I leave for my month long trip around Turkey in just four days. Excited is the biggest understatement of the century and I have a notes scribbled everywhere with names of towns, sights, restaurants that I have to visit. My Pinterest page is flooded with crystal clear images of Turkey and I’ve been on liking frenzies on whoever posts Turkey pictures on Instagram. I have put Turkey up on the highest pedestal possible and now I am worried it won’t live up to my expectation.

With websites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube, it’s virtually possible to discover a country from the safety of your home. You can discover the delights and beauty from the flawless photography, the world class cinematography and the countless blogs telling tales of of adventures to be had. While access to all this information is wonderful and broadens ones mind. It can create a false image, which can disappoint when seen in real life.

I’ve fallen prey to the illusion of these websites, and have been slightly underwhelmed by certain places. Earlier this year on my road trip through Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia we stopped at Plitvice Lakes, where the crystal clear water is world famous. I’d seen photos and was excited to see the unbelievably clarity and colour of the water in reality. I was somewhat disappointed when the water wasn’t as sparkly as the photos suggested, and the magic that the Internet has conjured, simply wasn’t there.

By no means was Plitvice Lakes a waste of time. No, it was an incredible National Park. The water was crystal clear and the nature was indeed beautiful, but I had worked up such an image in my head that when faced with reality, I was left wanting more..

Likewise with the Aureora Burealis in Norway. I had hopes of vividly lit skies filled with flashes of purples, blues and greens. My hopes were dashed, when we were told most of these colours came out through a camera, and to the naked eye were rare to see.

So while Pinterest and travel websites are great for ideas and inspiration, they are also great at creating false hope. Unfortunately Photoshop just doesn’t work in real life. And if you’re anything like me and has an imagination that likes to run free, then maybe kicking it old school and putting myself out there blindly is the best way to go.

For now, I’m putting Turkey a bit lower on the pedestal, this is one country I’ve looked forward to visiting for a long, long time and I’m not going to let the Internet ruin my experience.

 

From the girl who is going cold turkey on researching Turkey.

J. x

 

Why You Should Travel..

In recent months I have noticed the abundance of articles, stories and quotes on why you should travel. Whilst I think all of them are 100% true, I have to question why it’s so important for people to have a motive to travel? Do we now need a quote from a very important person or a picture of the Eiffel Tower with words saying ‘Just Go’ to justify why we want to see the world?

I won’t lie here, I too am inspired by travel stories and have my fair share of travel quotes stashed away, but the sole reason why I am standing (well sitting actually) in The Netherlands right now, is simply because it’s what I wanted to do. I took the risk that many people are afraid to do and booked that one-way ticket to Europe. Mind you, it did take several months of agonising over the ‘confirm booking’ button, afraid that my life would change dramatically if I purchased the ticket. But after clicking that button, I have found that it was the hardest part. Of course as one would expect, my life has changed in so many ways – I have a new address, new friends, I’ve had to accustom to a new language and re-learn how to ride a bike. Though as much as my life has changed, I’m also exactly the same person. I still drink a little too much wine on weekends, I still can’t tell a joke properly and I still look for my phone while I’m talking on it. I’m not saying I’m some sort of superhero because I bought a one-way ticket overseas, I’m just saying that it’s not all that difficult to do. And the only person I did it for, was me.

I could stand here and list a thousand reasons why you should travel. I could also rave on about how easy and how exciting it is, but then I would just sound like a condescending twit. I shouldn’t have to give people reasons to travel and you shouldn’t have listen to people telling you to travel. Travel is simply something you do for yourself. You don’t need to go overseas based on what your friends say, or feel you need to justify why you’re quitting your job to go backpacking for a year or two. You travel, just for you. Too many people are waiting for that one sign telling them it’s time to book that ticket. When the fact that you’re living and breathing is the only indication you will ever need.

All it takes is a few simple clicks and a few moments of bravery, trust me – buying the ticket is the hardest part. Much like the saying “I hated that work-out – said no one ever”, no-one has ever regretted travelling. You may have regrets during your travels, hell my Christmas trip to Vietnam was full of them. I got sick, the weather sucked, I should have stayed in Europe, blah blah. But I didn’t regret the trip. Not for a second. Sure, you may have to leave behind friends and family and maybe a cute boy, but you know what? They’ll be there when you get back. And if they aren’t, then maybe they weren’t supposed to stay in your life anyway. You can spend your whole life sitting in the safe zone, or you get up and see the world. It’s your choice – yours and only yours.

So if that girl’s Instagram pictures make you jealous, or you’re in awe of your friend who just hiked to Machu Picchu or you have a serious addiction to travel quotes, than book a bloody plane ticket. Don’t be the ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ person. Be the ‘I did it and I loved it’ human. It’s much more fun, I can assure you of that.

From the girl who is telling you to travel, by telling you not to listen to those telling you to travel.

J. x

 

Traveller vs. Tourist – Should we just get over it?

Much like sporting teams, political views, Team Beyonce or Team Kim K, the world is divided up into many different sides. There is a constant competition between people on their beliefs, opinions and actions. Whether its a friendly banter over whose footy team is better or whether its a full on, serious debate about which political party is best to run the country, it seems like we are constantly battling each other over whose opinion is right. Having a serious lust for travel, I am one for spending copious amounts of time searching the Internet for inspiration, new places to visit, where to stay, what to do and so on. What I have noticed in my search is all out war in the travel industry over what type of person you are – a traveller or a tourist.

A tourist by definition means a person who is travelling or visiting a place for pleasure. A traveller is defined as a person who is travelling or who often travels. From a dictionary’s point of view, these two types of people are pretty much the same. However as I delved further into the debate, I learnt there’s much more to the dictionary definition and I was having to take a look at my past trips and decide which side of the fence I belong to.

Type in ‘traveller vs tourist’ into Google and watch your computer be inundated with articles discussing this argument. It seems there is a lot of people who feel the need to brand themselves either a tourist or a traveller to feel like they are a part of something. Similar to a sporting team scenario, one side is looked down upon by the other and deemed ‘not worthy’ to be put in the same category. In this case, the traveller side believes they are superior to the tourist folk and take it upon themselves to gloat about reasons why.

However, how does a ‘traveller’ reach ‘traveller’ status? Surely a first timer abroad could not class themselves as a traveller. At one point they would have to be a tourist. Not only because they are fresh to the art of experiencing new cultures and new countries, but if they weren’t being a tourist and enjoying all the so-called tourist attractions, how would they know what they are missing out on? Personally I love playing tourist, give me the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben any day. Seeing these ‘tourist attractions’ are what makes them so special. Sure, they are packed with people, usually a rip-off and a revenue raiser for the city but its these famous landmarks that make seeing the world worthwhile. Its the whole ‘I’ve seen that in person’ feeling, like seeing a celebrity firsthand. Its dorky to get excited, but at the end of the day you just want to brag about it.

Don’t get me wrong, just because I enjoy seeing the touristy things doesn’t mean I won’t immerse myself in the culture of a new place. I love being shown a city from a locals point of view and spend a lot of time researching places both before and after I’ve been there. Some of my most favourite travel experiences have been way off the tourist radar, deep in the jungle. Literally. During a trip to Borneo we stayed in a small village by the Kalimantan River. At the age of 18, it was the biggest culture shock for me, seeing first hand how people in this part of the world live. They lived basically but prosperously and they were some of the kindest people I have ever encountered.

So I guess the real question to the traveller vs. tourist debate is does it really matter? At the end of the day both sides are out there seeing the world, whether it be from the safety of the tourist attractions or immersed deep in a country’s culture. Travel is supposed to be about experiencing the our great big Earth and discovering new things, not about playing high school stereotypes. I think we should spend less time labelling each other based on our travel preferences and spend more time encouraging each other and sharing experiences.

 

From the girl who says ‘bloody tourists’ too often, yet is so proud of her photo holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

 

J. x