For over 18 months I have been helping visitors to Cairns book and organise their holidays by working in an Information Centre. ...

Thursday, 16 April 2015


"I'm going away to be alone
I'm coming back with answers... 
Don't try to call
My telephone, it's disconnected...
And I don't know where I'm going
But can you guide me..."
Source: Faker - This Heart Attack Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

How did I come to be alighting a European train from Berlin to Prague in August 2008 at the age of 31? Stepping off that platform, the weight of my small full-to-the-brim backpack already causing me to strain (perhaps I shouldn't have bought those extra clothes in Copenhagen?) the summer sun baring down, instantly warming compared to the trains air-conditioning. Wow! I am here... I am in Prague! I followed the throng of multitudes making their way to the trams to take them to their next destination, or in my case, my hostel.

That was an awesome feeling, excited, nervous... "Will I find my hostel ok? Is it far from the tram stop? Which tram stop?... oh my gosh... which tram?! Eeek!". I had no one to ask so I just followed the column of eager travellers.

That's what I saved for, for all those months. That's what I dreamed of all those years! That exciting nervous feeling of the unknown, the adventures that lay ahead, to new stories to be written.

I was a little older than the usual backpacker...ok... A LOT older than the usual backpacker but the people I had already come across in Denmark and Germany thus far were of all ages and the older "packers" seemed very young at heart, full of spirit and joy... just like me.

I was living in Cairns in 2007 when my mother lost her battle with Cancer in Sydney. Already I had flown down to Sydney last minute thinking it may be the last time I would see her and had done so already a few times before. One time when visiting in early February that year when things weren't coming along so well, she left us.

After the initial shock wore off and life resumed in Cairns I had a "light bulb moment". Oh my god... life is so short! I have no idea what may happen tomorrow, I need to make my life as full as possible! It was then I decided I just had to visit Europe and spread my wings!

I wanted to live in London, I looked in to getting the 2year working visa and low and behold.... it cut's off at the age of 31!!! I was about to turn 31 in July, thankfully I had a couple months to get the visa and in a very rapid few months to follow I committed to heading overseas, got the working visa for the UK (I cried at the airport when it arrived) packed up a whole house worth of Cairns life, had garage sales, quit my job and prepared for massive change. It was November 2007 when I went on a driving holiday to make my way south of the border to Sydney, a car full of gear and a tearful few goodbyes to my friends.

The next 7 months my visa started to tick. I had no money to go at that point, that's why I relocated. I lived with my father and worked up to 60 hours a week in hospitality to get the money to go. After a year since the ideas conception... I was off on a Jet plane not knowing when I'll be back again!

I also had another reason to visit overseas. I had some family in London and also an exchange student friend in Denmark I hadn't seen since 1994, so my first stop was Denmark to see her. After roaming around Denmark I caught a ferry to Germany where I visited a town tied in to my families history. Afterwards, I found myself in Berlin and as a bit of a history buff, was so intrigued by East Germany and the wall, Allied Museum, Jewish Museum and other war related memorials. I also had my first taste of hanging out with other travellers and went out with them to a bar or two. I had travelled pretty solo up until then.

So there I was, shuffeling along with my luggage in the summer sun making my way to some tram that I hoped would take me to my hostel in central Prague. I heard a distinctive accent directly behind me, a female Australian accent. She asked her travel friends (I assumed they were friends by the way they addressed each other) where they should go to look for a hostel. I remember thinking... "Jeez, you guys just rock up at a strange city and THEN start looking for somewhere to stay?". My organised self couldn't handle that! I later learned that this was the way of it for many backpackers.
I booked each city that was next ahead of me from the city prior. 

Anyway, being the outgoing personality that I am I turned around to the Aussie female voice to see a younger blond spritely woman with 2 fellows all with backpacks just behind me and said... "I have a hostel booked already, it's right in town only a short tram away. You guys can join me if you want and see if they have beds available there?".  (This is a trait I think I picked up from my Nan. She would talk to anyone, anywhere at any time. She would be in the supermarket or newsagent and just start a conversation with a stranger! I do this also to this day. Most find the trait annoying but I found it useful whilst travelling!).

These people before me flashed me instant grins. They immediately agreed to follow me to my hostel. We all introduced ourselves to each other and spoke of where we were from.

Little did I know at the time that young lady with that familar Aussie accent would come to change my life. That young lady, was of course, Britt Lapthorne.

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