Incase you're not aware, for 3 months and 10 days I've been on My European Adventures. It was my first time over that side of the world, and though a few challenges came up (as they do when you travel!) overall it was a wonderful experience. My main reasons for going to Europe were to speak at a variety of vegan events I've been wanting to attend for many years, see a heap of my friends and some family in their hometowns, go on some train trips, see where the Brontë sisters are from, plus discover new places, meet new people, and have some great adventures.
Here's a lettering image of where I've been the past few months, with more info and photos to follow.
I'm so grateful and appreciative to have wonderful friends (wherever I am in the world) who look after me, welcome me into their families and their homes, take me on journeys with them, cook for me, listen to my thoughts, dreams and aspirations, lend me advice and an understanding ear, and really make sure I feel safe and loved.
Thanks to everyone I mention below - it's because of you all I had an awesome time the past few months!
I'm really grateful that I get the opportunity to travel. Although I still have to work when I'm abroad, and have volunteer commitments as well (which ended up taking up a lot more time than hoped), it's great that I can do these things wherever in the world I am. I find travel a really important element in my life - especially when I'm trying to make big decisions on various things. I realise by stepping outside of the known, I can see things from afar and therefore another perspective. Also by meeting and spending time with people from different cultures, I am able to work on empathy and see things from another person's perspective - something severely lacking in this day and age!
I've been vegan for 20 years now, and have this many years of (vegan) contacts up my sleeve. I've also been travelling (overseas) since 2010 for extended periods. Due to this - and the fact I love meeting new people and I have heaps of friends all over the world - I was able to stay with friends and family for the majority of my time abroad. I was quite impressed with myself that out of my 3 months and 10 days I only paid to stay at hotels or AirBnBs for 7 nights! (Some of the other places were covered). I also spent some time doing a few Workaways or stayed at someone's place in exchange for my Marketing, Promotions, Events etc skills. This is one thing I encourage people to do when they travel - think outside the sqare with where you will stay. After the plane tickets and travel insurance, your trip doesn't have to be expensive. This also depends on what type of person you are too. I'm very adaptable, and house sit full-time, so I'm used to moving around, and not being in one spot for longer than 3 months at a time. I also feel quite comfortable ala "wherever I lay my hat, that's my home" everywhere I go, so these things help.
May 15: Brisbane, Australia -> Bangkok, Thailand (5 hour layover)
One of these days I'm going to travel without my laptop, video camera, tripod, and iPad...
May 16: London, UK
I stayed at Kings Cross/Camden for 3 nights at a vegan AirBnB with Farrah, a friend of my friend Alex (Vegetarian Guides) who has been selling my Vegan Athletes Book in Europe. The first day I arrived the weather was great, the rest of the days however, were not.
May 19: Corsham, UK
Stayed with my good friend Jeremy (Vegan Perfection) and his wife Bec for 3 nights at Corsham, near Bath. They live in a gorgeous, quaint English village, and their house was even used for some of the bar scenes in the first series of the Poldark TV show. We visited Bath on a rainy day, and I explored their area. Plus I spoke at Bristol VegFest. Watch my International Activism & Engaging Abroad VIDEO and my Online Etiquette & Dealing with Negativity Online VIDEO from my talks.
May 22: Kendal, UK
This was my first Workaway with artist Donna and her family outside of Kendal, near the Lake District. We were in the middle of nowhere, and the area was gorgeous. I stayed for 3 nights and helped out with organising workshops, websites, social media, and some art projects of Donna's and her children Tilly and Caelan.
Another Workaway gal from Italy, Elisa was also there at the same time. The area was wonderful to explore.
May 26: Manchester, UK
I stayed for 3 nights in Manchester with Dan, one of the organisers of Vegan Organic Network (VON), and his family, plus spoke at the VON Manchester Vegan Fair. Watch my 20 Years a Vegan (NEW talk!) VIDEO.
May 29 May: East Hoathly, UK
I stayed with my (New Zealand) friend Aryan, who's just moved back to the UK at her place in East Hoathly, ouside of Lewes, near Brighton. I stayed for 7 nights (which was really needed) and was well looked after by her and her family. We visited Brighton (pic below) a few times too and I spoke at the Vegan Summer Fest Brighton. Watch my Promoting Veganism Online workshop VIDEO.
June 5: Herenthout, Belgium
Then I was off to Belgium (on the Eurostar!) to stay in Herenthout with my second cousin Kelly (not pictured in the above pic with the rest of my extended family) and her son Jonathan for 7 nights. It was great to see my grandfather's family, and finally meet Kel who I used to write letters to when I was younger.
I was also impressed with the serendipitious nature of travel, that I was able to attend the book launch (of Radicals) for one of my favourite technology authors, Jamie Bartlett when he was in Brussels the week I was in Belgium.
The above pic is in Brussels, the one below is from Antwerp where Kel and I explored the town one day.
June 12: Swanage, UK
Then I was back to the UK, and on a ferry to stay with Geoff (No More Dodos), a friend of a friend, in Swanage on the coast for 5 nights. I helped him with his website and upcoming events the week I was there.
June 17: Bournemouth, UK
I headed back to the mainland and Bournemouth to stay for a couple of nights at hotel for the Bournemouth Vegan Fair that weekend, which ended up being my favourite event on my travels. They had some great signage at the event (above) and here's Geoff and me (below)
Watch my Online Etiquette & Dealing with Negativity Online VIDEO (my favourite one so far this trip!) and my Promoting Veganism Online VIDEO from my talks over the weekend. AND when I'd signed off for the weekend, I got to go to the beach - with all my friends - never seen so many people at the beach!
June 19: Alicante, Spain
When I was on a sleeper train from Butterworth, Malaysia to Bangkok, Thailand a few years back, I met Ted - another train obsessive like me - and his family. They invited me to come stay with them in Spain when I came to Europe, so I did.
I spent 8 nights with Ted and Jacqui, exploring the area, getting caught up in the Hogueras de San Juan (San Juan's bonfires) celebrations, introducing them to vegan food (there was a vegetarian restaurant over the road from their place!), working on my tan, and reading a couple of books on the beach. Here's the view:
June 27: Marbella, Spain
I had a bit of time before I was to meet Jean Paul in Italy, and wanted to stay in Spain if I could. Fortunately, when I searched for "vegan" and "Spain" on Workaway, I found a vegan cafe in Marbella. They also had Pilates and yoga classes!
The owner of The Farmacy, Roya wanted my help with updating the menu, adding new juices, smoothies, bowls etc options, plus some Social Media Marketing help. I ended up doing that and so much more. I got on extremely well with Roya and the vegan chef, Alison. We knocked down a wall in the kitchen one night so the kitchen was bigger. I painted the walls lime green, with a blackboard paint section too for the newly updated menu, AND ended up doing my lettering on the wall for the menu plus various other bits around the cafe.
It was really great for me to be doing non-thinking/head-related work and more physical stuff. I'm used to being on the computer all day everyday making various decisions all the time. I started to realise there's a lot more to life than being on my computer... We had some really long days and nights, it was great physical work, and awesome to be part of updating the place together.
For my last night in Marbella, we had a girls night out at Finca Besaya. L-R: Roya, LC, Alison & Francesca
July 7: Munich, Germany
I realised here about a third into my trip that I was going to need to break up the long travels I was doing from each area to the next. For the first month and a bit, every Friday and sometimes Mondays were travel days, and they were exhausting. I decided to break up my journey from Marbella, Spain to Bolzano, Italy and stay the night in Munich at a hotel.
I stayed in the area close to the train (red light district I soon discovered!) and was most impressed with the vegan restaurant, Max Pett. Here’s their chocolate mousse with mango sauce.
July 8: Eppan, South Tyrol, Italy
Gorgeous mountains and gorgeous views captivated me everywhere when I stayed in Eppan, South Tyrol, in Northern Italy with Jean Paul. For ten days I stayed with one of my favourite travel companions, who I met on a bus in Java, Indonesia years ago.
The above photo is me on one of the tracks at Lake Montiggl, and the one below is the view I woke up to every morning when looking out from Jean Paul's caravan.
I felt relaxed almost immediately here, and was really surprised at how beautiful this area is. Everywhere you go, there is beauty. It was great to be staying with someone who is so active. Jean Paul and me went on a lot of hikes, visited lakes and waterfalls, and explored the wonderful natural world around us.
With work at The Farmacy last week, and being here this week, I realised that quite a few things in my life needed to be reassessed and changed... One day in particular was quite challenging for me with some volunteer commitments back home taking the fun out of a lot of my time abroad. But changes were a-brewing!
Kalterer See waterfall above and Dolomites mountain ranges below
For eleven days this gorgeous Italian did everything for me - and then some - which was challenging (for both of us) relying on someone/having someone rely on you. In Jean Paul, I had a tour guide, driver, personal chef (his profession), caretaker etc etc, and we learned a lot from each other. I'm so glad I got to spend time with JP, his family and friends in his hometown.
July 18: Munich, Germany
As I did on my way to Italy, on my way from Italy I stayed for another night in Munich. I want to spend some more time here next time I’m back this way.
Went to my favourite vegan restaurant over this side of the world, Max Pett again for dinner. Here’s my vegan burger: Smoked king oyster mushroom burger, with sweet potato fries, chilli lime mayo, coleslaw, and cashew mayo dressing.
July 19: Warsaw, Poland
Was going to stay with a friend of friends (Tobias from Belgium & Peter from the USA) Dobroslawa, who runs the great vegan activist Otwarte Klatki group in Poland and beyond. Dobroslawa organised for me to stay at one of her friend's Julia's empty apartment when I was in Poland for 4 nights. The weather isn't as good as I've grown accustomed to, but I managed to fit in some sight-seeing.
July 23: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Stayed with (friend of my friend Jeremy) Michiel for 10 nights in Amsterdam. Michiel worked away from Amsterdam throughout the week, so I was able to focus on a lot of work and volunteer commitments, and finally got to catch up on emails! It was also great to explore Michiel's hometown, and even though the weather was patchy, som days were great.
(Was meant to speak at the Isle of Wight Vegan Festival over the weekend of Friday 28 - Saturday 30 July, but this event was unfortunately cancelled.)
August 3: Kampen, Netherlands
Still in Netherlands, this time in Kampen for 5 nights with my long-term friend and ex-workmate Maritza and her partner Cas. We had a great time exploring the city.
There was a great fenced-off park just outside of the town where a variety of animals lived. One of the highlights of being in Kampen was meeting a local teenager, Klaus, who took us on a great tour of his hometown.
August 7: Groningen, Netherlands
Spent the last 3 nights of my stay in the Netherlands in college town, Groningen with Constantin, one of my favourite travel companions, who I met in an Ubud bungalow years ago.
We spent most of our time walking around the area (in the great weather) and watching technology documentaries on Netflix. It was awesome to spend time with Constantin, brainstorm all our entreprenerial ideas and goals, and spend some quality time together.
August 10: Liverpool, UK
Back to the UK, and I spent 3 nights at a hotel in Liverpool where I was for the Liverpool Viva! Vegan Festival. Watch my International Activism & Engaging Abroad VIDEO.
August 13: Westbury on Severn, UK
Only stayed 2 nights with (clients and friends) Lee and Sue at their new house in Westbury on Severn, near Gloucester, in the countryside for a couple of nights.
August 15: Leeds, UK
I spent time wandering around the Haworth area, enjoying the view, and many hours at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
(I have really restrained myself and only shared TWO photos of trains in this blog as I know most people aren't as obsessed as I am with trains!)
I didn't get to wander the moors as there was an event mid-afternoon I wanted to participate in: Wuthering Heights the Manuscript, a book creation by Clare Twomey. Thousands of people are involved in recreating the manuscript for Wuthering Heights (my favourite book) by each writing a sentence from the book.
August 17: London, UK
I spent my last 6 nights in London staying with my favourite cousin, Matt who lives near London Bridge. We explored the area, attended a vegan street food rumble, and also binged-watched the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why (which I'd strongly recommend to parents of teenagers to watch with your children and discuss afterwards).
I also caught up with a friend from Brisbane, David who I'd seen last time in NYC, and who now lives in London.
August 23: London, UK -> Bangkok, Thailand
I left London just after midday for Bangkok, and there were so many red stops on the train that it was highly stressful, though I got to the fast train to the airport with 4 minutes to spare! I was able to change my return flight from Brisbane so I could spend some time in Bali, and was really looking forward to my arrival. Nearly there...
August 24: Bangkok, Thailand -> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1 night in hotel)
There was a 2 hour delay before this flight, very tiring. Due to one of the airlines changing my flight to Denpasar, it was organised for me to stay the night at a hotel paid by said airline. This was only confirmed the night before I left London, and although someone was meant to be waiting for me at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, nothing was indeed organised. I spent an hour or so waiting for my hotel to be sorted, another hour going through customs, and then another hour waiting for my ride to the hotel. I ended up arriving at the hotel and having dinner just before 9pm - my flight was meant to arrive in KL at 2:15pm.
August 25: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -> Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia
Just to add to my already stress-filled and exhausting trip to Bali, my bus to the airport arrived just in time for my plane boarding. I managed to talk my way into getting through check-in, customs and security, plus the train to my gate in 30 minutes, only to join the long line of people waiting to board the flight. We didn't end up boarding until the time we were meant to depart, and although we were on the plane, we didn't leave for another 2 hours due to an issue with passengers and their new system.
I didn't care when I arrived in Denpasar and had to wait an hour for my bag, another hour for customs, AND then my bag was checked thoroughly (first time this has happened to me) as I was finally IN BALI!
The past couple of travel days were extemely stressful, and I ended up getting sick for a couple of days. I'm now in my beloved Ubud and focusing on trying to relax (amongst work and volunteer commitments), work on my tan, read some books, eat great vegan food, do more outdoor activities, and catch up with some friends here. I'm going to be on Gili Air for a week for a free diving course before I head home end of September.
It's been a great few months abroad. There's some new things and a lot of changes coming which my travels helped push for which I'm well and truly ready for. See a lot of you when I'm back in Australia!