Journal Solo Travel

445 days, 25 countries, 4 continents, 13 Memories | A Dame Traveler Photo DIary

October 22, 2015
I’m home.

After 445 days abroad, crossing 25 countries, 4 continents & an uncountable amount of cities. The day I honestly never imagined to be true has arrived.

From jumping off rope swings into Jamaica’s bluest of water holes to trekking into the Sahara on camels. From bathing with 200 Hungarians in Budapest’s hot springs to visiting Mexico for the day purely to enjoy a taco. From sipping on 4 cocktails at once, whilst pretending to be ‘guests’ at an all-inclusive resort in Turkey to spending 5 nights in NYC hospital, enduring 4 spinal taps yet still recalling the experience as a ‘good time’. From camping on the beaches of North Spain, abseiling down the cliffs of South Ireland, hot air ballooning at sunrise in Turkey & spending 1 week on a cruise in the Caribbean.

Celebrating my 18th birthday in a 4 story apartment in Morocco, speechlessly observing the frozen over Niagara Falls, falling in love with magical Spanish cities & trekking 5 days around Scotland, the most lusciously green country. Trying to stay warm while spending Christmas in Zurich & NYE in Amsterdam. Taking every form of transportation imaginable from ferries to quads to camels to hitchhiking & unforgettably the 300+ hours spent on buses. & sleeping everywhere from fancy hotels in Canada, self designated campsites in Spain, 30+ airbnb’s in Central Europe & over 100 hostels sprawled across 4 continents.

Sailing 4 days around Turkey, sleeping on deck, embracing the heat after the longest winter of my life. Living the espresso drinking, Eiffel Tower picnicking & baguette eating French dream. Spending two memorable weeks in England with an old school friend & his mates. Driving the entire east Coast of America with dad, then flying to central Europe for travels with mum. Volunteering for over 3 months in 5 different countries including a week at a Hare Krishna ashram. Escaping fines, like a $200 transport one in Poland, effortfully watching sunset every single day, entering 5km deep caves in Slovenia & upon exit being greeted with a completely unexpected snow storm. Being alone & stranded in remote towns when locals invited me into their homes for the night… and that’s just some.

1. Vejer, Spain

1 - Vejer, Spain
Arrived to the mountain top Village of Vejer de la Frontera one sunny morning with the initial plan of hiking from this village to the next. Within minutes the plan had changed once we’d realising the beauty of this place. We both knew we couldn’t leave Vejer without walking along every little street of this town. My favourite term for exploring known as ‘dinging’ was put into great practise this day. We simply ‘ding dinged’ through all the streets and alleys – appreciating the architecture, greenery, Spanish aroma’s and the beauty of the local people. Felt and looked like we were in Greece, with the ocean to one side and mountains to the other. Finding remote little villages completely full of locals makes travelling and exploring all the more worthwhile. I’ve definitely left foot prints all around this hilltop town, and I couldn’t be any happier to say Spain, and all of its diversity has completely captured my heart.

2. Zakopane, Poland

2 - Zakopane, PolandCould Poland possible become any more picturesque? After travelling through central Europe during the month of April and barely needing a jacket – I definitely thought my chances of seeing snow were gone. But this adventurous day certainly proved me wrong! Travelled for 3 hours from the city of Krakow to the mountainous village of Zakopane, where we enjoyed some of their local smoked cheese with cranberry sauce… absolutely delicious! And later took a local bus into the Tatra National Park before beginning the 9km hike upwards towards this frozen lake. It wasn’t easy but the surrounds of the Alps, the light dusting of snow at our feet, and the mystical pine trees certainly made it all worth it! The quaint little villages we passed during this day were nothing short of a fairytale. This world is a phenomenal place I assure you. And Poland, you’re beyond mesmerising!

3. Highlands, Scotland
3 - Highlands, Scotland
Day 4 of my 5 day tour around the Highlands of Scotland. During these days our group of 20 had become close friends, exploring the nature-packed sights that Scotland has to offer. And we certainly hadn’t lost any enthusiasm despite the cooler temperatures! Upon arrival at this particular mountain, we were told by the best tour guide I’ve ever had that we had 30 minutes to see how high we could climb. Within seconds I’d taken the mission on board and began running. The other fitness fanatics amongst us had began to follow and after about 5 or so minutes we’d managed to reach this phenomenal view. It doesn’t take much effort when the country is so effortlessly beautiful! An absolutely exhilarating moment, running up this mountain with a group of 20 different nationalities, a time to be alive and a time I’ll never forget.

4. Seville, Spain

4 - Seville, SpainOne aspect that certainly doesn’t disappoint about Spain is their rooftop views. After travelling for 3 months around the country, staying in hostels, apartments and with locals – I was sure to never say no to a rooftop viewing opportunity. The city of Seville produced some of the most phenomenal architecture I’ve ever laid my eyes on. And to believe this view was from a 14euro per night hostel. You don’t need luxury and expensive accommodation when everywhere you look is this magical.

5. Niagara-on-the-lake, Canada

5 - Niagara-on-the-lake, CanadaThe drive from Niagara Falls to the Canadian township known as Niagara-on-the-lake should be high on everyone’s bucket list! I was lucky enough to visit the Falls during winter this year – the coldest winter they’ve had in one hundred years – producing some of the most phenomenal sights. The shades of blue in the water, the contrasting white of the snow, and the shining sun in the cloudless sky was simply magical. It’s easy to understand why Canada is considered such a winter wonderland.

6. Coimbra, Portugal

6 - Coimbra, PortugalThe Lego-like city of Coimbra. Each town and city in Portugal hosts completely unique architecture and design. The longer and further one can travel through the country, the more impressed and grateful you’ll become. With some of the friendliest local people I’ve ever met, the absolute freshest of seafood and prices that don’t upset the pocket – Portugal is still one of my single most favourite countries in the world. I dream of the day I can return.

7. Cassis, France

7 - Cassis, FranceAfter hiking for over 4 hours, not entirely sure what we were hoping to find, we arrived at the peak of the Calanques, and just in time for sunset! Volunteering for 6 weeks in Toulon, a small city in the South of France turned out to be a complete blessing. Unbeknown to me, this city was the perfect location to enjoy day trips all around the region. Despite being here during the months of winter, the clear skies almost every day made for perfect weather to enjoy some long hikes. The diversity and breathtaking landscapes of this region made these 6 weeks in Toulon a complete highlight of my trip.

8. Titlis Mountain, Switzerland

8 - Titlis Mountain, SwitzerlandThrough sheer luck one day whilst exploring Switzerland and its entirely picturesque landscapes, we managed to find the breathtaking Titlis Mountain. The closest imaginable place to heaven on earth. Thirty degree temperatures all day long with lusciously green mountains on one side and snow covered peaks on the other. Many naturally formed waterfalls gushing down the cliff faces and my favourite part – the crystal clear lake at the bottom – filled with freshly melted Swiss snow. This mountain range is unfortunately only accessible by car, but this made for one of the most memorable travel days yet, being the only three here all day long.

9. Krakow, Poland
Stayed with a local couple on the outskirts of Krakow and was lucky enough to be lent their bikes as well as a whole list of locals’ tips. Rode through endless fields, to hidden water holes, past schools, churches and family homes before ending the ride with a mesmerising sunset. It’s amazing the happiness that some good weather, shining sun and simple bike riding can bring to your day.

10. Ljubana, Slovenia

10 - Ljubana, SloveniaOh Slovenia. I’ve fallen deeply in love with this entire country and especially the capital, Ljubana. This absolutely beautiful city is completely filled with history, culture and the friendliest of locals. A heavily student populated city, with an interesting aspect – it’s easy enough to explore the entire city without public transport! Sure, the transport here is great, but with some good walking shoes on, the whole city can be seen in almost a day using your own feet. An opportunity I always jump at when the distances are walkable. Although riding on the different forms of transport in each city is a unique, local experience, nothing feels more rewarding than a day of solid walking.

11. Blue Cruise, Turkey
Spent four unforgettable days sailing along the south coast of Turkey. Swimming constantly, being fed gourmet foods cooked daily by our captain, and taking in the phenomenal sights along the coastline. A perfect opportunity to embrace some feelings of pure relaxation. Each island and cave we passed became more and more beautiful. The water continuously blue, and the sun constantly shining. Would have never imagined Turkey to be this picturesque and appealing in every way. After travelling for 3 months around the country and emerging myself in the culture, I can openly admit that Turkey is the most impressive country I’ve ever visited. It would be an absolute dream to live here one day<3

12. Kimolos, Greece
Been lucky enough to spend my fair share of days on Kimolos, the sister island to Milos where I’ve been living that past three weeks. With all the hours I’ve spent here in this little cottage, plus all the hours I’ve spent swimming, I’m still yet to see another person on the island. Such a secluded destination without a single other soul in sight. I’m forever grateful for the locals I’ve met on my travels and the experiences I’ve had because of them. Spending days on this extremely remote island is an opportunity I couldn’t have ever imagined to be real. Sometimes a little alone time in the outdoors is exactly what you need.

13. Santorini, Greece
Yet again my travelling jewellery collection has taken over. Been trying to collect a ring or bracelet from each country I’ve visited over the past 14 months. Each band is so much more than just the item itself; it’s the place, the experience, the people and a reflection of such a memorable time. Some were given to me as gifts from people I’ve impacted, some were bought in local markets, and others were given to me by locals. I look forward to watching the collection continue to grow.

 

About Dame Traveler Kelly:
Hi! I’m Kelly, an 18 year old Aussie, born and raised on the sunny Gold Coast. After graduating high school at the end of 2013, I contemplated beginning my studies or taking the gap year I’d always dreamed of. Six months later I had my one way ticket in one hand, my suitcase in the other and a completely unplanned adventure in the waiting.

With the intention of living and working in London for a few months before returning home to commence my degree, the plan soon changed. After my first solo month aboard, experiencing the ways of London life, I decided to buy a backpack and travel solo around Europe for uncertain length of time.

Almost 2 years and 25 countries later, crossing 4 continents and celebrating my 18th birthday in Morocco – I can openly admit this decision was the best choice I’ve ever made. My wanderlust continues to grow daily and I cannot wait to see how this solo travelling adventure will continue changing my life.

Follow more of Kelly’s adventures on Instagram

 

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2 Comments

  • Reply Bailey October 28, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    What an AMAZING trip! Congratulations on a 445 days of adventure! I hope to be half as adventurous as you someday 🙂

  • Reply Laurel Marshall November 16, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    What an amazing post! Kelly, I am so in awe of your descriptions of each of these adventures. You bring it right back again.
    Love ya dear and can’t wait to meet up with you again soon!!

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