Daughters of a European Summer.

beach-best-friends-blonde-brunette-Favim.com-2011518

There’s a sort of mental and emotional hangover that rushes over you when arriving back home from an overseas trip, and I’m not sure if it’s normal or not, but I am 100% stuck in a European bubble – what’s scary is, I don’t think I ever want to leave it.

I’m ‘fresh off the boat’ as they say, from a 6 week stint through Europe, wheeling a suitcase which could double as my private room (yes, it’s THAT big, and I’m THAT small) through the world’s cutest cobbled alleyways, sipping the cheapest vino over-looking the most stunning sunsets and dancing on the bar-tops of every venue which wouldn’t escort us out for doing so.

I guess I am suffering the side-effects of a 2-month, daily scramble to pick up the remnants of my suit-caser life 5 minutes before EVERY late checkout, making sure that the essential: iPhone, Passport, Birkenstocks and three gal pals were in tow before departure. Or maybe it’s an epic “come-down” from endless bittersweet farewells to cities i’d re-fallen in love with, in exchange for the promise of a new tomorrow in an equally as fresh land complete with new mates and even newer moments to add to my expanding memory bank.

But, it’s now officially a week that my lungs have been privy to the Melbourne, if not Australian air, and I would be lying if I said that most mornings I don’t still flounder in my bed, confused and often delirious about which country I am in, and whether we have woken up too late and already missed our flight to Brussels.

I am constantly running into my sister’s room across the hall trying to decipher which of my friends are still not home from the crazy night before, only to find my Year 12 mini-me, fast asleep in her bed, awaiting a 7am alarm to welcome a day full of high-school torture.

Yep, I am definitely home; I just don’t know it yet and it’s ludicrously, the exact same feeling I had as we flew out on that chilly Melbourne night, 7 weeks ago. A pitch black sky we had been awaiting, for no less than 183 days, 17 hours and precisely, 22 minutes – I remember because I screen-shot the countdown when the travel agent confirmed our outbound flight.

After so long planning, throwing up ideas, making outlandish bucket-list entries and dares that I ‘shot-gun not’; the very hour had finally dawned, and even on the plane as we milked the mini vodkas just like we said we would (thanks Emirates), it still didn’t seem real.

Even now, as I look back at all the pictures we awkwardly asked strangers to take of us in front of the Colosseum, or as I comment on the “take me back to Europe” statuses of my new – now also returned – travel mates, or even listen to the songs which will forever compose the soundtrack to “that 2014 Eurotrip” – it’s still pretty fantastical and surreal.

So in an effort to relive every moment, non-sober epiphany, soul mate meeting and gorgeous view, I am belatedly beginning the memoirs of the summer that was (your Melbourne winter).

Better late than never, hey!

For now, “skies are blue”.

 

The Gyros Complex.

Santorini creepin'

Santorini creepin’

There was plate smashing, ‘Opa’ chanting, day parties and night crawls. Digestive Sambuca gulps, seafood and moussaka. There were sapphirical waters and dramatic cliffs. Red beaches and black coasts, 20 bed dorms and dual level private condos.There was delectable Greek yoghurt and even more delightful, Grecian weddings atop The Santorini caldera. There were stunning dinner views amidst the Colgate white buildings, and even better gyros picnics against a majestic sunset.

But the quintessential Greek experience – or the Gyros Complex, as we have coined it – was not complete without  Herculean party efforts to match the mythology that surrounds these Cycladic lands.

We danced bar top in Mykonos, established a beach party in ‘quiet’ Paros, took over the most famous public viewing spot for our picnic in Santorini and walked home in the daylight of an Ios Tuesday morning. All this couldn’t have been better if not suffixed with the company of a Busabout group which, within a little over a week has become part of an extended family with idealistic, and beautiful Greek roots.

We came, and we definitely conquered.

As I write this, we are mid ferry on our way back to Athens, where it all began. Our Greek Island life is over and everyone is catching up on the sleep they have neglected in spite of the legendary Ios party scene.

When we dock, all 43 of us will shoot off like fireworks in our own directions, but the memories we have made, shared (and forgotten) over the past 10 days will unit us forever.

I’ll always remember how I met you in the Summer.

Self-explanatory, that'll do donkey.

Self-explanatory, that’ll do donkey.

Mykonos mills.

Mykonos mills.

Paros strolls.

Paros strolls.

Once you go black..

Once you go black..

Magical Santorini.

Magical Santorini.

Wisdom.

Wisdom.

Fun Pub.

Fun Pub.

Paraga Beach, Mykonos.

Paraga Beach, Mykonos.

En route Paradise Beach, Mykonos.

En route Paradise Beach, Mykonos.

Viva Punda, Paros.

Viva Punda, Paros.

Skandinavian Bar, Mykonos.

Skandinavian Bar, Mykonos.

When in Rome…

Gelati Mafia

Gelati Mafia

Maybe it was inevitable that we would love Rome. I mean it is the city of endless love is it not?

Wow look at me, I’ve only been travelling for 3 days and the two Londoners we met on friday night have already imparted their sentence structure with me! If I were at home, there is no way I would say ‘is it not’.

So this is what it means to travel eh? Getting cultured, even with cultures whose city you are not visiting. Because we are definitely not in London, and we are not chilling in the corners of Sydney’s northern beaches or even at a sorority dorm in Oregon state. We are in Rome. But even in Rome, I’m learning so much about these other places, the lives that are led there, and most importantly, how the corners of the world like to party.

We were convinced our first night would end with the bottle of Merlot, a drink chosen not merely for the ‘acquired’ taste it lent us, but more so, for its affordability divided by four. An €8 portion of Italian gold preceded the night that would see us watch the midnight stars twinkle on the sidewalk, endless nagging of the DJ to play Iggy Azalea one more time, and multiple attempts to have a twerk off with two American girls who had obviously practiced far more than us.

As the sun rose, we definitely didn’t, and I’m sure breakfast, lunch and the snacks in between merged into one big pancake at the downstairs bar of our hostel, just the remedy and antidote for a day of getting parched in the Colosseum, being devastated at the ‘under construction’ state of the Trevi Fountain, eating our body weight in Gelati samples, and aimlessly wandering through the cobbled streets which were so perfectly representative of the Rome I have imagined in my dreams.

Pasta was essential, and Gelati was absolutely vital before we headed back to the hostel and greeted by our new pals, – from about 4 minutes earlier – gallantly adorned with trays of jäger bombs and mojitos. Soon the bar top was our dance floor and instead of watching the stars, we were racing through the streets, singing Beyoncé lyrics to policemen and bringing in the next day with dawn chats on the balcony of a room that was certainly not ours.

Confessions of love by beautiful Italian boys, the most amazing salad you have ever had, leashed dogs wandering the aisles of H&M, more Vespas than you can count, merging our mattresses so we can imitate an ‘at home’ slumber party, lattes that cannot be “skinny”, and deeming it acceptable to walk around speaking to ourselves in our best, elongated and dramatic Italian pronunciation of every word. This is Rome. This is love.

Glad-iators, Colosseum.

Glad-iators, Colosseum.

Now to flirt with the Greek Gods.

How liquid breakfast pulled me through a mini-crisis.

Image by James Lee Parry for Oyster Magazine.

Image by James Lee Parry for Oyster Magazine.

I recently had an epiphany on Up&Go’s claim of possessing the ‘goodness’ of 2 Weetbix and Milk.

It’s an inventive marketing ploy, to embed ‘goodness’ into something as simple as 3 breakfast ingredients, but the events of a certain yesterday have taught me that such combinations really are, inherently god sent.

I’ll break it down for you.

The events which took place less than 24 hours ago, saw me:

  • Experience one of my worst fears: getting a flat tyre, driving high speed on the freeway,
  • At the most inconvenient of times: on the way to an end of semester exam worth 70% of my overall mark,
  • In undesirable circumstances: 120km northwesterly winds, torrential rain and a deep dark sky.

Needless to say, my insurance finally came in handy after an almost perfect 3-year term on my P-Plates. I mean, I was running a stellar track record, and was was pretty proud of having acquired nothing more than a cheeky bump into the back of an old commodore, in my attempts to escape the Safeway car park up to this point.

But this was a whole new playing field, one requiring me to jump on board a tow truck, and effectively miss the essential 10 minute duration of exam reading time (not to mention the ENTIRE exam).

It was horrible, literally the worst possible thing that could have happened, but I have surprised myself in thinking that it was the BEST sequence of events to occur on that very, Melbourne day.

Firstly, I didn’t swerve off the road and cause a major collision, disrupting the homecoming traffic on a major freeway.

Secondly, I didn’t have to suffer a wrongly, prolonged exam duration – the lecturer accidentally prescribed the 3 hour exam as 4 hours on this exam day. Ew.

Thirdly, I came out alive without so much as a broken nail. AMEN!

My RACV ‘knight in shining armour’ says if I’d driven any further, the rubber part of my tyre would have completely stripped off, leaving me rolling fast paced on the metal part of my wheel – a prospect which could have been extremely catastrophic given the weather and road conditions.

This deserves another AMEN, because to be honest, I am in no position to accept any liability – I have a flight to all things Rome: Meatballs, Nonnas, Vespa rides and Italian stallions, in 48 hours time.

So essentially, I am one grateful cookie that these whole shenanigans played out they way they did. I am alive, I am safe and I finally got a chance to make use of those endless insurance fees.

Sure it doesn’t have the protein, energy and fibre of 2 Weetbix and Milk like my favourite, Chocolate Up&Go carton, but it’s pretty damn full of goodness.

Yay for being alive!

Where can you source goodness today? Holla!

.

Life Lessons from Biggie Smalls.

Notorious B.I.G.

Notorious B.I.G.

Minimalism. I could start and end this entire post with that one word. Now I know exam-time is the usual antithesis for uncovering many of life’s mysteries, I mean, let’s not be ashamed of mastering choux pastry all in the name of procrasti-baking. But honestly, on my hunt to find ways of distracting myself from memorising all of Spanish’s three past tenses, I am learning a whole lot more than the difference between singular and plural conjugations.

I am realising how badly I want to uncomplicate my life.

Call it a cull, call it a quarter life crisis, call it me being totally warped and mildly insane, or take it from me, and call it nothing but a change.

I can’t blame these epiphanies merely on pending exams, because I think a lot of my musing is borne from the fast approaching departure date of my latest, trip of a lifetime. It seems that in every lead up to this type of adventure, I really begin to question well, everything.

What am I going to learn?

Who am I going to meet?

What am I going to see?

Where am I going to be?

How am I going to feel?

What song will be the soundtrack to this journey?

Will I change? Will I be different?

Will home be different when I get back?

Do I even want anything to be different?

Am I even ready to do this, to bail all over again on comfort in order for something so totally foreign that I can’t really even pronounce it with my lips let alone my feelings?

I soon get pretty caught up in all these questions, trying to answer them with yet another three issues, which have become illuminated by the initial query.

But as I try to take it slow, attempt to calm myself and focus on the present – because that’s all we really have, I realize that again, I have supremely complicated everything.

And so this minimalist thing pops up once more. It could be a phase, or it could be a turning point: a pre-emptive change into the person I will be when I begin to legitimately grow-up. I’m not sure who she is, what she looks like, or if she will have ultimately experienced that growth spurt I am currently still waiting on, but right now, I know she wants simplicity.

As I look back now on the past 6 months  – which from my mum’s standards has seen me be ‘way too busy’ for my own good, and from my grandmother’s perspective, has inspired her to tell me to ‘slow down and take care of myself’ each time we converse over green teas – it seems that their wishes for me to tone it down a notch have officially rubbed off.

So beloved matriarchs, here it is. I’m toning it down.

I won’t take on 5 projects at once all because the opportunities exist, and I won’t say yes to being in three places at once simply because I drive a fast Jag with iPod connectivity to get me through the distance. I won’t sleep only 5 hours a night because there’s too much to do, and I won’t need to use an excel spreadsheet to organize my professional and social life. What I will do however is follow my heart over my head. If it excites, scares, intimidates and challenges me then YES! But I’m over wasting my time.

So in the name of Europe, South America and whichever other continent I decide to ambush in the next year, I’m ready to step up.

I am ready to focus, to work smarter not harder, to laugh louder, and smile wider than ever before. But there’s a catch. A little sentence that will lead me through it all, one offered by none other than Biggie himself:

“Stay far from timid. Only make moves when your heart’s in it and live the phrase: the sky’s the limit.”

If your heart is in ‘it’, it’s worth mentioning, and if it’s worth mentioning, capturing and writing down it’s important. Because honestly, what is important, is very important.

So bay-bee, what’s important to you? I’d love to know what gives you excited shivers. Get in touch!

Sheona xo.

.

Why you shouldn’t date someone who does anything.

Image via We Heart It.

It seems that articles describing  “Why you should date a girl/guy who does this/that,” movement is taking over the world – or maybe just my news feed, but that’s essentially the same thing, right?. Without fail, the dawn of each … Continue reading

Risky Business: 10 Risks Everyone Needs To Take, Like Right Now.

Image by Pippa Mockridge.

  To go or not to go; be or not to be; say or not to say. Life is a series of risks, chances and opportunities. Some we will graciously accept, others we will run from, like a little girl … Continue reading

Forever Young.

Rolling down hills in Sintra, Portugal.

Image by Sheona Bello.

My dad keeps telling me that my “20’s are for learning” and every time he says it, I think I love him a little bit more. To me, learning implies a sprinkle of recklessness, a touch of experimentation, a hint … Continue reading