04 Sep 20 Years of Travel in 20 Photos
In precisely a month I’m turning 21. Twenty-freaking-one! I can now legally drink and gamble in America, as well as get a pilot’s licence and even adopt a child in the UK. Seriously? I can now legally adopt a child, all the while feeling like little more than a giddy tween myself most the time.
Now, don’t worry – this revelation hasn’t got me feeling all broody. It has, however, made me a little nostalgic. “How can a child like me suddenly be so old?” I know turning twenty-one is hardly cause for alarm, but it does come with some additional pressure. Alexander the Great had already been king of Ancient Macedon for a whole year by the time he reached this milestone. Me? I’m a professional sushi eater and a conflicted citizen of Bachelor nation.
In his twenties, Alexander managed to conquer much of northeast Africa and Asia and form one of the largest empires of the ancient world… And trust me, a similar battle plan is currently being developed by the full staff over at “Girl vs Globe” headquarters – me, my (t)rusty laptop and Google.But before we get to my plan to conquer the world, let’s have a little look back at the past two decades most of which I have spent travelling. Right from my first international journey at age one, I have been building a reputation of a fearless explorer. And it all started with one ostrich encounter many years ago…
Like most parents, my mom and dad have always wanted to give me the world – and they did not waste any time when it came to turning words into action. Shortly after I blew down the candle on my first birthday cake, I was loaded onto an airplane and jetted off to Mallorca. Not a bad start to a lifetime of wanderlust!
I clearly made for a fun travel companion, because a year later my parents took me along on a holiday to Gran Canaria. I don’t claim to remember much of the trip, but there’s one memory which managed to lodge itself into my brain’s hard drive. The scent of coconut, deliciously foreign to my senses, charmed me unlike anything I’d ever smelled before. Even to this day, the sweet smell is a wanderlust trigger unlike anything else.
I spent the third year of my life exploring the beauty of my homeland. This particular photo was taken near the Devil’s Lake (Certovo Jezero) in the Czech Republic – a surprisingly quaint oasis in the Sumava National Park. Quaint whenever I’m not there, that is.
When I was four, I continued to crisscross the Czech Republic with my parents and did more hiking that year than most people do in a lifetime. The lack of international travel paid off, because by the time I turned five my parents and I were able to…
…ohhh, party in the USA! For years, my aunt and uncle lived in America and by the time I turned five my parents had finally put together enough money to go visit them. The trip was right up a five-year-old’s alley – loads of scorpion-ridden campsites, long car journeys and late-night walks through Las Vegas. Fifteen years later, I am dying to do it all over again!
Have you ever heard of the delightful German town of Rothenburg? If you have a six-year-old or are a six-year-old at heart, you must visit this place! Why? Because it is the home of Kathe Wolfahrt’s year-round Christmas Shop, a charming wonderland full of elves, toys and larger-than-life nutcrackers. If you’ve ever cried while watching the “Polar Express”, this is the winter getaway for you. If you haven’t GTFO my site! Just kidding, I love you although you clearly have no heart.
Seven is supposed to be a lucky number and that was indeed the case for me, because it’s the age when I first visited the beautiful country of Greece. The incredible food, the friendly locals, the warm sea – it was love at first sight!
My eighth birthday was the perfect occasion to introduce me to a new culture, so my parents took me along on a trip to Lignano, a seaside town in northern Italy. From gnocchi to gelato, the trip left me a few pounds heavier and full of culinary appreciation.
Although I can’t remember much of it, nine must have been a good year for me. I spent the winter skiing in Germany and the summer exploring the beauty of Croatia. I wouldn’t mind reliving that!
By the time I turned ten, I was well-travelled enough to take on my first international trip sans les parents. My mom waved me goodbye as I cheerily hopped on a school bus headed to Britain and… there I was, exploring the world by myself for the first time. My classmates and I spent a week living in a squat-like manor with vomit-encrusted heaters and… I loved every second of it! This is the trip that sparked my love affair with London, the city I now call my home. I also visited Greece that summer, exploring the country for the second time. I’ve seen many beautiful sights, but Meteora – an Eastern Orthodox monastery filled with monks and their entrancing chants – remains one of the most incredible places I’ve ever laid my eyes upon.
I cannot find any photos of me in a foreign land from when I was eleven, so I am going to assume that I stayed within the confines of my small European motherland. I spent the warm months before my twelfth birthday getting in touch with my inner wild child and cleaning up horse shit at summer camp, so there’s always that though!
Twelve was the year I visited Greece once again, this time settling down in the lovely town of Parga. Other than that, I’m not entirely sure what the hell I was doing at twelve. To be fair, does anyone really know what they are doing at that age? All I can tell you is that I went on a skiing trip with my classmates and completely freaked out when a boy tried to kiss me. I then went camping with my friends and complained about it. A lot. Sometimes I feel like nothing’s really changed since then.
Thirteen is not exactly known for being a lucky number and to me, it felt like the most tragic of them all at the time. The year started off well, with a trip to Italy during which I explored both mountains and beaches. Next up, I went on a short cultural exchange to the Germany – still good. But everything fell apart after my return from a school trip to the UK and Belgium. My parents sat me down and told me we were moving to the Austrian capital of Vienna… in less than a month. I was utterly devastated as this meant not only leaving all of my friends behind but also having to improve my English and German… So much work! In retrospect, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me but it was a tough pill to swallow at the time.
The year I turned fourteen marked my second trip outside of Europe, as I visited Egypt, Israel and Jordan. It was also my first time diving with dolphins – or diving at all for that matter! I was lucky to take a quick trip to Greece with my mum straight after, which was fabulous because as two blonde female travellers we got the world’s biggest portions.
I’m glad I kept busy when I was fifteen, because it slightly lowered the amount of embarrassing pseudo-rebellious anecdotes I have from that year. I visited Prague with my friend Maria, took part in an Austrian Christmas musical and toured Italy and the Vatican with my parents. Busy bee!
After celebrating my sweet sixteen in a tragically cliche way (there may have been a limousine and some underage drinking involved), I proceeded to tick countless other high school stereotypes off a non-existent list. As a result I found myself debating at an MUN conference in the Italian town of Genoa, singing in a high school rock band, skiing in Kitzbühel – one of Austria’s best skiing resorts – and exploring Prague with my high school sweetheart. I also graciously allowed my parents to take me on an incredible three-week trip through Italy and France, but not without making them suffer through my unpredictable mood swings on an hourly basis. Travelling with teenagers – proceed at your own peril!
When I was seventeen, I took travelling very seriously – I partied in Barcelona and Ibiza and explored Lignano and Lausanne with my then boyfriend. But all those trips pale in comparison to the last journey I undertook that year – my move to London! Looking back I see just how young I was, but at the time I felt more than ready to start living by myself. The move was a culmination of a year filled with hard work and was only tarnished by the fact that I was parting ways with my teenage love. Luckily I quickly found myself surrounded by incredible people whom I still call my friends and began learning about this funny thing called uni life… and tequila.
By the time I finally turned eighteen, I’d drunk enough shots and visited enough countries to make the milestone feel slightly underwhelming. My travels were anything but that though. I decided to test the bounds of my new-forged adult responsibility in Amsterdam and quickly realised “acting like an adult” was not my forte. I further solidified that conviction during a trip which involved hitchhiking to France with a pimp and a Mexican… for charity, of course! There are many more stories I could include here, but it’s probably best if I don’t. I interned at the Czech Senate in Prague that summer, so I wasn’t being all that bad.
I concluded my teens with an incredible year, during which I worked hard and played even harder. I moved to a lovely house in a dodgy area of London with five of my friends and the twelve months that ensued can best be described as utter insanity. I revisited Amsterdam, explored all the nooks and crannies of London, went on an impromptu trip to Portsmouth, visited the south of France and Monaco, as well as spontaneously coloured my hair platinum blonde. The last point may not be travel-related, but it pretty much sums up my mindset that year. I spent my last teenage summer dating a gorgeous American boy and accepting his invitation to spend a week with him in the USA. Looking back, that was probably the moment when I truly realised just how much I love travel and how badly I need it in my life. That and attractive men, of course.
If this past year is any indication of the way I will live in my twenties, you have a lot to look forward to on this site! In less than twelve months I have managed to live in Russia, celebrate New Year’s Eve in Berlin, get through a life crisis in Morocco, spend a month learning Mandarin in Beijing, go on my first ever roadtrip, explore the Greek island of Santorini, party it up in Ireland and go sailing in Croatia among other things! Over the course of the past year I have really discovered the depth of my love of travel and, of course, launched this blog! Whoa, what a year.
As I said, in precisely one month I am turning 21 and I’m extremely excited to find out what adventures this year will bring. Much like myself, all my friends seem to be super eager to travel as much as possible so I foresee many incredible trips and a hefty dose of craziness in the next twelve months.
In less than two weeks I am moving back to London to finish my degree and reignite my love affair with the beautiful British capital. Are you ready to follow me on this journey of a lifetime? I can’t wait to find out what life has in store for me…