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Michelle’s Travel Diary

Monday, 27 Nov 2006

Location: Edinburgh, UK

MapWell, this is The End (nearly). At least of this phase of the journey. Soon I begin the trip back to Australia. I will update this site once more on my return though, just to let you all know how Amsterdam was. But this is my last entry from Edinburgh.

It has been 17 months since I left Australia. All I had with me (apart from a stupidly heavy couple of packs) was £250, two new credit cards, a working visa, somewhere to stay and a ticket to come home, oh and no plan. Not to mention I was rather broken, and definitely running away. Now, I am ready to walk back into Australia, with head held high. But it is with no cash, a couple of maxed out credit cards, and on a one way ticket. But the wounds have healed (although some scars remain), I have amazing stories and a lot of photos, some of which are on this site.

Early last year, I didn’t have a passport, and the furthest that I had travelled was Noosa, but it was always a dream to travel and live overseas. But until last June, I never thought that it would become a reality, especially the part about living in another country as opposed to just visiting. I have now lived in three countries (Northern Ireland, Canada and Scotland), have visited a further three (Ireland, France, Italy) and am about to also head to Amsterdam. By the time I return to Melbourne, I will have seen the inside of 16 airports in as many cities.

Whilst I have been away, I have seen and experienced all sorts of things. Here are some of the highlights:

• A chocolate tart in Paris, and lying under the Eiffel Tower.
• The 12th July Marches through the streets of Derry
• Watching people skate on a frozen pond on Christmas Day.
• Skiing in the Canadian Rockies
• Going to see a live ice hockey match.
• Deb and Ross’s Wedding
• Going to a New Year’s Rave, and traipsing through snow to get there!
• Horse Riding
• Roslyn Chapel
• Walking home in the snow after a night out in Edinburgh.
• Seeing Fatboy Slim at Loch Ness
• Road trip through the Scottish Highlands, and seeing where some of my ancestors are from
• Finally getting my body into a bikini, and swimming in the Adriatic Sea in Italy.
• Eating in Italy!
• Florence. The whole city is extraordinary
• Flying over the leaning tower of Pisa
• The Edinburgh Military Tattoo
• A Scottish Ceilidh

I could just go on (as we all know!), but you can all wait until I return.

But in the time I have been away, I have also missed out on a lot. Just by leaving Australia, I have missed a few engagement celebrations, one friend has bought a house, my cousin has had a baby, and some friends are pregnant. I haven’t been there to help those in my life who helped me, as they go through challenging times. But more importantly, and one of the main reasons I want to return is Ava. I missed her first words, and she has grown so much. By the time I see her, she will be unrecognisable to me, and me to her. And that will be hard.

I know that there are many people that would like to see me keep travelling and exploring, but last Christmas was harder than I imagined, and I don’t fancy another Scottish winter. I will be back though. Once you get bitten with the travel bug, it is an incurable disease. But my finances are horrid, so I will sort them out before I leave OZ again. But at least the next time, I will be wiser and in a better place.

And although I am ready to come home, I’m not ready to leave. As I write this, it hurts knowing how much I will miss this place, but I am also glad – it means I will return. Especially to Scotland. This past week, with so many farewells, I have realised how much both the people and city have gotten under my skin. The town centre at the moment is twinkling with lights, and I can only imagine how magical the rest of the silly season will be. Besides, I still haven’t seen England, and I really want to spend some time there. My visa for the UK doesn’t expire for another couple of years, so all is good.

I have changed, so be prepared for that, but I still talk a lot, so remember to prepare your ears! I am more self confident, and more settled. I have learnt a lot about who I am (for better and worse) , and my place in the world, and I don’t think I would have if I hadn’t come overseas when I did, so I am thankful for that. I have made friendships with people from all over the world, many of which I hope to keep for many years to come. I can also say that I have had a Scottish fling (sort of, Marc is Australian – but it is in Scotland!).

I have worked in a dozen jobs – but will miss those at Flamin’ Jacks and Dalkia the most - and have learnt to be completely independent financially and emotionally (despite how much I talk to Oz and Canada and how much money I owe my parents and various banks!). As for how I have changed physically, I smile more, now have wrinkles and wee biceps, but beyond that haven’t changed too much. I think I am thinner though, but will wait until you all see me, knowing you all, you will tell me. Oh, and I have new words in my vocabulary and slight inflections in my accent.

I can’t wait to catch up with all of you in Melbourne soon after I land, but will get through the jetlag first before I even let some of you know that I am in the country. I haven’t got a mobile phone in Australia anymore, so just leave me a message or send me an email if you would like to catch up, and I will give you a buzz. As for further a field in Australia, I will see you as soon as I can muster some cash together. And for the rest of the world, come Down Under and say ‘Hi’! Just sorry that I haven’t been able to say goodbye in person.

So that is it. See you soon Oz, and thank you to everyone who have made the last year and a half one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life thus far. But most especially to Kathy, Sophie, Liz, Alessandra, Tessa, Tracy, Jayne and Marc – all of whom I met on my travels, and have greatly and positively impacted my time away. Hope to see you all again some day!

Love Michelle