This post is a little different from what I usually write about, but variety is apparently the spice of life, so why not mix things up?
Relationships on the road are an interesting breed of love affair. Though travelling is one of the most amazing things a person can do, it brings about a lot of stressors and heightened emotions that one may not experience in the comfort of their home base. Falling in and out of love can happen quickly and intensely, and the underlying understanding that any connections made are going to be inevitably short lived seems to make everything happen at warp speed. Combine this with the typical reduced inhibitions one experiences while surrounded by other travellers and you have a recipe for disaster, one such recipe that you’ll seem to attempt time and time again.
When it comes to travelling flings/relationships/dates/flirtations, I have had a lot of them, each under very different circumstances and each with a different outcome, some good, but mostly bad. This is by no means a comprehensive list, these are just the ones that really stand out in my mind.
To my Dad – please feel free to exit out of your browser and not read on (like, seriously, just pretend you never saw this).
The Successful Muso
Ah, my first ever travel fling. It was a total train-wreck but one that makes for a good story. I was a wee young thing at the tender age of 19. I planned to stay within the UK and Northern Ireland on this particular trip, but one of my favourite musicians turned out to be on a European tour during my travel dates. Of course, the London show was sold out, but I couldn’t help but notice that the Paris show was one of the few with tickets still available.
So naturally, I re-routed myself and embarked a one day detour to Paris.
The show ended up being really tiny, around 200 people (if that) so it wasn’t all that surprising that I was able to meet said musician after the show. For the sake of easy writing, lets call him ‘Beardy Brit’ for the rest of the story.
Beardy Brit had an Australian support act and an Aussie photographer on the road with him, and since Australians in foreign countries tend to flock together, a whole group of us ended up at an Irish pub a stones throw away from Montemartre after the venue had cleared out.
Beardy Brit and I chatted a fair bit, long enough for me to lie about my age (I said 22) and long enough for us to end up in bed together at a nearby hotel.
I am not going to go into graphic detail here, but I will say that it was an odd-ish experience. At the time as naive teenager it seemed okay, but looking back it was actually kind of a disaster. Despite this, it served a purpose. I was recently off the back of a break-up that had completely annihilated my self-confidence and had left me feeling unattractive, worthless and unwanted.
Do I think women should get their self worth based on what men think of them? HELL NO. But having someone so successful (who I am 99% sure was propositioned that same night by a tall, thin and gorgeous girl from Melbourne who was so much more beautiful than me) show an interest did give me a little lift. It was the only time in my life where I have used sex as a confidence boost, so far a once-off and I hope it stays that way.
4 years later and Beardy Brit has become even more successful, but I am not much of a fan anymore. His 2014 album was an over-produced and commercial piece of crap. It sounded like he was trying to mimic the success story of a certain ginger Brit, and instead the entire album lacked the honesty, feeling and vivid story-telling that had made his music so special to begin with. But still, it will be one such travel fling that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
The Recently Dumped Guy
Being the first girl a guy makes out with post long term relationship breakdown is never a fun experience.
Lets set the scene. I was having a night out in Prague on one of those pre-organised pub crawl things. All was going well, I had made friends with a few Brazilian guys and one ‘Murican lad. However, when we got to the second pub, our chilled little pub crawl was crashed by a Contiki tour group.
I have never written an entire post about my dislike of group tours such as Contiki, but I have alluded to it, and anyone that knows me well knows how much it is so not my style of travelling. No, I have never actually been on one, but I have seen such tour groups in many different settings and am 100% sure I do not need to go on one to know how much it is not for me.
Group tours marketed to 18-25 year old travellers (Contiki especially, Topdeck less so) are full of young single and ready to mingle Australians and Kiwis who want to party. For travellers looking for a party, these tours would be an amazing fit, but for those who want more time in cities and to have some solitude and alone time, another style of travel is probably more your bag.
Anyway, though I had already made a few friends on the pub crawl, I was feeling a little more social than usual on this particular evening and thought I would introduce myself to a few of the Contiki punters. I met and had a few drinks with a few of the girls who kept telling me that I was pretty and that I should kiss their New Zealander friend who was feeling a bit down. At the start of the night I was vehemently telling them no, but after the seventh shot of tequila it actually started to sound like an alright idea. I mean, he was pretty cute and I was 20 years old and as single as the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons, so why not?
We chatted for a bit, he seemed nice enough, so I gave him a little kiss and thought that would be that. It wasn’t like it was some great kiss, it was just fine.
For the rest of the night he followed me around, whinging about his ex girlfriend and telling me how great I was because I was so different from her. It was nothing short of painful. After suffering for 1.5 hours of this, I made the excuse that I was going to the toilet and instead snuck out of the club and power walked back to the seclusion of my hostel.
I am sure he was a nice person and his behaviour was just a reaction to having been burned by a bad relationship (which a lot of us can relate to) but seriously, if you ever read a ‘what not to do to chat up women’ book, acting like this would definitely be in there somewhere.
Great Guy, Wrong Time
Remember in the first story above I wrote about a bad breakup? Well, it turns out that I am a little bit prone to on again – off again relationships.
So it won’t come as too much of a surprise that when I left for my trip to South Africa at the end of 2014 I was once again newly single. I backpacked from Cape Town along the Garden Route, making a tonne of stops along the way. One of the last stops I had on this trip was at a small little hostel in The Crags. As soon as a stepped foot onto the grassy entrance of the hostel I had spotted a good looking blonde guy. He was a Dutch expat and working at the hostel. He checked me in and showed me around the (truly gorgeous) property, while flirting with me the whole time. I thought he was super cute, so of course I flirted back!
The next day he came with me out to Bloukrans Bridge while I did my bungee jump (side note: still one of the coolest things I have ever done, click here to read more) and after I had jumped, we had a few drinks and a small group of us ended up driving to Plettenberg Bay to have a night out partying.
We drove out there in a kind of van/ute, the type that has like a three-seater across the front and then an empty back section for transporting stuff. Dutch cutie and I ended up sitting in the back section and during the 45 minute long drive we ended up rather cosy. After a veritable bucket load of drinks, we got pretty hot and heavy in the back of said ute (pure class right there). We would’ve had sex, but he didn’t have a condom and even in my inebriated state I was adamant that it wasn’t gonna happen without one.
At around 4am we left Plett and headed back to The Crags, I crashed out in my tent and slept until fairly late the next day.
The next night the hostel held a braai – South African version of a BBQ – and things just felt different. Dutch cutie was acting incredibly sweet and cuddly and must have had the idea that we would pick up where we had left off the previous night. I wasn’t feeling it though. I was mostly sober and for some god forsaken reason, had been thinking about my ex boyfriend that day. He kissed me and all I could think about was how it didn’t feel or smell the same as my ex had and it occurred to me – it may have been a few months since we had ended things, but I was still not quite over it, and I did not want to use another person to try and speed up the ‘moving on’ process this time round – it just didn’t sit well with me.
I tried to explain to Dutch Cutie that I just wasn’t feeling it and he seemed quite genuinely upset but did not press the issue or try to make me feel bad, but I still felt horrible. I did not sleep well that night.
The next day we hung out in a set of swings suspended from a big tree and talked about everything from my train-wreck of a love life to the real reason he had some to South Africa (more there than had I had initially anticipated) and we said goodbye to each other that day with a hug and on good terms.
The One Who Flipped Like A Switch
This story still gives me the heebie jeebies when I think about it. I was staying at a hostel in Florence and was in the mood to socialise and make new friends. In the common area I met a whole bunch of new people, including another Aussie. Now, I often try to avoid hanging out with other Australians (I don’t catch 26 hour flights to talk to people I could meet back home) but this guy was kinda cute and also a musician, which is something I am a sucker for (not that it ever ends well) so we got to chatting. Everything seemed to be going well, we were getting along but no completely OTT flirting was happening, which is not always a bad thing.
The group of us were having drinks and after a little while I started to get to that sleepy point of inebriation – not totally sloshed, just ready to catch some zzzz’s. So I slipped away and snuggled up in bed for what I was hoping would be a restful nights sleep.
After maybe 30 minutes of snoozing, I was jostled awake. This guy was leaning over my bunk, staring at me with his face right next to mine and shaking me. After the initial moment of confusion I was suddenly wide awake. I asked him what he was doing and he told me he wanted to talk. I was already feeling kind of uneasy but didn’t want to seem rude so I asked him what he wanted to talk about.
He responded with one of the most whack admissions I have ever heard:
“I like to put razor blades on playground slides and watch children slide down onto them.”
The uneasy feeling I had had before hearing that statement was now heading into full blown ‘holy shit this guy is a psycho run away’ mode. Why on earth would he tell someone that?! I don’t know if he was drunk and had lowered inhibitions or if he just got some sort of sick satisfaction from watching another person become scared – if it was the latter he would have gotten his way. I freaked out and jumped out of bed, woke up the girl in the bunk next to mine and told her it was time to change dorms. The guy kept trying to apologise and followed me, but that was just making things worse.
After a discussion with hostel management he was moved to another (males only) dorm and told that if there were any further issues he would be asked to leave.
The next morning I saw him leave and let out the biggest sigh of relief. In a strange twist of fate I actually saw him again on the streets of Rome (the world is tiny) near the Spanish Steps – but I was with a group of other (normal) people and though he creepily stared me down, he did not try to approach me.
The Surprisingly Epic Date
Ah, this memory always puts a smile on my dial. It really could have been a ‘nothing special’ kinda date, but Mother Nature had other ideas.
I was in my favourite destination of all time – Ilulissat, Greenland. I had been out on a boat trip to Eqip Sermia glacier on this particular day and the tour guide for the trip was a drop dead gorgeous Danish guy – lets refer to him as DDGDG. We had chatted for a lot of the day and at the end of the trip he asked me to get a drink with him that night. He looked like a model (hello chiselled jawline) and I was once again a single pringle so why not?
We got a few drinks at a hotel bar on the edge of the Disko Bay as the sun set (already super pretty) and the date was good but nothing extraordinary, but it had been a nice way to spend the night. Once it was time for me to head back to my hotel (I had an early start in the morning) DDGDG offered to walk me back. We were walking in a content silence when all of a sudden he stopped me. I wondered why – its not like there was any traffic or people around that I needed to be wary of!
Instead of responding with words he pointed to the sky and there it was – a truly stunning show courtesy of the Aurora Borealis. It was the kind of show that literally stops you in your tracks and makes you lose all sense of time. Dates don’t get much more epic than that!
The French Flight Attendant
This love affair was short but sweet.
I was flying from Dubai to Adelaide (a bloody long flight let me tell you) with Emirates and though I was exhausted I could not sleep. After a while the dinner service began through the cabin and I was so hungry that I was actually looking forward to my airplane food! When the drinks cart reached my row this totally flamboyant, smiley and enthusiastic flight attendant asked me what I wanted to drink and this is how that conversation went.
French Flight Attendant: “What would you like to drink tonight lovey?”
Me: “Could I get a white wine thanks?”
FFA: *Arches eyebrow*
FFA: “Just one honey?”
Me: “I guess?”
FFA: “I can tell you like your wine honey, how about four?”
He then proceeded to give me four of those little wine bottles and told me to drink up and enjoy.
To that amazing French flight attendant: Though I should be offended that I apparently look like an alcoholic, I don’t at all. I have to say, I love you so much. If all flight attendants were like you nobody would ever complain about their flights. Keep being amazing, I will never forget you! <3