I am now home in Australia living in a beautiful old house in a quiet suburb next to a River in North Queensland. It is currently Winter but the days are warm. I have spent most of my days gardening in the warmth beneath the sun, building an organic food garden. The home is old and rickety but I love each and every one of it’s imperfections and age. My room is wrapped with old glass shutters and at the first sign of light it is flooded with a bright energy to begin the day. The gardens are filled with an array of fruit trees – lychee, banana, lime, starfruit, orange, lemonade, mulberry, avocado, paw paw, rosella and passionfruit. The food garden grows thicker and healthier each day and soon will provide us with natural foods I have grown from seed in the earth with love.
When I lived in the Austrian Alps I became close friends with another volunteer, Kees, a traveller from the Netherlands. On leaving the Alm we decided to spend the next few weeks camping together in Germany. First I spent a week with Aaron in Vienna, such a culturally profound city, filled heavy with history and vibrant night life. We stayed in a really fancy hostel in the centre of the market square, we spent most of our time exploring the food and antique markets, finding old treasures from all over Europe. We explored the great halls of museums and attended the Opera, walking long until our feet ached. We went out to local underground restaurants each day knowing we would soon miss austrian cuisine which we had grown to adore.
One night I left on the train, we parted ways, Aaron was bound for many countries on his own and I was bound for only one, Germany. He had never travelled solo before and I was very enthusiastic for him to experience being on the road alone and the differences it brings to travelling with another soul. I boarded the night train late in the evening. It was a long journey yet I could not sleep. Exhaustion had it’s long cold fingers wrapped around my tired body. Somehow I found adrenaline just at the thought of spending the next few weeks with such a lovely person, exploring new lands in nature. The sun began to rise, the sky became warm and suddenly the train was gliding along the Rhine Valley, it was such a pleasing view. I adore long journeys through countries especially on trains, to see villages you would otherwise never sight, staring out the windows into great oblivion. I left the train in a little village outside of Cologne and met Kees to begin our journey through Germany.
For the next week and a half we camped on the River Mosel near the Rhine Valley, beneath the Vineyards on the River. It felt like Summer had arrived and the days were beautifully warm and long. We spent most of our days relaxing on the River, cooking nice meals and holding deep conversations. There were ducklings by the shore and each afternoon at duskthe sun sets turned the river a deep shade of pink. We explored the area and walked up a hill through the vineyards to see the remains of an old castle with a view of the whole valley. One day we drove nearby to a village called Cochem to tour the famous castle, still in it’s original state. To leave Mosel was hard as it felt like my new home, the people were kind and the weather reminded me of Australia.
We left early one morning and spent a whole day driving through most of Germany to reach the south. We arrived late in a village called Lechbruck and set up our tent, we were the only people camping so had the whole site to ourselves right on the turquoise coloured Lake, unlike anything I had seen before. The first day the weather was warm and we explored the area, venturing to Neuschwanstein Castle. The front entrance was filled with tourists, loud, busy crowds which made me feel anxious. I am not used to being in large cities and amongst so many tourists and usually try to avoid this as much as possible. We hiked up the back of the mountain through a private windy trail to the castle, finding an old abandoned water mill along the way. The sky was filled with para-gliders swaying through the air landing amongst the forest floor. It was so naturally beautiful and strange to experience this, the people using this natural path all seemed to be there for sweet reasons. That afternoon we found a beautiful old church perched high on a hill. After reaching it a storm arrived so suddenly we ran to take cover. For the next week it was intense weather, the sun didn’t seem to rise again until our final day.
We spent every day going on road trips in the heavy rain through the mountains nearby in Austria, exploring Lakes and Villages, amongst fog and thunder. The mountains were laced with new snow and the nights grew cold. It was a huge contrast to the weather the week earlier. I found an even deeper love for Austria, deciding it is a country I would love to live amongst in the future. I grew weary at the thought of returning home to Australia after a year of travelling. On the final day we drove through Germany, Austria and Switzerland to arrive late in Devon, France. Saying goodbye to Kees was difficult, it is rare on this earth to form such a close bond with someone who was a stranger only a few months earlier. I caught the train to Paris to meet with Aaron and we spent final days together in Paris, where we had begun our journey a year before.