Los Angeles Hotels Blog

July 24, 2010

Travel experiences: An Australian experience

Sometimes, the most important lessons of life (and travel) are learned long after the journey has ended.

A blurred set of memories make up my adventure in Australia the summer before their Olympics, like tiny snapshots. Not only does the back of my mind serve as a permanent photo album, it also stores the thoughts and lessons one hopes to share someday with future travelers to Oz. Especially ones who look like me – African-American women – and the ones who may wonder what it’s like to travel alone as a black woman.

It’s amazing how you transform when you step onto foreign soil. Back home, I’m a double minority, hampered by the invisible, double-paned glass ceiling. But in Australia, race doesn’t make up who you are. There, I’m simply an American. A stranger with a strange accent. Just a Seppie, short for “septic tank” and rhymes with “bloody Yank.”

One particular experience during my three-month study abroad trip there was my solo jaunt to Victoria on the southern tip of the continent. I made plans in a brightly lit STA office on a busy Sydney street one spontaneous day, trying to envision what my adventure would entail. The domestic flight from Sydney to Melbourne was uneventful, albeit brief. Suddenly, the international airport I was fascinated with when I had arrived from Los Angeles reminded me of the small metropolitan airport back home in Columbia. It seemed I had developed an “I’m-just-a-local” attitude, and I had only been there a month.

Strangely enough, I was more concerned about the quality of the accomodations and my activities rather than my own personal safety. Although I was an alien to this country and traveling on my own, my biggest memories are my feelings of curiosity, amazement and sometimes disappointment at my surroundings and the people I encountered.

I had never stayed in a hostel before, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was rather pleased with the atmosphere of Hotel Bakbak in Melbourne. Even though I can be a terribly irritating germophobe and introvert, the dormitory-style bunk beds and shared bathrooms were clean and the folks I stayed with were friendly. I resisted the urge to get too close to my roommates, because I knew I was only going to stay there one night. I couldn’t help but connect with one French girl – we would snap pictures together later. But I settled in early to make sure I got up at 5 a.m.

The next morning I was up bright and early to head over to an inn at Queenscliffe, just southwest

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