Tales from beyond: a collection of pre-coronavirus travel stories

With national travel restrictions looking o ease in the next few months, we at On the Record are looking back to look forwards at what adventures that travelling may have instore for us (Image Source: Nahum Gale)

Tell us the truth; have you been spending isolation planning your next holiday… and be honest?

For some of us, travelling is such a quintessential element of lifebeing able to escape and indulge in different cultures and pleasures.

Coronavirus has robbed us of the right to stretch our wings and see the world, so of course that means the most travel we are doing is going from our bed to the kitchen, to the toilet and back.

Never fear, because for all of you out there, the OTR crew have accumulated a series of adventurous travel stories to get you back into the mood for exploring.

We hope you can live vicariously through us so that one day, when all this blows over, your sense of adventure will be through the roof and your next holiday just on the horizon.

Nahum Gale… in Machu Picchu, Peru

It was the winter season of 2019 when I decided to pack up and fly over to Peru with the plan to fulfil my childhood dream of hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I had spent six months preparing at the gym and going on solo hikes, but nothing could really prepare me for the trek ahead.

With high altitude, freezing night time temperatures and serious inclines that were more a mental challenge to overcome than physical, the Inca Trail was easily the hardest thing I ever committed to. Stretched over four days with the promise of Machu Picchu at the end, there were times I honestly felt like turning around, but then came those moments that made the whole thing worth it.

Moments when alpacas would join us on our walks; moments when the rainforest would engulf our paths; moments when the mountains would open up and you felt as if you were walking through clouds in the heavens.

Truth be told, the tears, headaches and muscle pains were all worth it when reaching the Sun Gate on the fourth day and seeing Machu Picchu rise from valley beyond.

That is what I enjoy most about travelling. The moments that remind you why you are alive and why we strive to do anything. No matter how hard times get, it eventually is always worth it, just for that little peek at heaven.

Considering what I would want to do next though, Jordan and Egypt are high on my list.

Chelsea Shepherd in… Florence, Italy

My most adventurous travel story took place in Florence, Italy. It was in the middle of summer and we sweltered through a 40-degree day. We’d spent the day exploring, eating pasta in laneways and drinking a lot of Aperol Spritzes.

That night we headed to a karaoke bar and drank frozen daiquiris by the litre to ease the nerves of performing on stage. After a very pitchy rendition of Wonderwall with a bunch of strangers, my friends and I headed home.

After an hour of searching for a taxi in the same spot, we figured it would only be logical to go to Maccas and try to find a taxi, after a quick stop for nuggets, of course. Another two hours had passed and strangely there were no taxis in sight. Not even my Italian language skills could rally us a taxi when we called the taxi company.

It was now 4am and still no taxis anywhere, so we made the bold decision to walk back to the caravan park. We google mapped the route and were shocked to see it was a two hour walk from where we were to the accommodation, which makes sense considering we were in the city of Florence and the caravan park was in the country. After lots of complaining we made it almost home before finally, a taxi passed us, and we were able to get home in one piece.

I can now laugh about this story despite almost being in tears at the time.

Ashleigh Buck in… Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

When I travelled to Thailand in 2017, my family and I went on a tour to Phi Phi islands. The scenery was beautiful, and the weather looked to be great… or so we thought. On the way to the last island, famously known for the 2000 film The Beach, our guides told us that we would have to cut our stop short because a storm was coming.

Now, understandably the boats were no five-star massive yachts and were not built to handle the five metre waves we sailed back in, but we made it ashore. Three people seasick, two praying for their lives, my father was listening to the boat alarm go off. As a fisherman himself, he understood the seriousness of the conditions we were in. And then there was me, standing up in the middle of the boat amidst the most exhilarating experience of my life.

Most of the time I share this story and end up laughing, whilst we could’ve potentially been in more danger than we thankfully were, it’s not a Buck Family Holiday without a near death experience.

My whole life I have longed to travel, whether it be interstate or international, I am fascinated about seeing the world. My dream since a young girl has been to travel to Canada, hopefully after this pandemic I can finally make that dream a reality.

Nikita Skuse in… Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I don’t understand why the phrase “It’s just like riding a bike” implies something is easy. Well, I did understand until my trip to the Netherlands.

I took the classic group-tour-around-Europe-gap-year-trip and found myself signing up to a bike tour through the streets of Amsterdam. I didn’t think twice about doing so because I knew how to ride a bike when I was younger and, although it had been a good eight years since then, I just figured it was second nature.

Helmet on, seat riding up my ass and fingers wrapped around the handlebars, I headed off. Except, my version of heading off was instead wobbling around for a few seconds trying to remember how balancing works, not quite figuring it out and consequently falling flat on my side, still straddling the seat, right into the fence of a construction site hosting an array of beautiful Dutch tradies.

Yes, it may have hurt my hip but it hadn’t hurt my pride just yet, so I got back up and tried again. Still wobbling all over the road like a drunk mess, an angry bike tour manager came chasing after me yelling, “Stop! You’re a liability! Get off the bike!” I’d been banned from the tour, made to walk back with my tail between my legs and trying my best to suck the tears of embarrassment back into my eyeballs. Needless to say, riding a bike is actually not “just like riding a bike”.

Meika Bottrill in… Sayaboury, Laos

In 2018, I travelled through Laos on a volunteer trip where I stayed at an elephant conservation camp and worked to help create a socialisation site for endangered elephants. Despite all clichés, this was such a rewarding and eye-opening experience for me.

Travelling is so important to me as it really opens my eyes to other cultures and ways of life. Living in Australia can make me feel so isolated from the rest of the world, and I feel that travelling eases that feeling. I was born overseas and often, especially when I visit Asia, I feel a sense of connection that is hard to explain.

In two weeks, I am meant to fly to London, do some travel throughout Europe for the first time and then arrive in Italy where I was enrolled in the Institute of Design in Florence to do three weeks of overseas study. for obvious reasons, my trip won’t be happening this year but as soon as the borders open, I am so excited to get on a plane and see the rest of the world.

Anna Day in… Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria

When I was 17, I went skiing in Austria with my best friend. We got so drunk at a midmountain bar which was called the goat shed (aptly named for the four genuinely alive billy goats wandering around inside) that we couldn’t ski down the rest of the run, so we had to walk and carry our skis.

The thing I miss the most [about travelling] is having something to look forward to. Everything can be a bit shit, but then you can be like ‘three more months until Bali woohoo’; but now it’s like, ‘can I even go to the Flinders Rangers?’

I would really like to do the Great Ocean Road or Yorke Peninsula. They are two of my favourite places in Australia.

Alexandra Bull in… Lorne, Australia

My best friends and I were supposed to go to Falls Festival last year, over New Year’s, in Lorne. We did actually get to attend one day. We always knew the weather was not going to be great and we accepted that it was going to be hot and windy and we were ready for it.

We had a blast the first night and we woke up at 7:30am the next morning to hear our camping neighbours playing ‘Pump It Up’ by Endor. We thought it was going to be a good day.

I was lying in our tent, recovering from the previous night’s antics, when I saw a rather odd post in the Falls Lorne Facebook event, saying the festival has been cancelled because of the weather. I laughed and thought to myself ‘what a funny joke, good stuff’ but when I checked who posted it… it was no joke.

Anyways, we were not at the festival for even 24 hours before we had to pack up and leave. Tears were shed on the phone to parents and we ended up back in Adelaide five days before we were supposed to be home. At the time it was really upsetting but now I can laugh about it as it was such a first world problem to have.

I usually try to go away at least two times a year, even if it’s just a local trip, so I guess I miss having something to look forward to all the time.

Eva Blandis in… Perisher, Australia

When I was 16, I went on the school ski trip to Perisher, NSW. I had never seen snow before, so it was a great experience. It was so much fun to go travelling with my school friends and learn how to ski at the same time. It’s safe to say that there were a lot of laughs (especially for those of us who hadn’t skied before!).

They had night skiing on one of the first nights there. My friend and I were beginners, so we were hesitant to ski down the main slope, but our friends encouraged us. It turned out that once we got to the top, we couldn’t get down. We eventually had to walk down the slope with our ski boots on. There was a lot of falling over, some tears, but a lot of laughter! Although I love all the other trips I’ve been on, I know that this trip will never be forgotten as I still look back and laugh.

I think that the main thing I miss about travelling, or having the option to travel, is the new experiences and memories that can be made. I was hoping to travel around Europe in the semester break, but hopefully I can do that in the next few years!

Viki Ntafillis in… Santorini, Greece

My most adventurous travel story is swimming off the coast of Santorini, Greece. This may sound mundane, but Santorini isn’t actually your average island – it’s a volcano. A lot of the island itself is made up of lava domes from the volcano’s eruptions throughout history.

So, aside from holidaying on a potential death trap (talk about fear factor), we went to Perivolos beach on the island’s southeast coast, famous for its black volcanic sand and clear blue waters. If you’re there, swim with a snorkel and venture out a few extra metres; you’ll notice that that the sea floor beneath you quickly makes way for a deep-sea drop, which is pitch black. That’s when it really hits you that you’re swimming off the edge of a volcano, and there’s only a few metres between you and the great blue abyss beyond. Let’s just say I’ve never swum back to shore so quickly in my life.

The thing I miss most about travelling is relaxing, having a great time, getting away from the day-to-day, and enjoying myself with friends and family. But, if I’m leaving SA, it’d have to be trying new foods and taking in all the sights of the place I’m visiting.

While I love going OS, my go-to vacation is chilling at a beach house, swimming, tanning, eating ice-cream and watching movies all night.

Thomas Kelsall in… a series of unfortunate (global) events

There’s definitely no one story that stands out above the rest, but there’s certainly a lot of small ones that make up a good personal travel anthology. This includes getting hopelessly stomach sick on my first ever long-haul flight (I was 12); being kissed by random French men for the mere act of gifting a souvenir Koala; paying $120 entry for an underground club in Chennai; witnessing every way of throwing up in a British nightclub; and being asked to demonstrate in front of a Japanese class the word Kabedon, which—unbeknownst to us at the time—means cornering a female love interest by slamming the wall with your hand.

Outside of that, I’ve got a few horror stories travelling with British Rail. Perhaps the worst one was travelling late at night and having my connecting journey delayed by over an hour. To make the last train home before the station closed, I had to sprint about 150 metres (down and up a set of stairs) carrying *three* heavy travel bags (one of which was pierced open by a sharp pencil rubbing against my leg), all while extremely hungover and on only two hours’ sleep.

Every time you travel, you become motivated to work hard enough to have the opportunity to do it again. It also gives you a great sense of insecurity about your monolingualism, which I appreciate because it pushes me to do a bunch of Duolingo work (lol) which I wouldn’t ordinarily be doing at home.

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