In Italian we have a saying stating that whatever you do for New Year’s, you’re going to do it for the entire year. Call it superstition, but for me it has really been true. Here’s a balance of my 2016 in travel and (if you care) in life.
I caught the travel bug at birth, raised by two Meridiana airlines employees who introduced me to travelling when I was just a few months old. My first travel memories were in London, where in the Warner Brothers shop I started bossing English kids around in Italian saying that they should leave me in charge of my favourite attractions and go play with Batman instead. I also apparently bit another child so hard her mum shouted at my parents, but I have no recollection of that. No wonder Brexit happened: Italians, coming here, biting our kids.
So this brings me back to this time last year. You see, after Couchsurfing across the United States for over two months in 2014, by September 2015 I was going nuts: I needed to travel more. After finally giving in and admitting that my generalised jitteriness and my bad moods were actually depression and anxiety, I found in travel the only cure, the only way I could feel on a high. Last year, around November, I couldn’t take any more days staying still in the same place, so I thought:
Chi viaggia a Capodanno viaggia tutto l’anno.
(Whoever travels for New Year’s will travel all year round).
I wanted to go somewhere warm, so I immediately thought: Australia! Then, remembering I only had about two weeks off, I ended up having to think slightly smaller and went to Cuba. This little corner of paradise in the Caribbean gave me a New Year’s like never before. In the morning I was smoking Vegas Robaina cigars and drinking Mojitos on one of Havana’s closest beaches by Hotel Tropicoco. In the evening, my friend and fellow Couchsurfer Audrey and I ended riding to the Fabrica de l’Arte Cubano on the back of some Cuban dude’s sidecar – I had to pay him $5 and a kiss. We said hello to 2016 in a room filled with art, dancing and meeting new people.
How ironic that my destination number one last year was to become the place I lived in this year. To follow my childhood dream of studying Criminology, I ended up doing a Master at Sydney Law School, willingly eradicating myself from London and leaving everyone and everything I loved behind. I thought it would have been easier, but it has somehow taken a tall on me: I am now probably more anxious than I was before, more in need of proving my worth, further away from everything I know.
Still, Australia so far has been a platform to challenge myself even more, learn new things an discover more amazing places. In 2016 I found my happy places in Coogee and Newtown, took up pole dancing and twerking, two activities that follow my childhood tendencies to 1) do weird acrobatic shit 2) show off. I ended up flying to the Gold Coast of Australia, where I managed to surf properly (kinda) for two hours and I became acquainted with the end-of-high school schoolies celebrations. This year, I even spent two nights on a former racing boat while discovering the heavenly Whitsundays islands in Queensland.
2016 has also been the year when I finally made it to Asia. For my birthday, I flew to Singapore and Hong Kong, enjoying the view from the highest pool in the world at The Marina Bay Sands, visiting temples, fishing villages and beautiful side streets and view points.
Now, with my family over from Italy during the holidays, I discovered even more corners of New South Wales I was longing to see: the incredible Palm Beach and the spectacular nature in the Blue Mountains.
So how will my saying go this New Year’s? I’ve decided I’ll go a bit more mellow. My parents’ job and my constant moving around has always made me yearn for calmer, more settled times. So cross your fingers for me, because this year I’ll go with:
Chi si rilassa a Capodanno, si rilassa tutto l’anno.
(Whoever relaxes for New Year’s will relax all year round).
Ironic, I know, because it’s hard to relax if you have anxiety. But I trust my mum’s pasta with mussels to do half the job.
Pictures: Carolina Are, Charlotte Howells, my mum and dad (yep).