Another hot day in Lyon – the sun is shining into the room and everything is completely silent, except for a neighbour having their daily piano time ♥

#LittleThingsInLife

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It’s Friday – Yey Happy Weekend!

I had a Skype interview yesterday with a recruitment agency for teaching/babysitting work. They have already accepted me and sent me some clients to arrange for interviews – wow))) Once I have a job here I think I will feel much more comfortable. At the moment, I am [still] in some kind of limbo state)))

I also Skyped with my parents and one of my best friends, Natalia [and when her video loaded, I became very emotional to see her beautiful face again!]. I miss her so much! It is so difficult to be away from my family and such great friends, but slowly I am feeling more relaxed here… I am looking forward to the next few days now, for no particular reason)

♥ ♥ ♥

A Chapter in the Life of a Traveller – Tallinn, Helsinki, St Petersburg

[BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP]

SUNDAY MORNING – My alarm begins to ring in our large 12-bed dorm room and I swiftly sit up to grab my phone to prevent any of my new best friends from waking up. I swing my legs out of the bed and sit on the edge, looking on at everyone else sleeping. There are clothes and backpacks scattered across the room. A girl in the bunk next to me groans and turns over to cuddle with her boyfriend. Luca and Jan fast asleep in the bunks to the other side of me.

“I can’t even imagine what it would be like to travel long-term with someone else, especially a boyfriend. I have been alone for so long now,” I thought to myself. “I don’t know if I would even like it? Or maybe I am just trying to make myself feel better.”

I rise out of bed and head to the kitchen for breakfast. There is an Asian couple in the kitchen, already dressed and eating breakfast. They have their cameras on the table, the guy is looking at a map and they are discussing together what they want to see in the city.

I quickly pour a cup of coffee and grab a piece of toast, throw some jam on it and head to the common room. I open the window and sit on the window ledge, looking down at the few people walking along the street. The cool morning mist is starting to fade as the sun begins to rise.  I start to daydream, looking out at the buildings, the leaves falling from the trees, reminiscing from last 4 days. Swimming in the freezing Baltic Sea at 6am, eating Elk soup and fishing for cucumbers in a medieval style café, going on a pub crawl and to an outdoor nightclub, new experiences and meeting dozens of new people. Smiling to myself, I finish my cup of coffee and run upstairs to shower and grab my backpack. Today, I will head to my next stop, to St. Petersburg, Russia.

It is still very quiet as I am leaving the hostel. I drop my key at the empty reception desk and walk down the crooked stairs onto the cobblestone roads of Old-Town Tallinn. Again, I am alone. After the last few days of meet new people, spending everyday with them, I am walking in silence to the docks where I will find which ferry I need to take.

I don’t think words can explain this feeling of leaving yet another city and you don’t know if you will ever see these ‘friends’ again. There is a strange understanding of travellers in hostels. You know that you will only be there for a few days, where everyone is arriving and leaving on different dates, all going to different destinations, but for a short segment of time, you were someone’s best friend for a day, or two, or 5. All solo travellers rely on these moments with other travellers.

But today is not a normal travel day, and for the whole journey to the ferry and trip to Finland, I cannot wipe the smile off my face. Today I will meet up with another traveller, Adrian, whom I met in Stockholm. I will first take my ferry to Helsinki and we will meet in the city centre. And what’s even better, when I return to Helsinki I will meet up with Luca again and Daniel when I arrive in Lithuania! The idea of seeing people again, to see a familiar face when you are so used to saying goodbye, this is priceless. To top it off, I am headed to Russia! A completely unexpected, unplanned idea, but thanks to Adrian, I will be joining him!

I arrive at the docks in Tallinn and sit with my feet hanging over the edge, dangling above the water. The sun is shining on my face and I am listening to music, just smiling in a most tranquil mood. “How good is life?” I whisper to myself. “Is this really my life?”

I watch as my ferry that was in the far distance is now slowly getting closer and closer to me. The Finnish flag is blowing in the breeze. I get up and hoist my heavy backpack onto my back, clip my smaller backpack to my front and walk to the ticket office, through the boarding passage and onto the ferry. I find a seat at a table next to man, with a huge backpack like me, and a woman, whose travel partner was a cute, grey dog sitting in the chair next to her. His tail was wagging and he kept wanting to jump onto the table whilst his owner continued to tell him off, in what sounded like Russian.

After attempting to connect to the Wi-Fi so I can load Helsinki on Google Maps, which wasn’t working, I take out my book and begin to read for only a few short pages before my eyes become heavy and I fall asleep. I wake up to the grey dog licking my leg and at the same time, the woman is tapping my arm and smiling at me. In a few moments, I feel the ferry come to a stop and everyone is getting up. I grab my backpack, get off the boat, through the ferry terminal and to the front of the building.

“OK, where do I go now?” I wonder.

I walk to a tram stop and try to look on a map of which direction I should walk in, but there was a huge crowd of people and I didn’t want to stare blankly at a map for too long because I hate looking like a tourist – like my backpack didn’t give it away in the first place!

I walk back down the main road and decide that if I went in the direction of left, it would bring me to a residential area, so I will just walk right and hope I will arrive somewhere that looks like a city centre. Along the way, trying to connect to any free Wi-Fi spots but after 10 minutes walking, I decided to ask at a hotel which way to go. Luckily this was still in the direction I was planning to go, but at least now I knew I wasn’t lost.

I walked along the streets of shops, busy with people, and along a park where everyone was sitting in the grass and eating ice cream. I arrived at the road the receptionist told me to turn right on and continued straight until I came across the huge square in the centre – and Adrian! He and his friend were laying in the shade of a tree, using their backpacks as pillows. I run up to him with a huge smile and gave him a hug and I was introduced to his friend.

We continued to talk, exchanging travel stories and what has been happening the last few cities we have visited, like my many stalkers, being followed, or drunk stories, as we headed to a supermarket to load up on vodka and snacks for the overnight ferry to Russia (as you do).

Despite still having a couple hours before our ferry was to leave, we got onboard and found our rooms. I had a separate room to the guys but ended up bringing all of my things into their room, so we could have a party. We had our music playing, card games, and vodka shots. I am sure we were already drunk by the time we felt the ferry engines turn on, and we went to the upper deck to watch Finland fade into the distance. The sun was setting and it was just beautifully exciting knowing that we were off to another country!

We walked around the ferry, which felt like a cruise ship, with its restaurants, shops, casinos, bars, movie theatre and game rooms, but it wasn’t long before we returned to our drinking den and continued our private party. Our roommate, a Russian guy, enters the room, with a priceless face of shock. We invited him to join us and he taught us some Russian card games, drank with us, and later we did a few more laps around the ferry together, only to end up in the nightclub until the early morning hours. Waking up to hear the captain on the intercom, speaking in Russian, and then the engines turned off.

“We are in Russia!!!! We are in Russia!!!! WOW!!!!!” I shrieked and jumped around the room, while Adrian pulled his pillow over his head, mumbling something about never drinking vodka again.

2 Weeks In France

So, what can I say. It’s been an up and down couple weeks.

It feels like months ago now, but Helen, Natalia and Ivan walked me to the bus station on Monday morning, 6.30am – the 2nd of June. I said goodbye to my housemate Oxana, and with my heavy backpack and a newly bought 2nd gym bag, we headed for my bus to the border. I really didn’t feel so emotional this morning in particular. I was actually quite excited and ready to go. My bags had been packed for weeks before this moment and a great last week in Lviv. On Friday, I stayed later at work to spend time with colleagues, Saturday (31st May) was Okean Elzy concert and I had been out drinking on the Sunday. We got home at maybe 2am, and I woke up…. or rather Oxana woke me up, saying “Kate, Kate! It’s 5am. I think you need to go soon don’t you??” Bless her heart!!!! I didn’t actually have to wake up for another hour but I got up anyways, which I am happy that I did. Wow, I really miss Oxana now. She was a great housemate!!!

I left a lot of my clothes that I didn’t have space for, for Natalia and Helen to go through. Helen was making me laugh because this morning she had all my clothes on, and as usual, was reading people’s faces. At the bus stop, I stood there for an hour talking with them, we took some pictures together, and as the bus engine started, I got on and they walked to the side of the bus that I was sitting on. It had been raining the last few days and the bus window’s were fogged up. Natalia start writing on the windows, “You are welcome to Lviv again” and I write back “Love you.” Then, out of no where the tears started and I am trying to hold it back because I am alone on this packed bus, where I really don’t feel like speaking to anyone at this moment. I wave for the last time to Natalia running around the corner and we are driving off, and I sit there with tears just streaming down my face, quickly trying to pull out my music to focus myself on something else, which didn’t help.

Actually, I just sat in a daze for 2 hours until I got to the border and once I got off the bus, I couldn’t think of anything except for – “how am I actually going to carry this stuff across the border now???!!!!” Every 5 seconds, I was alternating my gym bag to my other arm and made it to Ukrainian border patrol completely out of breath. But after being questioned and having my passport ridiculously checked, for the last time, I try to lift my bag and my arms are just dead. I stand outside for a minute, looking how far away the other building was, and then to the bus I needed to take – it was like a marathon. Then the nicest guy ever offered to carry it for me, all the way to my bus and I could tell he was also dead tired from this but he seemed very nonchalant when I thanked him again and again. I had a short bus trip to the city in Przemysl where I would meet this guy off BlaBlaCar for my ride to France.

This alone caused me a lot of anxiety- would he actually come? How will I contact him because he doesn’t speak English, and my phone doesn’t work in Poland? But I ended up making it to the tourist information centre, [literally] dragging my bags in, asking the woman to please call for me – and he arrived, 20 minutes late but I started my…. short…. journey….. because within a few hours the car broke down and we had to stay somewhere in Poland for the evening waiting for the car to be fixed. I was in some limbo period because it wasn’t that I wanted to be in Lviv – I said goodbye to everyone, but missed them so much. I was really really excited to see Loic, but also I was worried what he would think of me. I thought at the time, it’s a good thinking period for me, before I get to France. But really it hasn’t helped. I think generally moving from one country to the next, leaving your good friends, great job, everything you work for and build up – then you start all over again it’s one of the most difficult things I put myself through.

So flash forward to the present – I have been in Lyon now for 2 weeks and I guess I have a boyfriend now…… wow. First I stayed with Loic’s family a little outside of the city, and now he has moved so it’s just 2 metro stops from the centre, or a 45 min walk ( I think – I got a little lost when I was walking). I don’t really know where the time has gone…. but I am happy))

♥ ♥ ♥