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What Do You Go Home To?

Picture this: You spend several months where every day you wake up in a strange place. You’re surrounded by new and interesting things to experience and new and interesting people to meet. Every day is a new adventure. Your life is amazing. Those things “normal” people deal with, like jobs, family and university, like the daily grind, all that stuff is several continents away from you and barely even registers in your mind. Then the bubble bursts. Your plane lands back in your home country and you realise you’re broke. You need to get a job, probably a dead end one. Your friends are all busy with their lives, they have full time jobs too you know, and when you do finally see them they all are quick to remind you that nothing interesting has happened since you left, nothing interesting ever happens here.

Bateau Bay beach, this is essentially my backyard back in Australia.

Or maybe you don’t have a full time job, you have to go back to University instead. This means studying, doing assignments, taking exams, writing papers. You’ve been destroying your brain with alcohol on a nightly basis and this learning business is a lot more difficult then you remember it being. While this is happening all those new friends you made travelling are still travelling, still living the good life. You can keep tabs on them with Facebook, but looking at all their exciting photos only makes you miss it more. Don’t worry sad ex-backpacker, you’re not alone in these feelings. Grab your harmonica because you’ve just got a case of the Post-Travel Blues.

The fields of Johanna on The Great Ocean Road.

If you’ve never experienced this, you either have the most exciting life in the world, or you didn’t party hard enough when you were travelling. Luckily I didn’t catch a case of The Blues when I came back to Australia, though that’s because I continued to be a vagabond for six more weeks. Intead of sitting around being bored I caught a plane down south to Melbourne where I spent a week living with a friend in the ghetto and partying like I was still backpacking. This was followed by a little roadtrip along the Great Ocean Road to see The Twelve Apostles, and then a few days enjoying the sunshine and beaches of Byron Bay Shire up in North NSW.

Johanna Beach on the Great Ocean Road

When I did make it back at home I threw myself into learning how to use Adobe Lightroom  and sorting through my thousands of travel photos (Note: I did all the fast-and-dirty photo editing for majority of the previous photos in this blog using Gimp at internet cafes while on the road). This was done in between catching up with friends when they had time off from their Real Life (TM) jobs, and enjoying Christmas with my family. After Christmas it was time for another roadtrip, all the way from The Central Coast down through Melbourne and back on the Great Ocean Road to Lorne for Falls Festival, a four-day music festival which happens over New Years Eve.

The "Twelve" Apostles, Port Campbell.

For my first trip south the weather on the Great Ocean Road wasn’t great, it was overcast, cold, grey and windy. Not your typical summer weather. That said it still made for some great photographs. When I went down the second time for Falls Festival it was hot, 38 degrees celsius hot in the day to be precise. At night however, it dropped down to single digits. There were also some severe winds which resulted in camp grounds looking like a mini-hurricane had been through. There were toppled chairs, flattened and torn tents, I even saw a completely trashed caravan.

Some backpackers enjoying the sun at Byron Bay Beach

Falls Festival was amazing though, the atmosphere and the music. The huge highlight for me was seeing The National. They are my favourite band at the moment, and they were even better live than I could have hoped. Other highlight was Interpol who seemed to acknowledge their new stuff isn’t up to scratch and basically played all songs from their first two albums. Jose Gonzalez’s band Junip were my surprise find, I’d never heard them before and I liked it a lot more than Jose’s solo work (which I by no means dislike). The Soft Pack who rocked-the-heck-out during the sweltering midday heat were also great, and another secret find was Graveyard Train, a country/horror/comedy band with 6-way baritone harmonies and the dark but hilariously sung closing message that one day we’re all going to die.

Falls Festival: Dusk at the amphitheatre

The biggest upset of the festival was Joan Jett and the Black Hearts who played the midnight countdown set on New Years Eve. They were an odd inclusion into a mostly Indie lineup and the crowd did not get into them at all. I left halfway through the set and watched some band I didn’t even know the name of on the smaller stage who put on a much more interesting show. I heard from a friend who stayed that it only got worse and people started throwing bottles at them. This choice for the countdown set was especially confusing since there were four other headline bands on the lineup that would have been far more suitable; The National, Interpol, Klaxons, or The Rapture.

The lengths taken to save ourselves from the scorching sun.

The most painful thing about Falls Festival was the 14 hour drive home on New Years Day, and then me having two days to pack my life into several suitcases and boxes and move to Canada for possibly the next three years. This brings me to my current situation, and this is where my case of the Post-Travel Blues struck. I have just started a PhD in theoretical physics in Waterloo, Canada, a mid sized student/technology town in south west Ontario, about an hour and a half from Toronto. It’s best known for being the place Blackberry’s come from. This means hard work, and after six months of vagabonding, getting back into the study groove has been extremely harsh. To add to the mix I also went from 38C one weekend, to -20C the next. Scorching Australian summer to a biting Ontarian winter.

This man is unhappy because his tent is broken.

Though the blues are only ever temporary. After  being here for roughly 2 weeks I’m finally starting to get settled and things are looking up. I have a lot to catch up on for my studies, but I’ve been killing time with plenty of social things going on too. It’s also been great to see old friends here I hadn’t seen since I left six months ago. This brings me to the question of what to do with this blog now. I am undecided if I should keep it exclusively a travel blog, and start reminiscing about past adventures I’ve had in Japan and South America while waiting to escape from my PhD on my next travel adventures, or if I should start including some music and general photography things in it from my happenings in Waterloo and it’s surrounds. I may end up doing both, we’ll see how time goes!

The National rocking out on New Years Eve at Falls Festival.