I only planned to travel the world. Not literally around the world. It somehow happened anyway, and it’s been glorious! How, you may ask? That’s quite a long story with lots of ups and downs, turns and a few loopings. After I got my bachelor’s degree in February 2015, I knew, that I wasn’t ready to face work life yet. I just had to go abroad. On March 31, my flight left from Frankfurt to Denver, where my sister was living at the time. I didn’t know at that point that it’d be 18 months until I set foot on German ground again. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Denver that day. Thanks to a storm I had to spend the night in Reykjavik, Iceland, and had 24 hours to explore he city. After that, I spent a week in the Rockies with my sister, we celebrated Easter, fought against the snow and then went hiking with a sunburn. Welcome to the USA!
After that, I was off to the real destination of my trip: Canada. Black bears playing in the grass on the side of the road. Grizzlies hunting in the fields. Moose crossing roads. Clear lakes that never quite warm up. Mountains that have barely ever been climbed by humans. Neverending roads, that go straight for hundreds of kilometers. Snow so high you can’t see out your window. All of that is Canada. Most of all, it’s home for me.
It all started in 2008 when I spent a year in Quebec when I was 16 years old. I lived with a family, got my high school diploma and promised my friends that I’d be back. I kept that promise. Between 2009 and 2013, I visited my favourite country four times.
It was now April 2015 and I was back for longer. I stayed in Montreal for the first month with my friend David and visited my old host family in Cowansville almost every week. I wandered through the city, ate Poutine at La Banquise, hiked on Mount Royal, discovered shops I already knew and some I didn’t. Most importantly, I spent time with the ones I loved.
Mai was a pretty special month. On a website called workaway.info I had found a farm in Port Hope, close to Toronto, where I was able to work and live (I didn’t have a working visa at that point, it was volunteering). I spent some of the best days of my trip there with Lin, her daughter Julie and their dogs and horses. I loved it so much that I went back there in August and even watched the farm for Lin while she visited her son in Alberta. In Port Hope, I also met Cassy. We decided to go on a roadtrip to the Eastern part of the country together. I had already bought a van, put a bed inside and called him Bobby.
For six weeks we now lived on the road. The cliffs in the Gaspesie in Quebec, neverending forests in New Brunswick (and neverending rain), the red shores of Prince Edward Island and the Highlands on Cape Breton were some of the highlights, just like the dolphins we saw in Nova Scotia were. We slept in Walmart parking lots or at the beach, drank beer on the roof of a student in Quebec who interviewed us on his radio show and drove thousands of kilometres. I spent my 23rd birthday doing tidal rafting and my friend from Germany, Stine, joined us. That was the beginning of our one month long trip to the US!
We drove down to New York City and slept in a house with a pool by a guy called Mike, who also took us on his yacht. He kept our car while we flew down to San Francisco. We spent time in Los Angeles, hiked in the Grand Canyon, relaxed in hot springs in the Sierra Nevada and climbed mountains at Lake Tahoe. We lived with Molly who let us take her dogs down to the lake, and with Sharon who gave us her house for a weekend in L.A. We partied in Las Vegas with Tokio Hotel, a German band that I got to know a few years ago, and I visited their shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Back in NYC, Mike took us on a boat to watch the sunset near the Statue of Liberty and we said goodbye. At that point, my life was so fast that I couldn’t even think clearly.
After these first five months on the road, it was time for a break. I got my work visa and Stine and I drove 4000 kilometres west to Jasper, a little village in Jasper National Park in Alberta. We had a job offer from The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. We ended up staying much longer than planned – we lived and worked there for more than seven months. We hiked on our days off, explored beautiful lakes, glaciers and mountains. We drove the legendary Icefield Parkway to Lake Louise and Banff, made lots of friends and the best time. I rediscovered my love for cross country skiing and snowboarding, we celebrated Christmas, New Years and Easter with new friends, saw the Northern Lights lighting up the night sky and managed to save up quite a bit of money for our next trip.
May 2016 was when our next big roadtrip started. We started at the beginning of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek and reached Alaska after a few days and a stop in Whitehorse, Yukon. We didn’t only see bears and moose, but also bisons, we slept in places where nobody was for hundreds of kilometres and finally stayed in the US’ northernmost state for ten days. Nature was breathtaking up there and the sun never really sets in summer, it was beautiful. On the way back we hiked in Kluane National Park and visited the Olympic Village in Whistler, British Columbia. We took the ferry to Vancouver Island and stayed there for two weeks. Such a different climate! Rainforests everywhere. We surfed in Tofino, lied on empty beaches and watched the Euro world cup in an Irish pub in Victoria. It was the end of June, our last days in Canada. We met our friend Julia from Jasper in Vancouverand spend a few days there. Bobby’s journey came to an end. We had to scrap him after 30 000 kilometres.
You might think that it was time to go home. It wasn’t. On June 30th we arrived in Auckland, New Zealand. For seven weeks we drove around the North – and South Island. It was winter, but for winter in New Zealand is pretty warm. We even went to the beach in the North. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing was a real highlight, we hiked through active volcanic terrain, smoking volcanoes, balancing on craters. For two weeks we did some work for stay with Melissa and Burton close to Wellington. Kiwi life at its best! I was able to ride the horses everyday, up in the hills, through rivers. Amazing days. We celebrated my 24th and Stine’s 26th birthday. I went snowboarding in August, we saw beautiful valleys and lakes, snow-covered palm trees, empty beaches, neverending fiords – New Zealand is a dream! Nevertheless, the nights in hostels became pretty exhausting. We also had an accident that cost us 2000$ excess for our rental car.
Next stop: Thailand. On August 20th we flew to Melbourne and then Bangkok. A new culture, haggling with taxi and tuk tuk drivers, almost dying when walking on the side of the road and very different hygiene standards. There were also breathtakingly beautiful temples, neverending markets, the friendliest people and an incredible amount of exotic fruit for almost no money. Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai in the North were our first stops. Chiang Mai is amazing for going out to eat, we basically had red, green and yellow curries all day, as well as fruit shakes. We hiked to see beautiful waterfalls, rice fields and rain forest in Doi Inthanon National Park. We spent the second week on an island called Koh Lanta where we didn’t do anything except for sleeping, eating and relaxing. We fell asleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, how beautiful is that? We also started to mentally prepare for ‘home’. One last stop in Bangkok, a few massages, manicure, pedicure – ready to take on the long flight to Germany!
This is how I arrived back in Germany after 526 days, i had accidentally traveled around the world and brought home a rucksack with almost no clothes, but lots of experiences. 18 months on the road have not always been easy. I missed having a home, there were bad days, car troubles, sickness. I am so lucky to have a family who supported me through everything, who was always there to skype when I felt down. I had the best travel partner who was by my side every day. I have friends in Germany who couldn’t wait to have me back. I saw a whole ton of things and I’m now ready to face real life for a while. I miss Canada and I promised my friends the same thing I always do – I’ll be back.