A Real Estate Butterfly In Need Of Home

A Real Estate Butterfly In Need Of Home

One of the reasons for my travels was the opportunity to defy the idea that material possessions defined me. The free-spirited me, the real estate butterfly, the forever visitor – I was a skeleton made out of stardust and a bit of water. I didn’t need anything else to be me. Except I did.

Our home for the next few weeks in Mérida, Mexico | Photo by Ola Moszumanska

Of course, I was missing friends and family. I always miss them. It’s a part of the deal. As a European living in Australia, I carry an immense sense of guilt for leaving my beloved ones on the Old Continent to lead a life on the opposite hemisphere. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss them. And so since I ventured out on my travels, I have been away from the family and friends in Europe – and also from my people in Australia. It sucks, and I miss them all immensely, but somehow I knew that would be the case.

What took me by surprise was the fact that I started missing home too. In fact, I started missing having one. 

I missed my own place. A safe space. The private pocket of the world where I didn’t have to be anything to anyone. The place where I didn’t have to repack my bags continually. A little oasis where all the house plants had names (I miss you Paul, Blake, Blake II, Blake Junior and Rosie!). 

I missed my Sydney house even though it was never actually mine, and the rent was bloody expensive. My local coffee shop. And the hill behind the house I could see the whole city panorama from.  

I missed familiarity, a sense of belonging, the feeling that I knew the place.

My travels, for good reasons, have always found themselves on the opposite side of those qualities. And it was fine when it was all but a holiday, but not when long term travel was going to be a way of life for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, the sense of detachment, ability to immerse myself in something unknown and to cherish the moments taking place outside of my comfort zone are some of the most exciting things about travelling for me.

So, here’s what we did to make sure we can do what we love while we build a sense of belonging in the constant motion of travels.

No Rush

In the beginning, we were moving from one place to another reasonably fast. But when life started feeling a little too rushed, we decided we’d stay longer at every new location.

At the start, it was a week – which quickly turned into a month. Now, we try to stick to that rule to be able to feel at home at a place we’re visiting. Getting friendly with a gentleman who runs the local laundromat usually is a good sign we’re doing well.

The bonus is that once you settle somewhere for a bit, then you get to miss that place too when you leave! But your heart expands too. It’s a good thing.

Celebrate Things That Make You Feel Like Home

While we love discovering the new, we also celebrate some well-known and grounding rituals we associate with home. They help to create a soothing routine and give us a sense of belonging.

For me, it can be reading before falling asleep. Or yoga. For my fiance, it’s signing up to a local gym or chopping vegetables. So everywhere we go, he carries a chef’s knife with him.

We also always, no matter what, have a morning coffee together. And we make sure that at least once a week, we wake up and do absolutely nothing (in other words, we stay in, order takeaways and binge on Netflix for hours).

Make An Effort With People You Meet Along The Way

The value of a shared moment doesn’t depend on time. The most precious encounters in life can be fleeting but momentous.

As much as nothing tops a long, supportive and loving relationship, allowing yourself to be present, mindful and focused on those quick interactions with people you meet on your way can help you feel more grounded – and develop a sense of belonging to the moment itself. Not to mention doing wonders for your social life on the road!

Stay In Touch With Friends And Family

Especially if you can FaceTime/ Skype them. Nothing feels better than seeing a familiar face in their natural surroundings that you happen to know and love as well.

But the most essential part of the process was actually coming to terms with the realisation that I am not, in fact, as much of a butterfly as I thought – and accepting it with an open heart. Because even if I like to settle into the foliage for more extended periods, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love flying.

Peak Tourist Mode, Double-Decker Buses And Skipping Table Mountain

Peak Tourist Mode, Double-Decker Buses And Skipping Table Mountain

Do you ever find yourself torn between utter travel snobbery, looking for budget solutions and the burning desire to chase the most well-known tourist attractions everywhere you go? I do.

Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus in Cape Town, South Africa | Photo by Ola Moszumanska

Refusing to ever get on a Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus falls into the travel snob category. Why would one ever take part in an accessible, affordable, well run and fun experience that has been so successful it is now enjoyed in over 150 cities around the world? Ridiculous idea, right? 

When I lived in London for almost ten years, red buses filled with holiday-makers must have passed me by at least 20 times a day. I had zero time for them. Just like I had zero time for Madamme Tussaud, and now that the waxy clones of Harry and Meghan have been separated from the rest of the inanimate the royal family I am utterly gutted I never got to see them together. Royals aside, even when I moved to Sydney – hands down one of the most beautiful places to admire from the heights of a double-decker bus – I had no interest in joining the ride. I guess I was way too busy running away from spiders, avoiding snakes and refusing to get into the ocean because of sharks?

So, of course, I had no intention to use those services during our round the world trip. I wasn’t going to all these new destinations to jump on a bus and bypass ‘the real’ experience. 

How could you try Bangkok’s delicious street food from the top of a double-decker? Would Turkish coffee taste the same inside of a bus in Istanbul? And would Warsaw’s Palace of Culture look as impressive through a plate glass window? 

Guess what? While I would not recommend drinking a scorching beverage during a bumpy bus ride, I soon found out that Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus was fantastic for pretty much everything else. Yet, I had to go all the way to Cape Town to realise that.

There we were, in this stunning location too big to tackle on foot – and not exactly accessible on public transport either. After venturing on a massive walk on our first day in the Mother City, we made a controversial decision: not willing to spend too much money on Ubers, cabs or car rental, we had no choice other than to go with a Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus.

I was in full mourning over the authentic South African spirit we were clearly not going to experience now that we chose this globalised, homogenous and un-authentic mode of transport. And even as a die-hard public transport fan, buses were never my thing. I have always been a train kind of girl. And so I didn’t expect much from an ordinary bus ride filled with a bunch of travellers who didn’t know any better, ourselves included. 

But what a joyful experience it was. Convenient, informative, mind-expanding and fun.

A very affordable ticket got us all-day access to the tour. The journey had four different routes around the bustling metropolis, with a bus stopping at evenly distributed stops every 15 to 20 minutes. Onboard, we got two sets of headphones, and as we marvelled at the city and broader Cape Town area, we listened to immersive and fascinating facts and stories about the region. 

Stops covered not only the most central part of the city – with the Table Mountain cable car being one of the leading destinations. The route takes you all around the beaches, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Constantia wine region, Imizamo Yethu Township and Haut Bay. It makes broader Cape Town’s diverse arena incredibly accessible. 

We had a lovely time learning about the area from atop of the double-decker. And it was so freeing to give a boot to the inner snob and fully embrace the touristy character of the ride. 

Wrapped in a colourful kikoy, with a sun hat planted on top of my head, I clutched a printed out city map as I pointed at things we cruised past with enthusiasm. Needless to say, all the photos I took during the trip feature either the back of somebody’s head or the railing of the bus. 

Photo by Ola Moszumanska
Photo by Ola Moszumanska

I never even went up Table Mountain because I liked the new tourist bus perspective so much. Let that one sink in. I still find it pretty shocking myself.

Of course, nobody should ever skip a trip up Table Mountain during their time in the Cape. Still, everyone should add the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus experience to their next trip itinerary. And with the Capetonian winds reaching speeds of up to 120 kilometres an hour, you might want to grab one of the stunning kikoys to stay warm on the open roof top-deck.

Coming Clean On The Go

Coming Clean On The Go

I have thought about this long and hard. We left Australia in July 2019 and have been on the road ever since, and yet I have really struggled putting this incredible experience into words. I have tried my best to carefully curate the amazing adventure I have been on via some exceptionally well thought out social media activity in the last few months but somehow it hasn’t felt completely true. 

Traveling is amazing. I feel so privileged to be able to do it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But oh boy, in all its confronting beauty and the unmatched potential of shared human experience traveling facilitates with such ease, it has brought a whole bunch of difficult challenges and pretty daunting emotions I didn’t really expect. It’s been incredibly enriching but also utterly anxiety inducing and totally depressing at times. 

And whilst in some ways it’s exactly what I thought it would be, the vast majority of it had nothing to do with the glamorised version of freedom I somehow thought I’d be living even though I always thought I was way too clever to fall victim of the popular misconceptions about traveling created on Instagram. But I wasn’t – and it has taken a while to peel off that oversaturated, filtered and lacking true insight vision of what my travels were like in order to embrace the real thing.  

And so as I settle into a quick Christmas break in my hometown, I also embark on a completely different journey during which I try to debunk some of my own misconceptions about traveling based on my own personal experience – and share the findings with you here. Buckle up if you fancy a trip.