Travel Blogger Relay: My Top 3 Travel Memories

by Melissa on September 27, 2012 · 13 comments

I’ve noticed another fun little travel blogger relay competition going on for the last few months and have been patiently waiting my turn to be nominated so that I could join in the fun of sharing my top 3 travel memories. The folks over at lowcostholidays.com have organised this travel blogger relay and I am honoured that the ever-so-lovely Ari from Beyond Blighty has nominated me to join in the fun and post for Team Purple – led by the wonderful Neil of Backpacks and Bunkbeds.

This competition was created with the Olympic spirit in mind.  Bloggers from all over the world are asked to share their top 3 travel memories and once the final closing date for submissions is complete, the judges – Melvin from Traveldudes, Becky and Gray from Global Grasshopper, and Stephanie from The Travel Chica– have the mammoth task of sorting through then entries and picking their favorite.  The overall winner will receive a brand new Nikon D5100 and an iPad2!   Not too shabby!

So without further ado, I present my top 3 travel memories.

BRONZE

Frankenstein Pub Third place goes to one of my first international trips without parents.   I apologize as this one requires me to do a little story telling which will inevitably wind up being longer than I intend.   I was with my best friend, Darcy, and we were visiting our other friend, Lindsay, who had been in Edinburgh, Scotland studying on exchange.  Since Lindsay was in the midst of preparing for exams, Darcy and I decided to occupy our second-last evening by going to Edinburgh’s notorious Frankenstein pub.  Here we enjoyed some nibbles and then lots of alcohol all whilst every hour or so we would watch the animatronic Frankenstein show- where a robotic version of Frankenstein’s The Monster would emerge from doors in the ceiling and be lowered down, then the robot would sit up and look around at the onlookers below before returning to where he came from.

Beer at Frankenstein The night was going swimmingly, we were having a great time chatting with each other as well as meeting other pub goers.  In particular, we started chatting with three Scottish twenty-something guys.  They tried so hard to make the pull – it just wasn’t going to happen as both of us were in committed relationships back home.  Rather, when a fun song came on over the loudspeakers, Darcy ran out on the dance floor.  I followed suit, with my purse drape protectively over my shoulder.  We danced for a few songs and started talking to a fellow Canadian.  When we turned around to head back to the table, we noticed the guys had left.

Strange.

Darcy went to get her camera out of her purse- only to realize that it was gone.  Those thieving bastards took her purse!  Granted, it was pretty stupid of her to leave it there unattended, and I hadn’t even noticed that she didn’t have it with her.  Of course, the usual freakout ensued.  We frantically ran out of the pub, looking up and down the street.  A distraught Darcy explained, through tears, to some locals standing out front, what had happened and asked if they saw anyone.  They didn’t.  I thought I saw some people in the distance, and IN 4inch heels bolted down the street in a full on sprint. (SIDENOTE: See… sprinting is my forte!)  Alas, it wasn’t the same guys.

We had been talking to the Scotsmen about going to a club down the street- so in a frantic attempt to try to find them we skipped the queue, talked to the bouncer (Darcy still in tears), and went into the club – me on a bitchy mission to retrieve the purse.  As we were running frenetically down the stairs of this multi-leveled club, Darcy seemingly tripped.  The heel on her high-heeled boot had broken.  As if her night couldn’t get any worse.  We searched high and low for the guys, but they never reappeared.  The purse was gone.

Darcy and Mel I remember taking Darcy into the ladies room and told her to get her anger out on her good heel.  I took the unbroken boot from her, and showed her what I had seen in a movie.  I whacked it against the counter hoping that the heel would break off.  It didn’t.  I let my best friend give it a few whacks before noticing that we had badly dented the counter.  Oops!

It was a terrible night, but it taught me a lot about ensuring that you have all your belongings with you when you’re out – and to never fully trust anyone you’ve just met – especially drunken Scotsmen whom you’ve just denied the pull!

SILVER

Circular Quay Runner up in my favorite travel memory would have to be arriving in Sydney on the first day of my working holiday.  It had been a dream of mine for AGES to spend an extended period of time traveling and living in Australia.  Prior to that trip, I had spent 10 days in 2009 traveling from the Sunshine to Gold Coast with a quick weekend in Cairns and a few days in Brisbane.  This time I was determined to delve deeper into the world of long-term travel.  I was motivated by my breakup with THE ex to get on with my life and do something better.  And better I did.  I arrived at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport at 6am on December 29, 2010.  All by myself I navigated my way to the Central Station in the CBD and inevitably to my hostel.  I remember emerging from the train station and being so utterly overwhelmed and happy that I had finally made my dream a reality.  It was the most perfect sunny summer day – a stark contrast to the snowy, blistery cold winter I had left behind, at home in Toronto.  This trip was the start of my love affair with long-term travel and I will never forget the feeling I had that day.  The feeling that I was finally getting my life back together and doing things the way I wanted them to be done – not to please anyone else, but myself.

GOLD

Without a doubt my absolute favorite travel memory goes to my time spent in the middle of Zimbabwe at a private game park called Antelope Park.  Here I spent 2 1/2 weeks volunteering with their lion conservation efforts.  Not only did I get to interact with the king of the jungle on a daily basis, but I got to feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself.  Together, the staff and volunteers with Antelope Park, African Impact and ALERT (African Lion and Environmental Research Trust) worked together to help save Africa’s most iconic animal from extinction.  It’s an ongoing effort that continues on beyond the gates of Antelope Park; and all over the world people are banding together to help save the species.  enclosure cleaning As a volunteer, it was almost like being at summer camp for adults – we had scheduled activities that had us walking with the young lions to introduce them to the native bush and encourage them to act upon their natural hunting instincts; cleaning up after all 106 lions on the property; building toys for the younger lions and watch them interact during behavior enrichment sessions; and meat preparation, where we got to hone our butcher skills- and I must say, I learned that I am pretty talented with a blunt machete.  We were also given the opportunity to spend time at local orphanages getting to know the children and teens who relied on the kindness of others to have clothes on their back, food in their belly and a roof over their head.  My time at Antelope Park was without a doubt one of the most inspiring and motivating times in my life– the passion of the conservationists, the local staff and other volunteers was infectious and you couldn’t help but become completely enraptured in the whole cause.  I’ve said it repeatedly since my return from Africa, but my heart aches every day to go back – and I’ve made a promise to myself that one day I will return.

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So there you have it, my top 3 travel memories.  I hope you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed sharing them.  As I finish my sprint in my length of the Travel Blogger Relay, I would love to hand off the Team Purple baton to the brilliant Teresa from Travelicious Me.  Go, go, go!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne September 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Wonderful travel memories.

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Melissa September 29, 2012 at 12:03 am

Thanks! It was hard to narrow them down!

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Simon September 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Great to have you in Team Purple! Your gold memory is perfect because it’s a good memory and it was for a good cause – besides, who doesn’t love lions? (As long as they’re not trying to eat you.)
Simon recently posted..Moving to Auckland and the future of Man vs WorldMy Profile

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Melissa September 29, 2012 at 12:06 am

Thanks Simon – and thanks for putting me in touch with Neil to get me on the team! You rock!

It’s true – the cause itself is so amazing and I can’t wait to start sharing information about the program as well as all about my experience -it’s coming up starting this week! And you’re right… who doesn’t love lions? We all grew up in the age of the Lion King! Hakuna Matata, bitches!

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Emily McGee September 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Wow, I can’t believe how close you are to that lion! The conservation park seems like an awesome place to volunteer. I like how you describe it as camp for adults. 🙂

Also, go #TeamPurple!
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Melissa September 29, 2012 at 12:09 am

That’s the picture perfect Lewa – an 18month old (at the time of the photo) lioness at Antelope Park. As I just mentioned- I will start posting my updates about my time volunteering with the lions this coming week. It was life changing!

GO #TEAMPURPLE! 🙂

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Neil September 27, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I had pretty much that exact same feeling when landing in Sydney, what a place! Simply thinking about walking down Pitt Street in the sunshine makes me smile 🙂
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Melissa September 29, 2012 at 12:04 am

Oh my goodness… just reading what you wrote “thinking about walking down Pitt Street in the sunshine makes me smile” — ME TOO! 😀

It’s such a magical city. I will forever consider it my home in my heart.

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Jess October 3, 2012 at 1:25 am

I want to get on the road again! You’re such an inspiration!!!

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Melissa October 6, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Awww! Jess I want to go on the road with you! How crazy fun would that be? And mega thanks for calling me an inspiration! I love to hear that people think of me that way 😉 (such an ego boost- not that I need it haha!)

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Charley M October 3, 2012 at 2:47 am

Great post Melly! Your experience with the lions sounds absolutely amazing. Great pictures too!
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Melissa October 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Aw thanks so much Charley – it was definitely life changing! More posts about my time with the lions are going to be starting this coming week – so keep an eye out for more big cat goodness!

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