The queue begins, you board a vessel, the engines roar, and your heart flutters. The beauty introduces itself and you can comfortably sit back and enjoy the world from thousands of feet off the ground. “Excuse me miss, all electronics off.” “Excuse me, miss, please place your seat upright.” “Excuse me, miss–” I GOT IT.
I got it. After spring break, I finally understood flying. It was no longer a foreign concept that remained misunderstood and feared, it became a familiar and tiring friend that I welcomed with open arms. It became something I did so frequently that my heart no longer fluttered, the wait was no more a bother, and yet the sights still remained beautiful. It meant leaving home and learning a new place. For as acclimatized as I became to flying, I was happy that I could still look outside the window and admire the world from afar. And that theme of admiration for the world continued as I embarked on my next spring break adventure to Hobart, Tasmania.
BUT, not before being delayed a day when landing in Sydney due to a freak rainstorm. I experienced my first delay and cancellation of a flight–how thrilling! I truly felt like one of the McAllisters on Christmas day in Home Alone (1 or 2), desperately trying to leave to see my 8 year old son! Sans son and christmas, I really just wanted to go on my first trip with friends that involved no tour groups or travel booking. Yes, we did everything entirely by ourselves. And up to that point, everything just meant booking a flight and hostel. We were ready to get on a plane without any idea of what we would do when we arrived in Hobart. It’s a good thing that a storm comparable to the rains that washed Noah’s Ark away approached Sydney when it did–that way, we had extra time to plan an itinerary.
After four hours of sleep and another twenty-five dollar cab ride to the airport, we flew into Hobart, Tasmania for a three night stay. I knew little about Tasmania, but I quickly discovered upon leaving the plane that it’s south. Meaning it’s cold. And we weren’t prepared. Arriving with one “oh-I’m-chilly-inside-this-doctor’s-office” sweater, we shivered our way to the smallest airport I’ve ever seen and were greeted by an adorable fruit-smelling dog. Gotta keep that Tasmanian produce pure!
Our first day was met with a friendly hostel with a massive dog, dodgy roommates (maybe. not really), and incredible views. We took a bus to the top of Mount Wellington and marveled at everything we could see. I felt like I was in The Lion King and Mufasa was telling me, “everything the light touches is our kingdom.” What about the shadowy dark places? Well, I didn’t go there, but I’m sure there’s an elephant graveyard somewhere around there. I took majestic and graceful pictures, showcasing my bravery while, in reality, was freaking out and getting no validation from fellow tourists.
Me: “Do I look confident? Because I’m not.”
Them: “No, she really doesn’t.”
Well excuse you, that’s not what over 70 people thought on Facebook when they liked my picture. Besides being on the 7 degrees Celsius (45 F) mountain and being inadequately dressed, it was breath-taking being view of the quaint city below.
We finally planned our next day and it was to take a 14 hour bus tour of Port Arthur, the worst prison in all of ever forever in life always all the time seriously what. Or for a a short period of time when the British colonized. Our tour guide, a bold and hilarious man, would test our attention by asking questions, repeatedly stating our names, and providing controversial opinions of politics and personal choices as fact. His hilarity and constant announcement of “A.L.A. That means American Language Alert, for you Americans on the bus” to warn us of an Australian word we may not know, made this tour bearable. The rest of the day was spent taking pictures of beautiful buildings, learning historical facts, and enjoying how blue the Tasman Sea was (seriously, Australians better not take their blue water for granted). We were as far south as you can get before reaching Antarctica. YEAH SPRING BREAK.
The next and final day was spent at a Saturday market in town followed by a 1.5-2 mile hike uphill to a brewery for a tour and tasting. Arriving on time and sweaty, we learned how Cascade Beer is made and bottled. We enjoyed free drink tokens, fish and chips, and air conditioning before making our way back downhill via a walking trail. I discovered a bar with live music later that night and fell in love with two musicians and how well they played. It rocked.
Hobart was such a different place from anywhere I’ve been. As somebody who’s used to bigger cities and constant stimulation, I found the term “city” was a liberal term for this place. By 8 PM, no one walked the streets. No one flew the skies. No one disturbed the silence. And yet, after hearing those musicians playing and talking about how good it feels to come back home to this place made me realize that while I may not prefer it, others do. This is someone’s home. People feel happy to live and raise others here. It’s not perfect, but it’s what they’ve known and there’s some comfort to that. It’s made me realize how great it is to be home and be loved. To be annoyed that the only places open after 9 is the movie theater. To be bored and only be able to drive around. But it’s during those moments of desperation to find plans with friends where the best things happen. You laugh about new stories. You park in the parking lot of Target and scream/sing Elton John. You sit with the car seat reclined back looking at the stars admiring Michael Buble’s voice.
Your hometown may not excite you. It may not thrill you or inspire you. But it loves you and there are almost always people to come home to. After a restoring spring break, I was happy to touch down in Sydney once more. It is a place I can now call home. A place in which I am excited to return. And even with New Jersey; I know that as ugly as the water is, as boring as the town may be, I will find the beauty in it once more. As I descend into the smog, my heart will lift when I finally see my family again. One more month.