I first thought about writing an article like this one a long time ago, when I went to Australia for the first time between 2016 and 2017, but I couldn’t find anything interesting to say for some letters so I finally gave up. I only thought about it again recently, and thanks to the many travels I did in between, I found inspiration for all the letters that I had been struggling with. It was much more complicated when I had to translate it all to French… But after some contortions I eventually managed to find an equivalent to all the English words, even though sometimes they don’t start with the same letter! From Australia to Yosemite and Zion, via Japan, living in a van and the taste of coffee, here’s my traveller’s alphabet: 26 letters for a great journey around the world.
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I also found inspiration for this article in my mother’s blog: the Alphabet of Saint-Nazaire (only in French). But her concept is slightly different from mine: each of her texts is based on one letter and one word, and by and by she will eventually cover the entire alphabet, whereas this will be my only article of this kind. Unless I find 26 other interesting things to write about in the future?
A as in… Australia
Probably the most obvious letter of this list, the very first one I sat down on paper. Australia is my dream country, it’s where I began a 2-and-a-half-year long journey, where I lived some of the most incredible emotions of my life. I spent eighteen months there, between my first arrival in July 2016 and the last time I left in February 2019. This allowed me to explore almost the entire country, driving thousands of kilometers in a campervan, visiting many extraordinary places and having the time of my life. If you’re interested in visiting Australia someday (which I highly recommend!), don’t hesitate to contact me or read the many articles I wrote about this country!
At the moment when I’m publishing this article, giant bushfires are devastating Australia, burning millions of hectares of land. It’s heartbreaking for me to see this. All my thoughts are going to this country today.
B as in… Backpack
What other word could I possibly choose for this letter? The backpack I carried on my shoulders during all these months of travelling is so important to me that it even inspired me for the name and the logo of this website! My parents gave it to me before I left for the first time in 2016, and more than 3 years later I still haven’t changed it.
C as in… Camera
If my backpack was probably the most important thing I had with me during my travels, my camera, a Nikon D5500, was certainly my most valuable item… and not just because of its price (which to be honest isn’t extremely high). It helped me capture memories of the places I visited, and it’s always very emotional for me to look at all these pictures I took during my trips. Losing my camera is one of my biggest fears!
D as in… Distance
Geographically, the place I went to that was the furthest away from Saint-Nazaire, France, where I grew up, was the Otago Peninsula in New Zealand: 19,430km away from home! Emotionally, the distance with my family and friends was sometimes hard to live; I felt lonely sometimes and I had my ups and downs, but luckily mostly ups!
E as in… Eastbourne Street
Eastbourne Street was the name of the first street where I lived in Melbourne, for about 4 months between November 2016 and February 2017. It was during this period that I started to fall in love with the city, and the great moments I spent in the “Eastbourne house” (although it was an old and quite dirty place) contributed a lot to this feeling. Being in Melbourne was a life-changing experience: it was the first time of my life that I lived in a sharehouse, and I learned a lot about myself ; I loved exploring the city, its different suburbs and countless lanes ; I had an amazing time, went out often with my roommates or my colleagues and at some point even seriously thought about settling down in Melbourne for a while. It didn’t happen (yet) but who knows what the future holds in store for me?
F as in… Friends and Family
Yes, sometimes it’s hard to be away from home, and on a few occasions such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve, I really missed my friends and family. But what I love the most about travelling and especially solo travelling is how easy it is to meet new people all the time: in hostels, during a hike, via Facebook… there are plenty of possibilities to make new friends from all over the world. Sometimes they are even more than friends: I met a few people that I can almost call my family, after the unforgettable moments we lived together.
G as in… Great Barrier Reef
I went on a snorkelling tour on the Great Barrier Reef at the beginning of my Australian adventure in 2016. It was an extraordinary experience: I swam next to a turtle, saw thousands of different fishes, admired the fabulous colours of the coral and even briefly caught sight of a shark! But I also couldn’t help noticing that there was a lot of dead coral, and knowing that the Great Barrier Reef will mostly likely disappear in the next decades is heartbreaking for me. It’s not the only problem of our world: forests are burning, glaciers are melting, thousands of animal species are disappearing… Environment is (or at least should be…) the major concern for the entire planet today. As a world traveller, I know that my carbon footprint is terrible and I feel the least I can do is making as many efforts as possible and alerting people about our bad habits and behaviour. I already explored a few ideas in a previous article called “How to become a Green Traveller”, and I will keep focusing on this topic in the future.
H as in… Hiking
Definitely my favourite activity when I’m travelling. I did a lot of fabulous hikes all around the world, in Australia (Cape Raoul in Tasmania, Mount Warning in Queensland…), in New Zealand (Mueller’s Hut, Tongariro Alpine Crossing…), in the United States (in Bryce Canyon or Arches National Park for example) or in Switzerland… I love being close to nature and admiring the landscape around me at a slow pace!
I as in… Iceland
Is the land of Ice and Fire the most beautiful country in the world? One sure thing, it’s close to the top… I only spent two weeks in Iceland in 2018 and loved it so much: the icebergs of Jökulsarlon, the black sand of Diamond Beach or Reynisfjara, the colourful houses of Seydisfjördur, the glaciers, the waterfalls, the volcanic activity around Lake Myvatn; everything was so gorgeous! If you want to know more, have a look at the articles I wrote after my trip.
J as in… Japan
If Iceland might be the most beautiful country I ever visited, Japan was clearly the most exotic for me. Nothing prepared me to this huge cultural shock, from the food to the architecture or the exceptional kindness of people. With its dozens of gorgeous temples, I fell in love with the unique atmosphere of Kyoto, while the day I spent on Miyajima Island was also amazing, not to mention the cherry blossoms in Tokyo… One regret: I never saw Mount Fuji… which gives me a good reason to come back!
K as in… Koalas and Kangaroos
I couldn’t choose between these two lovely animals so I rely on you to decide: are you team koala or team kangaroo? Here are a few pictures to help you make up your mind!
L as in… Ladurée
When I went to Australia for the first time in 2016, my only job experience was as a chemical engineer. I never worked in a bar or a restaurant before, but it was one of the challenges I set myself: find a job as a waiter. When I arrived in Melbourne in October, I decided to take a training course about how to make coffee, thinking that it would help me to get a job, as I realised how much Melbournians were crazy about their cappuccino, long black or flat white. And it did! I was hired by Ladurée, a luxury French company famous for its macarons, which was opening a brand-new shop. I really liked this experience: I enjoyed preparing coffee, I loved my co-workers, and our manager Rob was the best I ever had! Oh, and one last precision: at first I didn’t drink coffee at all and even hated the taste, and it’s only after a few weeks there that I started to drink and eventually like it…
M as in… Maui
Visiting Hawaii was a dream come true. The 20 days’ trip to this archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in October 2017 was unforgettable. The best part was probably the week I spent on Maui, the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. I stayed at the Banana Bungalow Hostel, which is by far the best hostel I ever stayed at. For more details about this amazing week, have a look at the article I wrote at the time: « Banana Friends »: a perfect week on Maui Island, and here are some pictures reminding me of the gorgeous landscapes of Maui.
N as in… Northern Lights
I always dreamt about seeing the Northern Lights once in my life. When I travelled to Iceland in September 2018, I knew it could happen with a bit of luck. I got more than lucky: during my 2 weeks in the country, I saw them not less than 4 times! The first time was the most extraordinary. I was in the middle of nowhere, staring at a green sky dancing above me… It was a magical moment, one of these experiences moments that I will never forget. I mentioned it in a previous article called “The fascinating northern lights”.
O as in… Okonomiyaki
In my opinion, travelling without trying to embrace the local culture of the place you’re visiting doesn’t really make sense. One of the most important things to discover when you’re in a different country is the food; there’s no point in eating the same things as usual when you’re away from home isn’t it? I tried as many local dishes as I could during my travels, such as the poutine in Quebec, kangaroo meat in Australia or traditional fish recipes in Iceland, but the country where I discovered the greatest amount of new flavours was without any doubt Japan. Among all the different things I tried for the first time during my two weeks in the country (I didn’t like them all), there was one dish that I really loved: the okonomiyaki. It’s a popular savoury pancake with all sorts of ingredients and it is yummy!
P as in… Pears and Apples
Pears and apples aren’t my favourite fruits but the reason why they appear on this list is because I spent three months harvesting them in Australia. I still have contrasted memories of this period of my life that I already described in a previous article; have a look at it here!
Q as in… Quokka
Much as I couldn’t decide between koalas and kangaroos for the letter K, there was no doubt for the letter Q: it had to stand for quokka! This is in my opinion the most adorable animal on Earth. With their constantly smiling faces, the super cute quokkas can only be found in Western Australia, and more specifically on Rottnest Island next to Perth. I recently published an article about the day I spent on this gorgeous island, following this link to read it for more details!
R as in… Really bad moment
To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of bad moments during my travels, which makes me a very lucky person. The worst moment I went through happened in Los Angeles in April 2018. I arrived from Japan and was going to stay in LA for a few days before starting my road trip around the South West of the United States, so I booked a bed in a hostel for three nights. During the first night, I heard a lot of noise coming from the room above my dorm. At some point, maybe at 3am and still awake, I decided to have a look only to realise that the room was under construction in the middle of the night! It happened again on the second night (I clearly heard the sound of a drill at around midnight) so I decided to talk to the manager. His reaction was unbelievable: he literally insulted me and told me to “fuck off” of his hostel if I wasn’t happy! Luckily the girl at the reception was a little kinder and she accepted to give me a refund, but if you’re ever going to Los Angeles, avoid the Downtown Mansion Hostel at all cost!
I actually looked up on Tripadvisor while I was writing this article to read the terrible review I had given it but couldn’t find it; hopefully it has closed since!
S as in… Saint-Nazaire
My hometown, a medium-sized city on the Atlantic coast in France, where I grew up and lived for the 20 first years of my life, and where I came back to work a few months ago. I like the atmosphere here, the beauty of the coastal path, the 20 beaches, the constantly moving harbour, the many gorgeous murals around the city… I’m now trying to convince people that Saint-Nazaire is really a great place, via my job at the Tourist Office… and via the articles that I’m writing here! So, when are you coming for a visit?
T as in… Toyota
As you’ll see a bit further down, the letter V was already taken and I couldn’t use it for the word “van”… so instead I chose T as in Toyota, as it was the brand of the first van I bought when I arrived in Australia. More precisely, it was an old black Toyota Hiace with a slightly faded octopus painted on one side. I was its last owner; I bought it from a very friendly French couple in Cairns, North of Queensland, in July 2016 and after 11 months and more than 30,000 kilometers I sold it in Melbourne to a car-wreck guy who was only interested in some parts of it and was going to dismantle it. It was heart-breaking to let it go, on the back of a truck!
U as in… Uluru
I already described you my trip to Uluru in detail in a previous article and showed you a lot of pictures, so you already know many things about this giant monolith, including that it’s now definitely forbidden to climb on it (yay!). If you ever have the chance to watch the sun rise over Uluru, I can promise you that it’s something that you’ll remember during your entire life.
V as in… Vancouver Island
Throwback to September 2017. After 12 months in Australia, I began my second year of travelling with a few weeks in Canada. One of my goals was to visit Vancouver Island, a large island next to Vancouver on the West Coast of the country. I didn’t want to go there by myself so I looked for travelmates on Facebook; that’s how I met Nivi, Helena and Martin, three Danish people with whom I was going to have an amazing time in an amazing place. Do you want to know more? Have a look at my article “This is life, an unforgettable trip on Vancouver Island”.
W as in… Wanaka
H stood for Hiking, but it could have specifically stood for “Hiking in Wanaka”, as this little city on the South Island of New Zealand is a paradise for hikers. There are dozens of trails around Wanaka, including the very famous climb to Roy’s Peak, offering one of the best views of the country. Less popular but not less beautiful, the walk to Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain or the hike to Isthmus Peak, both of them also offering a tremendous panorama over the area. Last but not least, don’t leave without taking a picture of #ThatWanakaTree, an iconic lonely tree in the middle of Lake Wanaka which is the official hashtag of the city’s Instagram account.
X as in… XH-EHG
You’re probably wondering what this weird code stands for… Can you guess? It was the registration code of the plane I took when I skydived in Mission Beach in Australia! This was another challenge I set myself before travelling there for the first time: fight my fear of height and jump from a plane. I still remember how terrified I was when the door opened and when my instructor and I fell off, but I also remember how extraordinary it felt and what a fantastic shot of adrenaline it was. Can I do it again please?
To be completely honest, the registration code of the plane was VH-EHG… but I couldn’t find a single other word starting with X! Any ideas?
Y and Z as in… Yosemite and Zion
Funny coincidence: my two favourite parks in the South West of the United States stand for the two last letters of the alphabet, Yosemite and Zion. It’s also in these parks that I did my two favourite hikes in the US so far: Glacier Point and Panorama Trail in Yosemite, Observation Point in Zion. But my dream is to visit another National Park whose name start with a Y: the oldest National Park in the world, Yellowstone…
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