The world from A to Z - my traveller's alphabet

26 letters for 26 places, atmospheres and travelling anecdotes: this is the challenge I set to myself with this article! I published it first in January 2020; three years later, it was time to give it a new lease of life and write a second version, including a few changes compared to the original. From Australia to Yosemite and Zion, via Iceland, hostel life and a meal of okonomiyaki, here is my traveller’s alphabet: 26 letters for a journey around the world!

Probably the most obvious letter of this list! My life changed on the day I set foot in Australia, at the very end of June 2016. I went back there twice after that first trip, drove almost around the entire country in a van and I still have unforgettable memories of the few months I spent in Melbourne. To the point where I eventually came back again in March 2023…

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 it’s with a heavy heart that I had to replace it with a new one in 2023.

Inside my Backpack Logo

In December 2022, I traveled for the first time of my life to South America. I was going to visit Peru, Bolivia and Chile, and I dreamt of learning more about the Inca civilisation and visiting the Macchu Pichu and the region of Cusco in the middle of the Andes Mountains… Except that everything didn’t go as planned. As I was in Peru since a couple of weeks, the president Pedro Castillo was imprisoned because of complicated stories of corruption and an aborted coup attempt… He was quickly replaced by a woman, a lawyer named Dina Boluarte. A change very badly experienced by the underprivileged classes of the country: they had massively voted for Castillo, a former teacher from a rural background, where Boluarte was as representing the elites. Within a few hours, the country found itself completely blocked: airports closed, roadblocks, violent demonstrations everywhere… It was a very anxiety-provoking situation: I was stuck for almost a week in Cusco, worried about how things were going to turn out and dreading not being able to leave before a long time. Luckily, I was in a hostel with many other travelers in the same situation, and a great solidarity was established between all of us. The airports finally reopened a few days later and I was able to fly to Chile… where trouble still dogged me, but that’s another story, that you can read in my article “A chaotic trip to South America“.

Before the situation escalated, I had fortunately been able to visit Macchu Pichu and several other Inca sites around Cusco. My trip was interrupted earlier than expected, but these memories will at least remain forever in my memory!

New Zealand, Catlins, Slope PointGeographically, the place I went to that was the furthest away from my hometown of Saint-Nazaire in France 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 at some occasions and I had my ups and downs… but that will be the subject of future articles.

Eastbourne Street is the name of the street where I lived in Melbourne during four months (at the foot of the palm tree on that picture!), between November 2016 and February 2017. I lived in a sharehouse for the first time of my life, with eleven other people from all over the world: when I arrived, there were not less than eight nationalities represented among us! The few weeks I stayed in that house, although it was slightly dilapidated and badly lacking in maintenance, remain among the most beautiful of my entire life. I spent a lot of time with my roommates. Our house was directly next to Chapel Street, a street filled with bars, restaurants and night clubs, and we were going out and partying together every weekend. I also took advantage of my days off to explore Melbourne, a city that I eventually fell deeply in love with. I might never experience such crazy moments in my life ever again, but one sure thing: the memories of this period will remain engraved in my head forever.

No, it’s not always easy to be on the other side of the world, far away from your family and friends, even if you’re surrounded with extraordinary landscapes. I celebrated Christmas in Australia twice, but always with a little heartache because of missing my parents. Luckily, meeting new people and making friends while travelling is extremely easy. Sometimes, it goes even further than just friendship: some of the people I’ve met during my trips are almost like a second family to me.

Australia, Melbourne, St Kilda, party, Matthias  Australia, Melbourne, Windsor, sharehouse

When I began my Australian adventure in 2016, I wanted to push myself out of my confort zone, to see what I was capable of. And so I took part in a snorkelling tour (with a diving mask and a tuba) on the Great Barrier Reef, a real challenge for me as I’m not at ease at all in the water…

This was an exceptional moment: I was amazed by the countless forms and colours of the corals, I swam next to a turtle, I observed dozens of species of multicoloured fishes an I even caught sight of a shark! But I also noticed large areas where corals had completely lost their colour: the Great Barrier Reef is dying, and it breaks my heart to think about it…

The first time I ever stayed in a hostel was in Cairns, at the beginning of my Australian trip in 2016. I hadn’t slept in a dorm since the few holiday camps I went to as a child, and I slightly feared the lack of privacy and the inevitable proximity with other travellers. But I actually got quickly used to this new environment, and I especially enjoyed the overall atmosphere and how easy it was to create bonds between complete strangers. Since then, I only swear by hostels when I travel, and I keep amazing memories of some of them and of the people I met: United Backpackers in Melbourne, this tiny hostel in Verona, the Black Swan Hostel in Sevilla… I’m not nearly close to forget about these trips!

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 but it still remains one of my favourite trips: 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! It’s also during this trip that one of my dreams came true: seeing the northern lights

If Iceland might be the most beautiful country I ever visited, Japan is by far the one where I experienced the biggest cultural shock of my existence. From the food to the cleanness of the streets, from architecture to the extraordinary kindness (and the sometimes exagerated politeness) of the people, not to mention the high technology toilets, nothing could have prepared me to such a contrast!

Among the many memories I keep from this trip, I especially remember the unique and peaceful atmosphere of Kyoto with its dozens of temples, the emotion that stroke me when I visited Hiroshima, the day I spent on the gorgeous island of Miyajima and the cherry trees blooming in Tokyo… My only regret: not having seen Mount Fuji… but it gives me a good reason to come back one day!

Impossible for me to choose between these two adorable Australian icons, 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!

Why is this French luxury brand famous for its macarons part of this list? The answer is in one of the most striking anecdotes of my first trip in Australia. Back then, my only professional experience was as a chemical engineer. I never had a casual job in a bar nor worked as a waiter in a restaurant, but that was one of the challenges I set to myself: find a job in the hospitality industry.

When I arrived in Melbourne in October 2016, I quickly realised that it wouldn’t be as easy as I hoped. I randomly handed out dozens of resumes, but no one called me back. I started to worry a little, but then I suddenly had a bright idea. Melbournians are crazy with coffee: they drink it all day long, with countless different types of preparations, long, short, with more or less milk or steam… I took part in a one-day training session to find out about the secrets of “Australian coffee”, and with this new skill added to my resume, I now targetted barista job ads… and it worked! By mere coincidence, Ladurée was opening a new shop in a giant mall south of Melbourne, and they were looking for staff: I applied and got hired (although I have to admit that the fact that I was French probably also helped…).I particularly enjoyed this first experience in the hospitality industry (I’ll never forget the great atmosphere within the team, or the constant happiness of my manager Rob), and two more followed: I worked as a waiter in a french restaurant (once again) in Auckland, then later as a barista/waiter/bar tender in a bar of Melbourne. As for the Ladurée shop, it sadly definitely closed its doors in 2019.

Oh, and also: before arriving in Melbourne, I didn’t even drink coffee at all, too bitter for me. I never thought that I would work as a barista one day! But by preparing long blacks and cappuccinos every day for customers, I eventually got used to it and even started to like the taste. My favourite coffee now is the flat white: a shot of espresso with hot milk and a thin layer of foam on top!

I spent about twenty days in Hawaii in October 2017. Maui is one the eight main islands of the archipelago, out of 137 in total. At the letter H of this article, I wrote about hostels; the one I stayed in during the week I spent in Maui, the Banana Bungalow Hostel, is without a single doubt the best one I ever stayed in. Do you want to know why? Have a look at the story of this unforgettable week now!

Hard to choose between these two wonderful countries! I spent ten days in Norway in 2021 and a month and a half in New Zealand in 2018, and I enjoyed both of these trips a lot. But can you guess where the following pictures have been taken? Answers below!

Answers: picture 1 Norway (Lake Vestrevatnet), picture 2 New Zealand (Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook – hint, the car is on the left side of the road!), picture 3 New Zealand (Banks Peninsula), picture 4 Norway (the waterfall of Latefoss), picture 5 New Zealand (Arthur’s Pass), picture 6 Norway (the fjord of Lysefjord)Norway (the fjord of Lysefjord), picture 7 Norway (the fjord of Lysefjord), picture 8 Norway (the village of Bruvik).

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 right? 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!


Pears and apples aren’t my favourite fruits (I like apples, don’t like pears) 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 described in an article that will be online soon!

Firstly, Q as in Quebec City: memories of my very first solo trip during the summer of 2015, three weeks in North America. I was instantly taken by the beauty of its old centre, by its festive atmosphere, by the kindness of its inhabitants and by the majesty of the Château Frontenac overlooking the St Laurent river; a very positive first impression confirmed during my second visit two years later, in September 2017, at the beginning of another long journey around the world.

Secondly, Q as in the province of Quebec: I only visited a tiny part of it, a round trip towards Tadoussac on the north side of the St Laurent river in 2015 for a whale watching tour, then ten days of road trip in Gaspésie on the south side of the river in 2017, but the beauty of the landscapes brought stars in my eyes during both of these trips!

Is there a better way to travel than to go on a road trip? It has at least always been my favourite way of exploring a country or a region: having the freedom to go wherever I’d like to, make as many detours as I want, being able to stop anywhere I’m pleased to… And it’s even ten times better with a van: there have been so many mornings in Australia where I woke up in front of a fabulous landscape, or so many evenings sitting on a camping chair, quietly sipping a beer while staring at the horizon…

Saint-Nazaire, a medium-sized city on the French Atantic coast, will always remain my hometown, the place where I was born, where I grew up, where I spent the twenty first years of my life. I thought that I was leaving for good when I moved to Switzerland in 2011, but I actually came back for three beautiful years between 2019 and 2022! I am now about to leave again, probably for a long period of time and I don’t think I’ll ever come back a second time, but I’ll always have a deep attachment for this city.

…or the first ever model of van I had in Australia! I bought it in Cairns, at the beginning of my journey in 2016. I instantly fell in love with its appearance: its light-blue bull bars, its rooftop tent, the octopuss drawing barely visible on its right side… It turned out to be a very reliable road companion, until the very end of my trip where it eventually began to look his old age. The third gear broke down (I had to switch from second to fourth, and vice-versa), the back door didn’t open anymore, I accidentally tore off the left wing mirror against an apple tree… I was its last owner: after eleven months and more than 30.000 kilometers, I sold it (for a very good price) 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…

Along with the Sydney Opera House, it’s the other timeless Australian icon. I was dying to stand at the foot of this formidable monolith for a very long time, and I eventually made this dream come true in June 2017. There’s something in the air around Uluru, a unique mystical atmosphere, and stare at its silhouette slowly emerging from the darkness at sunrise and standing out against the completely flat horizon of the Australian desert is an unforgettable memory.

For a very long time, Uluru was better known as Ayer’s Rock, the name given to it by the British settlers during the 19th century. Its Aboriginal name was officially recognised in 1993 only. It’s a sacred place of very high importance for these people, who lived in Australia tens of thousands of years before the first Europeans but were forced to witness “their” rock becoming a hotspot for mass tourism over the years. Luckily, things are (slowly) evolving towards a better recognition of their rights, and of the sacred aspect of Uluru: the lands surrounding it were given back to the Aboriginal people in the 1980s, and the summit climb which was like a desecration for them was finally forbidden in 2019.

Complete change of scenery. In September 2017, a few months after my visit to Uluru, I went to Vancouver on the Pacific coast of Canada. I planned to visit Vancouver Island, a vast island nearby, but I didn’t want to go there on my own. That’s how I eventually met three Danish people via Facebook, Helena, Martin and Nivi, with whom I was going to spend three wonderful days in a fantastic place. The complete story of this trip will soon be online, please be patient!

I always enjoyed writing, ever since my childhood. I had a very good grade in French at the baccalaureate, the exam at the end of high school in France, and I still remember one of my teachers reading my copy out loud to the entire class. When I went to Australia in 2016, it felt obvious for me to write about my adventures in my own blog. Very descriptive at the beginning, with more pictures than text, it slowly evolved into something deeper, becoming almost a private diary at the end. Then came this website, during the summer of 2017; once again with very generic articles at first, then more and more personal subjects over the years. It still wasn’t enough: in 2021, I began another project, writing my first book, a fictional novel inspired by the year I spent in Australia. I’m still working on it at the moment, but I really hope to unveil it soon, even if it will only be in French at first. Where is it going to lead me? I have no idea, but I still enjoy writing a lot and I hope that you enjoy reading me as well!

Ok, I admit that this one is a little far-fetched, but I really had no idea of which word to use for the letter X! That’s why I chose Xanax, not because I am a regular consumer (although I am quite an anxious person), but because I wanted to bring up the few really difficult moments I had to face up during my travels. I mentioned before the political troubles in Peru that forced me to change the itinerary of my South American trip (read also “A chaotic trip to South America“); I also described in a different article that time when my backpack got lost at Bangkok’s airport, while I was about to fly to Australia; and then there was that crazy misadventure in an hostel of Los Angeles.

When I left Japan in April 2018, at the end of a wonderful trip, I took a flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles that landed, by the miracle of time zones… earlier than my departure time! Put another way, as night was falling down in Japan, a new day began in California… The shock couldn’t have been bigger. I was leaving behind a country that I loved, to arrive in a city that I would quickly hate: huge but with very bad public transports, dirty, infamous… And the fact that I couldn’t find sleep made it even worse! But time difference was not the only cause. The staff of the hostel where I was staying thought that doing renovation work during the night was a great idea: I could hear furniture being moved, footsteps, even a drill around midnight… And that kept going for two nights in a row! I eventually complained to the manager, but instead of apologising he was very rude and even insulted me and threatened me! Luckily, the girl at the reception accepted to give me my money back and I found another hostel for the remaining night, but it wasn’t a dream start for my trip in the US…

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: the climb to Glacier Point and Panorama Trail in Yosemite, the path leading to Observation Point in Zion.

But my dream is to visit another National Park whose name also starts with a Y: the oldest National Park in the world, Yellowstone

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