Birthdays while travelling seem to take place at two extremes. You either find yourself among a bunch of awesome people, and the fact it is your birthday propels everyone into party mode resulting an epic night. Or it’s lonely, in a city among people you haven’t connected particularly well with, which then becomes a half-hearted kind of tragic day.
I have always been a bit of a closet homebody. I love travelling, but I love being home too – especially for special occasions like birthdays. In 2007 I spent my birthday (it lasted only a few hours) on a flight back from London, crossing the International Date Line the wrong way and subsequently almost eliminating my birthday entirely.
Therefore, on my next trip European trip in 2011, I planned to return a few days before my birthday so I could enjoy it among family and friends. However come 2013 when I decided that a longer trip was necessary, I also thought it might be fun to celebrate my birthday in an overseas location.
2013 for me unfortunately fell into the half-hearted category, despite the fact it was destined to be great. At the time I was on a tour through Eastern Europe. We spent the night before on a train from Ukraine to Budapest, so at midnight my roommate and I broke out the party hats and cider for a night cap. The problems began the next morning when a train breakdown caused hours of delay – we ran out of food, then water and then… the toilets broke down too.
Arriving in Budapest hours later than intended, the decision was made to go straight from our bicycle tour to our final evening dinner, which would also double as my birthday dinner. My roomie and I had initially planned that after our bicycle tour we would enjoy a long shower, put on our party dresses and share a bottle of wine before dinner. But that was not to be.
We sullenly (and I mean like two 16 year olds who have just been told they can’t go to a party) joined the bicycle tour, and I flat-out refused to wear practical clothing, instead donning my assigned ‘party dress’ and arguing with the tour guide over the ‘compulsory’ wearing of helmet. I just washed my hair!
Our final night dinner was nice, but there was next to no party atmosphere, despite the hats and balloons I forced on my fellow tourmates. After such a long day, no one was particularly excited, me included. So it fizzled, much like the air from the balloons.
And so I made a decision to spend all further birthdays in Oz.
And then I moved to Austria.
But more on that next week!