Byron Bay, Australia
The next morning I slept in a little and was off to Byron Bay, which was only an hour away. There was traffic heading into Byron and the streets were packed. I checked into my room after parking in the garage underneath the hostel, which was nice that they had free parking because it would have been a pain to figure out street parking. I walked to get some things from the market and figured out where I was going to rent a surfboard after placing my sheets on the top bunk of my 4 person female-only dorm room. The air conditioning wasn’t working so I tried to get the receptionist to fix it and I met one of my bunk mates from the Netherlands, Lynn, who ended up ruining my second night there (to be explained soon). She told me she was taking surf lessons and where the best breaks were, which I had already heard of (the Pass near the lighthouse). So I checked out a couple of the surf shops to compare prices and definitely went with the cheaper half price one that one of the UK girls had suggested. I then walked to the restaurant they suggested called Byron Fresh and ordered a nice big salad and cappuccino. It was a relaxing afternoon before heading to the beach and I chilled out as the sun was setting, chatting with my sister Chloe who’s birthday it was. Then I went back to change and ran to the lighthouse where I met my other dorm mate, Paola, who ended up being from Chile (and met up with her again later in my travels). We chatted for a bit, realizing we were both going to be in India around the same time in December so we decided to get dinner together after my run. It was a beautiful steep run to the lighthouse (everyone was surprised I was going to run all of it, but it really wasn’t that bad and the view was totally worth it). When I reached the top, there were clouds at first blocking the sun but then right before it was setting, the sun popped out with this orange and purple color setting and it was absolutely stunning. It was Saturday night so many couples and families were out and admiring the view. I ran back in time to shower and go to get Thai food with Paola. She spoke English pretty well and I told her I was still working on my Spanish. We talked about our plans to see if we could actually meet up in Thailand or India and make it work, especially in India as we were hearing how difficult it could be traveling as a solo white female. Then I met up with Lynn at the hostel bar as she said there was going to be a party that night and Paola went to bed since she had to work in the morning. Since Lynn was chatting with the surf instructor, I started a convo with these girls sitting next to her and turns out this one girl from Australia and I hit it off, her name is Tara. We chatted for an hour about our travels as she had been to some of Southeast Asia so she gave me some pointers. And then we talked with these other two girls, one from Belgian, Carmen (who I also ended up meeting up with again in Melbourne), and the other from Germany and the four of us went out to the bars. Thankfully Tara had been in Byron Bay for a while so she knew where to go and the first one we went to was pretty trashy and full of older drunk fools with okay music, wasn’t feeling it and wasn’t feeling a buzz at all. I actually wanted to leave but the other two girls still had to finish their beers so we decided to check out the other room at the bar we were at (Northern) and there was this random boy band rocking out with their t-shirts off. It was the most random thing ever with punk rockers everywhere, it made it feel like a legit concert. This bar was huge and even had a third floor where there was a bodyguard deciding who could go up and wasn’t even in the mood so didn’t even try. So we finally headed out to the other bars which were about a 10min walk and there was a huge line at one where we probably wouldn’t make it in on time so I told them I didn’t want to wait and they also agreed. Tara wanted a slice of pizza so while we were waiting for her to get her pizza, I chatted with Carmen, the Belgian, who told me she was going to be in Sydney and Melbourne at the same time so we exchanged numbers and hoped to meet up. I went to sleep around 2am and got woken up to Lynn having a boy over and moving the bunk around all night. I was so pissed I couldn’t sleep and finally said something and they still didn’t stop. I woke up at 9am to go surfing and it was cloudy with no waves, so I didn't surf and instead got breakfast at Byron Fresh again and went to lay out at the beach. I chilled on the beach for a couple hours and then walked to the Pass to see if there were any waves but no waves whatsoever so I met up with Tara and we went to get some lunch at Byron Fresh (yes, I was obsessed) and then walked back to the beach and chilled for a bit before going back to shower. I showered and organized and then we went to watch the sunset at the lighthouse with some wine. It was nice chatting with her all afternoon, having some girl time and then went to have dinner with Paola and this girl Veronica who had been to India a year prior, so she was telling us the ins and outs about India over a delicious kabob meal. Tara and I kept chatting on a patio at the hostel before going back to sleep. I woke up earlier to pack and get ready to go to the airport at the Gold Coast. I grabbed a coffee and said goodbye to Tara and realized as soon as I started driving to the airport that I was an hour early due to the time difference between Byron and Queensland. So I decided to go to Rainbow Bay and watch the surfers and I parked next to this guy who had just come back from surfing and had a Juicy rental as well. I decided to start a conversation as I was interested in the conditions of the swell and how it went for him, and turns out he’s from Utah and had been in New Zealand working at a ski resort prior to having some fun in Australia. We got a coffee together and chatted about our travels before I had to return my rental and head off to the airport for Sydney. I got to the airport early so I chilled on my phone and was off to Sydney, arriving around 3pm.