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A gypsy in unassuming clothing confronts you at a far-off oriental airport. You are a world away from the great sea-locked red country, with another stretch of adventure in the clouds in front of you. You hesitate when he asks you why you’re on such a grand adventure with a giant bag of luggage and a weary but anticipatory face, looking slightly run down by the night before, with dust still settling from the going away party that sent you off on the ever popular Australian crusade across Europe. Most people I’m sure have a simple answer – they are there to party. Although my answer was neither profound nor colourless, that question, put to me at the low-cost carrier airport in Malaysia, offered me a moment to reflect on what I had just left in the West of Australia, and what I was about to finally see on one of the world’s most culturally antique land masses. Most importantly, what was I actually going to experience, and why?
It seems common for people of the Peter Pan generation, to which I most certainly belong, to delay their rite of passage of travel until their adult life. They mark this line quite clearly in the sand by packing their bags with their friends and flying off over the horizon to our endeared playground in the northern hemisphere. This act is an endeavour quite contrary to delaying the fast approaching responsibilities of adulthood. As Australians, I think every person in the purgatory that is the age between high school and a career yearns for a new perspective on the environment that nurtured them to their arrival at the momentous occasion that being released into the real world, free from the constraints of academic life, signifies. Upon arriving in the country where their adventure will begin, Generation Y will almost immediately see the cities filled with a wider variety of people living an existence similar to their own, however many differences exist. These differences are what most of the young holiday-makers will encounter, and in most cases, it is these differences that finally offer the perspective they were after. While no cognitive thought may have been invested in chasing a new perspective, it is unavoidable and imminent.
If your itinerary, once updated to include all of the wonderful experiences you indulged in consciously or inadvertently, contains: parties across famous Spanish night districts for days on end; tasting Amsterdam’s forbidden delicacies, in full or in part; stomach-bursting indulgence in the never-ending streets of pizzerias in Rome; island hopping across Greek jewels of the Mediterranean; a quick stop to the north African antique city of Marrakech; drinking giant amber steins of hangover-inducing beer at Oktoberfest in Germany; having your pockets raided by child gangs in the beautiful city of Prague; dodging gangs of soccer hooligans packed onto carriages of trains across Europe; and having your luggage lost by the low-cost airline you used to hop from one ancient city to the next, then you will most certainly have experienced ups and downs. You will inevitably struggle to come to grips with the life that greets you when you lay your head down on that familiar pillow, in that familiar home, on that familiar street with familiar sounds and circumstances. Inevitably you will endure a wash of blue morose as you lay there on that first night, trying to sleep at home. You will have a slideshow of places and people parading across your dreams while you sleep. You will meet these places and people a thousand times over in your dreams. Each time it will be very different, and each time you wake up, so too will be the place you call home.