The evening with Bill and Luke was fun, but unfortunately they didn't live in Perth or Fremantle, but in Bunbury, a small city 180km south of Perth, and they were rarely driving all that way up north.
I tried to stay in touch with them at first but we never met again...
Was the Friday of my second week in Australia, and even if it was autumn, the days were still sunny and warm, so that afternoon I decided to go to Perth city, about 20min by train from Cindy's house.
I loved Perth, and I still do today.
A city with 2 millions people, but actually not so crowded, with many squares and pedestrian areas, many parks and green spaces, lot's of different activities to do and lot's of young people from everywhere.
That day I had a walk around, I remember going to the Bell Tower, then to Murray Street Mall (the shopping street) and after a couple of hours I decided to sit in on the stairs in James Street Mall, in front of the State Library, at the Cultural Center.
I was there enjoying the sun, and I started looking around at all the people sitting on those stairs.
There were mostly families and couples, until I saw a guy sitting alone, with a backpack between his legs, concentrated on reading a book. He was also quite attractive I would say, and the backpack made me think he might also be a foreign, so I decided that I could have tried to go and talk to him.
I spent about 20 minutes trying to force my self to stand up and go: "Just go! How hard can it be? Just go there and say you are new, you wont look too stupid!".
So at the end I did it. I got up and I started walking in his direction, but only 3 meters away from him my brain decided to step back: "And what if I look stupid? Honestly, who does that?! Who goes to talk to strangers in the street like that!". So I didn't stop. I kept walking straight, behind his back, and straight forward, and I kept going until I reached a bench on the other side of the square, where I sat down defeat.
"What the hell am I doing?! I almost did it! I will never meet anyone if I keep on being so shy! Come on, try again..."
So I did it, again. This time coming from behind, I walked all the way straight to him and then I did it, I sat.
"Hi! Sorry to bother you, but I'm new, and I don't know anyone, and I saw your backpack, I thought you may be a backpacker too...?"
"Oh, hi. Ehmm, yes I'm from Germany. Where are you from? I'm Christopher by the way."
2 minutes into the conversation and it suddenly started raining, so we ran into the library to wait for the storm to calm down a bit.
He told me he was there with a working holiday visa, and he was living in Fremantle since about 10 months.
That day he was waiting for a friend, also from Germany, and they would have gone together to have dinner and he invited me to join, so I accepted.
His friend arrived after 30 minutes and together we walked all the way down to the river, at the Bell Tower, and just behind it, close to the ferry, we entered a very busy Indian restaurant.
I understood the reason why it was so busy just when I went to pay.
They didn't have a price for their dish, you could only pay by offer...!
How do they make a proper profit? I have no idea, but they definitely didn't make any with me, because I remember paying 5 dollars... Well guys, in my defense I can say that since it was my first time out for dinner in Australia I had no idea about how much a dish in a restaurant could possibly cost!
(And if you also have no idea, they usually start from 15 dollars at least, awkward!!).
After dinner both guys had to catch the train back home, and so I did too, but first Christopher gave me his number and said that I could have text him the day after if I wished to go to have a walk in Fremantle.
The day after, there was no signs of the storms of the night before, once again it was a sunny and beautiful Saturday, so I decided to text Christopher and go to Fremantle.
We meet at the train station and from there we continued to the Esplanade Park, where a event was on that day. It was something for kids and families. There were many fences with animals that kids could touch and feed, some playgrounds with rides and the characteristic Ferris wheel, which is there the all year around. We watched some clowns entertain a group of kids and we then had a walk to the Round House, where we could have a nice view of the beach where the week before I met Bill and Luke.
After few hours it was time for me to head back home.
I had a good time but I realized we didn't have that much connection as friends, maybe not too many things in common to talk about, and different opinions about things, so we never met again after that...
Oh well, never mind, I only had to keep on looking!
To be continued...
In the first few weeks everything was going great, but... I didn't know anyone, except my relatives, which where all too old or too young to actually hang out with.
I really didn't want to meet any Italians, I wasn't there, 15'000km away, to end up talking my language the all day, but how could I manage to meet people? I didn't have a job yet (no colleagues) and I wasn't attending any type of classes where I could have meet someone; It was going to be hard, I knew it.
The first weekend arrived, it was Saturday and after lunch I decided it was time to go to discover Fremantle, a very pretty and calm suburb on the ocean in South Perth, owning the port of the city.
I knew I've already been there when I was 7 years old, but I don't have memories.
About 30 min by train from Perth city center and there I was!
A colorful and vibrant town, with kind of a hippie/alternative culture.
Lot's of pubs, small restaurants and pretty cafes, where people like to hang out and enjoy the sun at any times of the day.
I could feel the fresh air coming from the sea, and I decided that it would have been my first stop.
The main beach, Bathers Beach, was only 300m from the main streets of Fremantle, and I was so surprise that in a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon, no one was there. Literally NO ONE!
I took off my shoes and put them under a bench on a side of the beach, then I went straight to the water...
...well, it doesn't matter how hot a day in Australia can be, the Indian Ocean will always feel freezing cold!
I remember taking some photos of the beach since I was still enjoying the freshness of the water, and when I decided it was time to go, I turned down the way where I left my shoes and there I sow two guys standing on the bench.
I went straight to them (or better say, to my shoes), and once they realized that the place where they were sitting on was actually already taken, they apologized and got up.
"No no! Please stay, I'm just taking my shoes." I said.
They then sit down again and one of them asked me:
"Where are you from? I can ear an accent."
"Ah cool! And what are you doing here? But first, would you like a beer?" he said, reaching a cool bag full of Corona beers. I hesitated few second before accepting.
They were Bill from Australia, and Luke from England.
Very friendly guys that I chatted with for about one hour, until the sky was getting dark and I tough it was time to go home since it would have take a while to get back.
"Okay well, do you have plans this evening? Why don't you join us? We go to Little Creatures to have a beer, and then in a club here in town, join us!" said Luke.
"Mmmh, are you sure it is not a problem if I join?"
"Of course not, or I wouldn't ask! There will be some other people coming later, we come to pick you up at the central station, take my number and tell me when you are there."
"It sound great! Then I'll see you later! Thanks!"
At 9 I was there again, Fremantle central station. Bill came to pick me up and we walked all the way down to the main street, across the Esplanade Park, and there it was the Little Creature, the most famous pub of Fremantle, with great beer, and a nice view of the harbour.
It was a great evening, lot's of laugh and lot's of people coming from everywhere, together to have some drinks and enjoy the end of the warm Australian weather.
That night I went to bed with a smile, feeling a bit less lonely on that new, far away, country.
To be continued...!
A noise, like a scream.
I opened my eyes, slowly waking up in a double size bed.
Light was coming from the window.
It took me about half second to reconnect my brain with the fact that I was in Down Under.
The sun was out. I remember thinking it must have been morning already, so, without even check at the time, I quickly got up, dress up, and went out from the front door to see what the surroundings looked like.
The house of my dad's cousin Cindy, was in Bentley a suburb of Perth, a quiet residential area.
The almost obsessive attention to detail of every house's front yard was the first thing that got my attention. The grass perfectly cut, without any fence to delineate someone property, a simple walkway made in concrete all the way straight to the front door and with the car perfectly parked on a side of the house, in front of the garage. It really reminded me about the town of the movie Edward Scissorhands.
I'm sure it is nothing special for all of you people living in USA/Canada or in many others western countries, but for someone who comes from Italy like me (if you have ever been there, you would know it) this is definitely not how a random residential street looks like!
Time to get serious now: What does everyone on this planet think straight away when they ear about Australia?
Yes, the weird and dangerous animals!
So, it would be very cool to say that in my first 30 seconds outside, I already stepped on some very dangerous crocodiles or poisonous snakes-spiders, but unfortunately this is not the case (So far!).
But in my first 30 seconds I did actually step on something new for me: A skinny-tall, white and black bird, with a strange looking beak.
It's something that in the following weeks I learned to be very common, call Australian White Ibis, but for all I knew at that time (nothing) I could have even been in front of one of the most rare animals on this planes, so I ran back inside the house to take my camera and took some pics:
Quite ugly, right?
Now, let's go back to the scream that woke me up, wasn't a person, wasn't a kid, wasn't a dog ran under a car. Was this dude here:
If you'll ever go to any cities in Australia, this is most likely what is going to wake you up every morning.
I definitely don't miss his sweet look, and his sweet voice.
Well this was my very productive first day, any regrets to be there? Missing home, family and friends?
Just one word: NOPE.
But after all this was just the first day, and when I started looking for a job the excitement for my "successes" was just a little different... stay tuned!
As always in Italy, things don't work as they are suppose to.
The line for the airport security was huge and disorganized.
People who weren't properly waiting for their turns, and a messy situation was going on just after the x-ray controls. A bunch of people with all their belongs on the ground, trying to put everything back in their hand luggage. Why on the ground? Because there were not tables, of course!
I'm still wondering why the airport of Rome is trying to save money on tables, if anyone has been there recently, please, let me know if they finally installed some sort of shelves or something, where people can take some times to properly reorganize their stuff. I still feel bad thinking about all the travelers who are probably going trough that process right now!
After my turn of being on the ground to put my laptop and camera back in my luggage, with my thicket in a hand, I started looking for the way to my Gate... but at that exact moment I realize that I had something with me that would have been a big pain in the ass for all my 23 hours of flight: my hand luggage!
My dad, the day before, decided to take off the wheels just to make sure that his dimensions would have been good to be taken on the plane with me.
Well, I'm still not sure today if the wheels actually count on the dimension of a luggage, but what I know is that it was a dumb idea.
As I already said, I had my massive laptop and my as much big camera (with 3 extra lenses) in it, for a nice and light weight of 10kg. Yeah! To carry with me without any wheels! Awesome.
My first flight went fine, in 6 hours I was in Dubai.
I remember I followed all the people who I shared my flight from Rome with, but not long after, I don't know how, I found my self alone in a huge room which seams to take nowhere. Not many people were there, only some security guards. Was I already lost?
I couldn't find any indicators for the gates, and by the way, I only had 1 hour and 30 minutes to take my second flight to Perth.
I went all the way back, maybe I missed another way where I could go trough... but nothing, it was only a single corridor all the way back to the plane where I just came from.
So yep, I did all the way back to the big room again. With my 10kg luggage following me around.
The stress for the short time I had to figure it out where I was, where I had to go to, and the physically hard work to carry my luggage started made me sweat, just to make everything much more nicer, right?
Once I was back in the huge empty room I asked to a security guard where the hell I was suppose to go, and he nicely indicated me a side of the room with some big glasses, where apparently I had to wait for a train to go to another gates area of the airport.
Now, if I had to do it again today after the many planes I took, it would have been obvious, since Dubai airport is super huge, and you don't really want to go from a side to another by feet. And thanks God! If that was the case I would have dropped my useless luggage there straight away.
So I took this train, and after few minutes, the doors of the trains opened and I stepped in what I believe is one of the most luxury airport duty free area.
The fist thing you see is the shining white floor, which is so clean and shining that almost work as a mirror.
Once your eyes get use to all that shining light, you may start to notice the shops...
Like the Ferrari/Lamborghini/Porsche/etc, just standing there in front of that Galleria's entry. Or the fancy jewelry shops, the fancy watch shops, the fancy liquor shop.
Just think about any possibly shop and it will be there somewhere, and it will look fancy.
While I was there admiring the view, a very nice guy, who was there to help, came to me with a trolley for my luggage. I was probably still sweating so much that he had to make it stop somehow, before I was going to drop body fluids on his perfectly clean floor.
Fist thing I did was to go in a toilet, where I could refresh my self, I wished I could have had a shower in one of those sinks.
Then I decided I needed some water so I went around with my trolley looking for a bar to buy a bottle with 20euro, so I ended up having a quite important change in Dirham (currency of the United Arab Emirates). Which I carried around in my wallet for about the next 2 years!
The second flight was long, almost 11 hours, and after an already long day, it was too much.
All I could think about was that it didn't matter if I would have liked Australia or not, I would have stayed there anyway, just because I couldn't be bother to do the same exhausting trip all the way back!
I landed in Perth in the late evening of 24th April 2013, and remembering the "Australia: Airport Security" TV show, I was ready to unpack all my belongings to show them that I wasn't a serial killer or anything like that, but surprisingly I was out the gates in something like 5 minutes after landing.
There is only one (not so) small detail that I didn't mention yet:
Two people were waiting for me at Perth Arrivals, two people that I only meet one time when I was 7 years old. My grandad brother, and his daughter, who I will stay with for the first few days.
And they were there, waiting for me with a big smile.
My Australian adventure could finally begin!!
It was April 13 of 2013 when I left my parents house.
I remember very clearly when the front door closed behind me.
I thought "Right, this is really happening..."
My dad lifted my heavy suitcase in the car trunk, and in a few minutes we were ready to go.
They took me to Rome's Airport, where I was going to get my flight to Perth, with a stop in Dubai.
During our 3 and a half hours drive, they were trying to hide their tears from me.
The feel of sadness that day was so dense that I could feel it pushing me on my shoulders.
I could feel their heavy hart full of pain.
Once at the Airport, and after the Check-In was done, was time for me to go through the security line on the way to the gates, but first I had to say goodbye.
Say goodbye was what was warring me the most.
I always hated crying in front of other peoples, but in that moment I could not help myself, I was heartbreak.
I was sorry to give such a pain to my parents.
The only child, who at 20y old was leaving them to go to the other side of the world for who knows how long.
Because that was the point, I didn't know for how long I would have been away.
They didn't know when they would have seen their beloved daughter again.
The only way I could go to Australia was with a visa.
My intention was to work, so I applied for the Working Holiday Visa, which I granted straight away.
It allowed me to work full time up to one year in Australia, or even two years if I will do farm work in a regional areas for 3 months along the first year.
That day at the airport I was ready and excited to go, no regrets, but two years are long, and I wasn't sure that I would have lasted until the end...
"What if I will be homesick? What if I can't find a job? After all I never worked before and my English is really bad. What if I don't like it there?..."
But one episode that I still remember today, happened only few weeks before my departure, was keeping me motivated and determined not to fail:
I was at home with my parents. I was downstairs in the leaving room watching TV, and I could year them talking on the first floor.
They where talking about me, so I turned down the volume of the TV, and I went upstairs, so that I could ear what they were saying.
My dad was concerned about my trip, and he was asking my mother what they would have done if I was going to stay there for one year or so.
He would have miss me too much and the only idea but it self was enough for make him feel sad.
But my mom was telling him that I would have been back in a matter of months, maybe two or three, but without doubts I wouldn't have last the for the all visa.
Why? Because at that time I had never left my parents home before, I never lived alone, so they thought I wouldn't have been able to provide for my self, and after a few disastrous months I would have been back home, defeat, asking for their help.
Knowing that my parents had such a low estimation of myself made me feel sad at first, but at that time it couldn't be a better motivator to show them how strong I really am, and totally able to provide to myself everything I would have needed along the way.
So yes, that day at the airport I said goodbye to my parents with many tears falling down my face, because I knew I would have done anything I could to stay in Australia until the end of my visa, and prove to my self and to them, that I could do it.
Now, was I right?...
I was 20 years old when I decided to move 13'500 km away from home.
At that time, because of that important life changing, people were telling me I was very brave. An example for many that always wished to do it, but never found the courage to go for real.
But being honest, I never thought I was doing such a special thing.
At that time I had reached a point where nothing was making me happy anymore, nothing around me seems to be interesting.
I was born in Pisa, Italy. A city with 90 thousand people, only famous for the Leaning Tower.
A city that, after all my life spent there, didn't have much more to offer me.
Every day same routine, same places, same people, same friends, same faces of who has exactly your same feelings about the life they are living, but probably run out of time for make some changes.
I finished High School in June 2012. My final score at the end of it wasn't great, just good enough to don't fail the all year. Study wasn't something for me, and without thinking twice I decided to don't go at university.
English is not my native language, and I have never studied it properly, I'm mostly a self taught.
I apologize in advance for any possible grammatical mistakes.
I'm still doing my best to improve! :)