Another Birthday Abroad

Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday over the past few days! The time change is still a bit confusing, but I felt all the love you’ve sent my way.

You might be surprised to learn this is was my 8th birthday abroad, in a row. Yes, I only just turned 24.

My first birthday abroad was celebrated in England, when I turned 17. Very long story short: for years leading up to that particular birthday, I had made a network of friends online who lived in Somerset and Devon. A few of us had birthdays close together, so that year, I took the opportunity to see these wonderful people I’d known for years, but never really met. This was also my first time travelling alone, and my very first time in England.

My parents weren’t so keen on the idea of me going by myself, or staying with strangers. Thankfully, only 6 months before, one of the girls I’d been talking to online had travelled to Toronto with her family and arranged to meet up. Our parents got together in Yonge-Dundas Square, in the middle of a Bollywood festival, while she and I ran through the city, exploring, chatting and getting lost. Because my parents had physically met her and her family, it made the idea of the trip much easier and I was allowed to go alone. From there, I fully fell in love with England and it became a ‘thing’ for me to visit over my birthday. I was lucky to have friends all over the country who I could stay with, and ended up celebrating in Taunton, Exeter, Bristol and London. The last 5 birthdays have been spent with Matt, in Bournemouth, and one year we did a joint celebration in Athens, Greece!

This year was different, again, and I spent the day in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. For those of you who don’t know, Australia Day also falls on January 26. I’ve always known this, and constantly dreamt of a summer birthday party, instead of the cold Canadian winter I was used to!

While the city lacks a beach, there is a man made lagoon (half beach/half pool) surrounded by tropical plants and offering stunning views of the city! As it was a public holiday, there were many people swimming, but we didn’t mind. The afternoon was spent in the clear, cool water, which was very refreshing on such a hot summers day. Matt got us sushi for lunch and we browsed the South Bank market, while listening to live bands play in the surrounding bars.

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In the evening, Matt surprised me with a chocolate cake while singing ‘Happy Birthday’, before we went out for the night. We walked across town and stopped at Elixir Rooftop Bar, an Alice in Wonderland themed bar, where I sipped margaritas and we shared shots of Liquor 43. It was fairly quiet when we arrived, so we had two rounds and made our way to the next place. Matt suggested another rooftop bar called Sixteen Antlers, which is on the 16th level of the Mercure Hotel. There were more people here and the view of the city was spectacular!

As it got dark, we left and headed back to South Bank to catch the Australia Day fireworks. I know they were for the public holiday, but I pretended they were for me anyway. On our walk back to the hostel, Matt surprised me, again, with sparklers. I cried, as sparklers are my favourite thing in the world and he had a whole pack waiting for me to play with. It was magical.

This is going to be another great year, filled with even more adventures! Thanks again, to everyone who has made twenty-four special so far.

— Ally

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