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  • Writer's pictureRosie Fay

24-on, 48-off

I've spent the last couple of weeks in Spain. After things with my Dutch visa seemed to be moving along, I saw a housesit available down in Alicante. I knew I'd need a break, come March.

Red Wine in Rotterdam
Red Wine in Rotterdam

Once I'd put my plans online, a friend I met in Croatia reminded me she was in Barcelona with her fiance. The memories of sunset drinks, wine tours and a weekend in Split came rolling back to me. We had to reunite, even if it was their last night in town.

I had spent the Wednesday staying overnight in Rotterdam, with a new friend from Bumble BFF. Meeting new people means you're always ready for the unexpected - and that's how I was still there come Thursday, only 12 hours before I was due to fly out.

A tram, train, bus, plane, bus and a walk later - I was in Jelena and Quinn's quaint apartment in the buzzing centre of Barcelona.

This couple from Florida has been to most places in Europe. Their employers still don't know they've left.

Together, they keep their travel photos in their Close Friends' stories. They bring their own Wifi box and use VPNs.

They work their US hours and have never been caught.

Barcelona Flats

Quinn's boss had left for the afternoon, which meant he could join me for a few hours before Jelena 'snuck out' at 9 pm. Sangria, cocktail, beer, vegan super greens, red wine... we were back out the door at 11 pm - teams status: 'Offline'.

After being here for 3 months - we ended up having quite a send-off in the bustling small bars somewhere in the Jewish Quarter. Mamma Mia filled the upstairs room, and it was a circle of jumps. Downstairs for more drinks, I slip on the curled black steel stairs.

We roll in and pass out early, for Spain standards. I was moving to Kabul tomorrow. These guys were flying to the Dominican Republic. These mornings are bittersweet. We're so lucky to have seen each other again. We may not be able to again for a while.

Kabul Party Hostel was recommended to me by an Australian guy I work with.

I somewhat knew what to expect when I booked it. The truth is, I've never booked a Youth or a Party hostel. The lack of sleep? The younger crowd? The drinking games? It couldn't really be an AMAZING experience.

It was pretty good. But I wouldn't do it again.

Kabul's Rooftop

I checked in and noted the free beer at 1800. I climbed and set up camp in the while steel bunk beds that banged when you moved. I looked around and opened the window. I had made the choice, now we see what it brings me.

The first night, a Los Angeles firefighter followed me around. We built a crew and the whole group of us all ended up in an EDM club until 5 am.

I walked with a New Yorker along the beach and got a Mojito in the sunshine. I went with a group to the bunkers and found an outdoor party like something I'd never seen. I salsa'd and reggae'd and moved around an underground hip hop club.

Barcelona Bunkers

I ate vegan junk food and got my sleep in 3-hour snippets when the Hostel room was free.

So for 6 days on. I needed 12 days off.

Yeah, I did the calculations and everything. I got to my housesit with half a speaking voice, frizzy hair and pale skin.

I had hoped to arrive in a better state, but the train full of people tipped my hangover so far I thought I'd never recover. Maria didn't seem to notice, thank god. Her two dogs, siblings, were relatively easy to look after. A little clingy. Walks seemed to calm them down a bit.

So I spent 7 days off the booze. I ditched all fried food. I didn't smoke. And oh boy, didn't my body hate me.

I slept for 10 hours, the first three nights. I sweated. I hardly had an appetite. My anxiety was so strong, that having a conversation shook my voice.

I got ready.

Maisey and Jay in Cabo Roig

I don't hate this period. I don't regret any of the travel memories I have made or those last-minute decisions that have given me the story I write today.

I spent 12 days getting the magic back. The dogs I'm looking after got 2-hour walks, morning and afternoon. I bought a bunch of groceries that helped - even junk food. I remembered to drink water. I found an outdoor gym and started lifting.

It feels great. My body is responding to the exercise, my heart is at ease, and my sleep is returning to normal.

But, I'm bored again.

This is the worst bit. On your detox.

I'm feeling confident again, I know the area. I am eating good food and my brain is sharp.

I'm having video conversations and I'm treating myself to lunch.

And with 5 days left of the solitude - do I open my energy?

I'm open when I'm walking and I'm looking at the places I may visit. They're just... uninspired.

The people within them don't feel much different. I know holding on is best, for nights that bring me joy.

When I arrive back in the Netherlands. my friend Kaiya is visiting from Australia. I haven't seen K-Bomb in almost four years. Two days is hardly enough for someone I used to live with, but we're making the most of it.

Kings Day, Amsterdam

I'm back at work 24 hours after she flies on to Denmark, where her boyfriend, the one she met as soon as I left, is waiting for her. I'll hug her extra tight, knowing there may be a chance I may never meet her new love.

A week later in Amsterdam, I'm back for Kings Day - the annual celebration of the Kings' birthday. My calendar is dotted with appointments and schedules leading up to it.

'Be ready,' Jan, my new client, tells me. 'Watch some of the Youtube videos. And buy some Orange.'

See you then.

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