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  • Writer's pictureRosie Fay

Neukölln, Pivo's and a lab called Felix

I just got back after my birthday holiday.

In this life, one thing I've identified as something that will always make me feel better: Travel. So each year, if I do nothing else, I take myself away.

Before I enter the second year of my 30's, I managed to combine together a couple of housesits, with a trip to Prague in the middle. Berlin first, to meet Felix. I'd been working with Felix's owner Kate, for about a year now. She hired me deep in my nomad life - hopping between hostels in the Balkan winter.

Kate's from Melbourne and has been a freelance Digital Marketer for years. She'd lived across the world, mentored me, and now living in a buzzing neighbourhood in Berlin: Neukölln. She was off to visit family and asked if I'd like to come to look after him.

Felix is a 2 year old Golden Lab

I messaged my clients that I'd be on the road for a while, and set out for a two-week nomad holiday. I got ahead with work on my train rides, and Berlin arrived, I was ready.

Acknowledging a break is harder than it looks.

I'd been burnt out for a while, but new clients are exciting and the potential grows every day.

My anxiety kicks in the same as any other life. If I leave my laptop for a while, have I completed everything?

I began to work on my grounding. I started standing up straighter and making eye contact. Gratitude meditation. Dopamine detoxes. Setting boundaries.

The week was lush. Sheer luck brought me a good friend who could visit at the same time, and others I'd met sporadically over the years. In total, a group of open-minded, down-to-earth Australians joined. And what a group to go on this adventure with, Felix by my side.

Vabali Spa - a naked phone-free co-ed day spa.

I got my watch which was my only form of identification for the next few hours, donned a robe and set out with a striped yellow towel. The sun was out, and the place had started to fill up for a Friday afternoon.

I joined the group after their Sauna sound healing. They took turns one by one to ice plunge, and then we sat in the sunshine with our robes wide open. I ordered an Aperol.

My first experience was a hot oil sauna. A fan blowing three oils over my skin. The sweat poured out of every part of me, like my four friends, who were all entering yoga-breath stillness. I came out beetroot red, according to my sneaky bathroom trip afterwards.

The only mirrors you'll find will be in the bathroom

There were a lot of treatments to do, plus 11 different saunas to try. We had free face masks, body scrubs, pebble walks and more Aperol, whilst lizarding out for the remaining afternoon. No eye on the time and no posting or texting.

I continued to work. I mean, at this point I do something every day.

I explained on my LinkedIn recently the adaptation my industry has had to short-form video content. I'll be honest, it's been hell. Years of planned social feeds, visually-pleasing mood boards and guidelines have been abolished for 8-second videos, forgotten soon after scrolling.

Trends change so quickly, that there's almost no way to stay completely updated doing this remote. It doesn't mean it's impossible. You've got to get creative - I mean, it's what we're used to, right? So - monthly schedules have been pushed back to weekly. I've bought a new phone, one purely for my clients. I'm no longer messaging asking for assets. I'm emailing every week with requests for video.

I'm fumbling with editing software. Counting beats. Learning transitions. Figuring out entirely new ways of copywriting.

I'm learning on the move. As I have learnt it is one of my strengths. Plus the sheer trust in the universe.

I had been nervous about my first international paid housesit. It felt like a total dream come true. Bonding with Felix, a bonus.

I needn't have worried, as per usual. The week continued without a hitch. I lost my friend - who truly lived her best life running amuck in the city with those beautiful souls I mentioned earlier.

We had met up again for a night at the infamous KitKat and a live Todd Terje set at About Blank. Dotted in between, I hit a local bar with Felix, ate some famous Vegan food, enjoyed the live music (and karaoke) at Mauerpark, and embraced the open container law.

I felt free. As Berlin has made me feel 4 years ago (spot the last pic below).

I remember a year ago when I had to decide which country was next. I wonder how much life would have been different if I chose this instead.

Six days later, I ran with my suitcase to a coach. Like a burnt in stain, I remembered the long trips I took between accommodations in 2021. Prague was next.

I spent the first afternoon watching the sunset from the makeshift desk I'd given myself in the hostels' library. My new roommates were two boys from Melbourne. Perfect.

Prague had been on my list for years - with parents and friends encouraging me to visit. Vividly different from Berlin, I started the adventure with a walking tour with the Australians. A sunset with beers in a plastic cup. A vegan restaurant with homeless employees. A nail salon with free prosecco. A rooftop bar with a thieving bartender. A birthday present from a couple of strangers. A green spirit to make you fly - but in reality, it just made us drunk.

I really enjoyed Prague. The historical nature of the city was insane - architecture gothic and spiritual, with the view better to look upward, mouth agape at the detail.

Finally, on this big trip of mine, I found myself in Amsterdam.

Struggling with video content. Messages unanswered. A place I'd been before.

I loved looking after Maya, and I loved this housesit. There's something so exciting about being in a house you'd live in yourself. Imagining a new life, maybe with someone, if you'd made some different decisions.

A penthouse apartment with a rooftop garden, all the streaming services, and a cloudy bed that swallowed me up whole. After four days of hostel life, my hips were sore, my head banged and I needed one of those long showers. You know, the one where you do everything.

Maya is a Belgian Shepard, ironically, adopted from Prague. We went on the tram, to the park, and underneath the weeping willows. She's a bit indifferent about other dogs and it was nice to go introverted for a while.

I edited the videos I made from the solo night with my client. I picked up keys for a housesit I'm doing there in October. I cringed at the message I sent a man I'd met on my last visit here, the 'Seen' text stinging like a bad tattoo.

I felt myself fill with doubt again. Thinking that despite the beauty that is the life I've created, connections are so rare.

Maybe the life I've created has been exactly what I've asked for. Maybe I have run from something. Maybe I'm struggling to face a few things.

I got back to my flat which I've been lucky to call home for almost a year now. I hugged my flatmate, who I hadn't seen in months. Two days later, I brought in my 31st birthday.

Countless connections from magical souls in the most unexpected places. Human and animal. Maybe my soul has expanded enough that it has space for them all, instead of just the one the world tells me to wait for.

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