Chance Encounters

Solo traveling gives you the opportunity to meet people from all sorts of backgrounds. One evening in Australia, I met someone at a high level in politics.

Day 347

It was my last day in Adelaide. I spent the morning writing near the beautiful windows in my Airbnb that overlooked some trees. I needed to get some errands done because I’d be leaving the next day to start my drive to Western Australia. I got my car washed and then walked around a shopping plaza at the Big W, getting a few items. 

For dinner, my Australian friend, Matt, picked me up and drove us to a Thai restaurant. I mentioned Matt in an earlier post. He’s tall, athletic, smart, friendly, and 33-years-old. That evening he was wearing glasses and a v-neck sweater. He was good-looking on a typical day, but he was looking extra attractive that evening. I was bummed that he had just started dating someone. 

We had a good time at dinner, but he had to get to bed early for a busy day. Matt is a great guy and really helped me navigate Australia. My car registration was mailed to his house, and he helped me with ensuring I got it paid. 

I didn’t want to spend my last night in Adelaide alone in my Airbnb, so I took an Uber to downtown. I found a rooftop bar and took the elevator to the top. Being a weeknight, it was mostly empty. The bar was inside, and most of the seating was outside in two different sections on the roof. I stood at the bar to order a drink.

Two guys were standing next to me wearing suits. They appeared to be in their 30s. The bartender let me walk outside to feel how cold it was out. I came back inside, indicating that it was chilly. One of the guys standing at the bar told me about a warm wine drink (mulled wine) in a large container on the counter. He told me to open the lid and smell it, so I could take in all the flavors and see if I wanted to order it. I did as he instructed and said, “It’s like Christmas.” The guy responded, “Are you, American?” I replied, “Yes.” 

The guys walked outside and sat on stools facing the glass barrier. I walked out with my drink and sat by myself, overlooking the city views. I played on my phone for a bit until they announced: “last call” at 10:25 pm. I walked back inside to the bar to order another drink. 

The man who asked if I was American was also ordering a drink at the bar. By this point, he had several co-workers who had arrived and were all enjoying themselves outside. His name was Chris. He asked me if I was going to order the mulled wine, and I said, “Maybe.” Chris said he was going to get it and I should too, so I did. He paid for both of our drinks. 

Chris had short blonde hair, was thin, attractive, and smart. He was wearing a suit and wire-framed glasses. He is from Adelaide but lives in Canberra. He was back in Adelaide for work, just for one night. Chris talked very fast, as he explained his travel experiences. He’s been all over the world, but not much of the U.S. (only Los Angeles and New York briefly for work). 

I told Chris that I was planning to drive highway 1, around all of Australia. Once I said to him that people had warned me about snakes and spiders, he chimed in. Chris informed me that the spiders would hide under the toilet seat. When he was a child, he put his hand inside of their letterbox to get the mail and was bit by a redback spider. Those spiders don’t create webs, and instead, they sit and wait for their prey. 

The redback spider is poisonous, so his mom took him to the hospital. The doctor advised not to move much, so the venom didn’t spread. Chris said, “My mom had me moving all over the place!” Their family planned to go to Mexico the next week, and the doctor told him just to be careful and get antivenom there if he needed it. 

Chris told me about “the world’s longest golf course,” Nullarbor Links. He said, “You have to drive 150 kilometers to get to the next hole. You drink beer at the pub and keep going.” The golf course is along the highway through the Nullbar, which I was about to drive. It stretches along the 1,365-kilometer road (848 miles), so each hole is very spread out. Chris had only been as far as Ceduna, but it extends into Western Australia. 

Chris explained that his favorite place that he’s visited is Iceland because the terrain continually changes. Mexico was the first place that he visited overseas, so it is a special place for him. We agreed that the best part is not the sights, but the people you meet along the way. 

As Chris and I continued to talk while standing at the bar, his co-workers slowly left one-by-one. Each time one left, they’d stop by to say their goodbyes to Chris before getting in the elevator. They’d always give me a slight smile, especially the women. I was getting the impression that Chris was the boss.

After about 40 minutes, the bar was closed, and the last two co-workers walked over. We all walked to the elevator together, and I asked, “So what do you do for a living?” Chris answered, “Politics.” I made a face because I knew it had to be something in politics. Canberra is the capital city of Australia. I had been told that there isn’t anything there, except for all things politics. 

I guess my expression wasn’t flattering, and all three guys laughed, “Oh, that’s not a good reaction,” one guy said. The subject was quickly changed to skiing because I think I mentioned Whistler, Canada. I explained that I don’t ski, but I’d like to learn. Chris laughed, “I don’t ski or snowboard. I’m more of a chalet guy drinking wine.”

When we arrived at the bottom, the guys said they wanted to find another place to grab a drink. We all walked down the street in hopes of finding someplace still open. As we walked, I asked Chris what he does in politics. He said he’s the Chief of Staff to the Finance Minister of Australia. “Oh, wow,” I thought. 

We found an open bar, but Chris said it was the seedy part of town. I said, “You haven’t been to Los Angeles if you think this is seedy.” The guys contemplated what to do since most places were closed. They decided that they had an early morning and were leaving the following day, so they should get back to their hotel. We shook hands goodbye, and I took an Uber back to my Airbnb. 

I was so happy that I went out that night. It was a great way to end my Adelaide portion of Australia. It’s not every day that you can have a long conversation with someone at that level in politics. It’s why I love traveling – you never know who you’ll meet.

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2 Responses

  1. I just went on a short, three day trip by myself and it was amazing how many people were surprised I was traveling solo. Some were overly impressed, like it was so strange that a woman would want to go alone somewhere. I got a little taste of how it must be for you Christy!

    1. That’s great that you went on a solo trip! 👏🏻 Yeah, a lot of people are confused when I say I’m alone! 🤣 But I meet so many more people when I travel alone!

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Throughout her wild 3-week journey backpacking 220+ miles in the California Sierra Mountains, Christy encountered freezing temperatures, pelting hail storms, and losing her way, but found trail family, incredible views, and experiences that would change her life forever. Hiking up and over ten different mountain passes gave Christy a lot of time to think about why her nine-year marriage was falling apart, gave her the chance to truly embody her individualism, time to make new friends, and the strength she would need on and off the trail. Her life could never again be the same.
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