2015 On Point

Bronte Sawtell

When the setting of my life’s tale changed from Canberra to sunny Newcastle I had anticipated character development would follow. As the elaborate layers of this chapter began to unfurl I was pleasantly surprised to realise that the ever increasing opportunity, adventure and discovery were matched by tangible development in both my relationship with God, and my relationship with and between the different parts of myself.  I had expected to step into the weight and delight of studying what I love and the churn and growth of living alone. I hadn’t anticipated being blessed in equal proportion to every challenge I faced.

This year has been hard. I have learnt what lonely feels like. Being an adult gets exhausting after not very long. I knew pretty early there were elements to being a physio that don’t come naturally to me. I went from the resource wonderland of my parent’s house to no friends and no things, and had to reassess my overzealous self-reliance. Then other larger things happened like my grandpa passing away in April, which showed some cracks in my shield. It’s with this sad list of things, however, that I’m stoked to share my experiences of tangible or unexplained blessing that really encouraged me to question and push the limits of my faith and relationships this year. I hold onto a deeper faith for having engaged and discerned my beliefs more honestly within these struggles. These moments really shaped the greatness of my year.


The first wonderful story comes through uni. I’m a particularly process oriented person and take a while to understand new wpid-wp-1444476404875.jpegspaces and tasks whilst I understand systems they work within. Seemly a set process is the opposite of how they teach and encourage physio practice. Everything is based on the individual and relative to the presenting case. We learn all of the theory around physical issues and then the art of discerning truth and need from what’s seen. I really needed a lot more real life practice than was a part of the course at this stage in order to get a grasp of the end goal.

God had a pretty sweet response to my freak out at the thought I had moved away for a degree I was going to be no good at. Not long after I completed a random sports trainer qualification I had heard was good to have as a student, a few spots as a sports trainer under a physio, with an elite sporting team were advertised to physio students. Being advertised to all years I didn’t expect a ring in. I mention that because I need you to know the magnitude of this blessing. I applied and got one of the positions and the experience working with real individual cases, at a level I already had the knowledge and skill to support, has been the exact real life work I needed to feel supported in my learning this year. When coincidences arise in life that inflict that scale of blessing, it’s a good time to consider the possibility there’s a God that loves us.


My grandpa passed away in April and it stirred the pot of my theology and caused me to think deeper about what I was holding onto in my faith. It was pretty clear I needed now some external support to help me whilst I discerned and processed life at a level I hadn’t done before. On the day I returned from my grandpa’s funeral I was invited by the ever faithful Grace Thong to her connect group without her knowing where I’d come from. Grace Thong is the embodiment of ‘blessed to be a blessing’. She physically ooses quality through what she says, how she thinks, the adventure and greatness she pursues, and the selfless love she carries. People around her are left wpid-wp-1444476376271.jpegencouraged and affirmed so deeply in themselves. She brings Jesus’ unconditional love, gift of wisdom and love of adventure to every space. She’s merely and extraordinarily being exactly who God made her to be. And she invited me into a community of people exactly the same right when I needed it.

They and a few other key friends very quickly became the community I 22396_10152955351222081_7818660005249743696_nneeded. Between them they are wise, discerning, seek the truth, fight for what is right, care very deeply, are smart, pursue great things, enjoy fun and fellowship; are dependable and humble. I couldn’t have auditioned a better crew to pursue growth with whilst ensuring honour and grace were at the heart. An entire team orchestrated to come together at the exact moment many in the group needed it, shows so richly the ability and care of God. That even the friends in our lives matter to him and that his plan leads any willing heart to the exact thing they require. Those two things are His entire mantra, love and us.


Suddenly I saw the purpose of church in a totally new light. There’s no mention of rules and buildings in the true definition; church is the way we are all looked after.  Alone I know I’m weak, but in a church there are bedrooms to spare and meals when I’m stuck, a mum when mine’s far away and friends to do life and struggle with. And I get to give my piece in the ways I’m built to be a blessing. A network based on all that Jesus is, love. I love the sustainable dependence of it; where we’re preserved first within ourselves by God and then act from overflow so the system is never heavy in one place, even when parts are hurting. And where anyone belongs because we are loved by the same God and that’s all that’s required to be a part of the family.


I also found comfort in my adventures alone. wpid-wp-1444478373420.jpegI’ve met my introverted side whilst living solitarily, which I enjoyed much more than I expected. I think there’s something valuable about enjoying you’re own company. It certainly gives you a chance to really get to know yourself. Or, perhaps, I enjoyed the exploration I got done in the process.  I chose Newcastle over the same degree in Canberra because of the support fun and discovery have always brought me, and the immense diversity of that available in this new area by the sea. I love Novocastrians’ give-it-a-go attitude and well used rec areas. And “go where you’re motivated” is still my favourtie study tip.


I like to think I am a better version of who I was in February. One who’s starting to see the value of audacity and boldness as they are different to self-importance; that talent and passion are great qualities, but only when they come with humility and are filled with a purpose beyond me. I’m so stoked that I am beginning to see the truth and huge heart behind this God I decided to follow a few years ago, when I realised nothing else in this world holds such hope and peace.


I want to thank basically everyone I’ve met this year, and anyone who has shaped me to this point. Even at this moment I have many unknowns in my world like accommodation and jobs; and knowing how they’ll work out would make me feel a lot more sure next year will run smoothly. But I do know I have a God who loves to lead those who follow into exactly what they need; friends to make it wild; all the adventure in the world to look forward to; and a whole lot of learning to come out of the hard bits.

To a happy new year and all it will bring.

Lots of love and God bless,

Bronte x

v Sorry about these ads v

What my Dad taught me about Torque

(Written for a certain crowd)

Effort or resistance torque = force x distance, right? and effort torque counters resistance torque by definition.
If you drive a car, particularly manual, think this:

Effort Torque:
First gear of a car is physically the biggest (large moment arm) so the same acceleration (effort force) gives more power (effort torque) through first gear than second gear (smaller moment arm). You can take off in second but you have to accelerate (effort force) harder to get anywhere (effort overcoming resistance).

Equally if we’re cruising along at 80km/h and change down a gear (increase size of moment arm) and keep accelerating the same, we will have more power to counter resistance torque and will speed up (think Fast and Furious gear dropping).

So in a car:
Effort Torque = acceleration x gear size
– obviously if we add acceleration or size we have more torque, vica versa


Resistance Torque
Say we add a trailer to the car or take off against gravity up hill, we are adding push power (resistance torque) against the engine (effort torque).

So we need to increase our effort torque to be able to create the same take off:
– use a lower gear (effort moment arm)
– add acceleration (effort force)
– move the impact of the car’s weight closer to the center of the gear (resistance moment arm)

Even in first gear a hill start is hard and we need a far bit of accelerator. This is why (good) 4WDs have low range gears; badass torque to overcome hills and weight.

Et > Rt = movement (always)
– obviously if we add resistance torque we need to add effort torque for it to remain greater
– Rt = (weightxgravity) x point of resistance on gear


Those fancy lever diagrams visually show the difference between the resistance and effort torques of a particular motion. They have the weight/pull force of R and E and where each pulls compared to the axis, which gives you all the info you need to work out which torque is stronger. If a value is missing the others can be used to find it out.

Eforce x Emoment = Rforce x Rmoment


Applied to the Body
We need to know how to manipulate effort and resistance torque to know how to manipulate the load on patients’ muscles for desired progression; reducing or increasing patient’s muscle work. Like in a car we can manipulate:

Resistance torque by changing
– weight of resistance (literally add or remove weight)
– moment arm of resistance (where we hold/attach weight)

Effort torque by changing
– acceleration (muscle work)
– we can’t change effort moment arm (gears) because our tendons are fixed (although geared mm. would be rad)


HUBS1105 Link
Only other random thing is that we have smaller gears in cars because once we have momentum the resistance torque is much less so we don’t need so much effort torque. We instead need efficient turning about the axis (speed), which would be hindered by a bulky gear.

HUBS1105 talks about limb tethering and this is related to that concept. Since we can’t change gears in the body, having quads at the ankles would hinder the movement with its weight more than it would help move us with its force.

Writing it helped me learn it, hope it helps you too!

200 Words or Less Autobiography

Canberran, 1 house, 19 yrs
’95-’14: family of love and adventure grew passion for pursuit; saw Australia; did; tried; camped; pursuit of how

2011: a school of experiences! skills; leading; fun; deep friendship; discovery of what’s possible with pursuit

2012: questions; logic; depression; family’s love;   good teachers; more skills; passions directed; pursuit of why

2013: Jesus; purpose; car; greater horizons; learnt to open own doors; engine mounts and a father’s heart; a mother’s grace

2014: worlds away deepened traveling sisters’ empathy; wonder ignited; responsibilities, capabilities, opportunities; pursuit of what and when

Newcastle, 2 houses, 20th year
2015: wonder fuelled discovery; a profession built for me; a town after my own heart; kindred spirits everywhere; a church with equal and individual wonder and passion for pursuit;  more responsibilities, more capabilities, one from the other; opening doors; opportunity; value of family resonating with loss and distance; loneliness; god’s presence; rest, activity, the two go together with God; beach; coffee

Schools 0.5km, 1.5km, 10.5km, 13.5km and then 550km from home

All this to form the fundemental principles of me
– Sometimes our things and places can adapt with us and sometimes the next place or thing is what the old thing was always leading to.

– Capability and opportunity are not what you’ve been given, they’re what you seek out and what you fight head and guts for.

– “11th Commandment: thou shalt bash on” – Margaret Stant

– “May we never lose our wonder” – Bethel

– “In all my years I’ve never met a person who wasn’t important.” – DW

– If there isn’t a God, I am nothing. If there is, that changes everything.  And His love is too tangible and this rest in chaos too serene for the first to be true. My logical brain can no longer deny it.

6 Motivating Study Spots in Newcastle that Don’t Include the Library

As a student it is very important to allow yourself lifestyle in what can feel like endless waves of study. This is because they are endless. They will last for four years, then the challenge is finding a job, beginning the job, getting old, remaining cool. Your life isn’t going to ‘start’ after uni, it already has and now is the time to begin living day-to-day in a way that makes your life remarkable.

That’s actually a pretty great philosophical starter, but not for this post. If you’re at uni, tafe or college you’ll know study can feel all consuming for at least 20 weeks of the year. But why can’t we make it fun? Why do we always have to study in the library? Below I have pitched 6 of the latest spots I have found myself relaxing and comfortable, and in turn fully engaged in the grit of Physio’s basics. I intend to add to this list as I continue to branch out. They’re in no particular order. Balanced by a healthy set of discipline and application this has got to be the best way to do uni.

Walk or ride between spots for some exercise breaks!

Category 1 – cafes for a caffeine conterpart and wifi workability

1. Blue Door – In comparison to the public servant medium that is Canberra’s CBD, Newcastle City utilises their central spaces as a communal work zone for the immense array of industry, business and young adult life that makes the town buzz in its sweet melody. Blue Door is the very heart of this zone and thus shows fully the rich diversity among its clientel. The building has history, the staff are superb and the wifi runs freely. Whip out a laptop, grab a coffee and begin your journey to education.

2. OnePennyBlack – Hunter St confused me very much when I was first fresh to the spot. Half the shops are for the day, a quarter for night and the rest not really sure what they’re doing, making a perpetually so-close-to-happening arcade. But, it is the discovery of places…gems…. like OnePennyBlack and Doughheads next to them, the skate shop up the street, the Emporium, the growers markets on the pavement and the views up each alley that makes you realise the place is rich and full of the honour of being a local. OnePenny is the best coffee I have had full-stop ever, and I have tried a lot of coffee, and the CityFree wifi or TelstraFree powers those uni lecture slides like none other, from your seat.

3. The Wharf Shop – It is amazing how at home I feel among tourists. Maybe it’s because they are universally the same and maybe that means among them you can feel like you’re anywhere. Maybe it’s because they see the place you are just chilling in as a wonderous new adventure. Either way I feel inspired by selfie sticks and subjectively overzealous excitment at buildings that are probably just toilet blocks. The tourist trade hangs off the Honeysuckle East end, but that is definitey not to say that the locals don’t love it too. This cafe does an excellent brownie and coffee and will give a particularly wonderous sense of inspiration if you empathise with anything I’ve just rambled.  The city wifi goes ‘alright’ here.


Category 2 – Suns out You’re out
1. Honeysuckle Foreshore coloured chair space near the Info Centre – The Honeysuckle restraunt strip down by Silo and James Squire is a happening local spot frequented by celebration and relaxation. The Info Centre has set up a neat seating zone where you can watch the huge boats come in and out and nail those 3000words essays. Honeysuckle Free WIFI is the one for you.

2. Grass anywhere between Sixth Degree and the official, boat-looking builidng at Nobby’s – Lying on the grass with Nobby’s over the hill, Customs Tower nearby and the water right there is as comfortable and lovely as it gets. Ride there for some fun and veg out. I picnic with lunch regularly and lye down listening to lectures. Not great wifi.

3. Beaches and/or their carparks – The beach is obviously the most awe inspiring place ever for a girl from Canberra, but the wind can be a downer on lecture notes and text books. This was incredibly important for me to make work so I turned to reversing my hatchback car up to a foreshore; Bar Beach, Merewhether, Strezlecki’s Look Out, and sitting in the back. It’s an all round great study spot.  Add pillows and a camping mat and it’s comfy too! No wifi at these places.

Enjoy your studies!

How Marketing Warps Our Perception of Good Health – 6 Truths

The body is made of spaces encased by membranes allowing each to have particular environments. There are bigger pockets like a muscle or the lining of the small intestine, which are filled with other pockets and them with others and so on down to the smallest pocket still considered to be a unit of life, called a cell. This goes the other way too such that every pocket is within a pocket that ends with the skin wrapping them all together in one.

Tonicity is a topic we are currently studying as part of my Bachelor of Physio degree and simply it can be classed as the difference between the contents inside pocket and the contents of the pocket it sits within. At a cellular level this has a bunch of chemical relevance because we are constantly trying to balance these environments. Less thought about, is how relevant balancing chemicals is between the inside and outside of the body as a whole. This is the entire premise of nutrition and health, and from my perspective is the number one thing marketers are exploiting to sell their products.

Cells like to be in equilibrium with their outside, or the interstitial fluid, they sit in. When I first learnt this it made it sound like the cells contents were always trying to match or be the same as the outside, but chemically this is not the case. Equilibriums can be low or high for certain chemicals so that the cell is stable at a point where there is more of a chemical inside or outside. More often than not this is the case and these specific equilibriums allows cells to perform specific functions. That is saying that its actually important for some cells to have really high amounts chemicals; even fats, salts or cholesterol. It would be very easy, however, to manipulate an explaination of this to make the fact that cells have high concentration of particular substances sound like a very negative thing.

“Fat build up in cells caused by excess fat in diet.”


“Fat from food that is not required for immediate use is stored in adipoctye cells specifcally designed to hold it and is relased as needed.”

The same science and malubility of explainations can be said for the body as a whole with ony one difference; the control of what goes in and out of our bodies is in our own hands not controlled by a balancing system. The number one thing I have learned through studying human sciences is that each person’s body, their pocket, is completely different. Some people are missing two whole muscles for no known reason, your veins are laid out how they please (sort of) and other non-vital things like this can be ultimately opposite between people. More importantly some people have differences which negatively impact their health; allergies to parts of foods, tendency towards nutritional deficits, disease affecting processes, chemical imbalance etc. Which is why is is utterly ridiculous for a company to promote something that will fix you without first knowing you.

I am writing this to highlight the neccessity of a few things, share some personal realisations I’ve made as I learn to be a health professional and promote health professionals as I have decided for myself they are worth listening to.

1. You know your body better than anyone, trust your insticts with it and don’t let emotive advertising affect that.

2. By all means try non-medical nutritional things, fads even, thats what eating well is. But do not expect fads to work because someone said it worked for them and a population of people in Europe.

3. Second to you, and occassionally before you, health professionals have the best ability to understand your specific body. They are trained extensively in all the ways they can be different and ways to help issues going on with each type.

4. If you’re not happy with your health professional go to someone else. Although they’re all qualified, they’re not all passionate about you. Find one that is and you’ll get the treatment you need.

5. ‘Google Define’ the fancy words on packets to see what they really mean alongside the place you’ve found them. Use a medical dictionary if you can, but if they don’t make sense someone somehwere has probably summariesed it simply.

6. You need to accept that your body is different from everyone elses and that it does not define who you are. It also does not define who someone else is – this becomes very relevant as you begin dealing with great people in terrible physical states. Healthy people aren’t better people; mental illness, disease, age and disability included.

Disclaimer: Sorry for no references, it’s a merge of learning from the last 4 years. But hey, as I have said throughout this article don’t base your life on emotive things you’ve read on the internet. Test it yourself or check with someone who’s qualified to know.

Fun fact: Carbohydrates or ‘sugars’ include glucose, fructose, galactose and a bunch of complexes of these.
Glucose in chains is a primary ingredient of potatoes and is called starch. Fructose is in fruit, lactose is in milk etc etc; i.e. it is very hard to cut out ‘sugar’ from your diet and really doesn’t make sense. Also your brain relies on it. Check what you’re aiming to achieve and ask a nutritionist how to achieve it. #checkthefactsbeforeyoufad

Life living is always better done with a sister! Happy birthday! How blessed I am to have you in my world.

An Epilogue to a European Summer

The Cost and Tips

MAP and Stats

As Canberrans donned their Autumn attire, switching shorts for stockings and shirts for chambray, my sister and I set of, confident and capable, with a mild case of cluelessness, into the depths of Europe’s Summer backpacking scene.  To say our trip was atypical for our young age would be accurate; our focus lying on the discovery of true culture and our head thinking all too pretentiously of our own opinion of coffee. Money seemed to fly away of course, but not to the ‘Experience Promising’ tourist agencies or the advertised ‘One Stop Cultural Fixes’.  The cash instead landing in the hands of local barristers, patissiers, buskers, pubs, bike hire shopfronts, local restaurants and an occasional well-chosen splurge of and experience.   It was 73 nights of bliss and hard work, relationship and wonderment.  To recommend the experience at a level worthy of its value, I would have delve deep into new languages, learning meticulously every possible adjective and still I would fall short of summary.  I hope the insight below can help you get to new, amazing places so you can, for yourself, discover the deepness each ones holds.”  – 19thinkingdoing


$12K Cash Speso

Coster 2


Disclaimer: now here’s where I begin my ‘tips’, please note they are definitely subjective. There are a million ways to travel the route we traveled so please filter each of my points with your own logic.  

3 Budget Influencers that are Good to Know

1. Tourism is an industry focused on supplying an EASY, ‘cultural’ experience to foreigners….for a LARGE PRICE. Before the trip I thought this type of tourism was the only way for us to be able to ‘get into’ the places we were visiting.  I budgeted accordingly. Turns out the things we ended up enjoying more were those like sitting by the canals of Venizia, in a street distant from St Martin Square, attempting to capture with watercolour the wildly unique architecture of the mind-boggly town, doing so whilst listening to the sound of Italian Gondoliers singing to their high paying customers, a few canals over.  And it turns out these things were usually cheap …and sometimes free!

Tip: Think about what type of trip you’re signing up for and be sure you have enough to cover that.  Cheap fun is certainly not bad fun, however, note that we enjoyed splurges and tours. If you are a ‘splurges and tours only’ kind of person, you’ll need to understand that what we spent doesn’t account for those extras. The tip here is to realise that they are two very different ways of travelling, which will have to be budgeted for in equally different ways.

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Venice, Italy

2. European countries aren’t equal when it comes to how fast they zap your bank account, even though they are mostly all on Euro currency.   We currently get less Euros for every Aussie Dollar – i.e. if you spend EU1, you’re losing $AUD1.48.  In Eastern European countries, like Slovenia and Austria, the cost of living is shifted down to the level where purchases equate across currency e.g. if something is $AUD10 in Australia, in Slovenia it is €7, which are pretty much equal out-of-pocket for you.   In France and Italy, however, if you’re paying $AUD10 for something in Australia, you should expect to pay €10 for the same thing there. Meaning you’ll pay $1.48 times more. Eastern Europe is, therefore, much cheaper than France and Italy.

3. *Spending money is intentionally not included in my figures because even between Jordan and I we spent COMPLETELY different amounts on clothes and shoes.  My advice here is to either (a) decide on a limit and be happy to stick to it , NO matter how many AMAZING Italian shoes you find, or (b) take a little extra for spending, but hold off until the end of your trip.  That way you have a pocket of money ready in case of any emergency, it prevents you from getting to the last week of your trip in possession of an EU80 jacket and yet not enough cash for accommodation AND you also get to go big as an end of trip reward.

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Details to Put an Over-planner at Ease

A checklist and what you get for the money paid

Flights $2050

Emrites Economy – Canberra to Prague there and Paris to Canberra with Singapore stop over home; including 30kg luggage and $150 accommodation voucher each.


Saving Points

  • To fly in and out of the same city is cheaper, but not by much.
  • I have no tips on when to buy tickets to get discounts. The price was never the same any time I inquired and I sensed no pattern of fluctuation over the time frame I did.
  • Emrites is a good airline so there are definitely cheaper options, BUT be sure to consider inclusion within cost comparison. Our flights were comfortable with good service, big luggage allowance and when something went wrong our booking was upgraded without a second thought.

Travel Insurance $485

CoverMore premium insurance; $200 loss of cash, loss or theft protection, massive third party damage and injury insurance,  car rental insurance, massive  personal injury compensation AND emergency helpline, delayed baggage allowance and compensation, delayed transport allowance and compensation.   We claimed loss of wallet and sunnies and got most of it back only losing due to reasonable depreciation.

Saving Points

  • There are WAY cheaper companies to go with.  This one was great service and terms so ensure you consider this.

Top Tip

  • Read and understand all of your policy inclusions before you go.
  • Read your claim terms the moment anything is lost or goes wrong to make sure you don’t miss a step that makes you ineligible to claim.
  • Losing cash is common, it is worth having cover for it.

Eurail Pass $1320

GLOBAL PASS 2 Months – 2 months of travel on all included train and bus lines and ferries in selected European countries (all the countries we went to were covered).  Primarily a train pass. We activated the pass 3 days into our trip at a train station and used it 56 times thereafter. Reservations not included, see Travel below (it cost an extra $380 for reservations).

Saving Points

  • This service was definitely the best option for what we did, but it is expensive if you don’t milk it like we did. We met a bunch of groups in cars because it was cheaper for the 4 or 5 of them and others used Buses (I really prefer trains).

Top Tip

  • Understand the Eurail system before you go. Find out the support you have there, how to book reservations when travelling and make sure you download the app.
A common Pose - Train from Vienna to Salzburg
A Common Pose – Train from Vienna to Salzburg

Luggage Pack $300

65L MONT Sphere series backpack – hybrid travel and hiking pack.

Saving Points

  • I probably could have gone for a 50L pack and enjoyed less weight. Jordan disagrees. The features of this pack were awesome for the backpacking style of travel that we did.
  • Purchased at MONT’s biannual sale at like 50% off!!

Top Tip

  • Don’t skimp out on a crap bag. This thing becomes parts of you.
Madrid Train Station – cool place!

Clothing $100

New socks, long sleeve tops etc

Saving Points

  • Anything you think you should get before you go can usually be bought overseas too. Wait and see if you need it when you’re there. Then you have a token from the place and, for example, can say you have a raincoat from Switzerland and every time you wear it, be reminded of all that rain in Switzerland… ha

Pre-booked Accommodation $70

We pre-booked our Singapore and first stop Prague accommodation.

Saving Points

  • We received a $300 voucher with our flights for this, so look out for that kind of deal!  The rest we booked on the go with Hostelworld.com.

Top Tip

  • We had to pay for Singapore upfront so consider that you may need cash accessible at that point if you are planning to pre- book.
  • Use Hostelworld.com ALONE for hostel bookings. All other web agencies charge you an extra fee, even though it looks like a ‘deposit’.
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An awesome Hostel in Makarska

YHA Card $35

YHA links to Hostelling International. You need a membership to use their hostels anywhere overseas, but not at YHAs in Australia. It’s weird. They give you discounts and stuff so that’s kind of cool.

Saving Points

  • This card is a savings point.

International Student Card $25

Regardless of if you’re a student or not, Student Flights will give you a card for $25 that entitles you to student concessions.

Saving Points

  • We found they were pretty useless. They don’t have student discounts anywhere except France and there you don’t have to flash your card to get the discount.

Top Tip

  • Take you license instead, regardless and because.  You’ll regret it otherwise.

Concerts $115

We went to Arcade Fire in Rome. T’was sickk

Saving Points

  • Don’t be conservative here. It’s totally worth it.

Top Tip

  • If you’re keen on music, it’s worth checking for concerts that you’ll intersect before you go. Songkick is a great app for searching by place, date and band.   Also, keep an ear out when you arrive in towns since the small gigs are usually quite amazing too.   We went to a Jazz Bar in Basel, Switzerland and heard some sweet tunes, whilst drinking vino bianco.

Passport $244

An Aussie standard passport

Top Tip

  • No visas were required for EU or Singapore, but check this before you go.

Bankcard $0

A Commonwealth Travelmoney Card, loaded with EURO only, from a choice of 14 other currencies.   Capable of paying and withdrawing any currency with no extra fees.  Currency conversion at the time of purchase was used. ATM fee of EU2.20 or AUD3.50 applied.

Saving Points

  • The free use of any currency is necessary in Europe since there are SO many currencies! We used 6!
  • ATM fees add up, go with one that is free if possible.

Top Tip

  • Would have been $15 set up fee if we weren’t students.
  • Commbank had impeccable service in the set up process but were near impossible to contact when Mastercard was down for a day, we got locked out of our accounts and then a card was lost. If there is a card that offers online chat support GO WITH THEM!  Phone service is not always easy to obtain.

International SIM $0

Top Tip

  • I WISH WE GOT THIS! We went for the, ‘get a cheap one over there’ thing, but no SIM bought there can cross boarders effectively enough to be worth it. Estimated cost was $20 for the pre purchased SIMs.  We ended up spending $25 for two that didn’t really work. One with Data included does seem worth it to me in hind sight.
  • Lyca Mobile was the best option we found over there.

Lonely Planet Guides and Research $0

Top Tip

  • The hardest thing I had trouble with whilst travelling, was not being able to easily source basic town information!  It drove me crazy to Google search it and have to trudge through the layers of endorsed filth to be able to understand what you should except, where to walk and such.  Lonely Planet was the best of the information available that we used.  I would recommend the small guides for every place you go to if it wasn’t so expensive!  But then again, there were many times I would have paid any money to just be able to arrive in a place with a real, backpackers, down-the-line understanding of what to do whilst there.

Accommodation $3100

We spent between $20 and $60 per night each with the ‘normal’ being $38. This got us hostels with solid rating on Hostelworld.com (over 7), usually with a kitchen, in a 4-12 bed dorm. Across Eastern Europe rooms were on average $30 and twin rooms were sometimes cheaper than dorms when you divided cost between us.

Saving Points

  • You can go much cheaper by reducing your standard of cleanliness, facilities or location. These were important to us so we spent the extra.  Location especially, meant you ended up saving on transport etc.
  • Winter rates are always cheaper. (We went in Summer)

Top Tip

  • Book ONLY via Hostelworld.com or at the hostel counters to avoid secret booking fees.

Food $1350

All our food, self-catering every couple of days, with brekkie often included at our hostels. We found eating out to be a major highlight so we did that a lot more than ‘planned’ and we (I) bought stacks of local snack food like pastries and crepes and pretzels and gelato … yummmm…. #NoRegrets.  This cost includes some particularly fancy meals too, like Jordan’s 21st meal on the Eiffle Tower.

Saving Points

  • You can eat well and pay much less by cooking yourself and shopping at grocery stores.
  • In major cities, eat out 3 streets back from the tourist hubs and you’ll spend up to half!

Living Costs $400

This was for things like new toothbrushes and SIM cards and Panadol etc

Saving Points

  • Panadol cost like $2 for 24 everywhere you go.  Australia is ridiculous!

Top Tip

  • All Pharmacies speak English and most are the same company throughout Europe, with the green, flashing cross.  They are called Apothekes or Farmacias or Grosse somethings depending on where you are.
  • ASMOL requires a prescription in Switzerland so take one if you’ll need it.

Coffeeeeee $300

Coffee was a massive part of our trip. We had one or two a day!

Saving Points

  • Don’t save, good coffee is priceless.

Top Tip

  • Eastern Europe is actually better at it than France, Spain or Switzerland, although there’s one café in Lauterbrunner, Switzerland, that was my top coffee spot! Airtime, check it!!  Eastern Europe coffees are standard €1 or €2 tops, a bit more for cappuccinos. As with everything it gets more expensive the more north-west you go.
  • Coffee culture in Italy is to have it small, strong and at the bar, whilst talking to the barrister. If you can get used to the taste it’s a lot of fun! Don’t order a cappuccino after 2pm, they will not understand.
Bled, Slovenia
Bled, Slovenia

Apps $6

Maps with Me Premium Android  (iPhone)

Top Tip

  • You will need a map for the larger cities you go too. Rome, Venice, Paris are unachievable without one.  If you have data, Google Maps is great, but if not I recommend downloading an offline map. I used Maps with Me Free for ages and it was great, but it does not have the search option, which is very necessary if you’re stuck in the maze that is Venice with only a street name as a guide.  Get an offline map with search options, Maps with ME is the one I recommend.
  • You can get instant translator apps, Lonely Planet Guide Apps and so many others. If tech is the way your brain waves then get them all.

Activities $1000

White water rafting Bled Gorge, Arcade Fire in Rome, art supplies (instead of a class) in Bologna, Lyon cooking class, Arabian Baths and Flamenco show in Granada, Museum Passes and many, many more!

Saving Points

  • Don’t.

Top Tip

  • JUST DO IT!   BUT, be wary of tourist ploys.   However, I regret things I didn’t do over the tourist ploys we were frustratingly roped into.
White Water Rafting, Slovenia

Travel $1050

All seat reservations with Eurail, extra $380 on top of $1320 pass. And then metro passes for inner city transportation. And a ferry ride – Dubrovnik to Bari.

Saving Points

  • There’s no way to save on Eurail reservations that we discovered.
  • We walked kilometres in the first few towns trying to save money. We had seriously tank quads after the first 3 weeks, but realised it wasn’t worth it. Train systems in Europe are well maintained and very practicle and I’d recommend paying to use them.
  • Check for tourist passes in major cities. See below.
  • Flying Dubrovnik to Rome would have actually been cheaper since our luggage was light.

Top Tip

  • Often there are metro passes for a town, but there are also tourist passes. They often include metro and entry to the major attraction. The best part is you regularly are able to skip the lines!   Rome’s one is tops and the museum pass (only) in Paris is ABSOLUTELY worth it!

That’s it! More my ramblings for memory’s sake, but I hope you’ve enjoyed and I hope it helps.

Now some pictures, also for the memory. And dreaming.

Flamenco and Tappas in Granada
San Sebastian trek to Pasai
Churros – Irun, Spain
2014-06-21 12.00.33
Amazing Italian Shop in Bari
2014-06-17 16.29.37
Port at Makarska
2014-06-16 23.10.50
CREPES in Split, Croatia
2014-06-13 17.33.44
Sudden downpour in Zagreb. Lucky someone at a beer festival gave us these bad boys!
2014-06-11 12.50.09
Our hire boat in Bled Lake, Slovenia, was a swan.
Palacio de Cristal, Madrid, had multilingual books attached to each seat.
San Sebastian, never felt more at home in a place.

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