A Little Serenade…Six Songs for a Happy Birthday!

Guitar Serenade on Fraser So there I am, a year ago today, sweaty, sand is in every single possible crevice of my body, the cake I bought completely melting all over the makeshift table, and yet the moment is precisely right as twenty-four backpackers serenade me with the Happy Birthday song in six different languages.

We were all on a three day camping/driving/sandy adventure of Fraser Island, Australia (more on that tomorrow) and as my luck would have it I was hitting the quarter of a century mark. Birthdays on the road are a rite of passage of sorts; it’s like a travel Christmas, you have to adjust to some changes, alter your expectations, and embrace the unique circumstances and rituals that accompany.Fraser's long beach

So, instead of a birthday dinner with the family and hanging out with friends, I found myself surrounded with heaps of foreigners (or am I the foreigner?) willing to raise a drink in toast to my birthday and sing me the special birthday songs from their country.

A fair trade all in all methinks!

With birthday festivities in mind we piled up the goon and beer, turned up the radio on the 4-weel drive and crammed onto the tarp (a failed attempt to avoid the sand) and all sat around a campfire picking at my melted chocolate cake mush while each group sang to me their traditional songs…at the top of their lungs.

Birthday Cake mess! Melted, mushy cake!

And some even danced (hey, alcohol was involved, what can you expect!).

I loved my last birthday. Thanks to diversity on the road I wracked up six languages for the Happy Birthday song: Hebrew, Swedish, Swiss, Dutch (two different Dutch songs actually!), German, and English (obviously right).

I had a little video of the Israeli birthday song…but for the absolute life of me I just can’t find it.  :-(  Drats! Wish I had better organized my videos! Just know that there was fun to be had and the Hebrew one was one of the most fun of the lot :-)

No clue what I’m doing today; good friends and family most likely– equally great but in a totally different way!

So, tell me, how do you spend your birthdays on the road? Any fun stories, mishaps, or random occurrences?

, , , ,


28 Responses to A Little Serenade…Six Songs for a Happy Birthday!

  1. ShannonOD December 31, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    That's actually a pretty neat tradition that has cropped out of your
    travels! You'll have to make sure that you keep a mind to that now so you
    can add some more climbing onto the list! :-) I look forward to hearing
    how you guys spend your coming b-day Deb!

  2. Dave and Deb December 31, 2009 at 7:50 am #

    I love spending birthdays abroad. I am almost always away because my birthday falls in January and we love to get out of Canada for the winter. Between Dave and I, we have spent birthdays Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Rock Climbing in Thailand, Climbing Borneo's Highest Peak Mount Kinabalu, Snow Boarding in Switzerland, dining on a Nile cruise and hanging out in Mexico. It is funny, I see a pattern of climbing a lot, believe me, we never plan it out, but we seem to be in Jungles or mountains a lot during birthdays:) Great idea for a post.

    • ShannonOD December 31, 2009 at 5:29 pm #

      That's actually a pretty neat tradition that has cropped out of your
      travels! You'll have to make sure that you keep a mind to that now so you
      can add some more climbing onto the list! :-) I look forward to hearing
      how you guys spend your coming b-day Deb!

  3. ShannonOD December 30, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    Oh man, I definitely think the 40 mark is worth a splurge! But, at the same
    time, it could be fun to spend that one home with great friends too – you
    really cant go wrong either way. :-)

  4. AirTreks Nico December 30, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    Unfortunately this year will probably be at home, since my trip won't be falling over the b-day. But you never know, there may be a spontaneous excursion to celebrate the 40th!

  5. ShannonOD December 29, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    I'll take a late wish! :-) But sorry to hear that the birthday blew for
    your husband…I think that next time a hostel should definitely be in order
    – and even if you don't stay at one you can often go hang out in the common
    room in the evenings and get a feel for where the crowd is hanging that
    night.

    But at least you figured this out before the next holiday on the road! :-)

  6. Lindsey December 29, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    Well, happy birthday! (Even though I'm a little late.)

    I have never celebrated my own birthday on the road; however, I tried to help my husband celebrate his while we were traveling. My husband and I usually throw huge parties on our birthdays. Since this particular year we were traveling, we couldn't do that. We should have stayed in a hostel just so that we would be able to meet a bunch of travelers and hit the town, but we found a relatively cheap rate at a small hotel instead. All in all, the birthday was pretty bad. We were depressed that we didn't have anyone to celebrate with!

    From now on, we will always be sure to be around other travelers on holidays/birthdays!

    • ShannonOD December 30, 2009 at 6:02 am #

      I'll take a late wish! :-) But sorry to hear that the birthday blew for
      your husband…I think that next time a hostel should definitely be in order
      – and even if you don't stay at one you can often go hang out in the common
      room in the evenings and get a feel for where the crowd is hanging that
      night.

      But at least you figured this out before the next holiday on the road! :-)

  7. AirTreks Nico December 29, 2009 at 4:52 pm #

    Absolutely! Had birthdays in London, Bangkok and Mexico and remember each one of them for being universally different from the other 35.

    I definitely try to fit a trip in or around the b-day time of year. Cool that I'm not the only one!

    • ShannonOD December 30, 2009 at 6:00 am #

      What fun – I'd bet that they are three totally different birthday
      experiences! Got any great locations planned this year? :-)

      • AirTreks Nico December 30, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

        Unfortunately this year will probably be at home, since my trip won't be falling over the b-day. But you never know, there may be a spontaneous excursion to celebrate the 40th!

        • ShannonOD December 31, 2009 at 4:43 am #

          Oh man, I definitely think the 40 mark is worth a splurge! But, at the same
          time, it could be fun to spend that one home with great friends too – you
          really cant go wrong either way. :-)

  8. Anil December 29, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    I'm an old fart – but just on my birthday. I rarely make a point to go out and celebrate but if I am lured out I prefer the good old bar with drinking songs to go alongside.

    • ShannonOD December 30, 2009 at 5:59 am #

      I'll second the drinking songs, for me it's all about the Irish pubs when I
      get lured out :-)

  9. Lindsey December 29, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    Well, happy birthday! (Even though I'm a little late.)

    I have never celebrated my own birthday on the road; however, I tried to help my husband celebrate his while we were traveling. My husband and I usually throw huge parties on our birthdays. Since this particular year we were traveling, we couldn't do that. We should have stayed in a hostel just so that we would be able to meet a bunch of travelers and hit the town, but we found a relatively cheap rate at a small hotel instead. All in all, the birthday was pretty bad. We were depressed that we didn't have anyone to celebrate with!

    From now on, we will always be sure to be around other travelers on holidays/birthdays!

    • Dave and Deb December 31, 2009 at 12:50 am #

      I love spending birthdays abroad. I am almost always away because my birthday falls in January and we love to get out of Canada for the winter. Between Dave and I, we have spent birthdays Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Rock Climbing in Thailand, Climbing Borneo's Highest Peak Mount Kinabalu, Snow Boarding in Switzerland, dining on a Nile cruise and hanging out in Mexico. It is funny, I see a pattern of climbing a lot, believe me, we never plan it out, but we seem to be in Jungles or mountains a lot during birthdays:) Great idea for a post.

  10. AirTreks Nico December 29, 2009 at 9:52 am #

    Absolutely! Had birthdays in London, Bangkok and Mexico and remember each one of them for being universally different from the other 35.

    I definitely try to fit a trip in or around the b-day time of year. Cool that I'm not the only one!

  11. Anil December 29, 2009 at 8:06 am #

    I'm an old fart – but just on my birthday. I rarely make a point to go out and celebrate but if I am lured out I prefer the good old bar with drinking songs to go alongside.

  12. ShannonOD December 28, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    That's a really fun idea to keep the b-day exciting while still bringing in
    some foreign flare…I think I'll have to try that next year…or maybe next
    week, I've been craving Indian ;-)

    • ShannonOD December 29, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

      I'll second the drinking songs, for me it's all about the Irish pubs when I
      get lured out :-)

  13. ShannonOD December 28, 2009 at 9:46 pm #

    Wow, your birthday is a bit worse then mine there!! But it is nice that you
    always get to spend the day with family since it's so close to the holiday
    :-)

    Oh, and the toffee and tea – that *totally *counts as a pretty cool travel-y
    b-day!

  14. heatheronhertravels December 28, 2009 at 3:19 pm #

    Not sure I ever had a birthday when travelling, but I do like to celebrate by trying out a different local restaurant with friends each year here in Bristol – often they have an travelling theme like the Spanish one we tried last year
    http://www.heatheronhertravels.com/a-taste-of-s

    • ShannonOD December 29, 2009 at 4:48 am #

      That's a really fun idea to keep the b-day exciting while still bringing in
      some foreign flare…I think I'll have to try that next year…or maybe next
      week, I've been craving Indian ;-)

  15. Fly Girl December 28, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    As much as I travel, I've never spent my birthday on the road since my birthday is the day after Christmas and I always spend Christmas at home! The closest I've come is English toffee and Indonesian tea mailed for my B-Day by friends in London and Jakarta. I think I enjoyed those gifts as much as a foreign language birthday song.

    • ShannonOD December 29, 2009 at 4:46 am #

      Wow, your birthday is a bit worse then mine there!! But it is nice that you
      always get to spend the day with family since it's so close to the holiday
      :-)

      Oh, and the toffee and tea – that *totally *counts as a pretty cool travel-y
      b-day!

  16. heatheronhertravels December 28, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    Not sure I ever had a birthday when travelling, but I do like to celebrate by trying out a different local restaurant with friends each year here in Bristol – often they have an travelling theme like the Spanish one we tried last year
    http://www.heatheronhertravels.com/a-taste-of-s

    • ShannonOD December 29, 2009 at 11:00 pm #

      What fun – I'd bet that they are three totally different birthday
      experiences! Got any great locations planned this year? :-)

  17. Fly Girl December 28, 2009 at 8:06 am #

    As much as I travel, I've never spent my birthday on the road since my birthday is the day after Christmas and I always spend Christmas at home! The closest I've come is English toffee and Indonesian tea mailed for my B-Day by friends in London and Jakarta. I think I enjoyed those gifts as much as a foreign language birthday song.

Leave a Reply