After packing my life up into a suitcase and heading off to what most would call as, basically starting a new life, I arrived in London. Two days later, on the morning of October 15th, 2012 I was heading off to Portugal where my 3 month solo trip would begin. Just to give you an idea of my plans, I had decided to travel for a couple months before I settled in Edinburgh, Scotland where I was hoping to secure a job and set up my life for the next while.
The Solo Travel Begins
What’s the best way to start your morning? Horilka (aka Vodka) of course. Well sadly for me I wasn’t consuming any, rather it was being offered to me in order to disinfect a minor cut. So this is how my European vacation began, off to the airport in a cab at 5am with a cotton ball soaked in vodka held tightly to my thumb. Ukrainians are notorious for fixing all of their problems with home brew. Now I pose the question to you all, what other applications are there for vodka besides drinking?? Please comment if you have anything to share.
So here begins my journey of 4 countries and roughly 10 cities in 3 months. On the way over here I was in a mad dash attempting to master some of the basics of the language. It’s now day two and I have a few words down. Good thing that my Airbnb hosts speak English or I would have been completely lost. Yesterday when I arrived I experienced my first double cheek kiss, hopefully there is more to come during my time in Europe hehe.
Along with me in this flat there is an Italian lady and girl from France. Last night we had a traditional Italian pasta dinner, complete with wine whilst we all attempted to converse in our languages, in the end somehow we all managed to understand each other. It was a very warm welcome. I should really learn some Spanish as it would have been quite useful. The French and Italian girl could not speak each other’s language but they could however converse in Spanish; this was quite interesting to listen to and really showed how universal this language is and why knowing Spanish or French is incredibly useful.
Feeling A Bit Lost
Portugal is taking some time for me to understand. Although very beautiful, with its steep hills and cobblestone walks, and tile exteriors to the buildings, it was slightly unnerving walking down the empty narrow streets which were shadowed by many of the buildings. The lack of people around made me feel that I needed to be cautious for some reason…was someone going to corner me in a passageway or would I get lost and not know how to find my way back, these were some of the thoughts going through my head. The change from being in such a fast paced city as London to no pace at all has been quite an adjustment. The language barrier has also been a bit of a challenge but I would say I’m managing alright now.
As I write this, in front of me stands the Belam Tower, a beautiful masterpiece with loads of history. I have no guidebook to tell me exactly what it is or someone to discuss the importance of it with. As I walk from historical site to monuments and museums I notice a slight sadness and aching pain within me. I am finding that travelling alone in a country in which you don’t speak the language can get very lonely rather quickly. There are definitely advantages to solo travel however I find that some experiences are more enjoyable and richer when you share them with another individual. Lisbon is the perfect place to stroll but perhaps the solo traveller must need to find another purpose then just wandering around with no set schedule.
Is solo travel strickly about self discovery or can a person just enjoy time away from their typical life without there being a deeper purpose for their trip? Do you really need to have an higher objective like self discovery when travelling? Regardless of the answer I do agree that solo travel inevitably gives you a greater awareness of ones self and is brought about by individual experiences of places and cultures.
Being a person who thrives on discussion it is difficult to travel to such great places, have thoughts and opinions on them but have no one to share them with; really, who wants to have a conversation with themselves regarding the possible construction of an ancient building. Not being able to have anyone to discuss my thoughts with means that I end up doing a lot of reflecting and deep thinking: I’m trying to embrace the moment and be greatful for the experience.
October 15th, 2012