I’ve recently returned from a few days travelling across Europe by myself. It wasn’t until someone asked me that I realised I’ve never actually done so until now. I was surprised to feel a little apprehensive the night before my departure from Lithuania. This was partly due to the fact that my travel plans fell apart the night before departure and I had to quickly hustle an alternative route from Vilnius to Warsaw. Such small details as a train route no longer being in operation are not enough to put me off!
It’s only been in the last year that I realise how haphazard my journey plans can be. I’m simply not the most organised of travellers. The tone was set on my first post-uni adventure with Tom. Armed with bikes, tent and limitless time, there was simply no need to set a schedule. We meandered our way across Europe in perfect harmony, nosing out our route as we went. It’s my favourite way to travel; leaving room for the unexpected.
It’s not so easy to allow for such freedom with only five days to cover over 2000km. I had my route planned and my hostels booked: a day in Warsaw and a day in Berlin, amidst days of travelling in between. Regardless of the odd travel mishap, it was marvellous. I braved my own company, heard unexpected stories from strangers along the way, ate exactly where and what I wanted and generally did as I pleased. I’m trying to overcome my people-pleasing inclinations. Travelling alone is certainly a useful way to exercise one’s selfishness.
Running shoes proved the best thing to pack (thank you to Tom for the encouragement!) Light on my feet, my tourist status hidden behind the universal runner’s lycra uniform, I explored new places in the morning light and constructed my mental map. The food was fantastic, varied and almost entirely vegetarian (bar the obligatory post-hangover bratwurst in Berlin). The hostels were clean and friendly (if not for the quietest of nights’ sleep.)
I became better at sitting at the bar by myself, beer and book in hand, happy to watch the world go by. I discovered that I am strong and not to be messed with, but that I can also make new friends and have wild times in a new place. Perhaps these are things I already knew about myself. Perhaps not. Either way, it was fun to get to know me a little better. I think we could all do with giving ourselves a little more time. Of course, I suspect that my solo travels were made all the sweeter knowing that my best friend and my crazy hound were waiting for me at home. They’re with me in my heart even when we’re miles apart.