It seems like forever since last I felt a compulsion to write, now seemed like the perfect time. You see, I have been on my sabbatical since the 7th of August. The first part was spent in Iceland with excellent company. We parted ways 5 days ago. I flew on to Venice, and my travel companion flew home to beautiful Canada. I spent an evening exploring Venice prior to boarding the Rhapsody of the seas for an 11 day cruise. Today is day 4.
I often herald the joys of traveling on your own, it truly builds character. Yes, it’s truly selfish in the best way possible; you do what you want, when you want, for as long as you want. It really is a cool way to experience new places on your own terms. Alas, as cool as solo travel is for the bulk of the experience, inevitably the loneliness grabs you by the ‘chesticles’. You never know when the reality of just how alone you are will hit. You seldom know what exactly triggered the throat choking loneliness, but it comes all at once, like a tsunami. You know it will be bad, but you have no time to rationalize. One moment you are feeling like a mother fucking boss, the next, you wish you had your childhood Teddy to whisper your fears to. I’m 47, my teddy is long gone. Writing will get me through this conspicuous state of being alone.
Everyday the attentive staff of the Rhapsody of the Seas asks the same questions when I sit down to dine: “when will your husband be joining you? Oh, you’re not married, I meant boyfriend? Oh, no man? Is he at home? Are you traveling with family? No? Friends? No? Oh…you are traveling alone? Why? I understand; truly. Perhaps I should have selected a singles cruise? I just don’t want to pick up. Seriously, I am here for very similar reasons. I love cruising! I love the feeling of being at sea. The gentle back and forth lulls me to sleep each evening. I love the salty air, and sunsets at sea are magical. I also adore the flexibility regarding excursions. I get just enough of an experience to help me decide if I wish to return one day and experience it more fully. I think of cruising as a travel buffet of sorts, I sample just enough to inspire me to return or deter me from making a bad travel investment. It really works for me.
Should I have crafted an elaborate tail to make people just uncomfortable enough to leave me be? Nah! That would be unkind. I will suck it up and have faith that this little bit of melancholy will soon pass. I will soon return to my charming no fucks given self. I will stop being annoyed by all of the awkward explanations of why I don’t have travel companion. Perhaps I am the trail blazer of the cruise world? Although the men are quite shocked at my decision, I have had more than one lady traveler give me the thumbs up after her child slammed into the white linen draped blond woman of means with his triple scoop. She will look up at me with a mixture of exasperation and envy and say, “one day, one day I will take a vacation that is just about me”. My dearest lady, motherhood is a grind, I really hope you do take a solo vacation.
I still have another 7 days at sea, then I am flying to Paris for 3 days, London for 4 days, and finally 4 days in my beloved Dublin. I know that I will experience moments of anxiety that I will have to deal with alone, I know that my heart will experience a mixture of bittersweet whilst in Paris, the city of love. Knowing what to expect is half the battle.
Will I get lost? Most certainly I will. Will I come undone? Fuck no, I always find a way to get through shit. The character development part of solo travel should never be overlooked, I will return more cultured and feeling accomplished. It is so cathartic to get through challenging travel complications. Hell, I got mega lost in Venice trying to find my goddamn water taxi while dragging around 25Kg of luggage on zero sleep. Did I cry? You bet your best knickers I did, I had a great big old boo-whoo. I called someone very dear to me, no doubt incurring some fucked up long distance charges. I tell you, that call got me through it. I was told I was going to be okay and to believe in myself as much as they did. Guess what? It worked. I pulled up my big girl panties, dried my eyes, and got my ass to my hotel in Venice, all by my badass self. Yay me!
The next leg of the trip will be a little precarious; there will be no margin for fuck-up. I am now traveling on an uncomfortably tight budget, I grossly underestimated just how expensive Iceland would be. I may end up eating the bread they serve prior to ordering a meal and then making a run for it! I will find a way, I always do. One must not only have sense of humour when traveling solo, you must also have a healthy sense of adventure and faith that no matter what happens, shit will figure itself out.
Kisses my lovelies xxxx