The Art of Travelling Alone

Today I feel privileged to be guest posting over at Single Roots. I’m sharing my top 3 tips for travelling solo, based on my own experiences this year. Would love for you to hop over there and check it out. I would love you to leave a comment and share your view of travelling alone – would you do it or have you already done it? Do you think it is overrated or underrated? 

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I love the world, and I never feel so alive as when I am exploring a new place. My fierce determination to see Croatia and Greece – two countries I had long dreamed about visiting – saw me embarking on a two-week adventure, alone, this past July.

My wanderlust officially became stronger than my fear of travelling alone.

Okay, so it wasn’t actually my first time going it alone. I visited Edinburgh, Scotland, at Easter by myself. Those three days were a good experience, but two weeks? I didn’t know what to expect, I just knew that I wanted to go.

Continue reading at Single Roots… 

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Croatia: the Highs and Lows

Obviously I’m back from my 2 week holiday and have already resumed being an exhausted (but very happy) Londoner! This week I will be reminiscing and sharing all about my first solo trip with you, so check back later in the week for more.

First part of the trip was with Sail Croatia, with 7 days of island hopping around the Dalmatia Coast. We started in Dubrovnik and ended in Split, with a stop at a different island each night. The sailing (cruise) trip was forced relaxation and I wasn’t about to argue with that. We spent the days lounging, sleeping, reading and tanning. For a few hours of every day we were anchored near a random and deserted island to jump off the boat, which the boys did in style, and cool down from the heat. This was my favourite time of day. I love the water, and a few times I just floated on my own and soaked it all in (literally).

Temperatures sat anywhere between late 30’s and early 40’s degrees celcius every day. And boy, did you feel it! I have never sweat so much in my life. Croatia in one word, is beautiful. It has all of the landscape you could want; rolling hills, rocky mountains and clear blue sea. While on the boat I loved constantly seeing sights like these, and it was the reason that I didn’t take a load of pictures, because they would have all looked the same. Which isn’t bad at all, just means not every single pretty view was photo worthy!

We ate a lot of carbs on the boat, and by the end I never wanted to see white bread again! But I appreciated the effort that went in to our meals by the chef. All of the Croatia crew were very lovely and hard working, they definitely added something special to the experience for us. Oh, and did you know Croatian’s are the second best lovers in the world? This is what they say, though they can’t confirm who come first in this competitive ranking. Interesting!

Highlight of the week on the boat was Dubrovnik (and I thankfully had an extra day there at he beginning). It’s a lovely town and one of the prettiest places that I visited. We also had our first fun night out there. Being a part of Mark’s proposal to Erin in Makarska was pretty special too! They are awesome. My other favourite moments were when I broke off and explored at Stari Grad and on Korcula Island, which makes me sound like a real hermit! Anyone who knows me will know that isn’t true. It just meant I saw more and got to do the things I enjoy (read and write). I do wish there had been more single travellers on the boat as it was mostly groups and couples, but everyone was really friendly.

By the time we got to Split, I was eager to move on and be independent again. Turns out I love my own company when travelling, because I like to experience a place in my own way. Which oftens means wandering aimlessly with my camera and seeing where I end up. I dropped my clothes off at the laundromat then got lost (with my 16kg backpack on) finding my hostel. If you ever want to really experience a city, get lost! Not recommended in such heat though, I nearly died.

I arrived and settled in to the amazing Split Guesthouse & Hostel, which I would highly recommend. Hosted by Josko and his pet turtle, it’s small, personal and charming. Unfortunately, this is when I received the bad news from Josko that my plans to visit the Plitvice Lakes in one day were unrealistic, and probably not worth the trip. If I missed my bus to my next destination I would be ‘screwed’ and there was nowhere to store my backpack while exploring. I nearly cried, and immediately emailed my virtual travelling companion Candace all my woes. I had no perspective in that moment and lost sight of everything, I just felt like an idiot.

The Plitvice Lakes, a place I have desperately wanted to see since seeing a phenomenal picture on my photographer friends’ computer. I hadn’t planned properly and mistakenly thought I could ‘wing it’, only to discover it wasn’t going to happen. One of the first things I thought was, ‘I practically based my visit to Croatia around these lakes, I told everyone I was going and now I will go home a failure.’

After pouring it all out in a pitiful email to Candace (poor girl), I set off for a day filled with my favourite things in a hope they would console me: a walk up a massive hill to a spectacular view point of Split, some frozen yoghurt, finished with a hard-earned swim on a secluded beach. While there I did something I hadn’t done all week and I desperately needed to: I wrote. My frustrations, my fears that were hassling me, and what I was most thankful for. And what do you know, my perspective came flooding back!

I am having an awesome time, I learned a valuable lesson, and I am blessed to be even on this holiday. I am happy, life is good, chin up buttercup!

So I went and booked a train ticket to Zagreb for the following day and was unexpectedly excited about it. I love train travel and it would be a way to see the countryside of Croatia that I hadn’t yet seen. After my lovely day in Split, I was feeling a lot more positive!

My last two nights in Croatia ended up being really fun, socialising with new friends from the hostels I was staying at. To top it all off, I met a woman on my flight out of Zagreb who was in her 50s. She just looked like your average mother, but she and her husband were keen travellers and had been for years. She said ‘We’ve been to Croatia before and loved it this time, I have a feeling we’ll be coming back!’

That’s when it really set in that I have the rest of my life to travel and I will see the Plitvice Lakes one day, because I’ll be back too…

Next stop: Athens! Look out for that post on Wednesday.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik harbour, view from my hostel window!

A Dubrovnik beach

Dubrovnik old town, from the lookout

Swimming

Cliff diving!

Sail Croatia boats docked at Stari Grad, a small town on Hvar Island.

Happy after a bit of reading and journalling on my own, in a secluded part of the beach in Stari Grad.

Stari Grad

An example of our view every night when we docked.

Playing cards on the boat.

Dinner in Makarska

We just needed parrots. Nautical party, Makarska

Nautical Party, Makarska

View of Split from the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, situated within the Old Palace walls.

Purple flowers. The Old Palace is a major tourist attraction but many people now have homes within the walls.

The long road to my secluded beach, where I regained perspective.

All images are my own, taken on either my iPhone 4 or Nikon DSLR (D70) camera.

Flying Solo, Literally

This post is dedicated to my beautiful and courageous friend Candace, who is sometimes afraid but does it anyway. 

In less than three weeks, I will go. Not very far or for very long, just a couple of weeks on a little adventure. Leaving my very normal, routine and safe life behind, I’ll step into my travelling shoes and pretend that there’s nothing waiting for me at home.

I will go to some of the most beautiful places in the world, places that I have wanted to see since before I knew my own mind or heart. The Santorini and Plitvice Lakes that I saw in pictures, inwardly declared “I must go” and added to my Life List.

The only sacrifice is that I’m doing it alone. If that’s even the word for it. I’m not sure it is.

Travelling with others is difficult, when everyone has different budgets, work schedules and bucket lists. I asked around to see if anyone was keen, and though friends would have loved to join me, it just didn’t work out. And it just didn’t seem a good enough reason not to go.

I’m scared. Of getting lost (highly probable given my track record), being in unsafe situations and plans not working out. (Don’t worry though, I’ve seen Taken. I won’t share a taxi with anyone.) And I’m excited. To step out of my comfort zone, and just see where and who my wandering leads me to. And the sun of course, oh how I pine for the sun.

I haven’t even gone yet and I’m already a little different. Just planning the trip has come from a Micaela that didn’t exist a little while ago; the insecure and needy Micaela that hated being alone.

The best experiences are always rooted in risk. I would rather have someone there with me but I feel like going alone is, if I’m honest, ordained. A friend was close to joining me in Greece, but her plans changed and she can’t anymore. I was disappointed but unsurprised, because like I said, I have a feeling it’s meant to be this way.

If it is a sacrifice, that’s okay. The bigger sacrifice would be not going at all.

Would you ever travel alone? Any tips or advice? Is there anything you’ve done because the risk was worth it? Leave a comment.

Pssssstttttt! If you’re interested, this is the itinerary:

29th June – Arrive in Dubrovnik, Croatia
30th June – Sailing begins. Dubrovnik – Split
7th-9th July – Bus from Split to Zagreb, via Plitvice Lakes
9th-11th July – Athens, Greece
11th-15th July – Santorini, Greece

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