It wasn’t long ago that I discovered my passion to travel. Even though I had been a frequent vacationer all my life, ever since I was 11 months old, the real traveler in me was born just a couple of years back. And yes, it was in this wonderful continent of Europe that it all began. It was back in 2014 that I was attending a summer school program in Hanover, a small city in Germany, and decided to take a few trips to Amsterdam and Prague with new friends that I met there. However, my first ever typical traveler experience came when I decided to travel solo to visit a friend in Wroclaw, ‘the city of dwarfs’ located almost 600 kilometers away in Poland.
I know, most of you might be thinking as to what exactly do I mean to say when I write ‘a typical travel experience’. Yes, traveling can be a subjective idea as nowadays we can find hundreds of different types of travelers with all sorts of different purposes set out to savor alien experiences across the globe. It could be a family escaping their daily routine every year once or twice to visit famous attractions domestic or international or say a group of friends planning to cover up few countries that they had always dreamt of visiting together ever since they have known each other. Amidst all this, there are individuals who want to visit places to meet new people, experience their lives, their culture to encounter experiences that they might never get to experience in their own backyards.
So I would like to briefly pen down a few of the typical traveler experiences that I had on my first solo adventure.
- Hanover to Wroclaw
Trains; expensive, flights; expensive, bus; expensive, hitchhiking; damn I have never done it, reluctant to try. It was a last minute plan and all of the possible ways to commute seemed out of budget considering the fact that I had splurged all of my money in the first four weeks in Europe and this was my last week in this amazing continent. With a minimal cash in hand, here’s what I tried…
8th August, 15:30
My phone beeps..
Stranger: Hey, I am here waiting for you at the entrance of your hostel.
Me: I will be there in a minute.
Five minutes later, I was sitting in the backseat of a Volvo v40 2001 model. All thanks to Blablacar without which my trip wouldn’t have been possible. Along with me there were two others who needed a ride and were to get off halfway down the road. Don’t really have a good memory about that, but I think they disembarked at either Leipzig or Dresden, following which its was just me along with the car owner and his cousin on our way to Poland.
When we entered Poland, the internet service on our phones stopped working as we all had German SIM cards. I had the address, but none of us knew the exact location. Luckily, a cab driver led the way and took us to my destination. Indeed was a very wonderful experience, one I might have never had, had I not been courageous enough to travel alone. That night, I found a new friend in a foreign country.
Midnight; with unknown people in an unknown city without any internet connection with just a 2-line address on my phone of a person whom I was to meet for the first time! Cheers to life!!!
- A journey from ‘strangers to friends’
This one’s definitely one of my best experiences so far. I had just set my feet out of a stranger’s car, just to meet another stranger. Yeah, I had known Sylwia for quite a long time. But what happens when you meet someone in person for the first time? Yes, that’s definitely a stranger situation, no matter how long you have known them for through social media. But how long can that go on for? I mean for most of the travelers, it’s just a matter of few minutes, few words or few drinks, and then they all mix up. And so it was for me. In a matter of few minutes, I had a home away from home.
- A weekend that stretches for 5 days
Unlike my plan to stay for the weekend and get back to Hanover on Sunday, I end up overstaying till Wednesday. How wonderful it is when your decision depends solely on you only because you chose to travel alone. The freedom of choice, as to how, why, when and what to do makes traveling solo worthwhile. What really made this small town appealing to me were the people that I met, the amazing fountain show, the zoo and the uncountable number of dwarfs that kept staring on me while I explored their city my with polish friend. And our basketball match ofcourse. 😀
- Craved to stay longer
Sometimes you just know that you haven’t had enough of a particular place and you want to stay longer. However, my final exam in Hanover was to take place on Friday, and even though I had skipped my lectures for the week, I had to be there for the exam and so I chose to return on Wednesday. Yes, finally I left, but only after I had promised myself that I will be back someday so that I can find all the dwarfs in the city.
I don’t really want to sound too cocky or presumptuous when I say traveling solo would definitely be one of the best ways to travel especially when you’re young. Even though it’s my personal opinion, I would still go on and on about solo traveling when I meet people. I feel, the ones that have the opportunity should definitely take it. You never know, you might never have it again.
An anonymous traveler has beautifully quoted, ’I was never going to go, if I waited for someone to come with me.’
Do look forward to my next article about Wroclaw. I’m sure this amazing city in Poland will be the next one on your bucket list.
Keep reading and keep motivating. Thanks.
Happy and safe traveling!!!