Friday, October 15, 2010

Traveling Solo

Before coming to Jordan, I'd never really traveled by myself. Oh sure, I'd gone to see friends and grandparents around the U.S. and physically got there by myself. I even went on a trip to Australia "by myself..." at least up until I met and made friends with the rest of my group in Los Angeles... So technically I had friends before even getting to the Land Down Under.

No, what I mean is, I had never gotten on a plane by myself, flown to the destination by myself, stayed in a hotel by myself, eaten by myself and completed all activities by myself. Now I have done all of those things.

My first attempt at sightseeing solo was coming back from my delightful trip to Albania. I had a six-hour layover in Istanbul, and who wants to spend six hours in an airport when the famous Blue Mosque is right outside?

So off I went. And thank GOD I've already lived in the Middle East because if not those Turkish men would have eaten me alive. As it was, I was able to ask them for directions, get what I needed out of them and then take off WITHOUT being guilted into buying any of their cheap souvenirs OR getting hit on by them. Score. Saw the Blue Mosque. Check. Saw the Hagia Sophia. Check. Saw the Underground Basilica. Check. Saw the Topkapi Palace. Check. Back on the plane. Done.

Then, buoyed by my successful navigation of Istanbul, I immediately turned around and went to Dahab, Egypt, by myself. Snorkeled by myself. Saw the absolutely fantastic Blue Hole by myself. Ate by myself (does the flock of hungry cats constantly surrounding me count as company?). Got saddle sores from a camel by myself. Had a very relaxing, wonderful time.

And THEN, while I was in Palestine with Lena, I skipped out early and went to Bethlehem by myself.

And then I realized. Traveling by yourself opens up some wonderful options. You don’t have to wait or synchronize schedules with anyone. You only have to do exactly what you want to do. The world is open to whatever YOUR budget can handle; you don’t have to limit yourself to what your friends can afford. The world is your oyster, as they say.

But it is not half as much fun as going with friends.