Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Traveling Alone

Check out this blog, called  Legal Nomads:

It's an interesting journal written by a former New York City attorney who chucked it all to travel the world.  I have to admit I'm a little extremely envious.  You would think that all the traveling I have done in my life would have made me brave about traveling alone.  I have done it a lot, but it has involved a lot of nervous stomachs and nail biting.  As early as age 16 I flew from New Orleans to Manila, alone, stopping in Hawaii to visit a friend.  The plane was delayed in Dallas, making my arrival time in Honolulu a little later than expected, but I managed.

The most difficult trip I made was at 18, when I flew from Singapore (where my parents were posted) to London.  First of all, the flight was cancelled, after my mom had seen me through immigration and left to go home.  When we got the news that we weren't flying that night, I called mom repeatedly, but there was no answer at the house.  She was watching TV and didn't hear the ringing.  I finally got ahold of a family friend, who went to the house and threw stones at the windows to get mom's attention, letting her know of my predicament.  (Oh, by the way the Dutch national soccer team was on the flight, not too hard on the eyes, but no English).  The flight left the next morning, finally, but after landing in Bangkok, Colombo and Karachi, we arrived in Amsterdam in the wee hours of the morning.  No flights for another 6 hours.  The airline bused us to a hotel, where I lay awake in a jet-lagged stupor, worrying about missing my wake-up call.  I finally arrived in London, where I spent the summer with a British family as their nanny, and went to summer school at Richmond College.

More recently, I flew to Barcelona, Spain, to meet my to-be husband for two nights before he & his family boarded a ship for a Mediterranean cruise.  I had been in London to visit said family-for-whom-I-nannied, and jumped at the chance for a quick reunion with my sweetie.  I got there two days before Mitch did.  I resisted the urge to hole up in my hotel room, and bought a ticket for a city bus tour.  I felt disoriented, uneasy and scared at first.  It's hard not having anyone to "ooh and aah" with.  I went out to dinner that night (it was either that or starve!) and found myself sitting at a table being ignored.  It's almost as if the staff couldn't fathom that a woman would go out to eat alone.  I finally gave up, going to a different place where I got served.  I felt awkward and uncomfortable.

The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

I had planned ahead though.  At the time I was in grad school, studying library science.  I got in touch with a library professor at the University of Barcelona, and she graciously agreed to meet with me and give me a tour of the school.  After the tour, she and several members of the faculty took me to lunch at a tapas bar.  They kept re-filling my wine glass and bringing me plate after plate of delicious, but not identifiable, delicacies.  I think one of them was covered in squid ink.  When the lunch ended, we poured out of the restaurant, and they said, "Hey!  It's been fun!  See you later!  The subway is over there!"  I was completely unaware of where I was.  Did I mention that it was hot?  Did I mention the copious amounts of wine?

I staggered walked into a hotel lobby where I got some definite directions.  I found my way onto the subway and back to my hotel, no worse for the wear.

I won't even go into the story about when I spent the night on the floor of the Detroit airport.  'Nuff said.

Bottom line is, I may have traveled a lot, but my hat is off to this woman who has made it her life's work to wander the globe alone.  Wish I could have some of her chutzpah!

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