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Things I Learned While Traveling Alone (Part 1)

I hate traveling alone. Correction, I hate experiencing life alone. I enjoy journeying alone, if I am meeting up with someone. (Is this a description of my overall life? Maybe.)

A couple of weeks ago, I went to London to see this sweet baby, OJ. I couldn’t wait to meet her. She and her parents live in the UK, so an 8 hour flight from Charlotte, NC separate us. It’s hard to just pop over and meet her.

 

Yes, it’s easier to travel to the UK because they speak English (probably more fluently than we do). But there’s something exhilarating about being able to make my way around the city even if I am following directions.

 

It’s uncomfortable being alone, but there’s also so much peace.

 

Too often, when I’m traveling with someone else, I’m focused on whether or not they’re having fun. Seriously, I want everyone to have the time of their life. I am mostly uncomfortable traveling alone because I like to share. I invite people to events; I invite people into my life. I need someone to experience eating the best burger with me. Social media tricks us into thinking that everyone is seeing/following what we are doing every second of the day. But that’s just on the surface; they’re not really there.

 

So where’s the peace?

Alone, on a train, my thoughts can stream anywhere they want while the natural scenes of streams and skyscrapers flow by. I am free to think anything I want, with only judgement from myself. Yes, I judge myself quite harshly, but here, I’ve found grace. Forgiveness when I don’t deserve it.

 

And here we are, the part where I get to share with you.


What have you learned while traveling alone?

Europe

Rome in a Day

 

Prego! Country of beautiful history, food, and people! Last month, I went to Italy with my friend Danielle. As usual, our itinerary was jam packed. Here’s how we did Rome in a Day (ish).

 

We flew in Monday afternoon, and it was rainy. We took the Leonardo Express which is the 30 min express from the airport (FCO) to the center of Rome. When we arrived at Termini station, and because we were tired from traveling all day, we took a taxi to our hotel. On a scale of 1 to Morocco, the streets were about a 7 to navigate. Google maps is not very helpful to navigate the streets of Italy. A map with landmarks (that the hotel gives you) is much more helpful.

 

We stayed at Hotel Smeraldo, which was a fantastic location! Close to the Pantheon neighborhood and Trastavere. We were able to walk to most places.

 

Ancient Rome: We were going to explore ancient Rome (Colosseum, Palantine Hill, Roman Forum, etc.)  that afternoon, but due to the weather and the fact that it was off-season, most of the attractions were already closed (they close at dusk).

 

 

Trastevere: This is neighborhood across the Tiber River. There were adorable shops and small restaurants. I learned that Romans do not eat dinner until earliest, 8PM. We were starving at 7PM, but we found a restaurant that was open (Papa Re), and yes, it was packed with tourists. But I haven’t met a pizza I didn’t like, especially an true Italian pizza.

Colosseum: The next day we rose early to see the Colosseum. We did a quick run through and took all the pictures.

Rome Free Walking Tour: We took the metro to the Spanish Steps and met up with our guide. It was also fun to meet people from all over the world in the tour group. We walked around the area near the steps and the Pantheon. He was very informational and gave us a little insight to Roman life, then and now. We saw a lot in a short period of time.

Vatican: We bought our tickets online to save time. Ignore all the “tour guides” outside who want to take you through the museum. You can go any time during the day, even if you bought your ticket for a certain time. The Vatican Museum is overwhelming and exhausting. We were winding through room after room of art I knew was priceless and I was trying to capture everything to remember later. But then, I finally arrived at the Sistine Chapel. I just stood there, staring up, in awe.

Even if you’re on a time crunch, take some time to take in how well preserved, clear, and seemingly impossible to paint this fresco is by Michelangelo.

St. Peter’s Basilica: You will have to go through security, even to climb the duomo, which backs up the line to get in. Bring cash to pay the entrance fee. The climb up the stairs is not an easy climb. I truly thought at the beginning of the trip, I’d be able to climb all the domes in Italy (Ha). To save time, we paid extra to go up part of the way on the elevator, and continued up the 200+ steps to see the view of Rome from the Basilica.


Pasta making with Francesca via BonAppetour: We ended the night learning how to make pasta with Francesca in her home. Explore the website for eating adventures to personalized cooking classes. She was hilarious and very welcoming. We made orecchiette alle cime di rapa, tornnarelli alla carbonara, and tiramisu.

                    

Gelato: We topped off the night with gelato (I know, we ate more?!) at Venci.

…and then passed out back at the hotel.

It is possible to see a lot of Rome in a day! You probably won’t see it all. Make a list and prioritize what you want to see. A tour is helpful so you don’t have to plan a couple of hours, but tour burn-out is real.