“I find my own company exhilarating”. Oscar Wilde
I just returned from traveling by myself to Europe. And it was amazing!! I have actually been surprised by the words I have used to describe the trip by those who ask. “It was a blast!” What an interesting description. And I did. I had an absolute blast by myself.
I went to Stavanger, Norway and Dublin, Ireland. I have a son who lives in Stavanger, and it was time to catch up with him. Dublin just popped into my head and I went with it. I enjoy searching for the right places to stay. I start with Trip Advisor. Read reviews. Checked out websites. Read solo travel blogs. Look into Air BnB. And then I just had to make the decision and book the places. For some reason, doing that, seeing where I will be staying, always makes the trip more real.
Fear set in a few times as I did my trip preparations. Was this what I really wanted to do? Would I be lonely, or feel silly being by myself? When I have these moments, I try to feel the fears, and then just walk through them. I knew this was what I wanted to do. And more importantly, I knew I would be fine.
Sometimes I think society tells us we need to be with someone else, and preferably a significant other, to really enjoy life. What a big bunch of hooey. What I am learning is that being by myself, and loving myself and my own company, brings me more joy and happiness than I could ever imagine. Because when I am full on my own, I can totally enjoy others for who they are. And the love that flows from me flows over to others and then back again. The opposite of what I thought for my first 57 years on this earth.
The travel day arrived, and so many emotions were swirling inside me. A friend drove me to the airport. Next thing I knew I was on the first leg of my journey. Just a short flight to Chicago. Then after a quick layover, I was on my way to Heathrow. I was doing it! I was going to Europe, and traveling solo.
I arrived in Stavanger, around 11am the next day. I was tired, but excited. The hotel I chose, Thon Hotel Maritim, was great, and had my room ready on arrival. I took a short nap, walked around the city, and found the restaurant my son suggested for that evening. I got there a bit early, only to find out that they don’t take credit cards. I had to go get cash. I walked to the nearest ATM, only to discover I left my ATM card at home. I was bummed out. Not knowing what to do, I walked back to the restaurant, Egget, and told them the situation. The owner came out and told me not to worry. We would figure it out. Just stay and enjoy the meal. It was truly one of the best meals I have ever had. There is no menu. They just bring out course after course of whatever was fresh today, until you say that you are done. And then they bring out a cheese course. And the wine flowed. And when we were done, they said just to message them and we would figure it out. Not to worry. I never even got a check! 11 days later, I finally heard back from them, with the amount and wiring instructions. There was never any worry on either side that it wouldn’t all work out. This is how my vacation started, and I knew it was all going to be pretty magical!
The next day I went really out of my comfort zone. The is a famous cliff top outside of Stavanger. Preikestolen. Or Preacher’s Rock. I wanted to hike to the top. After some research, I found a guided hike that would suit me. It took only small groups. And the most unusual part is that it is a sunrise hike. Which meant they picked me up at my hotel just after midnight. And after picking up 5 others, and a van ride and a ferry ride, we arrived at the trailhead right around 3am. Sunrise at this time of year is around 7am, so we had plenty of time to make it to the top. And we were doing it with headlamps. So freaking cool!! It is a moderately difficult hike.
My ex was really into hiking. And I hadn’t hiked since we split up. I was totally unsure how I would feel. And once we got going, I felt a wave of gratitude wash over me. I knew how to hike. I knew the feeling of climbing steep inclines. And that was all due to all the hikes over the years with him. And I was truly grateful.
The other thing that worried me was some back/hip issues I have had for years. I have been working on that through various methods, including yoga and emotional release. And though I had been worrying about it, I felt great!
As the morning grew lighter, the skies were full of clouds. When we made it to the top, it was pretty obvious we weren’t going to see the sunrise. But being on top of that cliff, looking over the beautiful fjord, with gray skies that were just wondrous in it’s own way, and drizzle starting to come down, I felt absolutely glorious. And the guide had warm black currant juice for us. It was absolutely delicious, and just perfect.
The hike down was actually more difficult. The drizzle made the rocks slippery. I had to really be mindful of where I stepped. And I got into the practice of mindfulness. If I let me mind wonder, I slipped. It was very meditative. And after about 2 hours down, we had an amazing Norwegian breakfast waiting for us at the mountain lodge there. Wow!
And this was only day 2!!
(FYI…this is 3 years and 10 months after finding out about the affair).