Visiting Berlin, Germany, was one of the most impressionable places I have ever ventured. The cities, the history and the art, from modern to dated. In my eyes the most diverse and eye-opening city in Europe.
The appeal of travelling is in all of us. We all have a hunger to explore, however far that may be. The one thing solo travellers have in common is the growing desire to experience our world. They enjoy the company of new culture, different people and lifestyles, they are open to the thrill of adventure no matter what sort of weather conditions they are faced by.
There is a definite rise in those who travel alone, those who embark on a journey across many parts of the world as a hobby. It sounds like the perfect lifestyle. You see it often, on social media and online. It amazes anyone who stumbles across their feed and they stare in awe at the photographs they have taken. Pictures of Indian sunsets and Swiss Alps are enough motivation in themselves for you to pack your bags and begin the journey tomorrow. The gorgeous green of valleys and the tranquil rivers and waterfalls; a beach with white sands and blue seas; a mountain top view of a snowy landscape.
Social media and online websites have played a large part in encouraging others and setting the bar, inciting more and more individuals to join in the solo traveller movement. There are a vast amount of Instagram and Twitter accounts dedicated to promoting types of trips that are very suitable for anyone interesting in travelling the world solo, and just needs that little bit more inspiration and push them to take the leap.
Australian solo traveller’s Jordan Tually, Frida Reirson and Jackson Groves both run very exciting Instagram accounts filled with blue seas, pink skies, lots of greenery and everything that shouts out “my life is amazing!” However that is just a glimpse of the action, the youth have been documenting their travels for a long time.
The rise of independent female travellers over the age of 30 is particularly interesting. Solo Traveller is a blog started by Janice Waugh and Tracey Nesbitt, two woman who found love in going it alone. They started the blog to create space for a diverse community of people, all wishing to travel, solo. The blog is perfect reference for anyone who is new to the whole idea of travelling by their self to share tips, inspiration and ideas.
Janice is an author, writer, speaker and traveller who took on this lifestyle around about the time she become a widower. She said, “I discovered how strong and capable I really am. When I travelled with my husband and family I took care of the kids and my husband took care of the travel details. I had to learn how to do this. How to NOT lose my passport and how to navigate a new city. I now do it all and the confidence that comes from this shows itself at home as well.
Every solo traveller has a vision of how they will spend their time when they flee the nest, everyone has their own interests however, everyone who travels solo has a love for adventure.
Tracey is a writer, editor and describes herself as a “food and wine fanatic” who travels around the world to share her food and drink experiences from the places she has visited with The Solo Traveller Blog readers.
Travelling alone will naturally push you from your comfort zone, it is by no means a bad thing. Being in situations alone with only yourself to rely on is exactly the type of thing that makes you grow and try more new things. It can be thrilling, fulfilling or enlightening. Either way, it is something to be proud of and you learn about yourself as well as building your confidence.
Travelling alone can seem like a very lonely prospect and some may find it difficult to imagine doing at first. Without another body or a group, you become very self-reliant. It could be something you never see yourself doing but very much want to. If that’s the case, take reassurance in Janice and Tracey’s words. Two women who have been there and done it all, who have shared their experiences on their blog for this exact reason, and just go for it. There is very little to lose and so much to gain; experience, self-assurance, soul searching and perhaps a new hobby or lifestyle?
Europe is famous for romantic cobbled roads, bright hanging flowers on old roman ruins, music, food and sun, glorious sun.
1 . Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, known for the art, culture and architecture of Antoni Gaudi, the Museu Picasso and the impressive Gothic streets. Music throughout Spain is traditionally associated with flamenco music and Spanish guitars, however in Barcelona there is the Primavera Sound annual music Festival between May 31st to June 4th this year. An indie music fest full of new artists, alternative vibes and creative aura. Of course, there is guarantee for sun throughout the entire weekend, which leaves this event on the opposite end of the festival spectrum from rainy Glastonbury.
2. Rome, Italy
Rome; The Eternal City. The Romans believed that despite what was happening throughout the rest of the world, no matter how many empires caved and collapsed, Rome would go on forever.
What other reason do you need to visit Rome this summer, considering the current situation of our world?
Also known as the city of love, Rome is a very care free, warm, and admirable city. Living up to both nicknames, the city is very classic and timeless. Locals scooting around on their Vespa’s, standing within the Colosseum, making a wish at the Trevi Fountain, and strolling down the Spanish Steps, suddenly you’re in a movie scene and holding someone’s hand just feels right. Needless to say, the Italian food, ice-cream and fine wine is exquisite…when in Rome!
3. Athens, Greece
If heat, sun and culture is your three musts when booking your summer escape, Athens is the place to visit, and if you’re interested you can learn some history along the way. One of the first cities of it’s time, and home to the original Olympic Games. Where philosophy, politics and art meet, Athens is somewhere everyone should see in their lifetime, an summer 2017 is the time to do just that.
Athens offers everything in it’s cosmopolitan make up, from grunge to grace, nothing is missed in this city at the heart of Greece. Stunning scenery and picture perfect views from restaurant terraces, what else could you wish for in a summer vacation?
4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Progressive and diverse with great night life, Amsterdam is a great city break for students. The relaxed city surprisingly has more canals than Venice, 1281 bridges, more bicycles than people, and don’t forget it’s infamous windmills.
July through to August is a brilliant time to visit the city, the amount of festivals and events on throughout the summer is incredible, there is something for everyone. From classical music to dance, comedy, entertainment, and dance, there is nothing forgotten by Amsterdam, everything is covered.
This coffee shop is a real find for anyone in search of a humble little hide-out in a trendy though relaxed environment. Perfect for winding down or chilling out, the Offshore in Glasgow’s West End is the place to go!
On the corner of Gibson Street and Westbank Quadrant, The Offshore lets in lots of light with two out of four walls as windows. The ceiling features traditional coving and the walls painted are orange and yellow, very retro. This place is a winner for everyone. The Offshore even offer vegan food. IN-CREDIBLE!
The decor inside is so cosy, it’s like walking off the street into a whole new coffee-loving world. It peaceful and never crowded though never empty, dotted with people from all walks of life, enjoying their Sunday afternoons lounging on the couches, nipping in on Monday mornings before work, or working away at a window table over lunch.
Events take place throughout the month in The Offshore and their website has plenty updates on this. There is also free WiFi here (the password is written on the menu board) which is why it is such a student magnet and perfect location for a study date/catch up with friends.
3-5 Gibson Street
It’s becoming more appealing and easier to travel across the water to a European city for a short trip a couple times a year than to plan one two-week beach holiday. I completely understand it.
A city break may not be your thing, for numerous reasons – there is a lot of walking involved, usually very busy and it can be stressful – not your ideal relaxing luxury holiday. However, I believe that a city-scape can offer you more than two-weeks of lying on a beach with the same scenery.
European cities are very romantic and Gothic with impressive art, history and architecture. Places like Rome, Barcelona, Prague and Paris all have their own niche, each city vastly different but all completely beautiful.
If the heat is a must for you when you travel, visiting cities in Spain and Italy at almost any time of the year, will guarantee you heat and sunshine. Although, if you love the heat but stay sensible and cover up every couple of hours, finding shade in the city can be hard. Most people are used to a sea breeze to cool them down in hot temperatures but in land heat can be a constant and you may have to find shade from a building or pop into a museum to give yourself a break.
As city breaks are for the purpose of sightseeing, there is a lot of walking involved. Some people are quite happy to walk around in the heat all day, until blisters and exhaustion kick in. No one wants to be wearing sensible walking shoes when in 30 plus degree temperatures, flip flops and sandals are most people’s preferences. Everyone knows that this footwear choice and the heat on your feet are the sole reason behind sore ankles and toes.
An open top tour bus around the city is ideal when the heat gets too hot to handle. You can hope off and on at the attractions and sights you wish, plus the breeze you get from the top deck of the bus is a God send. But regardless, just like it is on a beach holiday, water is ALWAYS a necessity. Especially if you are doing a lot of walking, keeping hydrated makes everything 10 times easier.
Beach holidays are always great, very chilled; the world almost seems to slow right down while you laze about in the sand soaking up the rays of sun. There is no sound quite like the whoosh of the waves on the beach and retreating back into the sea. So lush.
A holiday like this is never taken for granted; it is the exact opposite of what everyone’s day-to-day lives are. Beach holidays are so appreciated (and needed) that when you get home it’s like looking back to a dream, as though you have just woken up from a long, well-earned rest. You feel rejuvenated and refreshed.
Unlike a city break, you can return home and be thirsty for more. More history, more adventure, another city, another trip. Visiting cities and immersing yourself in the culture can be so good for your soul, so good that you become addicted. You get the travel bug and want to set off to city after city after city…
Everyone is different so everyone mellows out in their different ways. Everyone seeks different kinds of adventure and everyone’s definition of “holiday” is different.
Instagram has a reputation of romanticising and enticing you in to believe that the world is peaceful and fair. Berlin is just one of many places that Instagram successfully does, just that.
Many of you will have an Instagram account and most of you will either use or visit it every day. Recently I have returned from a five-day trip to the city of Berlin. I have Instagram to thank for that.
Let me explain.
The Instagram app on my phone is rarely ever closed, I am obsessed with following accounts that document their travels and constantly post dreamy and scenic pictures of spaces in the world that are truly unbelievable. Some accounts surprise you making you have a double take, questioning “is that REALLY in the UK?” because you just cannot fathom that a blue sky and tropical looking waterfall fit within the same picture under the location of North West England. The people of Instagram all know how to appreciate a good pic when they see one, don’t they?
With constant reminders of exactly how attractive Instagram can be when you follow such inspiring accounts, it doesn’t surprise me that so many of us decide to book a flight, out the blue, to a corner of interest, spending a few days there. Naturally you snap away because you are in a place that you either love or it’s completely new to you, knowing that on return you will want to share your experiences through the picture portal that is Instagram – the perfect place for documenting. It’s a hobby that I believe will keep anybody young, happy and hungry for more adventure.
When I returned from a trip to London all I wanted to do was experience again. Something different, something appealing and something cheap! Berlin is a place that I had saw many pictures of. East Side Gallery, The Berlin Wall, The Brandenburg Gate, The Victory Column, all very historic attractions.
I knew before reaching Berlin that there would be a lot to take in and so much history that would leave an impression. Nothing prepared me for the things I saw and learned. Not a picture on Instagram of a Jewish Memorial site. No review of the city on any website. Nothing. It was the most solemn yet awakening experience, that I urge everyone who has never visited Berlin, Germany to go and see.
I spent five days there and each day was dedicated to travelling around the city from memorial to memorial. Once I was there, I felt a duty to visit as many memorials and museums as I could. I won’t say it wasn’t hard emotionally, though I wouldn’t say it was easy to imagine doing something else with my time in Berlin either.
What attracted me to the city before was the art, the street art and the impressive buildings covered in colour. Of course, I knew I would go to Berlin and make time to learn more about the history and holocaust, but I admit that I did not expect to dedicate each day to learn, and now I’m glad I did.
Instagram has a reputation of romanticising and enticing you in to believe that the world is peaceful and fair. An eye-catching, colour-popping picture of (what is left of) a rain-forest or a shanty town at dusk can make you forget about the hurt, pain and suffering that continues. A filter can mask the reality, don’t let the beauty fool you always.
Before, I was drawn to the place because of the beauty that Instagram had shown to me. Now I know all about the harrowing events and horrific timeline of the holocaust and no picture can explain that. Instagram prompted me to visit a city that had so much more to offer than I had initially expected and I gained a lot more from learning about the black and white pictures from the history than I did from looking at the colourful side buildings.
Travelling will always show you more than any Instagram picture can, no matter how well known. There is nothing like experiencing a place for yourself, and in your own personal way.