Thursday, April 18, 2013

Two Travel Firsts: Solo Trip and Europe

At Prague Castle (St. Nicholas Church in the background)
Two years ago I did something out of character - I quit my job and moved from the Bay Area back  to Southern California, unemployed. It was something I had to do for my own peace of mind, and letting go of control was something new for me, but it all worked out.

Last year, I decided I needed to once again try something out of my comfort zone, so I agreed to go camping with no running water and no plan, and I re-learned how to ride a bike. So what to do in 2013? Well, I knew my 35th birthday fell on Easter Break (I work at a school), I desperately wanted to be some where "cool" since my 30th birthday was disappointing, and I had a good amount of airline miles to burn. So, my something new for this year was to take a solo trip to Europe.

My first European hotel room - Amsterdam
Over a two week period, I visited five cities - Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, Prague and Paris. It was kind of a whirlwind trip. It was not completely solo in the sense that I stayed with friends in Copenhagen, and had a friend to show me around Berlin, but it was solo enough for my liking. It was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. Exciting because I was going to Europe, and got to fly business class almost the whole way.

My confusion in Copenhagen led to my accidental find - the Marble Church

Nyhavn in Copenhagen, on one of the few sunny days on my entire trip
Side note: by "fully maximized", I mean I fully maximized my mileage award ticket, meaning that the maximum amount of transfers, a stopover, a return, and open jaw were used to book this trip. This is how I saw every five cities, and did this entire trip by plane. And for the mileage people out there, I flew on Delta and its SkyTeam partners, except for my leg from Copenhagen to Berlin. That was the open jaw, and I found a cheap ($65) one-way ticket to TXL on Air Berlin. But, back to the nerve wracking part.

Communist slogans still exist in East Berlin courtyards
This trip was not without anxiety. I only speak English. I live in Los Angeles, and happen to love the car culture here; meaning, I do not take public transportation. I am easily frustrated when I am uncomfortable, so there were moments when I had to push myself to get out into a city (Amsterdam being one of those moments). In Berlin, I had to guess my way through public transportation. It was not easy, but in the end I am so pleased that I, as a person who tends to loathe public transportation, was able to figure out.

There were so many amazing things to see, and I plan on writing about each city, but right now, I am focusing on the idea of the solo trip. It was great to not have to consult someone else about a schedule, and to do whatever I wanted. However, like I told my sister, I get bored being my own companion for so long. I can't say that I really want to do this kind of solo trip again, but at least I did it once in my lifetime.

The Charles Bridge in Prague, seen from the bridge tower

The Eiffel Tower as it looks on a cloudy Parisian day


  1. I so admire you for doing this. Though I traveled alone up and down the East coast, traveling alone now...especially to a foreign country..... would freak me out! You are a "gutsy" lady!!......Carole

  2. I'm really jealous of you in many respects. 1) You left the Bay Area and moved back down to LA. 2) You got to explore Europe solo. I've been to France and Italy, but I was with the Mrs. There's something special about being immersed in a completely unfamiliar setting by yourself. Glad you were able to experience that. BTW, Lisa told me you guys are coming up to Napa this weekend. I've been up there more than I'd like to admit, so if you want any recommendations, let me know.

  3. Yay!! What a great way to celebrate your birthday! Here's to many more firsts in your future! I can't wait to hear about each city, don't forget to add some food items for me! =P

    1. I am going to do a post just about the food!