Live like it’s the last day of your life? Naaah. If that’s my mantra, I’d likely just stay home and spend time with family. Or pray in a convent or church.
I live like there are many days ahead to celebrate life. I go to the Prado and take in just a few. Knowing there would be other days to enjoy more. Leisurely. No rush. I visit Barcelona for a weekend thinking there would be many more weekends to spend there. I love visiting and revisiting places I enjoyed. That explains why I take photos in the exact same places where I had my photos taken years ago. The unwanted pounds. The unwanted lines and wrinkles. Little reminders of time past. Who cares? I’m enjoying life. Without the rush.
It’s not that I recommend it, but more than a few times I find myself buying a ticket from a vending machine to catch a train departing in less than 5 minutes. Imagine the thrill of brisk walking to the escalators, down to the ramps or platform, and hearing the train doors close behind you after having just hopped in.
And how about the excitement of reaching your destination? No matter how much you’ve read up on the place, I like the momentary ignorance and madness of deciding which way to go out of the train or bus station. Do I turn right, left or go straight? When I went to Aranjuez, I wondered whether I’m getting off in the middle of a forest. That’s how it looked just before the train stopped and I heard the announcement that we have reached Aranjuez. I walked for about 10 minutes to reach the Royal Palace and Gardens. No one to ask as most others who got off the train took the bus or were fetched by friends or relatives. It would feel the same way going to Valle de Los Caidos, except that most bus passengers are likely tourists like you too.
Fortunately, Spain has a superb transport system. The Metro, regional trains, fast trains, buses are all so easy to deal with. And clean! I also found the Spanish very friendly and helpful. Once, there was this middle-aged lady who actually walked with me for some blocks till the last corner just before my destination. In Alcala de Henares, the young students tried to be very precise with their directions (a plaza or square lined with plane trees, a building with many columns, a house with bronze statues and a fountain, etc).
It helps that google allows me to do virtual tours and obtain directions. While I do get maps and check out the attractions in each place, I always seek to get images of the palaces, museums, parks or whatever else I intend to visit. This allows me to easily “spot” the sites I intend to visit.
What I love about traveling solo is I get to linger longer in places I like, and eat whenever it suits me. The only drawback is that I don’t get to eat all I like. I mean, you can only order so much for yourself, right? No one to share with. My routine is normally to eat small portions but more often, so I get a variety of the foods I’d like to try without appearing like a glutton.
Good research, with lots of allowances for spontaneity, and a good pair of walking shoes. Or boots to keep those walking legs warm when the temp drops. This is important. No way I’m walking anywhere unless I have comfortable footwear. Many make this mistake of looking fashionable rather than comfortable. Trust me, they are not mutually exclusive.
So who says you’re too old to travel solo? I have no talent in the kitchen. Just survival cooking for moí. I’m pretty neat at home but it’s not like I enjoy domestic chores. I love to read, but my pocketbooks travel with me. A bench in the park and a cup of good brew make perfect companions. I get my adrenaline rush chasing trains, snapping photos and eating local delicacies. When I am home, I am more likely doing my “research” or blogging rather than busy with my knitting needles. C’est la vie! 😉😉😉