As you are probably well aware (since I won’t stop talking about it), I consider myself an introvert. I’m not shy or weird around people but I simply enjoy my alone time and am perfectly fine with being by myself.
I’ve long known but am constantly reminded how being an introvert is both a blessing and a curse. I love that I love going to restaurants or shows by myself, but it also means that I prefer flying solo rather than seeking the company of others – which is pretty snotty of me and can get mighty lonely.
This was very much challenged on my first holiday away since I arrived in London: a weekend mini-break to Ljubljana! (Before you ask: yes, I know going to the capital of Slovenia is a random choice. I’d heard great things about it, didn’t really have any ‘conventional’ quick getaways left, and it was cheap to fly to.)
My holiday came after a particularly long couple of weeks and I was eagerly looking forward to going somewhere that I could explore without running into any of those pesky students and just be with my thoughts. It was also my very first time traveling solo, and while I was nervous I was excited to step out of my comfort zone.
So what did I learn on this miraculous trip?
Baby steps out of the comfort zone are okay as long as you keep on walking
I was a terrible solo traveler on this trip. I literally didn’t engage in conversations with people for a 48 hour period. I can honestly say I probably spoke about 20 words per day. That was due to a number of factors: my aforementioned weariness and desire to get some alone time; the fact that the hostel was pretty quiet and didn’t really have a giant vibe of hanging out; and mostly because I was just stubbornly laconic. That was fine for the first day and a half, but by the final stretch I was pretty bored with reading and bored with myself.
I’m telling myself that this first solo trip was my first trip out of the comfort zone, so just doing it was an okay first step. But I need to make sure I don’t have three months of silence in Asia – and so I need to actually, you know, talk to other people.
How to pronounce Ljubljana – and other fun bits about it
For the record, it’s Luh-blee-ahn-ah. It came highly recommended to me via travel blogs I enjoy, and for good reason. It’s basically a cute little European capital city, highly reminiscent of Prague or Budapest, but with approximately 10% of the people. The Old Town is cut in half by a wonderful flowing river, and as recently as a few years ago a mayor closed the Old Town to vehicles, making it a pedestrian’s paradise. It’s incredibly walkable, tourist-friendly but not tourist-accommodating (which is nice), and just a lovely place to wander.
The downside? There’s not a tooon to do there. There’s a great castle up on a hill overlooking the city, a couple of museums, some churches… and that’s about it. Most of the value comes from taking in the scene from a river-side cafe, restaurant, or bar, people-watching and watching the world go by. That’s nice and all… but mostly if you’re with someone else. I did finish two books in two days, but by the end of the second day I was itching to get back to London. I think two days in Ljubljana for a solo traveler is a bit too much – day and a half would have been perfect. Again, if I had actually, you know, spoken to other people I may have had a different experience, but that’s how the cookie crumbled.
Being alone is not always lonely
Despite having a bit too much solitude, I still had wonderful moments of stillness and serenity… most notably on the first night. I was doing an evening walk and moseying across a bridge when I caught a glimpse of the Famous Ljubljana site of the Triple Bridge. I was so struck I immediately pulled out my journal to record the emotion I was feeling: incredible gratitude and disbelief that I had gotten to that point. Who would have thought I would have been spending a beautiful October evening wandering the streets of Slovenia, soaking in a beautiful site? Not this guy.
So despite the lazy and lonely way I may have seen Ljubljana… moments like that make it all worth it.