Turns out, I took a lot of photos on my little adventure. What I thought would be a handful of posts – Budapest, Prague and Copenhagen, so three in total – is slowly becoming a whole series packed with visuals. – Typical tourist sites, things I found beautiful or hilarious and of course MY VLOGS (scroll to the bottom of this post to watch my first few…)
Budapest was my first stop. I think I chose it simply because it was near to Prague, and I was very keen to visit Prague. This, and a number of people I knew had mentioned it – -including my neighbours, the ones with the awesome house, who only ever travel to awesome places, and I just thought, well, if they thought Budapest was worth visiting, then I must must get my bum over there. Plus, she specifically mentioned the cake shops with this whimsical smile across her face, needless to say I had to see/taste for myself. Who wouldn’t be curious about good cake?
I left my house on a Friday morning with five layers of clothing (when you can’t fit it, wear it people), way too many books ( I think part of me really did think I would spend each and every evening alone in my room finishing novels..that did not happen. I did not finish a single book) and a stomach lined with pure FEAR. I mean I was ready to battle a lion. My adrenalin was ridiculous. (So ridiculous that I did not sleep that night. I had Europe’s quietest room mates and yet it was my body’s flight or fight system turning against me..).
Clearly, up until waking up that morning, I hadn’t fully recognised the magnitude of what I was doing.
The second I woke up I realised I was going to Budapest alone.
I was travelling to the city from the airport alone.
I was finding my hostel alone.
I was sightseeing each day alone.
And I was potentially eating dinner each night: ALONE.(For some reason breakfast and lunch weren’t a biggie but the thought of eating dinner alone freaked me out. Something I do EVERYDAY at home…)
I got out of bed and began searching “solo travel tips” on Youtube. I packed up the rest of my things with these videos playing in the background; women who had done what I was about to do, and were still alive to tell the tale. This was no joke. ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN.
Just before leaving, I realised how hard this would be for my Mum, seeing me go off all alone and face 101 unknowns in places neither she nor I had been before. – She’d been so reluctant to let me travel alone up until now, so her support meant the world to me. Hugging me harder than ever and holding my head in her hands she declared: “I love you, God bless you, you’ve done so well, you need this”. And I felt it. I felt her warmth and her love and her everything.
People kept telling me I was brave but to be quite honest I didn’t feel very brave. It’s not bravery if you’re not scared is it? I was scared, but only for a little while..(After you get through airport security, the distractions of duty-free and hours of uninterrupted reading time sort of make up for any fear of being alone. If anything it became: THANK FUCK I AM DOING THIS ALONE. I can hear my thoughts and do whatever the fuck I want! This is what inner peace feels like! This is Nirvana bitches!! Especially when you do things like walk into duty-free and douse yourself in a perfume you cannot afford and have no intention of buying. Fellow travellers may judge you for this. But you? You just smell like a Goddess… FOR FREE).
I was scared of things going wrong. -Logistical things like not finding my shuttle bus or locating my hostel before the reception closed. I had a momentary “CAN I REALLY DO THIS” to my mother on the phone at the station. She probably was, but she didn’t sound worried. And her heroic sprightly response:“You CAN do this. You will be fine”. In the magical moment that is hindsight: I did do it. And I was more than fine.
So I settled into my train journey. Then I did all the usual airport stuff, made it onto my flight and settled into that. Then I hopped on my shuttle bus to the city centre and settled into the very last seat at the back, chatting to another English girl and thinking how easy the logistics of this whole journey were in reality compared to in my head. Then I walked the 10 minutes from the bus stop to my hostel, and settled into my room. Then into bed. Where I typed the following paragraph into my phone:
“Well, I did it. I made it to my hostel in Budapest. It’s 23:30, I am exhausted from the flight, the general nerves/excitement and the 9kg of belongings I’d been lugging around on my back (because I thought a backpack would be a good idea but starting to wish I’d gone with a conventional rolling suitcase. – If I have it on my back for too long I start to feel faint; I am mentally strong but physically…somewhat feeble). The hostel is pretty awesome. Aside from my “locker” not having a padlock, and the towels being only slightly larger than your average face-towel, I cannot really otherwise fault the place. It’s just-the-right-level of noise; quiet enough to fall asleep yet loud enough that you are aware of the presence of others. And for some reason I find the sounds of drunk people in the streets somewhat comforting; just to know that other people are awake, enjoying themselves. I wasn’t after a quiet neighbourhood and I certainly didn’t get one. I would say it’s aesthetically pleasing, an Ikea feel with quirky undertones….”
*Am I at a wine-tasting?! Undertones..?
I believe at this point I fell into a light sort-of-sleep, or most likely spent a good half an hour on Instagram.
So, all in all, my first night alone went as well as it could have. I arrived at my destination without any hiccups and I was grateful for what appeared to be a safe, friendly and well-kept hostel. (A clean toilet and decent pillow is all a woman really needs.That and 17,000 other things.)
12 hours in: I WAS WINNING.
Below: A few snaps of the hostel followed by a selection of my Saturday morning vlogs. ENJOY!
The kitchen where I enjoyed several breakfasts sat alone with a book I wasn’t reading because I was concentrating on my food and quietly observing/staring at other people. It was also the scene of a theft. Someone stole my cheesecake. Or so I thought. It was the third night. I’d spent all evening looking forward to eating it, talking about it to people I barely knew, only to find, at 11pm when I craved it the most.. IT WAS GONE…Only to realise my very new, very imaginative friends HENRY AND RUBY had MOVED my cheesecake to another fridge. This was a betrayal of the worst kind.
I think I expressed my fear of such a theft occurring with such definitive passion that they had no choice but to make it a reality. They found it hilarious. In those few moments all I could think was “SEE. PEOPLE STEAL CAKE. MY FEARS ARE REAL.. I AM NOT CRAZY”.
Turns out; I am.