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  • Writer's pictureSpiced Cranachan

Solitude in Solo Travel

I was perusing the museum of the Cueva de Altamira yesterday and I came across an interesting phrase: those that survive are not the strongest nor the most intelligent, but those best suited to adaptation.

Of course, this was in relation to evolution. However, as I reflected on my current solo trip to Spain and my efforts to adapt to the challenges that have come my way, I felt a pang of sympathy for Homo Erectus.

Change... is hard.

Head of a Bison (replica - original dates back to Upper Paleolithic era)

This is my first time travelling by myself in quite a few years, certainly post-covid, and I've grown used to having a partner; someone who has my back and can double check every decision I make.

I miss having my best friend along for the ride.

It seems I am not particularly well-suited to change. I keep turning as if to speak to someone, especially when I get excited. I had to physically hold myself back more than once, and instead store my excitement for a detailed phone call later in the evening.

Un helado para una, por favor..

It was a last minute change that meant I was travelling to Spain on my own, and I wasn't entirely prepared for it. I grew up on the films and novels that romanticise solo travelling; the freedom of independence and the joy of discovering new friendships.

But I'm quickly discovering that these things don't come easily. They require effort, confidence and often just dumb luck.

And unfortunately for me, I had none of these for the first few days of my travels.

My view of the hills from Vispieres

To be fair, I'm sure Homo Erectus didn't isolate himself in a small village in rural Cantabria with a limited understanding of the local language and expect to come out on top. But there is a lesson to be learned from his failure to adapt.

So in an attempt to avoid my pending extinction (and after an encouraging call with my mum) I decided to make the most of my trip.

This doesn't mean I suddenly found myself surrounded by friends, fluently ordering tapas in Spanish and Eat, Pray, Love-ing my way across the country. But I did force some more effort into my days, fake a little confidence and hope that luck would turn in my favour.

Hiding behind garlic prawns and patatas bravas

The first step was dinner. It would have been easy to stay in my room, but I somehow convinced myself to go out. Apparently 7.30pm is early for dinner in Spain, which meant I didn't have any crowded restaurants to navigate. I hid at the back of a taberna and focussed on Sudoku for most of the evening - it meant I didn't have to make conversation with others nor eye contact, but I was surrounded by chatter.

I then planned out my last few days in Santander to the nth degree. I scrawled all over my map of the city and outlined exactly where I wanted to visit, explore and eat. Backpack filled with everything I could possibly need (and a few things I didn't!), I wandered from the city center to the easternmost beaches, exploring the artwork and architecture of Santander along the way.

I was alone for the vast majority of it and after a while the solitude became peaceful more than anything else.

The city was breathtaking

I don't think I could do it for long. I think I would get too lonely, and I have far too many thoughts in my head to keep to myself. But for a couple of days, it was a nice break.

I started to enjoy being alone and having every decision be my own. I could choose every meal, every destination - and I found myself people-watching much more than usual. Undistracted by company, I noticed details about others as they passed, small things. Things that I would look forward to when I returned home: banter between friends, couples holding hands, genuine laughter and heartfelt smiles.

So I suppose, solo travelling did encourage me to move outside of my comfort zone, discover a new confidence, and really take in everything going on around me. But it mainly reminded me how much I value interaction and company, and how much I miss it when it's gone.

We'll have to see if more solo travelling lies ahead. Adaptation might not come easily to me, but extinction isn't quite on the menu yet.

Monument to the Fire, 1941

2 Σχόλια

20 Οκτ 2023

I thoroughly enjoyed this solo venture and your feelings throughout.. Reminds me of days past when I drove my motorcycle across the British countryside on my own and feeling the initial loneliness and home-sick feeling.


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10 Οκτ 2023

I enjoyed our long chats via phone. Got a real feel for the places you visited just through chatting. If you ever go back with someone else, at least you will have a lot to show off

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