I usually don’t travel alone. In my 15 years of travel cannot remember ever being alone, except for a couple of days in Sofia. But that doesn’t count since I was there with business and knew almost everyone from the client side. So, basically, I could count on that if fatality strikes.
But now, with the Labour Day fever, I took a day off just to stroll around Budapest by myself. Grabbed 30 euros on my way out, since Panic( I will just capitalize that, because Panic can be such an arse sometimes…literally becoming a person more than an actual feeling ) said that if I loose my credit card I will be screwed.
Behavior does change when you are travelling alone, or at least mine did, although Budapest is a fairly safe city and there was no reason for me to think otherwise. Used the GPS a lot and tried to figure out where I was, make notes just to know how to come back if somebody stole my phone. ( Jeez, I know… ) Did share my live location for an hour when my sister, from her office back in Romania, told me that “you shouldn’t be that happy about wandering those streets by yourself. Just think: if you disappear, nobody will know where.” Panic said that she was right so I just shared my location and forget about it.
- Do have lunch in New York Café. That is a place guaranteed to make you fell less alone. Before WWII this place was one of the most famous coffee places in Budapest, everyone was keen to be and be seen here. Same was true right after the restoration in 2006. The entire restaurant looks very Renaissance. Panic loved it there, he said we should order spaghetti, so we did.
- Do spend some time in Szabó Ervin library if ever without company in Budapest. I first read about it on Italophilia, was mesmerized by the pictures and really wanted to visit. But when you travel in groups is a bit difficult to steal time staying there, you mostly walk in …take pictures and walk back out. Now, being all by myself, I just payed the entrance fee ( 800 Ft ) and decided to abuse them by allowing myself to literally die in one of the awesome rooms of the Palace Wenckheim. Did end up reading in the end, but felt equally satisfying.
- Do indulge and visit Gelarto Rosa, THE place to eat ice cream in Budapest. It’s not even ice cream. It’s more like clouds and rays of sunshine with sprinkles of joy.
- Do make acquaintances, a thing that I usually have no urge to do when travelling with company. Most of the time, when in a group, you just bring along your own island. I did smile a lot and tried to get most of each conversation.
- Do leave something undone, if you like the city. This will be a great excuse to come back. While strolling to the Danube Promenade I though about taking a boat tour. But then I though I should just do this next time when I come visit.
- Don’t book a hotel far from the metro station. If alone you will find it difficult to walk back during late hours.
So, although single ladies do this all the time, it was a first for me and I have some conclusions of my own. I was more aware of the surroundings, kept an eye on my things and, although I have an itinerary to begin with, ended up disregarding that and adding every single thing I could find interesting on my path. Didn’t miss the conversation all that much but definitely enjoyed the silence moments when I could read or just gaze at the place.