6 months… 1 month… 2 weeks…tomorrow…
When the day you head off on your own finally dawns it can be hard to take it all in, to accept that it is actually happening!
Sitting in Leonardo da Vinci airport in Rome with headphones in, watching people – these friends, companions, partners, maybe work colleagues of each other – all drifting by, smiling and laughing, oblivious to the few souls travelling by themselves.
It’s strange, surreal even! Dodging eye contact for the umpteenth time, wanting to be invisible to men leering.. possibly not meaning anything by it but making me feel uneasy all the same. To be honest, the whole situation it is not pleasant for me.
Add to that that everything is an effort! A lay-over of eight hours with a rucksack isn’t fun. Being hungry with food intolerances and not speaking the language is quite daunting, being so tired having been on the road since 4am with no sleep is no picnic either… But you know what….no one can do anything about it but you!!
Some advice from me to you…
Get up and find luggage storage/deposit (and even if two Japanese girls laugh at you for depositing it for a mere 6 hours, who cares – it’s bloody well heavy and awkward!)
We (nearly) all have smartphones – we can google phrases to figure out what’s good and what’s not and even if you end up asking for pizza with pineapple (and get hissed at because it is sacrilege to the Italians to put fruit on a pizza) you can act like a dumb tourist and get away with it! Adding ketchup to it also doesn’t go down that well when sitting in the middle of the employee section of a restaurant but hey…. it gave some guys in suits amusement so I have that going for me! 🙂
Ear phones are marvellous inventions! Regardless of if you’re listening to something or not, they give you a little bit of confidence to ignore sleazy men..pretend it’s not happening and you can save a shiver or a blush for someone more worthy!
A few things I have noted whilst sitting in the airport.. Italians dress well, the shops in this airport are not for the budget traveller. Freckles are cute (thanks.. I think!!). When queuing to ask for information and standing beside a tourist who has neither Italian nor English you will be greeted warmly by the desk worker and become an emergency translator asked to explain what your fellow traveller is saying. .. this happened to me 3 times! I didn’t think English was more similar to Dutch than Italian but hey… we got there in the end!
And finally when travelling alone, the waiting around can be the toughest of all… it is tiring which doesn’t lift the spirits.. you cannot close your eyes in fear of being robbed, and most of all it is lonely! One thing that helped was I found by smiling more, and putting a brave face on things, I got a lot of smiles back which in turn makes you feel less alone. Result!!