When traveling, you often get to see sights of considerable significance to the country. You get to learn about remarkable people that, in their own way, brought glory to their country. But I have to say, being anonymous sometimes feels more glorious than being someone.
As a traveller, I often seize the joy and beauty of anonymity. I think sitting on a lonely bench at a crowded street in a foreign country gives you a superpower. Being a solo traveller, you get to blend in with the crowd and look just like a regular person having a stroll after a busy day at work. While everyone else is minding their business, you can relax and absorb the positiveness of freedom. As an anonymous, you get to be anyone and live a different you.
In June 2017, I went on a solo trip to Krakow, Poland for a few days. It was a calm but also exciting journey. And it was my first time I enjoyed being a stranger among strangers in a foreign country.
As I had only two days and as the weather was sunny and warm, I decided to follow the walking tours that were available around the city. I often follow the walking tours whenever I’m in a new city. They’re perfect for getting an insight into the city’s attractions and have a glimpse of history and culture facts of the places you visit. However, walking tours are also an excellent way to meet fellow travellers, especially if you are a solo traveller.
Previously, on other walking tours that I’ve been, there was a maximum of fifteen people, but when in Krakow, I walked at the meeting point to find more than thirty people. I was quite flabbergasted. I don’t do very well with big crowds. Since this was meant to be an informative tour, I didn’t like the idea of being overshadowed by others and not being able to hear or see anything (short people problems). Thankfully we were divided into three groups of ten to fifteen people.
Our group mainly consisted of young travellers, students, and young couples. I happened to be near another a woman who was a little bit younger than I and was an exchange student from Australia. She was a student in Germany. Since the semester was over, she decided to travel to other cities and countries around Europe before returning home.
Even as a student, I always liked to mingle with other international students. Meeting people from the other side of the world is always interesting. You get to see a whole different perspective. After all, they see things upside down (or maybe we do). As I was talking with this young woman from Australia, I felt the connection of being thirsty for adventures, knowledge, pleasure, and understanding.
Frequently, tours, although informative and pleasant, can be quite dull if you are a solo traveller. Not having someone to share the happiness of learning something new or to simply admire the view can be a bit lonely. Usually, when solo, you give a shy smile to no one in particular and then feel embarrassed because you’re caught midway talking to yourself. Therefore, having a companion during the tour was an unexpected comfort.
As we hit it off at the tour, we decided to plan the rest of our day together. The first stop was dinner together at a traditional Polish cuisine restaurant at the main square of Krakow. I got to try Pierogi (dumplings), and it was delicious. If you ever find yourself in Poland then do try it, you won’t be disappointed. As we had our dinner in the beautiful and graphic square of Krakow, we got to know each other a little bit more. And what was very surprising, apparently her family’s origins were from San Marino. For those who are unfamiliar with San Marino, it is one of the tiniest nations of Europe, and it is within Italy. Hence my surprise. You don’t meet people from San Marino every day.
After our wonderful dinner and discussion, we decided to follow another tour, which is given only during dusk as it’s only for the brave. It’s a tour of ghost stories, legends, and myths. Our tour guide had a fantastic narrative voice that made the stories even more compelling and scary. But then again, I do find the classic European ambiance a perfect fit for ghost stories.
Lastly, at the end of the tour, we followed a few other travellers to a pub. As a recommendation from other travellers and locals, we tried vodka shots of different flavours. Although I am not a big fan of vodka, I, in fact, enjoyed the new and tasty flavours. During our time at the pub, we got to meet more people, tell crazy stories from our travels, and enjoy good alcohol.
Being a stranger among strangers is truly beautiful. Although I, unfortunately, do not remember the names of my friends of one-day, I loved how we were all from different backgrounds. It did not matter in any kind of way. Nationality, race, gender, sexuality, or religion were all secondary thoughts. All that mattered was us being together and enjoying our life and freedom to be ourselves, learn something new, and have fun.
The feeling and memories of being together with another young woman learning, exploring, discovering, and sharing stories is a story itself that I’ll always remember.