I have always looked upon women travelling solo as probably one of the most ‘awesome’ thing any woman could do.
I could quite easily draw inspiration to travel alone but hardly ever took an initiative to do so until my boss one day called me and said that I would be visiting one of our manufacturing plants in Blois, France, within the next few weeks. Instead of going giddy with excitement, I was nervous at the thought of travelling alone. One thing I knew right away as I stepped into France was that travelling alone is really not like what Julia Roberts did in ‘Eat , Pray, Love’ or Kangana Ranault in ‘Queen’. You definitely cannot meet some cool hunky dory guy the second day you reach Paris and then spent the rest of the week hanging out with him. If that is what you think travelling alone is all about, then sorry to burst your bubble.
Now, I did do a little bit of research before I got to Blois and what I saw there really did blow my mind away. Blois is a small town at the heart of Loire Valley, famous for its chateaus and old churches. This, I realized, was the ‘French country side’ where the French themselves come to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. The ideal thing to do was to just walk/bike along the river , going in and out of the small ‘downtowns’ and grabbing a bite to eat at the ‘boulangeries’ and the local market set up there. But these things are fun to do when you have someone with you to share the experience! But I did exactly that, though alone! Though I craved for some company, I must also mention that I found Blois to be very beautiful; The people were friendly and being called a ‘Pretty Indian lady’ every hour gave me the energy to walk this one particular street up and down almost 5 times:). The castles and churches with the pointed tent roofs, sticking out of tree tops, the beautiful river and the entire landscape of this quaint little town nestled in the French countryside, is definitely something that I would suggest everyone not to miss.
I went to Paris a day before my return flight to India. Being very apprehensive about travelling alone for the first time in my life, that too to the most romantic city on the planet, I decided to spend only a day in Paris, though I do regret that now. Now Paris is a city that I would definitely recommend for any traveler. There is so much romance in the city and the writers are all right! Standing under the lit up Eiffel tower and watching the sun set through Arc De Triomphe is a surreal experience and it was at that moment that I felt okay about not meeting the above mentioned hunky dory French guy. What itched me the most though was that, once you digest the beauty and try and manage to close your jaw, there was no one that you could turn to and yell, ‘I just saw the Eiffel Tower!’. What did I do instead? I called up my parents and friends and started describing every moment in detail, panting. But rest assured, you will fall in love with everyone, man and women, for their scarves and ‘chicness’ and the waiters for tipping that extra wine in your glass and letting you linger and sip.
Even though travelling alone is not as fun as I thought it to be and in spite of my paranoia about being followed by strangers at night, it does give you a certain confidence once you are back. You will do a lot more things which you have never done because you are the only person in your group who has done ‘that one thing’.
Photos by Shilpa