How travel has helped me to understand others through compassion and conversation.
Growing up in New England, you might appreciate the classic beauty of our beaches and cranberry bogs, but nothing prepares you for the majestic beauty that can truly surround you once you go out west. Once I moved to California, I was struck by the most stunning mountainous skylines that I would encounter just driving down the highway. Rolling sand dunes, cavernous forests, and vast beaches where you can see dolphins play from the shore as you stroll past sunbathing sea lions. It was the time that I spent living in California and started to explore the western coast, that I got a taste for how overwhelmingly beautiful America really is.
My childhood in New England with a homogeneous neighborhood and insatiable craving for reading led me to imagine all of the wonderful things in the world were nowhere near me, and surely had to be abroad. As soon as I finished my bachelor’s degree, I moved to Europe. I traveled to as many countries as I could while living in Poland, but by the time I returned to the US I was 24, and I had only been to a handful of states outside of the region where I grew up. We often think that the only place worth living in, is where we have already lived. I wanted to be around those who thought the same way I did, who were also just as liberal. I thought I wanted to be where everything was my normal. But stepping away from what you know, is truly the only way to learn more. Continue reading “America”
Examining the perception of the solo woman traveler.
That night at the bar, I uncharacteristically struck up a conversation with the couple having dinner next to me. I’ve noticed that when I dine by myself, it seems to be a lot more difficult to get the waiter’s attention. I imagine that it is something to do with the fact that as I’m alone, as I will eat and drink less than a couple. Still, after hiking all day I was hungry so being ignored by the wait staff is what got us talking.
When I travel solo, I tend to eat dinners on the go, or to get something and relax and eat in my room. I enjoy spending time in cafes or restaurants for breakfast or lunch, taking in the people watching, reading, or organizing my plans for the day. But something about eating dinner alone tends to feel more lonely to me, perhaps because when you are a woman eating dinner alone, usually a lot of questions or sad glances follow from the wait staff or other diners.
But on a recent trip to Colorado, I decided to sit at the crowded Whiskey Bar at the Stanley Hotel for dinner. I had spent the entire day hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, and I was feeling exhilarated from challenging my body to finish as many miles as possible before sunset. My body was tired, but in that thrilling kind of way after you’ve done something you are really proud of. The Stanley Hotel is a gorgeous old hotel that just so happened to inspire Steven King to write The Shining, and I wanted to spend as much time as I could in the beautiful and slightly spooky space. Continue reading “Bravery”