It was 9:00 pm on 6th June, I wanted to cancel my plan to my ‘dream solo trip’ to Iceland, Belgium, and Amsterdam. I was not prepared to be uncomfortable. Although there were multiple times, I traveled solo in India, but this one was different. The thought of living in a remote country like Iceland with no company really scared me.
11:30 pm, 13th June 2017. I finally land in Iceland and the most amazing 15 days of my life began.
People often misunderstand traveling solo as being lonely. I suggest them to look with an open mind. Before I begin, let me reiterate what the idea behind traveling solo is.
Solo traveling is for someone who is comfortable with their own company, who doesn’t want to be tied to the whims and wishes of others and who wants to spend a quality time. Is it a soul-searching journey? Yes and No. I didn’t found myself all over again in my solo trip neither that was the agenda but if you think you want to do some rediscovering the environment and time can support you to do that.
With every solo experience, I have more insights and I receive more questions.
‘What do you do alone?’, ‘Don’t you get bored?’ and I have a simple answer to that.
Neither I get bored, nor I am alone.
‘But, if you are with someone it’s not exactly solo traveling.’
LOL, then what is? Solo traveling is about going to an unknown place without any baggage of a group. The whole idea of solo traveling is to spend time with yourself and travel the way you want. At the same time meet new people from other cultures and have some interesting conversations.
I spent 5 nights in Iceland, and there wasn’t an evening which I spent alone. I met some fantastic people of all age groups from the world, traveling alone, traveling with their partners, visiting and working or just enjoying. You just easily connect with them because you don’t have an agenda but to genuinely know the other person. There came the point in my journey that by the end of Day 2 I had to choose between spending time at a concert with a group of people from Germany, Australia, US or go to Hard-Rock Cafe, Reykjavik where a Brit invited me for a drink and to see the Live concert of his girlfriend.
I met the following individuals during my time in Iceland and Belgium. We had some fantastic conversations, we traveled together, formed bonds shared some astounding moments, openly spoke about diverse topics and most importantly left a mark in each other’s journey. Some of them are connected with me on Facebook and Instagram.
The friends I made. (In chronological order)
- Christopher @ The Blue Lagoon. 14th June, 10:00 am.
The same Brit I mentioned, he was the official photographer at the Blue Lagoon. Always smiling and accommodating to the weird wishes of customers who wanted to save a moment in the lagoon. Christopher and I instantly connected. Since I was alone and Chris was also relatively free we ended up chatting a lot. He was living with his girlfriend in Iceland and was going to be a father in a few months. I could see his excitement. That’s when he invited me to HRC for a beer. I couldn’t make it, but I will remember Chris distinctly for the sheer charm and generosity that he showed. Also for the wondrous click, he took of me. 🙂
2. Lee from the US. 6:30 pm, 14th June. I met Lee in my hostel when I was contemplating about my inability to drive a left-hand car. Lee coming from the US was helpful, he quickly helped me learn some basics, took me to a ride and made me understand some essential traffic rules and signs of the west. Lee was a Liberal like me, we connected over politics in our countries, and we spent some 3 hours talking and exploring. He was also solo traveling in Iceland, and it was his last few days. As a parting gift, I gave him a Patanjali biscuit packet. 🙂
3. Agatha and Kasia. The Polish girls. 12:00 pm, 15th June. As I was leaving the Geyser, I saw these two asking for a lift. Their eyes were full of the request. Clearly, they were waiting for long. I had to stop for them. They were working in Iceland in a Hotel and in their free time they were exploring Iceland by camping and hitchhiking. We ended up spending the rest of the day together. Kasia was a great help, she drove the car when I was tired. They helped me know some unknown places in Iceland, and we made plans to catch up again although that didn’t happen they were some marvelous traveling companions.
4. Chris, Kim, Lars, and Marc. Our Gang. 9:00 pm, 15th June. For some reason, I bought tickets to the Summer Solicite festival’s opening ceremony. I couldn’t understand the language, I didn’t even know the American artists, the Genre wasn’t of my interest and by 8:30 pm I was determined to go HRC and meet Christopher and his girlfriend. I was just about to leave and just when I was convincing myself a girl standing near me asked ‘Do you understand what they are saying?’ and I left that place around 1:30 am. After finishing the concert, drinking some beers and Vodka and laughing my ass off for hours.
Kim and her husband Lars were from Germany they were on a world tour. They met Chris while entering the concert who was on a solo trip from Australia and 3 of them met Marc from the US who was also solo traveling to Europe and finally the 4 of them met me.
Long story short, I made some lifetime memories with them. They were actually the highlight of my trip. 5 of us around 12:00 am went to the parking lot, had drinks, met some locals, had some more drinks, played some loud music and finally went our separate ways. 🙂
5. Lu and her staff. 12:00 pm, 15th June. Lu is a beautiful individual. When you meet pure and genuine people you remember them. She was taking care of the hostel at Vik where I spent 2 nights. She spent some quality time with me to help me discover some beautiful spots nearby. It was because of her I got see some of the hidden marvels of Iceland. She made a map for me, wrote down the names of the places, she practically built my itinerary for 2 days, and that wasn’t a part of her job role. I could only meet her twice in 2 days, but that was enough for her to leave an impact on me.
I spent the evening on 16th June with Lu’s staff. We spent hours talking about the environment and how we humans are not responsible enough. It was a powerful conversation trust me.
6. Ben, from England. The evening of 18th June. This guy was playing saxophone on the streets of Reykjavik on a rainy evening. I admired his dedication and paid a few cents. There wasn’t any crowd, so we started chatting casually, and we ended up spending the next 3 hours in an English Pub drinking German beer. This guy was pro BREXIT and gave me a unique perspective on immigration. Although, the highlight of our conversation was ‘arrange marriages’ and how even for Indians living in London face the same pressure. Haha you can take Indians out of India but not India out of Indians.
7. Sushrut, Indian studying in the US. Evening on 19th June. Brussels. I was randomly chilling outside one of the famous bars in Belgium, Dellerium. Being of the same color skins our eyes locked and we started chatting. We spent the evening together, and the next day we went Bruge, spent the half day and parted ways. I think the Indian in me annoyed him after a point, haha. There were a lot of conversations we had, the ones I remember revolved about an Indian’s life in the US.
8. Jasseem El dro, the US. The evening of 20th June @ Bruges. While sipping my beer alone, enjoying the live music, I met this gentleman who was clearly in a position similar to mine. He was also solo traveling to Europe. We spoke at length about life in the US vs. living in Europe. We were two people lost in a forest who became buddies till the time we reached our destination. He was also going to Amsterdam we decided to catch up again but couldn’t.
Apart from these people, I had a lot of conversations with people in the bar, restaurant, cafes, hostel, on the road which helped me during my journey,
All in all, if lack of people is your reason to not go solo, I will suggest it is more of a reason to go solo. You will find some marvelous individuals who are ready to share their own stories with you and listen to yours.