part-time loner

I remember my first solo international flight. It was to Rome about 5 years ago. I was meeting my tour group at a hotel just outside of the city. I was so nervous to navigate my way from the airport to the hotel all alone in a foreign country.

My dad gave me some extra cash so I could safely take a taxi, but somewhere along the way, I worked up the courage to take public transportation on my own – I took the train to the metro and the metro to the burbs – then I wandered a bit and eventually stumbled across the hotel. It wasn’t a bad trek at all (oh, I’ve had those too – some of you reading this have been on those treks gone wild with me and are laughing about it right now, even though we weren’t laughing at the time).

It was a very liberating feeling to travel by myself. I felt like I didn’t ever need to wait for others to decide to join me – I could travel the world and meet new people along the way. Now I look back at being nervous in Rome as a silly idea. Since then, I’ve spent hours at a time trekking solo through Rome without an agenda. It has become one of my favorite cities in the world.

The trip to Beijing was a long but smooth trip. Travel tip: hire a private driver for your airport transfer in Beijing – its a big airport. It made life much easier. Still, as a single female traveler, the trip from the airport to the hotel is always the scariest part because it usually involves me being alone in a vehicle with a strange man in a strange land. I definitely feel more comfortable prearrange transfer than just getting a taxi outside the terminal. My driver was very nice and even refused a tip.

Beijing is dreary. The buildings and sky are gray. The traffic is heavy, and there is a stench of harsh industrialism. So far the service personnel have been very nice and helpful and the hotel room is fair (except for the rock hard mattress – I feel like I’m sleeping on a pool table!).

It was daylight for the last 24 hours of my journey – the sun has finally set and it is definitely time for me to sleep – I’m just going to try and stay awake for a few more hours so I can hopefully adjust to the time difference.

Making Lemonade out of Vancouver

So, I’m trying out this whole blogging thing. Bare with me. My big plan for Vancouver was to rent a car and thoroughly explore the great outdoors of British Columbia. Mother Nature apparently had other plans. Still, I had an amazing day!

Pretend you can see the gorgeous mountains behind me!

I started off with a great breakfast at an eclectic little cafe called the Elbow Room (very different from the one in Fort Lauderdale). Fortunately the rain cleared up for a few hours – it was still too foggy for true exploration, but I had a fantastic walk through Stanley Park and a look through the very extensive aquarium therein. Coolest aquarium residents: beluga whales!

The rain started up again just in time for me to duck into the Vancouver Art Gallery, which had an incredible collection of Canadian art.

Now I’m going to check out the Blue Water Cafe, which is supposed to have the best seafood in Vancouver. We’ll see…

…and it did! I had a delicious dinner at Blue Water Cafe: Arctic Char with crab and caviar. Fantastic! Followed by a local goat cheese (I’ve had better) – the service was great, and as a solo diner, I loved that I could sit at the raw bar and watch the sushi being rolled. Lovely!  

I totally hugged this Ent