Travelling on your own isn’t always the easiest thing in the world to do. Although everything always tends to turn out well in the end, when you’re on your own, you really are on. your. own. That means that there’s often no one there on LONG journey’s, no one to curse your stupidity as you attempt to figure out the – usually very simple – route on the map to the hostel and guide you to where you want to be, and no one to tell you everything is going to be okay when things go a little bit wrong.
In my opinion the positives of travelling alone do in fact massively outweigh the negatives though. You may have to resort to the company of your ipod to while away the hours on public transport, and you may take a little longer to find where you want to be, but the feeling of absolute freedom solo travel gives you is incomparable to anything I’ve ever felt. And more importantly, it gives you an opportunity to discover the overwhelming possibilities of the kindness of strangers.
In Budapest, the lovely and achingly cool owner of my hostel went well out of his way to help me out when my laptop was stolen. This didn’t just make me feel a hell of a lot better, but it resulted in me seeing a different side of the city.
Ljubljana, the beaaaautifully romantic capital of Slovenia, has so far has been a bit of a blur of castles, caves and copious amounts of wine, but started very clearly with the help of a Slovenian lady on the train. Hurling my over sized rucksack on to the train in Budapest, I attracted several concerned looks. I clearly do not appear as though I can cope with the sheer size of this bloody rucksack. I feel like exclaiming that I’m away for FOUR MONTHS, dammit!, and I need all this stuff! Honest I do! Struggling on to the train, Irena took one look and got to her feet, giving me a hand to lug the bane of my life to the storage shelf.
Several hours later and we’d chatted about everything from shopping to the politics, from boys to the thrills of travelling the world. Not only did this massively help with eradicating soul destroying boredom on the 9 hour journey, but Irena told me about Slovenia from the point of view of a Slovenian. Backpacking anywhere often results in a sheer lack of local insight to any country – hostels are full of foreigners, obviously. So hearing about the country from a different perspective, one that wasn’t just not a tourist, but someone who definitely wasn’t trying to sell me anything either, was refreshing.
After our train journey was up, Irena insisted that she give me a lift to the hostel I was staying at. The completely disorganised person that I am, of course hadn’t a clue where the hostel I was thinking of staying was. It was 10pm in the middle of Slovenia, and I had no idea. After driving around for a bit, we – I say we… I mean Irena – found the elusive hostel. And that was that. I thanked her, she drove off, and I will probably never meet her again. But her stopping to help me out made a potentially stressful and scary trek through a city I can barely even pronounce, let alone know, into a nice little time. Stress free. Almost.
Kind gestures from strangers are often met with extreme caution, but Irena and Balazs the hostel owner, both go to show that not everybody is out for all they can get, and some people are just plain nice.