Empowerment Places

Why solo travel is a cure (Copenhagen)

I booked my first solo trip out of a feeling of utter despair and misery. Two weeks ago, after a regular Tuesday, I just couldn’t stand myself anymore. Something made me not want to be in my shoes. And the only thing that felt remotely like escaping my situation was a getaway. Alone. I didn’t want to lean on anybody, wait for anybody, or be with anybody. I just wanted to get out. So that is what I did. A 48 hour solo trip to Copenhagen, a city that ranked highly on my bucket list – my very own Scandinavian escape, the weekend after the next. I had never done solo travel. But the moment I hit „book“, I started to breathe again. Whatever it was, it was going to get better. Here’s how Copenhagen made me smile.

Sunrise on Langebro

After a 2 hour wait in the freezing cold because of an inexplicable delay, I was fast asleep on the bus when suddenly, the driver hit the brake and shouted „KØBENHAVN!“ – at 7am, the exact scheduled arrival time. I don’t know how he did it (and I’m not sure if I want to). I was spit out onto Copenhagen’s streets within 30 seconds as the bus was about to go on to Oslo. So, one minute in the capital, the Danes had already given me half a heart attack. Awesome. When I started to make my way into the city, I figured I should go see the sunrise somewhere. The weather was nothing I had hoped for, but Langebro was. The quiet on that bridge was just magical. It gave me the kind of solitude I was looking for; it gave me room to breathe.

Copenhagen at sunrise

Confusing the Danes: „hej“ vs. „hi“

After a warming cup of hot chocolate and a little wifi session I started exploring the main square and Strøget, the main shopping street of Copenhagen. I didn’t really want to buy much, but it was the kind of rainy day that only allows for a comfy stroll interrupted by the warmth of stores. Assuming that the Danish used the same „hej“ as the Swedish, I made a habit of saying „hi!“ to the staff so they would recognize me as an international. Turns out that is exactly how they pronounce „hej“. So the conversation always went like this:

Salesperson: Hej!
Sabine: Hi!
Salesperson: bfjkleføueqifhavn?
Sabine:
Salesperson: …?

Fun times! I guess I do look Danish.

Dinner outside at Nyhavn

Another amazing thing with solo travel is that it makes you realize how many people you actually know from all over the world. When I shared my Copenhagen plans on instagram, my Swedish friend Sara, whom I met in Leeds, told me she lived right next to the Danish border and would love to come over for an afternoon. So we had a spontaneous reunion in Denmark, exploring Christianshavn and doing what the Danes do in mid October at five degrees: Sit down for dinner outside at Nyhavn. Yeah, seriously. But there were heat lamps (the Danes are not that crazy, you see) and who could say no to a backdrop like this?

Nyhavn selfiedinner at Nyhavn
colourful Nyhavn
Photos by Sara

Alone at the most beautiful bar

After dinner, Sara showed me the most beautiful bar in Vesterbro, Lidkøb. We had a really fancy ginger x gin x champagne drink there and when she had to leave for her train, I just stayed for another one, enjoying the warm atmosphere and the murmur of voices, secretly listening in on conversations that I couldn’t understand but enjoyed anyway. I then walked home for an hour, mulling things over and listening to music. At the hostel, I crawled into bed right away. I slept as I hadn’t slept in weeks.

Living off pastry

WienerbrødDanish hotdog

On Sunday morning, the rain had finally stopped, but I was quite tired from all the walking on Saturday, so I spent a considerable amount of time at Baresso Coffee, a kind of Danish Starbucks, and Lagkagehuset, an incredible Danish bakery. Those who know me also know my eating habits: I love to indulge and I’m never really strict with myself. But I did believe my Mom when she told me cornflakes aren’t lunch and pancakes aren’t dinner, so I usually eat ‚proper‘ savoury meals twice a day. On holiday, all bets are off! If the girl wants chocolate, the girl will get chocolate. And as restaurants are incredibly expensive and there was a 3-for-5€-offer at Lagkagehuset, it so happened that I really lived off pastry apart from Saturday’s dinner. Oh and one hotdog as an in-between snack… A girl has to treat herself sometimes. By the time I got back to the bus, I was full of cinnamon and happiness. I was ready to go home.

So what does solo travel do for me?

fromwhereistand Copenhagen

In the end, travelling solo does not grant you blissful oblivion of everything that bothers you. In fact, it is quite the opposite because you’re on your own. And running away from feelings that stick to your shoes like 6-months-old chewing gum never worked. You can be as stubborn as you please – eventually you’ll have to face the music. But why not face it by the sea? Chances are, the view will make you realize how good life is. Despite whatever is going on, whether you’re just tired of working too many hours, fed up with your daily routine, sicker than you should be, mad at a loved one or even a bit heartbroken – travel always puts things back into relation for me. I simply can’t be mad at a world that lets me see its most marvelous places, whether in sunshine or rain. Because nothing makes me more grateful for being alive.

How do you feel about solo travel?

Sorry about the somewhat mismatched and low-quality imagery of this post. You know what happened to my good photos

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Jana
    25.10.15 at 15:44

    I love solo travels! On those trips I totally relax, but also often step out of my own comfort zone. Also I love Copenhagen!

    • Reply
      Sabine
      25.10.15 at 21:43

      Exactly! It’s also the perfect balance of not bothering with others and being able to connect with strangers if you wish. Thanks for the comment!
      xx Sabine

  • Reply
    Lordine
    25.10.15 at 21:13

    Really lovely post. I clicked on here as I’ve considered solo travel but have always been too scared. I would love to just escape for the weekend and do as I like. Thanks for sharing x

    • Reply
      Sabine
      25.10.15 at 21:41

      Do it! You won’t regret it. Especially if it’s only a weekend, that almost works as a test run for future solo travels.

  • Reply
    Lana
    25.10.15 at 22:02

    Actually there are few posts I have energy to read but this was one of them. I have solo traveled few times and indeed it has its own beauty in it. You are more open to other people and your own thoughts. And you are right: whenever you feel like you want to escape- dont rely on others. Just escape.
    The only downside is that no-one is taking pictures of you 😀

    • Reply
      Sabine
      25.10.15 at 22:08

      Hey Lana,
      thanks so much for your compliment! That means a lot.
      I think if Sara hadn’t been there though, I would still have asked someone to take a picture of me in front of something nice. People do that all the time, so I guess we shouldn’t feel ashamed!
      xx Sabine

  • Reply
    Sabrina
    26.10.15 at 00:27

    As much as I love to travel with my boyfriend, family and friends sometimes I just want to travel on my own. I usually go on a solo vacation once a year. This summer I spent 10 days in NY – all by myself 🙂

    • Reply
      Sabine
      30.10.15 at 00:54

      That sounds so good! I bet you had a lot of fun in New York.
      xx

  • Reply
    Céline
    28.10.15 at 11:10

    I absolutely love travelling by myself. Having time to think, to write, to wander through new cities just how and when I want to… It´s a beautiful thing. I love to just sit down in a cute café and write in my journal and have some time to rethink all of the things that happened to me. I see you had a great time in my neighbour time, I live just across the bridge in Malmö! : )
    xx,
    Céline from Smultronställen

    • Reply
      Sabine
      30.10.15 at 00:53

      Hej Céline,
      thanks for the comment. I totally agree! Solo travel is so good for sorting things out.
      xx to Malmö!
      Sabine

  • Reply
    Lisa
    28.10.15 at 14:42

    Oh I’m from Danmark and I love Copenhagen! Great post! 🙂

    Lisa from lisa-meilgaard.blogspot.de

    • Reply
      Sabine
      30.10.15 at 00:55

      Hej Lisa,
      thanks a lot! What else would you recommend in Denmark? I always tend to just go to the capitals, which is probably completely wrong when I think that people would just visit Berlin and assume ‚That’s Germany’…
      xx Sabine

  • Reply
    Liz
    30.10.15 at 21:11

    I love solo-travels! I went to London by myself a couple of times this year and last year and to a few places in Germany and as much as I enjoy traveling with others and sharing those memories, traveling alone kind of relaxes me. I love the feeling of just having time for yourself, wandering around left to your own thoughts, and just do what you like to do, eat what you want to eat, go where you want to go. xx

  • Reply
    kaddinator
    02.11.15 at 08:31

    Ich bin noch nie alleine verreist. Okay einmal habe ich einen bekannten in Zürich besucht und hab da 2 Tage alleine was gemacht, aber das zählt glaube ich nicht. Ich weiß nicht ob ich zum alleine Reisen geschaffen bin. ich kann ja nicht mal entspannt alleine irgendwo n Croissant essen ohne mich unwohl zu fühlen.
    Kann man das vielleicht lernen?

    • Reply
      Sabine
      03.11.15 at 10:04

      Hey Kaddi,
      das ist echt eine gute Frage. „Lernen“ wie aus dem Schulbuch kann man es sicher nicht. Ich denke, da geht es eher um eine Entwicklung und dementsprechend kommt es vielleicht step by step, wenn man es ausprobiert. Ich habe mich früher in solchen Situationen auch nicht wohlgefühlt; inzwischen genieße ich es.
      xx

  • Reply
    Ofelia
    17.09.17 at 16:24

    Hi Sabine,
    Like you I’m planning to travel solo to Copenhagen at the end of this week. I’m so looking forward to it. I did solo travel in my early days and I loved it. It’s so liberating!!!
    Ofelia

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