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.
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:
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?
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
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?
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?