Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The lone traveler

This is my first time as a truly lone traveler. In some ways I cherish my alone time in my daily life, finding it an opportunity to be alone with my thoughts. In other ways, though, I love company; I thrive on companionship and have a basic need for interaction and conversation. Actually, I think I'm quite representative of most of us. We are naturally social, but need time by ourselves to reflect and recharge.

Traveling alone, then, brings opportunities as it brings challenges. The basic foundation of the positives are: do what you want when you want. I have the freedom to go to the gym and/or yoga as much as I want without feeling guilty about any travel companions. I can go to whatever restaurant my whim fancies at that instant. I can eat the same thing for every meal if I want (don't worry; I'm not and I don't). I've found three particularly important aspects to this.

First, we all know that a mood can greatly impact an experience. Sometimes you are in the mood to spend six hours looking at art in the Louvre. And sometimes you're really not. Being alone allows me to decide on a minute-by-minute basis what I want to do, what is appropriate to my mood, the weather, the time of day, etc. For example, today was a grey day in Paris and I was feeling somewhat passive, unenergetic, and reflective. So after yoga in the morning, I wandered, mostly.

The second aspect that I like about being alone is no one is around judging what you're doing. If I'm not enjoying something, I leave. No one around to think me fickle or uncultured. You're essentially acting in a vacuum.

Finally, photography. I always feel badly when I make others wait for me as I try to get the perfect shot. I've been taking a lot of photographs and it would be tiresome for my travel companions if they had to wait around while I fiddled with the settings on my camera or walked all around a building to get all the angles. Being on my own affords me all the photographic freedom I can handle.

There are non-positives to being a lone traveler, though (umm, those would be negatives). Mostly, what I notice is not having any opportunity to share experiences. I spend a lot of time in my head and don't have anyone with whom to marvel about the beautiful architecture of that little-known church or ridiculous dress that girl is wearing. In fact, I don't really speak that much at all, leaving me with an ongoing, silent monologue.

I also do everything alone. I decide what to do in a day alone. I eat breakfast alone. I shop alone. I eat lunch alone. I explore alone. I eat dinner alone. I walk home at the end of the day alone. I know that this may seem like an obvious statement, but it's important to separate it out. Think about all of the many things you do in a day. Now think about doing every single one of them alone.

Just some idle thoughts from a non-idle mind. Good to get some of my monologue out of my head, anyhow.

I posted more pictures. Monday, yesterday, and today.

These are more artsy Notre Dame pics:
And the rest:

And the two other albums for those of you who couldn't figure out how to access them... You just cut and paste into your browser window...