I first was introduced to travelling alone at 19. As part of my aspirations to find a job as a ballet dancer, auditioning globally was the next course of action following my last year of training. I set out to places like Norway and the Czech Republic all alone and with the hunger to find a job as my motivation. During these trips I dealt with many complications. I had obstacles in the details of my travels, rejection after rejection following my auditions, and very little wifi. But with these struggles I learned a lot about how I can manage in a foreign environment while riding solo.
Since the audition period, I've actually chosen to travel alone quite a lot. It's convenient in the sense that you run on your own schedule. You stop when you're tired and go when you feel fuelled. You see the things you want to and basically create an itinerary for only yourself, with as much room for spontaneity or structure as you wish. You're also more likely to meet new people. Since you're alone, you seek out small talk, and when people see you alone, they feel bad for you since you kind of look like a loser! (Be wary though, stranger danger is real).
But in my latest impromptu solo travel to Barcelona, I found myself thinking how much more I would have enjoyed each moment if I could have shared it with somebody. Having somebody there is a part of what can make the travel so memorable. It could be a funny story you encounter or a moment of frustration that the two of you will be able to laugh about years later.
While strolling around the Gothic Quarter, I began to go back and forth between which I preferred. I saw pros and cons to both travelling alone or with company. As I was waiting in line for lunch, by an almost unreal coincidence, I met a person from Toronto. But since they were travelling in a group, we didn't get much past small talk. I felt a little envious that I was left behind alone, but then as I was served my lunch and continued to walk down the narrow street, I was enchanted by the distant delicate chords of a Spanish guitar in the distance.
I followed the sounds which brought me to a little archway exposing a garden in between the buildings. Vast and blooming trees decorated the area, with a few chairs thrown around the space and a stone fountain in the centre. Across from the fountain, on the stone steps to an old some-kinda building, sat solely the most pleasant man. His only companions being his Spanish guitar and the simple melody of "Première Gymnopédie".
So I sat on the fountain and listened to him play one of my favourite tunes, and a few more to follow. He played so humbly in an area of the city that would maybe have gone unnoticed by tourists. He was just so happy by his ability to create music, a purity that was touching and inspiring.
So in my loneliness and in his too, we kept each other company for a brief moment in the day, without exchanging much more than a gracias. But, it was a reassurance in my doubts of travelling alone, that sometimes you need to be alone to find beauty in the most simplest things.