In between the hustle bustle of Barcelona, there was one solo traveler from India. She was turning 24 and never travelled alone until now. But this trip was important to her. You must be thinking its her birthday why does she want to travel alone? Is she not mentally stable? oh god! there goes another loner and a myriad of other things we often think when we are itching to judge someone.
What you don’t know and probably wouldn’t have experienced if you haven’t travelled alone is what she seeks!
Well that her was me and that was the first time I have travelled alone. What I was looking for is an experience that is not the usual routine. I have celebrated 23 birthdays with family and friends. Every year it’s the same ritual! Get up, cut the cake, go to a temple, wear new clothes, eat yummy food and party at night! I wanted something different that year. I wanted an experience I wouldn’t forget for a lifetime. So I have landed in Barcelona which is prepping for its famous “Festa de la merce”. I had no clue what it was. I checked into this beautiful hostel right near Gaudi’s casa batllo and I had a dorm room filled with 7 other strangers. I didn’t say Hi, uh-huh, that’s not how you do it, you do not say hi to strangers!
The next day, I went around the city all by myself, saw the decorations, enjoyed some good food and came back to the hostel early cos I was a bit apprehensive to venture out late at night. The day after, I woke up to a warm hello by a woman who is probably my mother’s age and a request for breakfast together. I thought “why not”! Well that’s it. That “why not” is the chance I took. The chance that led me to enjoy the company of at least 10 strangers who celebrated my birthday as if they have known me for years. That “why not” led me to one of the most amazing buffets in Barcelona, on a cycle tour with two Brazilians, a concert, dinner and dance with a group of French/British/Armenian folks, A free beer cos hey that’s how one welcomes their birthday in Australia, an awesome trip to the mercato, a FC Barca vs bettys match and an impromptu dance in the festival of merce.
Why should I go out of my comfort zone to have fun with strangers you ask? Well for starters, my friends will always be there when I get back home. But these strangers gave me a life learning and a birthday that is so different from others which will make an amazing story for my future grand kids :). They taught me to trust while using caution, they taught me their customs, shared their stories and I even got to see belle and sebastian perform live, “I honestly didn’t who they were, even when I was head banging like a maniac”. This is what I am looking for! An experience! A chance to be able to trust, to be able to look after myself even at the worst circumstances, a chance to meet people who live across the world, a chance to be carefree and at the same time have the longing in my heart for my loved ones who couldn’t be there on my birthday. To return from your travel as a changed person doesn’t mean something bad. It means you now know how much your loved ones mean to you. So women of my country, travel, make friends, share your stories all while being safe and happy.
P.S. My friend is going to be super mad after seeing the featured image of the post.. Sorry Its not Real Madrid 😀