What To Expect The First Time You Travel Solo?

Oooooh, does chills run down your spine when you hear someone says ‘Solo traveling? The discomfort in your chest? What happens if you get stranded somewhere? Daunting moments in the airport? Those who had traveled alone will understand this feeling.

I came from a very conservative Indian family that one doesn’t allow woman travel far away places let alone outside of the country. Growing up, I always had the urge to break away from the Indian ‘taboo‘ (yeah, that’s makes me a rebel in some ways), while I respect my traditions I always felt that fathers and mothers of little Indian girls could have done it differently. Instead of breaking our wings to fly, they should look at us and say ‘yes, women can – Yes, YOU can‘. Here’s my story on how I decided to spread my wings and fly across the seas and came to realise that I am so much more than what I think I am. While some argue this is a scary feeling, others says that it’s the best way to see the world! If you’re getting ready for your first solo trip and wondering what it’s like, you’re going to LOVE this article. On the other hand, if you had traveled alone – you will totally relate to me.

I remembered breaking the silence to my mom when I told her that I will be going for a holiday – ALONE. I received a BIG NO from her! She gave me all the possible reasons to stay and I must say, it is not because of trust issues but it’s because my mother has always been worried about my well-being. And, I will put down my guts and say it – It wasn’t all that easy persuading my mother –  especially when you are raised by a single mother you can pretty much guess how it went.

Jokes aside, when I purchased my very first air ticket I was happily excited and at the same time I was disappointed that I was going against my mother’s wishes. On my first travel, I WhatsApp’ed my mother and told her, ‘I needed to find myself and if doesn’t happen now, it will never happen to me. When the shadow of my family’s name is removed from me, who am I really?‘ Finally my mother agreed halfheartedly (I love you mom for trusting me!!) .

So what happens when you travel for the First Time? 

  • I had cold feet that I almost lost my mind!

There will come a point where your brain will start speaking to you facing your heart and ask “WHAT were you thinking?!” I felt that everyone was watching me because I was alone. I was so cautious that I held my bags tightly especially when the engine revs up for take-off or when trudging through the airport to find my next gate. You will question your sanity for solo traveling and wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea. Give it some time. Solo traveling reveals itself to you – Slowly and blossoms in all its emotional races as a truly life changing experience.

  • You’ll begin to trust in your decision making.

One of the best things about solo travel is that I make the decisions. Be it booking for a taxi or choosing a valuable deal for a hotel – Its all on me. When you travel alone, you are in charge. You will learn to be responsible as you will have no one else to please with your decisions or blame for results.

  • You will realize you have a “gut feel” and you will learn to use it.

Call it your instinct –  At times something inside will tell you something just isn’t right. Your instinct will tell you to get the hell out of the place that you’re in, and you should listen to it. After traveling alone for a while, the reason why you will develop this instinct is because you are all by yourself. You will end up being more aware of your surroundings than how you would have been if you were with a friend. Yes, solo travel is fun but you should be aware that not all areas in this world are safe. Even if they are, you never know what goes inside someone’s mind. At times if your instinct is telling you something, you should listen to it.

  • You will feel lonely at times.

Loneliness is unavoidable when you travel solo and I feel it’s good that this kicked in. As long as you don’t embrace it, you will not be happy with your own company. I remembered when I was flying pass the skies of Europe and I witness the most beautiful sunset from up the sky! The clouds turned orange and the gradient of colors of were purple and red and all I could think of where is the blue sky! It looked magnificent and my excitement turned sour because I couldn’t share it with my loved ones and at that moment, I missed my little brother. I wish he could have seen this with me, we would have laughed and shared something worthwhile. I learnt that moment that being alone for large quantities of time can be daunting – but I just roll with it. It’s surprising that I started loving my own company along the way.

  • You’ll be a PRO in photography!

One of the best lesson I learned is getting smart with smartphone. You don’t necessarily need an expensive camera to get a unique picture. When you are alone, your mind gets creative into getting interesting pictures to send over to your family. I finally learned the art of clicking epic pictures!

  • YOU WILL END UP HAVING LOTSA FUN!

Believe it or not, the trip gets exciting and you will end up having the best moment of you life!! You will end up doing things that you never imagined you could. You will learn to survive on your own and will have a lot of fun doing so. I am a selfie person, so that makes me go ga-ga !! I click at everything and anything that I see, even if I am sitting alone in the hotel room.

Solo travelling offers opportunities to learn different skills. The first is becoming a very good observer. Sometimes many things happen at the same time. Sometimes nothing happens. Most of the time, you will play a guessing game when you don’t understand. But observing all the time.

Perhaps it’ll happen when you’re confidently sipping your coffee in a beautiful cafe but there will come a point where you’ll realize just how strong you can be on your own. It is a beautiful discovery to know you are wiser, stronger and you get to understand your needs and you will be more confident than you’ve given yourself credit for.  Solo traveling will undoubtedly reveal all layers of your personality to you. When there is no one there to hold your hand you will surprise yourself by how you’ll approach local people easily just to strike up a friendly ‘hello’ effortlessly and venture out proudly.

Yes, I know it sounds cliche but traveling alone will open your mind and make you see things a little differently. It happens because most of us live our lives in an autopilot mode and get into a routine. Many of us don’t shut up and spend enough time alone with our thoughts.

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My First Visit to Germany’s Nazi Concentration Camp

Now who would have thought I would arrive in this soul wrenching place. I have heard so much about the ‘Nazi Concentration camp’ during history classes or in the media, I even remembered borrowing The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank in my school library only to find myself crying out loud in my bedroom floor over the horrific details that I read! Truly it is unbelievable experience and one have to see what it was all about when you are there.

The most of my Europe tour was centered in Germany and the concentration camp was defo on my to-visit list. I left in the morning to the Dachau camp which wasn’t too far from where I live. The moment I arrived at the entrance gate of the camp there was a mix of emotions –

– Sad. Melancholic. Eerie. Life-changing.

These are just some of the feelings that I can remember experiencing and as this was my first visit to a concentration camp, I had an idea of what to expect, but it’s almost impossible to prepare myself for the somber experience I felt.

Dachau is only 30 kilometers away from the high city life of Munich, but it seems like a different world when I got there. It’s an old-road downtown, nestled deep within the Bavarian countryside, with the Alps looming in the background. The cheerful country-side turns somewhat gloomy as I entered the pavement of the memorial site.

Dachau concentration camp in German it’s pronounced as Konzentrationslager (KZ) Dachau was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany. It was intended to hold political prisoners. It’s located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory near the medieval town of Dachau about 16 km northwest of Munich, Bavaria (southern Germany).

It was opened in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler, its purpose was enlarge to include forced labor and eventually imprison the Jews, ordinary German, Austrian criminals and eventually foreign nationals from countries which Germany occupied or invaded.

The Dachau camp was finally liberated in 1945.

The prisoners of Dachau concentration camp originally were to serve as forced labor for a munition factory, and to expand the camp. It was used as a training center for SS guards and was a model for other concentration camps. The camp was about 990 feet wide and 1,980 feet long (300 × 600 m) in rectangular shape. The prisoner’s entrance was secured by an iron gate with the motto “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will make you free”). This reflected Nazi propaganda which trivialized concentration camps as labor and re-education camps, when in fact forced labor was used as a method of torture. As of 1938, the procedure for new arrivals occurred at the Schubraum, where prisoners were to hand over their clothing and possessions “There we were stripped of all our clothes. Everything had to be handed over: money, rings, watches. One was now stark naked.”

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The gate at the Jourhaus building through which the prisoner’s camp was entered contains the slogan, Arbeit macht frei, or ‘Work will make you free‘.

Visitors are able to walk the grounds, visit one of the last standing dormitories, and visit the museum, which was excellent.  Inside of the museum is a chronological history of the Nazi regime, WWII, and the use of Dachau from WWII up until present time.

I would recommend bringing your children to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp. It will bring a food of thought to everyone – By looking at the unbelievable sufferings of the prisoners at this Nazi Concentration Camp makes one realize the futility of a State trying to fit all impulses under one homogeneous umbrella.

Before You Visit:

  • Entry to the Dachau Concentration Camp is free
  • Parking costs €3
  • Keep aside at least 4-5 hours to explore the Concentration Camp
  • Make sure you watch the short documentary which is played on loop, in various languages, in the exhibition area. It will send chills down your spine.
  • Respect the memorial ground because you are walking into a mass unseen graveyard.

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Basilica of St Ulrich and St Afra in Germany

The Basilica of St Ulrich and St Afra is in Augsburg city, one of the oldest cities under the state of Bavaria. It’s just an hour away from Munich city and can be counted as one of the largest of early modern German cities. I have been living here throughout my Europe tour and I love how the Germans have well kept their architecture and traditions and while I was on a tour around the city that’s how I stumbled across St Ulrich and Afra church.

It was a cold winter when I arrived in Germany and from a distance, the church was filled with snow around the lawn and I think it was too beautiful to look at first sight. The first impression I had was that the church did look ancient somewhat (historical) but I never knew or heard about this church so instead of google searching, I decided to get inside and learn the history that lies behind this beautiful ‘onion dome’ historical Gothic church right in the middle of Augsburg city.

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The ‘Onion’ Dome

It is learned that The treaty of the Peace of Augsburg signed in 1555 allowed the co-existence of Catholicism and Protestantism on this sacred ground. The foundations of the current churches are built on top of the remains of two houses of worship that may have dated back to the fifth and sixth centuries.

Historical Background of St Ulrich & St Afra – 

  • Named after the patron saints of Augsburg, St. Ulrich and St. Afra was originally a Catholic basilica of late Gothic architecture with Renaissance tower and onion dome.
  • The Roman tomb of St. Afra, which was martyred in 304. The building is a great example of Gothic architecture in Germany.
  • After the treaty St. Afra remains as a Catholic church and St. Ulrich became a Lutheran church.
  • In its interior, it conserves three enormous and very precious altars of Renaissance ends considered a masterpiece of the German sculpture of the period.
  • Its high bell tower with an “onion”, which dominates the city of the south, served as a prototype for the construction of numerous baroque towers of Bavaria.
  • This the church where two denominations of faith share the peace to worship and to embrace the glory of God.

I was amazed by how the interior looks, they are decorated with sculptures and painted panels.  The chancel has a high altar along with two altars on both sides, choirs with framed artworks by famous painters, signs indicate this is a Catholic channel. The crypt holds the tombs of St.Ulrich and St. Afra. The Shrine keeps the bones of St.Ulrich. (click on my YT channel to watch)

It was a worth it trip to the church.

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Inside The Basilica of St Ulrich und Afra

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Visiting The Musee D’Orsay | The History of An Old Railway Station

The French city is one of the most popular destinations in the world, be it you are a couple, a family or someone who is interested in culture, Paris city definitely has something to offer. Paris also has some extraordinary variety of museums to offer, now possibly the famous museum in Paris is the Musée du Louvre (“the Louvre”) and thanks to the Mona Lisa. Da Vinci‘s world famous portrait is admired by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year in this museum. But how many of you have heard of the Musee D’Orsay?

I wanted to see the unheard places and Musee d’Orsay was on our map that we took from the hotel that we lived in. We took the metro station (subway) during the most of our stay in Paris and we traveled from places to places. It is much easier and more convenient to use the local subway than riding on a taxi, one get to save more on transportation! So and if you guys plan on a trip to Paris city, use the subway! After a couple of walks and lunch at Cafe Pont Le Petit, we walked through the city and was on our way to Musee D’Orsay, the cold and chilly weather turned warm as soon as we walked into the Musee D’Orsay entrance, thats duly because the heater was in use! (lol).

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The entrance ticket of Musee d’Orsay is classy!! We paid a fee of 12,00 EUR for the entrance fees.
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The high beam and mind-blowing architecture.
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The once old railways station

The history of the museum or its building is quite interesting. The museum is in the centre of Paris city, on the banks of the Seine, the museum was created out of a former railway station and was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. So the building itself could be seen as the first “work of art” in the Musee d’Orsay, which displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914.

Van Gogh’s paintings are instantly recognisable and the museum is home to a number of them. He once described the starry sky as a subject that kept haunting him, so it’s not surprising he painted so many versions of it. ‘Starry Night’ in the Musée d’Orsay was created in 1888 and is somewhat calmer than the more famous one in MoMA in New York that came a year later. He was at the height of his troubled psyche by then, but his distinctive brushstrokes are already evident in this earlier work (click onto my Youtube link to watch more of his artwork).

FB_IMG_1527693676107I truly enjoyed Musée d’Orsay, it’s quite interesting and informative and you certainly don’t need to be a museum buff for it. The balcony views, the unique train station facts as well as various points to stop, grab a bite or a drink to recharge make this museum definitely one to pop onto your list. They also provide a audio language translator device to reach out to multi-lingual audiences.

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Black Woman from colonies, 1861, by Charles Cordier

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The Musée d’Orsay’s Liberty

A small-scale model of the Statue of Liberty by the French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) has been placed right at the start of the visitor itinerary. There is no doubt that the presence of this world-famous icon at the entrance to the museum, the most important of all American symbols, will very soon become established as one of the most powerful images of the Musée d’Orsay, both as one of the most important art works of the 19th century and for its universal significance.

This version, a little under three metres high, was commissioned by Bartholdi himself in 1889, and subsequently exhibited in 1900 at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. That same year, the sculptor expressed a hope that the State would buy it, along with several other models including the Lion of Belfort, for the Musée du Luxembourg (the museum of modern art of its time).

As there were no works by Bartholdi in the Luxembourg at that time, he undertook to give them some in return for the cost of the casting alone. His proposal was accepted, although the museum was unable to find a place for them in their already very full rooms. The solution was found in 1905, after the death of Bartholdi. The sculptor’s widow suggested putting Liberty outside the museum in the gardens. It would stay there for 115 years, from 1906 to 2011, until the Senate, which owns the Luxembourg Gardens, generously agreed to return the work to the Musée d’Orsay.

If you are in Paris, make sure to check out this outstanding place!

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Finding Paradise – Phi Phi Island

This is the second series of my Thailand blog post! 

IMG_3208.JPGI went to Phuket recently and ever since I got back, I have been flooded with questions about my trip. Which are the best beaches in Phuket? How is the food in Phuket? Is it a good idea to plan a holiday in Phuket?

So I thought why not spread some good travel karma and share my Phuket travel while it’s still fresh in my mind. Here’s a recap of my trip including scenic attractions and restaurants with reviews, suggestions and most importantly, prices!!  I had a super time exploring Thailand, especially Phuket and it’s surrounding Island.

The cheapest and most reliable way to get from Phuket/Krabi to Phi Phi is by ferry. The journey takes about two hours from the place to Phi Phi Islands. There is specific schedule of timing of the ferries between Rassada Pier in Phuket and Tonsai Pier in Phi Phi, hence that varies. Therefore it is better to ask in the hotel you stay so they may help you with ferry schedule timing.

The main departure/arrival port in Phuket is the Rassada Pier, located in Phuket Town. The price is about 500 baht for a one-way ticket.

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Tonsai Pier at Phi Phi Island

Tonsai Pier, situated in the center of Tonsai Bay, north of of Phi Phi Don. It’s the island’s main pier and the busiest, with ferries arriving from Phuket, Krabi and Lanta. Solidly built and so scenic with its surrounding hilly landscape. On arrival, there’s a small 20 baht entry fee to the island (known as the island tax), and you’ll be met by a bunch of merchants holding up banners for tours and hotels.

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Tonsai Pier
The island was destroyed by Tsunami in 2004, the island has been rebuilt and developed to an even greater extent than before.

For my first Thailand trip, especially as a woman traveler, I think it was a great decision that I stayed in Bayview Resort – Krabi Province. It was safe, the people were friendly and it is a mini town by the island.

I stayed in Ko Phi Phi, or it’s rather known as Phi Phi Island. It is one of the most talked about places in Southeast Asia, with its natural beauty and reputation for good times putting it firmly on the tourist trail. The beauty of the island is unparalleled, even in a region of the world renowned for its stunning destinations. Limestone cliffs (as you can see in the picture I snapped!), turquoise waters, white sand beaches and miles of trackless forest make Phi Phi a perfect tropical island.

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Lime Stone Rocks by the sea
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Lime Stone
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The Body Shop Skin Defence SPF 50 PA ++++

The sun in Phi Phi is very strong and so you’ll need to constantly apply sunscreen (at least SPF 50 PA++++) if you don’t want your skin to burn. I used my ever trusty friend, The Body Shop skin defence multi protection essence.

From the resort where I lived, the resort had many activities to offer some includes rock climbing, fishing, diving, snorkeling, island hopping and cliff jumping. As for me, I choose to do island hoping because I wanted to see the places that was once a brutal victim of the Tsunami back in 2004. I was overwhelmed by the work of God and the work of nature. How much the Island had reconstructed from that on fateful day.

The great journey
The moment you step out of your comfort zone, you’ll experience the unseen beauty of life.

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My one weeks on Koh Phi Phi Island were incredibly relaxing and enjoyable but more importantly, I managed to get a lot of experience.

Thailand, I love your sights!  Phi Phi was definitely the right decision.


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