I am now sitting by the Black Sea in Batumi – Georgia, listening to its waves and realising how much healing power they seem to have. It is early morning, the weather is nice and sunny, even though it’s only about 10°. As it is only spring time, beginning of April, the sun feels good anyway. I don’t feel much of the coldness and watching the sea makes me feel incredibly relaxed and calm. In general the whole Georgia makes me feel at ease. Even though it is a post-communist country, reminds me a lot of Poland in the 1990s, I see it is quite poor and the people here are not really wealthy, they do not make me feel it. In many places they make a living out of tourism, but they’re not acting aggressively. When comparing it to Morroco I visited last year it made me not wanting to visit any of the Arabic countries anymore, as they were scamming tourists on every corner! With Georgia it is quite the opposite.
While walking around yesterday, just by the Promanade in Batumi, I did about 18 km by foot. I can imagine how crowded and full of people it must be during the holiday season. So I’m even more grateful I’m able to visit Georgia beginning of April, even though the weather is not so perfect and I cannot stay by the beach in my swimming costume all day long. However I can still sit on the stones, in the totally deserted sea area and have a feeling I have it for my own! 🙂 It is very relaxing – having such an incredible view, listening to the sound of the waves and observing the nature. I do feel that the these have kind of a healing power. And they look so amazing in the sun! Another part, that I also love while spending time by the sea, is the smell of it. Yesterday for a few hours I was just inhaling its smell! 🙂
I think in our western societies, we do not appreciate much the nature and what it can give us. The truth is that what I’m doing now is nothing, really nothing! I’m just sitting, observing the sea and smiling. 🙂 Being totally unproductive! Is anything wrong with that? For some who are much into making money and business all the time, they would probably say: yes! As for me, now, I totally do not care about the rest of the world. 😊 I love this feeling! Such a perfect peaceful state of mind! I started to appreciate these moments some time ago as they make me feel incredibly relaxed. When I am home, I work eight hours a day, 5 days a week, then I do some houseworks or deal with other stuff. It happens I go to a park to relax on a bench, but usually I am too lazy to do so 😐 In here, it is seems so nice observing the nature. The healing power of the sea waves wake me up into life! I don’t really have much time to do what I’m doing right now back home and in the same for a big-city-girl being by the sea everyday would be quite of a challenge.
I feel now the sun warming my legs, the sound of the waves making me calm and the smell of it making me only healthier! I do want to enjoy every single moments of sitting here and doing nothing – just admiring the Georgian Black Sea. I think in our western society appreciating moments like that counts a lot. Knowing how to do so is also very important. That’s why I’ve always loved travelling! Capturing and appreciating small things happening around me means a lot to me, as in my everyday life I don’t often do or notice these while living in a big capital city. Such a travel escape brings calmness info my perfect, capitalistic, wealthy life. And what matters most, in my opinion and in my life, is not the money but these healing moments I will remember for the rest of my life 🙂 It feels as if regaining my stillness of heart!
This month there was 100th Independence anniversary of Poland and such a celebration made me wonder what it means to me? Poland disappeared from the world map for 123 years. Only after the First World War it gained its independence back. How about its people? How about me? What does it mean to be independent?
For me independence, and in the same freedom, is the ability to make my own decisions, deal with its consequences, and most importantly – not to be judged as well as lead the life I want to live. When I have a good look at Polish history, my analysis brings me to a conclusion that during the communist times I would never be able to buy my own flat and live on my own! I would need to get married to leave my parens home. It wouldn’t mean to live only with the husband and starting a new family with him, probably I would need to move from my parents’ to my husband‘s family as during these times it was not at all easy to get your own apartment. You had to sign up a wating list and wait a few long years to be assigned one. Of course it was not even certain you would! I remember in the flat of 54 m², where I spent my childhood, were living three generations: my grandparents, my parents, me and my brother. Three rooms – three separate ones – each for one of the generations. Nowadays, when I compare the conditions I spent my childhood in with the ones I live now, it shows me how my perception of having my own space changed. I live in a flat of 48 m² and cannot imagine having a kid there. However I remember spending my childhood and sharing a room with my brother of 9 m². We managed, there was no other way. I remember I envied my friends who, when living with their parents and their siblings, still had their own room. For me that meant they had their own space and were allowed some privacy. I can’t say I had such an opportunity. That is probably why now I need a lot of my own space and privacy. In my opinion everybody needs it. We need to have our own corner where we are able to calm ourselves down and know that is the only place no one else has access to without our permission.
From one hand independence and freedom for me is to have my own physical space in life. On the other hand it is also making my own decisions without being judged. I tend to claim that the only person, at the end of each day, that is allowed do judge me in any way – is myself.
I also think that I happen to live in the most incredible times! Yes!!! Amazing ones 🙂 I can travel as much as I can, and where I want, as long my budget allows me to do so. I think money is just money, these can always be earned. The most important is that I can choose whatever destination, then take a flight and just go! 🙂 Isn’t that lovely? Within a few hours I can be on the other side of the globe! I wouldn’t be able to do so, in such an easy way, during the communist times. Luckily I was only seven when capitalism arrived to Poland and I don’t really remember a lot from communism. I think with my free spirit and eager to travel, meeting international people, visiting as many places as possible, I would feel a prisoner in Poland about 40 years ago. I am incredibly happy living in a free country now that allows me to buy my own flat, to make my own decisions, keep the passport at home and use it whenever I want it, to host foreigners, to observe how the city I was born in and live is changing and how colourful blocks of flats are becoming as well as notice how many tourists are coming to visit Poland. I am amazed how much Warsaw, the capital, grately changed during only 28 years of capitalism. Looks like freedom also means development.
Independence is something you cannot buy in my opinion. It is something you need to fight for, like I was fighting to buy my own flat that brought a lot of autonomy into my life. Nobody controls who I am inviting into it and in the same into my life. If I was still living with my parents, they would see who I am meeting and most probable they would make their own observations and comments about my friends I would not really want to listen to. I do not like being controlled by anyone or judged, even if these people are parents who do not wish me bad. As a grown-up I know, and I am aware, that the only person responsible for my life is myself. I stick to my beliefs, try to make reasonable decisions, and if some occur to be wrong I deal with the consequences, so I only try to make these that don’t hurt. 😉 Apart from living on my own, making my own decisions and sharing my positive emotions with others, taking responsibility for myself is the biggest independence and freedom I have ever achieved in my life. Even though capitalism may not be one the best systems, it gave me the possibility to have at least a bit of autonomy in this crazy, egoistic and commercialized world. 🙂
Can you imagine how surprised I was when a few weeks ago I received a request to host a 73-year-old woman?! I consider the couchsurfing website as the one mostly used by quite young people, aged 20 to 40. This time however, and for the first time in my whole couchsurfing adventure, I received a request from an old woman! Unfortunately I need use such an adjective as “old” because there is no better equivalent. I accepted her even though I had some doubts if we get along. And again another person brought new perceptions and a lot of new ideas into my life! 🙂 What makes her amazing is that she learnt English only when she was 40, as her biggest dream was to visit the United States. She managed to do so, and even worked for a whole year there. She started travelling once her two sons grew up and moved out to make their own families. In my opinion it was her second chance to make the most of her life. In her case the statement in which some claim that life begins after 40 makes sense and proves it right 🙂 While observing her I noticed only the generation gap between us, especially when it comes to technology. However she made me so surprised and amazed with her eagerness to travel, willingness to get to know the world, being incredibly open-minded, having such a free spirit as well as using couchsurfing both ways – to be hosted in strangers’ houses and hosting others.
Usually 70 something people are considered more as grandparents who usually stay home, watch TV, do some crosswords, take care of grandchildren and tend to have many illnesses. She was completely not that type! She is a great example that at any age you can fulfill your dreams, only if you really want them to happen. In my opinion it takes a lot of courage to travel alone when you are a pensioner. On the other hand she made me wonder who I will be by the age of 70? First of all will I still be alive, second of all will I still be travelling alone? Will I be in good physical condition to travel? Will I be willing to be hosted by strangers? Will I still be hosting? She made me wonder a bit about my future and where my life experience may lead me.
I think the most important is that she brought a lot of positive energy into my life and shows an amazing example that it is only a matter of strong personality and willingness to achieve your goal – the age cannot even stop you! I realized I only want to be surrounded by such amazing people who show me there are no boundaries in anyone’s life and the only one who can stop us from fulfilling our dreams is ourselves, our fear of failure and million excuses! 🙂
When I travel it is usually abroad. The reason is simple – there is always a challenge awaiting when you travel to a foreign country. You need to find yourself in a new environment, sometimes there will be misunderstanding issues to deal with or you will get a meal in a restaurant with a taste you would not expect to have. I love these emotions traveling abroad gives me. In my opinion traveling within the country I live in does not give me much of an adventure. Anyway I find Poland very interesting with amazing places to see.
So I went to Zakopane, in the south, with a friend, one Thursday afternoon. It is a spot where you easily reach beautiful Tatra mountains. The trip from the capital – Warsaw, took 5 hours, to my surprise. A few years ago it would take whole night by train. So I am impressed by the transportation, especially railway, that changed in Poland and became faster. My and my friend took a train to Krakow from Warsaw, and then a bus from Krakow to Zakopane. The whole trip took 5 hours. In my opinion it is bearable.
The next day we woke up at 6am to get to the mountains and see the famous Morskie Oko. It is a lake surrounded by hills where you can get only by 9 km walking. There are some horses going there, but I am not going to encourage anyone to use this kind of transportation, as the walk is a very simple one. There is a straight asphalt path going to the lake. Some people even say it is the most boring path in Tatra mountains. I am not into using horses to go to Morskie Oko. The walk is only about 2 hours – that is what took me and my friend to get there.
Now from the beginning – we had to take a bus from Zakopane to Palenica. That is the spot where you can start your walk to Morskie Oko. Palenica is around 30km from Zakopane and buses go there every 15 minutes. Probably during the summer season there is some traffic on the road, but as we were in the end of September, kind of summer season ending, we got there within 30 minutes. It is easier to take the bus as if you decide to go by car, there might be a problem parking. Especially if you go quite late. And for the spot, quite late for me, is midday. That time you can even forget about a parking spot near the Palenica.
2 hours walking starting at 8 in the morning, a break in a shelter at 10 am, then walking around the lake, a quick-lunch in a shelter again, and then walking down made our trip around 20 km long. By 4 pm we were heading back to Zakopane. The weather was just perfect – warm and sunny. It was my third time visiting the spot and I truly recommend it 🙂
However the weather the next day was not that great. Me and my friend decided to take a cable railway to get to very high mountains, that is Kasprowy Wierch. And imagine by the time we got there, and it was around 10 am – it started snowing! 🙂 Already, in September! 🙂 It was my first time there and unfortunately I did not get to see much of the views, however I will get back there one day to see what I was not able to catch this time! The cable railway takes you within 15 minutes to very high mountains where from you can either go down or head to other spots. If you take it early in the morning, you can spend the whole day in the mountains admiring their amazing views.
We did not want to hang around in the snow, so we took the cable railway down and decided to have some rest in the Aquapark in Zakopane. That was fun! 🙂 Jacuzzi, swimming, sliding and resting 🙂 For me 2 hours there was enough. After our swimming pool rest we went to Gubalowka – a hill with a view of whole Zakopane. You can either walk there or take a cable railway which takes you there within 3 minutes. Walking is around 2 km only as far as I recall, a it up the hill.
The weekend break in Zakopane was a good idea. Poland is a beautiful country and from time to time I like traveling around it. When it comes to prices – I would not say it was very expensive, even though the spot is very touristic and prices can be high. Accommodation was around 20 Euros per night in a center of Zakopane and in a B&B. Bus tickets to Palenica (Morskie Oko) and back – 5 Euros, Aquapark 2,5h entrance 10 Euros, cable railway to Kasprowy Wierch both ways – 25 Euros and the one to Gubalowka both ways 5 Euros. When it comes to food it was not expensive at all. This weekend break was definitely worth it! 🙂
I have been thinking lately how my way of travelling changed during the past few years. I am not counting the time when I was 19 and left Poland for 3 years to live in France, but the time when I came back, started my professional career at the age of 22 and started travelling. At the beginning it was just for holiday once a year, later on a few times per year. I remember my first holiday – it was Rodos, a Greek island. And an organized trip Crap, did I really do that?! Did I really buy an organized trip by a travel agency? Was I that lazy? Yeah, I did it I do not blame myself for that, it was just easy. I was young, did not have much experience in travelling, not mentioning traveling on my own, and wanted to go abroad. But ss they say – there always has to be the first time for everything. It came, a bit later on when I made some observations about traveling and decided how I really want to travel.
Travelling with an agency is simple – they organize everything for you and you do not need to worry about anything. My opinion now is that even though it is that simple, you might miss a lot. First of all – if you buy an all-inclusive trip you will not eat outside and taste local cuisine as you are provided with the food in the hotels’ restaurants, so what is the point of spending more money to try local cuisine? You have already paid quite a lot for you trip, haven’t you? Second of all – you will probably not move from the hotel. And again – you have paid already for accommodation, so what is the point of going to and exploring another place as you already have what you need. Third of all – you are so lazy to make an effort to organize a trip on your own that you make it the easiest way possible and just stay in one place the whole holiday. My question is – so what is the point of traveling if you want to stay only in one place, eat and drink just because you paid for it? You can eat and drink at home too, can’t you? 😉 These are the observations based mostly on myself. I used to travel like that a bit, luckily only a few times. It happened I went to all-inclusive trip 3 times in my life. I visited already 20 counties so far and some of them more than once. That means most of my trips were prepared by myself and for myself 🙂 In Greece I was 8 times already and I know it is not the end 🙂 So in general out of around 50 times I flew abroad, only 3 were all-inclusive. However my way of travelling changed so much over these past few years.
These all-inclusive trips are not such a bad idea if you know how to make most of them. However in my opinion these are usually used to go abroad, especially to a warm country, stay in a hotel for a week, get drunk every night, eat a few times a day, go to a beach, and have fun. And there is nothing wrong with that. Just it is not my style of travelling at all! I want to explore the place I am in, meet new people, either locals of foreigners; try local food; get on a local bus and admire the views; organize everything on my own – book the hotel I want to stay in, Airbnb or a much better option – Couchsurfing; eat in local restaurants, see how local people live and work there. Yet that way of traveling took a bit of time for me to learn. Now I mostly travel on my own. To be free. To feel free. To get the emotions travels give me – like getting lost and finding the way out, or making my brain work quickly in finding a solution no matter what might happen. And adventures always happen when you travel 🙂 People I meet on my way are always helpful and amazing. Those I met through Couchsurfing will stay in my heart forever as they teach me and show me that all of us, around the world are good, warm, and open-hearted 🙂 If I was only traveling through all-inclusive trips I would never experience such incredible places and meet such great people. It required a bit of courage for a lonely, young girl to pack one day and say to herself – ok, I am doing it on my own, I do not need a companion, we will see what world has for me to offer and hell yeah, I am going on my solo trip! 🙂 I do not even member now what country I chose for my first lonely trip, yet I gave myself a chance to do so and knew I could make it on my own. No regrets at all! The best decision I ever made! Now, when I want to travel I just buy a fight ticket, make a plan for my trip and off I go. I do not search for people to keep me company, the best company I am already in , and that is myself 🙂
I do remember, at the beginning, that I felt a bit ashamed to sit in a restaurant and have dinner on my own. As if I needed company, either male or female, does not matter who, but there had to be someone with me. As if I was not allowing myself to have a meal on my own, as if I would be judged by the society that I am a single girl nobody wanted to go on holiday with. So, I felt, there had to be something wrong with me, right? Now I know the only thing that was wrong, was my way of thinking. Everything is totally ok with me. I have right to sit in a restaurant and eat on my own. I have right to travel on my own. I have right to see all of the places I want to see on my own. I have right to be on my own! 🙂 I do not need others to make me feel good, because my mood depends only on myself. If I do not feel good with myself, no one will make me feel better, not even a traveling companion. Another thing I have learnt – how I manage my emotions is the key to my happiness. The truth is I never feel lonely while travelling – there is always nature right next to me, there are always amazing views surrounding me, there are always people around even though they are strangers, there are always thing happening 🙂 And I love walking around in a foreign country, admiring life happening there, enjoying every single moment, tasting coffee and food, seeing how people rush to work or relax by the beach. I think life is amazing, and the only thing you need to do is wanting to see it that way. Not being afraid of being on your own with your own thoughts is another succesful key if you want to travel alone 🙂 I stick to that. No more all-inclusive trips in such case 🙂 Just experiencing beautiful life happening around every single day!
Why I am travelling alone? Is it still such a strange thing to see a girl who travels on her own? Lots of my friends tend to admire me for doing such a thing. And for me it is not a big thing. I just want to do it, and I am doing it!
From the beginning now 🙂 I think it was my dad who subconsciously encouraged me to travel. I remember when I was young he was reading me to sleep “Gulliver’s travels”. It might have been that time my mind started getting used to the idea of traveling. When I was 19 I left Poland and went living as an au-pair girl in Paris for a few years. I need to mention I did not speak French at all then. I spoke English, yet those who know a bit of French culture will immediately figure out knowing English was not much of a help 🙂 I leant French there. Brave, isn’t it? As some may claim that going to a foreign country may be risky for such a young girl, I think it was just an adventure for a 19-year-old girl. It taught her how to manage in such a cosmopolitan city like Paris. It was 2002. In Poland capitalism was only 13 years old, and even though the capital and the country itself was quickly developing, it was nothing in comparaison to a 12 million Ile-de-France region. My 3 years adventure of living in France taught me only amazing skills, like: becoming very independent and more tolerant, counting only on myself, managing in all kinds of situations and finding out what freedom means to me. I am now not afraid of buying flight tickets and going abroad alone. I would even say I love it! What I love about traveling alone is that I do not need to compromise on anything. I go to places I want to see and visit. I do not need to ask anyone for their opinion or plans for the trip or for the day. It may sound egoist, and yes I am aware of it. Yet I prefer to travel alone than in a bad company. Most of us know how hard it is to find a good companion, especially when it comes to traveling. People have different needs and expectations. In my life there are only 2 people I am willing to travel with – my father and one of my girlfriends. The reason I can fly with them is that they know some unpredictable things and situations will happen and they do not panic then. They are both chilled out and relaxed, they love enjoying life, so if we feel like sitting in a café and drinking some, we just do so. Both of them do not care about money that much, so we are not counting penny for each meal in a restaurant or each souvenir that we buy to know how much we have left. Of course we are being reasonable and not wasting money on stupid things, just enjoying every single moment of our journey. Rest of my friends do not travel the same way I do, so there is no point going anywhere with them, as it would be only waste of my energy.
What does the travelling alone give me? Lots of positive emotions. Facing challenges. Proving myself I am invincible. Crossing my boundaries. Realizing I am amazing. I love the feeling of getting on a plane, then landing in a foreign country and the story begins – finding myself, asking for direction, searching for places I want to visit, tasting different food, enjoying sunsets and sunrises, admiring landscapes, listening to the sound of sea, ocean and wind. Feeling the universe, understanding it, being grateful for such an opportunity of being where I happen to be. This is what I get when I travel. All range of positive emotions. And people I meet on my way are amazing too: couchsurfers, pedestrians, other tourists. They are always helpful and always making me smile.
Many times, here in Poland, I heard my friends saying that traveling alone is not such a common thing, especially for a girl. I keep wondering why? Are women afraid of doing so and being alone? Are we still thinking only by having with someone around our life has a meaning? Are Polish women still brought up the way they need a man to take care of them, as they are a weaker sex and need protection? Really, are they? If so in my opinion they are missing a lot. Especially their freedom, as they have resigned from it in order to get a false sense of security provided by men. I am aware I am a grown up, does not matter a girl or a boy, as an adult human being I know I am responsible for myself. No one else! At least that is the philosophy of life of a Polish girl who travels alone 🙂 And loves doing it! There are so many amazing places for me to see and I cannot wait to buy another ticket after my 8th Greek holiday this year I am starting soon 🙂 I am sure the moment I come back I will be googling some other flights to places I have never been before. In my opinion we are living in such amazing times and the world is so open to any of those who are willing to take the most of it. And I am one of them 🙂 I want 100% of this world! I know the opportunity is there, just waiting for me to take it. So why would I be like most of Polish girls waiting for their price charm to arrive, when I have millions of flight routes to choose from and still at least 100 countries to visit! I may be egoist, I may not be adapting to society by not having a family and kids, yet I am happy in every single day of my life as thanks to my travels I am such and my open-minded person that has so and many plans for the future! Not only these concerning traveling of course 🙂