By Sally Ross
“Oh, I could never do that!” Hands covering her mouth, eyes tearing up, one woman after another longingly studies my travel photographs and shakes her head, “I could never travel alone.” Now and then, however, a brave soul has taken me up on it. My friend Janine wrote me, “Two years ago I met you at an arts festival. We had a long talk about your travels and your photography. You inspired me and I set out to try to go to Europe on my own. That trip has so positively affected my life!”
I believe we each get to choose the life we live, the roads we will take. For me, I must travel to feel fully alive. I must immerse myself in worlds where I have never been. So, although my husband couldn’t travel, I spent 3 weeks in Italy. When traveling with a dear couple, I also savored quiet times on my own in Greece. I extended a tour of China to revisit places I’d loved 25 years earlier when I taught there.
What is my secret? The first lesson is to always know ahead where I will spend the night. No more 20-year-old knocking on doors, meeting someone in a café, or crashing with a friend. Instead, I ask others who have been there and explore the Internet to find a perfect hotel, B&B, or Vacation By Owner rental. And my minimum requirement is to find a room with a view.
Veteran Italy tourist, Jim, knew I was fascinated with Ross King’s book, Brunelleschi’s Dome, about building the magnificent, and almost impossible, Duomo in Florence. Thanks to Jim, I stayed at the Duomo Hotel where I could lie in my bed and study that dome that loomed directly out my window. In Cortona, at the Hotel Italia, my huge rustic room had shutters that opened to the grandeur of Tuscany spread below. In Portovenere, my covered hotel balcony allowed me to take photos all day of a rolling storm with changing light that every photographer could die for. Santorini afforded a tiny and ancient, white stone cubicle of a room carved out of a cliff 1000 feet above the Mediterranean. From my patio table, I enjoyed breakfast al fresco, and at night, watched the setting sun. Did I mention that a fine bottle of wine and local cheeses enhance every view? We’ll study how to dine alone in a future column. But for now, research on the web, dream a little, imagine yourself there. Let the dreams build your path.
Yes, you can do that….