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TRAVELING SINCE TEN
I’ve been spending lots of time on airplanes and trains since I was ten years old – an impressionable age to be seeing the world and to be forming opinions about it.
However, I believe it’s done me an amazing amount of good.
Today I was on another airplane to another exotic location for a few days, and I found myself thinking about exactly how travel has changed my life for the better.
Allow me to share the highly personal things I thought about today.
FAVORITE SOLO EXPERIENCES
First, here are some of my favorite solo experiences.
Interestingly many of my favorite solo experiences are inItaly and have something to do with food for some reason.
If you travel as much as I do — which is about 3/4 of the year — you’re bound to have to travel by yourself a lot simply because so few people will be able to keep up.
But much as I’ve enjoyed traveling with family and friends, I’ve really cherished my solo experiences for the challenges, lessons and opportunities for introspection they’ve offered.
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FAVORITE SOLO EXPERIENCE 1
for a gala night at La Scala
I once watched a world-class production of La Cenerentola at the La Scala in Milan by myself.
It was gala night and everyone was dressed to the nines.
I’d traveled to Milanwith friends from all over Europe and we’d stayed at the Park Hyatt Milan and had a great time indulging in sales and good food.
However, everyone had flown out of Milan on that same day except me, as I was due to fly to Copenhagen the following day still to catch a cruise to St. Petersburg.
I could’ve stayed in the hotel and done room service, but instead I bought one of the best tickets to the opera, dressed up and walked over to the La Scala, which was just a few minutes’ away from the Park Hyatt.
I so enjoyed that evening by myself at the opera.
To think I was so close to missing an amazing performance simply because I was wondering if I should do the La Scala alone.
* * *
FAVORITE SOLO EXPERIENCE 2
for a trattoria dinner
Dinner at a Florence trattoria.
Again, I was in between trips with two sets of friends, and I had a week by myself to spend anywhere I wished in Europe.
I was in Vienna and I had to be in London a week later so I literally threw a dart on a map while I was in a hotel in Vienna, and it landed in Florence.
Off I went to rediscover a city I had last seen as a high school student.
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I booked a suite at a lovely hotel with one of the largest balconies in the city, and from my sunbed I had an amazing view of the Duomo.
On my first evening in Florence, I ate at a trattoria recommended by my hotel concierge for a proper and heavy Firenze meal. This was how I met my friend Keiko, who was also traveling solo and seated at the next table.
We still spent most of the week in Florence by ourselves, but we ended up meeting up for dinner every evening after that, and we took turns choosing the restaurants.
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FAVORITE SOLO EXPERIENCE 3
for a sunset to (almost) midnight meal
Dinner at the rooftop of the Danieli Hotel in Venice.
Most of my solo trips are week-long trips in between traveling with friends or family.
Again, this was a week I had to wait out in Europe in between meeting my best friend in Rome and a family trip in France. So I flew to Venice and booked a week at the Danieli, intent on discovering Venice like a local rather than as a tourist.
On my first evening (again), I booked the best table on the rooftop restaurant of the Danieli from sunset, ordered a bottle of wine and a full-course meal, and spent five hours watching the sun and then the moon weave its magic on the rooftops of Venice.
I can tell you that everyone around me was very intrigued about a young girl eating solo and slowly, and drinking a whole bottle of wine by herself, at one of Venice’s most fabulous restaurants.
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FAVORITE SOLO EXPERIENCE 4
HONG KONG for one whole Peking duck
I once walked into the Man Wah restaurant of the old Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and ordered an entire Peking duck with all the works by myself.
I was staying at the Mandarin Oriental and before flying out of Hong Kong in the evening, I decided to have Peking duck on the spur of the moment.
I ordered an entire duck and I actually finished the whole thing over a very relaxing lunch overlooking Hong Kong Harbour.
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FAVORITE SOLO EXPERIENCE 5
for an Imperial Palace-type dinner
I’d heard about a very hard to find and hard to get to restaurant in Beijing that was run by a family that traced themselves to Imperial courtiers, and that served the same food that had been cooked for the last generations of Chinese emperors.
Of course, on a trip to Beijing, I simply had to try this place.
I was attending a financial industry conference in Beijing and so I flew in two days earlier to spend some alone time in China’s capital.
My hotel, the Peninsula Beijing, arranged a car one night and off I went through some of the narrowest backstreets of Beijing in almost pitch darkness on a culinary adventure.
* * *
FAVORITE SOLO EXPERIENCE 6
for six days of pure indulgence in the Celebes Sea
I took the Silversea cruise from Bali to Manila by myself after the Tokyo earthquake.
It was just what I needed to recharge and re-think my life after the horrific experience of the Tokyo earthquake.
And I wasn’t exactly alone. I had friends and acquaintances to dine with when I wished, and my Blackberry to keep me company when I was by myself.