Italy, Slice of Life, Travel
Comments 23

Wandering feet Wandering mind

I’m on day 3 of 10 days of traveling during school vacation and I’ve already walked 30+ miles in dirty keds and two pairs of socks. My toes feel permanently cramped, and I’m having sense memories of my high school era shin splints.

But if you must walk an average of 15 miles a day, Rome is not a bad place to do it ! I spent a regrettably short amount of time in the Eternal City and the only things on my itinerary for the roughly 36 hours were to see some famous monuments and eat as much as possible. Mission Accomplished!

What I love about traveling alone is that I’m not beholden to anyone as I plan my day. Want to walk 25 minutes out of the way to eat at a certain sandwich place someone recommended? Let’s do it. Feel like going back to that cute café even though you spent two hours reading there yesterday? Nothing stopping you. Make it up as you go along and suddenly your pedometer reads 38,000 steps.

What I find fascinating about solo travel is the silence, or sometimes the lack thereof. I spent two days basically not speaking to a single soul save the various merchants who sold me tea and pasta and sandwiches and fried balls of rice and postcards and magnets. Some people prefer to fill that quiet air with music or podcasts. I like to let chance and imagination do that work.

I like to watch and listen to the people I pass on the streets, guess their nationality. If they’re speaking English or French, I like to eavesdrop, imagining joining in their conversation, silently answering their questions or judging their choices. If they’re speaking Italian, I like to listen to the sounds, repeating those round open vowels under my breath and pretending that I actually know more than seventeen words.

In the absence of people to entertain me, I like to invent them myself, hosting long discussions, usually out loud or under my breath, with imaginary persons. I spent a particularly long walk yesterday explaining to a make-believe French person – perhaps a colleague of mine, or a recent acquaintance – why the patriarchy is bad for men and women. Don’t ask me how my mind got me there, but 35 minutes later I had arrived at the Pantheon and worked out exactly what vocabulary to use (correctly conjugated) when this very subject inevitably comes up in conversation…

And sometimes, my mind is honestly just blank. Maybe it’s some kind of meditative state where I simply let the sounds and voices and people and images wash in abstraction in front of me. I’m not necessarily listening or observing, just being for a little while. It’s peaceful, but not in a forced way. I like knowing that I don’t always need to be doing something to occupy my thoughts. Sometimes it suffices to just be. And just like that you don’t even feel the dozens of miles or tens of thousands of steps pass you by. At least not until the next morning!

What do you do to keep your mind occupied when you’re traveling or alone ?? ❂

Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate

23 Comments

  1. You are not alone when you have your imagination along for the ride. I do so echo all the sentiments you express here. Savour the silence, soak up the surroundings and let your inner voice sing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your pictures make me miss Europe! I love your reflections on solo travel. I have only recently started to travel on my own and can relate to so much of what you say- the freedom is so wonderful- the lack of conversation so strange. As teachers, our normal days are filled with so much talk that I feel like we can get by with little conversation more than other people perhaps. I make up so many stories about the people I see. I try to make more time for reading and writing when travelling alone which feels like such a great luxury. Enjoy!

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  3. Howdy stranger! So glad to see you back on the challenge…:) I love Italy and am so jealous of you right now! Please try to make it to Florence if you can. If you do, let me know and I’ll tell you some places you have to eat.

    I love your reflective piece. I, too, enjoy traveling alone for many of the same reasons as you. There’s something freeing about solo travel that you just don’t get to experience when you travel with friends or family. I am looking forward to reading more about your travels. Keep the photos coming, too. You have a great eye! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, Florence is not on the itinerary this time, though I’d go back in a heartbeat if I had the chance!! Touched down in Athens this morning. It’s already feeling like a city full of slices !! Hoping I can manage to post from my phone during this week 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m glad you are blogging this trip! I’m looking forward to reading more. I have never traveled for an extended vacation by myself, but it really appeals to me. I am very interested in travelling according to my own agenda. I’m sort of there now in the summer months when I can drag my children around and my husband is at work, but they are starting to add things to the agenda.

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  5. So interesting that I travel ALONE a lot, but Rome for me was in a group of 50+ and 5 of them were related to me. Not quiet. But, ahh! The gelato, the Vatican, the fountain, and all the interesting architecture and then the people. We were there when Mother Teresa was canonized so many, many people everywhere!

    Thanks for taking us along on your travels! Enjoy your break!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your photos bring back my trip to Rome just this past December! I spent about five days there, and it was just to see the highlights– just like Paris, Rome requires a lifetime to explore! Traveling solo is what I prefer best; I can spend days just reveling in my silence. Although funny enough, sometimes when there’s too much silence, I start humming or speaking to myself, which might appear weird for passerby! Enjoy the rest of your vacances– wish I could be on holidays, too!

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    • I’m not sure I prefer it, but I’d certainly rather be on my own than in a massive group. I speak to myself (or imaginary people as I prefer to think of it!) almost all the time haha, whether I’m walking to the metro or waiting for the bus, if my feet are moving I’m probably having some kind of conversation with myself. Sometimes I think about what outsiders are thinking about my whispering lips but I don’t really care au final 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is beautiful! I went when I was in High school, but really want to go back and redo it! I have been wanting to travel alone. I am impressed with your courage and it is very inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. An awesome post! I love the color contrast in the gelato photo. But this is my favorite paragraph:”I like to watch and listen to the people I pass on the streets, guess their nationality. If they’re speaking English or French, I like to eavesdrop, imagining joining in their conversation, silently answering their questions or judging their choices. If they’re speaking Italian, I like to listen to the sounds, repeating those round open vowels under my breath and pretending that I actually know more than seventeen words.” As someone who lives alone and often travels alone, you have captured it beautifully!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. LOTS of Swanson 6th graders are enjoying YOUR post, especially your photos. I love that you are trekking so many steps around Rome! But I want to get you a better pair of shoes!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow you literally described my exact trip to Rome just two weeks ago. My vacay is over (sad) but im re-living the experience through your post and pics.
    I walked SO MUCH through Rome and a few other cities during my trip. Like, I was impressed with myself. One of my shoes even had a hole through the sole by the end (they were old shoes anyway but still)
    And yes i agree so much on your thoughts on solo traveling. So much time to think, to plan your day how you want! So much time to explore. I love solo traveling and i love just being able to think without having to voice my thoughts out loud. Just spending time with myself.
    And girl, high five to what u said about having discussions inside your head to imaginary people. I legit thought i was the only one who did that. Haha, i love that!
    Enjoy the rest of your trip, love!

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  11. Nana says

    ANNE, HOW WONDERFUL TO HEAR FROM YOU. YOUR POOR SHOES. LAST TIME I WAS IN PORTUGAL IN 2016 IT RAINED EVERYDAy/ MY SHOES GOT SO WET EVERYDAY, BUT THEY DRIED OUT AT NIGHT AND I HAD WARM SOCKS. YOUR PICTURES LOOK BEAUTIFUL. I REMEMBER ROME. ENJOY YOUR MANY STEPS AND GOOD FOOD.

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  12. Alice Nine says

    Enjoyed seeing the sights your “wandering feet” took you to and reading the thoughts of your “wandering mind.” Your words, “What I love about traveling alone is that I’m not beholden to anyone as I plan my day.” resonate with me. My husband and I do most of our travel “alone” because we like walking to our own music–like you, beholden to no one.

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  13. Terje says

    Awesome to have an imaginary travel companion. You are never alone even when you travel solo. Beautiful pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I wish you could send some of that sunshine over to the UK – I’m really not feeling this Beast from the East malarkey with the freezing temperatures, snowy blasts and icy pavements! I love the look of all those pastel-coloured, faded buildings (and the food, of course). I used to have “conversations” with myself (in my head) as a way of practising my French, so you’re definitely not the only one that does that! Enjoy the rest of your trip!

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  15. YES! I love everything you said about solo travel! The quiet is so refreshing… the time to explore what I’m feeling at the time and happily enjoy those little moments are some of my favorite parts of solo travel. You’ve captured that so beautifully here. Also Rome is pretty great and I also did it as a solo trip 🙂

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  16. Anne, I feel like I am in Rome with you! Thank you for the beautiful pictures and the commentary. Your mom reminded me you were blogging for Slice of Life…thanks for taking us along on your adventure!

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  17. This picture makes me want to get to Italy as soon as possible! Love what you said about traveling alone as well. I have had a few incident traveling with others where we try to decide if we should actually go back to a restaurant for a second time. It’s always been a great move, but traveling solo means not having to get another opinion on that or itinerary things. Love the post!

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  18. This was so fun to read! I especially loved the lines: “Maybe it’s some kind of meditative state where I simply let the sounds and voices and people and images wash in abstraction in front of me. I’m not necessarily listening or observing, just being for a little while. It’s peaceful, but not in a forced way. I like knowing that I don’t always need to be doing something to occupy my thoughts. Sometimes it suffices to just be.”
    This awareness will serve you well the rest of your life! Enjoy and be safe! I know your mom is counting the days.

    Like

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