Most of you have already heard my flowery, happy-go-lucky talk such as:
EXHIBIT A: “Travel, see the world, just do it.”
EXHIBIT B: Go backpacking alone. You’ll be fine.”
Or my personal favorite, EXHIBIT C: “Blah blah, travel, blah blah”. Because let’s not kid ourselves, I’m a broken record.
After all that fluff talk, it turns out, I’m a hypocrite! I had a nervous breakdown when it was time for me to actually travel alone. Sure, I’ve lived abroad before, and traveled a ton, but that always felt more organized. Even if I was staying somewhere new, at least I had a stable home to come back to, a job to wake up for, or one familiar face.
My panic grew as my sister boarded her bus home with an Australian friend we met from our hostel. As I contemplated my sister’s immanent departure, I wallowed in self-pity. I can’t do this. I wish I was going home. How did I think I could do this? I’m going to be so lonely the next few weeks.
I checked my guidebook again and again, but it didn’t have any advice for self reliance. I could just see Edna Mode from the Incredibles yelling at me to stop being such a downer: “Pull! Yourself! Together!“
As I was yearning for an Edna Mode to snap me out of it, the Australian traveler granted my wish. He yelled “You’ll be fine!” at me as their bus departed. Not gonna lie, I wanted to slap him with a dead fish. I’m not gonna be fine! I whined to myself in my petulant child voice.
Even petulant children get hungry, so when my train arrived to Cesky Krumlov 3 hours later, I grabbed a bite to eat at this vegetarian restaurant. I was sitting alone, feeling sorry for myself and emitting negative vibes into the universe. Magically, this charmed the restaurant owner, David, who buzzed over to sit by me.
As cheesy as it sounds (literally and figuratively cheesy, because I was eating cheese at the time), David and I were like soul sisters. That song Hey Soul Sister by Train started playing and flowers fell from the sky. Okay, fine, that second part didn’t actually happen.
David was an older gentlemen who spoke multiple languages, like Mandarin, Spanish, English, Czech, and Russian. After I told him how much I love Mexico, he even surprised me with a free desert of arroz con leche!
And that’s why I can’t stop traveling. There I was, having a “bad day” for a stupid reason. Out of nowhere, a complete stranger picked me up, brushed me off, and put me back on my feet.
After that lunch, I decided to be a nice human instead of a miserable loaf of stale bread. I made friends with some fellow travelers in my hostel and had the best two days of outdoor adventures. I even joined a girl band called Raft Girls!
More on Raft Girls: I tried to convince my raft buddies to give up the backpacking for life on the river. We could name ourselves Raft Girls. They said they’ll think about it and get back to me.
Aside from hiking, rafting, and eating a ton of fried cheese, the best part of Cesky Krumlov was trying Monster Munch chips for the first time. Now instead of taking chic hiking photos, I will just post a picture of a Monster Munch cracker. Now that’s a picture with a view.
Just kidding. The best part about Cesky Krumlov was how my thinking changed. I went from believing “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this” to realizing “Wait. I’m already doing it.” The Australian was right. I was completely fine.
And you know what? Because I was alone, I was open to new experiences that I never would’ve thought about trying otherwise.
So whatever it is that you think can’t do- cheers to knowing that you can!
And if you visit Cesky Krumlov, be sure to stop by David’s restaurant Laibon and tell him this crazy American says hi.