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Trials and Triumphs: The Unbreakable Spirit of Solo Travel

After spending so much time in bustling European cities, I was craving nature and a slower pace. In my quest to explore something different, I wasn't necessarily looking for a typical tourist destination. Following some research, I decided to book a solo trip to Hallslatt, Austria as my last trip of my semester abroad. Knowing me, you know that I am a little impulsive in my decisions, especially when my head isn't quite clear. As a result, I immediately booked my train ticket and decided, if I've gotten this far, I'll survive on my own.

A very useful app I used for buying train tickets is called 'Omio'. I 100% prefer trains to planes. While enjoying the views outside your window, you can also use the wifi and spread out a bit since you're not always next to someone else.

Due to my 9 minute layover at a random station in Austria, I was quite anxious for this route to Hallslatt. Looking like a complete idiot, I was running through the station anxiously trying to find my platform as the train was about to depart. After making it through the next leg of my journey, it turned out to be one of the most perfect train rides of my life.

While the train was lowkey tiny and gross, more like the metro, I found a seat and settled in. It took about 6 hours to travel from Prague to Hallslatt, and this second train was the last two hours of the journey. Snow began to fall throughout the entire two-hour ride. Snow decorated the mountains and lakes as we passed beautiful scenery. When I arrived at my stop after dark, I learned that I would have to board a boat taxi to cross the lake. My fee was paid for me by a nice couple since the taxi only took cash, which I did not have.

Upon my arrival, I was ravenous and wanted some food. Upon my arrival I quickly learned that December is an off month for them. The only two places that served food were a hotdog stand (which sucked) or an expensive hotel. As much as I wanted a hotdog to satisfy me, one bite made me want to throw up. My next step was to find where I was supposed to sleep tonight. I booked a room overlooking the lake at Braugasthof Lobisser Gasthof (a hotel). As I walked through the cobblestone streets to my hotel, the goddamn roller carry on made a scene once again.

Now this part of the story is quite humbling, yet funny.

Maps said "you have arrived at your destination." I look around and see nothing that says Braugasthof Lobisser Gasthof. As the owner is not available after 6pm, I was sure I would arrive before then, but the office was unresponsive after I called repeatedly. I then began trying to jiggle random doors in their area until I found one that opened. There was something eerie and rustic about my hotel when I found it.

As I wandered through the entrance, I didn't see a soul, so I began climbing the winding stairs until I came across the front desk. I could hear a blaring radio in the room behind the desk. However, I tried calling out to anyone and knocking, but no one came out. I then checked my email a few times to make sure this was the right place.

It said I was in room 1 so I tried walking up another floor and opening my door, which was locked. I then went back down to the desk to weigh my options on what the f*** to do. I searched around the desk and found a chalkboard saying 'Cochrane-1'. Since there were other guests on the board, there were four sets of keys hanging on the wall, so I grabbed mine and prayed to God this would work. I walked back upstairs and finally entered my room.

When I threw my bags down, I decided I needed to treat myself, so I walked over to the expensive hotel's lobby to order myself steak and potatoes. While journaling about my crazy adventure to this place, I sat down and had a nice dinner alone. Eavesdropping on a couple's conversation, I noticed they were American. As I got up to leave after paying my check, they obviously noticed me, as they invited me to join them for a drink. Despite being exhausted, and not being in the mood to make a conversation, I sat down regardless. They both resided in Florida and were not married, but were dating, I am assuming. One glass of wine turned into four, with the addition of three desserts. I will not disclose their names, but I spent three hours laughing and talking with this lovely couple.

It was so nice to sit down with them as I missed the comfort of my parents and grandparents. I told them that they reminded me of Big and Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. Which I still stand by. In addition to the lady's impeccable fashion taste, she was very intelligent. The man was so proud of his daughter and I enjoyed hearing stories about her. As well as their world travels, I learned more about their children and occupations. After a hectic day, this was just what I needed. We exchanged contacts and Instagrams and I hope to see them again one day.

The next morning I awoke with no agenda, so I decided to take a stroll through the beautiful lakeside town and enjoy the views. In the daytime, almost every restaurant was open and bustling. It was quite crowded on Saturday. I bought a few tiny trinkets and enjoyed some yummy schnitzel by the lake.

The iconic picteresque view you probably have seen on your Apple TV screensaver appeared after I walked up the hill. It was breathtaking. Afterwards, I grabbed some hot chocolate and sat by the lake as curious ducks and swans approached me.

As the sun began to set, I reflected on how proud of myself I was to have accomplished this all on my own, and to have never given up even when things weren't going well. Despite the fact that solo travel can be boring at times, I am gradually becoming more comfortable with it, as it is very important for me to be happy by myself without needing other people to do so.

The next solo trip I'll take will be to the Galapagos this summer to volunteer for a non-profit organization.

I'll keep you posted if I meet any cool strangers along the way.

Sincerely, Lily


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