I start waking up, the morning slowly pulling me to consciousness through the different levels of sleep until my eyes flutter open and my heart, with no alarm to raise it, continues to beat softly. Climbing down from my top bunk I grab my book and water bottle, head down to the kitchen to make tea and then head back up to the rooftop where I can greet the day, undisturbed and relaxed in the mild morning warmth, staring out over the ocean in blissfully sleepy silence.
I have to say I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of young solo female travellers here in Malta. A few nights ago after a relaxing day exploring, I headed to a BBQ the sister hostel of mine was hosting on their rooftop. I sat down beside two young women and before long we all got to chatting, giggling about the lingering impropriety of female travel and comparing delicious meals we’d eaten since being in Malta. They were both in their twenties, both here ‘alone’ for a little break from work, both fully agreeing with me that travelling solo is absolutely wonderful.
I have never been afraid to do things on my own. I have a unique working schedule and as I work for long periods of time in one solid block I also have large quantities of time off. My friends obviously have a more common working routine, days in the office, evenings and weekends off- that leaves me with lots of free time and I’m definitely not the type of person to sit around and wait for company when there’s so many great things I could be doing.
First of all, we need to absolutely address the irrational fear of dining alone, where did this issue first originate? Why is being seen solo while treating yo’self to a feast considered such social suicide? Girls got to eat right? And while I like a good meal-deal on a park bench as much as the next Londoner occasionally I like to embrace my worth and tuck into a gourmet meal with a giant glass of white- company or no company. And why shouldn’t I? I work really hard, I deserve to enjoy my time off and waiting around for someone to join me is a foolish waste of my time.
I enjoy film, theatre, literature, culture, so to wait around for someone who also enjoys these pleasures means I will be missing out on things I would have really enjoyed. Although more widely accepted these days, to been seen dining, watching films and travelling solo is sadly still shrouded with a stigma of taboo vulnerability, there must be something repelling about you otherwise you wouldn’t be by yourself. Everybody’s first reaction is pity and a compelling need to amend the situation without first considering the fact that you may have very well chosen to be alone.
I am currently in Malta on my first solo holiday. Of course I have spent time abroad on my own, joining ships, working etc. but this is the first mini break I have booked when there was nothing on my schedule apart from doing whatever I please. I admit I am cheating slightly, easing myself in you could say as I have friends working in port nearby and have spent most evenings with them. My days however have been completely mine and I take serious pleasure in the simple indulgence of my own company.
Mornings are my absolute favourite part of the day. I feel my most positive, experience the most clarity and am at my most productive just after waking and I like to utilise this time by going for a nice phone-less walk, grabbing a coffee and organising my thoughts. Since being here in Malta I have followed my own itinerary, not having to consult anyone about my plans or wait for anyone else before I can start my day. On my first day with nothing in particular planned I teamed up with an American girl and headed for Gozo, a little island just off the main land, to scout out some ancient temples.
Day two consisted of exploring my new favourite city, Valletta, and taking a super interesting two hour tour of the war rooms. Malta has an epic history ranging from thousands of years ago to present day and I’d highly recommend a good rummage through it, specifically Malta’s crucial involvement in WW2. I spent the evening with my friends, smoking shisha and drinking dangerously cheap G+T’s.
Day three I headed to Medina, the stunning old Capital where I had a gorgeous fresh salad topped with traditional Maltese peppered sheep cheese and a berry smoothie. I then unleashed my not-so-secret nerdy side by scouting out the Game Of Thrones film locations. The main gate was used as an entrance into Kings Landing in series three and you can also find the building that was filmed for the exterior of Little Finger’s Brothel- here’s a picture of me before starting my evening shift.
Day four I headed back to Valletta for a second time to have a browse around an artisan market that was being held in Fort St Elmo, and after getting pleasantly lost in the picturesque, painting-worthy cobbled streets I grabbed a delicious lunch for one (heavens forbid) before finding a secluded rock overlooking the sea to perch upon in my kini to soak up some sun.
Day five was an early morning trip to Malta’s infamous blue lagoon before England’s finest arrived in their wife beaters and hideously short-shorts to pollute the tiny beach with Stella cans and fag ends; I managed a few snaps and a quick dip before the hoards descended. Later that day I joined my friends who had invited me to their crew lunch for yet more wine, shisha and gluten free pizza.
Yesterday I finally made use of my Open Water Qualification after two years of having it and went for a dive in the northern part of the island. This was a big one for me because out of all the activities I like to dabble in diving is definitely, for me, the most nerve-racking. Something about not being able to just come up if I needed too, the slight lag from the regulator when breathing, the dark shadows of the unknown…. it all adds to the general scariness of scuba. But I donned my BC and despite problems with equalizing in the past made it to a depth of 14.5 metres, pain-free, neutrally buoyant, and even spotted a jelly or two.
Today is my last day and just like the previous days I awoke, ate my breakfast of fruit and natural yoghurt in peace and quiet, had a chat with some newcomers and with no set plans, read my book for an hour with a cup of tea.
I know for a lot of people being alone is a struggle and don’t get me wrong I can experience loneliness vehemently at times but the greatest part of travelling solo and especially if staying in hostels is that you can choose to dip in and out social interaction as it suits you, meaning that although you are ‘alone’ you are never lonely.
‘The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience’ – Eleanor Roosevelt
‘I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave.’ – Cheryl Strayed- Wild
‘Learn to be entirely and eternally at peace and content with your own company, and with this power, skill and understanding you will never truly be alone.’ – Me