Tiergarten in Berlin, Germany

All by myself: traveling to Berlin alone.

Travel can be lonely. But that also means you can do whatever you want.

I’m not going to lie. So far this trip has been hard. Traveling to Berlin alone has been hard. It’s been getting better, I’m no longer getting as lost, I’m getting more familiar with what paths I need to take. But I’m leaving for Warsaw tomorrow and it will start all over again.

And I can only assume there will be many more days ahead when I’m lost and my feet are bleeding and I’m starting to cry and then a bird poops on me. Although, apparently that is good luck. But I have an inkling it’s one of those things people just made up to make you feel better. Like how I’m convinced the whole rain on your wedding day being good luck thing was invented to appease a brizezilla who couldn’t get married outside.

And it’s been lonely. Since arriving in Germany I haven’t had a conversation that has lasted more than 30 seconds. It didn’t help that I’ve been in a 6 person dorm room with 5 girls traveling together who were speaking Italian the whole time. And it doesn’t help that everyone else in this hostel looks all of twelve. I know that age doesn’t matter, and some of the greatest travel friends I’ve met in my life have been ten years younger than me, but it’s a hurdle.

I am not much for clubs anyways so I’ve been OK not going out at night. I spend so much of my day moving about that it’s nice to have a rest. Though I feel silly spending so much of my time in the hostel lobby huddled around my laptop. But I’m not quite sure how to spend all of this time. And really going to two museums in one week is pretty much a month’s worth of normal activity for me. And, really, my computer time has gone down immensely and my TV time has gone to zilch.

The Benefits of Traveling to Berlin Alone

I suppose, though, that there are benefits to traveling to Berlin alone. Because I am traveling by myself I can spend my time as I see fit. Like on Saturday when I went out to find a bottle of water and instead got cherry ice cream.

ice cream in Berlin.

And then I got lost. Of course. And ended up in front of some glorious museums and spent some time wandering the old National Gallery, full of beautiful art and sculpture like a still life painting of a glass goblet that reflected the painter painting it. Or the sculpture of Pan comforting Psyche that I loved because she had wings like me. Or the painting of an old hermit with angels peeking into the windows to watch him.

Alte Nationalgalerie.

Or yesterday when I spent about four hours wandering around Tiergarten, a giant park in Berlin. For once not wandering because I was lost but simply because I wanted to.

Tiergarten in Berlin.

Tiergarten in Berlin.

Tiergarten in Berlin.

Tiergarten in Berlin.

Tiergarten in Berlin.

So I am enjoying my time traveling by myself in Berlin. I am enjoying my time traveling by myself. Despite not having anyone to hang out with or anyone to talk to. Though I do hope that for some of my time that changes soon. And I know that I’m going to have to be more proactive. And maybe even force myself out to a bar by myself.

And if things don’t get better, or get worse, and I still find myself alone and lost and miserable, I know I have options. I don’t have to give up any time soon. I could go to England or Australia where I can at least speak the same language. I could go to Amsterdam, a city I already somewhat know and love. I could visit Ali and Andy in Freiburg. I could go to Bremen to visit my friend Jason who apparently doesn’t live in Canada any more.

But, for now, I will keep on with my schedule. I even passed my first big challenge and figured out where the train station is and bought a ticket on to Warsaw (hopefully…). So now I just need to get on the right train tomorrow…

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Sid
    July 11, 2011at8:54 am

    Whenever you’re feeling lonely, don’t forget all of us that are stuck over here just reading about it instead of being there with you 🙂

  • Elle
    July 11, 2011at5:05 pm

    Combatting with loneliness is definitely one of the hardest part of traveling. It takes me some time to come out of my shell and start conversing with others. But hey, in the meantime, that’s what Twitter is for!

  • Ian [EagerExistence]
    July 12, 2011at4:59 am

    I’ve been traveling solo for 3 months now in Europe; sure, I’ve had a day here-or-there where I’ve just wandered, been introspective, & not talked much. But then I’ve had days where “hello” has resulted in a 15 hour adventure with a crazy crew of locals.

    Just stick it out, try smiling when you pass, change hostel, join CouchSurfing/Tripping, say “hiya” enthusiastically..

    As I was once told, all it takes is a spark.. But not all sparks start fires. You might get 40 “No”s before you get one “Hell Yeah!”. Good luck.

  • Hema
    July 12, 2011at8:11 am

    You are not alone, we’re all here reading about your adventures and wishing we were there too!

  • Ali
    July 18, 2011at11:05 am

    I usually end up feeling a little lonely the first few days of a trip, until I get a little more used to being on a trip and then I open up with people more. Something about the fact that you might never see these people again makes it easier to just start talking to them b/c it doesn’t matter if they think you’re a weirdo, you won’t have to see them again! And yes, let us know if you want to come visit!

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