Monday, 28 September 2015

All by myself

A couple of weeks ago I went on holiday by myself. It was something that I deliberated over and took me slightly out of my comfort zone. I've travelled in Thailand alone but travelling is a different animal. There are lots of people navigating places like South East Asia alone and inevitably you end up meeting like minded people to hang out with during your stay.

Most of my friends are married, have long terms boyfriends or children. Or all three. Therefore a holiday companion was not forthcoming. It was either a case of go it alone or not go at all. After the last year I was completely desperate for a break. I'm single and childless and I was slightly worried that going on holiday alone would be the start of the slippery slope towards eternal shelf life and owning twenty cats. However, I bit the proverbial bullet and booked a week in Santorini, a Greek island I've wanted to visit for a good few years. 

I stayed in a little village by the beach called Kamari which reminded me of one of the Thai islands. Kamari has a long stretch of black sand and is separated from the neighbouring village by a huge expanse of volcanic rock. 

If you ever visit Kamari make sure you have flip flops for the beach. Black sand and the Greek sunshine can make for very sore tootsies!

I spent most of my evenings in Santorini eating fresh seafood and greek salad, accompanied by copious amounts of white wine with the odd cocktail thrown in. However, I managed to get a couple of early nights and got up at 6.30am the next morning to get a three mile run in before the sun came up.

Running along the seafront with that view certainly beats pounding the pavements of the Hagley Road in Birmingham. It was totally idyllic and I just felt calm, relaxed and happy for the first time in a long while.

The picture postcard blue and white views of Santorini that pop up on Google aren't of the beach areas of the island, but of the towns Oia and Fira which are inland. I say inland, but the whole island is very small and inland just means about a couple of kilometres from the beach rather than being right on it.

Halfway through the week I spent one night in Fira and booked a table at Palia Kameni cocktail bar a few weeks before I left England. The bar is set in the side of the caldera and you can sit with an incredible cocktail and watch the sun go down.

 Pretty special right?

It took quite a hike up a steep hill to reach the bar but the effort was definitely worth it! 

Fira is a lot different from the sleepy town of Kamari. It's busy and bustling with a huge array of restaurants and bars. It's only a 10-15 mile taxi ride to Fira from Kamari or you can jump on a bus. I decided to stay there for an evening to experience a different bit of the island but also not to have to worry about getting a taxi home late at night.

Regarding the holiday itself. Of course I attracted some attention. I'm a woman in my early 30's travelling alone on an island traditionally full of romance and love. But at no point did I feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I was well looked after by the staff at the hotel I stayed in and at the restaurants I visited. I researched the location of my hotel online before I left to make sure I was booking to somewhere close to everything so I wouldn't be wandering around alone late at night. 

I never felt lonely or isolated, even when surrounded by lots of couples staring lovingly in to each others eyes. Just relaxed and content and slightly smug that I had the freedom to what I liked, when I liked. The post cancer me has become a lot more comfortable and accepting of my own company and spending time alone no longer causes the anxiety that it once did.

My advice to anyone considering going on holiday alone is to go ahead and book it. It could be one of the best decisions you ever make. 

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