Happy Valentine’s Day

Today, on the day of love, I am lying unshaven, on the sofa in tracksuit and flip-flops debating to myself about which film to go see in the cinema later this evening.  I will be going to the film alone.
This is not a pity me party. In the last few years I have become quite at ease with doing stuff on my own.

I remember mitching from school at the age of 17 and going to see ‘Misery’ on my own.
There’s something about films that lends them well to solitary viewing. It’s to do with the fact that you have to concentrate. You shouldn’t go to the pictures for conversation. There’s little that annoy me more than people chatting when a movie is playing. A couple of weeks ago I saw ‘Room’ in Limerick. There were these 2 teenagers a few rows behind me who were passing remarks at everything that was happening on screen. I was about to ask them to shut up but I was beaten to this by the guy a few seats across who hissed ‘Will you shut up please’ at them. I was impressed. And to their credit they remained quiet for the rest of the showing. I suppose hearing a disembodied voice telling you you to shut up can be intimidating.

The point being anyway is that I have always been comfortable with going to the pictures alone.

Going in holidays alone is a slightly different matter. I have done this but would recommend it for short trips more than longer ones. Unless you are going on a resort holiday or in a group setting. I tend to prefer just taking off to a city on my own and planning my itinerary on arrival. Barcelona was my first solo holiday – I went for 5 days. It was fantastic, as it allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do, at my own pace. I probably saw more museums and galleries and other cultural shit than on any previous vacation, purely because the days are long on your own and you need to find stuff out to occupy your time. By day 5 I was glad to be going home – there was something missing by that point – company. Someone to turn to and say ‘Look at that’, I suppose.

A couple of years later I was in Copenhagen with a friend who only stayed for 2 days and I was to remain for an extra 3 days alone. . I waved my friend off at the station, took out my tourist map, and made my way to Christiania. Christiania is an old army barracks in central Copenhagen that was squatted by hippies in the 1970s where they remain to this day. The original squatters are in their seventies now, and they are there legally. The committee that runs the place is in constant battle with city government who want them out – they are occupying a vast swathe of prime real estate in the city centre. There is a pungent odour in the air. If I was a suspicous person who had lived for decades in Amsterdam, I might hazard a guess to say the smell is marijuana.

The following morning I was planning a walking trip to see the Little Mermaid (which has to be the least impressive monument I have ever seen). As I was leaving the hotel I heard a voice saying my name. I ignored it – I was alone in the city and didn’t know anyone there, and I had received a text from my friend to say that he was already back in Amsterdam. MY name was repeated – first and last name this time. That wasn’t a coincidence. I turned around to see 2 old college friends who were staying in the same hotel for the same number of days as I was. That solitary holiday wasn’t spent alone.

In April I am going to Morocco. I need to start planning my trip – again it is for 5 days.

Travelling alone is not the ideal way to travel, but when you reach forty, you’ve got to accept that sometimes if you want to do something, then you’re better off doing it alone, rather than sitting at home with a family size box of Pringles.

Love your own company – especially on this Hallmark day of love.

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