Happily ever solo
Traveling solo provides a flexibility that is not always possible when other parties are involved. It also means the pressure to make decisions rests solely on myself. This can prove difficult in daily life but it is an inescapable endeavor when on the road alone.
My desire to visit the quaint Medieval town of Rothenburg faded fast after my day trip to Salzburg, Austria. The six-hour round-trip bus ride to Rothenburg sounded like a less-than-enjoyable way to spend my last full day in Bavaria. Thus, I cancelled my ticket 12 hours before the scheduled departure, received no refund, and forced myself to feel good about my decision.
Plans are fun and can give a trip structure (which I love), but changing plans at the last minute can feel liberating, a behavior that has become more frequent as of late as flexibility begins to eclipse my rigidity.
Instead of schlepping myself halfway across Deutschland to visit a Busch Gardens–style village alongside hundreds of other tourists, I booked a shorter trip to the town of Füssen, the site of the world-famous and Disney-inspired Neuschwanstein Castle.
The clouds parted just in time to view the Alps kissing the increasingly sunny skies above. The rain decided to stop and provide a clear view of the white castle rising out from the cliffs of stone and massive trees.
After a half-liter of beer and a curry wurst, the small tour group took to the steep hill toward the castle, stopping for brief history lessons from out Irish guide, Ollie, and moving out of the way as horses and carriages trotted up and down the paved passageway. Our surroundings began to take fairy-tale form as enchanting woods turned dark and rays of the white castle shone through the trees.
Trying to chat with other tour members, I huffed my way up the hill while attempting to mask my fatigue. Eventually the sounds of the water falling from below Marions Bridge entered within earshot and the castle made her presence known.
Not even 200 years old, Neuschwanstein evoked a sense of Medieval royalty, a place where only fantasies lived and reality was eons away. From one balcony, I breathed in the views of the Alpine peaks above and quaint villages below. My imagination took off in a full sprint as I envisioned carriages caressing the countryside and snow dusting the mountain´s ridges.
Maybe I was traveling solo, but the world kept me company.