Please note, this post first appeared on World Nomads as my entry into their 2018 writing scholarship.
When I stepped off the airplane and onto the soil belonging to a cold and drizzly Berlin recently, I felt a mixture of things.
Anticipation. Fear. Excitement. Regret. Optimistic.
I wasn’t supposed to be on this trip alone. I’d booked the last minute deal for my on-again-off-again boyfriend at the time, hoping the ability to explore somewhat foreign lands would help him him fall in love with travel the way that I did and kickstart the recovery of his depression.
But at the last minute, he changed his mind. Facing Berlin alone was not something I had wanted, nor was it something I was looking forward to. But, travel is always an opportunity that is hard to say no to – alone or otherwise.
Whilst there, I discovered a new thrill of dining alone in quirky restaurants. The Dungeons were particularly fun – gruesome history is kinda my thing – and one of my favourite experiences was stocking up on snacks and hopping on a sightseeing bus tour. Whilst it rained outside, I snacked away, warm and content, listening to Berlin’s history.
At Topographie des Terrors, I had a reality check and realized that though my heart hurt and though I was sad over a boy, my problems were nothing compared to the horrors that had gone on throughout Germany’s history. My situation and my feelings seemed almost laughable in comparison.
My realisation that maybe with time I would be okay came the evening I arrived at Museum Island and gazed in awe at Berliner Dom. With the sun just beginning to set and creating the most stunning backdrop for such a beautiful building, I realized that getting here wasn’t so easy, but it had resulted in a moment of clarity and content. I took in the astonishing view and knew deep down that he could not take that away from me.
But as I let myself into an empty hotel room at the end of each day, I did not expect to feel such a strong pang of loneliness. The sharp but dull ache I felt in that moment made me realize that there are some things people don’t tell you about travel.
Travel opens your eyes to new cultures, new experiences and memories to last a lifetime. It’s one of the best things anyone can do in the short lives we have.
But it can get lonely too, especially when you’re faced with an empty hotel room for an entire evening in a foreign country, not quite knowing what to do with yourself. I know now how to take precautions to avoid feeling this way.
I knew I’d feel a lot of things during my visit to Berlin. The last thing I expected was to feel loneliness.