For more than one year, I’d been planning to go to my friend’s wedding in Malta. When she told me, she was getting married there, admittedly I had to Google the place, I had never heard of it and had no clue where it was. Visiting my father one day, I told him where the wedding was and he pulled out his phone, Google, and an actual Atlas and found Malta. He wanted to know where his baby girl was going. Since there aren’t any direct flights to Malta from Chicago, after all it is in the center of the Mediterranean Sea and there were connections in Italy, I thought to myself make a tour out of it. I invited my big sister to join me and initially she said yes, however, as the time drew closer she backed out.
So, I decided to be Fearless and GO BY MYSELF! Well, I was fearless until I told my father I was going alone and there were terrorist attacks in France and some other country I can’t remember right now. Oh, and let’s not forget Trump being elected President and causing a stir in the nation and international world. So many stories of gloom and doom, then my father telling me Italian men don’t like black women and to be ware and not be out late alone. Here came the FEAR….
The bride, decided to purchase her rings in America and have them shipped to me and tasked me with delivering her rings to her. What an honor right? Yes it was and then I was like OMG I am responsible for traveling with thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise internationally, there came that FEAR again and even worry. Then there was the fear I would get on a plane and forget the rings in America. The last thing I wanted to do was be murdered by the bride in Paris of all places.
Paris? Yes, I said Paris, my European tour began in Paris by way of a connecting flight in Berlin, Germany. Although I was only in Berlin for 1 hour or so, hey I can say I was there. Let me back track now. My father drove me to the airport. When I arrived at my house, he’d beat me there he was waiting for me in his truck on the passenger side of the car. I asked him did he want to come up and he declined. I went in my house made sure I had everything I needed passport, wedding rings, chargers, phone, pajamas, underwear you know the necessities. Grabbed my garbage to take it out after placing my luggage near the back door. As I was coming back in my dad came up to go to the toilette (that’s French for bathroom). As we were walking to the car he told me I was driving, I’m like really dad and he said softly, Johna please just drive. So, I did. However, I had to delay pulling off to book my hotel room in Paris as I didn’t have a home just yet. My father wasn’t his usual fussy self, I noticed but didn’t complain. We talked on the ride to the airport, casual conversation nothing to heavy, kiss and hugs see you later and I was off walking in the airport solo.
My European vacation by myself was about to begin. FEAR crept in again what if the plane crashes, what if I lose my passport, what if, what if, what if…. then a voice told me WOMAN up you are FEARLESS & FIERCE.
And that is exactly what I did 8 plane rides, 7 airports, a bus and a train ride total for the trip we out speaking much of any language and I not only survived I had a wonderful time. I didn’t have to consider anyone else’s wants, needs, or desires but my own. Standing in lines I engaged some in conversation. One day, 2 women joined me for breakfast at my hotel in Rome. My friend, Pamela, from Sweden met me the first day in Paris and we did some sightseeing, ate pastries in a fancy French restaurant and bought macaroons as well. The next day I was ON MY OWN (Patti LaBelle voice) I woke up went to breakfast, walked to the Louvre, saw the Mona Lisa, then sat at a restaurant and had croquet for lunch, and walked back toward my room, before heading in I stopped to buy a pastry which ended up being my dinner.
Next up was Milan, my hotel was wonderful and the people were nice. I went to Duomo. Before venturing out I asked the hotel desk agent for directions. I was given a map with the hotels phone number on it. The hotel offered a free shuttle to and from the train stop. With my phone, Euros, and map in hand I was off to explore Milan by train. I walked every where in Paris so the experience was different. A lot of walking, sat out in the Piazza read a little bit and watched the scenery. I tuned out from social media and the world and tuned into nature and the people. My experience was about the same in Rome. Visiting the Colosseum (colosseum), Parthenon, and Vatican City, the architecture is simply breathtaking and the massiveness of all the structures I promise our technology has nothing on ancient Roma! Now in Rome, I must admit a few times I was turned around or "lost" however I whipped out my cell phone and utilized Google maps walking direction. Google is an absolute life saver. I also learned that I must cover my shoulders when entering churches in Europe. The first time in Milan I thought they meant full coverage so I was absolutely hot in my hoodie. However, in Roma I got it right only taking my scarf to cover my shoulders.
My travels ended in Malta, the wedding destination location. I could view Malta, Gozo, and Comino, the islands that make up the Maltese Archipelago by sea as Pamela chartered a boat for all 60 of her guests, the water was the clearest blue I’ve ever seen I could see right through admiring the fish.
After having connecting flights in Germany and Iceland, dealing with customs, keeping up with my passport belongings, and not losing a bag. I felt FIERCE, especially once I made it back to America. So many I met in Europe and Malta were surprised I trekked alone and told me how they didn’t think they could do it. I had my reservations however I’m now ready to take a relaxing tropical vacation on an island, all-inclusive with a spa and DE plug from the world. I returned home refreshed and renewed and reminded that the matriarch of my father’s family took her last breath the day I left.
To survive solo, have a sense of direction. Always be aware of your surroundings. Don't stay out too late alone especially if walking try to be end before the sun complete sets. Research days and hours of locations before simply going. In Duomo the museum was closed, they said come back tomorrow and I thought tomorrow I'm headed to Roma! Always pack a small umbrella. My selfie stick was a life saver for pictures and capturing many moments since I was solo. Enjoy the company of self.
Be fearful, fearless, and fierce! Live life on purpose for purpose!