By: Alejandra Olguín Estrada

“The art of traveling alone and the friends you can make.” Liliana left this comment on one of my travel posts and I couldn’t stop thinking about all the amazing people I’ve met and reconnected with through my solo travels.

If I think about it a little more, in most of my trips I am only alone in the transfers, like the first time I visited London and as soon as I arrived I joined a tour that promised to take me to the Harry Potter locations, there I met Garbi, who shared his umbrella with me and then we decided to chase Jack The Ripper’s tracks in Whitechapel and look for some dinner. A couple of years later, Garbi met me at the Bilbao bus station, we drank some Gildas near San Mamés and he took me poteo with his group from Basauri and Etxebarri. To this day, I have never drunk as much as I did that night.

In my first minutes in a hostel in Norway I met Patri, who suggested we go to Blå for a drink that night; There I met Julius, a German who told me how he had just finished a bicycle trip from Barcelona to Oslo. We spent the night singing and dancing until the club closed its doors and we decided to walk along the banks of the Akerselva River as dawn broke. In Norway I also met Andy, a radio host from Johannesburg with whom I toured Oslo on foot while we talked about our dreams and travel and life plans.

When I told Erick that I was going to Brussels, he didn’t hesitate for a second to offer me a place in his apartment and go pick me up to the airport. We traveled in his car to Bruges listening to Luis Miguel and I invited him to Sigrid’s concert that took me to his city. Erick and I had met 2 years before in the Czech Republic. In Belgium I also met Enid, who at that time was studying in Spain and we met one morning to have breakfast near the Grand Place before she continued her trip to Amsterdam—very nervous about not missing her bus.

“Do you want to see the house where I grew up?” Was Jake’s question when he met me at the King’s Cross terminal when I made a return trip to the United Kingdom. He said yes without thinking and, after spending a few days in London, we took a bus and two trains to Diss in Norfolk. Mike and Ali, Jake’s parents, were waiting for us there. His house in the small town of Fersfield made me feel like I was living a scene from The Holiday. Jake and I drove along the Norfolk coast to Horsey Gap where we camped on the seashore surrounded by seals.

Carla, Marta and Juanjo, three Spaniards I met while trying to take photos in Merrion Square Park in Dublin, invited me to spend the rest of the day with them. We ventured out to try Irish stew and at night we went pub crawling in Temple Bar. We sang, danced and even ended up in the middle of a hen party. In Dublin I also met Mario, who tried to teach me how to pose to have the best travel photos. We spent the afternoon buying souvenirs for him and postage stamps for me.

There are also all the people who have accompanied me on short trips and with whom I no longer have contact, but who I remember in my stories. Like Brie, Hanna, Patrick and James, with whom I spent a night partying at O’Connors pub in Galway to end up singing on the Long Walk in the early hours of the morning. Cyril, the children’s rugby coach who accompanied me in a very small town in Wales. The stranger whose name I never knew, but with 5 minutes on the steps of the National Gallery in London, he gave me one of the funniest stories to tell.

And I met Liliana, the person responsible for this text coming to my mind, on one of the famous free walking tours in Liverpool. In addition to taking you to emblematic places, I have discovered that these types of experiences make those of us who travel alone recognize each other and come together. Finishing the tour we walked towards the port, stopped to eat fish and chips, toured The Beatles Story museum, took photos with the quartet sculpture and went to The Cavern. A couple of years later we met again in Madrid, the city that adopted her. We walked along Gran Vía and Alcalá, we drank wine on the rooftop of the Círculo de Bellas Artes, she took me to dinner at one of her favorite places and the whole time we talked like two friends who never stopped sharing stories. We always say goodbye with the promise of meeting again anywhere in the world: in England, in Spain, in Mexico, in Ecuador…

Yes, I really enjoy traveling alone, but I also enjoy all the moments when a “Hi!” It has led me to meet all these strangers. Because the world, many times, writes stories so that these strangers can get to know each other.


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