I often find myself thinking back to one of my first solo trips, almost 5 years ago. Though I had moved to England on my own, I hardly counted that as solo travel since I quickly settled into university life and became fast friends with my flatmates.
Several months after moving to the UK, I decided to keep an eye out for some cheap deals that might give me a taste of continental Europe. As it happened, Ryanair was offering dirt-cheap fares from Birmingham to Bratislava, Slovakia, and I was able to find a hostel there for $5 a night.
Since I didn’t have any lectures on Tuesday or Wednesday, and my Thursday lecture wasn’t until late afternoon, I had a nice chunk in the middle of the week to travel. I booked the flight, found a cheap hostel, looked up free walking tours, and learned some Slovakian phrases.
On a chilly but sunny day, I arrived at the tiniest airport imaginable, and nervously found my way to the public transport that would take me into the city.
Once in the city center, I found a supermarket where I stocked up on Slovakian sweets, and then I wandered around the city center, eyeballing the impressive architecture and the kooky statues until it was time to join a walking tour with a local guide who was well-versed in Bratislava’s fascinating history. It was my first adventure in a place that had been touched by Communism, and I was utterly entranced by the guide’s stories.
Though the tour of the historic old town was interesting, let’s be honest: I came to Europe for the castles. I consulted a map and hiked up to Bratislava’s very own castle, which turned out to be a little underwhelming.
However, my post-castle wanders took me over to a nearby statue, and though I had yet to learn how to actually take a decent photo, this shot on my cheap camera is one that sticks in my mind and brings me joy to this day.
This is a photo of Bratislava, this is a photo of a castle, this is a photo of a girl on her first trip on her own.
Do you have a strong association between a picture and a place? Share in the comments below!