Traveling alone means sightseeing alone. Hmm sounds a little lonely right? But plenty of people do it, like backpackers and travel bloggers. I mean I guess I am traveling alone too but it almost never feels like it since I’m always staying with friends. Nevertheless, I got a taste for what it’d be like if I did the whole backpacking/hostel/alone thing because I went sightseeing in Copenhagen by myself while Victoria was at school. I was a little timid venturing solo into a foreign city but it turned out being really fun! So how do all the backpackers do it? How do you sightsee alone without feeling like a loner?
|Amalienborg Palace, the winter home of the Danish royal family who are apparently very down to earth. The royal children attend elementary school only 5 minutes from Victoria's house!|
|Frederik's church, the royal church right across from the palace|
|The Opera House which was built across the water from the palace and church so that the three are in a perfectly straight line|
First things first, have a set plan for the day this way you’re not aimlessly wandering around the city like a moron. I normally pick a museum, castle or area of the city to focus on. Museums are the best because everyone is kind of a quiet loner reading/observing so you’ll fit in great!! Try to pick a museum that actually interests you so you’re not bored and wasting your money. Hint, always bring a student ID (even if it’s an old one from high school) because you’ll get student discounts. It’s usually only a few Euros cheaper but hey, when you’re living on a budget like me, every cent counts! Also, check online because some museums have one day a week that’s free admission for all.
|The Glyptoteket art museum, which has really nice sculptures|
|Recognize this place?? It's Capri! Remember that island near Naples that I went to back in August!?|
|What about this place? It's Mount Vesuvius! I love seeing paintings of all these places I've already been because I feel so cool|
Make sure to know what public transportation you have to take ahead of time so that way, once again, you’re not cluelessly taking the wrong bus, train or subway in the complete opposite direction, like a moron. Also, obviously know where you have to walk so bring a map or use the GPS on your phone if you have internet connection (There’s even step-by-step walking directions on iPhones if you’re extremely navigationally challenged, like me). If you don’t have a map or phone, you’re screwed. Just kidding! If you’re seriously lost you can always ask someone for directions (assuming that you find someone who speaks English) but in Denmark that’s not a problem because everyone’s fluent in English and so friendly and helpful. I almost feel bad asking Danes for directions because they become so preoccupied with making sure you find your way. Danish people actually want to help you, which is really cool because I feel like in most places the locals get irritated with the oblivious tourists. Hint, most countries have public transportation apps, which are LIFESAVERS (If you’re in Denmark, use Rejseplanen)!! You can download them in English, then all you have to do is put in your current location and where you want to go and the app gives you all the times and instructions on which buses/trains/subways you have to take to get there. Basically, public transportation for dummies!
Since you’re going to be alone all day, it’s essential to have some good tunes to jam out to so pack your iPod, iPhone, MP3 player, CD player or whatever the heck you use to listen to music. Hearing your favorite songs will cheer you up about the fact that you have no friends!
Okay so hopefully you took my earlier advice and chose a museum that you actually care about. If you really just hate museums and don’t care about anything, ask a local which museum they recommend! Try not to think of museums as boring (even though I know they can be), instead think about the fact that you’re in a different country, learning cool stuff that will make you a very cultured an interesting person! But remember, this isn’t a school field trip, it’s supposed to be fun so don’t feel obligated to read every single information thingy.
|The 400 year old Rosenborg castle|
|So mad this dude ruined my picture...|
|I'd say the Rosenborg was my favorite historical site in Copenhagen, just look at this room!|
Of course, you don’t always have to go to museums; they’re just convenient for loners. I also like walking around the main tourist sites with my Nikon camera and pretending to be a professional photographer (even though in reality, I have no clue). I really encourage you to take lots of pictures because it’ll keep you busy, it’s fun and gives you memories to look back on! Plus, who knows maybe you’ll take a super awesome picture (like the ones I took below!) that’ll get you a million likes on Instagram ;)
|Christiansborg Palace holds the Danish parliament, Supreme Court and Ministry of State|
|Some random street in Copenhagen|
If you really start running out of things to do just look at your map (or iPhone) and see what’s nearby. Chances are, there’s at least a corner of the city that you haven’t explored yet so just go there! I like finding parks, churches, lakes, gardens, libraries, parliament houses, castles or anything else that sounds remotely nice. Whatever you find may not be a main tourist attraction or a UNESCO world heritage site but it’s still foreign to you and probably pretty cool!
|University of Copenhagen's Botanical Garden|
I personally hate shopping, partially become I’m poor and partially because I don’t have any room left in my suitcase, but if you do like shopping, that’s another good loner activity. Only problem is that you don’t have friends to consult so you don’t know if the clothes you’re about to buy make you look like crap or not… Hmm. Maybe just window-shopping is a better option? Haha
|National Gallery of Denmark has free entrance but only decent art|
|The view outside the gallery however is really nice|
By this point in your day, you’re probably starving so time for a lunch break! I almost always pack food from home. Eating out is fun and all but not when you’re alone, it’s just kind of depressing, not to mention expensive! I mean if you’re rolling in the dough and want to treat yourself to a meal in solitude, go ahead, but I always secretly feel bad for those people eating alone at restaurants (loners!). Of course, you can also always just grab a quick sandwich or something but it’s even cheaper to pack a lunch! Or if you’re seriously dirt poor, you can always try to find markets/grocery stores that give out free samples (I’m guilty of doing this on many occasions). Once, my friends and I found hit the jackpot and found this fish market that was about to close so they were handing out huuuge samples just to get rid of them (think tiny plates of oysters and fish cakes)! In Copenhagen, check out Torvehallerne, they normally have some decent free samples.
|Military barracks and offices|
|The Citadel (fortress) of Copenhagen|
Next step is to find a nice park to chill, listen to music, munch and maybe even take a little snooze under the sun. If you like reading, bring a book. Or if you like writing, bring a journal. Or if you like drawing, bring a sketchbook. You get the idea; bring crap that’ll keep you entertained in a park. If you’re busy doing something that you enjoy, you’ll feel like less of a loner than if you were to just sit there staring at the grass, like a moron.
|The Rosenborg castle gardens|
|Perfect for midday napping :)|
|The Rosenborg again from a different view|
For those of you who are extra daring, strike up a conversation with a fellow loner! You could ask for directions, a lighter (assuming you smoke) or a translation of something to seem less creepy than just saying “Hi!”. Once I was sitting on a bench, eating my lunch, across from some dude smoking a cigarette alone. I accidentally dropped my fork (moron), the guy said something to me in Danish (Aw, that sucks), and I responded with a puzzled look and asked if he spoke English. He translated and asked me where I was from. We actually ended up talking for a while because was also a lone traveler from Chile! Ta da! Two loners became two socializers!
|The famous little mermaid sculpture inspired by Danish writer, Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale|
Lastly, always remember to appreciate the fact that you’re in a different country or new place. If you’re feeling really lonely and sad, remind yourself how lucky you are. Yeah, you might be alone, but not many people get the opportunity to travel the world and explore foreign cities. So suck it up and make the best of it! ;)