“Reckless!”, they say.
“Asking for trouble”, say others.
I think it’s probably the age we live in. However, women travel alone all the time and are fine, we just don’t get to hear about the successful cases in the news.
In the face of my mother’s worry, I had encouragement from other people and ran with it – despite recently changing my religion where the word ‘carefree’ wasn’t one I found so loosely thrown around anymore. My morals and values had changed for certain. I was definitely a nicer, more thoughtful person. And more cautious too, I would argue. But my thirst for adventure and my carefree attitude, I fear, will forever be long trusted companions.
My plans for Marseille, in the south of France were spontaneous as usual, off the bat of my annoyance with some guy. Also, because I wanted to prove I could do it.
Maybe prove something to myself.
I saw the flights on a local budget airline and booked them while they were cheap. Then I browsed Airbnb, but ended up going with the Mercure Hotel on the Old Dock via booking.com. I chose this option mostly because the thought of going to a ready-made hotel caused me less anxiety than having to pick up keys. I was already stressed about traveling alone anyway.
In all fairness, I did plan and book a few things. A Hop-on Hop-off bus tour ticket, a meal at a wonderful backstreet restaurant called Au Coeur du Panier, and a trip to the Marseille History Museum.
Making some plans in advance was encouraging because I knew when I got there I would have something to do. Naturally, the first thing I did once arriving in Marseille was buy an ice-cream and a cocktail on the waterfront. I’m British, you know?
I think I also must have gone to Starbucks about 4 or 5 times over the 3 days too. Shameful.
Thankfully, the weather the whole weekend was glorious. Windy but not a cloud in sight. I sat in the port, watching people walk up and down, watching the boats coming in and out. I could have gone on a boat tour, but didn’t feel it justified the small amount of money I had at the time; promising instead that I would come back some day and do it.
I was trying to eat as healthy as possible but still chose to splurge for a steak in a lovely restaurant. Initially, I was concerned because fillet steak is usually served in the United Kingdom with chips, unless you specify otherwise. I was delighted to see the big mix of parsnips, potato, carrots and even a roasted fig! It was the best fillet steak I had EVER eaten. And the meat was about as big as both of my fists stacked on top of each other. For 19 Euros, I was definitely going back for that!
If I said I felt 100% safe the entire time, I would be lying. I made a couple of mistakes deciding to walk down some streets, which made me feel a little uncomfortable, but I quickly steered myself back to the main parts of town. It was there I found the most wonderful boutiques, and spent about 20 euros on French soap and 20 more on a box of pretty Macarons – somehow these seemed better purchases than a boat trip (I blame my unwavering ability of not knowing when to stop buying pointless things).
On Sunday, I attended a service as part of my religion, and met some wonderful new people who took me for lunch and gave me a tour around the coast. I would never have trusted people so implicitly beforehand, and so this was an amazing experience for me, really enlightening. They really were the kindest people and were happy to change their Sunday plans to be able to show me around the scenic routes of Marseille.
I will never forget them.
By the time I was due to go home the next morning, I felt satisfied. I have traveled a lot on my own, but only to meet people at the other end. This was an amazing self-discovery. I found out I could trust myself and would survive alone without distractions of people or social media.
Especially if there was a Starbucks somewhere.