Saturday, May 1, 2010

Huffing it Alone

Postcards from Paris...


A Huffington is on her way to Paris, on a solo trip for a few days, and has been musing about the joys of solo travel …

La Femme Mysterieuse 24 x 20

La Femme Mysterieuse by Lorraine Christie

A quick disclaimer before I start: I love traveling with my family, friends and fellow Huffingtons and I’d never trade traveling with them for traveling alone. But having said that, there are times when you either have to travel solo or choose to, and when that happens, it can be a wonderful gift to be relished and appreciated. At least I think so, for the following reasons:

- You can spread out in the hotel room and take up as much room as you want

- Especially on those first jet lagged nights, you can toss and turn to your heart’s content, without bothering anyone

- You don’t have to worry about running out of hotel shampoo and you can use all the hangers in the closet (and take the top drawers in the dresser)

Hotel Room

- You can order room service! Or you can go out and buy your food and wine and make your own little dinner. (Sometimes I order something small from room service, just to get the set up and silverware, and complement that with take out from a local deli or “traiteur.”)

- You don’t ever have to say, “What do you want to do today? “

- You can go through a museum at your own pace, spending hours in front of a favorite painting, while skipping entire civilizations if you want to


- You can try on as many pairs of shoes as you want to


- You can say yes to the whipped cream on the hot chocolate

Hot Chocolate

- You can wear what you want the minute you step in (or out of) your room

Jackie O

- You can eavesdrop on interesting conversations (I heard all about a remarkable 19th century female artist – a contemporary of Manet, whom Cezanne worshiped, and who until now has been unknown – but couldn’t quite overhear her name, so she’s still unknown to me!)

- You can order however many courses you want without having to synchronize your meal in a restaurant

Dining Out

- You can justify a very expensive restaurant, because dinner or lunch is so much less when it’s just for one. I especially recommend doing this in France – and really all over Europe, I think -- where the restaurants will treat you with very much respect even if you are a woman dining by herself.

In fact I’ll end with a funny little anecdote. Several years ago, I was traveling alone on Mother’s Day. Never one to feel bereft, I decided to treat myself to a very nice restaurant and hotel for the night knowing that my sweet family would surely approve. I picked the Auberge de Noves, famous for its fine cuisine (and proximity to the Avignon train station where I had to catch an early morning train), and I ordered a full course meal delivered to my room.

Auberge du Noves

I was prepared to have a glass of ordinary wine to go along with it, but then I changed my mind and called the sommelier for some suggestions. He was thrilled and said it would be an honor, Madame, to match my meal with a perfectly complementary wine. After asking a few questions about what I liked and what I was eating, he brought me a very fine half bottle of Burgundy, a 1998 Saint-Joseph Domaine Courbis, for which I was too embarrassed to ask the price.

It turns out that it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had and the wine tasted like liquid velvet. It was perfection.

But after relishing every bite and sip, I started to feel a little guilty about the mysterious cost and worried about the wine bill that would face me in the morning. (And what a terrible downer from Mother’s Day to be doing dishes in the hotel dining room!) It’s fair to say that I lost sleep over it – even though there was nothing I could do.

When I finally checked out in the morning, I quickly perused the bill and braced myself for a horrible shock. But the shock was that this exquisite bottle of liquid velvet cost only $16! If I’d known it upfront, I would have been spared all that unnecessary (and so female) angst and could have just enjoyed the moment. But then again, traveling solo and treating ourselves takes some getting used to and it doesn’t always come naturally. So maybe the final point should be:

- Traveling solo is a treat: Enjoy it!



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