Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Holiday. Celebrate (or not).

Flicking through the travel section on Sunday, a thought suddenly struck me.

I've been reading the weekend supplements for kicking the arse of 25 years now, and I don't think I've ever seen a feature directed at single people.

They're missing a trick here. For a start, there are plenty of us out there. (If I was a conscientious blogging type I'd dig out some of those stats I keep reading about how there are more single-person households etc, oh yeah, we're taking over.) And we don't all want to go on any of those organised-type holidays, dear, sweet, mother-of-god, no. If fact, we happily-single types are probably more likely to want to do our own thing, what with being used to it and all.

So where are all the articles about good places to go? Here's an idea for a start:

Pick a city for a weekend break, mention a few things that a single person can do day and night, namecheck a few restaurants and bars where a single woman can eat and drink without getting harrassed, list some hotels that maybe have single rooms or cheaper rates for singletons etc.

This could work for the UK, worldwide, town and country, hot and cold. Then extend to more exotic climes and longer holidays: beachy places without kids or 20something party animals, hotels without families, etc etc. There is so much mileage here, why hasn't it been done before?

Old Media sucks donkey's cock. As we all know.

So why am I thinking about holidays? I haven't been back home much this year so, for a change, I have tonnes of holiday left to take and I'm left thinking what am I going to do with it all?

If it wasn't for slurry-for-brains new Flatmate I'd be perfectly happy to do a Charlie Brooker and stay at home for a week reading books, staring out the window and sitting in coffee shops. However if I spend any more time in her sompany I might have to do a murder.

So, seeing as the Old Media is no help whatsoever, help! Or, indeed, Halp!

I want to go somewhere for 3-4 days, not necessarily over a weekend. I'm leaning heavily towards a city-break (the countryside being full of bloody recreations, darkness and silence and sudden, inexplicable noises).

I like:

Eating in nice cafes and coffee shops
Mooching around interesting places like arty galleries and old churches and stuff
Not having to talk to anyone
Not feeling overly conspicuous because I'm All By Myself
Not too difficult for an ignoramus who only speaks English

I'm thinking of places that are easyjetable but I don't suppose there's any reason why I couldn't stay in the UK. I feel like I should go somewhere though.

In recent years I've been to NYC (pretty fab for singletons, obviously) and Bilbao (less successful what with everyone hanging around in big extended family and social groups, and not being wildly veggie-friendly and everything being shut, for fuck's sake, during my major strolling around hours).

I'm thinking at the minute about Rome or Barcelona but am a bit worried about not getting a minute's peace (Rome) and not eating due to everything being made of bacon (Barcelona).

Any suggestions gratefully received.

Labels: , , ,


  • Rome is absolutely great and there are plenty of bits you can go to if you want a bit of peace and quiet - hire a bike and go for a day out on the Via Appia, or just wander up to the Villa Borghese park. The ruins on Palatine Hill were practically deserted while I was there too, because they're not as famous as the other stuff and most people can't be arsed to walk uphill.

    By Blogger LC, at 8:14 PM  

  • Berlin is fabulous for exactly the reasons you said - but v cold this time of year, so if you go, wrap up warm (though they thoughtfully provide blankets at the pavement cafes, so you can sit outside and still be cosy)

    By Blogger Annie, at 9:28 PM  

  • I really enjoyed this post, but I also especially enjoyed your previous post; such a good story and extremely well told.
    I totally agree with you on the single point- all my friends holiday with their boyfriends and I'd love to know which cities are good for exploring alone, and which not so much.
    I really enjoyed Budapest recently, however I went with friends and I'm not sure if I would return alone, it certainly has its salubrious parts. Still, one to consider.xx

    By Blogger Rosie, at 9:50 PM  

  • Won't Rome be full of comedy Slimy Italian Men?

    I like the sound of Berlin, cheers for that, but I might save that one till the Spring.

    Hello Rosie, yeah, Budapest's on the 'warmer weather' list too.

    By Blogger Spinsterella, at 9:55 PM  

  • Click here and rifle through the trifle.

    By Anonymous Solitary Singletons Abroad, at 11:19 PM  

  • Prague or Berlin

    By Blogger GreatSheElephant, at 12:28 AM  

  • I don't eat bacon, and Barcelona's absolutely fab, and not too cold either. You can exist on tapas, which means you can pick and choose.

    Also, I am told that Lisbon is very nice for a long weekend.

    By Blogger Tim Footman, at 12:30 AM  

  • Well, I was about to say Barcelona before I saw you'd already thought of it. It's a wonderful city for walking and eating, full of everything from old churches to museums to beautiful parks. People-watching is great. And there's plenty of bacon-free food. So I recommend it...

    I love to travel by myself, and do a lot of it. If you were in the States I'd say Seattle or Boston, my two favorite cities in which to go solo. But you are an ocean away.

    By Blogger Valerie, at 5:19 AM  

  • Yup, Berlin, Prague, Rome or Barcelona for all the reasons above. Helsinki would tick all your boxes, but might be better in the summer. If you decide to stay in UK, you could do worse than Edinburgh, especially if you don't want to talk to anyone. Edinburgh people require a prior acquaintence of twenty years before speaking to someone.

    By Anonymous Marsha Klein, at 10:27 AM  

  • Acquaintance, even.

    By Anonymous Marsha Klein, at 10:28 AM  

  • Definitely barcelona. I think a veggie would be fine though - particularly if you eat fish.

    By Blogger Kirses, at 11:36 AM  

  • I have to agree with all the people who've mentioned Barcelona, because there's so much to do and see there without being part of a smug couple. Alternatively, why not holiday with Charlie Brooker?

    By Blogger Betty, at 12:19 PM  

  • Even if you do decide to go somewhere on your own you end up paying a single occupant supplement on the room.

    I almost went to Rome in September. I ended up in a business hotel in Pomezia on an industrial estate. Still, I was there on business so I can't complain. I got a few Rome postcards from Ciampino airport.

    By Blogger llewtrah, at 1:09 PM  

  • I went to both Paris and Bruges by myself when I was a vegetarian. I existed on chips and mayonnaise in Bruges and ate in some religious cafe and a restaurant that was like somebody's front room in Paris. Those holidays were in the eighties though so things should have improved by now.

    I agree with you about the organised tour shit. You'd only end up in the company of somebody you'd rather not spend time with. And paying premium rate for the priviledge.

    I'd pick a Belgian city and go on the Eurostar. But then I've got no sense of adventure.

    By Blogger Geoff, at 1:30 PM  

  • As someone living in Rome, who moans about it a lot but has begun to enjoy it more recently, I can tell you that at the moment the weather is nice, it's gotten chillier lately but the sky is still blue.

    There are plenty of lovely piazze to laze about on, and culturally it's doing better too with quite a few nice exhibitions on at the moment as well as the usual baroque and religious stuff.

    I'm also a vegetarian and I don't eat fish but Rome poses absolutely zero problems foodwise. The Italians don't even realise it, but most of their 'primi piatti' are veggie.

    I'm going to resist rewriting my entire blog on your comment page now and just say if you have any questions about it drop me a line.

    By Blogger red, at 4:49 PM  

  • Edinburgh, OBV.

    Not Eastern Europe - Budapest etc may be beautiful, but no one understands vegetarians.

    By Blogger Hannah, at 6:17 PM  

  • What about Copenhagen? Fabulous in the summer, and still lovely in winter.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:36 PM  

  • You could always stay home and tidy up.

    *wyndham backs quietly out of the door*

    By Anonymous wyndham, at 7:46 PM  

  • vienna?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:25 PM  

  • Prague.
    or Amsterdam.

    go now.

    By Blogger Chaucer's Bitch, at 10:17 PM  

  • As a former Rome-resident and travel writer, I spent lots of time there alone and LOVE it. I recommend a flat from realrome.com (Testaccio or Trastevere).

    Also, following are a few veggie- and singleton-friend eateries (reviews plagiarized from some guidebook or another I contributed to...):

    Café Café
    Via de' S.S. Quattro 44, Celio. Open daily 10am–2am.
    Healthy, light fare and bohemian elegance do exist in Rome – hidden among the tourist traps girding the Colosseum, no less (a slice of ancient amphitheater is visible from the wonky, wooden outdoor tables). The Swedish founder serves up coffee, cakes, fresh juice and homemade ice cream. Dishes hover around €6–7: smoked Norwegian salmon on a bed of rocket, hummus and tzatziki, eggplant torte and crostone con piselli, pecorino e pere (rustic grilled bread, topped by mushy peas, sheep cheese and pear). The tiny establishment fills up quickly for Sunday brunch, a €12 buffet of earthy salads, bruschette, cheese and prosciutto. Highly recommended for vegetarians, vegans and solitary travelers, who will delight in the generous pile of newspapers. Metro Colosseo.

    La Creperie di Testaccio
    Via Galvani 11, Testaccio. Open Tues–Sat from 8pm–1.30 am. Closed Mon.
    Over 200 types of crepes, both savory and sweet. Platters provide a much-needed respite from tomato and mozzarella, ranging into Indian and Arab flavors. Service can be slow, but the mosaics, brass lamps and brightly sponged walls make the experience enjoyable anyway. Organic wines available. Metro Piramide.

    Volpetti Più
    Via Alessandro Volta 8, Testaccio. www.volpetti.com. Mon–Sat 8am–2pm & 5–8.15pm. Closed Sun.
    Claudio and Emilio Volpetti hail from Norcia, Umbria, a region famed for its cheese, ham and sausages. The store overflows with delicacies like wild boar ham, Piedmontese cheese with white truffles (crutin), farmed Italian caviar (Calvisius) and €200 bottles of 50-year-old balsamic vinegar (Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena). Cakes of ricotta compete with slick, red roasted peppers, stacked near bright tins of Tonno di Tonnara (tuna). Take home Volpetti treats from the gourmet deli around the corner at Via Marmorata 47. Metro Piramide.

    By Blogger Amanda Castleman, at 11:42 PM  

    I'm not kidding. This is the most amazing city. Please don't go by my lowbrow adventures there; it's truly a vibrant and intellectual place, multicultural, new and interesting. The food is INCREDIBLE. the arts scene is cutting edge.

    so yeah, vancouvers' ok. if you like that sort of thing.

    By Blogger FirstNations, at 4:07 AM  

  • As a single person who loves to travel I got fed up with being "the odd one out" or having to pay huge supplements. Only this summer I paid through the nose for a super cruise assured that there would be plenty of singletons on board only to find that there were 2 of us! The couples were all very kind but I did not pay £1800 to feel like a charity case!

    My answer to this several years ago was to create www.singlesport.com which runs ski holidays for singles. Those who are happy to share rooms can be paired up whilst others can choose to have single rooms. Guests talk to me before they book & I will tell them exactly who else has already booked to be sure they know what they are letting themselves in for! We always have a large group so guests can find like minded friends no matter what their age or ski ability. One day we will extend this to cover summer holidays as well especially concentrating on golf,tennis,cycling or walking perhaps

    By Blogger ruth, at 12:13 PM  

  • Late to the fray but the only place that I've spent a few days by myself and really enjoyed it and not felt at all self-conscious, plus it's an amazing city, is San Francisco. Loads of great walks, stuff to see, art galleries, beaches, parks, weird arty stuff going on - not sure about old churches though. Plus the whole place is wi-fi'd up to the max (as the kids say), so if all else failed you could always do some light blogging!

    By Blogger patroclus, at 2:44 PM  

  • I unambitiously and unimaginatively suggest Berlin, though the winter is grim. Unless it's snowing, when it's OK. Dirt cheap. Probably tolerable on the veggie front, though not great. Nothing much old, though there is art. Survivable in English. (Annie will tell you how a homeless girl even switched to English for her when she didn't understand the initial German-language ask. Annie can tell you about what it's like for veggies too.) And no-one would stare at you for being alone.

    Barcelona wins hands down on the beauty front. Sea. Mountains. Man-made and natural beauty. Also not majorly expensive. But Spaniards never shut up, whereas Germans do.

    By Anonymous BiB, at 3:48 PM  

  • What everyone said about Barceleona. Mate just went solo to Valencia and had fun, too.

    I'm sick of solo travellng, mainly because it's increasingly hard to find single rooms at all, and the ones you do get are invariably shit-holes overlooking the bins.

    By Blogger Clair, at 4:58 PM  

  • Taking all your comments into account, I sometimes dream of travelling on my own. When you have to skivvy for monoglot husband and children the wonder of doing everything just for yourself is almost too heartbreaking to contemplate.

    Paris on your own isn't that great. I did it once, and it was rather grim. Definitely a place where two's company.

    By Blogger Sylvia, at 9:27 PM  

  • I'd be happy to do a Charlie Brooker to - but in an entirely different sense.

    Lisbon is supposed to be nice. Prague is great for some winter stuff but you might get a bit bored. Amsterdamn is cultuural and chilled out.

    By Blogger Boz, at 7:38 PM  

  • I nearly went on holiday on my own to Rome a couple of weeks ago when I was inbetween jobs, but I had to get my roof done instead. *sigh*

    I've never had a holiday, always worked, but my plan for 2008 is to do everything everyone above me has suggested.

    Including Charlie.

    By Blogger Fat Roland, at 11:34 AM  

  • Gosh, what a lot of suggestions, cheers all.

    Also - I have so much holiday left that I am also planning to follow Wyndham's suggestion and spend week cleaning the house. Oh yea.

    By Blogger Spinsterella, at 6:43 PM  

  • I'm too cowardly to go on holiday alone. I thought I might have to go away alone this Christmas (I hate Christmas and plan to get away each year), so I came up with the idea of Berlin, a Rough Guide and an itinerary. I'm going to New York now but don't think I could do that without sad single friends. I have a notion that Berlin lends itself to lone travel, and all you need is a Rough Guide, an itinerary and a notion.

    By Blogger Paul Rayson, at 8:50 PM  

  • Yes - I was going to say Lisbon, Prague, Berlin, Rome. Not in any particular order.

    By Blogger rockmother, at 8:26 AM  

  • madrid - friendly but not too friendly, lots to see, lots to do, great food, cheap beer, good shopping.

    By Anonymous louche, at 11:48 AM  

  • I recommend http://www.solosholidays.co.uk/

    I went to Istanbul with them last January. Avoid the Turkish men though.

    By Anonymous Scarlet O'Harlot, at 1:23 PM  

  • I love travelling alone (god, I'm antisocial). Amsterdam is fantastic on your own - and good veggie food. I can also recommend Chicago, San Fran and Boston if you fancy the US.

    Good luck!

    By Blogger aliceathome, at 11:41 AM  

  • Barcelona's great. Make sure you do the guided tours of the Gaudi houses that are available. Go to Parc Guell and the Miro gallery.

    And don't get your luggage sent to Bologna like mine was!

    By Blogger Geoff, at 8:27 PM  

  • two words: youth hostel.

    By Blogger Chaucer's Bitch, at 12:49 PM  

  • Hostal Goya - see here: http://blog.isecard.com/iseblog/index.php/page/2 and here: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Search?q=hostal+goya&sub-search=Go

    By Blogger Kirses, at 9:24 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home