The history of the Roman Empire started fascinating me after I picked up my first play of Shakespeare, Julius Caesar. Therefore, it was only natural that I planned my longest haul in Rome. If you ignore the hundreds of tourists buzzing around the city, Rome has an old world charm, which makes it appear like it is frozen in the times of the kings. The colosseum – one of the major sites a tourist would have most definitely been to – looks as if it is work in progress, left to be finished another day, another era. The colosseum is a 1st century AD amphitheater that was used for gladiator games. Colosseum is surrounded by other historically rich sites like the Roman Forum, Palatine, and the Pantheon. But this article is not about the things to do in the cities I visited. I am writing this article to share my journey as a novel solo woman traveler.
I wasn’t thinking much about the consequences of going alone when I finalized my trip. The realization hit me only when I set foot in my flight to room. How was I supposed to manage alone, what would happen if I got lost or got robbed, what if I got bored in my own company – several questions were haunting me throughout my flight. I had booked shared dorm beds in hostels with the best reviews in most of the cities. It was a choice I made in order to meet people from around the world, make friends, and have some company if I ever felt lonely. And let me tell you, my decision did not disappoint me. The hostel I booked in Rome was supposedly a ‘party hostel’, with a club of its own – where most of the hostellers living in the area would flock to. I had done my research on how to reach the hostel from the airport, printed an offline map and had decided to buy a local Lyca sim card as soon as I landed in Rome. My assumption that I would find a sim card booth at the airport did land me into some trouble. Without the GPS, I was lost and going around in circles trying to find my way from the bus stand to hostel. It took me one hour and sheer luck of finding a couple of girls going to the hostel to finally reach the accommodation where I would be spending my next four days. My room was a four bed dorm with an attached bathroom. Attached bathroom was a choice I consciously made while booking the rooms, as most of the rooms do not have those and I did not want to share bathrooms with a dozen others. After I settled in my room, it was already late at night and I quickly made friends with my American roommate. We went to club downstairs, had a few drinks, chatted and got to know each other and closed the night. She left the city the next morning. The next four days were a roller coaster ride. I was missing home, wandering the streets alone, going to the romantic Trevi Fountain by myself, but being a foodie, thoroughly enjoying each and every meal. Pasta is my favorite dish and finding it in abundance in its natural habitat was a bigger dream come true than doing a solo trip. Freshly baked handmade Pasta garnished with fresh (and not imported) cheese is truly a food lover’s delight. Pizzas were scrumptious, and the popular Italian Gelato was worth waiting in queues for. I will admit though that I did enjoy my time at Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Navona, the streets that were bustling with high end to budget shopping brands. Being a former literature student, I loved spending hours at the Keats Shelley House near the Spanish Steps. A door in one of the rooms at the house led to a pretty balcony overlooking the steps. I spent most of my time quietly sitting there, observing the crowds trying to find a spot to sit on the steps. For the days, I had bought a three-day bus pass, using which I would board any bus and get down at any stop I liked to stroll and explore. I also saw and waved to the pope in Vatican City, which is one of my favorite places now. Evenings felt less lonely as my new roommate Catia from London and I would go downstairs for drinks and dance every night. I never ventured out to explore the other more popular pubs of the city as I was too scared to go out alone at night.