I’m not gonna lie. Traveling solo can be awesome. I, and I alone, get to decide how late I stay up / sleep in, which sites I see (and the order I attempt them in, which is important given the ones left until the end often get skipped), and where I eat. And when you’re a bit of a picky eater (aka a vegetarian), this last one is pretty key.
But, as you may have guessed, touristing solo has its down sides as well. For example, tonight I find myself in Avignon, alone, with nothing to do. I didn’t plan it this way. My trip prep indicated I might find myself at a jazz club, a wine bar, or if I was really lucky might catch an early taste of one of the Festival D’Avignon performances (the infamous theatre and music festival starts next week).
Sadly, the jazz club had no show tonight, the wine bar was more restaurant than wine bar (and I’d already eaten when I headed there after my jazz let down), and it turns out the town’s music and theatre venues shut down completely the weekend before the festival (to undertake massive prep).
If I was traveling with someone, right now I could at least sit somewhere with him or her and enjoy a drink and some conversation. S/he could respond to my observation that no matter how amazing the festival might be, a town with nary a music show on a Saturday night during the summer tourist season should not be able to market itself as an arts and culture destination.
Instead, I spent the last two hours window shopping (Avignon’s reputation as a boutique haven is, conversely, totally on the mark . . . too bad the stores are closed tomorrow), eating ice cream (Provence has introduced me to my new favourite flavour: Caramel au Beurre de Sel) and sitting in the Place de l’Horloge (main square) people watching.
I did have a couple of offers of company from the locals. One was even pretty cute : ) But, I turned them down. Even if I generously added a couple of extra years to my age estimations for these guys, both would remain a little too close to the 18 mark for my comfort. I do thank them for mistaking me for a uni student though. Rather funny that when I was in my 20s I was always being mistaken for being older than I was, and now that I’m in my 30s I seem to be experiencing the reverse. Not complaining — just one of life’s oddities, I suppose.
Tonight’s dullness makes me even more glad I decided to go to the the great show I caught in Aix last night. Billing themselves as flamenco with flavors of Mexican, Pedro Aledo and company put on quite a show. Fact that the venue was stunning (under the stars in the courtyard of a beautiful cloister) and admission included a complementary glass of locally produced wine were icing on the cake.
Well, it’s midnight now, suppose I’ll head back to my hotel to post this. Here’s hoping Sunday in Avignon offers more options for the single traveler than did Saturday night : )
Postscript from the train back to Aix
The wifi in my hotel didn’t work so will have to post this when I get back to my WWOOF home. In reviewing this post couldn’t help but feel I’d overdone it a bit on the Avignon trashing. It’s got some negatives, for sure, but I just passed a lovely afternoon there so can’t say it’s all bad. Should any of you ever visit, I highly recommend a picnic in the Rocher des Doms park behind the Palais de Papes. Supplied with fresh food from Avignon’s main market (Les Halles) and a little bottle of wine from the grocery store next to it, the combination of venue and flavours made for one of the best meals I’ve had in a while.
Add in some beautiful views as I walked around Avignon afterward listening to music on my iPhone (the XX, Brasstronaut, Jenn Grant, and Phoenix, if you’re wondering) and last night’s blahs were quickly forgotten. Good day : )