Helsinki to Athens.
It's a trip I've dreamt of for more than a decade.
Later this month I'm on my way for a river cruise through the southern portion of that trip. And I'm going solo of course.
After flying into and exploring Bucharest, I'll board ship at Constanta, Romania on the Black Sea and travel up the Danube to Budapest in Hungary, a city that I last visited in 1985 when Hungary was still behind the iron curtain.
And the best part, not only is this fascinating territory almost all new for me, almost all of it has not yet been covered in our Solo Travel Destinations section. This trip will add much needed information for solo travelers.
So why am I so excited about this trip? Well here you go…
The Six Reasons I'm Excited to Go to South Eastern Europe
I'll be traveling with Grand Circle Cruise Line on their Eastern Europe to the Black Sea trip. I'm excited to go for many reasons…
- To cover new territory. As explained above, this is the number one reason that I'm excited about this trip.
- To see southeastern Europe from the water. In many places the Danube carves through nature without roads nearby. The river provides an unobscured view of the scenery that's not available on other forms of transportation.
- To wake each morning to a new destination. Rivers were natural roadways historically. This river cruise will take me to old cities that it's unlikely I would otherwise see.
- To let someone else manage the details. For the last many months my mother has not been well. I've not been traveling very much and it's been a challenge to balance work and home while making my mother the priority. A river cruise break is the perfect travel experience at this time allowing me as much initiative or as little as I want.
- To take off solo if I want. At every port there is a tour – but it's optional. And the afternoons are often free. I can have as much independent time to explore as I want.
- To understand the history. Prior to taking my Masters degree in History I took one year of undergrad studies which included a course on Eastern Europe. Despite it being a 4th year university course, my professor gave us a map quiz every week. It was the stress of memorization and rote learning of high school all over again. But it made a difference in understanding the history of the area. Seeing the actual landscape of southeastern Europe on this trip will be even better.
The One Reason I'm Not Excited to Go
It is not that I don't want to go but this one reason tempers my excitement somewhat. It's a difficult issue. Here you go…
- I was born lucky. Simply by being born where and when I was, I have enjoyed the freedom of movement and the privilege to travel. Not everyone does. While I have faced this inequity before I have found the displacement of Syrians and their desperate trek through southeastern Europe and elsewhere a challenge to my plans. I wondered, should I go? I have consulted many on this point and while the initial reaction was often uncertain, on further thought they, as many commentators have, conclude that travel will and should continue everywhere it is possible to do so in the world. That by not traveling I certainly wouldn’t solve any problems and I could contribute to one – locals who rely on tourist dollars would lose out. So while I’m saddened by the refugee situation I will go.
I will be taking this trip with the support of Grand Circle Cruise Lines. The opinions are my own and editorial control of the stories is managed solely by Solo Traveler.