I went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy with a UC Berkeley Alumni tour group. I met them at the airport in Naples. It’s the most alone I’ve ever traveled.
I saw the archeological museum and Pompei and Herculaneum and the ruins at Paestum.
I shopped and people-watched and saw all those charming towns on the Amalfi Coast.
I took myself to an amazing lunch at The Hotel Vittoria in Sorrento.
I loved it. The people were great. The places were stunning, the tours and lectures were edifying.
I didn’t feel like my better half was missing. George didn’t want to travel. I like it. I went on a Paris Immersion trip in April, along with a tour group and with George’s parents, but I didn’t take any pictures.
What I’ve learned:
- If you don’t want to travel alone, the right tour group is a great solution. I like lectures and museums and lots of context, so the Alumni tour worked for me. It’s not big on nightlife etc, so it may be too sedate and full of lectures for others.
- It’s taken over three years, but I can travel without feeling like I’m missing half of myself. I felt that way at the beginning of my Paris trip last April, but it got better a few days in. Recovery times will vary depending on the individual.
- I’m really anxious so things that helped to minimize the anxiety included arranging transport to and from the airport ahead of time (so appreciated when I finally got home to SFO) and having a house sitter even though I don’t have pets. Plus the travel people put together an awesome itinerary so I didn’t have to worry about logistics. (This probably doesn’t apply for the experienced traveler).
- It can be great to travel without a partner. When I was married, George and I did everything together. I have a boyfriend, but I wanted to do this trip alone (that’s another post), so I did. And I was my only concern. It didn’t matter what anyone wanted to do but me or if anyone else was having a good time. And I didn’t have to explain why I needed to buy more handbags. (It’s Italy, ok?)
- Unplug. I regret I failed at this. My first and only article for “Reader’s Digest,” came out while I was gone so I was on my iPad checking out Ten Things You Should Never Say to a Widow. Please feel free to check it out if I haven’t already pushed it down your throat on Facebook.
- In Italy, cocktails are relatively inexpensive and they give you nuts, chips, olives and sometimes bits of cheese with your drink. In fancier places, you get these great little sandwiches or canapés. I am going to be even crabbier here when a $16 “artisanal,” painstakingly “infused” cocktail comes with nothing on the side.
I had no great revelations. Ok, I had one. After losing our spouses, we don’t know if we will ever be able to feel joy again. I thought I was going to lead a shadow life, maybe even a “leftover life” as described by Caitlin Thomas. And sometimes I still feel that way. But not all the time. I have a dear, new friend who is a very recent widow. When we met for brunch, she said, “I feel better knowing that you’re sitting here. You survived.” And she will too. And sometimes, though not all the time, there will be times that feel way better than just survival. And we need to appreciate them.
Tune in next week when I try to figure out what to do with my book and start to look like this cast from Pompei.