Belfast is a city that seems to bustle at every turn but walk into any pub and time has stopped. The dust that lines the top of the shelves is easily an inch thick and the wood has started to warp in places from use. The once shiny metal stools have been hardened into a matte black from so much use. The bartender knows everyone that walks in and has the eyes of someone who truly has seen it all. But walk back out those front doors again and you’re slapped with reality.
My visit to Belfast was a short one, with short being an understatement. The majority of the 5 hours I was there was spent in the Titanic Museum, an ode to the tragic ship but beautifully displayed. It’s a 5 story tale from first drafts to it’s fate at the bottom of the ocean. With artifacts recovered from it’s watery grave and donated by it’s survivors it tells the stories that would have never otherwise been heard.
Belfast was also my first experience with a double decker bus. I know, so touristy. But admit it, you had a moment too. But, my moment was disrupted by snickering locals who laughed at the American tourists. What can you do?
Everyone has their own opinion about female solo travelers. The label isn’t necessary, they shouldn’t travel by themselves at all, they play it too safe, they’re awe-inspiring.
Regardless of personal opinions, I want to talk about a conversation I had with my younger sister and mom. We watched an amazingly well done video by a man and his friend who traveled throughout Central and South America in a Jeep. No hotels, limited food and water, they just went.
As we’re watching the video my sister just says, “I wish we could do that as women.” It struck me. Because for all intensive purposes, we could if we wanted to but on the other hand, there’s something daunting and frightening and too risky about it all.
The idea of getting into a car and just driving sounds appealing to me but once you start to really think about the logistics of it all, it becomes hazy. What happens if the car breaks down? I don’t know how to do any sort of car repair. What happens if I’m in the middle of nowhere and can’t find my way back? And the always asked, What if I get kidnapped or stolen or sold into white slavery?
They’re pretty presumptuous questions to ask but do they have a point?
Do women have a bigger target as travelers or are we just putting that on ourselves? Are we allowing ourselves to be encapsulated by this label?
I don’t know the answer, I’m just intrigued by the whole idea of it all. The only way to end this is by saying, if you feel you’re ready for whatever it is you’re preparing for, then you’re ready.