I went to Barcelona this year on a whim. I happened to see that Emirates was having a massive sale and bought the tickets two weeks before I was set to leave. It was Chinese New Year and I had a bunch of time off work. My boyfriend and I had originally planned to go to Vietnam, but by the time we got around to looking at tickets, they were crazy expensive and we had missed our chance. I had resigned myself to staying in Hong Kong for those two weeks, although I hate staying here during the holidays (even more people than normal, plus our flat is on the CNY parade route).

My boyfriend, unfortunately, couldn’t go; he didn’t have as much time off as I did, and the sale specified that you had to leave by a certain day. So I decided to go alone.

A lot of people didn’t seem to get it. “Are you guys ok?” they asked. “Did you fight? Did you break up?”

“Uh, no. He just doesn’t get time off.”

I’ve always wanted to go to Spain. I meant to go when I was 19 for a study abroad, but ended up choosing Ecuador (half the cost) when I realised I would have to apply for a loan to pay for it (LOL seven years later and I am still paying that off).

So  I set out on my two eight-hour flights alone. I stayed in a hostel that got rave reviews for its friendly atmosphere and family dining. They made dinner for everyone and took the whole hostel out to the bars after. I met some pretty sweet people and we did tours together, to the Sagrada Familia and the Modernism tour. I learned so much about the city and ate a ton of good food and, best of all, got to practice my Spanish.

(Now, someone is definitely going to be that asshole who says, “But in Barcelona they speak Catalan!” I know this because someone has already said this to me. But the truth is, it’s like saying, “If you go to Hong Kong, you need to speak Cantonese!” Do people speak Cantonese here? Yes. Do lots and lots and lots of people speak English? Yep. Stop trying to be that jerk.)

I would have done all these things if I had gone to Barcelona with my boyfriend. We would have seen the Sagrada Familia and eaten tapas and he would’ve stood back while I translated for him. However, going alone forced me to be more adventurous. I made a point to talk to people in my hostel. The truth is that if I were with my boyfriend, I would probably have ended up talking only to him. Traveling is stressful, and when you’ve had a day walking around and planning and figuring stuff out, making small talk with people you don’t know can be draining, so its easy just to stick with your travel buddy. If you go alone then you have to be more outgoing or you’re stuck, well, alone.

Carnival
I happened to be in Barcelona during Carnival, and travelled with other people in my hostel to a little town called Sitges to celebrate. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the only good picture from the night. Also, I forgot that jacket at the Dubai airport on my way back. D’oh!

It was also nice that I got to do more stuff I wanted to do, without having to worry about someone else. For example, I love shopping. I love clothes. I love collecting unique pieces of jewelry and looking at books I have no intention of buying. And weirdly, I LOVE going to grocery stores in other countries. I feel like it gives you a tiny bit of insight into the everyday lives of the people who actually live there.

My boyfriend doesn’t like shopping. When we travel together, he usually says, “OK. You go shop, I’ll be here. We’ll meet in this amount of time.” By going alone I was able to spend more time doing something I really enjoy doing, without having to be worried about time constraints.

It’s also nice to have something, an adventure or experience, that’s mine. While I love my boyfriend, he’s not my whole life. I can’t understand the couples who go everywhere together (not just vacations, EVERYWHERE) or constantly talk about each other or post messages of “No I love YOU more!” on each others’ Facebook walls. My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 1/2 years. We live together and share many of the same friends. Our lives are connected in a lot of ways. But we don’t want to lose our identities as individual people. I don’t want to be just someone’s girlfriend, I want to be Dannie, the smart, hilarious comedian who has adventures. It’s nice to go somewhere new for a little while, where people don’t just go “Oh, that’s blahblah’s girlfriend” and instead know you as an individual.

My summer plans are still up in the air until I know for sure what my job will be, but I’m thinking to go to a secluded, all-inclusive resort in Thailand for a week, on my own. It’s a 100% vegetarian hippie spa with no wi-fi and yoga classes. My boyfriend would totally hate it. I’m really excited.

-D

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