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The girl's guide to traveling solo
by Deanna Wolff
paperback, 160 pages book

Bon Journal

Girl's guide to traveling solo

Dear Lemondrops,

I want to send you a book to read, to inspire you to make that journey of a lifetime you've talked about.

Deanna Wolff's "The Girl's Guide to Traveling Solo" is about her adventures in Italy. She's very like you in many ways -- blonde, very independent, loves her cat, enjoys good red wine, etc. I think this is her first book, and she's even designed the cover herself. [Visit her site - it's really neat the way she built it! You can also see the photos of her trip there.]

I would say it belongs to a class of books - not fiction but not nonfiction either. I mean, she really did go to Italy on her own. The way she presented it, like a diary, makes it feel as though you are travelling with her. It's better than reading a fictional story written by some famous novelist. So I don't know what this kind of writing is called.

Wolff was 36 when she went on this trip; I was 21 when I first went to Italy by myself. I think the age does matter. When I was 21, I just wanted to go shopping in the outdoor markets, bypassing all the history and art in Florence. I was keen to just be there and to say that I've been there, never mind competing with older tourists to get into the right places of attraction.

This book reminds me of my trip to Cartagena Colombia, where at first I was lonely and trying to pretend I was okay but having a miserable time of it. Then my luck changed and I had a whale of a time. That happened to her as well.

Barely into the second page, I was already laughing and enjoying myself. You'd relate to the trials and tribulations of being single, late-thirties, wanting to do your own thing but also to belong. It's one of those --- being alone but not feeling lonely --- not easy to do when you're traveling by yourself. We call it "independent traveller" here in the UK. Wolff coins it "traveling solo," which is more appropriate for the lone traveller.

Wolff's detailed account of her trip kept me entertained while I waited for my train in Bussum, in Utrecht, in Duivendrecht, and for my flight at Schiphol Airport Amsterdam. By the time I landed at London Heathrow, I had finished the entire paperback. Within a day, I had gone to Italy and back, courtesy of the Canadian writer and web-designer Deanna Wolff.

I'd like to write about my adventures and offer tips the way she does. But I doubt I can be as hilarious though. You can't but laugh at the number of words she devoted to writing about her cat, her enormous suitcase, the rain without an umbrella, and other aspects of her trip. And of course, there has to be a tall, handsome, romantic, young, fit Italian stallion somewhere in her adventures!

When I was 21, I wasn't aware of the dangers of traveling alone. Instead, I viewed uncertainty as opportunity for fun and excitement. And boy, did I have fun! Nowadays, I'm too lazy and spoiled to "rough it" alone. I'd rather visit and stay with friends like you. So when will you come to Amsterdam, girl?



22 February 2004 Sunday

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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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