Blog Tour: Alone Time

I don’t mind telling you that this book took me right outside of my comfort zone.

Not in a bad way. More in a ‘my comfort zone is a very fictional story and this is not that’ kind of way. I made a little promise to myself at the start if this year though, that I was going to try and read more of books that are not novels – more non-fiction, more memoirs, more poetry, more short stories – and so when I was offered the chance to have a read of this one, I shrugged my shoulders and thought ‘why the hell not.’

And here we are.

Rosenbloom is a travel columnist for the New York Times. In this book she’s visiting 4 cities in 4 seasons. On her own.

All by herself.


As a girl who really wishes she were brave enough to date herself and is endlessly envious of those who can sit at a bar on their own with a gin and be perfectly content in their own skin; who can go to the cinema and not flinch at ordering just one ticket; who will happily sit in a coffee shop and not be hiding behind a book or endlessly scrolling through Instagram, the idea of this really appealed to me.

I think there’s a part of all of us that in some ways yearns for solitude and there’s a lot to be said I think, for the kind of experience you could get of a place if you explored it on your own, in your own time and on your own terms. It helped that the cities Rosenbloom was visiting were cities I was keen to know more about. I already love New York (no other city ever made me glad) and Istanbul, Florence and Paris are all on my list.

Really, this book had my name all over it. Apart from it actually has Stephanie Rosenbloom’s name all over it cos she wrote it, but you know what I mean.

This book made me want to travel alone.

I mean I love travelling with my best guy, or my friends. There is a lot to be said for shared experiences and the things I’ve seen that I’ve seen with them I doubt I’d want to experience differently. There’s a little restaurant at the top of the Col De La Forclaz in France that serves THE BEST tartiflette and has views over Annecy that kind of make you want to cry: would that cheesy potato-ey goodness taste as good if I ate it on my own; would the view be as breath-taking if he wasn’t there to look at it with me? Perhaps not - but reading this book has made me wonder if it might be incredible in a different way. If perhaps sometimes you miss some of what’s going on around you when you travel with someone else because you’re in a bubble of them and you and so sort of cut off from the rest of the world, if maybe sometimes you’d get more out of life, if you discovered it for yourself now and then.
I’m a solitary person by nature so why am I so afraid of that solitude outside of the comfort of my own home? 

That’s the question Rosenbloom helps to ask and helps to answer and she does so in a way that kind of makes you feel like you are experiencing ALL THE THINGS right along with her, it’s like catching up with a friend; her writing is somehow familiar, descriptive and insightful and fascinating. It goes deeper than ‘these are nice things to see in this place’ and takes you right to the heart and soul of a city, a city that otherwise you might not ever scratch the surface of and it’s beyond interesting to me.

Take Istanbul.  Rosenbloom talks, for example,  about visiting the first mosque to have an interior designed by a woman; of not being sure she’d be allowed in; of the people – the women – she saw when she was in there. She notices details, that’s a thing I loved about this book, Stephanie notices details and it’s those details and those insights, such as how a wordless interaction can take on as much meaning as a conversation, or how the seemingly insignificant things – such as a woman raising a bucket on a string - that you walk past on your way to some landmark or other can be as much a part of your trip,  and how you might miss those interactions when you travel with a companion, that really struck a chord.

She talks about anticipation in Istanbul, about how impotant it is to anticipate and to then set that aside to embrace reality, and she talks about Hazun – a feeling, or a heartache – about everything being past it’s prime and perhaps because of that, or perhaps because she was there just 5 months before a terrorist attack that killed 10 people, a reminder of how much can change so quickly, Stephanie’s time in Istanbul left me feeling somehow melancholy. It’s amazing isn’t it, that just reading about somebody else’s time in a place can make you feel so much.

 This is a hard book to categorise – part self help (although that might just be me) and part vivid and fascinating travel log. I doubt I’ll be brave enough to board a plane that won’t be met at the other end for a while but I am ABSOLUTELY going to start dating myself and Rosenbloom ‘s certainly made me want to spend less time thinking about how pretty a trip would look on Instagram and more time living in the moment.

It’s fascinating, this book, and I am so glad I gave it a go. 

AND!! If my wafflings weren't enough to make you want to go out and get a copy of this then guess what! I am going to try and further tempt you, both into this book and into a trip to Istanbul with Stephanie's exclusive 5 Things Not To Miss in Instanbul . I know. How exciting:

ISTANBUL --Soak up modern art and delicious fare along the Bosporus at the Istanbul Modern and its waterfront restaurant. Then climb the hills to Cihangir, stopping into boutiques on your way to the Museum of Innocence (be sure to read Nobel prize-winner Orhan Pamuk's beautiful novel of the same name before you go).
--Talk a walk along the Bosporus; enjoy an ice cream cone along the way. Then go for another climb, this time to Ulus Park for bird’s eye views of the city and the glittering Bosporus.
--On a summer evening, treat yourself to a Turkish and international buffet dinner under lanterns, along the water, at the Bosphorus Grill Restaurant on the grounds of the sumptuous Ciragan Palace Kempinski.
--Take a ferry—to anywhere really—but especially to Üsküdar on the Asia side of the Bosporus, where you can escape the crowds and stroll residential streets toward one of the city's newest mosques, the Şakirin.--Beat the heat in the old city and the Grand Bazaar by disappearing underground inside the dark Basilica Cistern, home to stone Medusa heads that have been captivating visitors for centuries.