This last week I spent solo traveling in Stockholm, Sweden.
In full transparency, this place never quite made it onto my original travel bucket list. I have always been drawn to warmer climates, Mediterranean or Asian cuisine, and more in-your-face-type people. But as I draw closer to my goal of conquering 60 countries by my 60th birthday (July 2024), Scandinavia beckoned.
The capital city of Sweden, Stockholm popped out at me one day while examining a map. And even though I feared the cold and was not particularly excited about the cuisine, I must admit my errors in judgment. While generalizations and assumptions serve us daily by helping us make quicker decisions, they also sometimes impede us from new and potentially delightful experiences and opportunities. I am grateful that some random, self-imposed goal, forced my hand to take a chance on this part of the world.
The Magic Of Food Tours:
“food tours are like opening a Pandora’s box of a country’s soul”
One of my primary activities when I visit a new location is to find a food tour. I swear by food tours. For me, they act as a trusty compass to the heart of any culture. You see, food tours are like opening a Pandora’s box of a country’s soul. It’s not just about what they eat, but how they source it, how they lovingly prepare it, and the tales and traditions that surround it – all intricately woven into the fabric of their environment. It’s like getting backstage access to the culinary theater of a nation.
However, the Stockholm food tour provided me with a first. A first, I am delighted to report on and share with all of you women in midlife. As the group began to congregate at the start of the tour, I noticed something I had never seen before. There I was, amidst a group of six, four of us standing firmly in the domain of midlife and beyond.
I’ve taken plenty of tours in my life, and typically have always been the token older solo woman traveler. But this time, it was different. A quartet of seasoned women, each with our unique stories and reasons for exploring the world on our own.
A Quartet Of Solo Travelers In Midlife:
“While each of us came from different backgrounds under disparate circumstances, we were united in our pursuit of the present moment.”
First, there was the just-turned-60 Canadian, semi-retired and happily married, yet gallivanting across the globe solo. Her husband, content in the coziness of their abode, preferring the company of their farm to cobblestones. Then, the enigmatic New Yorker, pondering the very notion of a permanent address. Why tether oneself when the world is your oyster? Her eyes sparkled with the potential of a life untethered. Our fourth, also a New Yorker, makes it a priority to travel monthly – alone or with friends.
While each of us came from different backgrounds under disparate circumstances, we were united in our pursuit of the present moment. These women are not waiting for the perfect timing, the bulging bank account, or the elusive travel companion. These women are taking life by the horns, seizing their own narratives.
As we sauntered through Stockholm’s cobbled streets, navigating our way from one delectable morsel to the next, I couldn’t help but marvel at the parallels between our little group and the culinary delights before us. We were like a smorgasbord of life experiences, each one bringing a unique flavor to the table.
Sieze Those Opportunities:
“we did what women are wont to do. We talked. We shared.”
We sampled moose, Brown Bear, and reindeer heart, grateful for the opportunity to step outside our comfort zones. We giggled whilst surviving a licorice tasting that was not for the faint of heart. Forget everything you know about licorice. The go-to licorice candy that is popular in Sweden, is vastly different from the flavors Americans consume. Swedes are cotton to the black salty kind mixed in with extracts of dried licorice root, sugar, wheat flour, and starch called Salmiak. Thankfully there was a nearby garbage can, as I spit out food (in public) for the first time.
As the tour wound down and we sat at a Fika (coffee) establishment in the heart of GamlaStan, old town, we did what women are wont to do. We talked. We shared. And of course, played. But more importantly, and I can only speak for myself, I learned I am not alone on this journey. We are out there, ladies, and we are treading uncharted paths.
I am inspired by these fellow solo women travelers who refuse to be confined by age or circumstance. Here’s to these women who are claiming their agency, not waiting for a sign, but creating their own.
And if you’re wondering, of course, I introduced them to our Kuel Life Community – a haven for kindred spirits, a place where stories are shared, and where the fire of exploration burns bright in every conversation. Because after all, in this grand feast of life, we’re all in it together, each one of us adding our own delectable flavor to the mix.