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Vacation Chronicles: The Summary

I unpacked yesterday.

Finally. A whole week after I returned. I unpacked my clothes, and my shoes. My trinkets and my creams. I unpacked memories. Early sunrises, late sunsets. Cold. Sushi. Solitude. Privacy. I unpacked.

It felt weird going on a vacation alone, at first. A guy at Madame Tussaud’s asked me, “Haven’t you got any friends?” I gave him the easy answer, “No.” I didn’t tell him I had spent the previous week with some of my friends, including my best friend. I didn’t tell him that at the end of my sight-seeing, I would return home to the house in Camden where my cousins and grandparents were. No, I have no friends, I’m an alien in London and my time is my own. It was a very, very good feeling.

ImageI got lost many times. Thank God for Google Maps. I sprained my ankles, and had to wear Ace bandages on both before I could walk. I ate ravioli and hated it. I ate sushi and loved it.

It was a spiritual retreat. I woke up each morning with the knowledge that I was only responsible for myself. I forgot work, and family. I concentrated on me. I reintroduced myself to myself.ย Hi, I’m Osemhen. And my reflection would beam back at me.

There was no hurry. I walked, I read, I prayed. I visited cathedrals, and museums. I visited galleries. I bought baubles. I wondered at shop girls and sales assistants who took immense pride in doing their jobs, who bent over backwards to be helpful to me.ย 

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View of London from the London Eye

I could get addicted to it. To lazing through town while everyone was in such a hurry to get to work, to school, to appointments. But that experience is only worth it when you’ve been that harried citizen hurrying to work, school, appointments…

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Pemi & I

I got a lot of breaks. Shout out to Uche, Tarela and Pemi who put up with me at different times in Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire, and were such gracious hostesses. Then there were the nice people who helped me with my luggage when I struggled (one of them a schoolboy of about 11!). On my very last day in the country, I won one of those promos that shops advertise where you don’t pay a cent for everything in your shopping basket. I didn’t take it seriously till I was at the till, and the cashier announced I had won! I’d bought stuff worth ยฃ88, and didn’t have to pay anything. Cool, yes?

It wasn’t all laughter and champagne. My 9.55 am flight out of London got delayed, and then cancelled. The airline offered to route me through Nairobi to Nigeria, on a Kenyan Airways flight that would leave at 8.00 pm! I nearly cried. Lol. I opted for a Qatar Airways flight through Doha though. It was leaving at 9.15 pm but I figured it would be a more comfortable flight, and I wasn’t disappointed.

As a fitting end to all the vacation drama, I left my Kindle on the plane that took me from London to Doha. Yes. I forgot it. And I didn’t remember till I was airborne on a different plane to Lagos. Again, I almost cried but was too tired to. And the joy of being back home overshadowed my sadness. I did register a “Lost & Found” enquiry on Qatar Airways’ website and to my surprise, they replied that yes, they’d found it and they would send it to Lagos ASAP. Those guys are officially my favourite airline!

I don’t know when next I’ll go on a solo vacation, if ever again. But I’m glad I went on this one. I recommend it to anyone who needs to pause life, and recoup. Save up and just go. Just go.

0 Comments

  1. FD says

    Osemhen, again you have written so honestly.
    I identified with every line.
    Especially the part that recognizes what seems like genuine goodness emanating from people out there.
    I keep telling friends that even the sales persons in the shops were not just being professional…. One could sense an honest wish to help every customer.
    Thumbs up to Qatar… I don’t know why but it seems those Arabian airlines stand a bit taller than their peers in the West (my experience was with Emirates).
    I like the part where u “introduced yourself to yourself” (Lol! Nice one there!!).
    Welcome back home…
    Though, I’m not too sure whether to say that with a smile, or just look at you encouragingly… Things will not always remain like this at home!! (Amen!!!!)
    Cheers

  2. FD says

    BTW, is that you in glasses or your friend..?
    Just wondering…

  3. “Save up and just go. Just go.”

    Good to see you enjoyed the queens country in its way. I just got back from a similar trip myself (although I was leaving the UK and headed to somewhere much shinier). And its the same thing I say to anyone who asks me about taking solo vacations. Just go. Its worth it.

      • Yes, Wole. I was a tad worried I would be bored and lonely but I wasn’t. It was an incredible feeling being somewhere new and having nothing to do but indulge. Gosh. No one telling you, “We’re late, let’s go someplace else.” *sigh*
        ImmortalTeddybear, even in Naija. But go somewhere a bit comfortable sha o. Even if it’s rustic, let it be comfortable. I’m seriously considering going on writing retreat to La Campagne Tropicana in Lagos.

  4. I keep telling my friends they need a vacation more than they think. Thank God you didn’t turn into Arik where is my iPad

    • Lol. That episode was hilarious. I was so impressed with Qatar Airways. Yes, everyone needs a vacation once in awhile.

  5. I can relate so darned well to this. All of it. Our trips overlapped. I returned home about a week before you, I think.

    It was my first ‘real’ vacation and it was solo so I’m actually looking forward to one of those ‘joint’ ones. Especially the kind one takes with a group of friends. I envisage those types being totally awesome.Plenty of time for a couple’s vacation in the future… After I find the other half first, of course. *sigh*

    • Lol. Looking forward to when I’m married and can go on a couple vacation. Efe did and I can tell he had tons of fun. I want to do a group vacation too, but my friends are all so busy. ๐Ÿ™

  6. Sounds like you had fun. The last I went it was all about fam and it was a riot.
    I’m scared I’m too boring for me to hangout with myself. And if i do get to go I would probably spend the whole trip in bed, my fave solo vacay spot.

  7. Vacationing alone is AWESOME. Especially when you grow older (aka age and become a parent). You’ve made a great start and like you I have had many airport incidents. In my case I forgot my notebook, my precious collection of scribblings et al! I never found it so good on Qatar Airways. I’m glad you had a great time

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