This ain’t my first rodeo.
The last time I found myself overseas, solo and single on Valentine’s day was two years ago in Budapest, Hungary. I had just sat down for dinner that evening when it had hit me – in the face – like a pole you didn’t see coming. Quite literally, BAM! Myriads of couples all loved up and cutesy with their hands held across the table (isn’t that just unhygienic or something…). There were red roses on the tables, the love boat was playing in the background, and I could have sworn it felt like I was on the set of a rom-com gone wrong. I was the sad and lonely middle-aged woman that had been stood up…. But only I hadn’t. I had been travelling solo around Europe for three weeks now, and much to my dismay I hadn’t had a clue of the day, let alone the date.
February the 14th, 2012.
The day I think I’d rather forget.
That day I had been frolicking about in a snow storm, trudging across the historical city of Budapest and just generally having a stellar day.
All that came crashing down at around 7.00pm when I found myself swamped by a crowd of loved-up-pups with no regard for PDA rules. To be fair, it’s probably the one day of the year lovers get a free pass on that romantical stuff. Romantical… is that even a word?
The year in between then and now was similarly a non-event.
And then here I am, February the 14th, 2014 – single and solo overseas, in one of the most impossibly charming Belgian cities that just oozes romance. A short ten-minute train ride to the North and I would hit Brugge, perhaps the most romantic city on the planet aside from Paris – and then I’d really be in trouble.
But today I find myself in Ghent, Belgium. And yes, I do have a glass of wine on-hand as I type this out. It should go without saying that it has ‘been one of those days’.
So I know what you’re really here for –
Surviving Valentine’s Day Overseas
1. Spend the night in – going out for dinner solo is about as exciting as watching grass grow whilst you wait for your meal to be ordered, prepared, and delivered to your table. Imagine spending that entire time smothered by public displays of affection. Yep, it’s just not worth it. Buy yourself some take out and a couple o’ chick flicks and spend the night in.
2. Keep yourself busy during the day – but beware of the usual suspects such as the Eiffel Tower if you’re in Paris or the Empire State Building in NYC – you’re sure to run into some loved up suckers there.
3. Spend the day in silence – nearly all songs are about love in one way or another. Take the day to enjoy silence or listen in on someone else’s conversation on the train. It is often more interesting anyway!
4. Take the day off social media – seeing your friends back home declare their love for one another is about as nostalgic as it can get. Yes, they’re all settled down and preparing themselves for a life of love and security…..blah. You don’t need to think about it let alone see it.
5. EMBRACE IT – there is never another time in your life where you will feel so free, without any commitments weighing you down. There’s just as much to be happy about on a day like today – live it up!