I’ve always felt at home in airports. I realise that’s perhaps an odd comment for such constantly transient surroundings, but after three years travelling the globe alone, they were one of few constants. No matter where I was in the world, airports looked and functioned in the same way. Neutral territory.
But there’s another reason I love airports – it’s the offer of possibility they provide. The excitement. The unknown. A gateway to a new adventure, or an emotional homecoming – impossible at this point not to remember the touching montage of footage from London Heathrow, at the end of Love Actually.
As I begin this blog post, I’m sitting in Gatwick Airport, about to board a flight to Dublin, for the first of my 30 Dates Around the World. A new adventure, and one which will span over the coming months. Only time will tell the places this adventure takes me, and the people I will meet along the way!
For now, I will begin the challenge with a series of weekends away. (After all, it shouldn’t just be happy couples who get to do minibreaks, right?!) What people often don’t realise, is that I still hold down a full time job in the real world, and so unfortunately a six month tour of the world, wracking up dates as I go along, is currently out of the question! However, at least to kick things off, I’m planning on going on one or two mini-breaks each month, either using the opportunity to visit friends in European cities, or combining the dates with trips abroad my friends.
However, if and when the Challenge escalates / I win the lottery, I may try to complete several dates and destinations in one go. As with most things on the 30 Dates Blog, it’s a work in progress! This blog was never planned and has evolved naturally, in the same way the original 30 Dates Challenge did. And to be honest, in my experience, the more carefully you plan ahead, the more likely situations are to change. Having said that, if anyone reading this knows of an airline, or a company who might be interested in sponsoring this crazy challenge, then please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be great to be able to cram all 30 Dates in between my 31st Birthday at the end of September!
To be completely honest, it’s rather fitting that I’m sitting in the airport alone.
Because, whilst I know this adventure is likely to include tens of new characters, and some familiar faces to boot, it’s time to go back to the start, and remind myself of the girl behind the Challenge. The girl behind the 30 Dates. It is one of the reasons I set this Challenge for myself in the first place. I thrive on an adventure, I love to travel, I love meeting new people and since beginning this blog, I’ve also come to really enjoy going on blind dates, no matter how good or bad they end up being. An important part of single life, is loving the person you are, and being happy on your own. And the only way you’ll ever be happy with yourself, is by reminding yourself what things are important, and making sure you are as true to yourself as possible.
And so, nine month older than when this all began, and infinitely wiser when it comes to the world of online dating, first dates, and the whole ‘love’ industry, I’m back with a second regimented dating challenge. Whilst I obviously went to Madrid, New York and LA during the original 30 Dates Challenge, it’s time to add in a fully international aspect.
The next 30 Dates will be about a lot more than just the actual dates! Over the next thirty dates, and 30 destinations, I hope to learn about dating and love the world over. Date venues, dating customs, social issues and differences … Each mini adventure will incorporate a full review of love and dating in my chosen city.
And so, Date One takes me to Dublin, Ireland. It’s a fitting time of year to fly there, the same week when young people all over the world have got dressed up in green, and blind drunk, all in the name of St Patrick! By complete coincidence though, I also ended up going to the musical Once in London last night. As I sat in the audience, listening to the opening number, I realized I’d completely overlooked the fact that it is, rather fittingly, a love story set in Dublin!
Though it’s a rather odd love story. I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it – but it’s a very clever reminder that some people can touch your lives in enormous ways, through a chance encounter, only for you to never see them again.
And to be honest, maybe in years to come, that’s how I’ll view all this. Obviously Henley Boy was the catalyst of the original 30 Dates – a man who I haven’t seen since last July, or heard from since my first proper day as a 30 year-old. And now Mr SC has inadvertently sent me off around the world on this second 30 Date Challenge. Whilst the romantic in me still hopes that maybe in years to come I’ll see some form of ‘Return of Mr SC’, for now he was a fleeting connection, which will hopefully lead to a lot of fun around the globe, all in the name of enjoying single life.
And so tonight I will be off on my first of thirty dates around the world. Though I’ll let you in on a secret! There will be some bonus dates! So fingers crossed, Date One will actually be two dates! One tonight, and one tomorrow evening 🙂
The thing about organising blind dates, is that it’s always pretty complicated. Even if the guy lives in the same city as you! As you’ll remember from the original 30 Dates, I must have at least started organising sixty dates, in order to actually meet up with 30 men. People will commit, but then change their minds, or stand you up. And even just trying to secure a blind date can freak people out – whether they know about the Challenge and the blog or not.
Arranging dates abroad can be even more tricky! And I can well imagine at least a couple of times in the coming months, that I’ll get stood up and need to rely on Tinder in some foreign city, desperately searching for a last minute date!
One of the main reasons I decided to start with Dublin, was I figured it would be a good introduction to the challenge. It’s only an hour’s flight away, and is obviously English-speaking, which is a great help! I’ve also got a number of Irish friends from my time living in Whistler, and travelling around South America – though ironically most of my friends who are Dubliners are now scattered around the rest of the world. However, it did mean I had several options for Date Wranglers – as the Jennifer Cox, who wrote Around the World in 80 Dates liked to call her date coordinators.
I should probably point out a key thing at this point … as I know I’ll get asked it a lot. This is NOT a search for ‘The One’. I’m not trying to find my ideal man. In fact, seeing as I’m a real stickler when it comes to finishing a challenge, it would actually be a real ballache if I end up meeting someone I really like, midway through this Challenge!
When Jennifer Cox set off on her tour of the world, she sent out a list of very specific requirements to her friends, for the men she was to be set up with. And she planned her route based on meeting those men.
By contrast, yet again, I have no parameters. This isn’t about the guys, or finding a partner. It’s about the destinations. It’s about having fun as a singleton, and having some really fun life experiences, whilst also learning about love, dating, and single life in different parts of the world. I’ve been on enough first dates now, to know that I can make a fun evening out of an encounter with anyone.
Obviously, the more up for it, and entertaining the guy, the better. And I’m already encouraged by the fact that both the guys I’m meeting up with seem keen to keep aspects of the date a surprise.
I think this is one change I will notice from the last Challenge. With this Challenge, comes the added layer of being a foreigner. A tourist. And in my experience, people like to show tourists the best side of their city. They like to showcase the world they live in, and are more willing to go out of their way to help you.
And so, fingers crossed, I should be seeing a fair bit of Dublin this weekend, and be more than entertained … despite heading out on my own!
I’ll let you know how I get on 🙂
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx