podcast image
Meet a Female Solo Adventure Traveler - Part 1 (Ep. 1a)

Gabriele On The Road

Many of us will be hesitant to step out of our comfort zone and travel solo. For 64-year old female solo traveler Gabriele, this has become a normal way of life. From walking The Camino in Spain and France, to a pilgrimage across Germany and the Czech Republic, or her solo biking adventures in Ireland and group travel in Madagascar, Gabriele will inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and take that journey you've always wanted to take.

In this episode, after a brief introduction to Travel Fuels Life, Gabriele and I will discuss:

  • Serendipity of Travel (Validation)
  • How to Ease Into Walking Solo (The Camino)
  • The Helpfulness of People when Solo Traveling
  • Why Getting Lost Can Be a Good Thing.

Episode Resources

Gabriele Marewski's Presence Online

Plzen, Czech Republic


Keith Foskett ("Fozzy")

Movie About Walking The Camino

The Camino

A Big Thanks!

  • Thanks to Randy Houston and Marilyn Ball of "Speaking of Travel" for the introduction to Gabriele!

Subscribers and Ratings Help Us Grow

Remember, we'd love to have you rate and subscribe to the show, as we introduce guests that will encourage, educate, and inspire your travels! Also, leave comments for the episode below. Thanks for visiting!

Sharable Images

female solo travel


Gabriel (00:00):
Hi, this is Gabriel Murky Adventure Traveler on Travel Fuels Life.

Drew (00:18):
Hello everybody, and welcome to Travel Fuels Life, the show we share stories, tips, and inspiration to help you live a travel lifestyle. Welcome to the inaugural episode of Travel Fuels Life, the podcast. I'm your host, drew Hanish. And as an entrepreneur, I just finally got fed up with the idea of sitting behind my desk and not traveling. I love travel, and I was just wasting my life away. So I got out there and started taking smaller trips until I could work myself up to being able to take my laptop wherever I wanted to go and be able to do the kind of trips I wanted to do. So this is a learning experience for me, and I've been finding my wings along the way, but I've also been bumping into a lot of people who say, oh, I don't know. I mean, I'm scared to travel or these places, they sound dangerous.

Should I go there? Should I not go there? Well, I am finding that a lot of misconceptions are out there about travel, and I want to break those. I don't want people to be scared to go out into this larger world. So I thought, why don't I go find some guests and find some information and give my own experiences that will help encourage, educate, and inspire you to get out there and travel. So as I was looking around to find somebody to be on, say my second episode after I did my introductory episode, I found the perfect person who encapsulates exactly the kind of traveler that I think will inspire you to get out there and travel yourself. In fact, she's so inspiring that I decided to push my introductory episode to the second week instead of the first week. So my guest is Gabriela Murky, and she is truly amazing as a solo traveler. She has biked across Ireland, she's journeyed the Camino in Spain. She's done walks across countries like Germany in the Czech Republic. She's done it all solo, and she is 64 years old and doing all of this. And I'm sitting here saying what excuse could any of us have at this point? So I want to introduce her. We'll jump right into this conversation in this first episode of the show. And so we'll be coming to you from Asheville, North Carolina. It is truly my pleasure to welcome Gabriela Murky. Gabriela, welcome to the show.

Gabriel (02:57):
Glad to be here.

Drew (02:58):
I excited to have you as our initial guest because I think that what I've seen in the world of travelers or people who want to travel is this hesitation to go out and stretch themselves or excuses as to why they can't do this or they can't do that, whether it's fear, whatever it may be. And I think having somebody who has actually gone out and done solo trips and done adventure trips is a good way to raise the bar of expectation for people and get them to go. Maybe I could pull this off. Yeah. So to get things kicked off, I guess the first thing is to sort of define what do you consider adventure travel? What does adventure travel mean to you?

Gabriel (03:48):
Well, I think to me, I guess because I'm an introvert and not a big joiner, to me, adventure travels like going off by myself, and it's also having a destination in mind, maybe beginning point and an end point, but nothing in between planned. So I don't make reservations. I just kind of go

Drew (04:12):

Gabriel (04:13):
And then I meet other travelers along the way, and then people will say, oh, go here. Go there. And whenever someone says, oh, you must see such and such, I always go there and have an amazing time. So I just, I think I say it's about being present and being flexible and being open, and so that you have the room to go on side adventures that someone suggests.

Drew (04:40):
Yeah, I, I mean, am the opposite when it comes to how I plan trips. I mean, I have every single place plotted out, and that whole idea of going, I don't know where I'm staying tonight. I mean, I

Gabriel (04:55):
Love that.

Drew (04:56):
And so that fuels you as you're, yeah. And have you ever bumped into a situation where you've gone, oh, what am I going to do tonight? Because I don't, there isn't a place for me to stay or,

Gabriel (05:10):
Sure. Yeah. It happened to me in the Czech Republic when I had, anyway, I had a long day walking, and it was probably a 10 hour day. And I got to this small town, and I saw a young gentleman there, and I said, where's the Penon? Can you direct me to the Penon? He says, well, there's no pencil on here. And so I'd been in the woods all day long, and I was ready for a nice shower and relaxing. And the outdated book I had, it said there was accommodations in this town, and it turns out there weren't accommodations anymore. And in that moment, I burst into tears and he said, wait, just sit here. And he came back with his father, who actually, who speaks German, and I speak German, and he said, look, no problem. I called the next town, there's a horse farm. They're having an event tonight, but they have a little space for you, and it's just another two kilometer walk. And I was like, yes. And I walked two more kilometers and I showed up at this horse farm, and it turns out the event was cowboy and cowgirl night. Oh, wow. So here I'm at the Czech Republic listening to a band playing cowboy music in Czech.

Drew (06:24):

Gabriel (06:25):
It turned out to a better evening than I could have planned anywhere.

Drew (06:29):
Awesome. Well, yeah, I mean, those little pleasant surprises, you mentioned that. And when I went to Pilsen this past summer, when I got to the hotel, they said, are you here for the festival? And I went, festival, what festival is that? And they said, oh, it's the Liberation Day Festival. And I went, okay, whatever that is. I go downtown. There's nothing but American flags everywhere. People are wearing red, white, and blue. They're playing jazz music. The Count Basey Orchestra is playing. Right. And there's tanks in the street, or not tanks, but military vehicles in the street. And I'm going, what is the, and they're all American, and there's all these check people dressed up at speaking Check, but they're all where it's, and I'm going, what is going on here? Well, apparently the story goes that when George S. Patton came into town and liberated Pilsen, after a while, he was told to evacuate because the Russians were going to move in. And the Russians, for all those years that they controlled the Czech Republic, said, we are the ones that liberated Pilsen. And in the end, when Communism moved out and they became their own after the revolution became their own country again, the old timers said, we have to celebrate who really did. Yeah.

Gabriel (07:51):
They could rewrite that story,

Drew (07:52):
But that was just a festival I just bumped into that You don't, and that's the fun part about taking those kinds of adventures. Yep. Yeah. So I had heard actually on one of another interview about a brothel. What was that all about?

Gabriel (08:10):
So this was when I walked from Prague in the Czech Republic to tubing in Germany. And it was my last day in Prague, and it was a rainy, overcast day was, it was about middle afternoon. I always liked to get a cup of coffee, and I was coming out of the woods and ahead of me. And I think about that time, oh, I'd like a cup of coffee, and it's a Sunday and it's raining, and I see the sign on a house and it's flashing open. Well, this is Europe, it's a Sunday, and you'd never see neon flashing signs in Europe. Right. Saying open on a Sunday. So of course, I thought, ah, I'm going in there. And I go in there and there's a young man sitting on the sofa, and I walk past him. There's like a bar, and I go up to the bar and order a coffee and end up talking to the woman, and I realize I'm in a brothel.

Drew (09:07):
Oh my. Well, how do you excuse yourself from this situation?

Gabriel (09:10):
Oh, no, I actually, I tell them who I am. I'm a pilgrim, and I'm hiking along the Pilgrim Trail, and I show my passport that it's a pilgrim passport, and they love my story, and they say, oh, can we give you some whiskey for your coffee?

Drew (09:23):
And I'm like,

Gabriel (09:25):
Well, not today, but thank you. And they end up wanting to hear my story. And I guess poor gentleman sitting in the sofa was getting ignored for a little while. And then after my coffee, they escorted me out, helped me on with my backpack and my poncho, and waved me off. Oh, wow. And they both said, oh, well, we'd like to do that one day. And I said, yeah. Awesome.

Drew (09:43):
Great. Yes. That's awesome. And that's a cool thing too, is being able to encourage other people by just exactly when you're doing it. Although Europeans seem to, they do it anyway, love to travel a lot. And I think that's kind of a mystery for a lot of people here. How do you do that? But they have so many cultures within a small space.

Gabriel (10:03):
And also the culture over there is on the Euro Velo. If you go online to euro.com, there's like 66,000 kilometers of hiking and biking trails. And when I bicycle in Europe, I don't even take a helmet because you're in the woods, you're off the main roads, it's safe. And locals don't wear helmets. Oh, wow. And you know, want to blend in a local. Yeah. So yeah, that exists. And you could be walking through the woods by yourself all day long, and it's normal over there. So people are used to walking through the woods. Right. And every Sunday afternoon, you walk from one village to the next, have your coffee and cake and walk back.

Drew (10:41):
That's awesome. Mean, where did your love for walking first and being able to take those kind of trips that, who inspired that? Or was there somebody, or was it just something internal?

Gabriel (10:52):
Well, my mother had what's called Vand list, and she always said, travel while you can. So when I was younger, I would take off and go to places, but I think the whole adventure travel really got started when I had a farm and a young man, Fazi came from England to work at my farm through the Wolf Willing Workers on Organic Farms program. And he would work during the day in the afternoons, he would work on his book. So he came to kind of have a place where he could quietly write his book. Well, he would let me read his book as he was writing it, and it was about his walking across the Camino. Wow. So that was my first introduction to this whole concept of being able to walk across the country. So years later, I met another woman who had said, oh, yes, I walk the Camino. And I thought I knew about it from two people now. And so the third thing is for me to make a decision to walk the Camino. That day, I hadn't told anybody I made this decision, but I just internally decided to do that day. I got a package in the mail, and when I opened it, it was Ozzy's book that he had

Drew (12:04):
Published. Oh,

Gabriel (12:05):
Wow. And it was a sign from the university. To me, this is a really good decision.

Drew (12:10):
I love how that happens. It's like you just need a little validation. Exactly. And it's like, okay, this is it. That was it. Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. The Camino is a walk that I wanted to take before, and I thought, that's actually kind of a good baby steps. If you were going to want to go learn how to walk on your own, there's a lot of people on that trail. Right.

Gabriel (12:36):
Very social. Very social. And I never actually walked by myself. I mean, I sure bits and pieces, but you end up falling in with a group of people and then you meet another group of people. So it's always very social. And I actually walked the northern route, and the year I did it in 2010, 250,000 people had walked the Camino. And of that only 50,000 had walked the Northern Trail, and I walked it in September. And so there was no issue with accommodations. And you stay at Pilgrim Hostels. Okay. And first I walked with a group of Frenchmen, and then I met up with, walked a group of Spaniards, and then I ended up walking with two Germans. And whenever you meet someone on the Camino, the two main questions are, where did you start? And why are you walking to Camino? And you had these amazing conversations.

Drew (13:33):
Oh, I bet I Have you ever seen the movie The Way? Yep. Yeah. Yeah. And for everybody listening, if you haven't seen it, the Camino is, I guess the walk actually ends at Santiago Dilla

Gabriel (13:49):

Drew (13:50):
Which is a church where they say one of the Apostles St. James Bones are buried. And so that's why it became such a pilgrimage for people to take that road. But in that movie, if you want to get introduced, I guess, to the culture And how much did that feel like the culture? It

Gabriel (14:11):
Very true. Okay. It was spot on. And the only difference is that trail went through the St. Francis route, which is the most popular trail, and little maybe challenging to get accommodations because it's become so popular. So the only difference is just the route that I took. But the concept is the same. The idea is that you're a pilgrim, this is a walking pilgrimage, and you're in meditation and you're thinking about your life and maybe decisions that you want to make. And it's interesting that people that show up along the way help you in that process, who we help each other in that process of figuring out life's questions.

Drew (14:47):
That's awesome. And honestly, I think one of the things that draws me to the idea of walking is that being in information technology and social media and all the rest, it's like we're just inundated with information. And a lot of people in that industry are now trying to learn meditation as a way to go. And I try to meditate. It's very hard to get those voices in your head to calm down and actually be able to feel like you're getting some insights. But it happens. But I can imagine mean the first thing that I thought about taking a long walking trip, that is how lonely I would be, or how after a little period of time I'd feel like, okay, why am I doing this? That's not the experience. I'm guessing that you get out of that how,

Gabriel (15:38):
Yeah. So I think on the Camino, it was very, very social. And then the next trip I did was walk the Czech Republic walk and was, I was by myself every day all day long. And I'm good with that. So it is like you can meditate while you're walking because you're just in nature and you're enjoying nature. And I would always say that I would make, I would make my best business decisions after a month of walking through the woods, because then you're you, that distance that you get from whatever it is that you're engaged in. And sometimes you can see it through the telescope and move away and say, and see things differently. And I don't know, I always made, I had time to really think about things and make good decisions.

Drew (16:36):
That's good. Hey, maybe we should get some CEOs to go walk the woods before they Yeah, you'd certainly decide the next plan. Right.

Gabriel (16:44):
You'd certainly get connected to yourself and nature.

Drew (16:48):
It's funny because I do road trips and the idea of road trips for me is it's my chance to detach. Exactly. And sometimes I will, being the a d d guy I am, it's good to have the road and the scenery kind of going by me as a distraction so that my mind can kind of find its channel. And I get my creative thoughts

Gabriel (17:09):

Drew (17:09):
In that kind of thing. Right. What I found interesting on my last road trip to Kentucky though, was that when I got out of the car to take some pictures, I started seeing things that I'm like, I'm looking at the flowers, I'm smelling the air. I'm looking around me, and I'm going, here's the thing. I think I'm kind of missing in doing these road trips or heard somebody say that the interstate highway system was built so that you could drive coast to coast and not see anything. Right.

Gabriel (17:38):

Drew (17:39):
And so that's kind of the feeling I got when I was like, okay, I'm not, I'm going to go off on a little US highway, I'm going to see what it's like. And then I was seeing these little towns and getting more of a feel, but feeling like I was still kind of getting the quick Cliff notes version instead of actually getting to enjoy it. So you're kind of on the other extreme of that. And so do you ever feel like maybe I should speed this up a little bit, or you just kind of soak in all of that time?

Gabriel (18:12):
Well, actually, I felt, when I transitioned from walking to bicycling, I'd be on the bike and I'd think, oh, this is just a little fast and it's going a little too fast, and I want to slow it down and maybe get off and just walk the bike for a little bit to be more grounded and be more noticing. And I love to take pictures. And when you're walking, it's just so easy to spontaneously stop and take pictures. And on the bike you got to stop and think of where you're stopping. And so it's just a little bit more involved. But yeah, I, I think I prefer, I like the walking, but I had to transition to bicycling because I decided to what it have to, but I was going to Ireland, and in Ireland they don't have, through walking trails, you can drive here and then hike and then drive and then hike. And I didn't want to do that. So I thought, well, okay, then I'll just go on a rent a bike in bicycle Ireland. And so then going from walking and carrying that backpack to the bicycle, carrying the backpack, I thought, well, this is easy peasy. Right,

Drew (19:17):
Right. Let's do

Gabriel (19:18):
This, but a little faster. Little

Drew (19:20):
Faster. So is that what sold you on it? I mean, do you still do walking trips or are you more predominantly biking now?

Gabriel (19:27):
No, I guess I'm predominantly biking. Okay. And I think because of sometimes I'm going to be doing the continental divide, and you would have to carry so much weight on your back that I'm not sure that would be an issue that I'd want to take on. You have to carry food and all that. And that's why in Europe, I would walk again, because in Europe you walk from village to village and there's really good quality food. All right. And here, when you're walking the Continental Divide, you have to go long distances without access to food. And it may be fast food at some point, which is not on my agenda. So all these things are a factor and play into it.

Drew (20:16):
Yeah. That can be tough. Part of planning out a trip for me going to the Four Corners was I'm, no, I'm going to have long stretches between these towns, and what am I going to be able to eat? And I live on TripAdvisor for doing my planning. So I'm thinking, how do you just cruise into a town and hope? Because one thing about Europe is that restaurants are not always open. I found traveling through Germany that I got to two o'clock in the afternoon, I was out of luck. Yeah. So what do you do in that case? You just kind of say, okay, I'm not going to eat this time, or you take some trail mix with you, or what do

Gabriel (20:58):
Yeah. I always have something to snack on. And actually in Germany, there was plenty of apple trees on my trail. And I, I'd pick up apples and I had apples to eat for days because they were just on the side of the road. And I remember in the Czech Republic getting to, I was out in the middle of nowhere, I guess, and it was a Sunday, and I was getting hungry, and I saw a place, but they weren't open. But then I could see the numbers, and I saw where they're going to open in half an hour, so I'll just hang out here and wait and do my journaling. And these two bicyclists came by while I was sitting there and they said, we're hungry. We got to eat right now. I said, well, half an hour we'll be open. And they said, no, no, no. Got to. And they were going on. They didn't choose to wait. And I wanted to say, we know the next town you go to is going to be closed too, because it's Sunday. Oh, you may want to wait. Just chill for half an hour, and the food's coming here.

Drew (21:52):
Oh, wow.

Gabriel (21:53):
Yeah. But somehow it always works out. I was actually coming out of the woods in the Czech Republic one afternoon, and it was time for coffee. And I see this commotion up ahead, and these people are dressed up in medieval outfits. And for a minute there I thought, well, where am I? And when I come out, I realize it's a movie shoot. And with a movie shoot, there's always food involved. And so I turn the corner and there's a table, there's a big coffee urn. And I asked someone there, I say, I'm a pilgrim. I walk from Prague, and that was days ago. And can I get some coffee? So in the middle of nowhere in the woods, I get coffee.

Drew (22:31):
Nice. Yeah. Well, I, I think that's another part of travel that I got out of the stuff that I've heard you talk about up to this point is the helpfulness of people.

Gabriel (22:42):

Drew (22:43):
And that the way to do a solo trip is to just be open Exactly. To the help.

Gabriel (22:51):
And I think it's having that confidence and knowing that people do want to help. And I think the thing about being solo, I think sometimes I see couples, or what groups are, I consider them like a closed unit, so they're not always approachable, but when you're by yourself, you are more vulnerable. But at the same point, you're more open and people will talk to you, and it's easy to approach people because you're open. And so I have always found that I've never, I've always found that people want to help, and I've never had a bad experience, and people will just say, wow, and want to me guide me or give me directions or point me in the right way. And so it always works out as an interesting interaction.

Drew (23:46):
Yeah. Yeah. It's fun to go up and talk to people. It's funny you say you're an introvert, because I consider myself an introvert too, but I'm a talker and I love learning from people. And to me, what I found is that people love to open up. Yep. I learned more about the Czech Republic from talking to the guy who I was staying in his Airbnb, and we just got into a hour long discussion about the history of the Czech Republic.

Gabriel (24:18):
Well, I had actually two experiences along those lines, and one was in the Czech Republic again, and it was a couple having lunch. And in Europe, it's normal to sit down and share a table with other people. It's not like this is my exclusive table and you can't sit here. So anyway, I sat down with this couple and I learned exactly a lot about the Czech Republic from hanging out with them. And then they were on bicycles and I was walking, but later on we crossed paths again and had another discussion. And it was just this wonderful interaction. And then this last trip I took this year was in Russia, and I ended up in Asano with my host and two friends, and I were these esteemed Russians. And so again, there I say, so what's the origin of the Russian language and what ensues this? A whole hour long conversation about the origin of the Russian and the language and the history, and wow. People love to share, and it just unfolds and just allow that to happen. Yeah.

Drew (25:26):
It's like a big opening to our culture and saying, Hey, check us out. Yeah. I think the thing that I found in terms of travel is that especially Americans, I think get a feeling like we're not well liked anywhere else. And so that kind of is an excuse not to travel, but I find it's exactly the opposite. Yeah. People are curious. They want to know exactly. And they'll ask you questions. And it's great because you get to give them a slice of something other than what's on the news or the narratives that are being created

Gabriel (26:03):
And maybe change their impression of a foreigner. And so they see it's, and I think it's that whole human to human connection, and that's what we want to do more of and break down those barriers. And I think sometimes it's so easy to be in our comfort zone of separation. And I think that's the wonderful thing about, I get lost. And I think that's a blessing because then I ask people for direction and up having a good interaction. And so I think that's the way it forces me to break down those barriers and actually talk to people.

Drew (26:38):
Right. Well, and I mean, how hard is it for you to approach people? You have your antenna up and you sort of selective on who you might go over and talk to, or are you No,

Gabriel (26:49):
No. If I'm lost as the very first person that comes along,

Drew (26:52):
Well please. Yeah.

Gabriel (26:55):
But yeah, I had one time, I was evening and I was still in the woods, and I remembered, a gentleman had told me earlier, he said, now be careful because after dark, the woods belong to the hunters. And I thought, well, I wonder what time that is. And then I heard a shotgun go off and I saw a deer running across the trail ahead of me. And that's where so nice to have that whistle. And I got on my whistle and I just blew and blew and blew my whistle. So the hunters knew that it's not, there's quite yet until I got out of the forest. And then that was one of those evenings, it was dark, and I went to this little village and everything was shut down. And that was one of those moments I was thinking, oh dear, I heard there's a B and b three more kilometers down the road, but I don't want to go back into the woods and blah, blah, blah.

So I get to the last town in this village, and I happen to look in the window at the same moment, this woman inside happens to look out. I have my book in my hand, and I point to my book, and she motions for me to come around to the front door. And so I show her the book where I want to stay, and her husband starts to give me directions, and she cuts him off and he leaves, and then he comes back with the car and she told him, you're going to take her to the penon. Nice. And then it turned out it wasn't a penon that was there anymore. And the people that live there let me stay in their home. Wow.

Drew (28:24):
Oh man. Yeah. I mean, when you were talking about actually sitting down at a table with multiple people, I mean, we don't do that a lot here. Right. So it's a unique experience and I wish we did more of it. Yeah. Yeah. There was a place I went to in Maryland that was, or wasn't it Maryland? It was in Pennsylvania. It was in the Amish village area. And it was, you sat down at these big long buffet tables and you learn so much people Exactly. From people just sitting down, even Americans to Americans learning about, yeah. Yeah.

Gabriel (29:00):
Well, when I had my farm, I pioneered the farm to table in south Florida, and I had these big, I got big round tables with 10 people per table. You bought your ticket ahead of time, but there was no reserve seating. And I would say to people, you're going to sit down as strangers, but you're going to leave as friends.

Drew (29:18):
Nice. Well, that's going to wrap up the first part of this week's episode, and we have more with Gabriela murky. So check it out. Coming up in episode one B. And I thank you guys for listening today. If you want to, you can get out on Twitter and have a conversation with me. I am there. I am my actual self on Twitter. So real conversations with me at twitter.com/travel fuels life, and all the photos that I take from all of my trips across the globe, I post those up on facebook.com/travel Fuels life, and also instagram.com/travel fuels life. So if you'd like to go ahead and follow me on either of those social networks, would love to have you. And until our next episode, have a great week and I will talk to you next time on Travel Fuels Life.

Share Your Thoughts