Besides the thrill of sightseeing and the adventure of being in a foreign land, the joy of traveling, for me, lies in the interactions you have with the many people you meet along the way. During my time in Europe, I met so many different people from all over the world and from different walks of life. And, however brief the encounter, I had the pleasure of getting to know them on some genuine level and share some truly incredible moments...
I once sat on a park bench for hours in front of Lake Thun, one of the bluest lakes you'll ever see, talking about politics and literature with a friend I made while hiking up the Harder Kulm. I explored a mediocre city in a setting that just oozed with romance with someone who just oozed with charm (I guess it goes without saying that I didn't think it to be so mediocre afterward). Stayed up til 5AM at our hostel common area just shooting the shit with one of the most intelligent people I've ever met, talking about anything, everything, nothing. Smoked a joint with a Texan and deconstructed the reasons why women have always been so severely disadvantaged in society and why most men thrive despite (or is it because of?) their douchebaggery. Spent an early morning breakfast talking with a musician about our families, our parents, their failed relationship, our failed relationships. Watched a sunset with a panaromic view of Firenze, got pissed drunk and obnoxiously sang 90s hits with new friends we met at our hostel (video evidence below, I have no shame). Ate cheese, drank wine, and awkwardly fidgeted on the Ponte Vecchio as a friend and our newly made friend constantly made passes at each other (oh to be the third wheel!). Danced the night away to some seriously bass-heavy dubstep (the best kind) with some randoms at an obscure Berlin club. Listened with awe as an NGO worker told me about his time in India, which subsequently prompted my quarter life crisis as I began to fiercely question what path I want to take in the future.
Every experience different and each person a unique character with his or her own little nugget of wisdom to share. Every moment ephemeral but every memory enduring.
It's amazing how much you can reveal about yourself and how deeply you can connect with a complete stranger. You're from opposite sides of the world, can sometimes barely even speak the same language, and yet somehow you find some common ground. Is it easier to connect with those you meet on your travels? The ones you share but a fleeting moment with? Because with no history and possibly no future, you can leave all your pretensions behind and just say what you want to say and just be?
"Without a wrinkle in today, cuz there is no tomorrow. Just a picture perfect day to last a whole lifetime".
In any case, meeting fellow wanderers and the conversations I had with them has added even more color to the video reel I have constantly playing in my head as I reminisce about this trip. I appreciate all of our differences but it is our similarities that I rejoice in.
And so, whether by chance or by design, I welcome and look forward to the friends I've yet to meet on my future travels...here's to more conversations, serious or not, and to more dancing, more laughing, more drinking, more singing.
...May you and I always have room for one more friend in our lives : )