One of the best thing about traveling is to meet people. The exciting part is you’ll never know which kind of people you’re going to meet. Personally I do not worry too much about getting in touch or staying in the same room with strangers. I believe that people is generally kind (I also learned this from traveling). I’ve met some of the nicest people whilst traveling in the past few years. But on my last trip particularly, I met some of the most interesting so far. So, I will share some story about interesting strangers I met during my last trip.
- Train station staff
This in particular is not that interesting but it shows how people can be so much helpful and kind to stranger as well. It was my second day of my trip. I was in Amsterdam Central Station just chilling and relieved that finally I figured out how to get to Germany as soon as possible. I was talking with my sister on the phone when I realized I forgot to bring my Interrail Pass! The Pass for traveling through Germany! My plan was falling apart and I tried to figured out how to do next.
I was trying to contact the Interrail, but I couldn’t call them from my phone for some reasons. Then I spotted a black middle-age man, one of the station’s staff. I asked him if there’s any pay phone at the station. He said no. (Holy shit look at how the world is changing right now. No more pay-phone! I kinda worry about the iconic London’s red telephone box, will they survive?) So anyway, he asked me where I want to phone to? And I said somewhere in Utrech, because that’s what my phone said. And suddenly he took his phone from his pocket, gave that to me, and said that I can use it. It really is a very old-fashion small black phone. But I was so flattered with how nice a stranger could be and how he tried to help.
- Girl from France
I’ve just checked in to my hostel in Cologne and went straight to the room. The room’s so dark so I turned on the light. That’s when I saw a girl sleeping in her bed and apparently I woke her up. I apologized and started making my bed. She didn’t go back to sleep and we started chatting. I said that I want to go to Christmas market and 5 minutes later off we went to nearest Christmas market which was the one next to Cologne Cathedral.
After that we walked for hours and talked about life and everything. We didn’t really have any destination and just walked along the river, telling secrets to each other. It was such a nice evening we spent together. Sometimes it is nicer to talk with a total stranger. You feel safe and you’re not worrying about being judged. You don’t know each other and most of the time you won’t even see each other again.
- Professional Photographer
When I was in Cologne, I saw a lot of spectacular pictures of Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge who stand gloriously over the Rhine River. So that evening, my mission was to find the place where people took those pictures. After about half an hour walk from my hostel and crossed the bridge, I finally found the place. It’s such a popular spot so people kept coming and taking pictures. After waiting for a while, a Chinese guy came, he brought at least two cameras which look intimidating compared to my small camera. “Obviously a professional photographer” I thought.
He took some picture with his fancy cameras and I waited for him to leave. But he wasn’t going anywhere. So I asked him to take my pictures instead and he did. We talked for quite a while. Apparently, he was waiting for the sunset (and his girlfriend). He’s exactly what I think he is, a professional photographer, specializing in wedding photography. He’s talented and takes amazing pictures. So finally that day, I have my pictures taken by proper photographer and didn’t have to worry about leaving my camera at the random place like per usual.
- German Guy
That was my first day in Berlin. I checked in to my hostel room (I asked for a female only dorm) and found it empty. I was so relieved because after nine hours bus journey, all I wanted was undisturbed long shower. After finishes, I came out of the bathroom with only my t-shirt and saw a guy sitting in his bed! He saw me as well, as surprised as me! Both of me and him said sorry which was very awkward and funny. Thankfully, my t-shirt is very long and shows nothing. I sneaked back to the bathroom and wore my pants. Turned out I was put in mixed dorm! Hahah never mind.
- (Possible) Syrian Drug Dealer
Still from the same room in Berlin, I noticed somebody entered the room around midnight. The next morning, our room smelled like hell, I couldn’t stand it. I almost blamed the German guy when I realized there’s somebody else sleeping in the room. So I just quickly got ready in the bathroom and left exploring the city. I came back to the room around noon. I caught the stranger rolling his cigarette and he definitely tried to hide it.
Long story short, we “talked”. He speaks German and doesn’t speak English, like at all! And my German is kinda terrible but somehow we understand each other. He said he’s from Syria and have been in Germany for almost two years (1 year and 8 months to be exact!) He previously lived in Chemnitz and he’s now working in Berlin for six months. I asked him where he’s working and he was clearly uncomfortable to talk about that, but finally he took something from his pocket and showed me a little box and asked me if I know what’s inside that. I have no idea and he said he’s selling that thing, it’s cigarette but not “normal” cigarette.
Well, I’ve been inside a “coffee shop” in Amsterdam, and to be fair that thing smells like weed to me. He offered me to try that thing TWICE! I obviously rejected his offer, smoking joint with stranger I’ve only known for 2 minutes doesn’t sound smart. After talked for some time,he asked if I have WhatsApp but I don’t feel like sharing my number with possible drug dealer either, so I was like “Huh? What’s up?? I don’t know” like a goddamn moron. While ironically, at the same moment, I was chatting with my friend via Whatsapp. LOL! Thank God at the end he said “aber mein Handy ist kaputt” (but my phone is broken), so problem solved.
He then asked where am I going next and I said maybe I’ll go to East Side Gallery. He said that he works at Kottbusser Tor which is one station before and he asked to go together with the U-Bahn (Underground). I cursed myself inside! But then I said I prefer to go later and wait for my phone to be fully charged. And he left. I wasn’t that scared or whatsoever, just being cautious. If he’s a bad guy, he would have done something bad already, I slept there, I even left my suitcase opened all day!
Before coming to that hostel, he stayed in another hostel for 8 days. As far as I know he doesn’t take any belonging as well. That’s pretty unusual. Really, only God know what he’s doing but I’m pretty sure he’s doing shady things in Germany. He tried to convince me and showed his legal papers and German’s residence permit. But to be honest, inside I was like “Man, I don’t really care about what the hell you’re doing. I’m just practicing my German, really.”
- American dude
It was time to go home. I woke up at 2AM because I had a flight at 6AM. I was waiting for the bus to the airport at a bus stop near Alexanderplatz, and noticed a dude who was talking on the phone in English. After he finished with the phone call, then he approached me and said “Hey, woher kommst du?” I was so tired, not in the good mood, and couldn’t be bothered to have 3-freaking-AM German conversation session, so I just said “English please!” The he said “Oh not a problem for me, I’m from USA”. He obviously drunk and tipsy. We talked quite a while about a lot of things: languages, countries, jobs, study etc., I didn’t even realized a lot of people with suitcases started to join me waiting for the TXL bus.
After a while, he said if I ever come to Berlin again, I can stay in his place, that he used to have people around because he’s hosting Couchsurfing/AirBnB, I can’t remember exactly. He even missed his bus because he added me on Facebook and ended up walking to another bus stop. All of a sudden, I have a place to stay next time I go to Berlin! All just because of talking with random people at 3 in the morning! Even if he didn’t mean it, he’s really funny and nice to talk to, and obviously helped me killed freezing 20 minutes waiting for the bus.
- French lady
It was after I arrived at the Berlin airport. Even though I still enjoyed it, the whole trip was really overwhelming. I was so ready to get back to Norway, sleep on my own bed, relax in my cozy cave in pajamas all day. Apparently, I had to wait little longer for that. We boarded the plane, and soon we got an announcement that we’re facing technical problem and we needed to disembark, the flight was canceled. I was like “Oh c’mon, what now?”
KLM has been one of my favourite airlines, but really, my whole experience flying with them on this particular trip was not nice. Especially the staffs on the airports, they’re not helpful at all. A girl was nearly cried after the staff told us to go to KLM website and re-book another flight. Everybody’s complaining. I was too tired for that though, so I just headed back to the terminal, to the ticketing desk. Was with me a beautiful French lady. She works in Germany and about to went home for Christmas. She said it’s the first time in 8 years that all of her siblings will gather and celebrate Christmas together at their home, near Nantes, France.
We were the first to come to ticketing desk and asked them if they can change our flight. They said that they need to wait for the report of the problem and see what they can do after that and suggested to re-book another flight from the website (obviously). The French lady said that she paid so much for flying back home and she didn’t even have enough money in her account to buy another one, the airline need to give another flight, no matter what! I relieved that I was with the right person after all.
To be able to see that another person had a worse situation, all my problem dissolved and made me feel grateful. At least nobody waited for me in Norway and I still have enough money in case I need to book another flight. We chatted a lot while waiting, she’s a really nice, cheerful, and positive person. Even in that stressful situation she joked a lot. Thankfully, after waited for about an hour, they gave us a number to call. We called and they booked us another flights. The French lady was still in the queue for the counter when I got my ticket. So we parted apart. I don’t even know her name but I hope she got home safe and had an amazing Christmas with her family.
“You know, there is something about a tangle of strangers pressed together for days with nothing in common but the need to go from one place to another and never see each other again.” – Hercule Poirot, Murder on the Orient Express