Anxiety filled our spirits as we waited for the mail to arrive to our house. In two days, my mother and I would be flying across the Atlantic and our Eurail pass had not yet arrived. This pass would be our golden ticket for fifteen days, allowing us to ride train upon train to whichever countries that we so desired to visit.
When it arrived at our doorstep, we exhaled a sigh of relief. In that moment, we held the key to what would commence our mother-daughter journey to explore as much of Europe as we could. I could already envision myself strolling down through Paris, eating pizza in Rome, and attempting to decipher Catalan in Barcelona.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
What I didn’t envision were the people whom I would meet on the train rides to these places. These are the five-minus-three people you meet in Europe.
The tour guide. Silence had enveloped our train cart for quite some time. We were partaking in a seven hour journey from Paris to Milan, and only an hour had elapsed. My mother and I had already spoken enough, and the people seated to the sides and front of us spoke no English. In the midst of me reading the second page of my book, the door to our cart slid open. In walked a woman, dressed stylishly from head to toe and carrying a large bag. After a few moments of relaxing comfortably in her seat, she proceeded to converse with the man and woman who had been sitting by us. Realizing that my mother and I couldn’t understand because we spoke English, she turned around to start a conversation with us. She had grown up in Romania and traveled around working in a range of places from France to China. Now, she resided in Milan. In addition to that, she knew six languages. Like a tour guide, she told us about all of the joy and beauty that she experiences while travelling and gave us insight on every place on our itinerary: in Rome the Fontana di Trevi, the Colosseum, Circus Maximus; in Milan the Duomo; in Barcelona La Rambla. The list went on, and as we went on our journey, we stayed true to her word.
The innkeeper. As we walked in the room, we realized that there would be no choice but to rest on our overnight train ride from Munich to Paris. With three “bunk beds” on both sides and no room to sit up, there was not much else that we could do. The following morning when we woke up, a stench of body odor and stiff air filled the room. The three men that had been bunking with us had left at earlier stops, so our room of six had turned into my mother, a French woman named Anne, and myself. When my mom went to the restroom, I took it upon myself to introduce myself to Anne. She told me that she was arriving home to Paris after a business trip to Munich, and I told her about our travels and that after arriving in Paris, we would be catching a train to Barcelona. Shortly after, my mother enters the room and does the same. Jokingly, she asks Anne if we can shower at her apartment, and to our surprise, Anne agreed. She openly let us freshen up at her apartment, use her internet to book a hotel, and led us to a room that had a view of the Parisian skyline.
In every place, every moment, every person, there is an experience waiting to happen.
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