Reading this post on Quora about the nicest thing a complete stranger has ever done for you really triggers a bunch of memories of travelling (in Europe), and meeting both good guys and bad guys.
The nicest things that ever happened to us while travelling:
1. The Croat in Zagreb giving us two raspberry danishes while we were having lunch at the bus station waiting for the bus to Plitvicka Jezera, saying “Welcome to Croatia!” :P
Trivia: Did you know neckties were invented in Croatia? Its native name is Hrvatska, which parallels the original name of the tie – ‘cravat’.
2. The really nice woman at the Manchester train station who exchanged some of my euros with her pounds so I could buy a train ticket back to York after I’d missed my flight to Koln. I’d otherwise be pretty much stranded at the Manchester train station and would probably freeze to death.
3. Going with Dan and Rose to hand out care packages to the homeless in Budapest
4. Lorinc, my “landlord”, also the son of the guy running the exchange program (he was way cute) helped me to carry my bags up three flights of stairs to the apartment. I think in general landlords don’t do that! But he was young, maybe even younger than me, but he looked older, as y’know, ang mohs always do, and basically drove me from my previous place in Huvosvolgy to the new apartment at Szent Istvan ter. I’m also pretty sure that’s not orthodox of a landlord-tenant relationship but it could be because his dad was the program director and so they sort of try to take care of their American charges.
The worst things that ever happened to us while travelling
1. The guy in Milan who tried to help us buy a train ticket but wound up asking for our change from the ticket purchase as his reward
2. The drunks on the train in Paris spraying drops of their beer every time the train braked. Some of it got on my hair.
3. The pigeon feeders in Milan outside the Duomo, who stuff pigeon feed in your hand and try to get you to feed the pigeons, take photos of you, and then ask for 50 euros.
4. The horrible arabs at the Eiffel tower on New Year’s Eve who try to grope everybody because it’s too crowded for them to get caught. A bunch of f***wits, to borrow a colorful expression from Bridget.
So when people ask me where to travel in Europe I always tell them to visit Eastern Europe because the people there are more honest. They are poorer, but then it’s always the poorer people who live more honestly, innit. Money is harder to come by, and they understand that other people’s money is hard to come by too and thus have slightly less motivation to try to cheat someone of something as huge as 50 euros. Directions and help with the ticketing machines would be given freely in Budapest without people trying to ask for any monetary reward.
The reason why I record my thoughts down on so many things now (both here and in my offline diary and on pickled peas and in my receipt books (I save every receipt I ever get and stick it into a book to remind myself what I’ve purchased and also why I wanted to purchase what I purchased :P) is because I’ve discovered my memory leaky enough to have deleted most memories >3 years old. I’ve already forgotten a multitude of things that have happened at cornell, including the fact that my team won the MCM in our sophomore year.
Here’s a fleeting memory that came to me last night while in bed – I try to grab on to what I can and then log them down posthumously as well. It’ll come in really handy when I get really old.
I was about four or five at the time, and at that young age one doesn’t really need to get up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night I think; unless you mistakenly drink a lot of fluids before sleeping, incontinence is not really a problem. Plus my bladder is about the size of a swimming pool, so I hardly go to the toilet as it is. One night, for some strange reason, I just had to go, but I was worried that flushing the toilet would wake my parents up. And I’m not sure why but that worried me so much that I got up, ran to their room, woke my mum up to tell her that I was going to the toilet and that she would hear a flushing noise, and then went to the toilet, effectively waking her regardless of whether she would have been awoken by the sound of the toilet flushing or not. Other things that worried me include climbing the stairs in the house by myself and correspondingly, taking escalators in malls by myself. Adults don’t seem to get how difficult it is for a kid to identify them considering all they see at eye level are people’s legs.
What complicated thoughts plague the minds of youth!
Here’s another interesting Quora article on Hypothetical profiles of fictional characters on match.com.