In 2008, when I was 21, I came up with the idea of booking an Interrail ticket and touring Europe for a month. I decided travel to Paris, Madrid, Granada, Barcelona, Venice, Rome, Athens, Istanbul and Vienna. And I felt the strong urge to do this tour alone.
Day 12 – Travel from Barcelona (Spain) to Nice (France)
After Barcelona (Spain), I went on to travel Venice (Italy). With the two European cities being 1,232 km (765 mi) apart from each other, that journey was going to take two days though with an overnight layover in Nice (France). I started the first leg of that journey on September 9th, 2008. I had prepared to spend the 11h30 hours of the train ride reading and doodling. But somehow things came differently.
Very unexpectedly, the young gentleman next to me started a conversation with me in French while we were riding down the Côte d’Azur. We talked about life in France and travel in general. At some point other people sitting around us got involved and we had a loud and cheerful cultural exchange of 2 French people, 2 Americans one Australian and myself, the German in the group. It was amazing! We asked and answered questions, compared notes and observations on each others’ and our own countries and were having the time of our lives. Meanwhile, I would translate from time to time between French and English when we hit language hurdles.
We were so much into our conversation that we were startled by the conductor who came to inspect our tickets. At that point, we found out that the older American couple in our group was actually in the wrong compartment. They had booked First Class but had settled in with us in Second Class by mistake. The conductor offered to guide them to their actual seats, but you could tell that they were reluctant to move away from us. We were having too much fun together.
It was such a great atmosphere. And something that I have only every experienced on a train. There seems to be this sense of camaraderie when you are traveling on tracks with nothing but scenery and a lot of time on your hands. They give an opportunity for human connection.
How about you?
Do you talk to other passengers on flights and train rides?
Cover picture was taken in Barcelona (Spain) in Sep 2008
Missing the beginning of this story?
Around Europe in 30 days #1: Forming a plan