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.
Note: Original story was posted on Oct 31st, 2020
Day 13 – Travel from Nice (France) to Venice (Italy)
After a brief night at a youth hostel in Nice (France), I went on a caught a train my connection to Venice (Italy). My train route to Venice involved a train change in Milan and in theory, there would have been enough time to get to the connecting train. But, as you know, life (and travel) does not always go as planned. The first train got delayed en route and with every couple of minutes that we lost, my anxiety kept increasing. What if I missed that train? Would I have to spend an unplanned night in Milan? How would I figure out where to stay? (FYI, the internet was not as readily available and I had not pre-researched any hostels in Milan)
The time kept ticking, and I grew more and more anxious, even a little panicky. There was still a chance that we would reach the train station in Milan with a couple of minutes to spare. A couple of minutes to jump of the train, spurt across the station and try to make the connection. Like some other people, I had secured all my belongings and lined up in the aisles, ready to bolt.
And then it happened. The train just stopped on the tracks. Just… stopped.
There was probably a train on our designated platform. Something very basic. But we were not moving. And my anxiety went of the charts. I kept checking my watch every minute. Praying for the train to start moving.
There were two young ladies in front of me. I guessed that they were both in their 30s. They were also ready to get off the train. But other than me, they were relaxed and cheery. In a way that made me even more nervous. And it confused me a little. Why were they not bothered by this? Maybe they were aiming for a later connection!?
One of the two addressed me with a wide smile and a perfect North American accent. It turned out that they were from Canada and actually aiming for the same train to Venice that I was. But they did not seem bothered by the notion of us missing it. At some point, the other lady just proclaimed: “Fake it ’til you make it!” This confused me and I did not understand the meaning of it. But I did not ask what she meant.
The train finally started moving again and my adrenalin kicked in. Even though the train to Venice was scheduled to leave 2 minutes ago, there was a chance that it was delayed as well. We might still make it. I was ready to run. As we pulled into the station, the Canadian lady exclaimed again “Fake it ’til you make it!” I still had no idea what she meant.
The three of us and a bunch of other passengers jumped of the train and started rushing towards the end of the platform. But when we reached the main train information display, we stopped dead in our track and realized that it had been in vain. Our connecting train had left on time.
I felt disheartened and did not know what to do next. My new found travel companions on the other hand were as bubbly as ever. They confidently moved towards the information stand and presented their ticket to the acting railway employee, briefly explaining that we had missed our connection due to a delay of the first train. And to my big surprise, he stamped both their tickets and mine without making a fuss or commenting. This apparently extended our tickets’ validity to later connections. The next train was about to leave 30 min later.
I was so surprised at the simplicity of the matter after having agonized about the implications of missing the initial train. My anxious mind had painted all the unlikely scenarios that you could think of. And then it only to took an unbureaucratic stamp. I was so relieved.
The two Canadians and I ended up spending the next two days in Venice together. I loved asking and learning about them about themselves and their lives in Canada and was mesmerized by their easy-going mentality. It was so different from my own, sometimes tense way of looking at the world. I admired both of them and their confidence.
During dinner next to one of the canals, I finally asked about the meaning of “Fake it ’til you make it!” (which they both kept blurting out on several occasions). “Life is an adventure and you don’t have to have everything figured out right away,” they explained laughing. “So just go with the flow and pretend like you know what you are doing until you get to where you want to be.”
In a way, it described the way they were carrying themselves perfectly. And the logic made a lot of sense to me and stuck with me till this day. My anxiety hasn’t left me completely, but I manage to incorporate that mentality into my life on a lot of occasions. This happy-go-lucky attitude takes a lot of pressure out of life and travel for me and gives me confidence that everything will turn out alright someway. So, fake it ’til you make it!
How about you?
Can you remember occasions where you were nervous about missing your connection?
Cover picture was taken in Venice (Italy) in Sep 2008
Missing the beginning of this story?
Around Europe in 30 days #1: Forming a plan