The following are real questions that an American woman with two oversized suitcases and a tote bag screamed on the platform in the Budapest train station:
WHO HERE SPEAKS ENGLISH?
HOW DO YOU GET THE DOORS TO OPEN?
WHY DOES THIS SAY TRAIN BERLIN IF IT’S GOING TO VIENNA?
The answers were:
You open them.
And because a train is not a plane.
Get ready for a big surprise: I was not that lady! I was the other American lady causing a ruckus on track 9 that day. The one who made her entrance chasing a 1.5 liter of spring water halfway down platform and then stepped on her own sunglasses while trying to pick it up.
“Don’t worry. I’m going to Vienna too,” I said to the first woman as I twisted my glasses back into shape. “Follow me!”
I got her to Vienna. And, later, I got me to Portugal.
I went on another date with the AirBnB host I met during round one in Austria. He arrived a few minutes late, explaining that he was delayed because his Uber account had been suspended – which was likely a result of his identity being stolen and his credit card deactivated the week before. Then, when he decided to drive into the city instead, he got pulled over for speeding and slapped with a €100 fine.
He explained all of this as casually as you or I would describe what we ate for lunch.
On our way into the restaurant a few minutes later, he missed the last step on the flight leading into the terrace and stumbled on the landing. The host grabbed him by the elbow while everyone else instinctively moved his or her wine glass to the center of the table. It’s a routine I know well and seeing it performed by another made me wonder if I found my soul mate.
So I asked him, “Does this sort of thing happen to you all the time?”
“Does what happen all the time?” he replied, dumbfounded.
So I guess that’s a no – I didn’t find my soul mate at an AirBnB in Austria. Because if there’s one thing I require of a mate, it’s self-awareness.
It’s probably for the best. I’d fear for our safety and that of those around us.
If Portugal had a slogan, it would be: “Our beaches are beautiful… and we tile everything else.”
Tomorrow I will be heading home for a few weeks to meet my adorable new (and adorably-named) nephew, Gus.
In planning my trip back to New York, there was a $200 flight (plus taxes and fees) from Lisbon to JFK. It had 24-hour layover in Casablanca, which shouldn’t really be an appealing add-on for someone who has been traveling for six months and otherwise has shit to do. But I picked it anyway, because I’m a sucker for mint tea and camels.
Wearing sleeves… not so much. But some things are worth compromising for.
Naturally, there will be a break from my regular programming of international slap stick routines and exotic landscape photos for the next few weeks. But with any luck, my father and my grandmother will deliver some amazing content as they battle it out for “Most Memorable Moment: Summer 2016,” a competition neither of them know they’re having yet both seem equally determined to win.
My dad is off to an early lead having recently sent me several detailed emails about tanks. But my grandmother can pull out a W if and when she uses her cane to knock things off the top shelf in her closet. Bonus points will be awarded to the first person to offer me a handful of fresh blueberries and throw a cup water on the floor – which means that my nephew, Vin, could also win.
It’s anyone’s game, really. But my money’s on Gus.