Travelling alone can be tricky, especially when you are a girl. I am not the most experienced traveller. Moreover, I am scared of everything; ironically, always, SOMETHING happens during my travels. Mainly because sometimes I forget to use my brain correctly, or someone uses the full ability of their brain in the wrong way. And that ‘something’ will be today’s topic.
One of my characteristics, or rather a curse – on the first day of travel, I always forget every possible language I know, including my mother tongue — bye-lingualism at its finest. The funniest situation related to that happened to me a few years ago in Portugal. First – at the airport, I was hungry and wanted to buy a sandwich, but I forgot the word ‘sandwich’. I was at the edge of despair, so with a crying voice, I just managed to say: “just gib me that”, and the waitress did. Bless her heart; I was saved. But my life wouldn’t be memeable enough if this situation happened only once. The other day I wanted to ask in the coffee place if I could sit and get the menu. Instead of that, I spit: “um, do you have /mumbling in the background, something like:/ blblblblaaab”. Fortunately, the waiter also was a clown type of person, so he replied: “unfortunately, we don’t have a blblblblaaab”. And everybody was happy.
I wasn’t even planning to go there, but one of the capital cities seemed to be the excellent beginning of the long journey. I was about to make my dream come true. Balkan trip. Alone. It was supposed to be chill. Hmm, the capital – I thought it should be easy to manage. But hehe – no. I didn’t know the language, the locals didn’t know English, and I had no Internet connection. The best combination ever. At the tram stop, I had no information about where I was and what kind of tram was departing from that place. Nothing. I was indeed lost. I decided to ask the youngest person within a mile radius about the direction towards the domestic bus station. Then, about a fifty-year-old guy started to speak broken English with me. He claimed he was going in the same direction as I was supposed to and kindly invited me to the tram going who-knows-where. You know that feeling when watching a horror movie, and you want to scream: “Don’t go there!” The same vibe had the girl I asked about direction. But blondes always die first. I had no choice but to trust him. That was stupid, but it worked. He not only helped me to get to the bus station. More, he put me on the correct bus and took care of me the whole way to my destination. Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t trust random people, but it’s uplifting that pure-hearted people still exist.
But God gives his silliest battles to his most tragic clowns. That will be part of my infamous story. Treat it as a cautionary tale, not as an example to follow. People say – kid, respect the mountains, and they’re right. I am always in a hurry. I came up with a brilliant idea – as I was in the stunning city at the foot of the mountain, I decided to go to the top. I had a tight schedule. It didn’t matter to me that it was raining the whole day. Thank God the setting was similar to Vodno. It wasn’t a high mountain, but there was a cable car to the top. Unfortunately, my brain failed when I was buying the ticket. I bought only one way. A one-way ticket to the trauma. I got to the top, but the view was none because I was in the middle of a cloud. Despite that, I enjoyed it at the time. I chose the way down the mountain, and the name of the route was The Stairs of someone famous (I am joking, but for sure, the name of the trail included stairs). I chose that way because what bad could happen? A lot (smiling in Polish). First, remember, kids, never go to the mountains in high heels, flip-flops and sneakers. I had sneakers. I am not that stupid. But without my mountain shoes, it was hard enough. Why? Because the famous stairs started only after four kilometres through the forest. With a slope of, I don’t even know how many degrees. With the mud and slippery leaves, it was a pleasure, hehe. I was completely alone on the trail. Right, remember never to go alone. Going with someone increases the chance of rescue. And that the bears would eat that person first. Why did I mention bears? Because naaah, wrong shoes, rain and slope wouldn’t be enough complication. I was happily giddyupping as fast as a doe (not really), and then I heard a roar. Okay, I must have misheard. But when I heard it closer, I reminded myself of the information board about the mountains. Bears. So what did I do? I recalled all the tips and tricks I knew about wildlife and joyfully started singing a song to mark my presence. As I couldn’t remind any existing songs, I was, like a complete moron, singing one-two-three to an unknown melody for two kilometres straight. When I met the first human being, me – an antisocial creature, I wanted to hug them. Sometimes my stupidity is impressive. But see, at least now you can learn from my mistakes.
The last history, is also a warning sign. Are you aware that hostels can manipulate reviews and delete negative ones in some portals? Beware, and always look for the worst reviews on different portals. At least then, you know what you can expect. I went to “the best hostel awarded by travellers” in one Balkan city. I used to choose female dorms because I feel more comfortable that way. That night I was alone in the dorm, sleeping peacefully, till 1:33. Then the door to my room opened, and some guy entered. I recognized that he was working in that hostel. He asked if he could sleep in that dorm because he had the morning shift and needed to wake up in a few hours. As I had just woken up, a bit scared and too sleepy-stupid to react properly, I said yes. That escalated quickly. From the question, if he could sleep in the dorm, he asked if he could sleep with me. I flatly refused his wonderful offer. Thank God he wasn’t aggressive because I froze, and I wouldn’t have had a chance to protect myself. That night I didn’t sleep a wink anymore. When I escaped from this creepy place in the morning, I remembered the WiFi password from that hostel, which was an irony, nomen est omen, “You never sleep alone”. But that was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. I decided I needed to know at least the basics of self-defence. And I recommend it to everyone.
Travelling is a beautiful experience. It broadens our horizons, helps us to understand the world better and sometimes even find ourselves. I cannot stress that enough, but while enjoying time abroad or even in your own country, it is immensely important to use common sense, as I did most of the time. But as a warning, I decided to share the stories when I lowered my guard, and my natural hair colour had taken over my brain. Maybe something like that happened also to you? Share your thoughts with us!
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