Taking inspiration from A Globe Well Travelled’s recent post, I thought I’d share my three strangest travel moments (and they are a bit odd!).
The Boyf and I arrived in Boston after visiting New York. We had heard a blizzard was coming, but didn’t pay much attention to the warning. We arrived at our hotel just as the blizzard started, and it had stopped a lot of people from checking in. We were immediately given an upgrade — king-size bed, free wifi, free breakfast and the key to a special members’ lounge.
The next morning, we woke up and checked the news. Snowmageddon 2014. Transport, shops, schools, companies, all closed. And it was -15 degrees Celsius. We were stumped for something to do, so we decided to go for a walk. It was so cold, we had to keep ducking into shops to keep warm! We eventually found a nice pub and sat down for a glass of beer (cider for me) and lunch.
The guy next to us was in his late 60s, and was quite talkative and friendly. We ended up having a conversation with him about his life, his family, his job. He had been working in Alaska as a fisherman and was back in Boston to see his estranged wife and daughter. He was so intrigued by our description of Australia, and raved on about how he wanted to move there. Every now and then, he would duck into the bathroom to take a swig of whiskey from his flask (he showed it to us) and would return to his whiskey at the bar. He got up to leave and walked off. We later found out that he had paid for our meal and drinks, simply telling the waitress that he’d look after us.
We never saw him again, but it was such a nice surprising gesture and made our time in Boston that much more bearable.
The Boyf and I were at Midi Station in Brussels in 2015, perplexed by the train system. We asked someone whether the train at the station was heading for Ghent, but they didn’t understand us. A man nearby laughed and explained that the person we had asked was a French-Belgian, and so wouldn’t understand our accents. He asked us where we were going, and took us to the right station.
“I live in the town just after Ghent, but I have to buy a present for my sister in Ghent,” he said, smiling at us on the platform.
“I’ll take you there.”
We hopped on the train with him, discussing everything from the languages in Belgium to robotics in Europe, all the while smiling and hearing about his life. We got off at Ghent, and he paid for us to get on a bus to the city centre and told us he would give us a tour of the city. We were floored by the gesture, but weren’t sure if he was doing this in the hope we’d give him money.
“It’ll only take an hour.”
He took us around Ghent to his favourite areas. The small streets, the little cafes, the cutest pubs. It was the day of New Years Eve, so most places were closed. But the streets were open and full of people. He told us a bit about the history of Ghent, taking us to the city church. How there’s several mayors, how the political system works, how the Flemish-speaking Belgians are different to the French-speaking Belgians. We bought him lunch to say thank you, and then he was gone. We only found out his name towards the end of his tour, but never exchanged numbers or Facebook names. And just like that, we had a proper tour of Ghent.
It was our first day in Portland, Oregon, and we didn’t understand the transport system (a pattern is forming here). All-day tickets for only $5? But how? And where do we get them from? We stood at the light rail stop for a while until one came by. We hopped on and asked the driver how we could get tickets. She stood up and asked us (wuite loudly) where we were from. “Australia?” she boomed, causing the entire bus to chatter excitedly.
“Well then, I guess you’ll be needing these.”
She printed off two tickets.
“I’m going to give you two day passes so you can stimulate our economy. They last until 2am, so go drink a lot of beer!”
And that’s exactly what we did.