Forgotten little anecdote.
Remember Adam, our Cappadocian tour guide? After taking us out to dinner, he’d gone out with friends to a party. Andrea and I hadn’t come along, and the next morning found him sleeping in “our spot” we’d frequented by the pool. A few hours later, he’d laugh as we go to “mail” Steve the baglama. Many hours later, he’d tell us how exhausted (hungover, out until four) he was and how lame his tour had been that day (no climbing mountains like with us). Later that night, as Andrea and I sit by the pool, Adam (really Ahdem, but I just found that out yesterday, I’ve committed to Adam), introduces us to one of the people on his tour that day – describes what essentially is a blog, but then says “he takes pictures and writes like you do, except HE’S a professional.” The look on the guy’s face cracked me up- no more “professional” than me… But I found the description hysterical, a “yeah, really, even Adam knows I don’t know what I’m doing” moment.
I’m leaving Sofia for Plovdiv. I know (KNOW) every Eurail website ever says the first time you use your pass, you must go to official travel agent/counter and activate the pass, for an official start date. Not doing so, you’re subject to full fare, fines, and as far as I know, prison. After activating, no ticket windows ever. Just get on the train you want.
International ticket counter, “Eurail pass & information” sticker on the door.
“Plovdiv is not international. Cannot help you. Go to booth next to McDonald’s.”
Yeah, but I know that booth doesn’t speak English. I just want to activate.
“I cannot help you.”
Steve the Saaz, backpack and I shuffle past McDonalds.
“Hi, I need to activate this? First day, going to Plovdiv?” Let it not be lost that I don’t know how to pronounce “Plovdiv.”
“Plovdiv. This is ticket.”
Yes, I know the pass is THE ticket, thus the importance of never losing it, ever (look for that blog post soon). But I need to activate it. First day. STAMP.
“This is ticket. Plovdiv” (points to sign, handwrites 13:45 on scrap paper and slides it over to me).
Back to international counter. I know I know Plovdiv is still in Bulgaria, but my pass isn’t activated yet.
Scoff, window slammed in my face. Well, shiiiitttt.
Shuffle, with backpack and Steve, to Turkish Airlines window. Plovdiv? “Paris?” no, Plovdiv (different pronunciation guess). I know you can’t really help me, but you can read this English paragraph on my iPad about punishments of not activating pass, and then understand my frustration when Bulgarian speaking woman next door won’t help me…
And suddenly four women are crowded around my pass. And minutes later, it’s established maybe I should handwrite in the start and end dates, as well as my own passport number. And then go to ticket booth to buy reservation (essentially just the assigned seat) for train.
Great, except the bold print on website three that says “Do not write on your Eurail pass.” And that ticket booth had already said “this IS ticket” so me buying my seat reservation won’t be happening.
But fine. I get on the train.
Fast-forward. Stomach churning, nervous, not even sure the moving train I’m on is going to Plovdiv because this language is in shapes not letters. The official comes by, I sweat bullets.
All okay. My handwritten on pass gets me out of Sofia, no questions asked. And when we arrive at a stop with no English sign, no big monument, just a lot of people standing up, I hop off train, find “smiling girl,” point to ground. “Pla-div?” She giggles, nods.
(Want an epic unbloggable story? Facebook me or comment, with email address, NOW… Some things I just… can’t… post)
Eating dinner at the hostel with other guests, I hit it off with a couple. I bond with a girl, now with boyfriend, who had been traveling solo and I chat and trade awful hostel host lines. “Fabio” vs. “Dragon.” And wow, we really go back and forth, one after the other, cracking up. And wow, I can’t return to Korcula, Croatia, again unless I want to sleep with Dragon.
I end up going out with these two. An absolute third wheel, he’s been traveling since January, her a couple months solo. They met up again just recently. They say it’s absolutely normal for Australians to do this year of travel- almost a right of passage. They’ve known each other a year and a half, “officially dated 5-6 months,” all of which he’s been traveling. I ask how they met and we all talk about our lives and home, which leads to the greatest line of the night: “Didn’t ever have to stalk you, did I?”
They had been in Cappadocia recently. A week ago? I say me too, two weeks ago, maybe. I’ve really lost track of time.
Emre’s Cave Hostel, both of us, imagine that. But of course, it’s the number one rated hostel in Goreme. How cute is the pregnant lady. Too fun.
We talk about our travels, our careers (again, career ideas for those without the careers) – she worked for a year, saved up to travel a year. Start again, repeat somewhere else. I wonder if this is to become of my life, as well. Weird. Fascinating. We talk Nepal, Amsterdam, NYC. We’ve talked for hours now.
She asks if I did the Emre Cave Hostel Tour. “With Adam?” I ask. Best day of your life? Did you climb mountains?
No, he was a bit quiet. A lot of history lessons, but he said he was hungover, something about being out until four a.m.
No way. No… way.
“We met at the pool, didn’t we. Side of the pool. You’ve got the blog, too.”
Small friggin’ world.