Posted at 04:38h
The boarding location was Zagreb, Croatia, and I was coming off a sleepless, overnight bus from Dubrovnik. Although the 10-hour drive was in darkness, the endless, gigantic trees I saw under the moonlight became another reminder for just how small we are as humans in this world.
I had thought I’d be able to catch up on missed sleep on the train to Budapest, Hungary. However, tickets for this service had been oversold. Walking through the train carriages, I found that all the cabin seats had been taken with travelers who all looked as rough as I had.
The only space to sit now were the narrow walkways. Myself, and the others who weren’t as quick to board the train as those now dozing comfortably in cabin seats, piled in. Side-by-side, bag-by-bag, we sat crowded into the carriage and sat down anywhere we could.
I found myself talking to the girl who sat next to me. Her name was Dani (pictured sleeping), she was 21, and on her way back from a weekend in Split. She first visited Split with her Grandfather who had passed the month before. She had a list of places they'd visited together and wanted to relive them in memory of him.
Hours went by, and the carriage fell silent. Dani had fallen asleep. “Lucky,” I thought to myself. She didn’t have as long limbs as I to discover a position comfortable enough to find slumber. All you could hear now was an orchestra of the deep breathing of sleep and muffled music coming from headphones as you watched the country outside pass by.
There was a breeze pouring through the open windows of our balmy carriage. The air was cool against our confined, overheated bodies. I felt full as I studied the scene around me. As uncomfortable as I was being cramped in a small space, I had an overwhelming sense of Eden. I couldn’t quite figure out why.
It could be the relief of the cool air in the country. Meeting and connecting with strangers inches away from me, or seeing places of the world I had never seen or touched before. Maybe it was all of it; to be having experiences that I had never had before. Ah, yes. That was it!
It was the feeling of connecting with a stranger on a train. Eating a type of food you've never tasted before. Smelling the aromas of gardens, and scents of streets you've never walked through. It was the feeling of waking up on a new day knowing you're seeing something for the very first time. The silence around me now became a verve, and this moment became entirely my own. The newness, the unknowing, the unpredictability.
The thought entered me like the air running through our carriage. It filled my lungs, cooled my blood, and imbued me totally. This was my first time seeing Europe, I was 19. I left 6 months later, at age 20, with a promise to myself to keep on having this feeling.
A promise to myself to never stop doing things I’ve never done before.