Yet another quirk of traveling that I absolutely love is discovering how easy it is to befriend people. This is more than have a basic conversation, but having meaningful connections with those who were strangers just five minutes prior. It is, of course, possible at home, but the barrier feels so much lower when everybody seems to find themselves in the same boat (even literally in some cases).
My entire week in Zagreb embodied this. “Where are you from?” and travel plans quickly evolved into civil conversations around politics, philosophy and other normally divisive themes. There is an infinite wealth of perspectives to learn from.
This carries into my current visit to Belgrade, Serbia. I’m visiting two more friends from IACS last year; people that I bonded with quickly despite only having a short amount of time with them. Yet Ana and Irina here (plus Yan in Bulgaria next week) are my entire reason for pursuing this side trip.
|Which of course called for a celebratory selfie|
Just like in the hostel garden, I’ve been up late talking to new people and discovering new views. I’ve discovered Serbians to be especially sociable and startlingly easy to befriend (or I’m just that awesome). As a result, we’re quick to share whatever comes to mind, celebrating all of our differences and similarities. The conversation only slows down when somebody (usually me) falls asleep on the table. Now that I can take the time to reflect on it (it’s been near constant motion and interaction) I do think that even the most unexpected people can make a deep connection. And it’s in a far shorter time that one would expect.
Whether you never see each other after one night or visit someone years later in other countries, whether you can remember an individual or a general sensation, all of these connections are the foundation of travel and home. They’ll bring you to places you never expected. Had I not befriended the Balkan participants last year, I likely would not have made such a detour on this trip. Those travelers I spoke with in the hostel garden and the Serbians here will greatly influence my future travels in some way. The best part, all it really takes is a friendly introduction. The story can go anywhere from there.