interesting strangers

Posted: April 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: travel | 2 Comments »

for vasta, people i’ve met

it usually take a few days to go from ‘normal’ to ‘travel’ mode, thankfully i managed to fast track my entry into traveler mode thanks to my roommates in the hostel, a couple interesting people who helped keep me awake and fighting off the jet-lag.

Marc, from Spain.

Marc came into the room right as i was wondering how exactly i would stay awake for the next hour or two (it was around 9pm) in order to put my sleep schedule back in order. within five minutes of his arrival he was sitting next to me, giving me a detailed account of his whirlwind tour of Switzerland, complete with hundreds of photos to accompany the story.

Marc’s a young guy, living just outside of Barcelona where he’s going to university. he’s catalan, and when he started to explain to me what it meant to be catalonian vs. spanish, i was able to simply say “ah, like Quebec, i understand”.

i was way too tired to remember the details of his trip, but i know he went to Zürich, luzern and interlaken (places that i now intend to visit, in part thanks to his enthusiastic descriptions), but the one detail i do remember was his particular talent at posed photographs. i don’t think i’m exaggerating when i say he took at least a hundred self portraits with his little camera and tripod – i call it the “Marc Style Photo”

my attempt at a Marc Style photo

my attempt at a "Marc Style" photo

Marc, having helped me stay awake for at least an hour, left the room to take some night shots of Geneva, while I gave up and prepared to go to sleep regardless of the consequences of sleeping too early.

Kristine, a Canadian living in Germany who missed her flight to the UK

thankfully, distraction arrived again, this time in the form of Kristine a fellow Canadian (from Oakville) who had missed her flight due to a delayed train. she’s in the UK by now, visiting her boyfriend, but she lives in Frieburg, Germany while she’s doing her masters degree in materials science (studying solar cells, how cool is that?).

she was super friendly and nice, despite the crappy circumstance of missing her flight, and within 5 minutes of learning that i had just arrived in Geneva from Toronto she was trying to convince me to go visit her in Frieburg, offering me a space on her couch (apparently Frieburg is a very beautiful medieval town, worth a stop if you’re in the area).

she told me about living in Europe, and the strange combination of homesickness and attachment to Europe that develops when living here. on the one hand you miss your friends and family, the unique Canadian’ness of Canada. on the other, the thought of all the huge, unnecessary cars, the lack of decent regional transit (seriously, why can’t we have trains like in Europe?) and the lack of town squares and decent little cafe’s everywhere counts against Canada in a big way.

unfortunately in a bout of stupid i accidently deleted the photos i had taken of Marc and Kristine, i’m FB friends with Marc now, so i’ll try to get him to send me the photo he took of us and update the post

weirdo drunk guy in Zürich

Marc and Kristine helped alot, putting me into travel mode, so i was in a good mood as i set out. Zürich was beautiful as you can see from the photos, but i need to explain the photo of the drunk guy at a bar you’ll see in the set.


he introduced himself as “Voltaire”, although… ahem i don’t think that was his real name. he was several JD on the rocks into it, and it was only mid afternoon. i was only planning on stopping in the bar underneath the hotel to check my email (the wireless didn’t reach up to the sixth floor where my room was) but he bought me a beer and proceeded to talk my ear off.

ever have one of those circumstances where you only catch about a third of what’s going on? that was basically my conversation. he slipped between swiss-german, french, and english without really much warning.

the jist of the situation was that he had lost his scooter the night before. i asked him where it had been stolen, to which he explained that it was lost, not stolen. apparently after a particularly good go at drinking himself into oblivion, punctuated with a bout of bar hopping through the seedier areas of Zürich, he misplaced his scooter. now i’m no expert on the finer points of Zürich geography, but i was pretty certain he wasn’t going to find it at the bottom of his glass of JD.

he was a strange, kind of creepy guy, and by the end of our conversation i’m pretty sure he was confessing some pretty heavy stuff he had done in his life, but of course he was speaking german very earnestly and i didn’t understand a lick of what was going on. he left suddenly, after a seriously trying to get his point across to me, shaking my hand and walking out of the bar.

that’s it for the characters i’ve met. there has been some small talk with fellow tourists, but unfortunately due to my devil may care attitude towards ‘planning’ and ‘reservations’, combined with the fact that it’s easter weekend, has led me to full hostels each night. so i’ve been staying in budget hotels and not meeting people. tomorrow i head to luzern, where i have a bunk reserved at a hostel. i had planned on going to menaggio italy tomorrow, but the hostel there is full and i’m tired of hanging out alone, so to luzern!

2 Comments on “interesting strangers”

  1. 1 David said at 11:17 pm on April 11th, 2009:

    IIRC, Interlaken is just a bit north of Lauterbrunnen. 🙂

  2. 2 Sameer Vasta said at 10:03 am on April 12th, 2009:

    Love these stories about meeting strangers! Thanks Darren!

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