So I woke up this morning feeling extremely under the weather…coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes and ears, weak body, the whole nine. I was very unhappy about it. I called it a night at about 4:30pm because I thought I should rest so I would feel better for the remainder of my trip. But at about 6pm I got a surge of energy when it hit me that I WAS IN EUROPE and I should be MAKING THE MOST OF IT.
I really wanted to go see a show at the Schaubühne theater so I changed, grabbed my bag, and literally ran out the door to the subway station. After a couple of transfers from train to bus, I successfully found the theater and the rush line to try and get tickets to that evening’s performance of Richard III.
A lovely older woman in the rush line asked if I spoke English and then we started chatting. We both wanted to see the show but we were numbers 19 and 20 in line… Very unlikely that we’d get in. We had to wait 45 minutes before they announced who would get tickets so I went to the bathroom and came back upstairs to find this woman standing in the lobby alone. She was just standing there, looking around, no one to talk to. I figured since we were both waiting we might as well wait together so I approached her and said that I was going to grab a coffee in the meantime. “Sure, I’ll join you, if you don’t mind…I’m Jan, nice to meet you.” she replied. “Hi Jan, I’m Alex!” We proceeded to chat for 30 minutes over coffee and it was so lovely. “Where are you from, what do you do, what brings you to Berlin, favorite place you’ve traveled”, etc. We really hit it off, and she had the sweetest personality and most adorable laugh.
We go back to hear the numbers get called for ticket winners, and unfortunately we didn’t make the cut. When I first got the theatre that evening and saw the long rush line, I decided to purchase one of the last two tickets to the world premier of FEAR by Faulke Richter. I didn’t come all this way to not see some German theatre! I told Jan that she should do the same since she took a 20 min cab ride all the way out here, but she seemed hesitant. We said our goodbyes and I went to the bathroom before house opened only to come back and see that she decided to buy a ticket! Yay, we can keep hanging out!
Come time for the show, we were waiting in the lobby and Jan had asked if I had ever used the trains or buses here before. She didn’t want to take another expensive cab ride home, but she also didn’t know how to navigate public transportation in Berlin. I told her she was more than welcome to join me on the journey home and she was very grateful for my invitation and said, “You must have a very nice mom. You are very kind.” I thought that was one of the nicest things someone has ever said to me, and shoutout to my mom who truly is one of the most kind and charismatic individuals I know! Jan and I decided on a meeting point for after the show and off we went to see our show.
SIDENOTE: FEAR was breathtaking.. It was one of the most amazing pieces of theatre I have ever experienced. It was electrifying, thought provoking, the technical elements were incredible… Oh, and did I mention that it was all in German? You might be wondering, “Well how could you love it, Alex, if you didn’t even know what they were saying?” Well, kind reader, I just did. Theatre has a way of crossing language and cultural barriers and that is exactly what this production did. I knew the basis of what the show was about and read the director’s note, the rest was up to my imagination!
Jan and I rendezvoused at the box office and headed for the bus. We shared our thoughts on the show (we were both floored by the performances) and got off at our stop to transfer to the train. She would need to get off and transfer at a different station so I happily explained to her how to do that and which train she would need to look for. On our final couple of stops before we would split ways, we exchanged our thanks for sharing the night with one another. I had told her that we easily could have spent our evening as silent strangers not speaking to anyone, but that this was so much better. We hugged goodbye then she pulled out her Airbnb apartment keys…that had a dachshund key chain on them.
A WEINER DOG KEY CHAIN.
Now, for those of you that know me pretty well, you understand how big of a deal this is. For those of you that don’t know me that well (or don’t know me at all): 1.) thank you for reading about my adventures 2.) I’m obsessed with dachshunds.. Like big time. Like, all I want in life is to able to take care of myself financially, travel whenever possible, and have a spotted or blonde dachshund. Anyways, back to the story…
I looked at her in awe and explained my love for weiner dogs and she thought it was so funny. In a joking (but casually serious) tone I told Jan that we were meant to meet each other tonight. I truly do believe that we were supposed to meet, I don’t know why, but I’m glad that we did. People don’t just randomly pull out dachshund keychains! I have never seen someone with one of those before!
Having someone to connect with while traveling solo is such a great feeling. A feeling of understanding, of not feeling lonely. I am so grateful to have met Jan Watson tonight. Embarking on my first solo trip, I was nervous that I wouldn’t meet new people. But sometimes all it takes is 5 seconds of courage and an invite to coffee. You never know what can happen.
Thank you, Jan Watson, for your kind company.
Lessons Learned Today
Strike up conversation with someone else who is alone..Maybe they’re traveling solo, too!
Sometimes all it takes is 5 seconds of courage and an invite to coffee.
Be kind, offer help, smile when you feel like it, but always be open to the unexpected.