Saturday, September 17, 2011

Postcards from summer

How do you summarise a summer? How do you put it into words or pictures or a reply months of train-ing, bus-ing and plane-ing it from one side of Europe to the other, the hostel-to-hostel experience, the unplanned adventures, the mishaps, the sunsets or the infinite number of faces and names you met along the way?

You don't, you can't. But here's well I'll start, with a story.

Exactly half way through my summer traveling I was on a ferry from Santorini, one of the most beautiful islands of Greece, to Athens. At this point I had been through the coast of Portugal, the North of Spain, the South of France, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and the week of island hopping with friends through Greece. In Santorini I bought 8 of the first postcards I had ever bought in my life finally deciding that if I was going to send a postcard, a Volcanic island with white, red and black beaches and a sunset famous the world over was definitely going to be it.

I sat on the ferry hastily trying to capture everything that had been going on the past six weeks. I wrote to my best friends in Australia, my little sister, my family, my friends from university and elsewhere. Then we arrived in Athens, stayed the night briefly until I woke up at five am, leaving for my flight to Istanbul. I said goodbye to my friends and left, not only did I leave them but only at the airport I realised I left all of the postcards in the hostel.

My friends later said they didn't find it, they were lost or gone or left somewhere under the bed or the locker somewhere in that hostel room. I was actually devastated, the words and pictures I'd chosen so carefully were gone.

Just over a month later I was in Bosnia when I got a message from my family. They had received a postcard from me addressed to one of my best friends, one I had written her from Santorini. In the corner of the postcard was a small note from a guy named Walter who said he had found them all, paid for postage (I didn't have any stamps on any of them, let alone some of their addresses) and sent all of them from Athens.

Slowly, over the next couple of weeks, everyone I had written to started getting my postcards, all with a little note from Walter just letting them know he had sent it. Good ole Walter. Here's a thanks to him, for what I've come to learn is probably the single most important thing I learned this whole trip, that people are nice, kind.

I don't know how many times my sanity, safety and general wellbeing was saved by some unknown passenger on a bus, some person I'd stopped on the street, people who had seen my so-obviously-not-from-here face and pointed me in the right direction and even walked me directly to my hostel. Oh, and that time I had a hysterical break down my first night in Montenegro and it took two little old ladies and a teenage girl to calm me down - though, that's another story.

Thank you Walter, wherever you are, I'm sending a postcard your way.

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