In an earlier post I described how I had found the website Travbuddy and contacted Laura, whose travel aspirations matched a lot of my own. We exchanged some messages, and agreed that we both seemed to click with each other. However “clicking” through the internet (HA, pun not intended) and clicking in real life are two very different things, so we decided that we should meet in Birmingham – the halfway point between our hometowns.
I was a little nervous. However I have people from the internet before, both in travel and dating-related capacities so it wasn’t completely new territory for me. It was kind of like going on a first date. I guessed Laura and I would talk and get to know each other. Size each other up and determine if we would want to see each other again. Except without the awkward kiss at the end, and the “will he, won’t he call” bit afterwards.
Any nerves I did have were soon forgotten when the train I was on reached Wakefield Westgate. A young couple got on with a baby boy, and the mother sat next to me with the boy on her lap. Almost instantly he started reaching for the magazine I was reading, grabbing my top, squealing in my ear and doing anything else he could think of to command my attention. Following several smiles to each other, and a countless number of apologies on the mother’s part, I asked if I could take him from her for a while. As soon as he was in my lap I started talking to the mother (Elena). I found out she was a PhD student studying in Sheffield and had been in Wakefield for the week visiting family. She came from Russia and had lived in both Spain and France before coming to the UK to study. She told me she loves to visit other parts of the UK regularly and asked me for recommendations. Her husband is an A&E doctor and, though they don’t get to see each other much, they count themselves very lucky to be in the position they’re in. In between these tidbits of information I was trying to stop baby boy from eating my magazine and licking the window. I’m sure Elena was feeding him properly, but I did wonder!
We soon reached Sheffield, and I said my goodbyes to Elena and my new, drooling friend. The rest of the journey passed uneventfully and I met Laura, as planned, in Birmingham New Street. We didn’t have a specific plan and just ended up walking aimlessly, talking the entire time. Stopping off at several cafes, pubs and eateries on our path we found out lots about each other and discovered that we had a fair bit in common. We shared with each other what kind of trips we like to take, the travelling we’ve already done and what we hope to do in the future. I
scared regaled her with stories of mishaps on past trips, ignoring the slightly worried expression on her face and assuring her that i’m not cursed…just a little unlucky sometimes.
Before we knew it several hours had passed and it was nearly time to catch our respective trains home. As we parted at the station I think we both knew the meeting was a success and we could move on to start planning the trip. However the obligatory post-meet text was needed, just to confirm. We both sent them to each other almost simultaneously, and from there the planning started.
We ended up travelling to Krakow in early February 2013 (and, consequently, an Easter weekend in Nottingham). I will do a posts on those soon. However it is safe to say that Krakow was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.
I got two things out of the trip to Birmingham that day:
1) Affirmation that travelling by yourself opens up opportunities to have chance encounters with people you may never otherwise bother speaking to.
2) A new Travbuddy!