When traveling solo, I try to meet and speak to other travelers. There are so many genuinely nice people from many nations doing this. Some of these little friendships end with an exchange of contact information – some don’t. One example:
I met the 2 German couples at a bus stop near the ferry port in Milazzo, Sicily. Grey-haired and appearing hearty, they were standing in a little circle when I walked up. “Is this the bus to the train station?” “Yes, it is.” That’s all it took to break the ice.
At the bus stop, on the bus, and at the train station, I joined their lively conversation. It turned out we had come from the same place – a small island off of the coast of Sicily named Stromboli. The island’s active volcano and black sand beaches are the only attractions there. The night before, I had taken a long guided trek to the top of the mountain to witness its small but spectacular eruptions. One of the couples had also made the trek while there. The other could not because the wife had broken her arm in a scooter accident there. The two couples had only just met on the ferry back to the mainland.
I took all of this in with admiration. Climbing Stromboli? Driving scooters? In their 60s? That’s how I want to be at their age.
We talked about Stromboli and the many places that they had traveled. Both couples had visited places all over the globe, including many places in the states and Canada that I hadn’t yet been. We joked and laughed about the politics in our respective countries in the deserted train station.
I would have liked to spend the entire day with these friendly and interesting people. But all too soon, it was time for us to go our separate ways. They were headed west to Palermo, I east to Messina. Their train was coming before mine, and when it was close to their departure time, we split up, they to their platform, and I to mine across the tracks from theirs. I gave a wave as their train approached. The train departed; they were gone and the platform was empty.