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All the right turns

UNITED KINGDOM | Saturday, 3 May 2014 | Views [74] | Scholarship Entry

It took me a while, but I’m finally here. London. My first overseas journey and I’m completely alone in an unknown city.

I couldn’t be happier.

I throw my suitcase in my hotel room, grab a coat and go. It’s a Thursday night and Euston Road is buzzing with life. With no map to guide me, I start walking around with a silly grin on my face marveling at the most simple things. The architecture, the bright street lights, the confusing traffic, the pubs and the people. It’s easy to tell the tourists from the residents, but somehow it seems like they all belong there. I walk for two hours straight until my feet start hurting.

That’s when I realize I’m completely lost.

It’s OK, I tell myself, if I can’t find my way back I’ll just grab a cab. Sure, I’ll be using half my money and probably feeding myself on crackers for the next couple of days, but it’s a solution. I try reading the maps on the bus stops and it’s useless, I just seem to keep getting further away.

Finally, I stumble upon an underground station. Another hour has passed and I have to admit my defeat. But I’m smiling anyway. There is no underground in my country so even this is exciting for me. Although apparently, not as easy as I expected. Roughly 10 tourists from different parts of the world are all trying to understand how the damn system works. Its 10:00 pm and there is only one guard left, trying to explain everything to all of us. I keep hearing the words “Oyster Card” and all I can think about is how hungry I am and how much I like oysters.

Two Italian guys next to me have succeeded in loading their cards. They laugh a little at my attempt to load mine and help me. We start talking and when I mention that I’ve been walking for hours and my plans are just getting back to my hotel and rest, they look at me like I’m crazy - “The Chinese New Year starts at 12! Let’s go to Chinatown and celebrate!”-. For a second, a scene from “Hostel” pops into my mind. Is this the part where I get kidnapped by strangers and die?

I shrug and agree to go.

Of course, I survive and spend a great time with two people I can now call friends. A new year has indeed started, at least for me. One where I’m not afraid of taking chances, of believing in the best of people, and above all, of realizing that even when it seems that I am lost, I will always be exactly where I was meant to be.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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