Conversations with Strangers: Pabloski from Wrocław

About him:  Paul, who goes by Pabloski because he is half Mexican and half Polish (Pablo-ski get it?), manages Funky Cycle, a rickshaw business in Barcelona. He has been living in Spain for about 16 years now, and his hidden talent is guessing what country people are from.

How we met: My friend, Kristi, is visiting from Istanbul and after a whole day of walking we decided to treat ourselves to a rickshaw ride. I came up to a group of rickshaw bikers and began fiercely negotiating when Pabloski approached me and began arguing with me about prices. Then, through a hot mess of English, Spanish and Polish we somehow ended up on his bike bonding and having a great time.

Coolest experience: The coolest thing Paul has ever done was move to Barcelona. He loves the people, the atmosphere, the climate and his lifestyle in general. But, can you blame him?

Life dream: Pabloski’s big dream is bike around the world. Aside from biking people around all day on rickshaws, he bikes competitively, so I think he could totally do it.

Just riding around with Pabloski

Just riding around with Pabloski

 

About that Wallet Again

About a month ago, almost to the day actually,  I wrote about how I had left my wallet in a taxi. Since then, all the credit cards had been canceled and replaced, the cute leather wallet completely forgotten and the incident forgiven.

Today I got my wallet back.

Out of the blue, I was informed that it had been returned to Barcelona’s lost and found office yesterday, so I went to collect it first thing in the morning.

I was absolutely baffled when I picked it up, thinking there surely must have been a mistake. It was, in fact, my wallet and still contained all my IDs, cards and photos. Naturally, any cash I had left in there was missing, but somehow that didn’t matter. What baffled me the most, was that someone somewhere cared enough to turn it in.

See, I’m a firm believer that if you are good and you are kind, then good things will happen to you. Barcelona is funny like that, good things just kind of happen here.

I would love to know where my wallet has been for the last four weeks. Who helped it find it’s way back to me. What story about my life did they piece together from the clues within my wallet? How did it take this long, and who can I thank?

Truth is, I will never know. And that, in itself, is pretty cool.

The moral of the story is that with a little bit of time and a little bit of faith, everything will work itself out in the end.

Also, people don’t suck.

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Just another act of kindness from Barcelona strangers.

 

As Luck Would Have It

Growing up, one of my favorite songs was an old Polish track from the 60’s about a town on the coast of Italy, Portofino. When I realized it was only an hour away from where I was staying in Cinque Terre, I knew I had to go see it.

I dropped my backpack off at my apartment, hopped on a train and figured I could catch sunset and grab dinner in Portofino. I had been told that the town was about a mile away from the train station, and figured I could just walk there.

So, off I went on the scenic walk along the coast in the direction of Portofino. And then I kept walking. And walking. And walking. After about an hour, I looked at the little blue dot on my Google maps and realized I was only about halfway to the town.

Turns out, that when the Italians tell you that something is about a mile away, they really mean more like five miles and that you really shouldn’t try and walk there.

It was rapidly getting dark, and the coastal road which wrapped around cliffs and lacked proper sidewalks, was not the safest place to be at night. There was no way I was going to make it to Portofino walking, and there was no taxi in sight.

I decided it was time for drastic measures, so I stuck out my thumb and tried my luck at hitchhiking. If it makes you feel any better, I only did it when a Mercedes or Porsche passed me by. So, of course, it was totally safe.

To my surprise, no one wanted to pick up a small blonde girl standing alone on the side of the road. Defeated, I kept walking.

Suddenly, a small neon green car stopped right in front of me, and a young woman hopped out to take a picture of the view, while a man waited in the driver’s seat. I glanced at their license plate: PL. They were Polish. I laughed at my luck and hollered over to her in Polish, asking if they were by chance heading towards Portofino. She smiled, happy to hear her own language, and said yes. I asked if they had room for one more and they certainly did.

Their names were Ola and Kamil. They were returning from a ski trip in the north of Italy, and had decided to take the scenic route home. The three of us chatted the entire ride to Portofino, and explored the town together. Afterwards, they even drove me back to the train station, for which I was very grateful.

I strongly believe that God has a funny sense of humor, and is always looking out for me when I travel. What are the chances that right when I needed it most, a car happened to stop in front of me, with a couple who happened to speak my language, and who just happened to be going to the same town I was headed to?

Portofino in itself was disappointing, but I suppose that’s what happens when you build something up in your head from a song. Nevertheless, it’s comforting to know that some higher power is looking out for me during my travels, always getting me safely to my destination.

Kamil, Ola and I

Yes, I took a selfie with Kamil and Ola in anticipation of writing about them. They did, after all, save me.

How I survived a total of 24 of travel (And unsolicited advice on how you can too)

Be polite to airline personnel.

At the airport, they are god. Do not underestimate them. Ask them how their day is, say please and thank you. I got a free upgrade to business class on my connecting flight, an extra bag checked for free, unlimited international phone calls and a ride across the expansive airport just because I was nice to everyone that I came across.

Smile often. At everyone. Always.

I got an extra Belgian waffle at the café I was eating at because the clerk liked my smile. Smiling is pretty much the secret weapon to getting whatever you want.

Refresh, I guarantee you smell.

Nothing feels better than freshening up after hours on a plane. Wash off your makeup and reapply it fresh, change your shirt and reapply deodorant. Also, change your underwear; it’s a total game changer.

It’s okay to cry.

If the world is falling apart around you and you are tired and you are hungry and you missed your connecting flight and you don’t know what you are doing or where you are going and no one is picking up the phone and you do not have Wi-Fi and all of your bags are too heavy and your arms hurt from carrying them and you are sweaty and gross and really need to take a shower and you have a wine stain on your shirt: CRY. Cry for a minute, then quit being a bitch and get your shit together.

Call mom.

Just do it. She’s probably worried about you and needs to know you haven’t been abducted. Also, she’ll talk you through your mini 18 hours of traveling break down.

Belgian waffles are clutch.

Belgian waffles are clutch.