Saturday, March 10, 2012

Simple Serendipity

When I went to Norway two years ago on and expedition with BSES I shared a tent with two girls, Natasha and Gabby, for four weeks and in that kind of situation you are either going to get on each other's nerves or form an intense friendship that will last a lifetime. Luckily for me I got the later and since the expedition we have tried our hardest to meet up at least once a year. What is now, last year we decided to go see Gabriella - who is studying Psychology at Bath university - mainly because I got a cheap rail deal and miraculously we were all free.

 I love trains as it is, but this trip was going to be on another level as I had my very first experience of first class and it was all the way from Edinburgh to London. However, I started off from Dundee to Edinburgh where I had to travel with first class scotrail which, to be honest, wasn't that much different to normal except there was that awkward silence where you knew the few people in the carriage didn't think you were meant to be there. I sat around in Waverley for an hour or so until my platform was called. As I was waiting at the platform a girl came and asked me if it was the right platfrom, she as the friendliest girl I have met in a while; not the kind of person you struggle to hold a conversation with. When the train pulled up it turned out we were the furthest away from the carriages we needed as possible but unfortunately she wasn't in first class, as well she was a normal student. After swapping names and vowed to add each other on facebook we headed to our separate carriages. My encounter with Blanche (fantastic name) reminded me of one of my favourite parts of travelling; meeting really nice strangers on the way, it totally makes the actual getting there so much better!

 The first class coaches seemed to be miles away, considering the train stretches from A-O it probably was a mile away from where I started, and as I got a glimpse of the cream leather seats, coffee cups and menus I got excited. Of course I didn't want to look excited, I already stood out like a sore thumb. Although I was pretty sure I booked a window seat, I didn't have one so I waited to see if I had someone next to me. I was planning on doing some revision as I had free wifi so I sorted my piles of books and folders, there was surprisingly little room for them all, while I waited to see who was going be next too me. A young blond girl came and sat next to me, she might have been in the same position as me where first class was exciting but she looked less studenty than me and then she whapped out her Ipad so I began to think otherwise. A man followed and he did not look out of place at all, as he put his took out his iphone charger from his briefcase. Initial conversation was very typical business class; comparing apple products but soon moved onto more interesting topics and my inital judgements of my first class companions was initially wrong.

Alicia was a graduate of Employment Law from Aberdeen who was recently engaged, she was a very pretty young woman who initially didn't come from much money but she has done well for herself, and this was also her first time in first class. Keith was a very interesting man from South Africa who was initially a lawyer but he now did career guidance, he seemed like the kind of guy I would have loved as a guidence teacher. He had been everywhere and had great stories from each of those places. As the trip went on the topics continued on and it was great, free crayfish and wine were flowing all round. We spoke about university and Keith and Alicia made me feel good about myself and my choices, and the lack of a descision, and convinced me it won't be all doom and gloom when I graduate. They also thought I was selling myself short, which was in a way, nice to hear. Keith lived in London, well he had a base there anyway, and I have learnt to know my way around the Kings Cross/st. pancras complex but Alicia was only out in London for the weekend so we promised to help her find her way once we got to the station. When we did I was quite sad to leave them as I'll probably never see them again, but again I remembered how a boost it can be to serendipitously meet some interesting people. That is the great thing about travel,you meet many new friends and will miss them when you leave, but it is much better than not meeting them at all.

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