The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

My First Trip To Europe Anxiety. Part I.

Glory. I’ve uncovered a notebook from my first trip to Europe six years ago. I was absolutely terrified! Reading this reminds me how new I have become in the last few years. In many ways the words ring like they were scrawled by a stranger, but there are some familiar themes.
Lookout Steps, Prague, St. Vitus

In the Frankfurt airport, I realize I’ve been wearing the same shoes and socks for about 26 hours. Also, traveling children seem to be permitted expensive food and obnoxious hair. Old people are universally adorable. I’m not sure who is a pilot and who just has flair on his lapel.  The only place to sit is across from the Beate Uhse, which has neon green underwear in the window and black-whip-like strands for curtains.  Oh, and I’m a nervous wreck.

All the German has fallen out of my head, but at the left luggage office, the clerks are both English-speaking immigrants and both exceptionally friendly. “Where do you go?”
“Uh.” (Strangers! Be vague!) “Uh, Prague.”
“Ohhhh. Yes, yes, yes, you are not from here. I know. You are so nice.”
“I’m an American.”
“Yes, I can tell. So nice.”
I’m trying. I can tell I’m smiling. People keep looking at me with confusion. So maybe I should be paying more attention. I should be nice nonetheless, smile nonetheless. Check that heavy anxiety here with my suitcase and see what there is to see. And convince myself that it’s okay to get one of those twelve-dollar sandwiches while I wait on my still-delayed bravery.

–Frankfurt Airport, Germany. January 2006.

–To be continued in Prague…

Mucha, St. Vitus, window, stained glass


10 comments on “My First Trip To Europe Anxiety. Part I.

  1. Kristine
    November 21, 2012

    Can’t wait for the sequal~

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      November 21, 2012

      I took 11 pages of notes in the airport alone! 🙂 This notebook is a rather humiliating record, but it’s great to see that I’ve overcome my fears. Thanks, lady!

  2. journeyman1977
    November 21, 2012

    Agree with Kristine! 🙂

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      November 21, 2012

      🙂 Thanks! More to come!

      • journeyman1977
        November 21, 2012

        Can’t wait 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving, Paige.

  3. Somehow I can’t imagine a first trip abroad to be anything but somewhat anxiety ridden. I well remember the first time I entered the Frankfurt airport and noted the security detail with automatic weapons and that was in 1978. How our world has changed with each new trip.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      November 22, 2012

      The Frankfurt airport is massive. I remember that clearly, and how hard it was to find a place to sit. I’d booked two flights 12 hours apart so I could do into the town and explore. Then I got too scared to leave. “What if I catch a train to Bratislava?” –this is scrawled in a margin. 🙂 But I just kept moving forward, and now I welcome the butterflies.

  4. suej
    November 22, 2012

    Isn’t it great finding reminders of past trips, events etc (well, perhaps not always!) I’m trying to de clutter at present, and waiting to see what turns up….I’m sure I’ve got a scrapbook from my first rail journey in Europe, years ago! Could be interesting.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      November 22, 2012

      I tried to de-clutter before I left for Europe, but it’s hard for me to part with my notebooks. You should definitely check out your scrap book. It’s like meeting an old friend. 🙂

  5. Joycelyn
    November 22, 2012

    Looking forward to the next entry! 🙂

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