I’t’s been a long time but I still remember how fucked up I felt that day on the Reichstag Dome. See, in the picture I’m smiling. But it’s just because that’s what you’re supposed to do in front a camera. I mean, if you feel like you’re going down you can’t show it the moment the Japanese tourist is taking a picture of you inside the Dome. That, might really upset her. So either you smile, or just don’t ask the tourist to take a picture of you in the first place. So I smiled, and the picture looks good, doesn’it?! Surely better than I felt. But that was before I hit my head to the handrail outside on the terrace. But let’s start from the beginning.
Berlin was my second time traveling alone. I had already a quite good experience in traveling, but due to the fresh split between me and my ex-ex girlfriend, I wasn’ used to travel alone. In fact I’d had my first travel alone just a month before and I thought it was cool repeating the experience. So I planned a week vacation, and Berlin was my first stop.
And it actually began really cool, because after checking in one of the most beautiful hostel I’ve ever stayed (the East Seven Hostel, if anyone is interested), I met a cute girl from Chicago that was staying in my same dormitory room. I don’t know where I found the audacity because I’m usually fairly shy with girls, but at some point I asked her if she wanted to go get a beer with me. And at that point she said something that after all these years I still have problems to believe. She said “Yes”. Oh man, and now? What was I thinking? What was I supposed to say to keep the conversation interesting, considering at that time I was only able to manage some English words just to avoid getting me lost when I traveled? It’s not that my English was shitty. My English is shitty now. It was just that the best I could manage to say, was something like “I have a reservation” or “sorry, where’s the bus station?”. Other than that, I couldn’t sustain a conversation, specially if the person I had to talk to would be a pretty american girl.
Anyway we went to a pub a couple blocks from our hostel, got that beer and then had a little stroll around Alexander Platz. Turned out the girl had studied in Italy for three months and could understand some Italian. I guess he must have gotten really annoyed by my English because point blank she asked me to just speak Italian while she would keep on speaking English, which I faked I could totally understand. That was fine with me. But it wasn’t fine with my confidence. It got so low I just wanted to go home. So when I woke up the morning after ready to explore the city, you can undertstand why I wasn’t exactly in a good mood. It got even worse when after just a couple of blocks, already feeling cold, it started to rain. Shops were still closed because you know, it’s better get going early in the morning if you’re a tourist, so I had to wait half an hour to buy an umbrella. It was actually a tiny version of it, looked more like a toy, but it worked fine. So I headed to the Reichstag and by the time I finally got there, I was freezing and I got a splitting headache. However I managed to make it inside the building and eventually outside the terrace. And let me tell you, the Reichstag is a very nice building with an amazing glass dome which I was so excited to see because I still remembered when I had read about it a long time before.
See, at that point I was trying to make the best out of the day. Trying to think positive, lifting my mood. I was like “It’s ok, the day is getting better, I’m in Berlin, how cool is that? The sun is coming out, it’s gonna be a nice day”. Then I dropped the brochure I held, and I bent down to pick it up. And then happened. Raising up, I hit my head to the handrail that ran all along the edge of the terrace. I’m telling you, it wasn’t like “oops, what the hell…”. It was more like a fucking baseball player had tried to hit a home run beating the crap out of my head. For a whole minute I forgot who I was and what I was doing, but still conscious that much to try not to take attention from the other tourists around. I already looked dumb because of the toy umbrella, I didn’t wanna look like a total loser. Which at that point I kind of felt I was. After another 30 seconds of pain, I started a serious conversation with a bunch of saints in my mind, and as finally the pain faded a little, I found myself on that terrace feeling deeply alone. I wasn’t crying, but not that far from that. Totally depressed.
But you know what? Here’s the point. Living a moment like that, feeling the loneliness so clearly, is one of the things that can make you grow. I think to experience that kind of feeling is a way to understand yourself in a deeply way, and certainly make you stronger once you finally find your way out. Once you get back up, you’ll get that self awareness about your needs and your capacities, that is going to build a solid self esteem. You just have to be brave enough to leave your shell and face the world. Even if you’re alone. That’s why I felt lonely that day, and why I came back home with a self confidence I didn’t have before.
That said, I also don’t mind traveling with a girlfriend. Certainly with your partner you’re not going to feel hopeless, and everything looks fantastic and you’re so happy to spend those moments with your better half, and everything is cool, and…Well…last part also depends on the better half. I wish you all to have a good one. If you don’t, travel anyway. I promise you, it’s cool.