“This flight is tomorrow,” the lady at the help desk told me in a German accent. “What?” was all my brain managed to come up with. “Tomorrow. Today, 26. This, 27,” she pointed at the printout on the desk. “What?” I said again, more out of shock than misunderstanding. She took the look on my face to be confusion, so she got another piece of paper and wrote down the two dates, pointing and trying to explain across the language barrier that I had arrived at the airport on the wrong day. Finally, I said, “Oh… danke,” (“thank you”) and wandered off, trying to quell the enormous amount of embarrassment in the pit of my stomach. Had I really managed to book my flight for the wrong day? What was I going to do now?
I shook it off, and I was suddenly excited. Just when I was wishing I had more time to spend in Berlin, I found myself with an entire extra day. What a gift! I headed back to the city. On the way there, I met Jen, who had just arrived in Berlin for a day in between flying from seeing family in Croatia and making her way back to med school in NYC. We headed to Friedrichshain to grab something to eat and drink.
On the way, we wandered through the area around Urban Spree, a community art gallery and workshop nestled in a maze of ever-changing street art.
Over Bananenweizens, a wheat beer with banana (I recommend!), and hot soup, Jen’s passion for seeing the world became apparent. At the same time, she remained modest and shared travel stories only as I asked for them. Her philosophy: traveling is a privilege, and she tries hard not to brag about traveling or living abroad.
The conversation turned to the future, and I told her that I had caught the wanderlust bug, too, and definitely wanted to continue to travel. When I expressed concerns about starting a career and getting “stuck” somewhere, she shared some encouraging words: “Nothing is forever. You can always do something else if you want to.” Between her travel and life advice and her selling me on visiting Croatia, I had a fun time with Jen until we parted ways, her to meet up with a friend and me to take a quick nap on the couch in the back of the bar/restaurant.
To continue with my serendipitous day, Xin, who I had met earlier in the weekend, was free in the evening and planning to meet a friend at Urban Spree, where an exhibition was happening. I tagged along.
We rounded off the evening with Thai food, which, after spending a summer working at a Thai restaurant and eating very authentic (read: spicy) Thai food twice a shift, made me very pleased to devour some comfort food.
My extra day in Berlin ended up being full of new friends, art, beer, and good food. And luckily, the next morning I did manage to catch the right flight from frozen Germany back to sunny Alicante.