A few weeks ago I went home to Illinois to hang out with the parents — I hadn’t seen my Dad in nearly a year, so I felt it was time to head back and enjoy the long weekend with me Dad. It was amazing, we had a really good time, which included a 22 mile bike ride through my college town – it was the furthest I had ever biked – my dad calls this a mere warm up. It was a perfect last minute planned trip home.
One of my connecting flights back to Wilmington brought me into Charlotte with a 2 hour layover. What to do, what to do? I started wandering the different terminals to find dinner, and finally settled on an overpriced sushi spot (it was really good!). For dessert, I decided to head over to the Rum Bar in Terminal D for a pina colada. I wasn’t flying the plane! I sat up at the bar and a few moments later, the gentleman to my left asked where I landed from. I answered and asked him where he was headed. “Dublin, Ireland, with my friend here, ” he said pointing to the guy sitting next to him; both had been drinking heavily. “Then we’re spending a few days in London.” I smiled. These were 2 of my favorite cities in Europe and I told him he would have a fantastic time – it was their 1st time out of the country. They planned to drink their way through both cities and enjoy the sights. They couldn’t have been older than their late 20’s.
“So, do you have any tips?” he asked.
“Well….,” I began. I’m not really good at small talk and I had no idea what their itinerary was. I mentioned the touristy spots in Dublin and then started inquiring about their trip. These poor gentlemen had no idea about international travel.
I told them that most credit card companies charge a surcharge when using the card on foreign currency. They also neglected to alert their credit card companies that they were leaving the country. “Call them, right now, or you’ll use it about 2 or 3 times before they put a fraud lock on them.” Their eyes got big as one of the guys got on the phone straightaway. They were also misinformed about the Eurozone: England is on the British Pound, not the Euro. They tried to tell me different, but even the Israeli guy sitting kitty corner from us, listening to our conversation was getting a chuckle out of that one.
“Where are you staying in Dublin?” I asked. “Not sure, we got a few leads on hotels,” came the reply. I gave him the address to the hostel I stayed at and told him it was central to everything and my great experience there. They had never experienced a hostel before, and as most Americans, they were leery about the whole experience.
“How are you getting to London?” “Well, there’s a train thing -” “No, use Ryan Air!” They wrote all this down. I explained what a “watering hole” (a bar) and “the tube” (the subway in London) was. I also suggested this hostel in London.
We talked a bit more about travel and what to do and then it was time for my flight. “Thank you so much for all the information,” the guy said as he shook my hand.
I then sprinted to my gate and I got there just as they were announcing to board.
I was glad I was able to help someone’s European adventure and save them from the pitfalls of international travel. I keep wondering how their trip went, what kind of adventures and discoveries they had. I never got their names. I’ll never know how it all turned out.
Ah, but such is the life of a traveller and those you meet along the way.