Stories of chance encounters bringing people – and animals – together, helping to form lasting bonds and creating crazy experiences
When they do happen, we tend to remember them for life. A chance encounter can happen on your morning stroll to your local supermarket, during a heated social media chat in the middle of the night, or while you are sitting on the train on the other side of the planet. Sometimes all you have to do is let the moment flow and see how far it takes you. Because without these crazy stories, I wouldn’t be writing this article right now.
Finally found a missing football pin
A lasting friendship can start something seemingly insignificant all over again. Like a football pin at a flamenco concert. Salvador from Spain remembers the day he met his new friend and football fan, Stefan.
“I met Stefan when I was attending a Miguel Poveda concert in Vienna. He was the concierge of the music hall, ”says Salvador about his chance meeting with Stefan.
“I was studying in Jihlava on Erasmus and decided to attend this concert in Vienna because it was not too far away and I had never attended such a concert before. In the queue I started talking with Stefan and when he realized I was from Spain he asked me for something he had been looking for for years: a Córdoba Cf pin for his personal collection.
“As a supporter of Fast vienna, Stefan collects pins from all teams that wear white and green. Stefan promised that if I sent him this pin, he would invite me to a Rapid Wien game. I did my part of the bargain and he did his and we went to a game. His wife offered to cook lunch and Stefan showed me his room in the football museum, ”continues Salva.
“We are still in contact and we call each other every month. We started an incredible friendship.
Almost like a scene from a romantic movie, Lucie and Pierre met a few hours before their window of opportunity closed for good and decided to make the most of it. In 2017, these two tourists, one from the Czech Republic and the other from France, were staying at the same hostel in London and became friends thanks to a missing internet connection.
“One night I was walking around the hostel looking for an internet connection when I came across a group of travelers. We started to talk and that’s how I met Pierre, ”says Lucie.
“He was supposed to leave the next morning, so we decided to make time count. Together with two other travelers we took an overnight trip around London – saw all the famous landmarks and ended up watching the sunrise over the Thames, right next to the Big Ben.
After their meeting, Lucie and Pierre had kept in touch for months until one day she found a cheap plane ticket to Paris.
“I brought a friend to go see Pierre in France for a week. Together we took a road trip through Normandy and then we traveled to Versailles and Paris. Pierre has visited me in Brno at least four times since then and my family has even started inviting him to family reunions. He currently lives in Austria, so as soon as the restrictions are relaxed, we will certainly meet either in Linz or in Brno, ”adds Lucie.
“If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, we probably would have seen each other a year ago. Hopefully we can take another road trip soon, maybe to a place neither of us have visited before! ” comments Pierre.
The love of an animal shelter in Thailand
Unexpected encounters don’t always just happen between people. Anna was visiting Thailand when she met a four-legged friend at an animal shelter. She wasn’t looking for a dog but decided to adopt him anyway.
“In December 2018, my boyfriend, sister, her husband and I were on vacation in Koh Lanta, Thailand, and wanted to spend Christmas at the animal shelter. We visited the shelter, learned about their mission and about the stray dog problem in Thailand, ”says Anna.
“We met all of their dogs and cats – and one of them was Ellie! My heart melted instantly. She was so needy and immediately trusted. I visited him every day for two weeks and decided to adopt him. I’m so glad I did! ”
When adopting a cat or a dog, Animal welfare lanta takes care of all the necessary documents, health checks and vaccinations. Ellie had to stay in Thailand for another 90 days to get vaccines and papers and during that time the shelter regularly sent updates and photos to Anna.
“In the meantime, I found someone who could take him to his new ‘forever home’. We met at the airport when he arrived in April 2019. It took a few days for him to get used to his new surroundings, but we immediately started to bond. I love life with her and I can no longer imagine my life without a dog! Anna adds.
On a mission to help wildlife
Martina and Alex were traveling the world in early 2020 before their travels took them to Borneo, Malaysia, to volunteer in a marine conservation and wildlife care project.
“We first met at a small hostel full of lizards and cockroaches in Kota Kinabalu. As we had had a few extra days before the start of the project, we decided to make them count and go on a short boat trip to visit some beautiful islands. Our first memory: snorkeling on a tropical island with lots of jellyfish, ”says Martina.
“We have been excellent travel companions since we met in Malaysia. Alex visited me in Slovakia and I showed him the beautiful nature of the country on a hike in the High Tatras. We traveled to the Czech Republic and last summer we went to Portugal for a surf trip.
“Alex is an experienced traveler, so he pushes my limits and limits when it comes to travel. I want to explore more unusual travel destinations, like Pakistan or Algeria and these destinations are next on our travel list, ”adds Martina.
Three is a crowd
Sitting in a cafe near Riyadh, Majid heard about a language he was familiar with. He recognized him as Czech and was immediately taken back to the three years he spent in the Czech Republic playing for a local football team.
“It was a hot summer day and as I sat in my chair in a cafe I heard someone speaking Czech out of nowhere. It took me by surprise and I said to myself, “I have to meet these people. And that’s how I got to know Lucie and Kamila, ”says Majid about this chance meeting.
The three started chatting and Majid offered to be their guide on the way to Bahrain: “We left the next day from Riyadh to Bahrain – my hometown is nearby, so it made sense that we were traveling together.
“Sometimes it’s nice to meet complete strangers and connect with them despite our varied backgrounds. This meeting was pure coincidence! We had a great time visiting some cool places in Bahrain together. We are still in contact and I plan to return to the Czech Republic when the pandemic situation allows, ”continues Majid.
Once upon a time in Ljubljana …
In 2018, James and his friend from Ireland and Lucie with his two friends from the Czech Republic won free train tickets as part of the Discover the EU initiative. The two groups met by chance at a hostel in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
“Young adults from across Europe can enter to win Interrail tickets through the competition and travel for free for up to seven days anywhere on the continent. And we did it! Lucie explains.
“James was with his friend and I was with two of mine. We were all put in the same room and one evening we finished talking late into the night, learning about each other’s cultures and lives. The next morning my friends and I left at 6 am to continue our trip.
The two groups only exchanged first names at the hostel and had no way to reconnect. At least they thought so: “We were all in a Facebook group for travelers who won the train tickets and the other group noticed and reacted to the photos we shared there,” continues Lucie.
The pandemic slowed down their friendship but James and Lucie managed to meet despite the difficulties.
“The highlight of our friendship was Lucie’s trip to Galway when she got to see where I live and meet some of my family. I’m really excited to visit Brno and try Czech beer once travel is authorized again! ” James concludes.
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