The old saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is equally applicable to the everyday backpacker. Don’t look at another backpacker and immediately discount them as someone you don’t want to associate with, who knows, they might be a lifelong friend in waiting.
This is exactly what happened when I was in the culturally rich city of Munich in 2006. I had been staying with a friend in a town called Raubling and now I had the day to myself to explore the big city. I decided to take the free walking tour, which I had heard so much about, to get to know the history of this very pretty European city. But before I ventured out with this new group of travellers I made a promise to myself….
“Today, you will not meet another Aussie. You have come all this way from Australia. You have spent the week with German people only and you are learning so much. Get to know the locals. All Aussies are the same overseas and you want to broaden your horizons.”
And off I went!
We wandered around the great monuments and churches listening intently and snapping photographs of everything. I did want to share my experience though and decided to chat to the gentlemen next to me. A lovely German man (Yes! A local) who I had a lovely conversation with about exploring your own city… for all of 5 minutes! Well back to the tour it was.
As we walked through a lane, we stopped at a peculiar sign, doggy parking? Yes. I kid you not. Doggy parking. I had a bit of a giggle and shared a smile with the fellow traveller next to me. He took this as a good time to start up a conversation and what came out of his mouth….. well I don’t remember the words, but they were in an Australian accent!
Great! Exactly what I didn’t want to happen today. Ok, so I would be polite, have a quick chat and get back to my cultural exploration. Until! He mentioned where he was from…… 15 minutes down the road from me. Of course. Is this not always happening in Europe? Turns out we know the same bars, went to schools near each other and have one or two mutual friends. And this was how I met my good friend Adam.
Next thing we know, we’re joined by a lovely bubbly girl, also Aussie, Nikki. We’re virtually the three musketeers…. or Bush rangers…. or something Australian. We spent the afternoon together after the tour and had an absolute ball!
Who was I to deny a possible friend purely based on their country of origin. Especially one that is my own. I could have missed out on a really great day in Munich as well as someone I now treasure as a friend. Adam is still in Germany but I swear we talk more than I do to my friends who live in Sydney.
Moral of story – Don’t judge a traveller by their backpack!