Sign In Existing Member?
Travel Writing 2017 Application

Walking Over the Border 2017

Making a local connection

Shirley Leung


We made a mad dash for the Venice bus station after realizing we were in the wrong station five minutes before boarding time for our bus to Ljubljana. We hopped over a turnstile and politely but assertively pushed tourist aside with our giant backpacks in order to get into the people mover which was supposed to take us to the right station. We waited anxiously as we saw the minute handle on the clock move past our departure time hoping our bus was behind schedule.
Needless to say, we missed the bus and the next one is scheduled for the next day. With no way to cancel our hostel reservations and with little money in our pockets for a last minute reservation in Venice, we decided to brave the ambiguity and take a regional train to Nova Gorica, a tony time bordering Italy and Slovenia. Our plan was to walk across the border and take a bus to the capital.
Fortunately, we weren’t the only pair in distress. A nice Canadian couple in their mid-twenties were in the same situation and agreed to venture with us. Their shared their lovely version of poor-man’s sangria, a combination of boxed wine and Fanta and we were ecstatic. As an 18 years old at the time, cheap and free alcohol still fascinated us. We drank as we watched the sunset. It was 9pm by the time we arrived in Nova Gorica.
We walked to the bus station only to find out the next bus to Ljubljana wasn’t until the next morning. Without a place to stay and with no alternative plan, we tried hitchhiking only to realize we were repeatedly mistaken as poorly dressed prostitutes. Since Ljubljana was only 100km away, we tried our luck with the local taxis but balked at the 150 euro price tag. Defeated and pooped after a long day, we planned to sleep at the bus station overnight when we happened upon a kind stranger who mercifully came up to us and agreed to take us for 80 euros—basically, 20 euros each. We graciously hopped in and he was super nice. We spoke about politics, the genocide, and US foreign policy.
Being from a big city like New York, I grew up with my guards up around strangers and never got the time to know the people around me. Travelling changed that because often times, I have to rely on the kindness of strangers around me to feel at home. When we arrived at our hostel, we passed out immediately after a long day of traveling to prepare for a new day of exploring.

View other entries - View all