Love Around the World

Love Around the World

After not traveling for 18 years, the travel bug hit, and I just completed my fourth international trip in eight months. What have I learned? I’ve seen beautiful sites and learned about many cultures, but more than anything, I’ve experienced love around the world.

Some examples:

• In Berlin, when I was taking the U-Bahn for the first time, the ticket machine would not take my 10 Euro bill. Two women in the underground then gave me change so that I could get my ticket. I did not ask them for this; they freely offered.

• When I was in Vienna and started crying because I was so lost with directions, people banded around me to comfort me. I didn’t speak German, and they didn’t speak English, but they spoke the language of comforting love.

With the minimal English that some spoke, people on one side of the road told me I needed a bus going one direction to get to the Belvedere Museum. When I crossed the road to take the other direction, the people told me that I needed to go back across the street and take the other direction.

I couldn’t figure it out from the bus map or signs and that’s when I started to cry. I had limited time and was trying to get to the museum before it closed to see the Klimt painting, The Kiss. After receiving people’s comfort and regaining my center, I took a taxi. The driver was honorable with the fare and got me to the museum before it closed. I realized my dream and saw the famous Klimt.

• When I was lost trying to find my way to a Prague opera, the man whom I asked directions of looked up the route on his phone. I had Google Maps opened in English, and he had it opened in Czech. It was a precious moment. I made it to the opera on time thanks to Google maps in multiple languages and the kindness of the Czech stranger.

• When I wanted to take public transportation from the Berlin airport to save money to get to my hotel, a man that I met at the bus stop said he was going on the same bus and underground and could show me the way. He was getting off on a stop before me but could show me the right direction. I got to my hotel easily and within budget!

• In Berlin, when I was trying to find an S-Bahn station after a concert, a woman offered to show me the way and said that she was my angel who had dropped out of heaven. Her name was Gudrun, which means “divine knowledge” in German. She was out later that night because she needed to get her bike, which was parked below the station. I boarded the right train and got home quickly and safely.

• In London, my tour guide spent part of his free time walking me to the Old Globe Theatre. He also walked me to the water taxi which I needed to take and asked the workers there to help me get on the right boat. He did not have to do this, and it was on his own time. I appreciated the kindness of this Londoner who helped me traverse his beloved city.

• On my last day in London, I waited extra-long for a bus to return to my hotel to meet my tour group. I was stressed because the bus took longer than usual. It finally came, and a Muslim woman in a hijab sat next to me. She was stressed because she was also on a time schedule. We spent the 10-minute ride commiserating and empathizing with one another and brightened both of our days.

Our religions were different, but our insides were the same. We wished each other a good day and smiled, refreshed by our meeting.

Thus, love is what I found across the world. People helping out, giving their time, expressing their hearts, and befriending a stranger. No one had to do this. The force of love, which is stronger than borders, prevailed.

My phone is filled with photos, and my mind is enriched by all that I learned, but my biggest travel gift was the love I experienced around the world.

Formerly unknown people and places blessed my life, and I hope that someday, I can pass on such kindness.

Jennifer K. Jordan

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