Close encounters of the best kind.

Say yes to chit chat

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I was riding the Bernina Express when…

 

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…a family of six boarded the train at St. Moritz.

They were speaking a language I couldn’t make out.  I teach ESL so I am always interested in other languages.  I’m usually pretty good at guessing at languages, but I wasn’t getting close today.

The parents sat by themselves, a few rows away from their four children who were Exceptionally. Well. Behaved. The young mother, who looked to be about 38, never once raised her voice or told them to stop running, yelling, complaining, clamoring for food or drink, pushing, bothering each other, as you would expect with a traveling young family.

Who could they be?  I studied their clothes.   Was that a Chanel bag the Mother carried?  I caught a glimpse of the word Fendi woven into her white hijab.  I studied the kids.  Mulberry, North Face, Nike, Ugg. The daughters’ long hair was uncovered. They fascinated me, this charming family.

My traveling companion was unmoved but my curiosity boiled over.  I leaned over to the eldest daughter. “Hello!  Can I ask you what language you are speaking?”

It was Arabic.  They were a Saudi family from Riyadh on spring hols.  A week skiing in St. Moritz at the Kempinski, two days in Zurich at the Dolder Grand, then a week at the Four Seasons Istanbul.

“She’s an English teacher!” the daughter called to her Mother.   Excitement fluttered in the train car as the children gathered around me to practice their excellent English.  The parents came over to talk with me about online teaching and then we chit chatted about our lives.

Meanwhile, the snow covered alps, mysterious hidden villages, breathtaking vistas were unfolding around our traveling train car, making the experience all the more memorable.

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The Bernina Express on its own is a Magical Mystery Tour.  The power of “hello!” expanded my world beyond newspaper headlines, cable news and cultural cliches.  That’s what travel is about.

Just wanted to start off Monday morning, sharing this little story from my last trip.  Tell me about your ordinary extraordinary travel experiences!  We’re in this together, living passionately all the moments of our lives.

xo Liza

 

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