My scariest experience travelling
My scariest experience travelling was completely self inflicted. I got myself into a situation, I could have avoided. What’s worse, is I should have known better!
I remember calling my boyfriend the day after, telling him the stupid mistake I had made, explaining to him how lucky I am to be speaking to him and not dead in a ditch. That’s when the severity of the situation really hit me.
We ended our conversation with him saying ‘be safe’. And I knew he really meant it.
People don’t usually believe me when I tell this story. They look me up and down, and I know what they’re thinking. But you’re wiser than that Chalsie! And I am. But I wasn’t for a moment of my life, and that could have caused me a whole lot of damage.
I guess I should start from the beginning...
Back in 2011, I embarked on a solo adventure to Europe. The second week I was in Berlin for four days, over New Years Eve. It just so happened a few old friends were renting an apartment in Berlin at the time, so I spent a lot of time with them, which suited me quite fine! One of these friends I’ve known since I was 6, we've considered each other sisters for a large portion of our lives, but we drifted apart as we grew older and went to separate schools – her name is Raquel. I however was staying in a backpackers. Turns out Berlin on New Years Eve is the place all Australian’s flock to. I was in an 8 bedroom dorm with 7 other Australians, all of which, bar one, were from Melbourne (go figure).
New Years Eve rolled around. It started with a bang, quite literally. Standing outside of the apartment, a group of boys lit and aimed fireworks at Raquel and I from across a square/piazza. We screamed in absolute horror and raced upstairs. Great start to the night!
After that we began drinking to welcome in the new year, naturally. We danced, we drank, we enjoyed ourselves. This is about all I can remember. I do remember feeling far too drunk and telling my friends I was just going to go home. But they reassured me that we would stick together, and I’d be okay. It was New Years Eve after all! So, I went on with the night, blinded by my drunkenness.
We made our way to the Brandenburg Gate.
I remember the crowd was unlike one I had ever experienced before. There were people everywhere, pressed up against each other, like a music festival but far worse. My friends and I linked arms, weaving through the crowd to find a better spot. Next minute Raquel and I were together alone, completely lost. We were far too drunk to even comprehend we had been separated from the others, and aimlessly wandered through the over packed streets in attempt to find the rest of our group.
Every bit of this night comes back to me in flashes. I still can’t recall every moment. I remember finally finding an area without people, an area to breath and take in what was happening. That was until two terrifying police shoved us back into the crowd, shouting at us.
I also remember a group of Turkish boys. Although we could never find our group of friends, these boys kept popping up. We exchanged niceties. We talked about our lives. We said goodbye. Then, there they were again. And again. And again. Oh how funny, we would laugh. We keep bumping into each other.
This went on for hours. It got to the point that most people had gone home. The streets were finally quiet. We found ourselves at an underground train station. Raquel went down in search for a bathroom, I waited on street level, terrified of what might lay down there. Everything was closed and security guards told her to leave. She came back to me waiting at the entrance.
Now this part I remember really well.
Suddenly a car pulled up. Down roll the windows, and there sat the Turkish boys we had been talking to all night. Again, we exchange niceties, and they offer to drive us home. I suddenly sobered up a little, and politely declined. But Raquel had other things on her mind. She just wanted to get home. And I couldn't blame her. She walked around to the car door, and got in. I told her no, I told her to get out, we would find another way.
She said to me, 'Chalsie, trust me'. So I got in.
Everything was fine. I gave them my hostel card that says 'Please take me to this address'. They said that was easy enough. We continued to talk for a bit. Then the three of them, oh so politely turned to us, and said, ‘so you know we’re now going to have sex’.
They said it with such conviction. They said it as though their plan had worked. I felt sick to my stomach.
Raquel turned to me, I could see in her eyes, what have I got us into?
'Now boys', I said with a smile on my face, 'you know we both have boyfriends'. We’d really been talking all night.
They didn’t give a shit. Suddenly, it all became so obvious.
'I’m sorry if we lead you on', I apologised. Very sincerely might I add. Because it’s the woman’s fault. Y’know, if a woman is drunk with no man in sight, she’s asking for it (note sarcasm).
'We really didn’t mean to lead you on. Please pull the car over, please let us out. We’re so sorry to do this to you', I apologise profusely.
The car jolted towards the curb, the driver turns to me, looks me in the eyes and says, 'get the fuck out of my car'.
We stumble out, taking in a breath of relief, as though it were our first breathe of air. After they drove off we look around us. We had absolutely no idea where we were. We stood there, attempting to hail a cab. It was New Years Eve, and somehow, after perseverance, we found one. We get in the cab and realise I'd left my hostel address with the Turkish boys. We had no idea where we were going.
'Take us to the East Side Gallery, we can direct you from there', desperate to get to somewhere familiar.
'I don’t know', he proclaims.
Seriously! He was probably the only cabbie in Berlin who didn't know where the East Side Gallery is! He drives on, and somehow finds it. We get back to the hostel, exhausted. I somehow remember to take my make up off. We fall asleep in our clothes, spooning each other.