There's nothing more fulfilling in a travel experience than crossing paths with individuals in a foreign place. I can't buy nor eat my way through to feel this kind of experience. There are few individuals I have met along the way, but here's one story to share.
Meet the German Paul. (Earlier on from my trip, there was English Paul at Sachsenhausen.)
Paul was one of the fellows from the cheerful Cottbus fan gang. He happen to come onto the same train car as and I nodded at his direction. He admits to being quite excited to be able to converse in English to us all. "It's been years that I could speak English," he says. The reason why he's holding a train ticket is after he informed me and my friends of how much cheaper would could have gone to Dresden for by purchasing a group pass instead of individuals. OF course.
Paul entertained us on a leg of our unnecessary 4-hour long train ride back to Berlin from Dresden (it's only a 2.5 hours going). Who knows where the train took us, but this moment made up for the enduring long quiet journey.
The usual exchange of comparing our two countries (the States' absurd healthcare system, the education system, the lack of legal vacation days – this always gets the Germans to gape at you) ensues. We learn about each other this way and without the superiority attitude (but, it always feel that the other country has it better).
Despite the pros and cons of life in a certain country, Paul goes, "I want to visit New York. It's truly one of my dreams to. My cousin is very excited that she's finally realizing her dream to visit the States. To visit New York." Forget the rest of the US country.
For me, that kind of romantic fancy with foreigners across the world amazes me and rekindles a sense of warmth if not appreciation for my home country. I've been living in New York City far too long to remember that people can still have dreams in such a unpleasant place. But, what am I saying? It's not like NYC is a horrid war zone, divided by ideals and religion... okay, I'll stop there.
We're all messed up. No country is perfect. And, no city is perfect without The Big City Snuff Mentality. It's part of the [unpleasant] charm in New York City, at least.
My wishes to Paul in visiting NYC someday.