Saturday, 4 January 2014

My Best Unexpected Travel Moments of 2013

So you have been reading about my travel experiences for a while here on my blog. To greet the New Year, I'd like to write a post about the unexpected travel moments of 2013.

1) Seeing a Bollywood movie being filmed in Santorini
Last June I was in the beautiful island of Santorini. While I was walking down a street in Fira, the main town, I saw a group of Indian people blocking the street. I realized almost immediately that they were filming a movie, as two young actors were standing in front of one of the most famous panoramic points of the island, kissing and hugging, while a man was filming them. A couple of assistants were making sure that nobody could get too close, and a slightly cheesy Hindi song was playing in the background.

Beautiful Santorini
I stopped to watch for a while, and I quickly realized that I had already seen that actor somewhere, so I asked a girl if the protagonists were famous. She told me that they were both very famous and she told me their names: Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif. I had a closer look at him, and suddenly I remembered him from a Hindi movie where he plays emperor Akhbar! I managed to take this shot of the leading actor, before an assistant told me that pictures were not permitted.

The movie they were filming is called "Bang Bang", and it's going to be a spy story to be released in 2014. I have been to movie sets before (I live in Venice, remember?), but this was a lot smaller. In Venice, when they are filming a movie, they close all the area and you have to find another way to reach your destination. Security is so tight that you can barely see the actors. In this case, the actors were very close and you could totally go and speak to one of them during a break. As a matter of fact, a girl did. She was very excited and kept saying that she couldn't believe her luck. Even though I didn't see any Bollywood dance (how cool would that be?), I really enjoyed the experience, and now I have this quirky travelling moment under my belt.

Bang bang
2) Missing a bus just to catch a ride 
During my short trip to Slovenia last summer I hiked to Savica Waterfall from Lake Bohinj. Because I was doing everything with public transport, I had only two buses back to the place where I was staying, one at 16.30 and another at 18.30. While I was still hiking my way up to the waterfall (there are 20-30 minutes of steps to reach it), I realized that I would never catch the first bus, as it was already four. I would have to wait for almost two hours to take the next bus, and there wasn't much to do in the area. I thought I would just sit somewhere, order a coffee and read a book, when I met a group of three young men speaking Spanish.

The Waterfall
It turned out that two of them were from Colombia, and the third was in fact Slovenian. Igor, the Slovenian guy, was a treasure trove of information about his country. They had a car, so they took me back to Lake Bohinj, where we all stopped for a beer. I learned a lot about Slovenia: its history, its troubled relationship with Italy, and its struggle to preserve all the natural beauty it has. Igor also took us to have coffee and cake in the most famous cake shop in Bled. The four of us also visited Bled castle together, and at the end of the day they accompanied me back to my hostel, as I was a bit tired after the long hike. It was an unexpected turn of my day, so far dedicated to the contemplation of nature and to silence. Who said that it's more difficult to make friends while backpacking Europe?

3)  Getting lost in Istanbul at night
Istanbul is not considered a particularly unsafe town, but getting lost in a new city is always scary. Moreover, I was slightly out of my comfort zone, in a country whose culture is not thoroughly European and where the native language is not one that I know. I was walking back from the European side of Istanbul, after a visit to the Galata Tower and Beyoğlu area.
Galata Tower at night
Galata Tower by night

Galata Tower, Istanbul
Galata Tower by day

Somehow, I got lost! Finally, after walking down unfamiliar alleys, I reached a bridge. I thought it was the Galata Bridge, because I could see a mosque with its grey minarets on the other side of the bridge, and I thought it was the New Mosque. I  had crossed the Galata Bridge on my way to the European side just a few hours before. It was already dark, around 10.30 in the evening, and it took me a while to realize that I was on the wrong bridge! Moreover, somebody had pointed out the area past that second bridge as unsafe. I wondered if that was true. I decided to make my way back and cross the Golden Horn on the bridge I knew already. There was nobody around to ask for directions, only an old lady. Of course, she didn't speak English. The only thing she could do was pointing the Galata Bridge.

Galata Bridge, Istanbul
Fishing at the Galata Bridge

It was to my right, but how far it looked! The streets were dim, the sidewalks all dilapidated, there was nobody around, and I was scared. What if I ended up in an unsafe part of the city? After all, Istanbul is big. In the end, nobody harassed me, nothing happened to me and, after A LONG time of walking, I made it to the tram stop in Karaköy. I was helped by a couple of concierges along the way. No catcalls, no shady characters, no dangers along the way. This taught me that there is always a silver lining, even when things are going wrong. 

I hope to have more unexpected travel moments in 2014. Last year, between writing a PhD dissertation and enjoying my new apartment in Venice, I travelled, but not as much as I had hoped for. My trip to India vanished and I'm stull looking for a travel companion to go to Morocco. These are two countries I've been wanting to visit for a while now. I hope to find a way to visit one of these two in the near future...


  1. I can totally relate to this post. I was back home for holiday in Poland and I felt an urge to go somewhere. I went online and booked flight tickets to Crete, last minute choice, so unexpected. I had an amazing time in Greece, one of the best. The landscape took my breath away and locals were so hospitable. I regret not going to Santorini, but maybe next time :). LOVE your photos!

    1. Yes, Santorini is very close to Crete, so I took the chance. I had always wanted to visit it. I'm in that mood where I could book random plane tickets right now... I'd like to go to Morocco, but alone? I keep hearing opposing stories about the men there.

  2. Getting lost anywhere can be disconcerting at best...especially at night. I would have been panicked, too....The unexpectedness is such a great reason to travel...don't you think?

    1. You're right, when you travel you never know what's behind the next corner...

  3. How lucky of you to spot Hrithik Roshan and even click a picture of him! Getting lost in Istanbul is not that great, but you managed to have a thrilling 2013. :)

    1. Yes, indeed. Getting lost in Istanbul was not so great, you'r e right, but it was unexpected and I managed to get away from it with one more experience...

  4. I'm actually someone who finds themselves lot constantly, so I definitely know how you feel. It can be a little frightening at times, but can make for fun great unexpected adventures to! =)

  5. hi..tell me they were hugging and kissing on or off screen? coz there is a rumor about an affair between them

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


01 09 10