The dark side of the thrill

There is a point in solo-travel when you get uncomfortably nervous. It only comes once in a while and you can recognize it right away by the feeling it leaves in all of your vital organs and on both sides of your limbs and you can separate it from sheer excitement by the squeaking sensitivity in the back of your head. And it’s not the same as simply being worried about missing your flight because of the bus delay and constantly checking your watch. It’s much nearer to the reaction of your guts when a somewhat odd guy sits next to you and just doesn’t stop talking and asking you for your phone number or time to meet-up. It’s the point when your desire to walk everywhere and get lost in the unknown streets turns against you.

It sometimes happens in Porto, on your first day there, only a few hours after you arrived and found an empty hostel bed at the last minute. It probably happens just when you start to love the rough side of the city, its messy mood and buildings with a character. It always happens after the night falls and when you still aren’t anything near your intended location. You know: when you come to the same place over and over again, not sure which turn you already took before, looking around for someone, but the square is empty and street lamps hardly shed a light on its corners. You have no idea where you are really. You realize your map (if you have one) is of no help at all. Then, your intuition plays a funny trick on you, saying you should take the darkest and the narrowest street of all.

So, you do. And guess what: it was right, as always. In ten minutes or so, you’re already taking a shower, forgetting about the intimidating feeling you had not so long ago, improving your mood by mute whistling. Because that’s how it goes: if you’re lucky enough to pass that point smoothly, you never think of it again with that same nervous feeling. While remembering it, you always confuse it with the exciting bits and believe they are all the same. Your memory only keeps the thrill.

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