Stories of chance encounters bringing people — and animals — together, helping to form lifelong connections and making for crazy experiences
When they happen, we tend to remember them for life. A chance encounter can strike on your morning walk to your local supermarket, during a heated discussion on social media in the middle of the night, or while sitting on the train on the other side of the planet. Sometimes all you have to do is just let the moment flow and see how far it takes you. Because without these crazy stories I wouldn’t be writing this article right now.
Finally found a missing football pin
A long-lasting friendship can start over something seemingly insignificant. Like a football pin at a flamenco concert. Salvador from Spain recalls the day he met his new friend and a football enthusiast, Stefan.
“I met Stefan when I was attending a concert of Miguel Poveda in Vienna. He was the concierge of the music hall,” recounts Salvador about his chance meeting with Stefan.
“I was studying in Jihlava on Erasmus and decided to attend that concert in Vienna as it wasn’t too far and I’d never attended such a concert before. In the queue, I started talking with Stefan and when he realized I was from Spain, he asked me for something he’d been seeking for years — a Córdoba Cf pin for his personal collection.
“As a supporter of Rapid Wien, Stefan collects pins from all the teams that wear white and green. Stefan promised if I send that pin to him he will invite me to a Rapid Wien match. I did my part of the deal and he did his and we went to a match. His wife offered to cook lunch for me and Stefan showed me his football museum room,” Salva continues.
“We are still in touch and we call each other every month. We started an amazing friendship.”
Almost like a scene from a romantic movie, Lucie and Pierre met just hours before their window of opportunity would close for good and decided to make the most of it. Back in 2017, these two tourists, one from the Czech Republic and one from France, were staying at the same hostel in London and became friends over a missing internet connection.
“One night I was walking around the hostel searching for an internet connection when I bumped into a group of travelers. We started chatting and that’s how I met Pierre,” says Lucie.
“He was supposed to leave the following morning, so we decided we should make the time count. Along with two other travelers we took a night trip around London — we saw all the famous monuments and ended up watching the sunrise over the Thames, right next to the Big Ben.”
After their encounter, Lucie and Pierre had stayed in touch for months until one day, she found a cheap flight ticket to Paris.
“I brought a friend to go see Pierre in France for a week. Together we took a road trip through Normandy and afterward we traveled to Versailles and Paris. Pierre has visited me in Brno at least four more times since then and my family even began inviting him to family gatherings. He is currently living in Austria, so as soon as the restrictions are eased, we will definitely meet either in Linz or in Brno,” Lucie adds.
“If it wasn’t for the pandemic we probably would have seen each other a year ago already. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do another road trip soon, perhaps to a place neither of us has visited before!” Pierre comments.
Love from a pet shelter in Thailand
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Unexpected encounters don’t always happen just between people. Anna was visiting Thailand when she chanced upon a four-legged friend in a pet shelter. She wasn’t on the market for a dog but decided to adopt her anyway.
“In December 2018, my boyfriend, my sister, her husband and I were on vacation in Koh Lanta, Thailand, and wanted to spend Christmas at the animal shelter. We got a tour of the shelter, learned about their mission and the problem with stray dogs in Thailand,” says Anna.
“We met all their dogs and cats — and one of them was Ellie! My heart instantly melted. She was so needy and instantly trusting. I visited her every day for two weeks and decided to adopt her. I am so glad I did!”
When adopting a cat or a dog, Lanta animal welfare takes care of all the necessary paperwork, health checks, and vaccinations. Ellie had to stay in Thailand for another 90 days to get the vaccinations and paperwork done and in the meantime, the shelter was sending Anna regular updates and photos.
“In the meantime, I found someone who could bring her to her new ‘forever home’. We reunited at the airport when she arrived in April 2019. It took her a couple of days to get used to her new surroundings, but then we started bonding immediately. I love life with her and can’t imagine my life without a dog anymore!” Anna adds.
On a mission to help the wildlife
Both Martina and Alex were traveling the world in early 2020 before their journeys brought them to Borneo, Malaysia to volunteer at a Marine Conservation and Wildlife Care project.
“We first met in a tiny hostel full of lizards and cockroaches in Kota Kinabalu. Since we had had a few extra days before the project started, we decided to make them count and go for a small boat trip to visit some beautiful islands. Our first memory — snorkeling on a tropical island with a lot of jellyfish,” says Martina.
“We’ve been great travel buddies since our meeting in Malaysia. Alex visited me in Slovakia and I showed him the country’s beautiful nature while hiking in the High Tatras. We traveled to the Czech Republic and last summer we went to Portugal for a surf trip.
“Alex is an experienced traveler, so he pushes my boundaries and limits when it comes to traveling. I want to explore more unusual travel destinations, such as Pakistan or Algeria and these destinations are next on our travel list,” adds Martina.
Three’s a crowd
Sitting in a coffee shop near Riyadh, Majid got an earful of a language that sounded familiar. He recognized it as Czech and was immediately taken back to the three years he spent in the Czech Republic playing for a local football team.
“It was a hot summer’s day and as I was settling into my chair in a coffee shop, out of nowhere I heard someone speak Czech. It caught me by surprise and I thought to myself: ‘I have to meet these people.’ And that’s how I got to know Lucie and Kamila,” says Majid about the chance encounter.
The three of them started chatting and Majid offered to be their guide on the way to Bahrain: “We set out the next day from Riyadh to Bahrain — my home town is located nearby so it only made sense we travel together.
“Sometimes it’s nice to meet complete strangers and connect with them despite our varied backgrounds. This meeting was a pure coincidence! We had a great time visiting some cool spots in Bahrain together. We still keep in touch and I’m planning to return to the Czech Republic when the pandemic situation allows,” continues Majid.
Once upon a time in Ljubljana…
Back in 2018, James and his friend from Ireland and Lucie with her two friends from the Czech Republic won free train tickets as part of the Discover EU initiative. The two groups chanced upon each other at a hostel in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
“Young adults from all over Europe can sign up to win Interrail tickets through the contest and travel for up to seven days anywhere in the continent for free. And we did!” Lucie explains.
“James was with his friend and I was with two of mine. We were all put in the same room and one evening we ended talking until late into the night, learning about each other’s cultures and lives. The next morning my friends and I left at 6 am to continue on our trip.”
The two groups only exchanged first names at the hostel and had no way of reconnecting. At least they thought so: “All of us happened to be in a Facebook group for travelers who won the train tickets and the other group noticed and reacted to pictures we shared there,” continues Lucie.
The pandemic has slowed their friendship down but James and Lucie have managed to meet despite the difficulties.
“The highlight of our friendship was definitely Lucie’s trip to Galway when she got to see where I live and meet some of my family. I’m really excited about visiting Brno and trying some Czech beer once travel is permitted again!” James concludes.
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