While studying abroad in Seville in college, a friend and I headed to Paris for our spring break. We scored amazingly cheap train tickets from Paris to Valencia, and being not yet seasoned travelers, we weren’t alarmed that that ride was scheduled to be two hours long. On a rainy Tuesday night we boarded the train at Gare du Nord, bid au revoir to Paris, and two hours later, at midnight, disembarked not in Valencia, Spain, but in Valence, France. We had booked the tickets on a Spanish website, so it had given us the Spanish names of French towns. Oops!
Over the next eighteen hours we boarded five more trains, going through Toulouse, Narbonne, Port Bou, Barcelona, and, finally, Valencia. We took turns telling the story to conductors and fellow passengers in whatever common language we could find while beautiful countryside filled the windows. I believe that this is the day I truly became a traveler; the day I learned that the unexpected makes the best stories. We slept very well that night, and have yet to have a more satisfying meal than the paella we devoured upon our arrival.