Making friends with your neighbors in foreign countries

Although I have enjoyed living and traveling to many different cities, some think it is more glamorous than it actually is. I think this post will highlight the less-than perfect and mundane moments of travel.

I’ve been pretty lucky to have only ever dealt with lost luggage once or twice. So, when I was preparing for an overseas job to Armenia with a long layover in Vienna, I decided to take only essentials so I could easily enjoy exploring the city. My optimism and excitement for 17 hours to enjoy endless strudel, schnitzel, palaces, and a concert in Mozart's flirtatious city made me disregard all caution when packing my carry-on.

Hello, Vienna! Took this picture of the Riesenrad while biking through Leopoldstadt.


At the airport, I checked everything and in my carryon packed:  toothpaste, water-bottle, iPad, umbrella (because I heeded the advice of the weather man, who was wrong #typical), running shoes (I have a goal to run in 100 countries before I die), and because it was an overnight flight, a change of clothes.

Anyone know if H&M is some sort of Catholic charity or has the church just rebranded itself wink? History Lesson: This church was constructed to honor the survival of Franz Joseph from a knife-attack; his nephew’s assassination led to WWI. 


Vienna, of course, was practically perfect in part because I could wander around sans baggage. Later, my luck ran out: in the middle of the night, after a 2 hour wait to get through Armenian customs, I arrived at baggage claim only to wait forever as the carousel rotated without ever delivering my bags. I had enough confidence in the airline’s promise that it would deliver my bags in two days and left the airport, again, with basically running shoes and my umbrella. 

I grabbed a taxi, found my new apartment, regretted not packing more clothes, wished that laundry-mats were more of a European thing, and resigned myself to another sleepless night of laundry. Thankfully, I was an expert at washing my clothes in hotel sinks, and quickly finished and hung it out to dry with enough time to get a few hours of sleep.

Windows with stunning views of the opera house, Soviet-Mother Armenia, the Ferris wheel, and the Cascades! Just not great windows for hanging clothes!


The excitement to be back in Armenia gave me enough energy to wake up on-time. But, the breezy-morning and the vulnerable 10th floor balcony quickly turned my excitement into more frustration. There was a reason someone invented the clothespin, and I definitely learned it on the dawn of Armenian Independence Day. The wind had spared half of my laundry, while the other half was precariously perched on my neighbors 9th floor balcony. You know how in some countries, it’s custom to bring cookies or some small gift to meet your new neighbors. I decided, in Armenia, the best way to introduce yourself to your neighbor is to gift them your clothes. And I think they accepted, since an hour later they were gone. I did receive the rest of my luggage the next day and purchased clothespins to use the next time I did laundry.