It had been a very busy day – 6 hours of tours and museums since I had breakfast and hunger overtook my desire to keep exploring. Once I acknowledged my hunger I couldn’t focus on anything else and didn’t want to wander aimlessly in search of a meal.
So I took advantage of the free wi-fi at the National Gallery of Ireland and googled restaurants near me. The first one to pop up was an Italian cafe that had a great menu and was only a 3 minute walk. Done.
I walked in and asked the server what she recommended.
“I just had the best panini ever! You must try it!”
The voice – with an Irish accent just mild enough that I understood it – came from the woman behind me. She pointed to the mozzarella and pesto sandwich I had already been eyeing and my choice was made.
“Where are you from?” she asked. “I love your accent.”
(I always find that so entertaining when people that have strong accents comment on my accent.)
When I told her Vancouver we were off. Her son was moving to Vancouver – what a small world…you were destined to come in here then.
And so I got my sandwich and pulled up a chair.
Her name was Mary and by the end of our all too short 45 minutes together we had swapped life stories, several laughs and even some sombre moments.
She gave me her phone number just in case I needed a friend in the city. I told her how much my own mother would appreciate that gesture.
She told me the best places to eat and visit and where I should avoid. I promised I wouldn’t be out after dark alone.
When I told her I was a writer she said she Maeve Binchy (famous Irish women’s fiction writer) and told me all of her writing tricks. I am definitely going to be using some of them to my advantage.
Going into that cafe was fate. Meeting Mary was meant to be.
Encounters like this one with Mary are what my trip is all about. I wanted to meet real people and find out more about them. I wanted interesting stories to weave into my novels. I wanted inspiration for my writing.
In Mary I found all of those things and I can only say thank you.
For saying hello to a stranger visiting your city. For sharing so much of yourself and making me feel so comfortable. For just being you.