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An Open Letter To The Stranger Who Influenced My Life

An Open Letter To The Stranger Who Influenced My Life

During my travels around Italy, I lost a friend and made a a new friend, a stranger who would show me what travelling is all about.

The average person is meant to meet 80,000 people in a lifetime, but how many of these people will play starring or brief roles in your life? If you think of the people you meet on a daily basis, most of the time you never have reason to think of them again. But the odd few memorable ones will be people who have influenced you or provided something memorable to your lives. The following stranger made a huge difference to my day and trip, and I am grateful for running into him that day.

First meeting 

Dear stranger,

The day we met I had my head buried within a guide book wandering around Dodges Palace in Venice. You approached me and complimented my pink hat, and asked if you could join me, I agreed and we started talking about how we ended up in Venice.   


Lost friend 

I was feeling a little upset, my friend who I was travelling around Italy with for the next month, decided she wasn’t enjoying herself and going home the following day. I was experiencing a range of emotions. But I had spent months planning every detail of the trip and paid for hotels, train passes & flights in advance – I was finishing this trip alone even though it terrified me!    

When I told you I was finishing the trip alone, you started laughing which upset me until you explained why, you had also been left alone by a travel companion. You explained how you had planned to go with your friend, when she cancelled you had invited someone else – but you quickly realised you were very different and parted ways days into the trip. Your story comforted me, as you were a more experienced traveller and you reassured me that it was quite normal for this kind of thing to happen.   

Things in common 

We walked around the palace admiring our surroundings and talking about our vastly different lives. I was just finishing my History degree and spending the summer travelling. And you being a Marine Biologist from Australia travelling around Europe.   


I remember leaving the palace and thinking we would part ways, we sat sharing a pretzel pondering our next moves. We both discussed how it was our final evening in Venice, before we both moved onto different cities. You suggested a gondola ride and explained how you wanted to experience it in Venice but you didn’t want to do it alone. I had been thinking the same thing my whole time in Venice and how it would be unbearable alone. If we hadn’t met in the palace, I would have taken a gondola ride in the evening alone.   

The gondola ride 

We found our way to the canal and flagged down an empty gondola, it was an extremely bizarre experience to share with a stranger. Extremely romantic just as the sun was setting. The gondolier assumed we were a couple, we had to correct him that we had in fact only met 3 hours ago. Confused, the gondolier got back to rowing and left us to take photos and laugh for the rest of the ride.    

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Whilst I was sat there with you, a complete stranger, I thought this is why I came to Italy to have new experiences and get out of my comfort zone. I am a very organised person; I like every aspect of my life perfectly planned down to the second and this imperfect day was actually my favourite day of the whole trip. After the gondola ride, we went for some dinner and a few glasses of wine, we exchanged details promising to meet up in another city throughout our travels.    

Missed connections 

We never did meet again, we exchanged calls but our schedules seemed to just miss one another. When I was arriving in Rome you were just leaving or when I got to the Amalfi Coast, you were at the opposite end. But our chance meeting in Venice changed my trip, my friend left for England the following day and I was positive I was going to have a wonderful time alone. I would like to thank you for showing me that.   



Jasmine, the girl with the pink hat  

Have you ever had a stranger influence your life? Or have you had a similar experience travelling to me? Comment below so we can share our stories!