I just read the travel news for this month and was inspired by the "Travel Tale of the Month: Mistakes make Magic Moments". My favorite mistake was when my husband and I were driving back to Siena from a day in Florence. We wanted to take the "fast" superstrada, but I (as the navigator) made the mistake of putting us on a smaller road that goes from Florence through Greve and into Siena. When I realized my mistake, I told my husband we needed to turn around and go back. He said "NO, I am not driving in Florence again" (yea, it really is a mistake to drive in Florence). I was heartbroken since I knew it would take us a lot longer to get back to Siena and cut into our time there. However, We spent the next 3 hours joy riding through the hills of Chianti and seeing some of the most beautiful scenery. We stopped for a bottle of wine in one small village. End of the story: We returned in 2008 and stayed in an agritourismo in Greve. There are no "mistakes" on a vacation, only a change in plans and a new opportunity.
Connie, I love your take on "mistake" as a "new opportunity". I totally agree!
We got on the wrong train in Colmar on our way to Strasbourg. Our train went to Strasbourg, but happened to be the TGV to Paris. By the time we realized we had erred, the train doors would not open. Oh darn, we had to spend and extra two nights in Paris! I'm happy for any "mistakes" that result in my spending more time in Paris.
My wife and I had returned to Madrid to fly back to the states at the end of a two month trip. I was sitting at the desk in the hotel room looking at our air tickets and asked my wife what the date was. She told me and I had to inform her that we should have been on the airplane that morning, not the next day. Oops!
Because of the time difference between Madrid and Seattle, I knew our travel agent was open so I called and for lots more money we then had tickets to fly out in the morning. It was election day in the United States and we stopped watching returns on the television about midnight. At about 4:00 the next morning we were awoken by hundreds of people chanting Obama, Obama, Obama in the square in front of the Hotel Europa. It was very exciting for me to see so many out that early expressing their happiness with the american election results. Now all I have to do when traveling is to watch the schedule for returning home after a trip.
It isn't my only or necessarily favorite mistake, but we missed the Autostrada on the way to Bolzano and ended up on a parallel road. We could have rejoined after a few miles, but we enjoyed driving through towns, buying fruit from a truck, and watching the Autostrada go through tunnels and over bridges. Much more scenic!
One of my favorite mistakes involves the train to Florence...or so I thought.
I remember being thrilled when I got my first glimpse of Brunelleschi's dome. It was definitely one of those,as Rick calls them, "Pinch me I'm in Europe!" moments. But instead of getting closer, the dome slid past into the distance. Leave it to me to get on the train to Rome that only stops at one of the outlying stations in Florence! Part of the story is how I ended up getting off at Arezzo, spending the night and accidentally discovering a charming little city.
But what really stays with me to this day is how sweet and caring my fellow passengers were. My Italian came from a phrasebook and their English wasn't much better, but they took great pains to explain how I could get off at Arezzo and get the next train back. There was no eye-rolling at the stupidity of tourists, only genuine concern. They seemed to make it their personal duty to make sure the helpless little American woman got to her destination:)
Almost as bad as Charles. There are some drawbacks to doing all of your own reservations on the Internet. No one to blame. Booked a cruise thinking it was going to one set of port but actually went in the opposite direction to a completely different set of ports. Still a great trip and gave us an excuse to go the next year in the direction that we had originally intended.
We had two on a recent trip:
One - we were looking for a lake in southern Germany, and could never find it - even with the GPS. The fun thing was though... we drove all around the Salzkammer and Lake District on a beautiful May evening, and enjoyed the most stunning country side while laughing out ourselves.
Two - Later on that same trip we headed down to Italy, and my sister had the volume down on the GPS. She failed to realize the arrow showing her where to go was saying, "go here, and make a u-turn, go here and make a u-turn". We wound up 1/2 way to Bosnia (literally) before I woke up and asked why the Adriatic was on the wrong side of the car. Didn't do much else that day, but it has definitely turned into an oft told tale of family lore, and a good laugh (at our own expense). =)
I don't have a story from Europe, but I have one from California. While researching the trip, I came across this restaurant called the Pelican Inn that sounded really cool. However, the location was such, that I figured we would never find it (this was about six years ago before I ever heard of a GPS). So I forgot about it.
Months later on the trip -- when we were driving from the Muir Woods to the Napa Valley, we got confused and disoriented and missed a turn. We ended up on this long narrow road that I knew was the wrong road and I was really discouraged because our time in Napa was fairly limited. Seconds later, we pulled around a bend, and there it was -- the Pelican Inn! I screamed - Stop here! We had the most delightful lunch on the patio with a fire in the fireplace. Great food; charming atmosphere; even our teenage boys loved it.