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Bad Trip Reports

Any of you fine folks have some humorous stories of trips gone bad or certain parts of it that went awry? I don't mean anything involving death or serious injury, but things that went wrong that weren't at all funny at the time.

I'll share one. We're doing a self drive of Ireland and the rental car GPS goes kaputski day 1 lol. Mary and I ain't big computer people so we couldn't figure out how to use the cell phone Google maps or whatever. Doggone I ended up stopping at over 6 places in Galway trying to find our B&B. It was awful my friends. Thank goodness the Irish people were so friendly and helpful or we woulda had to sleep in the car! It was also rather embarrassing.

So what do you folks got?

Take care -- Big Mike

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3283 posts

We had some minor mishaps with a rental car the first time we went to France. No, sorry, no tickets or accidents! A few times we were really not so much lost but unable to find hotels and that kind of thing. The locals always helped. In Colmar, I ran into a bar for directions to the hotel and a patron actually got up from his stool and walked me the few blocks to the inn while my husband sat puzzled watching from the car. A couple times we asked people and we got little maps drawn for us on scrap paper that I saved. Everyone was so nice! We had an especially amusing time in the Loire. We accidentally drove a couple miles on a bike trail! We had been experiencing a lot of really narrow roads so initially it didn't seem so odd, but then we realized the road seemed especially narrow and we were not encountering other cars. When we got to the end we learned what the bike trail sign looked like! We also went the wrong way down a one way street, we realized it immediately and were amused that no one honked, they just moved over and made room. Lastly, early in the morning we were driving from Amboise to the train station in Tours. I was the navigator and fell asleep. I woke up and realized the Loire River was now on my left. Apparently, my husband got a little confused on a round about and we were backtracking!

Posted by
1168 posts

Well, as the line goes, "Some people just aren't cut out for the open road." Kidding !

We also had a lady working in a liquor store in Kenmare kindly draw us a map. I felt like such a doofus.

Posted by
46 posts

We always have a few little mishaps/adventures. Just copied a one day from my travel journal to Paris.

Friday October 20, 2017
Get up, we’re going on a bike tour of Paris!

Before we head out for the day we grab a quick breakfast at the hotel. When I booked our room it also included breakfast everyday. The breakfast room is in a stone cave like room and decorated very Parisian Chic. The breakfast includes: scrambled eggs, cold cuts, croissants, toast, cereal, jam, juice, & coffee. The coffeemaker is a little intimidating. It does more than just make “coffee”.

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved riding a bike. So big daddy has agreed to appease my fantasy of riding around Paris on a bicycle. So, I have booked us on the “Paris Charms & Secrets” 4 hour morning Bike Tour.

We have decided to take a taxi to our tour meeting point. We don’t want to be late since we will be charged even if we do not show up. The meeting point is “Place Vendome”.
This area has some of the most expensive real estate in all of Paris. Just a mere 15,798€ per square meter. No wonder the taxi driver started laughed when big daddy said I should feel right at home here.

Our tour guide,Fabian, is fantastic. He made everyone feel right at home. Funny thing, he looked right at big daddy when he asked if everyone had a least been on a bike in the last 3 months! Now mind you, the last time big daddy was on a bike things didn’t go so well. I can still hear his famous last words, “Here we go!”. Next thing I knew, big daddy was crashing to the ground. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. He had tried to takeoff and didn’t realize his handlebars were turned backwards!

Fabian led us to a parking garage and we were given quick instructions on how to operate our e-bikes. When you 1st take off, the e-bike is a little speedy and Big daddy about crashed before he ever got out of the parking garage.

I’m sure I scared a few pedestrians that I barely missed, but I did yell out, “Sorry, excusee moi!” Before long we are zooming down the street and weaving in and out of traffic.
We even survived biking the famous Arc de Triomphe roundabout! Google it, lol

At one point, I missed big daddy. When I looked back I saw the police had him pulled over. He told me they were speaking French and he couldn’t understand a thing they were saying. So he just shrugged his shoulders and finally the driver leaned over and in plain English said “Just keep to the right.”

Today we covered a lot of ground in 4 1/2 hours. We stopped at a patisserie where they spoke no English but my sign language worked fine. We saw and heard so many amazing stories. Standing in the same place where the 1st page of the Declaration of Independence was written is mind blowing. But seeing and reading the tear stained letter Marie Antoinette wrote before her death was heart wrenching. The pain and agony she must must felt leaving her children was unthinkable.

We are having so much fun that we didn’t even realize our tour had lasted 4 1/2 hours. Hands down it is one of the best things we have ever done. It will definitely be one of our most memorable and talked about experiences. It was well worth 98€ total for 2 people.

After. the tour was over we decide to walk to “Angelina”. Angelina is a famous tea house located at 226 Rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Angelina is known primarily for its almost pudding-like hot chocolate (chocolat l'africain) and for its Mont Blanc dessert.

When we arrive, there is a line but it moves quickly. Much to my disappointment, it’s to early for “Afternoon Tea”. So, I settle for macaroons and there infamous hot chocolate. Big daddy is having hot tea and “Coupe Rivoli”. Which is a fancy ice cream sundae. After all, we have calories to burn after our bike ride.

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46 posts

Oct. 20, 2017 (Continued)
Afterwards, we decided to walk back to our hotel and do a little souvenir shopping for the grandchildren. It was really easy to navigate using google maps and my skyroam. I had purchased the skyroam prior to our trip. Skyroam is a Mobile WiFi device that works around the world. My power bank and skyroam was by far the best and most valuable items we bought in preparation for our trip. We used them daily. It prevented a “surprise” cell phone bill when we returned home but more importantly, it prevented a lot of potential fights!

During our leisurely stroll back we were approached by yet another Paris scam artist. “Is this your gold ring?” Uh, non….keep walking lady. Good thing we read up on scams before we left home. If your keeping track, we have already experienced 4 of them in two days time.

We arrived back at the hotel in time to shower and head out to our romantic dinner cruise on the Seine. This was the one thing big daddy had picked out for us to do. He had pre-booked and paid thru Viator.

815 pm - It is dark and we are not for sure how long it will take us to walk to the pier. So we decide to take a taxi. The taxi driver drove for awhile and I’m pretty sure he was taking us to the wrong pier, so I show him the address again. He replies, “Oui, oui Madame.” He the turned the taxi around and finally stopped.

Now mind you, it’s dark as hell and we are running out of time to catch the boat for our dinner cruise. The taxi driver just points, and tells us to go down the stairs. I’m thinking… I’m gonna have to run in these high heels…should have worn black flats. So we jumped out of the taxi and ran down the stairs only to realize we are in the metro. WTF, run back up the steps and find what looks like steep concrete bleachers. It’s pitch dark and we can barely see but we’re guessing this is the way to the dock.

We’re more than halfway down the stairs when next thing I knew, big daddy missed a step. Actually, he fell down 11 steps, and rolled another 25 feet onto the dock. He is mere inches from rolling into the Seine and he can’t swim! I done thought he killed him fool self. But he jumps up in typical man style saying, “I’m fine”! The people on the boat run out to help and the people on the grandstand are clapping for him. We definitely made an entrance to the dinner cruise!
After thrusting our tickets at the poor workers and asking if we were at the right place, they smiled and we were ushered to our seats at the front of the boat. It was a beautifully decorated table for two that was set with candles, rose petals and champagne. Absolutely stunning and so romantic. We had the best seats in the house!

I could say, we gazed lovingly into each other’s eyes and my heart stood still. But truthfully, big daddy is sweating, has a scrape on his cheek and a knot on his forehead. I might be glistening and my feet are hurting from those damn cute heels I had to run in. Besides, we are still laughing about our grand entrance.

We glided leisurely along the Seine, capturing views of the famous Parisian landmarks. Including the Louvre, and Notre-Dame. We floated underneath Pont Neuf bridge and admired the beauty of the city all lit up. As we floated by the beautiful twinkling lady, the Eiffel Tower, we gazed lovingly into each other’s eyes. In that moment, time stood still and we just lived “in the moment”!

After the dinner cruise, we hiked back up the dreaded steps of death in search of a taxi. We spotted a pedicab and decided to take it back to the hotel. Our driver, Ovi, was fantastic. With disco lights flashing and great music blaring we were whisked off on a mini tour before taking us to the hotel. This was not the cheapest mode of transportation but was definitely the most fun. We liked Ovi so much, we decided to schedule a real tour with him for the next afternoon.

Goodnight Paris!

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1713 posts

Ours is similar to yours: several years ago driving from Kinsale towards the Beara peninsula we decided to take a detour to go see the Michael Collins Monument in Cork, and to increase the fun factor we decided to forego both GPS directions or a map, believing that there had to be signs directing us to the spot once we got close. Hah! We wandered around the back roads of rural Cork for about 45 minutes until I finally swallowed my pride and pulled into a petrol station to ask directions. Initially spoke to a very nice Irish lass working the counter who had no idea what I was talking about (don't think she knew who Michael Collins even was), so she referred me to her boss who started rattling off directions based on local knowledge I didn't possess (turn left at the pub, then right at Mary Maloney's house, left again at the old cemetery, etc.). Seeing the utter confusion on my face another local bloke stepped in and started in with his version, but in such a strong Gaelic accent that I could only make out two words - pub and church. Fact is, as far as I know maybe he was speaking Gaelic. As I was about to admit defeat and slink off a third local gent piped up with "I'm going that way mate. Just hop in your car and follow me." So ... we did, for several miles along serpentine back roads of rural Ireland until we reached a crossroad where the sign pointing the way to the site was prominently displayed.
And here's the thing: as we waved our thanks to this good samaritan who had come to our aid we saw him reverse course and head back towards the village we had just left - he hadn't been going our way at all but simply took it upon himself, out of the goodness of his blessed Irish heart, to guide us along the correct way.
Gotta love the Irish - we sure do.

Posted by
1168 posts

"Increase the fun factor." Classic! Many times I've also assumed there must be a sign "once we get close" to a destination. Right.

And thank you dreamparis for several lols. Big daddy is a trooper.

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125 posts

I must say, I enjoyed reading every response. You all write with such good humor and amusement you had me smiling the whole time!

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119 posts

Back in 2008 my husband & I were touring Italy. While staying in Sorrento we took day trips by train. In his book, Rick warns to be careful that you get on the correct train leaving Naples. Well, one night we jumped on the train to Sorrento and after sometime it stopped and everyone but us got off. We were in Sarno, not Sorrento! We went into the office there to get help. They were so nice to us and practically led us back to Sorrento!

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6543 posts

My 48 year history of European travel has been one big adventure.
My favorite tale is when a guard told my wife to go thru a glass door at CDG to the restroom. She came back thru the same door into the waiting area. 10 minutes later, they emptied the whole airport concourse of people including two full jumbo jets about to take off and their luggage. All people,.luggage and even the security staff was rescreened. We still made our connecting flight in Detroit, but hundreds had to stay in hotels.I
We returned from a repositioning cruise and a week in Ireland driving earlier this week. My wife had injured her knee and was in a wheelchair the whole trip. That was an experience. But wheelchair travelers get priority service in airports..restaursnts, etc. She said if she knew about all the special treatment, she would have gotten a wheelchair years.ago.

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700 posts

On our first trip to Ireland in the 80's we left Shannon airport early morning and drove through the Conor Pass in pea soup fog on our way to the Dingle Peninsula. In an overabundance of caution driving on the left side for the first time, my husband got a little TOO far left, grazing the stone mountain. Soon enough we had a flat rear left tire which we replaced with a new one from the nearest accessible village car repair. Two weeks later when we turned in our rental car at the airport and presented our receipt for the new tire, the rental agent said, "We won't pay for the tire. You didn't buy it from an authorized dealer." Without a missed beat, DH looked at him calmly and said, "OK, take it off. I'll check it." "You can't do that!!" "Why not? It's my tire." End of story: they kept the tire; we got the refund.

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1084 posts

My friend and I were staying in an apartment in Lucca in 2012, and decided to go to Cinque Terre for the day.
When we got back around 7pm, we decided to just have grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner as we had been eating all day.
Having totally forgotten the landlady's advice not to use too many appliances in the apartment at once; I turned on the oven-grill, leaving the door open, put on a load of washing, switched on the kettle, and put the radio on.
Next thing: total darkness.
I also had forgotten that the fuse box was behind a wall- hanging, and was trying to text the landlady for help, by light of a match.
She phoned, and said she would send her husband over from their place next door; but he had no English.
Meantime, I walked into the kitchen , into the oven door and cut my leg open in the dark.
My friend by this time, was out on the landing coercing a passing neighbor to come in and find our fuse box.
He was about 19, and had no English or Italian,as he turned out to be Albanian, and looked terrified of us two mad women.
Then the upstairs neighbor knocked on the door and held out a casserole she had made but didn't want, and did we want it for our dinner?
So , by this time; still in the dark, we had a frightened Albanian young man, an annoyed Italian husband, a kind upstairs neighbor, and my friend and I; all milling around in the dark, me with a bleeding leg.
The landlady then called around to us from her balcony, and wanted to know if I could tell her her 15 year old son about universities in Canada while her husband got the power going again.
It was very funny; and you can't make this stuff up!

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3389 posts

Our first trip to Italy was taking the RS Best of Italy - a great experience! A few years later, we wanted to return to the Veneto region and also go back to the Dolomites. I had researched and planned the trip thoroughly, and we were having a great time. Midway through the trip, we took the train from Verona to Trento with a bus connection to end up at Moena. When we walked into the bus station, all of the counters were closed and a detailed paper was posted on the glass of each window. My very limited Italian and deduction skills told me this wasn’t good! We walked out to the area where a few buses were parked and saw a couple of friendly older men. I pulled out my paper that showed the bus route and number. After waiting awhile, my husband took the paper and walked over to the men. There were lots of gestures and talking, and I was really impressed with the length of conversation because my husband didn’t know any Italian words except greetings. 15 minutes later he walked back to where I was standing with our bags. When I asked him what they said, he said, “ I don’t have a clue!”
Fortunately, a college student showed up a few minutes later, and she was going to the town next to Moena. She could speak a few words of English, so we found out about Plan B. Luckily, the bus eventually showed up.

On the way back from the Dolomites, we were staying overnight in Trento at a historic villa. Since I like to take the local transportation, we jumped on the local bus to head to the edge of town up a long hill. I didn’t know exactly where to get off the bus, but the people riding the bus were very helpful. Suddenly, the bus lurched, sputtered, and died. Everyone exited the bus, so we started walking up hill with our suitcases. It was all rather humorous - not exactly sure where to go, just knew it was up! After a few minutes, the same bus came around the corner, we all reboarded and headed up the hill! The friendly people riding the bus pointed to the lane where we were to exit the bus. Everything turned out fine. We did take a taxi the next morning to make sure that we didn’t miss our train!

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1039 posts

I can remember one time in Munich deciding to explore the city with no particular destination in
mind. I knew I was not going to get lost because I was going to follow one street through the city. It was a great street to follow as it wandered all through Munich. I knew I was in trouble when I came to an intersection and two streets had the same name “Einbahnstrasse”. I hate to admit that I had two years of German in High School, but never bothered to translate the German into English. The signs said “One Way Street”.

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7643 posts

Two years ago a friend and I were in Italy. We decided to drive to Lucca for the day. Normally I drive a manual transmission car in Europe, but this time I had an automatic due to a sprained knee. This will be an important point later. Before we set off from our agriturismo I had asked my friend if she had any desire to go to Pisa. I had been there, done that on a previous trip. I was willing to go again for a quick pass through if she was interested, but explained we should do that before going to Lucca. She said she wasn't interested. Great. We were only a few kilometers outside of Lucca when she changed her mind. We were using Google maps on my phone for directions to Lucca, so I asked her to change it to Pisa. She uses it at home and has the same iPhone. No problem, right? Wrong. She couldn't figure it out. Now we've reached the point where we need to get off the autostrada in Lucca, so I exited. I went to the toll booth and inserted cash. I'm short and my arm/hand couldn't reach the change. I opened the door to lean out to get it and the car died. I realized I was still in drive. I put the car in park and tried to start it. Nope. Cars are behind us. I'm waving at them to go to other lines. A man starts talking to me through the speaker at the toll booth. I don't speak Italian so I'm trying to tell him in what I think was Italian that I didn't understand. He comes out yelling at me. Then he gets on the phone. I assume he's calling a tow truck. In the meantime I've been trying to restart the car to no avail. The minutes are ticking by. It felt like hours. Now what? A motorcyclist pulled up behind me. I motioned for him to go to another booth. He got off his bike and walked up to my car. I was trying to pantomime to him what happened. I tried to start the car again, for probably the 10th time. It started! We had been at the toll booth about 10 - 15 minutes at that point. As I drove off the guy working at the toll booth came running out, upset that I was driving away. What, I was supposed to wait for the tow truck? We never did go to Pisa. The lesson of this is to always put the car in park before opening the door.

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28 posts

During my 30 days in Europe last year covering multiple cities, I didn’t give to beggars often as I know many of them work a system, but would occasionally give a few coins. On my last day in Europe, in Vienna, I decided to give to someone sitting on the steps of a shop. As I approached holding a 2 euro coin, she looked puzzled, then, realizing I was offering her the coin, in a very animated way let me know she was not seeking charity.

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771 posts

I kinda hate to tell this story - I've posted the short version here before but never admitted the full scale of my idiocy. I'm the trip planner in our family, so this fail is totally on my shoulders.

After a wonderful 2.5 weeks in Switzerland and 2.5 weeks in Italy in 2013, we (two parents and two teenagers) had two nights to spend toodling slowly back to Geneva from Turin to return our leased Peugeot and fly home. I stupidly chose a gorgeous AirBnB apartment near Mont Blanc, a good hour from the airport, with a morning flight. I didn't think about how hard it is to pry teenagers out of bed at 4 am. So we were about a half hour later leaving than we should have been. Drove to Geneva in the dark, and THEN tried to find the "French side" of the Geneva airport where our car had to be returned. We could not see the tiny road behind the barbed wire fence. It was a very sharp left turn just past (or was it before) the defunct border crossing station. We tried three times to find the turn, driving through the border station, turning around, through the border station, turning around...never did see it in the dark. With time running short, we drove back to the Swiss side of the airport, dumped the car in the Hertz lot, left the keys in it, and dashed for check in. The kiosk would not let me check our bags. Our older daughter had just finished an exchange year in Switzerland, so we had LOTS of bags. Finally talked to an agent, who said the flight was closed, and we were not getting on it.

As we were flying on reward tickets, and the Aeroplan centre in Montreal was closed for their night, we just sat on our bags and stared at each other. After a pause to let events sink in, my husband and I bought the girls some breakfast and went to deal with the car. Found it just where we left it, keys and all. Exited the Hertz lot, now in daylight, and tried again to find the way to the French side of the airport. We were finally able to see the (tiny) sign, the (285 degree) left turn, and how to avoid the border crossing and get to that tiny road. Car dealt with, we returned to the girls and waited for Aeroplan to open up.

And here's where my planning skills finally got a good workout. I got a very sympathetic Aeroplan agent, and together we worked out a plan. I scraped all the Aeroplan points from my husband's account and my account, and we exchanged every last American Express point for Aeroplan miles. Together with the agent's ability to re-use the points from our earlier tickets, we had just enough points to rebook for the only available reward seats the next day - 4 seats in business class! My older daughter had to go on a different flight, still in business, but 3 of us got business class on Swiss through Chicago. It took me several hours on the phone, but the agent stuck with me until we got it done. $90 each rebooking fee + every reward point we had + a minimal amount of points transfer fees, and we were ready to fly again.

I booked us into the ABSOLUTE CLOSEST airport hotel, after confirming they had a shuttle to the airport. IIRC, we just collapsed in a heap, ate dinner at the hotel and never tried to go into Geneva for the afternoon. Arrived at the airport with lots of time to spare the next morning, checked all those unwieldy bags and strolled on board with just our usual carry-ons. Drank rather a lot of Swiss wine and ate all the chocolate they offered us. Enjoyed the heck out of business class seats and service.

Lessons learned: always, always stay at the airport the final night, and business class is very addictive.

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700 posts

I took my 12yo daughter to Europe for the first time in 1989 - London, Bruges, Amsterdam. I'm overwhelmingly right-brained, and currency conversions are a challenge. This was in the day of traveling without credit cards, only traveler's checks and no safety net, and with each change to a new currency, I knew I needed to sit down calmly and think through the new money sitting before me. Arrived at the Amsterdam train station with a child who needed to eat right now and a fresh stack of gilders straight out of the machine. I'd been working in Belgian francs and had no real understanding yet of this new money.
Went through the cafeteria line at the train station, and sheepishly held out a handful of my new Dutch money to the cashier who loudly exclaimed, "You should be glad I'm an honest woman! You have just given me over $100!" Apologized; thanked her; sat down at our table. Child forgot to get a drink. So I handed her some coins and sent her back to the line to get one. She comes to the same cashier, holds out her coins. Cashier shouts "You have given me 15 cents!!" I can laugh about it now, but was completely mortified at the time.

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700 posts

Last story, even though there are more.... We moved from suburban Atlanta to a village on the Rhine in 2004 on a corporate transfer. My husband spoke fair German, I thought.... One Saturday soon after we moved in I asked him to go to the village bakery and buy a loaf of bread, sliced. He goes in, politely asks for "ein weiss brot, beschnitten, bitte," and the bakery lady, the entire store actually, erupted in uproarious laughter. The next week he met with his German tutor, told her what he had said, and asked why they laughed. She sputtered and said, "You said THAT!?!" "Well, what did I say??" "You asked her to CIRCUMCIZE the bread!" [Sliced is geschnitten!] For the next five years, every time he walked in the bakery he got a huge smile from that lady. And I was so sure I would get my words wrong, I could only use sign language to ask them to slice it.

Posted by
925 posts

Ruth wins the prize for my breakfast coffee bahahahahaha! Circumcise the bread!!!

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925 posts

Our own snafu.... (well, mine really as I had made all the plans)...
Picture this.... Sicily, 1920.
Naw, really it was our first trip to Europe in 2015. Newly retired, excited to travel, spending 10 days in Amsterdam and Haarlem before our RS 21 day tour. I wanted an easy entrance to Amsterdam so rather than fool with the train right off the bat had arranged car service with Tinker taxi, posting our flight number with them when pre-paying for the service. We stopped and got some euros from an ING machine and arrived at the red and white meeting point ready for our ride to the apt. All I had to do was call the landlady when leaving the airport and she would meet us at the apt.
Problem #1 - the Tinker Belle was nowhere to be seen. Ah, but I had their phone number in my folder and the 100 minute Verizon plan so I could call.
Problem # 2- my phone wouldn't work. After talking with global Verizon I had done just what they said to my phone to use it in Europe. What they HADN'T said was to make sure my setting (and of course it wasn't under settings) was for global use, a difficult thing to find on a windows phone. So, no phone to use to call Tinker.

Hubby left to smoke while I pondered our situation. I had looked at the google map for Amsterdam enough to feel confident that I could find our apt. from Centraal, but how to contact landlady without a working phone? To say I was anxious is an understatement.
Hubby returned, dragging a little girl dressed all in violet - the Tinker Belle! Yes, they had our reservation, no, they had no idea what flight we had arrived on, but a taxi was waiting. Grabbing our bags she escorted us to a van where the driver was happy to call our landlady on his own phone, telling her, " I have your Ms. Nancy. I bring her to you!"
Our street was blocked off for construction and he grabbed bags and escorted us to the building door, never leaving our sides until he knew we had gotten in. Kudos to him!

btw - it took two days to get my phone working with sil working from the states and Verizon telling her to have me call them lol.

During the tour.....

Hubby rarely drinks alcohol but we decided to throw a little pre dinner afternoon cocktail party on the hotel patio while in Cinque Terre. I provided a bottle of vodka, he provided rum. Some people brought their own wine but most preferred the vodka. No one seemed to be drinking the rum... except hubby. All I can say is at least he is a funny drunk. Needless to say he was inebriated after a few drinks, rolling out joke after joke and then finding a stick, standing in the empty road and waving it like a Harry Potter wand, much to the amusement of our tour mates. Declaring it magically delicious the remainder of the bottle slowly disappeared. Oof - I thought he was going to regret that. On the way to dinner he had to stop and have a ten minute conversation with an Italian woman who lived next to the restaurant. They talked and talked, he in English, her in Italian. Maybe she understood him. I know he didn't understand her, but on they talked and gesticulated. He was in no shape to walk around town so we returned to the hotel after dinner and went to bed. Guess who awoke absolutely refreshed the next morning with no hangover, raring to go? It wasn't me.

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13972 posts

My worst experience is titled Why I'll never go back to Cyprus. Fair warning, my story includes Pain, Fear, and Humiliation.

I was sent to Larnaca, Cyprus to participate in 2-day professional workshop. At the end of the first day, the local hosts organized a "folk evening" in the hotel which included Greek folk dancing. Somehow I slipped and landed badly, injuring the ball of one foot. I spent the rest of the evening and most of the next day hopping on one foot. At the end of the second day's meetings, the local hosts finally took me to a nearby hospital where x-rays showed two broken metatarsals (a physiotherapist later told me that I could not have managed a more painful injury to my foot :-) and made a plaster cast that completely covered my leg from toe to knee. The only good part of this is that modified bell-bottoms were in style, so I could still wear my slacks with the cast. Wet and cold cast = more pain. No crutches available. On returning to the hotel, I found out that they did have a wheelchair but it was broken and unusable. So I continued to hippity-hop for the rest of the evening. I did learn that alcohol dulls pain and the hotel made pretty good drinks. So in spite of the pain of broken bones and discomfort of a cold, damp cast, I fell asleep that evening, with the balcony door open to the beach below, listening to the sound of the waves. About 1 am, I woke up with severe leg cramps - from all that bunny-hopping. Then I started to smell smoke. Gee, it's kinda late for campfires on the beach, I thought. Then the smell got stronger, maybe it's a bonfire like for Guy Fawkes Day, some local thing going on. So I hopped out to the balcony and saw a young American couple in the street yelling: The hotel's on fire, get those people out!!

I'm going to skip the next few hours, which were pretty terrifying and the next 3 days which included a lot of pain and humiliation and frustration, and just give you the finale. I had finally got to the airport for my flight home and they'd even provided a wheelchair from the curb to the gate. Okay, I thought, things are definitely looking up. I'll be home in a couple hours (it's a 45 minute flight), all I have to do is hop onto the plane. Well, there was a security check - this was pre-9/11. They lined up all the checked bags on the tarmac and all the passengers as well. Each of us had to identify our bags before they were loaded. Now it was time for the passengers to go up the stairway. As I was disabled, I had to go first. The only way to go up a stair with only one leg is to sit on your behind and slowly push yourself up, step by step. . . . with everyone watching. Then I was put in the first row of the plane, so one and all gave me a good once over as they boarded.

No more Cyprus, no more Greek dancing.

Final thought - what I learned from that helped me through fracturing an ankle at a mission in Tucson.

Posted by
860 posts

Great stories! Here's a couple of mine.

While driving in Ireland the husband got too close to the rock walls that line the roads and knocked off a hubcap without realizing it. That evening we were freaking out about how much the rental agency was going to charge us. Last day of the trip we're driving along and I shout "Hubcap!! Hubcap!" as I see one on the side of the road. He screeches to a halt, I dash across numerous lanes of traffic, get the random hubcap, and put it on our car. Rental agency never questions it.

In Amsterdam, we had trouble finding our hotel. Husband says, "Let's ask a local." I look at the address and it's on a road called "Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal." We look at each other and basically play rock-paper-scissors to determine who has to say these words to ask for directions. When I asked a man getting off a canal boat where it was, he said, "You have very interesting pronunciation, young lady!"

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16771 posts

Most definitely have, but you'll have to ask me in about November, when I have some free time :-)

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973 posts

After doing the RS Eastern France tour, we went to the Marseilles airport to pick up our rental car for an additional two week trip to the Cote d’Azur and Provence. After a frustrating half hour searching for the car rental agency at the airport, we finally found the correct desk, signed the paperwork and found our car in the lot. I asked my husband to take a few minutes to familiarize himself with the car (windshield wipers, lights, etc.)before driving off. He was in a hurry and assured me that he had things under control. The car was parked facing out of the parking space so he just needed to drive forward and exit the lot. A while later on the road to Cassis we approached an automated toll booth in a very quiet area. There were no other cars around. We drove into the lane which only took credit cards and, of course, ours didn’t work. We would have to back the car up and go to the cash lane. One problem, my husband couldn’t get the car into reverse. We were trapped at the toll booth. We put the emergency flashers on to signal to other drivers to use the other toll booth. After a panicky 15 minutes which seemed like an hour, my husband figured on how to get the car in reverse. The car apparently had a control for reverse on the shift knob that we had never encountered before. We were finally back on our way. Lesson. Always know how to operate the car before you leave the rental lot.

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3389 posts

Do you know how difficult it is to climb over the locked gate of a convent at night? Two teenage girls on a 4H Ambassador program who weren’t listening (who, me?) to the announcements.

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1168 posts

For whatever reason there always seems to be a problem with me going through security. Yeah, I'm "that guy."

Last time my watch aroused intense scrutiny. It was just a cheap digital sports watch. Anyway, I'm always being pulled aside for something and it's certainly not my dashing good looks. My wife now laughs when it happens.

Now the problem is I get nervous approaching security, certain that something is wrong with me, which arouses even more suspicion. They probably wonder why I'm sweating a bit.

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1075 posts

I had my iPhone pickpocketed my first day in London. What a major pain in the butt!!!!! Now, before people get on their high horse and make snarky comments that it's good for me to get my nose out of my phone and see the world around me, keepin mind I'm FAR from a millennial. Not having access to a device that provides me with communication, photography, and mapping was a huge inconvenience I did have my wifi only iPad, but relying on wifi only is a pain outside of the hotel, the endless logging in, connecting, giving away your entire life story to get wifi access and then being stuck on weak wifi in pubs, restaurants and coffee houses wasn't ideal. Plus, there was the occasional wifi that insisted on texting you a code, which was useless.

A few of the many inconveniences:

  1. No access to citimapper. Therefore, the bus system was pretty much unavailable. I wasn't about to try to figure out the spaghetti strand bus maps on the fly. Also, while, yes, I did premap at the hotel and bought a paper map, there's still nothing like the convenience of step by step directions.

  2. I basically have no photos from this trip since the theft took place on day one. Taking photos with an iPad isn't convenient, and I didn't want to bring it out in public areas anyway.

  3. Communication with friends was a HUGE pain. It was a pain trying to arrange things with UK friends since it all had to be done while I was in wifi range. I also completely missed messages from a couple of people back in the USA who are on Android phones since those messages don't' flow through to iMessage.

  4. I lost the ability to check my bank account constantly. Naturally, there's a security feature which recognised the foreign log in and insisted on sending me a code. Text wouldn't work. I work for the company, so my email for the bank is my work email address and I'm not allowed to log into company email abroad. So, I monitored my bank balance with frequent balance checks at ATMS. I know skimming is rare, but I still don't want my bank account emptied overnight in a foreign country.

Now, I know these are 'first world problems.' If I had done this trip in the pre smart phone era, then all of my planning would have been different. There'd be a phone in my hotel room and I'd have everyone's phone number written down in a planner. I would have spent far more time studying maps in advance. I would have brought a separate camera for photos. I wouldn't have to worry about trying to recover mobile tickets.

Also, I'll admit I occasionally got angry since it's impossible to avoid seeing everyone around you using mobile phones. There were times when my mood soured as I thought of some jerk of a thief who probably fitted my phone with some dodgy SIM card and it was now being used for illegal activities.

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1878 posts

On our 2000 U.K. / Paris trip, we planned on taking the train up to London to catch the Eurostar to Paris, after a two night stay in Rye, dropping the rental car in Brighton. This turned out to be a wildly impractical plan.

We Rye early for Brighton and kept taking wrong turns in Brighton, wound up going in circles. Finally found the car rental return place, but not before having to stop and ask at a competing firm's rental office. At this point we were starting to realize we could miss the train. The rental agency ended up giving us a ride to the train station because they thought there was some sort of mixup and AutoEurope was supposed to have us dropping at the train station (because why would be choose another one if we were taking the train, right?).

The worst was when we bought the train ticket in Brighton and they told us the fastest way, that got us to a train station closet to the Eurostar (maybe even the same station), required a change in East Croydon and Clapham Junction. To this day the names of those towns/stops are seared into my neocortex. It was almost comical to two at the time inexperienced world travelers, really we needed to make two changes just to get from Brighton to London for the train, and those were the names of the stations for transfer? We ran between platforms to make the changes and the locals stared at us for being so flustered and in a hurry. We would have missed the Eurostar if we did not make the changes successfully, or neglected to follow the advice of the ticketing agent in favor of a direct train. That would have left us cross town from the station where our train left.

In the end I think we left the hotel at 8 a.m. and caught the Eurostar six hours later. We made the train by less than ten minutes after nearly six hours door to door. I have no idea how it took that long, I know it seems like a lot. Think it was all that getting lost in Brighton and finding the rental car place. The Eurostar made one stop before going into the chunnel, at Ashford International. I did not have the heart to go back and research it, but we could probably have dropped the rental car at Ashford and simply booked the Eurostar there. Ashford International is a half hour drive from Rye.

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1878 posts

I just can't help myself, I have more than one.

I left my luggage in the trunk of a taxi in Taipei when traveling on business. I had shared the cab with my boss and was distracted by a conversation with him, the taxi pulled away with my bag before I realized it. (I was traveling home that evening). In the bag was among other things a $500 dental appliance to keep me from grinding my teeth which I do not sleep without, ever. Major lapse in judgment to have put in a a bag that I would check. My company's local office manager took me to the police station. Turns out the hotel, the San Want, at the time wrote down the number of every taxi that leaves the hotel. The police called the taxi company and I had the bag back within half an hour. All of this happened in Chinese of course, so I have no idea what was being said.

It did occur to me that maybe the guy did it on purpose, and maybe that's the reason the hotel writes down taxi numbers. I mean, if you are a taxi driver remembering there is luggage in your trunk seems a fairly basic part of the job. Plus it seemed odd that the office manager thought the police should be involved. She did not hesitate for a moment on that. On balance though I don't think the driver drove off with my bag on purpose because it would be out of character for the culture. I asked the office manager whether I should give the driver a big tip, and she said very solemnly said no, it was his duty to bring the bag back.

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1878 posts

My wife and I took a trip in 2010 to France, ending with five nights in Paris. We planned on dropping the car at Orly. What could be easier than dropping a car at the airport, right? We did not have a good enough map of Ile de France region and had major trouble finding the airport. There were no signs saying Orly this way, or maybe we missed them repeatedly. We ended up driving into Paris, not just barely but deep into Paris. We emerged from a tunnel and there was a hill up ahead. As we reached the top of the hill the Eiffel Tower was looming right in front of us. I say looming because this universal symbol of romance was for us in that moment something sinister. We just drove into Paris! Yikes! And we did it not once but twice. On a getaway day for a holiday weekend when the traffic was absolutely crazy. We eventually did find Orly, and arrived at the car rental return shortly before they closed. Once again, there were no signs saying rental car return like you would see every hundred feet in the U.S. Or once again, in our panic we missed them or they were in French (imagine that!). I had planned on the train but my wife insisted on taking a taxi to the hotel, where we arrived around 10 p.m. This was after a full day visiting both the cathedral at Chartes and Giverny. Whew, what a day!

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1878 posts

Traveling in Berlin on business I presented my passport upon request when checking in at a busy business-class hotel. Jet lagged and just not thinking, I did not realize until late the night of the same day that they never returned it to me after writing down the number. For two days the front desk denied that they had my passport. I had new photos taken for a replacement and took a taxi to the U.S. consulate only to find they were closed because it was a U.S holiday. I kept checking back with the hotel front desk to no avail. Finally as a last ditch effort in the morning a couple of days before I was supposed to fly home, I went to the front desk and told the attendant, "no one's going to get in trouble if my passport somehow turns up, I won't complain, I promise." The thought had occurred to me that these were people whose parents may have lived with the secret police watching over them, I could see how they might be apprehensive about repercussions if turned out they had it after all while denying it. (Although at the end of the day of course it was my mistake that created the situation). My tactic of reassuring them seemed to do the trick, as one of the staff delivered my passport back to me in the afternoon. They must have had it the whole time and kept denying it, but maybe they just did not realize it. I did not care one way the other, just glad to have it back. Now you know why I am the worrying traveler who is always thinking about what can go wrong.

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67 posts

These are often the things that people remember most of a trip!

My best car rental story is also from Ireland. I took my dad on a golfing tour which required a car. On driving down a narrow lane we came across a herd of cattle crossing the road so of course we stopped. All was good until one young heffer took a fancy to our car and started humping one of the head lights causing the light to come loose. We were at a loss as to how we would explain that rental company on return but fortunately we could get it back well enough that all was good.

And for eating ... will never forget ordering food in Madrid in the late 70s on our first Euopean adventure. We wanted the meat starter ... the only word I knew was carne but I didn't know what kind of carne it was. The waiter seemed kind of concerned, shaking his head, tapping his inner thigh and then he disappeared returning with a little note pad and a stick man drawn which he showed only to me and not my wife - showing two very large testicles. At this point the whole restaurant was chortling away and my wife desperately wanting to know what the fuss was about. We passed on it.

Thanks for this thread!

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32 posts

I totaled a rental car in rural Wales on Christmas Day. When I called the rental place to get a new car, they just laughed at me and hung up. A taxi driver charged us triple to take us to the nearest village and we just managed to buy some chips and candy and soda at the gas station before it closed. No other stores or pubs/restaurants were open for the next two days, due to Boxing Day. On Day 3, we managed to get on a bus to Cardiff through the kindness of a local person. When we made it back to London, the airport was a madhouse because that was the Christmas that the tsunami hit Sri Lanka, etc. We were able to book flights home at the very last minute, which raised red flags among airport security, so they searched our luggage and did "back room" body searches. Then, when we got home to the US, the rental car company charged us for the full cost of the car due to an error in the insurance coverage paperwork. So, all that and THEN a $30k bill. It took us 6 months of back-and-forth with the rental company and our credit card company to get that bill cancelled. My least favorite travel memory ever.

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1168 posts

Doggone aiplease. Well, at least you have an entertaining story to tell. Maybe the stories we tell years later are the most important.

Bad trip reports are more interesting than the de rigeuer "lovely trip report Martha" ones, imho .

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68 posts

Oh man, I seem to rack up another one of these stories every time we travel, which is making me especially look forward to our upcoming trip to London and Paris with three kids!!

I travelled solo through Europe when I was 24. On the train from Munich to Salzburg, the guy sitting beside me started telling me about how he was just released from jail and going to live with his aunt, then paused to look at my bare legs (I was wearing shorts) and ask if all Canadian girls had such beautiful long legs. I was just trying to figure out how to get another seat when the conductor came by to take our tickets and he handed the conductor his "ticket" that he had just hand-drawn on a napkin. He was escorted off the train at the next stop, so I didn't need to find a new seat, but when I got to Salzburg I realized he had filched my Swiss Army knife, that was on a ring with the keys for my backpack lock. The owner of the pension in Salzburg rode her bike across town to borrow a hack saw to open my luggage for me.

Later that same trip, I missed my flight home when I got tangled up on the RER. I called my then-boyfriend back home in Ottawa at midnight local time and asked if he would drive to Toronto to pick me up later that afternoon, as I couldn't get a flight to Ottawa for two more days and didn't have any more money. He said yes, so I married him.

A couple of years ago, I was heading to Mexico for a sponsored trip. My flight was to leave Ottawa at 8 am on Monday morning, and at about 4:30 pm on Sunday I realized I had lost my bank card. I showed up in a panic at the only bank branch open on a Sunday five minutes after they closed and banged on the glass while crying until they opened the door and took pity on me and gave me a new card.

Then there's the one time we went on a cruise and got hit by super-hurricane Sandy three different times - once near Jamaica, once as it swirled up the Florida coast, and once after it crashed onto land all the way to Ottawa.

Whatever doesn't kill you makes for a good story, yes?

Posted by
12104 posts

On things going awry on an Europe trip....yes, of course, such as getting a cold that saps your tip top energy level, a momentary panic attack, which turns out to be groundless, getting lost in a city that "seems" to take forever...all a matter of perception, almost getting the camera stolen right in front of me. That was in Dortmund, I yelled, "Halt !" just as you see in the movies. To my surprise (and relief too!), the culprit stopped. Here the bad guy would have run off. I got the camera back.

But, as you point out, nothing very serious or life threatening...more of a nuisance, nothing to have a "melt down" over, which when I am traveling solo, I would not stand for. It happens regardless of the level of planning.