A few months back, I wrote a short post about some of the many good things I experienced while I was on the go. Very ambitiously, I promised a part 2 and part 3 (you know… the bad and the ugly, respectively) before I realised that I just do not have enough negative experiences to justify a full post.
I contemplated letting it slide, evilly thinking ‘No one is going to notice, muahaha!’, but then I thought, ‘NO! I cannot go back on my word!’
So I thought and thought and racked my brains, and finally came up with these few experiences that can, if you really stretch the definition of bad, fit here. Since they are pretty much the same experiences happening in different places, I’m clubbing them together.
But like my ‘good’ experiences waala post is just a sampler, this one is pretty much all-encompassing. Maybe this just goes to show that, really, life is beautiful.
Missing my ride/train/plane
- To Prague- Although the most traumatizing, in a way, because this was the first negative-ish experience I faced, looking back I’d say it wasn’t that bad. Sure, it was tiring and tiresome, but it was not a dangerous situation, and it was still early in the day with hours of sunlight remaining, something that can’t be said for many of my future disasters. Read more about it here. (See, it was such an exciting first time, that I even have a post dedicated to it.Heehee!)
- To Rome- I was at the end of my trip last summer, 3 days away from going back home, and although I was sad that my ‘epic’ journey was ending, I was also INSANELY looking forward to seeing my mom, dad and sister after almost 6 months. I had reached Ancona in the morning, after an overnight ferry from Split, and after (unsurprisingly) failing to find a place to stay, I decided to go to Rome and just drown myself in nostalgia. I waited on the (supposed) platform for over two hours and just about 5 mins before the train was due to leave, but had still not arrived, I realised that it could be possible I was on the wrong platform (but part of me convinced me with a ‘Naawww… It’s Italy. Trains can be late here!’ 4 minutes to go and this other chap came and asked me about the train. And I asked someone else, and he told me that I was in the right place. 2 minutes, and I had the revelation that PLATFORM 2 AND PLATFORM 2 (EST) ARE NOT THE SAME!!!! The other guy had the same revelation at the same time, leapt up in horror and just flew across the tracks and got into the train, while I picked up my dreadfully heavy bags and sprinted down the stairs, only to come up on the right platform and watch the doors shut and the train leave in front of my eyes. 5 weeks of heavy traveling later, a sight like that can break your heart. All I could do is call my mom and cry (thank God I had internet on my phone).
- To Milan- This one was truly painful because it was a flight from London to Milan that would have taken me back 12 hours before my graduation ceremony. I hadbeenawesomely smug about my 30 Euro ticket (3 flights for under 100 Euros… MilantoTimisoara,Thessaloniki to London and London to Milan, I plan well, huh?!)… Which I had to let go of, and buy another one for 110 Pounds!!! And to add insult to injury, I missed the photo session with my class on the morning of our graduation and ended up being so late, I rushed in to make it in time fortheactual ceremony with absolute hobo-hair!
Like they say… Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo. Yeeesh.
- Croatia- This was the first time I actually experienced the perils of an Indian passport. Croatia had joined the EU just a month before I landed up there, so maybe they weren’t entirely clear about the whole list of allowed countries. I was at the immigration counter (?) just before boarding the ferry when the lady glanced at my passport and said I couldn’t go through. She made a few calls, asked a few questions and waved me through. I was annoyed, quite annoyed, but quickly pushed it to the back of my mind.
- Timisoara– A little worse than the last time… Here I was taken to the side and screamed at for several minutes before they were convinced that I’m not going to illegally settle in Romania (but, seriously, Romanians, no offence, but I’m not going to abandon my country to illegally live in yours!! ).
- Thessaloniki- THIS experience was terrible. It made me re-evaluate everything I thought about my country and where it stands in the world. While every ‘normal’ person I met was fascinated with my nationality and only had positive things to say about their past interactions with India and Indians, the immigration people here nearly bit my head off. I am not exaggerating the tiniest bit when I say it was the single most humiliating hour of my life. I was asked to remove and wear my glasses multiple times so that the girl at the counter could make sure I was the same person as the picture on the passport and was asked a million questions in a million different ways (I guess they were hoping to hear contradictory answers, what a pity) in spite of showing all my documents (including my tickets and proof that I was a student in Milan). And the cincher was when they dared to ask me… ‘Do you plan to return to India?’ Bitches.
Creepy couchsurfing (and accommodation) experiences
- In Rome- Experience number 1 was when I visited my first CS host in Rome. I did not like the look of him much and thought there was something off about him, and yet he had great reviews on the website. After leaving my stuff at his place and going out for a walk, I called my sister and discussed the situation with her. This is a 40-something year old man who was only offering a ‘shared sleeping surface’ and had a party to visit later at night. I could either wait in the house, go to the party with him or come back after he came around 2am. Thankfully my sister has enough brains for the two of us, and she told me to stop being an idiot. The next two days that guy kept sending me messages pestering me to leave him a positive review (that’s how he had so many awesome reviews!!). I didn’t.
- In Rome- Rather shaken by the previous almost-host, I canceled my stay with the next host also, with some random excuse, but he insisted of showing me the best of Italian gelato. I agreed to be picked up after dinner (yes, I’m an idiot), and he was okay and the gelato was great and everything, but he was SUCH a terrifying driver, and when I shrieked, ‘Can you please not text while driving?’ He said, ‘Relax! I’m Italian!’ He dropped me off (thankfully in one piece) and I didn’t even look back once,nor did I reply to a single message ever again!
- And Rome, again- After escaping from these two mentals, I found myself in one shady hostel after another. Italian hostels are said to be the WORST, and Hostel Beautiful 2 didn’t fail to live up to that reputation!
Stranded on a highway in Poland/Slovakia
I cannot call this an entirely negative experience, because although, yes, it was terrifying at that time- finding myself stranded after dark on the highway in between cities, in between countries- this is what led to my first ever hitchhike, which, in turn, led to my subsequent long hitchhike from Budapest to Ljubljana, which is what I must credit for any change that happened in me and the way I looked at life. If you had seen me then, I was a wreck, and reaching my hostel in Zdiar that night was nothing short of a miracle. But that miracle was truly one of the best things that happened to me. And that family, if you ever see this, please, please get in touch with me (the email I sent them bounced back to me 😥 ).
Sure, I came across the occasional crazy lady screaming at me on the street (because, you know, I look like a gypsy), or the creeps who decided it would be a good idea to approach me and ask me the time (or directions, or some random thing of that sort) and then say such ridiculously inappropriate things that all I could do was stare at them in disbelief (always, always Rome), but those were too many and tooooo minor to actually be counted.
What are your bad travel memories? Misery loves company… So how about some sharing? 🙂
On another note, I have submitted my blog for a competition called the Big Blog Exchange, and I would be really, really grateful if you could spare a few moments and vote for me by clicking here or the image below (or in the sidebar on the right). I need to stay in the top 25 of the Asian blogs till voting closes on 3rd September to make it the final judging round, and you can help me get there!