screw ups

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Mar 1st, 1999, 07:23 AM
  #1
catherine
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screw ups

One of the best ways to learn is through making mistakes and other peoples mistakes.I thought that it would be interesting, to me anyway, to hear what mistakes other people have made while travelling. For instance when we were in Bolzano,Italy at the train station ,there was a notice in 3 languages about not crossing the tracks to the other platform. unfortunatley one of the languages was not English. It was only a flat single line track and my husband crossed it to buy a coke.A policeman fined him on the spot.It was about $50.He didn't care that we could not read the language.Another mistake we made was not reading the date on a train ticket we had bought.A return ticket from Paris to Avignon, had us returning on the same day instead of two weeks later! It was 2 weeks later when we found out. Luckily the guard was very sympathetic. Another mistake was going camping for a week when it rained every day.I will never camp again. I hope to hear some good stories!
 
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Mar 1st, 1999, 01:38 PM
  #2
elaine
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On my first trip to London we were flying over from Paris. We were looking forward to attending Wimbledon the next day. London hotel was small but reputable, and I am so obsessive I had sent them a fax explaining that our flight from Paris didn't land until 11:00 pm so we'd be at the hotel well after midnight. My obsessiveness didn't help. We arrived wearily at our London hotel, no lights were on downstairs, and the front door was locked. We rang bells and pounded on the door but got no response. I saw a public phone box on the street corner and tried to use it,but despite the number of coins I threw into it, I couldn't figure out how it worked.

It started to rain, naturally.
I pulled out my guide book and looked for a nearby hotel alternative. We dragged our heavy luggage (that'll teach us) for five blocks. We went into this second hotel and explained our situation. The desk clerk responded politely that all his rooms were booked because after all madame it was Wimbledon week. We begged and pleaded, and finally he conceded that he had one room that "appeared" to be a no-show although the reservation was guaranteed by credit card. I pointed out the lateness of the hour and the unlikeliness of the other guest's arrival, and he agreed to let us have the room
We fell into bed about 2am, and arose at
7 to make our way back to our original hotel and express our displeasure. (It turned out that no one on the hotel staff had noted our anticipated late arrival, and the reception desk closed up as usual at midnight without arranging to leave keys for us.)
As we were dragging our bags that next morning along the same five blocks as the night before, I thought that anyone who had happened to see us the night before and now again would be thinking that those daft Americans ought to leave their bags someplace instead of dragging them all over the neighborhood.

What I learned: 1.How to use a British
coin phone. 2. Confirm, confirm, and reconfirm all arrangements. I'd rather be considered an obsessive pest than
be homeless again at 2am.
 
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Mar 1st, 1999, 01:39 PM
  #3
elaine
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On my first trip to London we were flying over from Paris. We were looking forward to attending Wimbledon the next day. London hotel was small but reputable, and I am so obsessive I had sent them a fax explaining that our flight from Paris didn't land until 11:00 pm so we'd be at the hotel well after midnight. My obsessiveness didn't help. We arrived wearily at our London hotel, no lights were on downstairs, and the front door was locked. We rang bells and pounded on the door but got no response. I saw a public phone box on the street corner and tried to use it,but despite the number of coins I threw into it, I couldn't figure out how it worked.

It started to rain, naturally.
I pulled out my guide book and looked for a nearby hotel alternative. We dragged our heavy luggage (that'll teach us) for five blocks. We went into this second hotel and explained our situation. The desk clerk responded politely that all his rooms were booked because after all madame it was Wimbledon week. We begged and pleaded, and finally he conceded that he had one room that "appeared" to be a no-show although the reservation was guaranteed by credit card. I pointed out the lateness of the hour and the unlikeliness of the other guest's arrival, and he agreed to let us have the room
We fell into bed about 2am, and arose at
7 to make our way back to our original hotel and express our displeasure. (It turned out that no one on the hotel staff had noted our anticipated late arrival, and the reception desk closed up as usual at midnight without arranging to leave keys for us.)
As we were dragging our bags that next morning along the same five blocks as the night before, I thought that anyone who had happened to see us the night before and now again would be thinking that those daft Americans ought to leave their bags someplace instead of dragging them all over the neighborhood.

What I learned: 1.How to use a British
coin phone. 2. Confirm, confirm, and reconfirm all arrangements. I'd rather be considered an obsessive pest than
be homeless again at 2am.
 
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Mar 1st, 1999, 02:36 PM
  #4
anna
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My biggest mistake was to ignore Rick Steve's advice and not take the time to learn to drive stick before renting a car in Europe. Despite repeated confirmations and assurances from the rental agent that there would be an automatic car available, we arrived after 24 solid hours of travel to find that it was his ONLY automatic car and it was returned broken the night before and couldn't be fixed for three days. The good news was that I was finally forced to learn to drive stick, I learned quickly, and I am prepared now for when I go back with my mother in May.
 
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Mar 2nd, 1999, 02:58 AM
  #5
raeona
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Arriving back in Dover, from France, several hours later than anticipated with no lodging reservation, and discovering the car rental desk closed and locked, so we couldn't pick up our car... could've been the worst part of our trip. But it wasn't. That came after the smoothly handled rental transaction the next day - actual several days later...after the spouse put gasoline in the diesel fuel tank (there was only a small "diesel" sticker on the inside flap of the tank door, which he overlooked. We ended up sitting on the side of the road for more than an hour, finally getting a tow...and paying close to $100 dollars to have the tank pumped out. Fortunately, we caused no lasting damage to the car.

P.S. Catherine -- for "good" stories, we probably need a different topic heading than screw-ups!
 
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Mar 2nd, 1999, 05:43 AM
  #6
Paul Rabe
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My wife made the car rental reservation at the Madrid Airport and confirmed it on her credit card. But I went to pick it up, and, since my name appeared no where on the reservation; they wouldn't give it to me. I had to ride the bus back to our hotel, then back to the airport with my wife, and ended up leaving Madrid hours later than I had planned. Always check your reservations on who is listed!
 
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Mar 2nd, 1999, 05:47 AM
  #7
Chad
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My girlfriend spent six weeks in Paris on a study abroad program this last summer and I met her in Paris at the end of her program so that we could spend a couple of days in Paris and then go to Italy for a week. I had made reservations for the overnight Paris-Venice train that left Gare de Lyon at 20:03. For some reason that I have still yet to figure out, I believed that that train was supposed to leave at 10:03 p.m.! At about 8:30 p.m., as we were leaving for the train station, I checked the ticket and my heart sank. "Amanda, you are going to kill me," I said to my girlfriend. "The train left at 8:03." To make a long story short, we couldn't secure a place on the next train to leave for Venice and ended up having to wait until the next day. We walked about two miles, toting our baggage, at about 11:30 p.m. before finding a hotel in which to spend the night. Finally getting to Venice the next day was the biggest relief of that trip!
 
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Mar 2nd, 1999, 05:48 AM
  #8
Daniel Lee
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Catherine:

Once when I was in Brasil having a drink with my friends on my very first night there, the waiter asked if we wanted another beer, and I gave him the OK sign with my fingers. He looked at me like I just killed his mama.
It turns out that that sign actually means something really nasty in Brasil and the sign of OK is simply a thumbs up.
Trust me I never did that again!

Daniel Lee
 
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Mar 2nd, 1999, 06:30 AM
  #9
Mark
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In 1992, my friend and I spent 2 days each in Amsterdam and Paris before taking an overnight train to Austria for a week of skiing. I had been to Europe several times but my friend (who is ALWAYS right) had never been. Although I was happy to stay in 2nd class for the overnight ride, he insisted on 1st class, triple bed cabin. The "room" was 7ft. long by 5ft. wide (I'm 6'1"). The cabin was excessively hot and as the lights went out, I felt extremely claustrophobic. I tried to run into the common area to get some air but it didn't help. Needless to say, I got about 1 hour of sleep out of 9 hours. Lesson: Go with your past experience and don't listen to someone who never travelled on a European train.
 
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Mar 2nd, 1999, 10:40 AM
  #10
Beth
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When I was in London last year I wanted to visit Hampton Court. And since "A Man for All Seasons" is one of my favorite movies, I wanted to get there by boat. My mistake was in not asking how long the trip was. I thought my guidebook said 90 minutes. And there was no indication at the dock how long it would take. Well, on a good day it takes 3 hours! And when the tide is not with you (which it wasn't) it takes closer to 4 hours. We were sitting in these uncomfortable little plastic chairs from 10:30AM until nearly 3. They didn't have much in the way of food on the boat, and by the time we got to Hampton Court there was very little time to see anything. I was very annoyed with myself.
 
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Mar 2nd, 1999, 06:19 PM
  #11
Annalynn
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So many to choose from!

One of my worst was on my first overnight train, heading from Nice to Barcelona. When we were awakened in the middle of the night, we could have sworn he said this was our station (we had to transfer). SO, half asleep, we descended from the train, only to then discover, after it pulled away, that we were in Perpignon, and not Port Bou. The nest train was not for another six hours later, and stopped in every little town on the way to Barcelona. We arrived over ten hours later than we had intended, and had difficulty finding a room for the night.

Then there was the time, on the same trip, that my friend and I decided we should stop in Marseilles, France on our way to Nice, mostly because I was a fan of the Marcel Pagnol trilogy of Fanny, Cesar and Marius. We found it incredibly seedy, and further wasted our time by taking a boat out to the Chateau d'If so we could walk in the footsteps of the Count of Monte Cristo. That took all of 20 minutes, but it turned out there was not another boat back to Marseilles for three hours. Our lesson: never go anywhere without first making sure you know how and when you are getting back.
 
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Mar 2nd, 1999, 07:08 PM
  #12
Geoff
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My **former** travel agent had a little trouble determining which day I would be in which Swiss city. I was on a 7 day trip with a Swiss flexi train pass and nothing much matter, except for one small detail. The Glacier Express. It wasn't until I was already in Zermatt the day before I was boarding the train that I found the mistake in dates. Well I had to be in Munich with in 2 days, right or wrong date, so I showed up at the train station and off I went. The first leg of the journey was no big deal because the train was only half filled until we went from Zermatt to the main train intersection in Brig. Then the masses started to board the train, I knew I would be in someone's seat so the minute they showed up, I just stood up hoping there would be an empty seat. The couple that took the seat asked me to check my reservation card, but I told them I couldn't find it, just knew this was the right car number. I figured on claiming I had lost the card, play dumb, and at least get closer to where I had to be in 2 days. At worst they'd hit me with a penalty for the reservation, but at least I would be on the train. So I kept standing and standing, the conductor was almost up to our car, and it turned out there in fact were two seats down at the other end. My German was good enough to know that at least one of the guys saw the empty seats and figured it must be mine. So I sat there and no one else claimed them. I thought I was home free until the conductor told me he absolutely needed to see the reservation card since the entire train was reservation only. By now I had totally ignored this card on purpose to the point where I really didn't know where it was. The conductor went on but said he would be back and reminded me I better produce a reservation card, empty seat or not. Well by some miracle I did find it again, in with my passport. An elderly lady, looking quite serious to begin with, let out a sigh of relief at this. The conductor look at me a little askance because the seat I was in was a couple off from the one I was now sitting in. I don't if he even noticed the wrong date, but just told me it was actually the seat behind me but if I was comfortable where I was there was no problem. And off I was ..........

To end the story, I got a bonus I didn't count for on the Glacier Express. I has specifically asked my agent to book me in Arosa instead of St. Moritz. It was the last day of a 3 week journey and I wanted off the beaten track peace, not jet setting discos. There were some Hotels listed in the package I was using but up in the mountains all of the hotels had shut down and the agent had to wait 2 months before trying to make a reservation. When the hotels did open up again, much to her surprise, this off the beaten track hotel was *totally* booked solid for that day. Well she got me into what turned out to be a fablous "sport" hotel that I enjoyed very much. But it wasn't until the train made an unscheduled stop that I found out why the hotel in town was booked. Just out side of Chur, where I was scheduled to get off the Glacier Express and take a separate train to Arosa, the train came to a dead stop. It wasn't at a station, it wasn't at any place you could say there was a reason. Several people were looking outside the train windows to the road that ran along side the train tracks for about 2 miles we had just come down. Then a woman at the other end of the car I was in said "Here they come". I had no idea and apparently not too many other people did either until I heard the words Tour De Suisse. At that moment I strained out the window and saw the lights of 2 police cars followed by a hundred bicycles. It was a nice 2 mile straight away they came right at us, giving us a great view right along side the train, then quickly went across the tracks a few hundred feet in front of us. So unknowlingly my agent made a huge goof in reserving my train on the wrong day, yet just as unknowingly made a fabulous choice of what day to have me ride the train. After finishing my ride up the mountain, the town was full of all the famous teams and riders, many of which took time out for autographs and talked to the young kids of the small town.

Luckily my ride back down the mountain and onto my flight in Munich was totally uneventful.
 
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