Travel mistakes : tell us yours !

Jan 10th, 2016, 10:46 AM
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Travel mistakes : tell us yours !


Long time I didn't see a quizz or something like that, so I figured we could share some blunders or mistakes that we did when traveling.

We are all well-travelled (like that word, for whatever that means), but we all do mistakes, let us recount some (probably the funny ones, not the embarrasing ones).

A tout seigneur, tout honneur, I'll start

1. I was to meet somebody in Aalborg, Denmark, he gave me the details for the meeting to which I didn't pay attention. So I booked a flight to Denmark : in my mind, DK has only one airport (like Belgium : small country, so ...) therefore I landed in Copenhagen and went into a taxi at about midnight telling the guy I was to go to Aalborg, which he told me in fits of laugh was 400 kms away...

2. I was to meet somebody in US, she told me 'we are close to Boston'. Didn't plan further, arrived at airport, took the car, and then opened a map : the place was 2,5 to 3 hours away ! Close for US people, a looooong way for a Belgian

3. I was at an airport, at say - gate 32 overlooking gate 31 from which my flight departed. I fell asleep whilst waiting and my flight left without me.

I've done worse but won't tell you

So what about you ?
Whathello is offline  
Jan 10th, 2016, 11:03 AM
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Have had some interesting experiences with european plumbing.

On one of my first visits - almost 40 years ago - went to what I thought was the ladies in an old cafe in a provincial town I don;t even remember. Went into the stall and was followed closely by - A MAN! No - he wasn't in the wrong place - it was unisex. OK - roll with the punches. The problem was that the wall of the stall were only from the knee to slightly over my head. He was really tall and could easily see right down into my stall - so I just stood there until he left.

Another strange one in the ladies on an autostrada in Italy. Could not figure out how to flush the toilet. No handle on the tank. No cord from the ceiling to pull. No plunger on top of the tank to pull up. What to do? Finally searched the floor and saw (barely) a black rubber nipple in the middle of a floor (of small black & white tiles) that you had to step on firmly. Then it flushed.

One more. Stayed in an older (perhaps 1870s) hotel in Innsbruck. The bathroom was almost as big as the bedroom and in one corner was a monstrous bathtub that you had to climb several steps to get onto, then step down into a very deep tub. I'm tall so was OK but I can see a short woman getting stuck in the tub. And of course instead of a shower it had one of those hose thingies that spray water all over the bathroom when you try to wash your hair. (Is there some rule in europe against shower curtains and a real shower head fixed to the wall?)
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 10th, 2016, 11:14 AM
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I guess we don't like shower curtains, for sure, I mostly see glass panels in showers.

I also spent several minutes figuring out how to get water at a café somewhere, hands full of soap until i figured you had to push a metallic bar that went from the sink under towards the floor.

Which is not totally stupid...
Whathello is offline  
Jan 10th, 2016, 11:21 AM
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I guess this was a mistake for my wife going into the toilet in Orvieto, Italy.

Just a hole in the floor.

In all our trips, 34 to Europe and many in the US and Canada, I haven't made too many mistakes.

But one that stands our with friends. In Crete I rented a cab and in all our correspondence I mentioned one date.
Our last e-mail I made a mistake and mentioned another date.

When we arrived in Crete, our cab was not there.

When I got home, I realized my mistake and suggested to the cab company to charge us a night.

They never did, as honesty counts.
iris1745 is online now  
Jan 10th, 2016, 11:21 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
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I am sure there tons of dumb travel things I jave done! I am also sure that I have also" chosen" to forget many of them.

We wre used to the Paris metro and needed to take an RER train one day. We entered the statio going the wrong direction and had to haul outta there to get in the station going the right way. Duh.

Also in Paris, we were new to the bus and got on. The people on the bus did look at us a bit strangely. The bus started and stopped after probably only 200 yards. The people all got off the bus and were still looking a bit strangely at us. Finally, the driver got the point across that it was the end of the line and we had to disembark ( and we lost our tickets... It is a fee for being a bit dense, I think). We had gotten on in the wrong direction, again!
denisea is online now  
Jan 10th, 2016, 12:02 PM
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Mine is not doing even a LITTLE advance planning...and why I now always have an exit strategy. Years ago we were flying out of Milan back to the states after a month long driving tour. I was worried about the road conditions and how long it would take to drive to Malpensa from Portofino so thought we'd visit the Milan Cathedral and then spend the night somewhere near the airport.

Mistake #1 - Parking: In Milan, the car got booted from parking illegally. We didn't see any parking signs and didn't look for a permit displayed in other car windows.

Mistake #2 - No idea where to stay for the night.

After bailing out the car it was late and dark I didn't have a clue where to find a hotel/motel. I'd assumed we'd drive in the direction of the airport and see a sign...Not so! This is solved very simply now with smartphones and aps, but in 2000 it wasn't like that. No GPS, no clue, no roadside signs saying "MOTEL HERE!", late at night and a couple of really stressed out travelers from our booting and bailout experience, it seemed interminable before we found a place to crash. After this, I always plan how to arrive and how to leave. Knowing is everything!
RebeccahS is offline  
Jan 10th, 2016, 01:16 PM
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I make the same mistake all the time.. I pack too much.. have gone from a 26 inch suitcase.. to a 24 inch suitcase.. to a 22 inch and its still feels like I am hauling too much stuff..
justineparis is offline  
Jan 10th, 2016, 01:58 PM
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Biggest travel mistake was on my first trip as a college kid - nearing the end of the trip I met a nice dutch gal in a Dublin hostel and she wanted to travel together but I declined because I had a flight in a week or so back from Luxembourg and even though I could have changed the ticket then without penalty I was kind of home sick and did not.

I still regret not going off around Ireland with the sweet Dutch gal!
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 10th, 2016, 02:25 PM
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I didn't bother to get any euros from the atm before boarding an overnight train from Kraków to Budapest. The train was ten thousand degrees of forced, hot, dry air and all I could scrounge up was enough coin for 1 twelve ounce bottle of water to share with DH for the entire 10 hour journey.

I had been well aware that we'd need euro to buy anything from the snack bar but a series of hiccups at the train station ran us out if time to hit an atm. It was a pretty miserable trip. Mostly because of the insane heat though, not having money just added a feeling of desperation to the discomfort.
limmy is offline  
Jan 10th, 2016, 02:46 PM
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I locked myself in a bathroom deep in the basement of a restaurant in, I think, took a long time for someone to come find me and show me the ( easy) operation of the lock.
jubilada is online now  
Jan 10th, 2016, 02:50 PM
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I was traveling in Ireland with one of my daughters (recently divorced), my sister and another friend. We were approaching a stone oratory and I was reading the guidebook to all. It said that if an unmarried woman entered the oratory through the window, she would find love within the year.

Feeling sorry for my daughter, we all decided she had to do this. It took 2 of us to hoist her up to the window and shove her through while I waited inside to catch her. It was quite an ordeal. When we returned to the car, I realized I was reading about a nearby church, which had a window one could easily walk through. She was not happy but did walk through the correct window. It did not work and took a few years before she found someone.

It was probably too early then for her to find happiness but the group still blames me for shoving her butt through that small, high window.
Judy is offline  
Jan 10th, 2016, 03:03 PM
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Instead of picking up a car in Toronto and driving to NYC, I took the train. We spent HOURS on the border because some illegals were trying to enter the US. You cannot imagine what the toilets were like after all that time !

#2. Instead of picking up a car in Madrid and driving to our destination, we decided to fly to Malaga. The layover wasn't 4 hrs but rather 6 ! Just awful.
Bedar is offline  
Jan 11th, 2016, 02:34 PM
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Driving thru the former Yugoslavia in Muslim Bosnia there were a group of women on the side of the road in all white robes or whatever they call it - a burkha without a face mask - anyway did not see a pothole that was filled with muddy water and sprayed all of them - I sped off not knowing what folks would do to me!

I felt terrible but did not dare to stop and say I apologize or offer to pay for the cleaning as I would have like to.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 11th, 2016, 02:45 PM
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PalenQ - you had been driving? A car?

Now, everything falls in place.

After reading this episode I know why you are so obsessed with trains.

I always thought you were a stockholder of European railway companies - now I know it is just active repentance!
traveller1959 is offline  
Jan 11th, 2016, 02:53 PM
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Loved yours, Judy !

I knew a guy who came late to hotel he went regularly to.
The hotel was closed (happens sometimes in small towns) climbed the facade, went through a window, chose a room and slept in it. Went down to get his breakfast in the morning to the astonishment of the owners.

My 4th : booked a wrong hotel on - searched a lot, then managed to book a hotel with a similar name.
So instead of being in a reat hotel in the center of Mexico city, I brought the family to a correct hotel close to ... the airport.I thought I was going to get divorced.
Whathello is offline  
Jan 11th, 2016, 04:22 PM
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Judy that is SO HILARIOUS !
PalenQ - ditto but in a schadenfreude kind of way - I feel guilty for laughing

My sister and I (back in the day) were being chatted up by some very attractive young Italian men in Rome as we walked down the street. They were walking alongside and trying to cajole us into having a drink with them and wouldn't be deterred even though we laughingly tried to brush them off. They were so busy looking at us and trying to be charming that one walked smack bang into a light pole - bloody nose, lots of tissues - we did end up having drinks with them in sympathy and kept in touch for months afterward. They were lovely guys. That's more anecdote than mistake.

Mistakes - driving after a 15 hour flight and completely forgetting what side of the road I was supposed to be on, narrowly avoiding an oncoming vegetable truck; falling asleep on a train in northern Italy and waking up to find it deserted and in a siding; thinking the Dubai Mall was closer to my hotel than it actually was and I could walk there - in 45 degree heat; and reading my itinerary incorrectly and having the concierge hammering on the hotel door saying my flight was departing in two hours and the car service was there to collect me - all while I was sound asleep and stuff unpacked. I made the flight.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Jan 11th, 2016, 05:43 PM
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Renting a Renault standard shift minivan in France and not mastering the electronic parking brake until getting on the internet to translate part of the user's manual (took some French in college but it wasn't enough to decipher automobile terms) several days into the trip. Once I did, it actually made inclines pretty easy, but up to that point, the only thing that kept me from losing my sanity was that we had opted to pay for the zero deductible option.
twk is offline  
Jan 12th, 2016, 04:10 AM
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I once was invited as an export to a meeting of a European Parliament committee in Brussels. I had a printout of my connection with the TGV to Brussels central station and with the subway to the European Quarter. On the way to the Berlaymont, everything went as planned.

I delivered my presentation, the meeting went well and afterwards there was a reception with good wines, excellent hors d'oevres and brillant chats. I looked on my printout and, with a time buffer of 30 minutes, left in due time to catch the subway to the train station.

When I came down the escalator, I saw the subway train just leaving. Well, I thought, the next train will go in a few minutes. This was my mistake. I should have taken a taxi. Because they had started nightly works and the next train was 15 minutes late. Half of my time buffer was eaten up. Then I had to change trains, and exactly the same thing happened. Again a delay, and I was 30 minutes late.

In the station, I jumped up the stairs only to see two red lights moving away. I looked on the timetable. It had been the very last train to Germany. The prospect of spending the night in a Brussels hotel was not too attractive, because I had no nightgear with me, I wear contact lenses and no cleaning solution and the next morning, I had an important appointment.

So, what to do?

Again, I studied the timetable and finally I found a regional train going to a Belgian town which was at least near the border. My plan was to take a taxi from there.

When I arrived at the terminus I found myself in a tiny station in the middle of a tiny town. And no cab in sight. And it was midnight.

At least, there was a bar. I entered the bar and, in my rusty French, ordered a glass beer and asked the waitress if she could find a taxi for me.

Indeed, a couple of minutes later, a taxi materialized in front of the bar. The driver wore a leather jacket over his pyjamas.

In my rusty French, I struggled to explain him that I wanted to Aachen. He answered in flawless German: "Intercity train departing at 0:52 from track 9. We make it."

I learned two things: First, I was not alone with my travel mistake, it happened all the time to others. Second, my driver belonged to the German-speaking minority in Belgium and the small town was half French-, half German-speaking with the demarcation line in the centre of the road that led to the station and the bar on the French-speaking side.

When I arrived at home, DW was sound asleep. At least, I could sleep without contact lenses in my eyes.
traveller1959 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2016, 04:39 AM
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A language-mixup story:

A driver was taking us, including my pregnant DIL, from Cinque Terre to the Genoa airport. He spoke very little English, but that was OK because I can speak some Italian.

My DIL started feeling nauseous in the middle of the trip and asked me to ask the driver how much longer the trip would take. The driver noticed the conversation and asked me if something was wrong. I answered in my best Italian, "She is pregnant."

He immediately started shouting about pulling off the highway and getting to a hospital. Everyone in the vehicle looked at me and said, "What did you say to him?!?!?" I had to calm him down and tell him to continue to the airport. I managed to ask him why he was so panicked.

Turns out, my sentence could have been translated to "She is having a baby." He thought she was giving birth right then and there. I guess he had visions of having to assist in the delivery.
vincenzo32951 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2016, 05:12 AM
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I guess your train station was Welkenraedt.
Vincenzo I can imagine the panic on your drivers eyes.
Whathello is offline  

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