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Your worst "misadventure" in Europe?

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Traveling is supposed to be fun but sometimes the unexpected can happen and throw a big monkeywrench into your plans. maybe you lost your passport?..your wife even?...... maybe the hotel had no record of your booking......maybe you got food poisoning?? Pick something that turned a promising vacation into a stressful one. Kudos if you point out how it could have been reduced or avoided alltogether. Some of these could be educational or humorous, maybe both. I'll go first:

After missing the last tube of the night in London a cop directed me to a bus stop that would get me back to the city center. I boarded an increasingly crowded bus and realized after 20 minutes that nothing around me looked familiar. My GPS showed I was headed East of London in the WRONG direction. i had to jump off and switch.. tired, hungry, and not in the mood it took me almost an hour to reach the hotel and pass out. i should've been more mindful of when the last trains would leave or at least checked bus directions.

Getting thrown out of the Tower of London for photographing the Crown Jewels in front of 30 other tourists and my wife was pretty bad as well ;-)

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    I read your trip report and about your bus misadventure.

    I just thought of a few.

    We ended up in a someone's chicken yard, looking at their coop, trying to drive from Lastra a Signa to Vinci in Tuscany. Followed a little road that turned out to be more of a driveway than a road.

    We once were walking from Bellagio to a nearby restaurant on the outskirts of town, following poorly marked footpaths. A huge tractor or some such piece of farming equipment turned its lights and horn on us, and chased us out of a field in the dark. It seems we have a thing for getting lost in agrarian settings.

    And then there was our honeymoon, when we lost one another in Doge's Palace in Venice. We both took off in different directions looking for the other, and finally met up outside after well over an hour. These were the days before cell phones of course.

    I might think of more, but all these happened in Italy and jumped right into my memory when I read your post. None of these events were that stressful, except the Doge's Palace thing did shake us both up a little.

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    2005 on a train from Vienna to Budapest, by myself. I hadn't really paid attention to the names of the train stations in Budapest. Apparently there were several, as it's a huge city. For some reason, I had a brain freeze as we got to the first station in the suburbs - I saw the name "Budapest" and whatever the station name was and panicked - ohmygod, am I supposed to get off here??? I knew the train was continuing on to Belgrade.

    Common sense should have told me that lots of people would be getting off at the main Budapest stop - and by then I had been on many trains and to Europe by myself several times - but for some reason in this moment of panic, because I hadn't been paying attention and hadn't thought about the station names, and I didn't want to get stuck going all the way to Belgrade, and I wasn't thinking clearly, so...I grabbed all of my bags and hopped off the train! They don't stop long at these little stops; I didn't have enough time to change my mind. The train was gone in a few seconds. Then I realized I was FAR from the center of Budapest at some tiny suburban train station, with no ATM nearby, no Hungarian money, and knowing not a word of Hungarian!

    I tried to avoid freaking out. It was early in the day so I knew I wouldn't be stuck there, but I was also supposed to meet someone in Budapest later on. How would I get in touch with her if I was late? How would I buy another ticket? How late would I really be?

    In the end I calmed down enough to read the posted train schedules of incoming trains headed on to Budapest. I saw another one due - a regional train - in about 20 minutes, so when it came I just hopped on. I didn't have a ticket or Hungarian money. I assumed my prior ticket was useless. What would I do? I just stayed between cars, the ride wasn't that long, maybe 20 minutes, and no conductor came. I got off at the correct station and still made it to my appointment in plenty of time - whew!

    Not sure that qualifies as a "misadventure" as I wasn't stuck overnight or something awful like that - but it was such a stupid mistake, and I was kicking myself all afternoon over it, even though it turned out OK.

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    Mine revovles around rental cars. About almost going over cliffs, driving in restricted areas, taking off other people's sideview mirror, paying for tickets on the spot, finding myself in the midst of 1,000 bike race,and having a trunk filled with 60 pounds of octopi.

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    My girlfriend and I were planning on touring though the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. As we left Schiphol airport in a rental car, we made a wrong turn and went southwest towards Belgium instead of east towards Germany. We could have turned around after 20 miles but decided to carry on towards France and Switzerland.

    If that happened now I would stop the car and cry. Back then it was all part of the fun.

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    We have had two. During a trip to London and Paris (with our children (2 and 7 at the time), and my inlaws), we learned, rather sadly, that our beloved dog had passed away at home; this put a cloud over us from the start, but we were bound to enjoy the holiday. From London we took the Eurostar to Paris and were laden with luggage, car seat, and a stroller, but could not connect with our VRBO host for anything. We spent the afternoon not sightseeing, but waiting outside the building and calling the owner, while one of us roamed the Marais looking for a hotel as backup. We found a hotel, dropped our luggage, and went for dinner, a little downhearted over missing a day of sightseeing, not to mention having to sort out the apartment problem. We returned to the hotel around 9:00 p.m. and discovered that the VRBO host had tracked us down by going to every hotel in the Marais! The concierge called him and he promptly took us to the apartment. For all that went awry, we all look fondly back on that trip.

    The second mishap was more recent, in 2011, and the children were much older and therefore more helpful! This was our first all-train trip; we flew into Frankfurt to enjoy the week in Amsterdam, and then trained via Cologne to Oberwesel for a night in a castle before departing the following day from Frankfurt. On the morning of departure we checked out of the castle and went to St. Goar to tour the castle ruins, noting the train schedule for the RegionalBahn to Frankfurt airport from St. Goar. Except there wasn't a RegionalBahn from St. Goar. We had read the schedule incorrectly, which cost us an additional 90 minutes of waiting on the platform for a connecting train. On top of that we had the wrong tickets for the train, but I think the conductor took pity on us. We arrived at Frankfurt airport with 33 minutes to check in for the last flight home of the day, clear immigration, and race to our plane at Gate A67, all while pulling our luggage as it was too late to check. Only after we collapsed in our seats did we all start laughing.

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    wow these are some GOOD ones! it's good to laugh about this stuff now but not when it was going on. getting chased out of a field in the middle of the night...almost driving over a cliff... jeez :-)

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    What great posts. I’ve been fending off disaster for years in my travels. But the time I felt like a complete idiot was in Germany, 2001. On 9/10/2001, I made non-refundable reservations to Frankfurt. In the ensuing month after 9/11, the world waited, scared to death to fly. I was determined to go, so in mid-October, I went, terrified. Security was incredible, obviously. I had a great vacation, but when I was leaving Germany I wanted to be sure I made it in plenty of time to the airport for a Sunday 11:30 am flight. I was staying at a small hotel, the Luther, in Freinsheim on the Weinstrasse about an hour away from FRA. I set the alarm for 5:00, giving myself lots of time. I dressed and carried my bag downstairs to check out. Reception was closed, all the lights out, not a soul around. Well, I thought, I’ll leave the key and head out. I tried the door to parking. Locked. I tried the front entrance. Locked. All the doors to outside were locked. How was I to leave the hotel?

    I went back to the room and called the desk, hoping someone might answer. No luck. I wandered around the quiet hotel trying not to wake others and found an upstairs door leading to a bridge from the hotel across a little alleyway to the old medieval wall around the town. I could open it from the inside, but in the dark, afraid there would be no passage and the door would lock behind me, I propped it open with my suitcase. With some trepidation, I took out my tiny flashlight and headed across the passage to a stone staircase on the other side. Down I went, the steps barely lit by my light, into a dark, damp yard. I tiptoed through high, dense vegetation in the direction of the parking area, when my movement awoke the chickens. Their squawking awakened the dogs who took up the alarm. Mortified amidst the din, I found myself facing a high stone wall. No gate. I looked for something to stand on, thinking I could crawl over. Nothing except those chickens. I went the other direction and found a stout wooden gate. Locked.

    My light fading, I went back upstairs, retrieved my luggage and went back to reception where I tried my room key in the lock to the back door. It worked! I hauled the suitcase out and looked for a place to drop the key. Nothing. I went back inside and had to lock the door behind me because it wouldn’t automatically lock itself. I tried the front door to the courtyard. It opened but the courtyard gate was bolted. The key didn’t open it. What was I to do? It was already past 6:00. I couldn’t miss my flight, so after waiting another half an hour, hoping the kitchen help would show up and getting panicky, I decided to just go, lock the door behind me and mail the key back.

    I got to the airport in plenty of time, dropped off the car, and got in the line at security. They spent half an hour questioning everything I had with me, my suitcase, camera, a translator. How long did I have them? Who gave them to me? How long had I known those people (husband, best friend). Finally through security, and running late, I hurried to the gate. At 11:00, the flight had not been called. I kept checking my watch, then finally noticed a clock on the wall. Checked my watch again. One hour difference. Daylight savings time had come to Germany that night. Upon my return I had a very terse e-mail from the hotel asking for their key back. I’ll never be able to stay there again. Of course, I don’t have to. I live in Germany now, about an hour from the Weinstrasse. And continuing to have one bizarre adventure after another.

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    Let's see, Here are the ones I remember.

    Trying to show off my terrific French on one of my first trips, instead of ordering "chocolate cake" I ordered a "chocolate cat."

    Trying to get through a toll gate outside of Florence with no ticket and 30 cars behind us all none to pleased with the "Stupid Americans." After only speaking in Italian for about two minutes as four of us searched the car for the ticket to pay the toll, finally a ticket appeared in the machine and a voice (speaking now in perfect English) sternly said, "Take the ticket and Go Away!"

    Nearly mowing down three nuns in Florence.

    On my first trip to Florence, all the one way streets seemed to be going the wrong way to our hotel, so in desperation I backed up (very fast) on a one way street going the wrong way (lucky I wasn't arrested for that one).

    Driving on what I thought was a nice, large parking lot looking fir a space, but instead I was driving on the car-free town square of Trevi.

    Not knowing how to put the car in reverse, and having to push our rental car backward into a parking space in Spello.

    And, of course, putting Super Gas in a Diesel Car outside of Gubbio.

    It's amazing my passport has not been revoked.


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    Ah, reading Maitai's response puts me in the mood for a new MaitaiTom and Tracey trip report. I hope you're going somewhere soon! I always love reading about your adventures! (and misadventures)

    Tailsock, I really enjoyed your blog and pictures. You have a great travel style. You should checkout Maitai's trip reports, too. I think you may be kindred spirits. You both have great travel attitudes -- and, it seems, great travel partners :).

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    We must have had the same car. On one car we rented in Italy I never found reverse, second, the right headlight (each headlight had a different on switch) and the horn.

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    Sorry, one more driving story. We were in Perugia and I must have made a wrong turn. I could see a cop's face turn red from two blocks away. Mrs. Adu and I speak enough Spanish that we get the gist of the converartion in Italian. I told her that we do not understand a word he is going to say us. I remember a story Clement Freud told years ago. He was stopped in Spain by the police for speeding and although he speaks Spanish, he pretended he did not. He took out a phrase books and said in Spanish to the police, "I need an enema."
    They let him go. Quickly I assume.

    When we arrived at the cop, he screamed at me. I just looked at with a puzzled look and kept on saying "Hotel?" Hotel?" and he let us go.

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    A few years ago my wife and I were at one of the Greek ruins sites in Sicily (can't remember which). We had to climb what must have been a couple of thousand feet to the top of the hill to view the old theatre. It was cold and damp and our descent was highlighted by drizzle turning to rain turning to sleet. At the little station at the bottom we needed acouple of coretti to get blood flowing.

    As we left we noticed that we needed fuel. We drove around interior Sicily (which is essentially vacant) for a long time, watching the gas guage descend. Believe me, there was no one and no sign of habitation. I finally passed another motorist and flagged him down. Somehow my insuffucient Italian finally got through, but he didn't know the territory. Minutes later (thank god) we came across the same guy again and he said the nearest station was "centro metri". Sure enough the station was just around the corner! A day of infamy!

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    Mine tend to involve when I am alone (and I'm about to try to have solo day trips while DH works near Frankfurt--oh, my, cautionary tales for myself!)--

    In London sightseeing this and that, alone while DH rested, I took some pix of the American Embassy. I must have crossed some line, because a suddenly pretty irate security person scolded me. The nearby guard-with-automatic-weapon just shrugged, but I scooted away and took a few pix from Grosvenor Square but not upclose anymore. Wandered up to Oxford Street; went into Marks and Spencer. Two uniformed police approached me--Excuse me, miss, no problem but can we have a word? You were taking pictures at the Embassy, right? They took my passport to check, I offered to show my pix on the camera which they looked at, they wrote up a "Successful stop" and I still don't know what I did to send those red flags up! It really wasn't stressful until it hit me a little later; and by the time I made it back to the rooms to tell DH, it was actually funny (although I did hold my breath a little when passport checked the next day! Ha!)

    In Rome, I was with a group of student-tour-group-leaders on a training conference. Despite my DH's cautions before I left home--Stay with the group!-- I decided to strike out on my own in the late November afternoon as I wanted to walk on a bridge over the Tiber; I got separated from my couple of new-found-friends so I just set out. Soon nothing was matching up with the map I had. It got dark. I still had an hour before meeting the group near the Emmanuel Memorial for our transport to dinner. But I began to decide I was lost and maybe I should stop and get a taxi. I stepped into a hole in the sidewalk (where? no clue!) in the dirt ring around a tree and bam! fell to my knees with my SonyDSLR around my neck pulling my face further down so I bonked my mouth on the sidewalk! A man with trayful of bread said, Oh signora! and kept on working. Oh, well. I got up. Camera ok (well, one little dent in guard-thing); no limbs broken; lip definitely bleeding and already puffed up but no teeth chipped! I went into a chocolate shop (where? no clue!) and despite their limited English and my non-existent Italian, they called a taxi, which arrived in 5 minutes, and I was deposited at our meeting point 15-20 minutes early. Lesson? Have better map! DH would say Don't go off by myself!

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    In planning a 10 night stay on Lake Como in Italy we booked 9 nights at The Grand Tremezzo Hotel, leaving the last night open as we were sure that in our travels around the lake we would find a quaint little place to spend our last night.

    When it was getting close with 2 nights left at The Tremezzo, we decided to ask at the desk for help to find our dream place.

    You could hear the desk clerks laugh all the way through the lobby. "You are looking for accommodations for THIS weekend?" "THIS Sat. night?" "This is Monza weekend, you won't find a place to stay within 300 miles." I guess we forgot to check our race schedule.

    Next the clerk asked if we had ever been to Bergamo? She could get us in there. Off we went on a new adventure to somewhere we had not even heard of. What a delightful town. We had a great day & night wandering the pedestrian streets, checking out an interesing market, and hearing some nice street music.

    And, lesson learned. It's called---reservations! Don't leave home without them!

    On another trip, our luggage was lost going to Paris for 3 weeks. We received it at home after the trip. Thankfully, I pack a good carry-on. It was an eye-opening experience because we both learned that we didn't need all that stuff. It was nice to look in the closet and not have so much to choose from.

    For some people, it would have ruined their trip trying to track it down every day. The first call, we were told it went to Croatia so we were done looking for it. We moved on and had one of our best trips to Paris & the Loire Valley.

    Lesson learned---pack a good carry-on, choose an apt. with a washer/dryer, & wear lots of black!

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    our luggage did not arrive from Croatia to Paris.
    Air France gave us an emergency 'kit"....tooth brush and paste,
    a comb,and several other items including a condom!
    This was more than ten years ago.
    I don't know if their policy has changed.
    Now, we travel with carry ons

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    My luggage has only been delayed one single time, and it was on the way home. They delivered it by taxi to my apartment the next morning. I was trying to figure out how to have that happen every time!!

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    One of my misadventures happened many years ago (1970's), when I was not familiar with Italian trains. I was sailing from Cyprus to Marseilles single handed, and had tied up my ketch against the quai in Fiumicino (the port/fishing village on the Tiber, not the airport). I wanted to get into Rome to look for someone to crew with me.(Long story) My plan was to write out a sign on the back of a chart, "Yacht Crew Wanted", and sit on the Spanish steps until someone came along looking for a low cost adventure; sharing food costs as we sailed together to the south of France.

    Anyway, I rolled my chart and caught the local train that ran into Rome. I had asked the proper stop from the Captain of the Port, who spoke a bit of English, and away I went. I kept checking the name of each stop, as I had no idea how far mine was, but I had difficulty seeing the signs, and had to get up from my seat to see them.

    Finally, I saw my station sign, and rushed back to my seat to get my chart/sign, and hurried off the train.

    What I didn't realize was, 1) how short the stops were, and 2) how smoothly the train started, so I had one foot in the air over the platform before I realized the train was moving.


    "Oh, S#*t", I said, as my leading foot hit the concrete, shortly followed by the rest of my cartwheeling body. I tumbled a considerable distance down the platform, narrowly missing a pillar that would have stopped me, but probably broken a number of things I consider important.

    I was instantly surrounded by a crowd of concerned Italians, who were gesticulating wildly, and loudly shouting things I didn't understand; probably ranging from, "Call an Ambulance", to "Did you see what that a**hole American just did?". They picked me up, dusted me off asked about my well being (I suppose) and handed me back my sign. I told them I was OK, shook off their offers of help, and slunk away as quickly as I could hobble.

    I had a number of scrapes, and some bruises the size of New Jersey, but was not seriously hurt. My most lasting and painful contusion was to my pride. I really felt foolish, clumsy, and embarrassed.

    I did get to the Spanish Steps, and did get a nice Dutch/Australian couple to crew for me, but I was surprised they trusted the disheveled chap with the tattered shirt, bleeding from his knees and elbows.

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    We spent an hour driving around Bamberg trying to get to our hotel once - we could get within a few blocks, but just couldn't get TO the hotel. We had decent directions, and ALMOST made it on the first try, but it was a Saturday afternoon and one critical street was closed to cars that day. I drove down pedestrian-only streets, almost drove over that little bridge in front of the town hall, went around and around in circles, was admonished by several people, had to back up a couple blocks through pedestrian trafffic... We even drove back out of town and tried a "do over". No luck.

    Finally I double-parked and waited with the car while DH walked to the hotel to ask how to drive there. He came back and guided me to the hotel. The route took us through a small platz that never in my wildest dreams would I have throught you were actually supposed to drive through, and down an alley that was barely wider than the car.

    We came around a corner and there was the hotel with the owner waiting for us. I double-parked again and the owner helped us with our luggage, then told us to wait while he parked the car. I don't know where he put it, but he clearly did not think it was wise for me to continue driving in his town. When we left a couple days later, he drew us a map to the highway :)

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    I missed my train from Orvieto to Florence because I was waiting for it to arrive and thought it was running late. The train that had been sitting there with me for hours that I thought was out of commission pulled away and turned out to be my train. Of course, that was the express train and I had to wait forever for the next train which was the slow local commuter train.

    I booked a hotel in a town in Switzerland (I have blocked out the name due to the trauma) and when I arrived there was no such place. I booked it online. Turned out it was 2 towns away; the internet had a wide field of search. I never found it even though I called them and asked for directions which were crummy. I was charged for the stay.

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    I was 16 and went to Paris with a group of teens. The day we arrived we were put on a bus to tour the city. I could not keep my eyes open from jet lag and slept thru the entire tour. Felt very embarrassed, then left my purse with passport on the bus. Luckily some responsible adult got to back somehow!

    Four years ago while my husband and I were in Montepulciano in Tuscany we were trying to find our hotel. He was driving a manual car and has very little experience with manuals. The streets were very very narrow, on steep hills, and it was raining. I am sure you can imagine the rest. Or nerves were shot. Lucky for us we were staying at Meuble il Riccio which was a very peaceful place once we found it.

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    I recall only one problem. Many years ago I went to europe with my brother and in a restaurant in italy he ordered mussels and apparently one was bad. The next morning he didn;t feel very well, but we were scheduled to leave for Florence and he decided we should go, I was all for staying put another day and the hotel had room - it just would have meant paying for 2 hotels for one night.

    But we left - and he started getting sicker and sicker. We were stopping at every gas station and rest stop. And then he couldn't drive and I was left dealing with a standard transmission - grinding the gears at every shift (since I hadn't driven one in years). Well we finally made it to Florence - but it took forever with all the stops. We pulled up in front of the hotel and threw ourselves on their mercy. They dealt with the luggage, took the car away and put it in a garage and called an MD - who came to the hotel for my B. He confirmed it was probably a bad mussel, gave him a settler and reco'd 2 days of bed rest and no food. By the end of the second day he was much better - but had missed 2 days of Florence - so we had only one left.

    Unfortunately there's not much you can do about something like that - but if it happened again I would insist on staying put until my companion was functional again. And getting a doctor sooner.

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    Volcano in Iceland=LONGER flight time to Paris=missing the appointed train to Bordeaux=no seats available for new reservation except for the LAST train out of Paris that evening =Ascension holiday- trains all booked=Bordeaux train station under "renovation"= getting off in Libourne =getting on bus to Bordeaux= after midnight when we arrived at hotel= had a guaranteed reservation, thank goodness = 36 hours without sleep = 3 days to recover!!!
    Our trip started out as the Big Adventure...we had a wonderful time for the month we traveled
    in France!

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    jmct714: thanks a lot! i'll check some out when i get a chance. I'm glad we have lots of participation in this thread so i have lots of amusement on my lunch break. these travel slip-ups are HILARIOUS. maitai driving through a town square made me snort soda up my nose!

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    Ten years ago my friend and I decided to go to Europe for the first time, visiting France, Italy and Greece. We were flying out of a small airport in mid-Michigan to Detroit and then on to Paris. We were sitting in the airport talking and noticed a line forming, so we got in line, got on the plane, put out carry-on in the overhead bin and buckled ourselves in. I thought we boarded quite early and was surprised to see the attendants closing the bins quite a bit before we were suppose to take off. Then we heard the Captain say “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to flight xxxx to Minneapolis”. Well, we jumped up, grabbed our bags and were headed to the front of the plane when someone came in the door looking for us. When we got back in the airport, we erupted in fits of laughter. I said “Here we are, going to three foreign countries and we can’t even get out of our hometown right!” My friend said “Well, your sister said I’d see a lot traveling with you, but I didn’t think it included Minneapolis!” That was our start to a fun trip with a few other mishaps that we still laugh about.

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    The story is too long to tell fully here, but I was 18 on my first trip to Europe, and in the Bordeaux train station while waiting all day for a train to Paris I was targeted by two really creepy men who first just harassed me and then got physical each taking an arm and trying to drag me away.

    Luckily for me the owner of the kiosk I was sitting next to and her daughter came racing out to my rescue screaming abuse and calling for the gendarmes.
    They had some pretty scary things to say about what went on there with predatory men and young girls at that time.( early 70's)

    The long and the short of it was they were absolutely lovely to me, taking me home for a big sit down lunch with the rest of their family, showing me around their hundreds of years old home and then personally putting me on the train, choosing the right carriage for me and sending me off with a bag filled with sweets, chocolate and cigarettes.

    I guess you could call that a big misadventure with a happy ending.

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    There was the time, motoring around Ireland with two teenage boys who it turned out had neither one ever seen a GPS much less operated one.....left our farmhouse b&b for Ennis to get some dinner; beginning to get dark as we tried to find our way back; satnav absolutely useless as of course Ireland has an interesting address system. Beginning to panic, we went back into Ennis to a c-store and asked the clerk if he knew where XXX b&b is, of course not a local and didn't. As we were leaving, wondering what to do next, a lady drove up with her teenage son who had overheard our conversation. Now she wasn't familiar with that particular b&b but she had us follow her and she led us right to the gate. What an angel in disguise.
    That's the reason I always recommend a satnav (and insist that my navigator knows how to use it)even though most "seasoned" Ireland travelers turn up their noses. Now I know we could have entered the b&b location as we were leaving for town.

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    Our experience parallels that of Nottingham, on what we refer to as "The Volcano Vacation". The day we were due to fly out, the volcano erupted. Called Air France, and they said, go to the airport. Off to LAX, where after a bit of a wait we were told, CDG is closed, go home. Called on the way back home and got a seat on KLM the next day (Yay!). We didn't unpack, we didn't sleep much, and went back the next day. There were lines out the door of people from the prior day as well as that day at KLM, and after an hour someone announced that Amsterdam was closed (No!).

    We went over to the Air France counter (handily placed next to KLM!), where I lied and said, "It's our 40th anniversary trip!" The sympathetic lady asked where our final destination was, and when we said Nice, she offered us the chance of a seat, because this flight was being diverted to Marseilles. Yay! Got on the plane, and about a half an hour later I thought, Hummmm. Was this a good idea, or not? Too late.

    After a long flight we landed, got our stick shift rental car, and set off for Nice. My husband hadn't slept much on the plane, so we made several nap stops. He also hadn't driven a manual for a loooong time. To keep up a positive attitude, I regaled him with the wonderful place we were headed to, lovely views of the Bay of Nice. We got lost several times trying to find our place in Vallauris, but finally headed up the last road. Which was an unbelievably steep one (hence the views), and of course the car conked out. Started sliding down the hill, with me shrieking something along the lines of, We are going to die.

    When we got to the place my husband looked at me and said, We are not going anywhere tonight.

    Next day we were interviewed in Antibes and got into the paper, under a headline reading something like, the LAST people to leave Los Angeles and our smiling dopey faces.

    Our next place was near Carpentras, and I kept telling my husband - flat land! No problems! Fine til the last mile, which was along a restricted visibility, winding one lane road with fields on either side, no lights (of course), and crumbling asphalt with 5 foot deep drainage ditches on either side. He turns to me again and says, We are not going anywhere at night.

    Sigh. It was still a great vacation. But I am now very wary of "view" properties. :)

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    I bought a brand new hard case luggage for my Spain trip in April 2012. I flew from San Francisco to Madrid via London on British Airways. When picking my luggage in Madrid, I notice a sizeable dent at the corner of my still shiny silver luggage. I had a hard time opening the suitcase due to the dent back at the hotel in Madrid, but did not think much about it due to jetlag. We stayed in Madrid for 4 nights, and I never try to close the suitcase... until the night before leaving Madrid for Seville, with a stop in Toledo. It was 10pm. We were tired and trying to pack and the suitcase would not close. My sister tried to fix it, sweating like crazy amidst the cold of Madrid, no success. I called the Radisson Blu hotel desk to ask for a hammer, and they sent a nice young gentleman up our room to help. He tried very hard, came back and forth with more tools, and we all agreed that it cannot be fixed. We were panic but it was too late, so we had to change our next day plan. First thing in the morning was going to the train station nearby to change our pre-paid ticket to Cordoba/Seville. I timed and booked our Renfe ticket early at huge discount (60% I think). But that ticket is non-refundable. So we lost that, and on top had to purchase a new ticket at FULL price, and could not even find a 2-seats together. Then we headed to El Cortes Ingles and bought a new luggage. Then having some time to kill we headed to the Thyssen museum for Chagall's special exhibition - which was the highlight of the day.
    Anyway relief to get a new luggage and got on the train to Seville. But we had to skip Cordoba due to the mishap.
    I was angry and not sure who to blame for. British airways? The luggage maker? Sometimes I do have the thoughts of going thru the complaints but other times I just want to get over it.
    The best part came out of this misadventure was that we made a day trip to Cordoba a few days later. We got inside the Mezquita mosque around noon with no ticket purchase since it's local mass time. I saw the guard kicking out all the tourists for the masque but we were sitting down next to some locals and the guard missed us. So we had the mosque all to ourselves, and sat through an hour spanish mass with the locals. It was quite an experience. And that made up for all the mishap earlier.

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    My last "mésaventure".

    A few weeks ago, on whitsun weekend, as I have done more than a few time, I took the direct train from Geneva to Venice. This train makes a long 30 minutes stop at Milano Centrale so in order to strech, I always get off on the platform and walk around the shop area, take a coffee carrying only my valuables (money, passport, etc) leaving all the rest in the train. This time I was over confident or simply not paying enough attention, I went back to the platform and could not find the train. Asked the info girl there. She looked at my reservation and said. What are you doing here when you should be on your way to Venezia. Your train left 3 minutes ago. Bravo she said ( like meaning well done :-( ) What? Is that possible? What can I do? Next train? What about all my belongings? She told me to the customer service, which I did and I was told 1. for myself, I should go to the platform for a train 30 minutes later and ask the conductor if I can get on with my ticket. 2. For my stuff, call Tren Italia lost and found, she gave me the number. I called but was told the best chance is I inquire at Venice station when I get there. Ok, the conductor let me take the following train, no charge (but that was less of a poblem, I was ready to pay if needed. Also the train was 80% empty). Asked also about my situation with luggage, he said we will see. Communication with him was limited, me speaking French and English, he Italian only (he was a conductor for a domestic train). But I understood most of what he said. And he did too I guess. He called a few numbers with mobile phone on the way to Venice and finally got to speak with the conductor of the earlier train that I missed. They got my coach/seat number, exactly where I left my things. He finally said to me to come with him to the station master's office in Venice Santa Lucia. I did that, always uncertain what would happen in Italy, then everything was there. My suite case, jacket, small things ( book, sandwich, etc) that are around my seat but not really together. They got all of them. So I did not need to visit a supermarket to by toothpaste, tooth brush, etc. My trip started horribly (all my fault) but once in Venice, went pretty well, pfew ! ( except a quick earthquake Saturday morning ). Bravo and grazie mille to the Italian train conductor !

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    When I was a student, in the summer of 1968, a fellow student (who must have seen me coming) sold me his tandem bike, for a friend of mine to go with me on a jaunt to Paris, so I could see what was going on and practise my French, and he could visit his girlfriend. This damn thing must have been built to solid pre-war engineering standards, but it had been gussied up with various modern lightweight additions; we got it by train and ferry to Le Havre without any trouble, but once loaded up with the both of us and our luggage on the rear paniers, it lasted barely a couple of hours out of Le Havre into the countryside before something in the gears went clunk and they just turned uselessly without moving the wheel. Eventually, after much trudging along deserted roads, we found a garage, only to discover all the bits were proudly Imperial and nothing metric would fit.

    So the garage man kindly agreed to let us leave the tandem there while we hitched on to Paris, where my friend (who knew about these things) contacted his father to get the right bit mailed to us at his girlfriend's address.

    We had an interesting week or so there, sleeping quite illegally on various people's floors in the Cité Universitaire. Did I mention this was 1968? The student and union unrest was in the process of subsiding, so we had an interesting time checking out what was left of all that, but when the time came to hitch back to pick up the encumbrance, young men with fashionably untidy haircuts weren't, at that time, the most likely to get a lift. We were on the outskirts of Paris for hours before someone took pity on us, and it was getting on into the evening before we got to the garage. Fortunately, the man in charge was understanding and the new part was fitted easily, but timing was getting tight for the overnight ferry out of Le Havre. As we pulled into the harbour, we could see it all lit up, and heaved a sigh of relief - only to see the gangplanks come down just as we arrived at the terminal building. So we had an uncomfortable night on the benches there (and I don't recall when or if we got anything to eat that evening) before getting the morning ferry.

    Oh well, it all builds character, I suppose. I can't remember who I palmed that damn tandem off on to.

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    My own story, well there have been a few.

    I guess you could say this was more of a misunderstanding than a misadventure.
    Although a lot of Europeans we have encountered feel that we should speak French because we come from Canada, for the most part our French is limited to high school classes and reading cereal boxes, haha.
    So on our virgin voyage to France, we felt a bit of trepidation about whether we would be able to communicate effectively.
    Our knowledge of trains in Europe was limited as well, so, like ncounty, we watched our high speed TGV train pull away, thinking that little 3 car train couldn't possibly be it.

    We got our tickets changed but had to wait several hours for the next train. Time to use the washroom, at least. Feeling a little unnerved by all these unfamiliar surroundings, I found that I had to go up to a booth and buy a token for the bathroom.
    Okay, no problem, until I glanced to the left, and horror of horrors, the men's washroom was in full view! Quickly focussing back on the booth in front of me, I now had to figure out what to ask for, and how much it would cost.
    All those unfamiliar terms,...and already feeling quite out of my element by what I had "witnessed", I tried to decipher the price list.
    What jumps out at me was the listing for Douche €3,5.
    All I could think of was, "I don't want a douche, just let me use the bathroom, and get the h_ !! out of here!"
    Well, I got my token, 35 cents or similar, and as I waited in line, my high school French came back to me. Of course, some weary traveller might want a nice, warm shower!

    I'm happy to report, we made it to Paris, had a fantastic time, and haven't let that little experience keep us away from Europe.
    It's also a good reason to learn a little of the local language before one goes traveling!

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    "We must have had the same car. On one car we rented in Italy I never found reverse..."

    adu - Maybe it was my poor Fiat. I still remember the looks on those people's faces in Spello as we tried to push the car into the parking space. With 17 days in France this Fall, I'm pretty sure we will add to our list of mishaps.


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    One car was an old Renault where the bench seats were soldered to the floor. And we too drove across a plaza in Assisi, I think, where cars were not premitted. And since our plates said Rome, the people were screaming "Roma! Roma!" I thought this is wonderful let them be angry at the Romans instead of an American.

    I wish you the merriest mishaps.

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    Day trip by train from Prague to Dresden. Forgot the passports. And yes, I am aware that crossing an international border requires a passport.

    The Czech border people wanted to put us in jail for a long time, or at least send us back to Prague. The German border people said no to the Czechs, and accompanied (as in custody) us the rest of the way to Dresden. There they brought us to some kind of poice station and we filled out paperwork that ultimately resulted in day visas. And they were at the train station to make sure we got on the train back.

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