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WORST thing that happened while on a trip?

WORST thing that happened while on a trip?

Old Aug 13, 99, 7:00 am
  #1  
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WORST thing that happened while on a trip?

In many years of travel I have to admit I've never been mugged, had my baggage stolen, lost my wallet misplaced my wife or been kidnapped. I do lead a charmed life. What are your experiences. I want all the painful details! Think of it as therapy.
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Old Aug 13, 99, 7:12 am
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Does getting a leak in your gas tank, getting stung by white-faced hornets or having to pay a $2U.S. bribe (la mordida "the bite") to some Mexican border officials count?

I too have lived a charmed life both in the air and on the ground with no life-threatening incidents that I recall. Guess that's why I still like travelling.
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Old Aug 13, 99, 8:59 am
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Hmmm. Back in the late 1980's (I was in college) I had a girlfriend who lived in Paris. She had come to visit me on a charter into and out of JFK. I took the train up to meet her from DC. We stayed with my grandma who lived in the Village at the time (God bless rent control).

Well, at the end of her time, on our way to the subway station to the JFK "express," we stopped to watch a 3 card monty game. Laughing at and making fun of the toruists who were being scammed, we felt oh-so superior.

But as we turned to go, my girlfriend noticed that her purse was unzipped. And her ticket, passport and wallet (with all ID) were gone. Pickpocketed. My did we ever feel stupid.

Anyway, one visit with the sharp as a bowling ball NYCPD later, it was clear that she was pretty much screwed. With the help of my parents, we ended up flying back to DC (using the police report as ID) so she could go to the passport office (she is US Citizen) and get a new passport (quite a trick with no ID, rest assured that it took all day and the police report helped).

Needless to say, I am now in the wallet-in-my-front-pocket-when-I-travel-club. No bodily injury or anything, but it was hell on earth at the time...

And on the plus side, it was a once-a-week charter so I got to spend another six days with my girlfriend...

[This message has been edited by Matt Wald (edited 08-13-1999).]
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Old Aug 13, 99, 10:17 am
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How about having your rental car's windshield wipers stop working in a somewhat steady downpour on a NJ interstate 15 miles west of EWR (and not having a cell phone)?
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Old Aug 13, 99, 1:01 pm
  #5  
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Had the same problem while crossing the GW Bridge in a huge downpour when the driver side wiper just locked on the edge of the car somehow?! It literally flew off and got caught!

And one time I was "harassed" by a gorgeous FA on CO (before I was married of course!)
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Old Aug 13, 99, 1:43 pm
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This was a problem of my own doing, unfortunately.

I had a big meeting in Abilene (Texas), bright and early one morning. Decided to drive in the night before so I'd be fresh for the morning meeting. Several hours later when I pulled into the hotel (dressed in my finest travelling attire of old jeans, t-shirt and broken in running shoes) I realized that while I had all my important meeting materials, I had gone off and completely forgotten all about my suitcase. You haven't lived until you've tried to put together a "professional" outfit late at night in Abilene, Texas. Luckily (?) at least the Target store was open. It was a while until I lived down that episode!
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Old Aug 13, 99, 4:36 pm
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If you really want to hear about crummy trips there's a good book called Bad Trips from Vintage Books. It's a collection of essays from travel writers who've had some most unforgetable experiences.
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Old Aug 13, 99, 4:45 pm
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I too lead a very charmed life.

The only thing I've ever had go wrong happened in January in Hawaii. I had driven from the west side of Honolulu to all over kingdom come trying to find this blasted Thai restuarant on the east side of the island. I was absolutely famished by the time I found it, two hours later. Naturally, it was closed by the time I got there. Ack! I got back in the car, resigned myself to the Taco Bell across the street and parked. The key WOULD NOT come out of the blasted ignition. I tried for ages to work it out -- no go. Obviously, my only option was to drive an hour back to Honolulu Airport to exchange it. The Hertz folks couldn't get the key out either and asked what I did to it!!!! What a buzzkill on an otherwise lovely day.

But that's it. In all my travels, much of it by myself in countries where I don't speak but tens words of the local langauge, I've never had a problem. When I was in Berlin heading back to Prague by train, the conductor barely glanced through my (U.S.) passport before tossing it back at me, but really roughed up a woman sitting a few seats away who had a Romanian passport. They physically removed her from the train and not in a very gentle manner. I was a little shaken by it, actually. Was she a criminal, or just unlucky enough to have been born in the wrong country at the wrong time? I thank my lucky stars, and often.

Samantha
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Old Aug 13, 99, 6:12 pm
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Well, the worst trip experience for me had to be getting stuck in the storm of the century, back in 93, I believe. It was college spring break, and on the return from Florida, got stuck on the freeway in Alabama in a blizzard. My friends and I actually had to get out and push my car (small honda) along the road at points, till we could finally exit and get to a holiday inn. We were then stuck there for 3 days. The folks in Alabama kept saying - we know what snow plows are, we just don't have any. Luckily we made the best of the situation, and even got to participate in a wedding of a local family who couldn't get to a church in the country (one friend played the piano, and another sang). I now appreciate not ever having to drive in snow and ice conditions on a regular basis, and hope to keep it that way

Otherwise, I guess I have been pretty lucky in the travel department, on ground and in the air.
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Old Aug 13, 99, 6:55 pm
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World Airlines. 1978. Pax or cargo, same dif. EWR to HNL. Shortly after takeoff, FA drops a FULL tray of iced cups of orange juice IN MY LAP. Soaked me, the seat, the floor. FA walks away, not a word. No "sorry," no nothing!!! I resolve, "never again on World, despite the price". 4 hours later, after my clothes have dried, the FA comes by with some paper towels for me. I say, "Does this mean you're going to do it again?" She takes the paper towels back and walks away.

[This message has been edited by Eidetic (edited 08-13-1999).]
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Old Aug 13, 99, 7:00 pm
  #11  
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My bad car experiences in Sicily when I was 19 were terrifying.

I was just about to start a year abroad, and I was traveling in Europe with friends, and then I went to meet my parents in Taormina (Sicily) before school started. I was arriving a day earlier than my parents. I rented a car at the airport, and a stick shift was much cheaper, so I rented it. I had only driven a stick once, but (having that “I’m invincible” 19 year old attitude), I figured how bad could this be.

It was bad. There are no rules of the road in Southern Italy, everyone drives worse than a New York City cab driver. Plus, narrow Italian medieval streets are tough to drive on. Driving a stick on hills is much tougher than the flat area where I learned to drive a stick. And finally, there are tons of people in Taormina in August. I knew all of these things individually, but for some reason it did not click that these things together were a real problem. (Hey, I was 19)

So, I'm driving fine on the highway, but then a take the turn off for Taoramina, and start going up this major hillside which is a foot hill to Mt Etna (it looks a lot like Big Sur). As I get to town the traffic becomes stop and go on a steep hill. At one point I stop on about a 30-degree angle. There are tons of cars behind me as well as a big stone wall. There was no way that I could get the car started without rolling into someone. Everyone was honking, and I had no idea what to do. So, this nice Italian guy drove the car up the hill for me, but he did not know where the pennesione was, so he dropped me with the car in town.

I started driving around looking for the pennisione. And of course, I ending up on the one way street going back down the hill. This time going back up the hill, I get myself in even more trouble. The brakes start over heating, I can't get the car moving, and everyone is honking and yelling at me. At 19 this is pretty unnerving. Finally, a policeman shows up and drives me to the hotel -- which is way past town on the very top of the mountain.

When my father showed up, I got I lesson on how to drive a stick.
When I left a week later, I was driving to Palermo to meet a friend for a few days. I had this driving a stick thing down. Nothing else could go wrong I thought. My father, being a good dad, warning me to stay on major highways, but there was some tourist site I wanted to see, and so I took a back road.

When I was in the middle of nowhere Sicily, the clutch drops. (By this time my parents had flown to Paris) And, to top things off, it's 100 degrees and I'm wearing too skimpy an outfit for this situation and have to put on heavy clothes in the heat. I hitch hike to a town. And where do I end up, but Corleone. Having seen one to many Godfather movies, I’m totally freaked.

I call the car company, and they just tell me to leave the car and get to Palermo. Great! I thought, how I’m I suppose to do that, it was getting dark, and I can’t even figure out where the bus was. Plus, no one spoke English (and at that time my French is just barely passable).

I was pretty terrified. I sat down at an outside café and just started crying. This nice middle aged man came over and tried to talk to me, but we had no languages in common. The people at the next table spoke some French and they translated for me. I asked if there was a hotel in town, but he said I should come with him and he would get me to Palermo in the morning. I did not want to do this, but he called his wife and she came and they took me to there home, fed me a great meal, put me up for the night, and in the morning their son drove me to Palermo. I’m still amazed at how nice they were.

We have sent each other Christmas cards every year. I saw the couple a few years ago when I went back to Sicily, and their son stayed with me in Washington, DC some time ago, and with my parents in New York.

That was probably my worst travel experience. And most of it happened because I was a bit too young and made really poor choices. There is something to be said for getting older, even though I can do without the gray hair.
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Old Aug 13, 99, 9:52 pm
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Already talked about my People"s Express trips.

But my first REAL airplane trip in 1990 to Key West (I threw a dart at a map and whereever it landed I was to go.)

My aunt died several months before, and a relationship with a woman I luckily did not marry went horribly sour (Only my closest friends know what really happened.)

So my flight was EWR=MIA-KEY. I had the nastiest Flight Attendant on the EWR-MIA Continental who found it wierd I was traveling along and her and these pea brained college jocks in front of me make jokes about me for the flight, which was delayed.

I waited two hours for a coke and when I got it I gulped it down and tapped her on the arm to ask for another. She screamed "Don't you touch me!" The jocks laughed.

So I get to MIA miss my connection and teh guy at the CO gate says "I don't speak English."

I get to Key West, staying at the overpriced Pier House where they hit me with a charge of 79 dollars for mini bar (which was from the LAST GUEST.( they looked at me horribily as I paid cash for the room. (NO credit cards at the time.)

I had no friends, I was alone, no one wanted to be with me. The one nice part about the trip was that the cats at teh Hemmingway House took pity on me and I stayed there foru hours (before security asked me to leave.)

For the next three days and nights I did nothing but walk and drink, cry and drink, eat and drink and drink and drink (and I don't mean PEPSI> ) I did everything and on the last night I became violently ill first on Duvall Street Then back in my Pier House room. All over the place.

They sent someone out to get me PEPTO BISMOL and water. I refused to use the mini bar.

On top of this: I asked for pineapple juice.
It cost $2.95 cents a glass. They said it was freshed squeezed. Fresh squeezed from a can of Dole Pineapple juice. I refused to pay the 2.95 and the waitress siad "it's people like you who don't belong in a fine hotel lik ethis."

I hit rock bottom and watching the sunset I vowed never to get that way again.

And partly thanks to you Flyertalkers giving me places to go and accepting me for my many faults, I hope that I never, ever reach rock bottom again.

(And I went back to Key West two more times since, alone, but skipped the alcohol.)
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Old Aug 14, 99, 12:30 am
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Once in Denmark I ventured on a boat to Sweden. This was through a touring company. I explained to the company upfront that I have an Indian passport and a US green card and no Swedish visa. I was told that it is no problem. Of course once I landed in Sweden I was hauled by the police, put in a police car with a really mean dog in a cage constantly barking at me, and taken to the police station. The police chief had a nice chat with me and put me back on the next boat to Denmark.
 
Old Aug 14, 99, 12:55 am
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It was 1990, and I decided to take several days off after a business trip to Germany. My colleague Meryl and I went to Amsterdam. She had friends there with whom we spent one fun night, and the next night she wanted to spend some time alone with them.

So I decided to see a little of Amsterdam at night. I took a walk down what had been a very busy shopping street during the day. Very shortly into it, I realized that the street was deserted, and very shortly after that, I sensed a couple of guys coming up behind me.

One of them asked if I wanted to buy any drugs, to which I said no, thanks. Then he pulled out a knife and stuck it at my neck and told me to give him my wallet. I did so. They took whatever money was in the wallet out, started running in the other direction, and threw me back the wallet with credit cards and ID. Nice muggers

Lessons learned: I will never walk down a deserted street in a strange town again.
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Old Aug 14, 99, 7:52 pm
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I think that would have to be when we were visiting some of the Hawaiian islands in 1985, Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu. We were on Kauai, and visiting Barking Sands beach on the far side of the island, near the NaPali coast. I was out in the surf bodysurfing, with my wife, so I needed to take the key to the rental car with me, and had it in a velcro closed pocket. Got out of the water, and it was lost in the surf. Had to hitchhike back to the airport, rent another car, pick up my wife, drop off the extra rented car, and return. Made a 3 hr. trip to the beach into a 10 hr. adventure.
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