In travel, moments of pure serenity, unending calm and satisfaction occur. Those moments when you realize why you travel are what help most part with home. I am no different, but I tend to find the mishaps of travel all the more rewarding.
A travel mishap, in theory, may sound like something you avoid. Being scammed on the streets of Mumbai isn’t really high on a traveler’s list. However in those failures, when the travel world shows it true colors, I learn the most about myself and even more about why I travel.
Throughout 2010, I have had my fair share of travel mishaps, things that go wrong, plans that change, people you didn’t think you would meet and be so affected. In hopes that you will also find the silver lining in your own travel mishaps in 2011 rather than acting out like a redhead might, here are a few of my travel mishaps I am eternally grateful for this year.
Renting an apartment in Florence that took me for all I was worth
I would complain and complain about how ridiculously expensive my apartment in Florence for the summer was, adding up figures in my head of just how much the owners must make a year. In the heat of summer, I wouldn’t turn on the fan to save on electricity. It didn’t matter. The owners had some strange system to keep track of utilities, a million euros for laundry, and another million just to use your key. Perhaps I am exaggerating a little, but despite overpaying for accommodations this summer, I was able to discover a new area of Florence and spend my money wisely elsewhere.
A surprise connection with an iceman
Thinking I would be spending most of my summer solo, my sister surprised me and came to Florence for a few weeks. I didn’t plan on visiting northern Italy during my three month adventure. However, we decided to just pick a city in northern Italy and go. Luckily, after selecting numerous other cities, we finally came upon Bolzano. Bolzano was one of those surprises, those mishaps that turn out with the best possible outcome. I met Ützi, an Iron Age backpacker discovered in the 1990s near Bolzano incredibly intact. The ties with a traveler from another time, far from my own, were incredibly unexpected. I think we tend to think history is this distant time, and the people back in the day hold no connection to us. Ützi challenged that notion in me. I was fortunate to stumble upon Bolzano and their 5,000-year-old iceman.
Spending the night with a Portuguese Mafia Don
It sounds much worse I suppose. I pulled up to my ridiculously cheap accommodations in Portugal. Near Lisbon, this hotel appeared to be on the coast, affordable and seemingly like staying in a 5 star hotel. Giant walls encased this hotel in the middle of a nothing town. A man complete with gold chains and greasy jet black hair greeted me and my friend. We appeared to be the only ones staying. The hotel just didn’t feel right. You wondered where this man acquired so much money in the middle of an impoverished town. Perhaps my imagination created most of this travel mishap, but when he told us he would be heading to New York and Miami soon for “business”, I was glad we were only staying one night.
Eating vegemite with an Aussie in Florence
If you frequent travel blogs at all, you probably know Chris from The Aussie Nomad. He has a Vegemite Challenge where he totes his vegemite wherever he goes in hopes of spreading what he calls “tasty” all around the world. I had never tried vegemite until that day and I will never try it again. However there was something remarkable about sitting in an Italian Renaissance city, with some of the greatest food in the world, and selecting to try vegemite with an Aussie. That is one connection travel is good at lending, the strange and out there.
Wandering around Valencia in 109F temperatures
I can’t even begin to describe just how hot it seemed in Valencia that day. Christine of C’est Christine got overly ambitious, deciding we should trek out through Valencia at the hottest part of the day. I began to feel much like I did in third grade playing the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. I very well could have melted that day and this is what is left of me. In the process, I learned complaining about the weather when you travel is probably one of the most idiotic things you can do. Delays and the like due to poor conditions or nearly passing out on a Valencia bus due to extreme heat are all things you can’t control.
What are some of your favorite travel mishaps of 2010?