Most blogs, articles and travel stories begin with “You must go there”or “I ate the best seafood here” and for the most part tend to be very positive. After all, no one wants to admit to spending hundreds or worse, thousands of dollars on a crappy hotel room, a dangerous destination or a boring tour guide. I have decided to expose some of my experiences of myself and some of the behavior that I witnessed in fellow travelers as I roamed the world. See if you can relate:
Young Australian preference to beer over ancient civilization:
While sightseeing in Egypt, me and my travel companion met a young Australian who was on a mission to see the world but more invested in getting to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt to go diving. (5 days later, he was still saying he is on his way without moving from the Nile region). Every time, we would get close to an ancient site which required a small fee of a couple of dollars, he would stay behind the fence saying he cannot afford this. Now at first I felt pity, thinking that a guy spent all his money on accommodation which was a 3-4 star comfortable hotel (a bit pricier than a hostel), food which was only a couple of dollars a day, and flight which probably cost a lot as he had to fly across the world. After all, why else would you skip the Valley of the Kings, Karnak, Temple of Luxor, etc… The answer came on the 2nd day, when he decided to go shopping and asked us if we would join his quest of finding beer. After seeing that he spent a lot of more on his beer than all the entrance fees combined, I came to the conclusion that not all travellers are created equal. In my mind, you can enjoy beer back home or travel to destinations where you can really enjoy yourself such as Oktoberfest, Germany!
Trying to see and do it all in a short trip:
In North America, most people get only 10 days of paid vacation, and some of us lucky ones get 15. Therefore, for people that love to travel we either decide to see less of the world, quit our jobs to roam, or try to cram as much in as we can. Well, that was my stupidity! When I went to the Cannes Film Festival, an honor I dreamed of for years, I decided to fly to Scandinavia for an extra week. It made both financial and pragmatic sense, until it was time to execute my plan. On the day that I was leaving France, I had less than 24 hours to make it to Flam and at that point my plan seemed impossible. The itinerary was simple, depart Nice at 10pm arrive in Oslo by 2am and sleep in the airport until about 5 or 5:30 am, take a quick shower, eat at the airport and get to Bergen. At Bergen, take a 10 minute bus to the train station and buy a ticket to Flam, while grabbing lunch and hopping on a train with about 30-45 minutes in between. While this plan looked aggressive, it did not seem impossible as I was planning it while having my full 8 hours of sleep during a relaxed Sunday. Well, we did manage to arrive in Oslo but due to a flight delay, arrived only at 3am. And as I was tired, I did not even remember hitting the snooze button on my phone. I ended up waking up in panic at 7am with only 45 minutes before the flight was scheduled to depart. I ran through the airport like a mad and smelly woman (as I did not have time to shower) and with a help of a very polite SAS employee, I was able to make the flight which lucky for me served breakfast. My running continued to the train station as I took the wrong street from the Bus stop to the train station however, I did manage to get to Flam where I got to take a shower, relax and laugh about my planning. This was a lesson well learned indeed!
Personal safety and Canadian niceness:
Arriving in Cape Town, my boyfriend and I had booked a shuttle from our hotel (The Townhouse Hotel). Having heard stories of fellow travelers about the dangers
|Cape Town from Table Mountain|
of Cape, we thought this was a sensible thing to do. Upon arrival, we did not see our driver which alarmed us a bit but obviously not enough. While trying to locate small change and the phone number to call the hotel (since the car was pre-paid), a sketchy guy came to us to ask if we needed a taxi. Normally, a seasoned tourist always declines and goes with a reputable company. However, in our case, my boyfriend to my horror and the horror of bystanders, decided to respond to his questions of where do you need to go with the name of our hotel and even worse his personal name! Now of course, it’s not the worst thing a person can do but it was not the safest. As the guy walks away, I mention to my boyfriend that you do not tell a stranger your personal information. A local witnessing this asked if we needed to use his phone to call someone and warns us against getting into a taxi. As if this was not a real wake up call to not act as we do back home, another incident followed. As I walked to call the hotel, a fight broke out in the middle of the airport, with hateful words being exchanged and to my horror no security was found insight! To our luck, our shuttle arrived a few minutes later and we were told that it is not normal to have a fight break out and that there should have been security. But, it was enough to alert us to be very careful when walking at night and also to be on a look out. We learned our lesson that although we just arrived from Canada, Canadian niceness and naivety should have stayed on the plane when we disembarked.
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