Here are my 15 worst moments of 2015.
1. Getting really sick in Rome and Seville
When you hop on a flight to start the biggest adventure, you imagine you’ll be living your dream the second you land. What you don’t imagine is that 24h after arriving at your first destination you’ll get so sick you won’t be able to even get out of bed. This happened to me twice this year, and I can assure that getting sick while you travel sucks. You may even try to think “I’m here so I’m going to enjoy my time, even if my entire body hurts”, but you’ll feel like crap the entire time, you won’t have stomach to eat all the pizza and pasta in Rome, you won’t get any sleep because you’ll spend the night with fever and you’ll end up staying at the hostel thinking you are the unluckiest person on Earth.
2. Thinking I was going to die in Naples, Italy
When a person from Naples tells you that going alone is not a good idea, that the biggest problem in the city is the mafia shooting (but you’ll be ok because they don’t shoot tourists, they just shoot themselves) and ends up the conversation with “don’t worry, you’ll be ok, but your bags won’t come back with you”, I think it’s more than enough reasons to freak the hell out! I arrived in Naples as if I was ready to get off the train into a war zone. I was scared, I wanted to cry (I did cry…a lot), I got lost, I wanted to kick myself in the butt for still going to Naples after so many people told me to go some place else. I was terrified the entire time, and couldn’t find the courage to explore the city with my camera out of the bag, because it was my first week of travel, and I still had months ahead, I couldn’t risk being robbed and having to go back home after less than a week. There was a lot of crying, almost no photos, getting lost, not getting to try the best pizza in the world, lots of rain, lost train tickets, getting stuck inside the metro as it broke down, and a very scary hour of having to get out of the hostel by night to get the hell out of Naples. Overall a terrible experience that almost got me wanting to go back home.
3. Getting scammed in Croatia
I went to Zagreb with the only goal of getting to Plitvice Lakes National Park, and with this is discovered that making a dream come true, and being a newbie with this travel thing, sometimes comes with a twist. As I bough my bus ticket to Plitvice, I was told at the ticket office that there was only one bus to return, and that if I bought it there it would be cheaper, so I did. As I arrived at the park, I discovered they closed at 4pm, and my return ticket was at 6pm. Then, I asked if there were sooner buses to Zagreb, to which the lady said there was one like every half an hour. After thinking about it, I decided to buy a new ticket and get a bus early (I didn’t want to stand in the dark and cold for 2h). On the bus I bought a new ticket and as I was counting the change the driver gave me, I discovered he gave me a lot less money than he should. So I ended up paying for two buses, and getting the wrong change from the driver on the second one. Lesson learned!
4. Almost sleeping in the streets in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Going to Ljubljana was a last minute decision based on listening to my heart and stop being so afraid of everything. One day I was supposed to get a flight to Poland and the next I decided I was going to Slovenia instead. Arriving to a new country by night scared the hell out of me, but I made my research, I memorized the directions from the station to the hostel, and I got to my hostel in ten minutes. As I rang the bell, I got no answer. I tried a couple more times, nothing. Then I saw a notice on the door, saying the reception closed at 8pm, so there was nobody there to check me in. I started freaking out. Kept ringing the bell like a crazy person. I grabbed my phone and tried to call the number on the notice. My phone wasn’t working. When I actually needed the stupid thing, it decided to die on me. It was late, my phone was dead, there was nobody at the hostel, I was in a country I’d never been, I didn’t speak the language, I didn’t even had internet to check for a new place to stay for the night. I was on my own, I was scared, and all I could think was “why the hell did I have to come here? Why didn’t I get on my flight like I was supposed to? Why?”. I started crying, panicking. I was going to have to spend the night in the streets, all by myself and with no one to call for help, no one that I could even tell what was going on. After over an hour, a woman came by the door, I ran to her and asked for help as I cried. She then tells me she’s the receptionist and she had come to check me in. I swear I never felt relief as strong as that night and all I wanted was to hug that woman. Of course my parents only got to know this situation after I went back home. Can you imagine me calling my mother saying “Hey mum, I’m just calling from a stranger’s phone because mine isn’t working. Just wanted to tell you that there’s nobody in my hostel, so I can’t get it, and I’m sleeping in the streets tonight, until someone gets there in the morning. Love you!”
5. When my bank cancelled my card with all my money in it
I was in Budapest trying to buy some pizza for lunch, when suddenly the worker said my card was cancelled. I asked to try again because that was impossible and I got the same answer. I went to an ATM and it showed the same thing. I called my mother and sent her asap to the bank. As she calls back, she tells me the bank cancelled my card because someone tried to access it and steal my money. That day I had no money in my wallet and all my money was in that account. I was supposed to leave the next day on a train to Bratislava, and I had no money to eat or to leave the city. I only had a credit card that had no money in it either. I cried, a lot, and I starved for the rest of the day. Lucky for me, I had brought another card, from a different bank, so I transferred my money to it the next day, and I was able to keep on travelling. The bank was no help and they didn’t even contacted me or tell me “Miss Rita, we are cancelling your card with all the money that you have, is that ok?”. One of the worst travel moments of the year, and one I don’t intend to repeat ever!
6. Getting bedbugs in Prague & Madrid
Should I say that I’m a very unlucky traveler for getting bedbugs on both the trips I made in 2015? I mean, once in a lifetime would be enough, but travel likes to test my patience sometimes, so it decided to see how I would react to catching those nasty beast for a second time.
My hostel in Prague wasn’t that great to tell the truth, but it cost me 4€ a night, so I ended up staying there for a full week. By the time I arrived at my next destination, I started feeling itchy and noticed that I had some bites. I’m usually a bugs magnet, and being allergic to mosquito bites, I thought I had been bitten by one, and ignored the situation. I left Brno feeling worse, but not saying a thing about the situation. As I returned to Bratislava, on my last day, before check-out I felt like I was dying. My entire body was covered in bites, I was hitching all over and it kept getting worse with no signs of stopping anytime soon. I turned to the receptionist, showed him one of my arms and asked if he knew what was wrong with me. His expression of horror, followed by a “Oh my God!!” told me I was going to die of some creepy disease I didn’t even know what it was. He then said the word “BEDBUGS” and told me he was going to have to close the room because of it. I grabbed my backpacks in despair after he told me “I’m sorry to tell you, but that’s going to get even worse”. FREAK OUT, FREAK OUT! Eventually, the bites disappeared, but it took like an entire week for the hitching to calm down and be bearable.
8 Months after that, during my two weeks in Spain, I was in Madrid when after the first night I got bites in my body. I immediately denied it could be bedbugs. I just said it was mosquito bites because the window had been open during the night. Nop! The bites got worse and started spreading all over my body and I knew I was in trouble, again! I went to the receptionist and said “I think we have a problem”, he look at my arm and said “Oh yes, bedbugs”. He gave me a cream to calm the hitching, changed me to a room all to myself, and after about a week (and after the bites invaded my face and I looked like a freaking monster) the bites started to disappear. Like I said, unluckiest traveler of all time!
7. Getting refused in the Roman Forum
During my backpacking trip, my family went to spend three days in Rome, so I decided to join them. On our last day, I had all my luggage with me (a small backpack, and a 60L backpack), as I would get a train back to Florence and they would get their flight back home. We bought our tickets to the Roman Forum and were on the line to get in, when I got stopped by security and told I couldn’t get in. I started saying I had the ticket. I showed them the ticket. They replied that my backpack was too big and for security reasons they couldn’t let me in. I yelled “but it’s clothes! It’s ALL clothes!” and I had my final answer “sorry miss”. I returned my ticket and had to wait outside with my very dangerous backpacks for an hour as my family visited the Forum.
8. The hell trip from Zagreb to Budapest
Some people think a 6h train ride is hell itself, but to me, hell was buying a direct train ticket from Zagreb to Budapest, and ending up the entire day travelling between two buses and three trains, believing I would never arrive to my destination.
It all started right at boarding time, as nobody could say which train was going to Budapest. I got people saying I had to change to a bus and others saying I had to travel in the first compartment because the train would get divided in two on the way. Lucky for me, I made some friends on the process, which made things a little easier. On the train, taking a nap, a man came yelling in the compartment “Budapest get out, get out of the train! Go to the bus. Get out!”. During this very pleasant way of telling people to change means of transportation I broke my glasses. From there I knew that was going to be a very long day. Already on the bus, we traveled for as little as ten minutes and were sent off again, this time to a train. This train was far away and in the middle of nowhere, so everyone had to walk the rails carrying all their bags. This made me feel like we were illegals trying to sneak into Hungary, and the thought that we were getting kidnapped may have come to my mind at some point. Already on the third transport of the day, a guy checking the tickets came and decided it was funny to joke about the situation and said “You’re going to have to change again”. Our faces dropped all the way to the floor, we were white as ghosts. Is this day every going to end? “Just kidding” – he said-, relief faces for all of us!
Believing we were finally on the train that would take us to Budapest, the guy shows again, after an hour, and said “I’m so sorry, but you’re going to have to change to another bus to get another train to Budapest” WHAT? Nooooo! Endless day!
Off we went, backpacks up, getting all the crap in the new bus, five minutes after we stop. Take all crap out of the bus, walk in what looked like and abandoned train station, hop on the 5th transport of the day. I sat down and thought “If someone comes to tell me we have to change again I swear I’ll loose my mind!”. Arriving in Budapest (yup, we actually made it there!), we found out we were not in the station we were supposed to and everyone had directions to their hostels from the other station, which meant a couple of hours trying to find our way and finally getting to where we were supposed to. Seriously, I bought a direct train ticket and what I get is the longest hell day of my trip between two buses and three trains! But at least I arrived in Budapest, right?
9. Offering to travel in the luggage compartment because all buses to Prague were full
My day leaving Cesky Krumlov to get to Prague started bad as soon as I lost the first bus because I couldn’t find my camera’s charger. Going to the bus station, feeling all weight of my backpacks, I got to the ticket office only to be told I couldn’t pay with card, it had to be in cash, and the only ATM was in the city center, so I had to go all the way back to withdraw money, which meant missing another bus. As I got back, already with red cheeks, I went to pay for my ticket to a lady who barely spoke English and she tells me I have to pay inside the bus. As I run to the bus ready to departure, the driver asks if I have a reservation, to which I answer no. He then tells me “then you can’t go on the bus. Bus is full!” WHAT? I tried talking to him, following him every step he took, insisting that I had to go on that bus. At some point he asks how many people are and I say “just me!” and keep on trying to convince him “Please, I already lost 2 buses, I need to get on this bus, I need to get to Prague and if I don’t get this one I’ll be lost in Prague by night trying to find my hostel. It’s just me! I can even go in the luggage compartment, I don’t care! I really need to get on the bus…”. He searched on his phone app and by miracle found out there was one place left on the bus. I bought the ticket, got on the bus, and I was so relieved I almost cried. And then I spent the entire ride smiling like an idiot like being on that bus felt like winning the lottery.
10. Spending an entire day without eating because I had no money
After trying to get a direct transport from Vienna to Poland that wouldn’t cost me over 80€ (something I was told at the ticket office would be a mission impossible), I got myself travelling an entire day to get to Warsaw. I caught a bus from Vienna to Bratislava (where I discovered I was in the wrong station and had to get a public bus to the right one. I should add that the driver sent me to a machine to buy the bus ticket and then closed the door on my back and drove without me) and then another bus to Warsaw. This trip took me all day, but cost me less than half the price (37€) I was offered for a direct train Vienna-Krakow. The bus from Bratislava to Warsaw (also made this list in nº12) stopped every two hours in places where everyone could get off the bus and buy food. Well, funny thing…that day I discovered how much currencies suck. As it stopped, I go inside to get food and discover I can only pay with Polish money (PLN), something I had zero of, and every time the bus stopped after that, I would see everybody buying food and me with an empty stomach and no money. I didn’t eat anything from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning until I arrived in Warsaw at 9pm.
11. Nearly missing my night bus to Berlin
Berlin was my last destination, and if my bus hadn’t been late I would be in the biggest trouble of my entire trip. I started the day on a 5h bus from Gdansk back to Warsaw. I then went back to meet the girls at their home, pack my stuff, have one last dinner all together, and I was off to get my night bus to Berlin.
I left their home a little too late, and even after being explained where to get the bus, I got lost in the underground tunnels of Warsaw. I walked back and forth and I just couldn’t find it. I asked help to a police guard, he had not idea. I started crying as I looked at the clock and saw my bus was leaving at that very moment. Two girls saw me freaking out and came to rescue me. They started pointing the way, but they saw in my face I was never going to make it alone, they knew I would get lost on the way again. They decided my only chance was for them to take me there, and we ran those damn tunnels. Then they couldn’t find the right bus stop. I knew I was screwed. I was going to loose my hostel reservation, I had no money to pay for another bus the next day, and I had a flight to catch from Berlin to Portugal two days after that. Suddenly the girls found the right bus stop. The departure time had been twenty minutes before, but I noticed there was a lot of people there. I asked someone if the bus had left and then I hear “The bus is late”. There might have been a happy dance after hearing that!
12. Forgetting to print a bus ticket and refusing to get off the bus after the driver tried to kick me out
Trying to get to Poland, from Vienna, the cheapest way possible, got me finding an option last minute, which made me book a bus with a company I didn’t know (Polskibus) and so I didn’t really know how the online booking worked. The next morning I caught the bus from Vienna to Bratislava, so I could get the polskibus to Warsaw. The thing is as soon as I found the bus, I was asked by my reservation number. I had a bunch of stuff written on paper, but nothing was that number they needed. I talked to the guy from the company, showed him my passport and all the stuff I had written and he put my backpack in the luggage compartment and sent me on the bus. Then there was the mean driver inside the bus and he asked for the reservation number again. I tried to explain the situation, but this driver could care less about my problems. He barely spoke English and kept yelling at me “Reservation number! No number, no bus!”. I didn’t move from where I was standing. He started to make the move to send me out of the bus and I started yelling “I bought the ticket! I paid 30€ so I’m going on this bus! I’m not leaving!”. That was the only bus of the day to Warsaw and I couldn’t miss it for anything. He called the other driver, they started yelling in a language I couldn’t understand, the guy made a call, they confirmed I had paid for the ticket, the mean driver told me to get in, I sat and enjoyed another victory after not letting people play with me, my travels and my money.
“I paid, so I’m going on this bus” and I didn’t move or stopped annoying the guy until I was on my seat on my way to Warsaw.
13. Having to run in front of a 0,5€ bus
The night I arrived in Warsaw, me and the girls discovered there was a sale on Polskibus, and the return ticket from Krakow would cost us as little as FIFTY cents! The next morning we were on a train to Krakow, the city I had wished to visit for ages. On the day of our return, I went with one of the girls on a tour to Auschwitz, and the other girl went to the mines. Almost time for our bus, we headed to the bus station. We got there, but there was no signs of the other girl. We called and she said she was in a taxi trying to get there as fast as she could. We kept talking to the driver, saying we were waiting for the girl who had the tickets. At departure time, there was no sign of the girl, the driver said sorry, closed the door in our faces, and drove back. I felt mad, I just couldn’t believe we had just missed a 0,5€ bus and now we would have to pay 15€ to get the train instead. Out of the blue, the girl shows up running across the station. We immediately started running towards the bus and we got ourselves in front of the bus and yelled the driver to wait as we waved our arms and risked getting run over. After two minutes we were on the bus and today we can say we took a 5h bus ride in Poland for fifty cents.
14. Forgetting my fully written travel journal on the bus
During a 5h bus from Warsaw to Gdansk, I took my journal to put my writing in day. Eventually, after getting a bit nauseous, I fell asleep, and when I woke up we were in Gdansk. I left the bus in a hurry and didn’t remember I had my travel journal on the seat. By the time I got to my hostel and I had time to write a little more, I noticed I didn’t have it with me, I had left in on the bus and there was nothing I could do about it. This was one of the worst things that happened to me as I traveled, because I had written travel memories in that journal for the past three months of travel (this happened less than a week before going back home), and all for nothing because it was lost forever. As I returned home, I tried to write everything down again, but it just wasn’t the same and I couldn’t remember everything, so it was a big loss for me.
15. Getting my ID and Credit card stolen in a party hostel
Our last stop in the Baltic countries was Tallinn, in Estonia. Since I hadn’t been the one booking hostels this time (I basically joined the girls trip) I never really knew where we were staying until arrival. The girl who planned the trip told me she had booked a party hostel so we could have so fun at the end of our trip and said the hostel had good reviews.
As soon as we arrived, we discovered how much of an experience that hostel was going to be. The hostel was placed in a street with bars and right next to a sex shop, the reception was inside the bar and there was a drunk lost girl waking the corridors…oh boy! Of course the rooms weren’t as nice as it showed in the photos and things didn’t look very clean. We checked for bedbugs before going to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night and had a drunk naked guy staring at me. I pretended it was a nightmare and I hide under the sheets. On our last night I had to change rooms, and me and the girls stayed separate. When I went to my wallet (inside my smaller bag) that was in the room, I noticed my credit card was gone and my ID as well. I searched the entire room, I took everything out of my pockets and both my backpacks. They were both gone! I guess I was lucky to have the girls and that I had no money left in my credit card (I only needed it to book hostels and pay for bus reservations) and I had brought both my passport and ID card, or this could have been a huge matter, because I wouldn’t have identification to get my flight back home, or money to go to the Embassy and pay for a new ID card and get a new flight home.