I’ve never been the luckiest traveler out there, and the first time I backpacked alone was also the time I realized my travels would never be as easy as other travel bloggers paint it to be. During my travels, until last year, I had twisted ankles, lost buses and trains, gotten ripped-off, had my bank cancelling a card with all my money, had my credit card and ID stolen at a party hostel, had almost slept in the streets and so on. Life had not been easy. Still, this time around I thought maybe all the bad stuff happened because I was a newbie at the traveling thing. This time I knew what to expect and everything was going to be smooth, right? WRONG!
I have now come to the point that I laugh at the situations after a few minutes of yelling ‘how much worse can it get?’, and unlike other people, with me, it always tends to get worse. It is just a simple fact that either I suck at traveling, no matter how much I love it, or, like my host in Bosnia told me, I should go to a Priest because someone got a curse on me. Maybe my next travel should be to visit a crazy witch lady that will get this bad luck away from me! Ah! Just can’t think about all the crappy stuff that have happened to me without wanting to laugh. It’s just that bad. Really!
QUITTING MY JOB, GETTING YELLED AT AND LOOSING 360€ FOR DOING THE RIGHT THING
The very first moment I realized this was not going to play smooth was when I quit my job at the hostel. By law you have to give one month in advance, I gave them two. In return I was yelled at, like I was never yelled at before, and sent home three weeks earlier than what I had initially told them, leaving me with less 360€ than I had planned. To be fair, at that point I had been working for nine months straight, I was exhausted and didn’t really put into thought what going home that much early would really mean to my budget, I just wanted to not have to work and have all my time dedicated into planning the trip. I’m writing this and thinking how badly I needed that money now. But that’s what I get for trying to do the right thing and giving my bosses more time to find someone to replace me. Lesson learned!
BELIEVING I COULD EVER PACK LIGHT AND HAVING TO PAY 100€ EXTRA FOR LUGGAGE
It all started when I thought this time, for no apparent reason, I would become this amazing packer, and I would be able to take only a carry-on with me. So, when I found two flights for a total price of 30€ (20€ to Paris, then 10€ to Pisa) I remember thinking I was getting pretty awesome at this planning ahead thing. Didn’t think twice, booked the flights, and after two months I went shopping for a new, smaller, backpack. A week before my trip I realized a 40L backpack was no going to work. Just my computer was pretty much the size of the backpack! I had too much stuff, including some tech, so I almost cried when I realized I had booked not only two, but FIVE flights with Ryanair (they were so cheap!), and now I was going to have to pay almost 20€ on each one, spending about 100€ extra, not included on my super tight budget! So, that two flights for a total of 30€? Ended up at 62€ because I had to pay to check-in my 60L backpack. Turns out, two flights were not a smart move!
HAVING HOSTELS AND HOTELS CANCELING MY BOOKINGS WITHOUT NOTICE
I always book my accommodation on booking.com, because they ask me for the credit card details but never charge the card and I always pay when I check-in the hostels. This time, for some reason, pretty much all my hostels decided to charge my card as soon as I confirmed by reservation with them. My credit card only has 190€ available, so when my hotel in Barcelona charged the entire value of the reservation, I was left with zero money in it. This meant that all the other hostels and hotels that tried to charge the card weren’t able to, so they decided to cancel the reservations without even telling me anything. Every time I would go to my reservations on my booking account, to make sure everything was ok, I would discover I didn’t have a reservation anymore. That was fun!
FROM 30ºC TO 7ºC
Since I was traveling in October, I figured the weather would still be warm, so 80% of my backpack was summer clothes. When I first landed in Paris for a layover, I got out of the plane to be hit by 7ºC temperatures. I suddenly realized it was very likely that I would die of cold over the next month because I had no winter clothes and it was COLD AS HELL! Then I got to Slovenia and it was as little as ZERO! Yup, I was about to have a pretty fun trip!
GETTING SICK IN FLORENCE, CANCELING MILAN & LOOSING 100€
I had to get sick, I just had to! During my first solo travel I got sick after 24h. This time it took me 3 days. On the morning I had to get a bus to Milan I woke up and all my body was wrecked. I could barely make it out of bed and for that reason I had to cancel my trip to Milan. I knew I would never make it on a 5h bus ride, then about 2h more to find my hostel, and all I wanted was to be in bed. I blame the Chinese woman in my dorm, who got the air-conditioner at 28º during night. I just can’t deal with temperature differences and that ruined me for the next week(s).
BREAKING THE SCREEN OF MY BRAND NEW IPHONE
I had been wishing for an Iphone for two years. Before my trip I decided to get one and be happy taking selfies and finally having the phone of my dreams. Still, for some reason, me and expensive phones have a complicated history. I can never, ever have a nice phone without something happening to it, so you can imagine how heartbroke when my one week Iphone dropped on the floor. When I saw the screen I cried. Why do these things keep happening to me? WHY?
THE SNORING GUY FROM HELL THAT DIDN’T LET ME SLEEP
When I crossed the boarder to Slovenia, I was happy to leave Italy behind. The country had kicked my ass for a week and I was hoping for some good mojo in a new country. I mean, that had to be the end of my bad luck, right? Oh baby, we are only getting started!
I got to my hostel in Bled, Slovenia, and I was just a happy kid. Didn’t care if I was still sick, I was overjoyed to be back in this beautiful country and finally making it to Lake Bled. I was being hosted as a travel blogger for the first time, my hostel was pretty cool and everything was going to be fine. At least until the snoring guy from hell came into my dorm and shared the bunk bed with me. At 7pm he told me he was going to take a nap. His nap lasted until 10am next morning! When I first heard him snoring I prayed that was not going to last. It didn’t stop. It only got worse! I even tried falling asleep listening to music, but I could still hear him snoring. I grew up with my dad snoring pretty loud, and that was a new level of unbearable. I was not sharing the bunk with a person, I was sharing it with some wild animal. At 3am I was still wandering around the hostel, desperate for some sleep. At some point the exhaustion kicked in and I managed to close my eyes. I woke up not even 4h later to him still going loud and clear.
FEELING SICK & VOMITING DURING THE NIGHT IN BLED
On my second night in Bled the snoring guy had left and I was overjoyed. I was going to get some damn good sleep that night! I went to bed really early, but woke up in the middle of the night feeling sick. I ended up spending a few hours in the bathroom vomiting. Can’t I just have one good night sleep, please?
MY HOSTEL IN LJUBLJANA FORGOT ABOUT MY RESERVATION AND I STAYED IN A CLOSED HOSTEL
I was hosted by two different hostels in Ljubljana. I first stayed at Hostel Tresor and I wish I hadn’t even left that place! When I got to my new hostel, I went to the receptionist who was also the bartender. She looked at me with a weird face asking if I had a reservation. I said yes and I knew something was about to go down. She then says she doesn’t know what happened but they don’t have a reservation from me. She calls the owner, who then says she forgot to change the dates. Good news is they have a bed for me. Bad news is the hostel is closing the next day, but not to worry, they will arrange my accommodation in a different hostel and I still won’t pay. Wait, WHAT? I accepted the deal but was confused. The next day the hostel closed for everyone else except me. There was construction work happening all over the place with me inside because it turns out she decided I would stay there, even being closed. Just.So.WEIRD!
SLEEPING ON THE SOFA OF THE HOSTEL IN LJUBLJANA
After the mess of my lost reservation, I was led to a 4 bed dorm, saying I would have the room to myself. YES! Finally some luck! I was excited because being alone meant I would have a great night sleep with no interruptions. At 1am, a GIANT older man walks in the room. He picks the bed half meter from mine and turns off my light. I got seriously scared. I didn’t feel safe and being in a room alone with an older weird scary guy was not in my plans. So I made the logic decision to have a HORRIBLE night by sleeping on the sofa at the corridor of the hostel. In the morning, the guy had left me a note on my bed apologizing! Read the full story by clicking the link!
RIPPED OFF IN CROATIA
I had been to Croatia the year before and things had been weird and I left not being a fan of the country. Still, being in Slovenia and wanting more than anything to go to Bosnia, I had to choose a place in between to spend a few nights, so I went back to Croatia, choosing Split this time. I first made a stop in Zagreb where I bought my ticket to Split. Rude people at the bus station, just like last time! This would be the last place they would let me pay something with my card. Went to the ATM and withdraw the MINIMUM of 100HRK, which is about 13€. Let the rip-off begin!
In Split things went from bad to worse (click on the link for the full story!). I had those 100HRK thinking I would get to my hostel, pay with card, and that money would be more than enough to cover my food for the two nights I had in Split. WRONG! I got to my hostel and was sent to withdraw money. I had to pay around 180HRK, so I had to withdraw 200HRK, money that was unnecessary but that I would be forced to spend. The next day I went to the bus station to buy my ticket to Bosnia. Again, NO CARD. I didn’t have enough money on me to pay the full amount of the bus, so I had to go withdraw money again. The bus was 129HRK. I was, AGAIN, forced to withdraw 200HRK. I was pissed, but the worst part would be my departure. I had already been ripped off over and over with this no card payment thing (which is ridiculous if you consider Croatia must have MILLIONS of tourists all year long!), and while I was waiting for my bus, I remembered when I was catching my bus in Zagreb, and without notice I was asked 8HRK extra to take my bag. I ran to the ticket office and asked the lady if I needed to pay extra for the bag. She says yes! I ask how much, and she said ‘I don’t know, 15HRK, or 10…” I panicked saying I didn’t have Kunas anymore. She shrugged her shoulders showing me that was not her problem. I had exactly 6HRK. The bag was 8HRK. The driver didn’t speak English so I had to run to the ATM and withdraw the ridiculous amount of 100HRK to pay for 2HRK!!!! In what is supposed to be a cheap country, in just two days I had to withdraw money FOUR TIMES, of a total amount of 600HRK! Plus, they always took me more money then they should, always ripping me off around 3-4€ more than the currency! That was the moment I decided I shall not be back in Croatia until I’m so rich I won’t mind if they rip me off every 5 minutes!
BEDBUGS IN CROATIA
During my second day in Split I noticed I had two bites on my neck. Then, later at night, my hands started hitching too. I thought I was just a magnet to mosquitoes and that I was being bitten on the move by them. When I arrived in Bosnia, right on my first day, I knew I was in trouble. I could by then count around ten bites just in my right hand, and I had bites on my chin, neck, shoulder, leg and back. I HAD BEDBUGS! The reason this pissed me off was because this was not the first time it happened. I had done 3 big trips, and gotten bedbugs on all of them. Yes, really! I officially got caught bedbugs in Prague, Madrid and now Split. Everything seemed to go wrong on this trip, but I kept saying ‘at least I didn’t get bedbugs!‘ – should have stayed quiet! Lucky for me, the worst it got was around 25 bites all over my body. The bites are now starting to disappear and the hitching is long gone!
MY BUS TO BOSNIA KEPT BREAKING DOWN, SO I GOT 3 BUSES INSTEAD
After being so pissed in Croatia, all I wanted was to get my ass to Bosnia so things could be amazing again. Still, this is me we are talking about, so obviously this ride was not going to be smooth!
The bus was crap, dirty to the point of being disgusting (and I’m not that picky with buses), uncomfortable, falling to pieces. I had chosen Split instead of Dubrovnik because I thought Split would be closer to Mostar. Oh my dear, you’ve never been so wrong! My bus was some kind of scenic bus, taking us down the Croatian coast almost all the way to Dubrovnik before finally deciding to cross the boarder into Bosnia. On our first stop, the driver yelled we had to change buses. Everyone was pretty much sleeping so it was very confusing to wake up like that. The second bus was worse than the first. On my seat I even had pieces of orange all over the floor. On our second stop two policeman came in the bus showing badges, looking intimidating and asking us questions about where we had stayed. One poor girl had the police all over her for twenty minutes! ‘Oh you are American! Where did you stay? Hostel, hotel, private accommodation? Do you know the name? Do you have an address, a receipt? I need to see the receipt!’ – Thank God that didn’t happen to be, because I never keep any receipt or any sort of information on the places I stayed at .
Then the bus stops again. This stop lasted five seconds! The driver parks the bus, than changes his mind and we keep on rolling until we get to the boarder. There he asked for all our passports and leaves the bus with them as we wait trapped inside the bus for over 30 minutes. He comes back, we cross the boarder! We are almost there! I think ‘Oh my God, I’m finally in Bosnia!”
Not so fast because after we crossed the boarder our bus starts freaking out. The doors didn’t close well, and kept opening while the bus was moving. We stop, the driver tries to fix the doors, we get back on the road, five minutes later and the same thing happens again. Oh boy, we are never going to arrive in Mostar!
Then we arrive in this abandoned field and the bus stops. Where the hell are we? I ask myself as I look outside and we are parked in the middle of a giant dirt field with pretty much nothing in sight. So sketchy! Then the driver yells, again, that we have to change buses. NEVER ENDING DAY! I tell the Japanese guy behind me that we are never going to make it to Mostar. A girl next to us says ‘at least we don’t get bored!’ – loved her positive spirit, but I was not feeling it. While we move to the bus next to ours, a bunch of child beggars appear to surround us. They are being pushy, asking for money. I say no and one girl doesn’t give up. I go to one side and she comes following me. I am uncomfortable. A guy gives her money, she wants more! The Japanese guy grabs his bag that the drivers forgot on the other bus. I check if mine is in the right bus. A woman jumps in front of the moving bus and screams ‘MOSTAR’. She looks like she’s wearing pajamas and apparently we almost abandoned her there!
We then arrived in Mostar. We know it because the driver yells MOSTAR like he’s kicking us out. We jump out of our seats. I grab my coat only to realize I have a giant bug chilling on it. I get the coat in the air and move it around, the bug is still there. I then yell and throw the coat to the floor, I step on my own coat. People are starting at me. They might be thinking I have a mental issue. I see the giant bug on the floor. I grab my coat still waving it in the air in case there are more. I run out of the bus making weird sounds. I’m officially the crazy person on the bus.
I WAS BEING HOSTED BY A SECOND HOSTEL IN MOSTAR & IT WAS CLOSED
On my last day at Mostar Downtown Hostel, I decided to email Backpackers Mostar to make sure everything was ok with my reservation. I didn’t want more surprises! The next morning I had no response. I started checking for availability and booking.com says they are full until December. Hum….weird and impossible! I talk to my host and she says the street of that hostel has construction work, so they are probably closed. SHIT! I go there with no hope to find the hostel open, but I still try. I go to the door, try to open it, it’s closed. I ask the lady at the bakery next door, she barely speaks English, but speaks enough to tell me the hostel is closed. Of course it is! Perfect, just perfect! I rant for a very long time. I was upset, sooooooo upset! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? I sent them an email, we talked and everything was ok. They were the first hostel to accept to host me in exchange for blog work. How can someone just CLOSE a hostel and not say anything to the people who have made a reservation with them? It was disrespectful, rude and I will never suggest them here on the blog because of this. After finding out the hostel was closed, I went for food that was pretty much the only thing that would make me happy at that point. Thank God for Bosnian food! I ended up having to pay for 3 extra nights (can you imagine if I wasn’t in Bosnia where everything was pretty affordable, but in a super expensive country, like Italy??) that, again, weren’t on my budget, all because this hostel forgot to notice me they would not be open during my visit to Mostar. SO NOT COOL!
RETURNING HOME EARLIER FOR LACK OF MONEY AND LOOSING 150€ IN FLIGHTS AND A HOTEL ALREADY PAID FOR
While I was in Mostar, Bosnia, after being totally ripped off in Croatia, I started to make some math and checked my bank account. Out of the blue, it seemed like my money had vanished. How was I going to make it for almost another month? I was poor, and I do mean poor! I freaked out. I cried. I had to go home. Like, now! There was only a problem. I was in Bosnia. I tried flights out of Bosnia to anywhere as a layover and then from another country to Portugal. Nothing less than 150€. Then I tried flights from Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Slovenia. Again, nothing below outrageous. I finally found a flight from Budapest during the time I would be in the city! Still, the most expensive flight I ever booked, but less than 100€, and it was that or doing my trip all the way until the end and lowering my bank account to zero!
As you can see, things have not been easy. Actually, things are NEVER easy for me. Going back home without making my second visit to Prague and my very first visit to Barcelona makes me want to cry, specially Barcelona, a city I’ve been wanting to go for so long but never seem to make it there. Still, for some reason, even after everything going wrong (some things I will leave to myself and not share here, like when I was eating a cannoli in Florence and I was attacked by pigeons!), I am having an amazing trip, specially as I am writing this post from BOSNIA and I’m head over heels with this country. I really hope this post will inspire all the travelers out there who seem to get a hard time when they travel, and prove that travel doesn’t have to be perfect – most of the times it isn’t -, but in the end the adventure is worth it and all those amazing places will stay carved in your memory forever!