We are participating in the BootsnAll 30 Days of Indie Travel project. We will be posting once each day in response to a prompt given on the BootsnAll website. Leave your comments below and also check out their website for other bloggers joining in!
Day 6: Just as travel can be fun and exciting, it can also have its challenging, or even downright scary, moments. Being in a new place pushes us out of our comfort zone and makes us face our fears. Tell about a time you had to face your fear when traveling, and what was the result.
We had to face our fears when we traveled abroad for the first time. We decided to travel through Italy for a little over a week prior to our study abroad program in Maastricht, Netherlands. Our first travel outside of the US involved flying to Brussels, finding a place to stash our luggage, then taking a bus to another airport in Brussels and flying Ryanair down to Rome. We hadn’t evolved into carry-on only travelers at that time, so we both had checked bags for our study abroad that we left in a locker in the Brussels train station.
We made it through our terrible flight over (details to come later), and arrived in Brussels by morning. Finding the luggage lockers was fairly easy thanks to instructions from people at Ask MetaFilter. Finding the bus, wasn’t as easy, and we hurried to find someone who could point us in the right direction. In our rush to get through the airport, train station and bus, we didn’t realize that we would be getting to the airport 5 hours early or that there would be absolutely nothing to do there. Caroline beat me in tic-tac-toe for a solid 4 hours straight as we enjoyed the cuisine from the tiny airport “cafeteria”.
When it was time to leave, we experienced our first Ryanair boardin- er, stampede. If you haven’t ever flown one of these airlines, let me explain. Instead of an orderly boarding process by groups or zones where you process in a single file down the jetway, you push through the doors and run on the ground towards the airplane amongst the other passengers. We made it to the back door, yes the back door, of the airplane and found seats quickly. A few hours more and we were in Rome, with absolutely no idea where to go. I tried calling the bed and breakfast from a pay phone but was unable to figure out how to make a call! We somehow managed to find a bus that should take us in the correct direction, and then realized that we didn’t know when to get off. A nice woman looked at our printed address and somehow got us to understand, with an entertaining game of travel charades, where we were supposed to hop off.
The 24+ hours of adventures were just that, simple travel mishaps that we were learning to work through on our first abroad trip. The fear came later, around midnight that evening when we were still searching around Rome for our bed and breakfast and had no direction of where to turn. There weren’t too many people out at that time of night, and most of them didn’t look like the good samaritans that we were hoping would help us.
We were lost again but finally figured out the pay phone and were able to get ahold of the owner. Luckily he was still awake, and we tried to understand his directions. An hour or so later, after some help from a man with a three-legged dog and some kids carrying some type of metal pipe(?), we were pointed in the right direction.
We found our bed and breakfast just after 1 am, and haven’t ever been so happy to be “home”. We had been traveling for almost a full day and were exhausted, yet fulfilled. We had made it, in one piece and no boarding stampedes, cafeteria food, or crowbar-toting youngsters got in our way.
At the time with our minor traveling experience we were terrified. Looking back, these types of situations happen to us more often but we are much better prepared to handle it.
What are some of the scariest experiences you have had while traveling?