Ok, so I was wondering if anyone has had any extreme experiences during travels, that more or less turned the whole thing upside down, or just plainly ruined the already planned?
I had one such thing happening to me some years ago, when in the middle of one of those classic coast to coast trips in the US. We had started out in Virginia, buying a car and for the next 1½ month drove towards the west coast (in a non-direct manner). One of the primary goals was definitely to go to Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, and well to make a long story short, about 20 km from GC our motor died, and we had to be towed all the way to Flagstaff, thereby missing the opportunity to go to these places. It's not that extreme in any sense, and in fact the day it happened turned out pretty cool anyways, but still, I'd like to hear if anyone has had any defining encounters, that changed the whole 'idea' of the travels...
I had some serious "round the world" business travel to do at the end of the eighties. That was when I was still a South African and South Africans had great difficulties to get Visas. Australia's boycott indicated that Visas could not be obtained within South Africa. The message in South Africa was to get it in London. London was my first stop on the "round the world" travel. So when I visited the Embassy in London it got more complicated. South Africans can only get visas when they have been outside South Africa for at least six weeks. I then thought I would try my next application for the Australian Visa in the United States. My last stop in the United States was Los Angeles and that would just make the 6 week curfew. It was quite suspenseful at that time, as my plans had been finalized for visits to Sydney and Canberra. I was very nervous not knowing what to expect, and then completely relieved but also totally baffled when the Australian Consultate General in Los Angeles could not understand why I had been put through this run around in London. The reception was the total opposite from what I had been put through in London. Friendly, hospitable, layed back. Perhaps I was just lucky to have landed with the Australian Consultate General in Los Angeles. It added an extra leg to my flights in the United States, but I was grateful, otherwise my perception of the Ozzies might have been tainted for the rest of my life. Anyway, my travel to Australia was very successful, and well worth the struggle to get the Visa, turned out to be the best part and highlight of the trip. Strange how it often happens that that which is an obstacle often turn out to be the best part of anything.
Had a couple minor ones, but this is the most recent and biggest. I'm an aviation nut, this fact had a lot to do with it.
I started job searching in other states awhile back, got an offer in southern Oklahoma. I wanted to see for myself before making a 950 mile move. I still had a job here, had to make the trip short, I could have drove there, but it would have added 2 days to the trip and with fuel prices so high, plus 2 extra days of lost work, it was more cost effective to just fly out there and rent a vehicle. I booked flights from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Oklahoma City with a stop in Dallas, Texas. Return trip was a little different, I only fly somewhere maybe once every 3-4 years, I try to get at least one new aircraft type each time. While browsing flights I discovered I had the chance to catch my first ride on a 777-200ER from Dallas to Chicago, but in order to do so I had to depart from Tulsa instead of OKC. Not a problem.
2 days before I am to depart I get a call, a better job offer came up in southern Kansas. I decided to head up there instead, to late to change flights but didn't really add much extra to the driving distance.
I get into Oklahoma City about 11AM on February 10th and set off to the Enterprise rental desk. I had reserved a truck (Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado 1500) for the 2 days I would need to drive. It was actually cheaper then their cars by quite a bit, plus I'm used to my own 3/4 ton truck here at home. $50 a day, plus $25 a day for being under age 25, and a $50 drop off fee since I wouldn't be returning it to the same airport. Grand total roughly $225 after tax.
I was told they were sold out and had nothing, my reservation apparently meant nothing to them. So I'm at the OKC airport with no vehicle. I go to a couple other rental counters to no luck. Finally hop a shuttle to the Alamo/National rental location a couple miles up the road, to much luck they had a lot clear full. The cheapest thing I could get was a Toyota Highlander, and it was going to cost around $350 for 2 days, forced to pay the extra $125 I took it and set off for Kansas.
This little inconvenience set me back a couple hours. Stayed the night in Kansas and set off for Tulsa the next evening. That $125 extra I had to spend meant I had nearly no money for food or fuel. Once in Tulsa I dropped off the rental and caught a shuttle to my hotel for the night.
Next morning, February 12th...proved to be a disaster in its own. My flight was to depart TUL for DFW at 8:50AM, I was scheduled for a shuttle from the hotel back to the airport at 7AM. I checked out, but they couldn't find a driver, 7:45AM rolls around and still sitting at the hotel and furious. 8AM a family that was ready to leave caught part of my ranting and offered to give me a ride to the airport since they were heading there as well, but they had a rental, 15 minutes sandwiched between 2 annoying kids we arrived, passed the guy a $10 bill and ran off for the check in counter, lucky for me security wasn't bad that morning and I made it through as the final boarding call was announced. I just barely made it. Got back into Fort Wayne by way of Dallas and Chicago about 7PM that night. I get out to the long term parking and spent about 20 minutes trying to find my truck, got in, fired it up, didn't even look at the fuel gauge, when I parked it there 3 mornings before I had just under 3/4 of a tank. Its an hour drive home from there, let if warm up a few minutes and headed out, payed the attendant and finally hit the road. About a mile later I finally noticed my gauge, buried in the red, someone apparently siphoned a few vehicles while I was gone, 20 gallons of fuel missing, no gas station for another 5 miles, I made it about 3 I finally made it home about midnight after walking to and from the station with a fuel can I had to buy. Called the airport the next morning, I wasn't the only one, they caught a guy with about 15 or so gas cans in the bed of a truck leaving the short term parking lot, but they didn't know who's vehicles it belonged in.
All in all, I enjoyed the trip, but the problems I ran into even after I thought I was finally home and free made me wish I had just stayed at home. What was supposed to be a relaxing mini vacation turned into a nightmare, and I didn't get the job out west either
Italian people in that area didn't understand English at all.
I was wandering around for quite a while in a industrial district, after the bus final stopped without going to the museum Castello de Rivoli which I wanted to visit. I asked a few Italians around where I could catch a bus to the museum; only repeated the name of the place with gestures. They didn't understand even numbers. I must have learned basic Italian...or should have a dictionary. My fault...
You obviously haven't travelled much to places where the natives don't speak English. The way to communicate with them is to talk very slowly and very loudly and wave your arms around a lot. This also works in locations where English is spoken but the locals are just stupid, such as Hemel Hempsted, Chester and America.