Traveling is full of awe-inspiring, "pinch me" - what I like to call 'soul-pumping'- moments. It's standing on the edge of Ireland on top of a small mountain with your best friend, it's repelling down waterfalls, it's barely catching your bus. But, it's not always pretty. We've made the picture-perfect Instagram life a normality. And I'll admit it. I like posting 'instagram of the day'- worthy photos, but it's time to share some hilariously terrible moments. It was bound to happen. For awhile we had too much good luck with no screw-ups in our plans.
Like that time we were stuck in Poland for an extra day because our bus didn't show up and the mixup cost us an extra 60 euros just to get home. Or that time we went to the Aran Islands by ferry and spent the day looking like wet dogs and trying not to puke. Or that time my bag was lost after 30 hours of traveling and I was a complete basket case crying to the baggage claims staff. Or that time we scheduled our kayak adventure in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Dubrovnik for the one day with high winds and waves and it was all I could do to not get sick and to not let my arms fall off.
Or that time in Italy that my mom and aunt and I were stranded with a kebab/pizza shop owner because our B&B owner/his friend was M.I.A. In broken English, the lovely owner of Pizzeria le 3 Piramidi said he would go to find his friend while we waited outside the shop with our bags locked inside and we were just hoping we weren't being duped or robbed or something of the like. Thankfully, we weren't, but our friend failed to find his friend so after an hour with no luck we cut our losses and went to tour the city with our backpacks in the high heat of the Italian summer. At this time, I'd like to send a shout out to our gracious friend Ahmed - who after this exchange proceeded to change into an American flag t-shirt for us when we returned 3 hours later. But, I digress.
Or more generally, all the times I was less than a great backpacker. Sometimes I get mad at bus drivers and hostel workers. Or I have too much to drink at 7pm in Belgium with my best friend and skip the authentic food choices for Pizza Hut. Yes, I said it. I ate Pizza Hut in Belgium. And in Scotland. I can't really defend it. But it was cheap. Holla.
I was embarrassed that I copped-out not once but twice during my 14 months abroad - until, I recently read Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents by Elisabeth Eaves. Apparently this is a thing. She notes it as well describing globalization and how travelers like her wouldn't dare set foot in a Pizza Hut in Egypt - but after a whirlwind trip she and a friend arrive back to Cairo with different views.
"In the taxi from the airport we decided we had to eat before parting ways. It took only a moment to decide: we asked the driver to take us to Pizza Hut"
At some point even good travelers hit their limit and go for the easy way out or simply the familiar - forking out the 25 Euros for a taxi because you're lost and don't want to trudge around in the London rain any longer finding the right tube route or eating the most American thing in the city because you're tired and hungry and running out of money. This includes but is not limited to KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Subway, and of course, McDonalds.
They happen to the best of us - these terrible travel moments, but the bright side? These fails are sometimes the best memories or at least worthy of a few post-trip laughs.
Terrible travel moment honorable mention - that time I got swindled in Prague's Old Town after living there for 2 months paying almost $50 for a food stand lunch.