In keeping with the recent theme, I decided to put together a list of the “worst places we have ever been/never want to go back to/would never recommend going there.” However, this proved to be quite difficult, as I think it’s kind of unfair to reject an entire place just because of one less than ideal attribute. Normally more of a pessimist, the one time my negative attitude takes a back seat is when we’re travelling. I can still always manage to find something endearing about a particular location – and in the event that this is totally impossible, one can always put it down to “being part of the experience.” Because after all, that’s what travel is – just different experiences.
So, instead of throwing a bunch of places into Mon’s “Do Not Travel” list, we’ve put together a list of the Worst Travel Experiences. I mean, yeah, so we got pickpocketed in Barcelona – and yeah it fucking sucked, but Las Ramblas and all the little streets are still cool. La Sagrada Familia is pretty damn impressive. Would I go back? Meh… not desperately, but that actually doesn’t have a lot to do with the pickpocket experience, it’s more that Barcelona is super touristy, the beach was pretty average, and there’s a bunch of other places I’d prefer to explore first.
Without further ado:
- Peru – You may recall the tantrum in the middle of Andes. It followed a four day hike in the Andes where the husband had been sick (which translated to about 24 hours of panic – what if it’s malaria? How the hell do we transport him out of the mountains?). On being picked up in the middle of the Andes, we became stranded on THREE different occasions due to flat tyres. First there was no spare tyre, then they didn’t have the tools to change the bloody tyre…. End result, me having a major tantrum in the middle of nowhere. We almost missed our bus back to Lima, which in turn meant we would’ve missed our flight to Cusco the following day. A bloody nightmare. To cap it off, we did make the bus – a double decker night bus, which swerved all over the road and we basically thought we were going to die. I could see the news headlines “Bus Crash in Peru” – in fact, check last week’s news stories and you’ll find an article re the very same on “Devil’s Curve.” Eeek. Lucky that it was night and we couldn’t see the state of the roads or the curves we were taking at speed.
- Bangkok – Speaking of rides from hell… what a memorable taxi ride from the airport into Bangkok a few years back. We’d just arrived from Oz. After getting up at 3am I was pretty damn tired. So we get in this taxi, the driver refuses to use the taxi meter (mandatory for tourists in Thailand) there are no seat belts in the backseat and the entire taxi smells like weed. We are flying over highways, no idea if we’re taking the most direct route to the hotel and I’m semi-oblivious in my stupor, while the husband is quietly freaking out next to me. We made it to the hotel, got stinged a couple of baht by driver… Pretty unsafe, and not the best way to start a trip, but it could’ve been worse.
- Mexico – When travelling so often, one is bound to miss a flight now and then. It’s inevitable. But Mexico takes the cake. Taking an internal flight from Mexico City to Ixtapa (Mexico City would have to be one of the worst, most confusing airports in the world) we get our boarding passes scanned at the gate, and go down into this “holding area” before boarding the plane. One hitch, the “holding area” includes passengers for at least four different flights – all of whom have had their boarding passes already scanned. You then wait for an announcement for your flight. For ours, no announcement came – we’re sure of this, because we were with some local friends, so can’t blame the language barrier – and the plane took off without us. Didn’t bother offloading our bags either. Complete shitfest. Yet, somehow this was our fault – not at all caused by the ridiculous boarding system. What followed was an argument with the airline staff, courtesy of our local travelling companion, where the husband and I had to race back through the airport in order to catch the next available flight, meanwhile our friends were forced to wait overnight in Mexico City until the next day.
- Munich – There was a time, believe it or not, when we were just naïve backpackers. Some ten years ago, during our 3 month Eurail trip around Europe, we stopped over in Munich for Oktoberfest. The night we arrived, we decided to go check out the Hofbrauhaus. Two steins of beer and a couple of shots of Obstwasser (courtesy of some friendly locals) later, we were pretty drunk. So we leave the Hofbrauhaus and start the long walk back to the not particularly well-located hostel. The husband is only a little dude, can’t hold his liquor, and therefore pukes in the street. And we get lost. We get damn lost, wandering around in the dark, totally inebriated, me super angry at the husband for a) not being able to hold his drink and b) not being able to lead us back to safety (no responsibility on me as I have no sense of direction – navigation is never my job). We even attempt to ask some police officers for help, but get nothing. Somehow, mostly by chance, we manage to make our way back. Then someone is too hungover to participate in the Oktoberfest beer the next day. Happy Oktoberfest everyone!
- Austin, Texas – this goes down in history as the worst hotel we have ever stayed in. During our southern US road trip, we stayed at a lot of budget hotels – so long as the place was between $50-$100 a night, included some basic form of breakfast and there were no bed bugs, we were pretty happy. Driving into Austin, after one of our longer driving days –all the way from Louisiana as I recall, it was late, and we were looking for somewhere cheap to stay. The hotels in Austin were not cheap, even the shitty ones. And as we tried to avoid driving into the city centre, where the usual chain hotels are not as abundant, we found ourselves taking the exit to a Motel 6. What a complete shithole. The bed was tiny & the sheets felt greasy, the bathroom was horrendous, and the “breakfast” offered was some communal black coffee. The place was so dodgy we didn’t even want to leave the room to find food. And the next morning, we received a knock on the door from two young teenagers asking for money, who we figured were probably going to try to break in and still our shit. We checked out as soon as we could.
I could go on, but I thought I’d save the rest for another time. Really – what is travel without some stories – even the ones that you might rather forget!