People think of travel as a “holiday” – a time when everything is perfect, you’re relaxed & happy all the time. This is certainly NOT always the case!
You know those days where EVERYTHING seems to go wrong?
Perhaps you sleep through your alarm, wake late and with a headache, cut yourself shaving, your car won’t start… You eventually get to work, 2 hours late and rush to that meeting you’re presenting in – and the projector won’t work.
Drives you crazy, right?! Any one of those things might not be a huge thing in itself – but because it all happens at once, you get to a point where you just want to sit in a corner and cry while rocking back and forth!
Think that doesn’t happen when you’re “on holiday”? WRONG!
It happens – and when you’re travelling solo and long term you need to be ready to deal with all sorts of things. Being alone can make it worse, as everything is an effort – even going to the bathroom, who is going to mind your bag? It’s also a lot easier to laugh at tough situations when you have somebody to laugh with. Laughing alone? Yeah, watch out for the crazy guy!
Yesterday I had one of those days. Sure, none of these things are particularly huge in itself, but I was alone, feeling sick, just wanted to go to bed. Argh! You tell yourself that days when things go wrong make the best stories later… But it doesn’t help at the time!
So… What happened yesterday?
Printing Bus Tickets
Ok, so to get to the beginning of this story we actually have to go to the day before. I was in Kosice, Slovakia and trying to book my transport to Romania. I decide the plan was to go from Kosice, Slovakia to Miskolc, Hungary by bus and then change to a train to Debrecen, Hungary. Spend a day there, and then get another bus to Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
After buying both bus tickets online, I get an email with the attachments saying I have to print them. And not just 1 page – 2 pages per ticket! (not double sided either!) 1 copy to give to the driver and 1 copy I have to keep on me while on the bus!
Who prints tickets anymore? Most buses and trains I’ve got in the last few years, you just show it on your phone. How do I print a ticket tonight, for an early bus tomorrow morning when I don’t have a printer!
Luckily, the lovely woman on reception at my hostel was kind enough to print them for me – and free of charge. Most hostels charge ridiculous amounts for printing.
Couldn’t book train ticket online
So, bus tickets sorted – time to book the connecting train ticket.
I checked first – you need a physical ticket, but there are machines at the train station to print the online tickets. A step in the right direction!
I work through the slightly confusing Hungarian website, work out the best train to book – giving myself plenty of time to get from the bus station to the train station.
Right through the process to payment… Oh, the online payments are down. You can’t buy your ticket online at the moment. Sorry!
Argh! What a waste of time and effort!
Feeling unwell just makes it worse.
That night, I didn’t sleep well – I felt sick, uncomfortable, headache, hot, cold. Bah.
My alarm went off at 8am… Time to get up, get ready and start the travel day. I almost vomited.
Forcing myself up, and trying to convince myself that I’ll feel better once I’m up, showered and had breakfast. Not so much. But, I still have to go… So I dragged myself to this awesome local café where I had a great breakfast the day before.
Breakfast took forever!
Why is it, whenever you’re pushed for time, the service at cafés etc seems to go forever?!
I ordered fried egg, bacon, toast & a cappuccino. Same as yesterday, which took about 10 mins when I was in no rush whatsoever. Today? Half an hour! For a fried egg! argh. The food is still great, and friendly service. I totally recommend the café, they were obviously just busy that morning – but why did it have to be the morning I was in a rush?!
I ate too quickly, almost was sick again, and then had to rush to the bus.
Annoyed bus driver
So, while on this long distance coach I had to go to the toilet. There is a toilet on board – so not an issue, right?
I tried to open the door, but it was locked. Then I saw a sign on it that said you had to speak to the driver if you want to use the toilet. WTF? I’ve never come across such a thing in all my travels. Often there is no toilet on the bus, but a locked toilet that you need permission to use? Never!
So, I walk to the front of the bus and ask. The driver is, well obviously – driving. His assistant, sleeping. Neither of them really speak English, but the driver understands when I say “toilet” – he grumbled something and woke up the assistant. Who was even more grumpy about it… Wow.
Ok, so they unlocked it – but clearly, they were annoyed and put out.
Um, if you don’t want to have to unlock the toilet DON’T LOCK IT IN THE FIRST PLACE! This bus goes from central Slovakia to London, through Hungary and a bunch of other countries. It goes for 2 days. Surely I’m not the only person who has to pee along the way?
No Hungarian money…
Leaving Slovakia, and the Euro behind I had no Hungarian Forint (HUF) on me when I arrived in Miskolc. That’s fine – I can withdraw money from an ATM, I also have Euro & USD on me so I can exchange it if I find a money exchange.
Ooh, ATM – great. I’ll get some cash out.
I’m only in Hungary for 1 day, so I figured I’d get 10,000 HUF out – approx. $50AUD. It gave me 100,000 HUF – nearly $500AUD. Argh!
I obviously pushed the wrong button, that’s fine. Now I have heaps of Hungarian cash on me. Not the end of the world, I’m sure I can exchange it for Romanian money when I get there. Trouble is that I’ll obviously lose some money in the conversion.
You can still get lost with GPS
So, the bus stop was A LOT further from the train station than I expected. All good, I have the train station marked on Google Maps and I’ll use GPS to get there. I do this all the time – it’s great… But not fool proof.
Sometimes the GPS is not accurate and you’re not quite where you think you are.
Or, like today – you just read it wrong and turn right instead of left… And don’t check again for a while. FFS. I’m on the wrong side of the train tracks! No way to cross, have to go back. The walk was about twice as long as it should have been.
Brilliant when you’re already feeling unwell, it’s raining and 3 degrees.
Nearly run over
So, in my cold, sick, lost daze… Annoyed that everything is going wrong and now I had to turn around and walk half way back… I may have forgotten which side of the road cars drive on!
Normally I check both ways anyway, since people don’t always follow the rules. Plus, I have been in so many countries I do get confused about which way the cars should be coming from.
Anyway, I turned, stepped and… eek.
Ok, not close enough to risk death or injury – but close enough to give me a fright, and add to my growing list things not going to plan today.
Wrong train ticket
Phew. Made it to the train station… Surely nothing else can go wrong, right? WRONG!
As I said, I couldn’t buy the train ticket online – so when I got to the train station I had to go to the counter and buy the ticket. Not a big deal, done that countless times over the years.
Except…I was sold a ticket to Budapest instead of Debrecen!!
There must have been some language barrier, confusion, misunderstanding. eek.
Luckily, I looked at the ticket pretty soon after buying it. I went to the screen with all the train info on it, to see exactly when and where the train would be. Comparing the ticket to the board… Budapest? Huh? Argh.
Back to the ticket counter. The woman who served me had gone. Another woman was there… No English. Some back and forth, she was assuring me the ticket was for Budapest. Um, I know – I want Debrecen.
A few confusing minutes later, we worked out what each other meant, and she exchanged the ticket – and gave me a refund for the difference. aww thanks 🙂
Knocked over flowers
So, you know how I mentioned that a difficult part of solo travel is going to the bathroom? When travelling with a trusted friend, you can leave your bag with them… Solo, the bag either comes with you, or you risk leaving it alone for a few minutes.
I NEVER leave my daypack alone – it has things like money, passport, laptop in it and is easy to grab and run off with. My big bag is a lot harder to run with – trust me, I’ve tried!
Anyway, I left my large bag at the door to the bathroom, near where the women you pay are (yes, most places you have to pay to use the toilet.). All good, not an issue. Still there when I came out.
While trying to put my pack back on my back, I lost balance and knocked over a bowl of dried flowers they had sitting on a shelf. Obviously there to try to make the place smell nicer. Well… Now they’re everywhere, so surely the nice smell should spread? ha!
I bent down to try to clean up the mess, with pack still half on my back and daypack in my hand… That didn’t go well either, and I ended up on my arse on the floor with flowers under me and bags on top of me! AAAARGH.
The lovely women came rushing over to help, and wouldn’t let me clean up the mess… They checked I was ok and then sent me on my way while they cleaned up my mess. aww
Trouble finding hotel
After hanging around the train station for 2 hours (I decided to sit still so I couldn’t break anything else), it was time for the 90 minute train ride from Miskolc to Debrecen. It was a bit confusing working out which train to get on, but I was pretty sure I worked it out – but couldn’t totally relax until the guard checked my ticket and gave me the ok. Phew. The train has already been moving for 10 mins before he checked, so don’t know what I would have done if he decided it was the wrong ticket lol
So, all good… Arrived in Debrecen safe and sound. Now, where is my accommodation?
I walked through the town (still cold, raining and feeling very unwell), to where the place should be. This is definitely where it is on the map. I can’t see it… Argh. Am I blind? Walking around the area for a while, looking for clues. No clues. FFS. I just want to lie down!
Found some WiFi, checked the confirmation – this is definitely where it’s marked on their map, and Google Maps. I looked up photos of the place, and yes – it’s that building there. But there is no sign or anything… I walked closer and saw a tiny, hidden sign with the name of the hotel on it. SWEET! Found it!
I walked in, and it’s some sort of electronics repair shop. What the actual F…?
A woman who didn’t speak much English went and got a guy who speaks English. Turns out, there is no reception for the hotel. People just go there, and they call the guy to come and check me in. Take a seat and the man will be here in 5 or 10 mins.
Although I booked it through www.booking.com and it appeared to be a hotel, it is a bit more like an AirBnB. It’s a building block that’s got little shops in it, hairdressers, bakery, some other things… And this guy has 2 rooms at the end of the corridor.
He checked me in, I paid and “ok bye” – I’ve not seen him since. Nor anybody in the other room. It’s a bit odd, but hey – I have a private room with double bed (well, two single beds pushed together that I fell between during the night), private balcony, TV, decent WiFi and a “kitchen” (a microwave, fridge & kettle) to myself.
Today, it’s still 3 degrees and raining, so after exploring the town for about an hour, I figured I’d make the most of the private room to chill, listen to music, watch TV… Oh, yeah and get some work done. hmph.
After checking in, I went to the nearby supermarket to get some food for dinner and breakfast. I was not in the mood to go to a restaurant.
I decided I’d treat myself – I’ve had a rough day, let’s get a chocolate. ooh Snickers – one of my favourites. I’ll get that.
Got home, unpacked the bag. No snickers! Whaaaaat? Checked receipt, yup… Paid for it. So where is it?
Ok, maybe it’s for the best… I shouldn’t have the chocolate. But I want it! *cries*
So, tomorrow I’ve got a 5 hour bus ride from Debrecen, Hungary to Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Cluj-Napoca is in the Transylvanian region of Romania. I’m super excited, as I’m an old school vampire lover! (not those weird Twilight vampires. They’re not REAL vampires!)
Here’s hoping more things go to plan – not everything though, as that will ruin the fun and good stories!
This is certainly not the first time things have gone wrong during my travels, sometimes much more major things happen!
Have you had a bad day while travelling? What went wrong?
Let me know in the comments section below! 🙂