All of us have experienced that dream vacation that quickly turns into a nightmare. Whether it’s losing your luggage, getting lost in a new city or offending someone inadvertently, these hiccups happen to the best of travelers. Our San Francisco office has compiled a list of their worst travel stories, and we want to share them with you. Enjoy!
Alex, Czech Republic
Only a real man can pull off sunglasses and a dainty cigarette.
How did I ever catch that plane? I’m sure everyone asked that. But then, why put a freshly-minted 19-year-old in charge of anything? We had stayed up till 5 the night before spending the last of our kroner at the basement bar. Chris and I unknowingly split a pack of Moons (the Czech version of Capris) and, armed with our dainty smokes and discounted bottle of something local and astringent, carried on in the alley till dawn. We retired shortly after. We all had places to be. Three hours late to wake up and with a plane in an hour and a half, I sprinted through my formative hangover to sound the alarm for anyone who decided to rely on me. People a decade my senior leapt balletically through their hostel doors, hurriedly jamming their things into suitcases, cursing, moaning, some drooling just a bit. Quick goodbyes happened before leaping onto the bus with my over-weighted luggage (who doesn’t need an entire sound system for a one month trip) and an anxious bus ride to the far-off airport on the edge of town. Somehow, struggling with a 70-pound suitcase with broken wheels, I made it to the gate, sweating out whatever remained of last night’s drink that hadn’t been digested yet.“Sir. Have you been drinking?”“No!” I insisted “I mean, not since I woke up!”But it was a Czech airport, at six in the morning, with a prop plane full of Chinese tourists catching a connection somewhere. Dawn was breaking and no one was truly awake.
Joonsang became inexplicably camera-shy soon after this photo was taken.
When it comes to embarrassing travel experiences, I cannot help but think of my trip to Tokyo. Before I enlisted in the South Korean army, my friend and I took a trip to Tokyo, excited to go on one last fun trip together. We were looking around Shibuya, Tokyo, gaping at the uniquely fashioned people surrounding us. Suddenly, three big Japanese guys came up and tried to speak to us in poor Korean. They introduced themselves as filmmakers, and they asked us if we were Korean and where we were going. Their threatening appearance and wicked smiles made my friend and I uncomfortable, but we were too young to shrug them away firmly.
“Come with us and let’s do something interesting,” they suggested.
“LIke what?” we asked.
“Let’s make an interesting video,” they said with disgusting smiles. They showed us the contents of their bag—it was full of small cameras, as well as other weird devices like an endoscopy camera and bunch of adult toys.
“Girls are already waiting for you guys,” they said.
We, two 20-year-old boys, were scared. We eventually managed to say “no,” and almost ran away in our hurry to escape.
When we told our friends this story, some of them were surprised and comforted us, but some teased us, saying, “Too bad! I could have porn star friends.”
We are still not sure whether the men’s real purpose was a porno or human trafficking, but whatever it was would have been a bad experience.
“Then he asked me if I would like to sit on his lap!” “Ugh! I knew this story was going too well. . .”
The first friend I made when I arrived in Perugia was a jolly, older street juggler by the name of “Lupe.” He kind of looked like God in those Jehovah’s Witness magazines. He had a giant Mastiff dog named Mambo who was always by his side. I was sitting in the main piazza of the Umbrian hillside town, fresh off the night train, with one suitcase and nowhere to crash that night. Lupe approached me. We ended up sharing a slice of pizza in the Giardini del Pincetto and some of his homemade hash. He showed me his latest juggling trick–poi, I think–and we talked about the recent election. Things were pretty chill until all of a sudden, he asked me to sit on his lap. I politely declined. After that, during my month-long stay in the city, I kept my distance from good ole’ Lupe. And it ended up being okay, because I made other, better friends along the way.