Things that went wrong in Europe are the best memories that i brought back with me. Looking back at my first overseas backpacking trip gives me a feeling of exhilaration. the list of things that went wrong is long but my gang of girls and I survived it.
So, what makes a trip memorable for you? A dream vacation that is picture perfect or a well-planned trip or an all-expenses paid trip or a family vacation or perhaps a trip where the things that went wrong and surviving them makes a considerable part of the memories that you bring back. In my case, I would say its the last one. But, at no point it means, that there are no good memories. On the contrary, there is no dearth of them but that would be another post. This is one of my most memorable trips till date. All in all the things that went wrong in Europe has made this trip a never-ending comedy of errors and that’s the beauty of it.
I was living from one disaster to next. And guess when the first tragedy struck – day one.
Out of our month-long September trip, our first stopover was Tallinn and we were going down till Greece. Thus as per research, we understood that we were travelling in fag end of summer so needed warm clothes for first week only. And that too a jacket and a sweater/ thermal would be enough. But it seemed Tallinn decided on an early winter onset. And that is when the first thing that went wrong on the trip. We went looking for umbrellas, windcheaters, and rain poncho on day one. And if that wasn’t enough our shoes too got damp by the end of the day.
Such weather was supposed to be there only for a week but the few days turned into weeks. In the month long trip, first time we got proper sun for a few hours was in warsaw, Poland after more than a week of travelling through the three Baltic states and then straight in Greece in the last week after travelling through Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia. In between the sun was intermittent and thus the warm clothes we carried were also not the best fit. The research had shown Sun and summer but God seemed to have other plans for us.
This debacle turned out to be the fun aspect of the trip!
We ended up wearing same jacket in almost all photos. Only the background looked partially different as Europe has similar architecture of off-white houses, rust roofs, green domes and stone-castle all the old towns through the Schengen region. After a point, our families back home couldn’t distinguish one place from the other.
Along with dealing with winds, rain and cold, we reached our second stop – Riga. And, Voila, we found ourselves walking up to our hostel and then climbing up two floors of the old-Town Hostel by the stairs with our medium sized suitcase. We died at that point, only to realise later that it was just the beginning of our many such deaths that awaited us during the month. That day I understood the importance of smaller bag and lesser stuff – but it was just 2nd of our 13 destinations.
I immediately started making a list of things that I was using and started putting aside the stuff I wasn’t using, so I can travel lighter next time. Before I knew the suitcase too gave away – its wheel started getting locked on being pulled and it started creating passwords of its own. withing the first few days of the trip, it became a bigger burden than expected.
And, now time for the biggest debacle of the trip
While we were still dealing with smaller things that went wrong in Europe with us such as cold weather and travel baggage, bigger tragedies were waiting. While travelling from Slovenia to Mostar by Bus, we had a stopover in Zagreb. And Zagrab is one place I will always remember for the rest of my life. I am not sure if my wallet was picked there or in the bus from Zagreb to Mostar. But by the time I realised my wallet s gone, I was penniless. All my money and cards were gone. And to top that, I found the attitude of Croatians very cold… they just shrugged it off instead of helping or at the least being considerate and hearing out the problem. I guess that’s because thefts are a regular thing there.
The tragedy is not yet over. As we reached Mostar, my phone also stopped working. So along with being penniless I was phone-less too. The only thing left by God’s grace was my passport and i cant thank God enough for ensuring that it doesn’t go. Or, my first overseas backpacking trip could have become my last! Thankfully I had a backup phone, so I could contact my family and block all my cards. nothing like Family and their support, even from so faraway. as much as i tried to be strong, i broke down as soon as i heard my parents’ voice. My dad got money loaded in the backup card and I could finally breathe easy by end of the day. At this point, I have to thank my friends and co-travellers because I could only survive the day only because of them.
So I was up and running again in a day but wait, the story is not yet over.
There is yet more to it!
Changing Pin for the Forex Card
When the card became active, I changed the pin as all card documents’ suggest to change the pin when you use a new card. Well that turned out be another nightmare as my pin got blocked and my primary phone number was not active in Europe so I couldn’t connect back home to get it unblocked. My dad came to my rescue once again along with Currencykart, my Forex card agent. I don’t know what magic they did, or tricks they pulled to get my card active again but in a day the card was working again.
By this time, I had lost interest in the trip as well as the non-stop adventure that was going on. I just wanted to go back home and forget all this. But we were just halfway through the trip and however much I wanted to go back, the fighter in me was thinking differently so the journey continued.
After this debacle, things were going smooth and I kept thanking God for it till we reached Greece. On the way to Santorini from Athens by ferry, while transferring photos to my laptop, my phone froze on me. And the list of things that went wrong went up one notch. Despite all my efforts to restart it, it didn’t budge. Finally after trying for the entire day, I turned to Google for help. I found out that this may happen when Apple comes up with a phone update. So I restored and updated my phone but in the process, lost all data. Being a person who believes in backups, this loss didn’t affect me much. I had been continuously taking backup of photos and notes during the trip. Thus, I lost data for only last two days.
Thankfully, this was the last thing that went wrong on the trip. After this, the trip ended smoothly after 5 days. But I must add that dealing with all this added more spice to the trip. It made my first overseas backpacking trip more memorable. It has been a great learning experience and have become confident in handling various types of situations.