As the year that was 2014 comes to a close, we all seem to reflect on the previous 12 months: What was good, what was bad, what we learnt and what we appreciate. This year was all about travel for me. I had planned this trip for over a year and dreamed about a big Europe summer trip for many years. It’s a little sad to know that it’s all over now. But nonetheless, in my reflective state, I thought this would be a great time to recap the year in travel moments.
Every person has their share of travel nightmares. Most of the time, these end up turning into great stories that travellers share with family and friends when they return, or laugh about in future years with otherlike-minded travellers. Here is what I would consider the worst travel experiences I had during 2014:
Inconsiderate Hostel Guests
I was pretty excited about Yatch Week in Croatia. Whilst I was not going to be on an official Yatch Week boat, I knew that everyone in Split was here for the same thing – to set off sailing over the next week indulging in alcoholic beverages and getting a serious tan. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for at least 8 years, so I was pretty damn excited to be doing a Contiki Croatian Sail during Yatch Week.
I got into Split a few days before my friends. I decided to get a small private room at a hostel so I could properly sleep before the big sailing experience began. The room was part of an apartment style set up: there were three rooms, each with a desk and TV, a communal bathroom, then there was a common area for the kitchen and lounge. It was a nice and cosy little set up.
The day before my sailing tour I met a couple of people staying in the other rooms. Being fellow Aussies we began chatting and I realised they too were doing a sailing tour for Yatch week. They asked if I wanted to join them for some clubbing that night but I decided I wanted to have an early night.
At about 4am I could hear this tapping. Someone was knocking at the door. I definitely was not getting out of bed to answer the door. Firstly, I would need to get dressed. Secondly, I didn’t know who it was and I didn’t want to accidentally let anyone in to the rooms if they weren’t staying in here. (I hadn’t met the other two roommates). I figured that if they were staying with the other people that their friends would let them in.
The knocking stopped and I tried to go back to sleep. Then it began again about thirty minutes later. I decided I should properly just answer the door and see what is going on. Luckily, the person that they were after came back to room. I could hear them arguing about having to wait on the door step for this person etc etc. They came inside and one person went to bed, the other went to the kitchen. This person in the kitchen appeared to be the girl I talked to earlier today, and it seemed like she brought home a new “friend”.
That’s when the noises started. It was disgusting. So I turned on the TV in my room, sort of passive-aggressively indicating that I could hear what was going on, and if they could please keep it down so I could get back to sleep. Obviously it didn’t do anything. They got louder. So the TV was turned up louder. It was like a war of noises. Eventually her friend yelled out at her and told her to shut up. Thank god.
The noise subsided and I thought I could go back to sleep. But I couldn’t sleep.
Then at 6am the knocker started again with the incessant consistent knocking. I had had enough. I quickly put on some clothes, and answer the door asking what the hell is going on? I had a few words with the poor guy, letting out my frustration on him. His friend came out of the room to let him in and also apologise to me and I stormed back to my room. I decided I may as well get up.
My friends had just got the overnight ferry from Italy so I decided to go meet up with them. We got some brekkie and I told them about the unfortunate noises I heard during the night. We returned to my accommodation to get something and I noticed that the inconsiderate hostel person was sleeping in the kitchen. I decided I would now be loud in moving around my room (as it was next to the kitchen and away from the other rooms).
When I went to the kitchen to get a drink I noticed an ugly sight – she was not just sleeping, but she was passed out, sprawled across the couch with her vagina out for the world to see. I think I may have vomited a little bit in my mouth. After that discovery we swiftly left the hostel.
Yep, pretty disgusting. That’s why it’s up there with the worst travel experiences of 2014!
Loosing my phone and camera
You would think that having your camera stolen on the 3rd night of your trip would tell you to be more careful with your belongings. But sometimes alcohol makes you forget about those important things…
My camera was stolen out of my handbag when I was in a Mykonos nightclub. Pretty devasting as it was a birthday present earlier that year. My partner bought it for me because it was shockproof, waterproof and had plenty of great camera features. I just tried to look on the bright side that it wasn’t all the photos from my trip on there.
When I left Greece I bought a cheap camera at the airport. This would get me by for the next 2 months. I’d also been using my iphone to take photos and considering the picture quality of iphone 5 is pretty good, I was ok with using it instead of a “real” camera.
Fast forward almost 7 weeks later. I’m waking up after a night of too many buckets of cocktails on my last night with my Topdeck tour. My handbag is missing. My phone, camera, keycard and my friends wallet was in there. Oh no…
After balling out my eyes at breakfast, it appears that the tour leader spoke to security and found my bag. Fortunately my friends wallet was in there, as well as my keycard. However the phone and camera were gone.
It was horrible knowing I couldn’t easily contact people back home. I’d also lost ALL photos from my trip as I used both my camera and my phone to take various pictures. I lost all the contact info from the amazing people I had met on my trip. And the worst part was that I already had my camera stolen earlier in the trip – how could I left this happen again?
I now know what to do to avoid these things happening again, but dear hindsight, why couldn’t I have just avoided this happening at all?
They say you can only appreciate the good when you have the bad. And when it comes to travelling, most of the time it’s the good experiences you will remember. For me, I had so many fantastic experiences when I travelled this year, so it’s hard to narrow it down to only two favourites. There’s the London Jungle night time visit, sunset at Santorini, exploring the mountains of Greece, visiting the windmills in Holland, walking the city walls of Dubrovnik, Ultra Music Festival in Croatia, my entire Topdeck tour… It’s definitely hard picking the best of the best, but I have to say there were two definite stand outs:
Paros Boat Trip
I absolutely loved my Busabout Greek Islands tour. The people in the group, the activities and the sights made it a fantastic experience. I had a fantastic and fun time on this trip and would most definitely do it again.
One of the highlights of the trip was the day tour around the adjoining Islands of Paros. Paros is small, less well known and one of the quieter Islands of the Greek Islands. The island follows a strict siesta between 2pm and 5pm, but the shops reopen around 5-6pm and stay open until about 1am. It’s not a party island like Mykonos or Ios, but it was still a fun and beautiful place to visit.
As part of my Greek Island tour with Busabout, we were offered an optional extra activity of the Paros Boat Tour. I had read lots of good things about it so I was definitely keen to do this activity. I decided that €45 would be worth it.
Our day trip started relatively early as we had to get down to the port to board our boat. The boat reminded me a bit of a sailors boat out of a cartoon, so I instantly liked it’s kitsch look.
We boarded the boat and started off into the sea. We all just sat back and took in the beauty of the water. It was truly amazing how blue the water looked! Then we stopped for a swim and the water was… Well, salty. I have never swum in saltier water! It was definitely something different!
After the first swim spot, we again moved on to see more beautiful hidden gems of the Greek Islands. When lunchtime came, we headed off to another secret spot to have a Greek BBQ lunch. We also had some homemade Greek wine and Ouzo. I quite enjoyed the Ouzo… Maybe a little too much! I think the rest of the group enjoyed the alcohol as well!
After lunch we set off for another swim spot and this is where I saw the worlds best ocean water. Even after all that wine and Ouzo, I still remember how crystal blue the water looked. I was truly blown away.
If anyone I know does the Busabout Greek Islands tour, I always tell them that they have to do the Paros Boat Trip. It was so much fun, and set the mood for the rest of the holiday to be a fun filled adventure!
Climbing the Eiffel Tower
I don’t care how clichéd it is – it has always been on my bucket list to climb the Eiffel Tower. The first time I went to Paris I didn’t get a chance to climb it – the people who said the lines would be too long if I didn’t get there first thing in the morning were right…
This time was my second time in Paris, and I once again didn’t get up early enough. So instead I explored the beautiful city and decided a picnic beside the iconic structure would do just fine. After my dinner and taking lots of photos with the sun setting behind the tower, I decided to have a peak at the length of the lines.
I wanted to climb it myself, rather than take the elevator, so I had a look at the line on the stairs entrance, and to my suprise, it was pretty much empty! I didn’t understand how in peak season, at sunset, there weren’t more people experiencing the climb. I decided that this is the best opportunity I would ever get to climb it, so I joined the small line, waited about 10 minutes and before I knew it I was climbing the Eiffel Tower!
I reached the first floor and I’m sure the smile on my face was clear to see – I was actually here! I wandered around the tower, looking through the glass floor in the middle of the tower to see how far up I had climbed. Although, my fear of heights prevented me from stepping too far onto the glass…
I then took the stairs on the Sienne River side of the tower to continue up to Level 2. I felt a sense of accomplishment from climbing up the stairs. I shook my head at those who lazily took the elevators. Did they realise what kind of experience they were missing out on?
I took well over a hundred photos. The sun was still setting and the sky seem to glisten. The whole time I was by myself but had a great time: I saw amazing sights and completed a long time dream. Cliched or not, this will always be one of my favourite travel moments.
What were your top travel moments of 2014? Or do you have some horror travel stories to tell? Let me know in the comments below!