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3/2020 Our worst days in 28 years of travel

As COVID-19 dominates the news, we are in Hawaii hanging out in Maui and Kona in the sun, avoiding any possible snow and not really too concerned about the virus. Once in a while I realize that I’m in the age group of “old” people (older than 60) who are being urged to stay home – not that I’m not going to do that!

Everyone seems to freak out about travel right now and it made me start thinking about what some of the “worst” travel experiences we’ve had since our first trip together 30 years ago. We’ve certainly had some “adventures” but none of them have been too terrible.

Mark and I had the excitement of two Metro strikes in Paris. We camped (in a tent) in a Paris suburb and took the RER into Paris.  The two strikes started in the middle of the day as Paris strikes are prone to do. We were in the city and needed to get back to the campground.  The Parisians were VERY helpful and pointed us in the correct direction. We learned a few things along the way:

  • The Metro and RER share some lines in Paris and the Metro controls the RER signage within Paris. No Metro, no RER signage for which train is approaching. 
  • Every train has a sign in the front window with a  3-letter code designating its final destination.  The locals all know the codes and helped us get on the correct train.

We haven’t really had that many cancelled flights along the way.  A May hailstorm in Denver made us miss our connection in DC to Frankfurt on our 25the wedding anniversary. Our dinner was United Snack boxes!  In case you’ve ever wondered, the Sheraton by Dulles has a bar but it closes at 11 PM so we didn’t even get a glass of wine on our anniversary!  Who would ever think a bar in an East Coast hotel would close at 11?

Susan had an extra night in Hong Kong compliments of United after a fan blade shattered on the runway.

We had a REALLY long day in Australia trying to get from Port Macquarie to Tasmania. What should have been a 4 hour trip ended up taking 14 hours!  Hobart is another city with no restaurants open after 10 PM.  Dominos Pizza was pretty tasty!

Tasmania was lovely after we finally arrived!

Oh, yeah!  Don’t fly from Berlin if there’s a chance of snow.  At Berlin Tegel the de-icers have to come to the plane.  Our flight (1 inch of snow caused this) was so late leaving Berlin for Munich that we arrived in Munich after EVERY flight to the U.S. had departed.  It took a bit of negotiating to get on a flight to Frankfurt and a rush through the Frankfurt airport to the gate with only enough time for a toilet break and grab a sandwich.  Ten hours after leaving our hotel in Berlin, we were still in Germany!  The only good thing about this was that we got home at 1 AM so had no jet lag the next day.

Then there was the direct flight from Denver to Maui that wasn’t!  We landed in Los Angeles for a faulty radio and waited for a replacement plane, landing in Maui about 6 hours late.  Lesson learned – Beer sales stop at 11 PM in Hawaii in grocery stores but there’s no line at the rental car office in Maui at 10 AM and no traffic driving across the island.

We were in London one day and learned that Londoners who ride the Tube aren’t really very good at figuring out the Bus.  The Tube was shut down for a bomb scare and no one appeared to know which bus to take!

Another nature-related travel adventure was in Maui. One Spring Break in Maui began with a night on the floor of the Civic Center after the earthquake in Japan triggered a tsunami warning for Hawaii. Listening to the Hawaii Tsunami alerts all night long was educational to say the least.  Be sure to take a pillow with you if you ever have to evacuate your hotel room.

Then there was the bad traffic day in Chattanooga, TN on a road trip around the U.S.. First, the interstate was backed up for miles with a truck accident. After we picked a random exit,  we drove through the middle of Chattanooga using only a tiny square AAA city map (This was before cell phones.) and came across a torrent of water in the street.  10 minutes later the radio reported a water main break exactly where we’d driven and they shut that road!

In about a month, we’ve booked a cruise from Miami to Barcelona with some time in Barcelona and then in London.  The corona virus news is everywhere but we’ve decided that we’re going on the cruise unless they cancel it.  After all, we went to England for Thanksgiving in 2001 after 9/11. The English were quite happy to see some tourists. We flew home from Portugal on July 4, 2002 and the news was full of commentary about blowing up planes on 4th of July.

So, follow along and we’ll keep you posted on the cruise adventure during COVID-19 in 2020.  We’re sort of wishing we were in Rome right now to see it without too many tourists.

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