Anybody who has traveled for any duration of time clearly knows that sometimes you have to face some unexpected dreadful feelings. The list can go on whether it’s a bad flight experience, frauds, sickness, and for some it might be extremely worse than that. The bad days are really inexorable the more often you travel. Traveling can be great and life-changing but certainly traveling doesn’t go as planned all the time; anything can easily go wrong.
Traveled With My Friends’ Passports to Another Country
So I was on my way to Belgium. I was actually on the bus. From Amsterdam to Belgium. My phone wasn’t working because it needed WiFi and the number I bought from Germany wasn’t working. I got a text from my friends back in Amsterdam (Rana, Rana, Salma) who told me that 2 of them forgot to take their passports from my bag (My bag had a lock and we were staying in a hostel). Their flight back to Cairo was the following afternoon and their visa was going to expire anyway; there was no way out. After we arrived in Brussels, we had to take the metro to find our way to the hostel. It was a very tiring night, we had to walk with our bags for half an hour to reach the hostel. Anyway, I arrived at the hostel in Belgium after midnight, there was no way in hell I was going to take a bus back to Amsterdam and then come back to Belgium. Actually I’ve known them for more than 8 years now and that was the worst event that has ever happened to us. They had all the rights to freak out because technically I was in another country with their passports and they were in another country without their passports AND they had a plane to catch the following day. Poor Rana (the only one who had her passport with her in Amsterdam) ventured to come and pick up the other 2 passports from Brussels in the morning, giving that she had to go back to Amsterdam on the very first train moving from Brussels. Since both of us didn’t have phones to call each other, I felt like I was waiting for someone to arrive at the train station an era ago. I kept looking for her everywhere like a long lost love. Lucky us, we got the chance to take a picture in the rain and grab some Belgian chocolates; our only memories from that day. This was Rana’s 10 minute-visit to Brussels, all I know is that we tried to make it not the worst visit ever.
Arrested-Not at the Airport
I had to stay for a 2-hour layover in Frankfurt Airport on my way back to Cairo from Turin, which means I have to stamp my passport in Frankfurt. I was standing in the line waiting to get my passport stamped. I crossed the yellow line on the floor and presented my passport to the guy working there, you know, usually you have no concerns at this point because you know there can’t be anything wrong with the visa on your way back. His facial expressions started to get weird in a way that I began to feel some unease there. He then looked at me and started to yell that my visa was not valid! I didn’t know what to say, or comprehend what was going on. I kept asking him stupid questions like What? I don’t understand? How?, only to find him closing the shutter in my face and getting two guys with the POLICE sign on their back to escort me to “The Room”. The man started to hand me papers to sign and photocopied my passport, he refused to talk to me or answer any of my questions. At this point anxiety hit me, I didn’t even know if I was going to catch my plane or not. I kept asking for someone to explain to me what was going on since the guy was very rude to me. Another police guy came and explained that the timing of my plane means that I stayed in Europe for 41 days not 40, which means that I have an “Illegal Stay in Germany for a day”. Of course that made me even more furious, I tried to explain that I gave my documents to the embassy with the flight bookings, and there must be a misunderstanding or an error that might have happened. I also had an invitation letter from Italy with the number of days I needed to stay. The only thing that helped in the situation is when they saw Salma’s passport and realized that the Number of Days of Stay were 45. I had to pay a 150 Euro-fine at that moment, which I didn’t have. By the time they realized that it could be a possible problem from the embassy, they called the plane and asked the captain to wait for us. I had to sign thousands of papers that still mentioned that I did something illegal, even the guy addressed me by saying “Your Criminal Stay”. I was told after sometime that I can take the plane back to Cairo and they will look further into the problem and get back to me and see if I need to pay a fine or not. This was the worst experience that has ever happened to me. It was very overwhelming.
I was a little younger when that happened, and luckily I wasn’t alone. We were on our way to Damascus from Beirut, before the war in Syria; it was a safer zone back then. There were some conflicts between Lebanon and Israel during that time. I was on the bus, sticking my head against the glass window and gazing when I heard a massive explosion sound echoing its way into the bus. It happened all of a sudden. Everybody started freaking out; I could see the fumes clearly from my seat. All the cars on the highway had to stop and the military forces started to block the streets, we had to stop for a while and this is when we heard that Israeli jets bombed the main road between Beirut and Damascus, which lead to the closing of Beirut’s main artery. The odds were in our favor that day, and we got stuck for a while. It was massive. We were able to reach Damascus after a hectic day; it was just an unexpected twist of events in a regular peaceful trip.
Homeless for 2 Nights
Before I traveled to Italy, I was over the moon when I discovered that Arctic Monkeys were performing in Pistoia. I bought tickets for the concert and booked a hotel near the concert venue, I was trying to look for some affordable places at the time since people were booking all possible spots because it was a small town. So that weekend was approaching, I was with my friend Salma, initially in Turin, so we had to take a train to go to Pistoia. I arrived that morning and decided to go check in the hotel first to leave my backpack and shower before going. I kept asking everywhere in Pistoia where I can find this hotel, no one knew where that was. Google maps wasn’t in my favor that day, and after asking around we discovered that we have to take another TRAIN to reach the hotel. We somehow went out of our way to find the place. After we reached the area, we discovered that the hotel was ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN/HILL. No transportation there. We had to ask a cab to take us up the winding road to reach the hotel, which cost us more than 50 Euros. It was more of a hotel in an isolated area that is not even remotely close to any kind of facilities. We were in shock when we arrived at the hotel. We stayed there for an hour; showered, changed our clothes and checked out. We had to pay for the night since it was already booked earlier, which was very annoying. We had to call another taxi to take us down the hill and back to the concert venue. We knew that instant it was impossible to find a place to stay that night. All the hotels were booked, which meant we had to be homeless for a day. And it was true. After the concert was over at midnight, we couldn’t find anywhere to stay, so we literally slept on the sidewalk. When it was almost 6 am we changed the sleeping location, and went to sleep in the train station after it opened. We bought tickets for the first train heading to Florence, which was really close. The train arrived in Florence in 30 minutes; we were dead by then. As we stepped out into the bright sunlight from the train station, there wasn’t anything on our minds except for finishing the nap that we were trying to take at the train station. We opened Google maps and looked for a green area. We found a big green garden after a 5-minute walk from the train station. Without even thinking, our bags were our pillows, and we slept until we woke up after the sun gave us a farmer’s tan. Repeat – The National’s concert.
Lost on a Highway
One of the things that I’m used to doing when I travel with a backpack is that when I arrive to a city, I start my tours around without going to the hostel. I prefer going to the hostel after sunset to check in and sleep right away. When I arrived in Rome, the day was just about to start for me. My friend Salma was with me and we decided to go visit some of the touristic attractions in the city. By the time we finished and went to grab something to eat, we realized that it was nighttime. There were no direct buses to take us to our hostel; it was outside the city center. So, as we normally do, we used Google maps to try to figure out which buses to take instead, and the only bus that goes near the hostel stopped 15 minutes away from it. We took the bus. And as we were approaching the stop we noticed that everybody had gone off the bus except for one creepy guy who was giving us the eye the whole time. We started to feel a little uncomfortable but chose to overlook the situation or else we were going to freak out. Little did me know, when we arrived at the stop, the man got off the bus with us. We were in the middle of nowhere in a place full of trucks and lorries on a highway. When we started to walk (according to Google maps towards the hostel) we noticed the man following our footsteps; he stopped whenever we stopped, walked faster as we moved faster. The adrenaline hit me bad; once we realized that this was getting too creepy, we started running like bats out of hell on the highway. I looked behind me, and I saw him running after us. The first signal my brain sent to my fingers was to tap uncontrollably on the touch screen, so now not only was I running for my life, I was also running nowhere. Thank God it was a winding road; we found a closed restaurant and the first thing we thought about was to enter its open garden a hide there behind the bushes. Yes, pretty much what you see in the movies. Our hearts were beating too fast I almost felt like this cannot be happening for real. We rested behind the bushes and started taking small peaks to see where he went. After a while, and after we returned back to our normal selves and readjusted the destination on Google maps, we came out of this haunted restaurant at 10 pm and started crying for a taxi on the road. Luckily, a taxi picked us up and dropped us safely in front of the hostel. He took a fortune for a minute drive; however, we could have been in a real horror show if things had taken a wrong turn.
Bees Love Me
You know when you’re really in the moment, taking a tour around the city and wandering around? For me, this is the essence of traveling; these are the moments that I enjoy the most. I was standing on the side of the street waiting for the pedestrians’ traffic light to turn green on an evening in Amsterdam. So here I am, walking on the pedestrian crossover only to find an immensely stinging feeling moving from my lip through the rest of my face. I found myself screaming and covering my face; the feeling was utterly dreadful. Rana was walking beside me that instant and the initial reaction on her face freaked me out. I asked her if there was something wrong with my face. She did not answer. She dashed across the crowed asking for a nearby pharmacy and all I was thinking to myself “This cant be good.” Actually I felt it right in my face. Turns out a maddening wasp flew straight to my face and stung my upper lip. It was 8:00 pm, after half an hour we found a pharmacy and they assured me they I wasn’t going to die. I only had a double upper lip. They told me that I have to see a tourist doctor immediately, but giving that fact that I’m Egyptian I ended up asking for some ice at a bar and laying down there with ice on my face. I took some painkillers and called it a day. Not to mention that I already had a black eye because I dropped my phone on my face in bed. I couldn’t get out of bed that day; I had a terrible fever!
A Creature in My Room
This is a story about a monster on the wall behind my bed, in an apartment that I was staying at for 6 weeks. It was a huge house centipede; at it was right there above my bed. I’m really against killing any living creature but the first thing I thought about was throwing my Dr Martens at it. That lucky monster escaped and went through the door outside my room in the apartment. Which was a nightmare come true. Now I had to face knowing that I’m living with that until I move back to Egypt. I felt like I was a Ghostbuster in the apartment and I started getting haunting feelings about it. I spent the whole period in the apartment covering the small door slits with bags and clothes. Literally hoping that the bed bugs won’t bite.
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