Flipping Through My Travel Journal: My Travel Trials & Triumphs

Flipping Through My Travel Journal: My Travel Trials & Triumphs

Triumphs

1. Croatia

Croatia is the jewel of the Adriatic and it was evident everywhere I looked. Swimming in the still blue waters, relaxing on deck or grabbing a bit of shut eye – it was relaxing in paradise at its best. The time I spent in Croatia is at the top of my list of best and favourite moments. A sailboat sailed me from island to island at a relaxed pace. I would lounge in the sun on the top deck during the day as we sailed, and explore in the evening once we were docked.   I would nestle in my cabin at nighttime and fall asleep to the sounds of the sailboat drifting away, and wake up to a new amazing island.

I distinctly remember a moment when I was eating dinner at a seafood restaurant one night down by the shore in Dubrovnik. I still have that view imported into my memory and it always will be.

Twinkling lights from the boats bobbing out in the water, a velvety blue sky, castles high above me that line the sea cliff, a warm breeze softly escaping from the gentle waves soothing my face and arms . . . an absolutely enchanting night.

Dubrovnik feels magical and very romantic. Lanterns and torches light up charming alleyways in the evening, and there are also jazz musicians playing in the streets with onlookers dancing along. Onofrio’s Fountain is big and ornate in the centre of Dubrovnik’s main square, and is fresh for drinking and filling up your water bottle. This was a very refreshing change from always having to buy bottled water out of fear of contamination in other parts of Europe.I would absolutely love to return one day, spending more time in Dubrovnik as well as exploring more of the mainland which I’m told by a fellow blogger is totally different but equally fascinating.

2. Inca Trail & Machu Picchu

I was pretty exhausted by the time we neared the end of the Inca Trail, but upon laying eyes on Machu Picchu I gained so much more energy. We climbed up tons of very, very steep steps near the end to get up to the Sun Gate. When I was just walking around at the top catching my breath and waiting for others to catch up, I looked out to my right and caught my first glimpse of Machu Picchu below me out in the distance. . . just sitting there with the sun shining upon it through the slowly moving cloud forest.  I didn’t even realize I would be able to see it after climbing that last set of really steep steps. We spent so long hiking, the moment we would be this close to it always seemed so far away.

Like a woman having just given birth to a child, hikers are too overwhelmed by the beauty of Machu Picchu that they seem to forget about the labour itself to get to the end. Ending at Machu Picchu, exploring ancient ruins, and continually stumbling across stunning landscapes made every treacherous twist and turn along the way worth it.

3. New Zealand

New Zealand is truly an an incredibly gorgeous country and the South island brings with it so many diverse landscapes. First you’ll be in the dense rain forest, then along the ocean, then an icy glacier, then a pristine beach paradise, then magical fjords, then a beautiful mountain top, then an amazing sparkling blue lake, and then in the flat countryside. . . all within fairly close range!!! Out of all the countries I’ve already been to, New Zealand is at the top of places that I want to return to. There is still so much more to see!

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4. Laos

Walking along the streets and everywhere I turned were friendly locals smiling at me, warmly gesturing to their stall of clothing, crafts, or food. Now enjoying a period of relative prosperity, Laotians warmly welcome visitors and are happy to share their culture and traditions with you. Luang Prabang is a quaint and colourful village in Laos, teeming with saffron robed monks and vibrant night markets. The atmosphere in this UNESCO World Heritage town is very relaxed and friendly. While strolling the streets, you can’t help but take a few deep breaths to soak everything in.

In addition to the friendly people and great food, I really enjoyed the spirituality that encompassed the town as Buddhism has always fascinated me. I love how all about giving and providing the locals are with one another. The greatest example of this in the town is the daily morning ritual, where locals and visitors will wake at the break of dawn to provide alms to the monks. By giving, it is believed you will lead a more fortunate and blessed life.  Luang Prabang (and Laos as a country) is a beautiful, humble and unassuming place.

5. Pyramids

How can you fathom the moment when you lay eyes on a pyramid for the first time? It was almost as if a genie had appeared from nowhere and had offered to grant me a wish – truly one of the most iconic sights on the planet. Set against the backdrop of a desert 30 minutes from Cairo, the pyramids felt almost unreal and mythical.  As I set eyes on them for the first time, I went through a mixture of emotions.  I was awestruck, humbled, amazed, and simply feeling blessed for the privilege of standing in front of them.

Each stone block went to my waist. I noticed them, not the other people around me. They were mine for reflection and contemplation. All I could think of was how hard it must have been to make them, how much will it took when there were no cranes or power tools.

Trials

1. Forgetting my camera on a toilet paper dispenser in France, losing all of my Paris and Eiffel Tower photos

Sigh. Luckily one of my travel mates took a couple shots of me with her digital SLR. I had some absolutely amazing photos of the Eiffel Tower when it lights up at night. I even sprawled on my back and stomach on the ground to get the best shots. Dammit.

2. Rolling up my tent in the mud and rain all alone for 3 weeks in Spain and Italy

Ugh. I did not enjoy the dirty, cold, and wet components of my camping trip. I was camping during a time of so much rain in Western Europe that there were major floods going on. I had no tent mate and it was a challenge setting up when it was nice and dry, let alone monsoon weather. I remember trying to set up my tent in Sorrento and I couldn’t even keep my balance because I was slipping too much in the mud and rain. It was actually impossible to keep a tiny bit clean. My tent eventually started to slide down a hill, so I moved in with two other girls in their tent.

 3. Losing my luggage in London

I suppose it’s bound to happen to the avid traveler at some point. It still sucked though since I spent my entire sightseeing time for London trying to track down my stupid suitcase.

4. Food poisoning in Rhodes and Egypt

Avoid buffets, especially when they are on ships – a lesson I shared in my Feasting & Drinking of 6 Continents post. In places where you need to be wary of food quality initially, and when it’s in the form of a buffet, all hell breaks loose. The food has been sitting out, and people have been coughing and sneezing all over the food handles, or the food itself. I have never been so sick in my life than those two times, both on a ship, and both after a buffet.

5. Troubles at Sao Paulo airport

Because it was established on my way to Peru that I was on “The Black List,” I knew what was going on while checking in for my flight home to Toronto at the Sao Paulo airport. Once again, I encountered the oh-so-familiar lengthy check-in procedure: the attendant avoiding eye contact with me, typing ferociously, giving a phone call to someone for “confirmation,” pointing to the screen confusedly to a fellow employee, peering at me perplexed, a supervisor hovering over their shoulder examining the screen. . .

I received the explanation of my name being similar to a name of someone who is blocked. This is my least favourite thing about traveling. Being stopped, blocked from the kiosks, selected for a “random” check . . .  it’s happened more times than I can count.

As I made my way through security, I was stopped by a guard. He didn’t speak English and I was at a loss of what he was trying to communicate to me. Since he ripped my bags from my hands, I assumed it had something to do with the things I just purchased. He looked over my receipts and shook his head. I asked for my bags back, which were full of souvenirs for my mom, dad, and sister. He wouldn’t give them to me, and kept pointing at the receipts like I had done something wrong or had committed some significant crime. The only way he would let me pass was without my bags, so off I went without my things.

After I made it to my gate and had been standing at the front of the line for three hours (as there was nowhere to sit), there was an announcement that the Portuguese board first. I was promptly shoved and pushed over violently by Portuguese people from all directions. I was sandwiched against the railings and was essentially being trampled over. I felt awful and so disrespected! 

All in all, my trials are pretty minor compared to some nightmares that others may have gone through! I have never lost anything irreplaceable or been robbed, mugged, or taken advantage of. I am pretty vigilant for safety when I am on the road! What are some of your travel trials and triumphs?

Author

My passion for capturing memories through the lens of my camera, my love for food and the joy I find in reflecting on my travel memories using a pen and paper results in a series of blog entries filled with warmth, pure happiness and inspiration. I hope to share a little bit of myself and my adventure of life with you.

44 comments

  • I love travelling so much, I’ve been so lucky so far and not had too many issues when travelling. Aside from being advised against flying at the end of my summer trip after being diagnosed with a severe bout of Bronchitis– my flight home was an hour long and I hated Prague and just wanted to go home, so I went to the pharmacy with my prescription and asked for something that would make me sleep for the entire flight. Whatever it was did the trick, I felt like I was dying the following day, but it was worth it to sleep in my own bed in my own room.

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    • Glad to hear you also have had pretty minimal challenges while traveling! As for getting so sick, I empathize with you there – really not fun when you are away from home!

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  • Nice post. Croatia and the Inca Trail would also be near the top of my list. Croatia in particular was the most pleasant surprise of any of my trips as I had not known much about it going in–I’m pretty sure I was standing in almost the exact same spot as you were in your photo. :-) That view of Machu Picchu from Sun Gate at dawn is the best, when it is at its most pristine before any of the bus tourists have started invading.

    I’d love to visit New Zealand and the pyramids someday.

    The Inca Trail would also top my list of trials–I almost didn’t make it through that second day in the sleet. It’s almost inevitable for frequent travelers to encounter illness at some point–mine happened at the end of my Peru and Mexico trips. I had managed to avoid the lost luggage snafu until my most recent trip to California, but fortunately it was on the flight home so I just went home and had them deliver it to me.

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  • I am very sorry to hear about your trials, but like what others say — it’s all part of the experience. Sometimes we just have to deal with the painful ones, and in a way it makes us more appreciative of the great moments that we had.

    I personally had an experience wherein I lost stuff — not really lost though but more like stolen. Much like you I’ve lost a lot of pictures when someone broke into our (road trip) car to take away our laptop and gadgets. I had lots of pictures in Paris, Normandy and more and it was such a waste (not to mention that I have files there, it was expensive etc.)

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  • This is one of the most interesting articles I’ve read in a long while! The way you described Croatia put at ease. I can’t wait to have a similar experience in May. As for the tent situation, it might have been cold and wet and rainy, but what a story! How many people can say that they camped alone in Western Europe in all that mud ;)

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  • Nice compilation of both trials and triumphs – I think every traveler experiences trials along their journey, and I think these are incredibly important learning experiences, which often honestly end up being the stories we tell once we get home!! I think a lot of the time our trials also end in triumphs, so I’m all for being challenged while on the road and going through some tough times to reach the other extreme at the end :D

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  • I have been very lucky so far! Once I lost my luggage but it was on my way home and it wasn’t very important and the second time when my luggage was broken but again it was on my way home and I got it replaced

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  • If you travel long enough you’re bound to encounter some trials–stolen items, bad experiences, etc. It always sucks to leave items (I left a coat in the train station in Rome), get sick (my day at Machu Picchu), or have entry issues (I wasn’t allowed into Bahrain). But, the awes like you describe in your triumphs do make it all worth it in the end.

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  • Wow, those are some pretty challenging times that you went through! I’m glad that you’ve had so many incredible travel experiences that the good far outweighs the bad!

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    • Challenging, yes, but I still feel like they are nowhere near close to any of the horror stories you sometimes hear about from other travelers! I think I’ve been super lucky so far. Although I also turn into a beast when it comes to protecting my stuff while traveling! :)

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  • I was happy to see the Inca Trail on this list, since we’re heading there this year. And, as miserable as the trials and tribulations of travel can be at the time, they actually make some of the best stories and most memorable experiences!

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  • Ouch! The Sao Paolo experiences sound horrible! I must say I’ve been mostly lucky… knocking on wood right now. Very often things turned out better than they had originally looked.. So I can’t complain :)

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  • I knew Egypt would make the list! So sorry about food poisoning – the solution is Antinal, we recommend travelers take it preventatively – it’s a super powerful stomach medication that actually works on the flora found along the Nile Valley.

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  • So sorry to hear about your trials! It sucks that things like that had to happen but these are very helpful and gives us a heads up of what might happen. Awesome post!

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  • Great post! You have been to some amazing places and had some great experiences. Travel doesn’t always go to plan but that is where we really do learn from it! The ups and downs are part of the journey, I’m glad you dealt with them so well!!

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  • I hear ya. Lost all my photos from a SE Asian trip (save the few on FB) and I’m still bummed over it a few years later. It’s always good to reflect on our trials and triumphs because it shows us how far we have come, how much we have grown and what fun stories we now have to tell. Awesome post.

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  • Trial and error is always the way to go :) Losing your camera in Paris sucks though.. But those things happen! I was recently in Czech Republic, and I forgot my 16 GB in a cafe in a small country village, and guess what? It was filled with photos I never uploaded to my laptop..
    You just have to learn how to cope with the not so good moments, and embrace them as a part of your life. If everything was perfect, how could you cherish the best moments of your journey? ;)

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    • Ouch! That must have been a really stomach-twisting realization at the time. And you’ve said it quite spot-on, if everything were perfect, it would be challenging to cherish those best moments.

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  • I completely understand your Croatia experience, and I know how difficult it is to explain those quiet moments of Epiphany we have a million miles from home, staring out at the sea or the sky.

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