Worst Trips Ever

Posted by Brette in Travel
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It’s so windy in Aruba the trees are permanently bent over

Do you have nightmare vacation stories? Places you’ve been where you would never return? Trips that went so bad you just wanted to get home as fast as possible? I have a few disasters in my past.

1. Aruba. This trip might have been our biggest disaster. We had a 5 day trip planned, which is essentially two days of travel and three days of vacation. Our plane had a mechanical malfunction and we spent our first night in Newark in February with no winter clothes. We finally arrived in Aruba to find it is absolutely true that Aruba is always windy. Hair blowing in your face, sand blowing into your mouth windy. It’s not exactly an idyllic lie-on-the-beach vacation. There is also absolutely NO authentic artisan shopping or crafts to be found anywhere on the island (it’s my passion). I asked everyone, and even went to a flea market and an art school. I came home empty handed for the first time ever. The island was flooded with American chain restaurants and shops and had no identity. The disaster was capped when my son got food poisoning the last day, from an “authentic” lunch. He was too sick for dinner, so we ended up missing out on reservations at restaurant positioned on a dock over the water at sunset. I didn’t care much for what I saw of the island and would never go back.

2. St. Michael’s, Maryland.  This is a very ancient disaster as it happened more than 20 years ago. Before we went, the AC in our car broke and we left a day late while waiting for it to be repaired. On the way there we spent one night in Philadelphia during which the fire alarm went off in the middle of the night. My husband and I stayed in a quaint B&B in St. Michael’s. How quaint was it? Well, there were no innkeepers. Keys were left on the hall table. Breakfast mysteriously was laid out when we arose and we never ever saw a single soul who worked there. I don’t know what we were supposed to do if our toilet got plugged or we had a question about the inn. The other problem was the room. It was a small room with an attached bath. How attached was the bath? So attached that the sink was at the foot of the bed and the toilet was just behind two western style swinging doors next to the bed. Howdy, pardner. The room had a view of the Chesapeake Bay which was impeded by a) a window air conditioner and b)the balcony outside the window that was filled with other guests all day and night. Thus our blinds were shut the entire time and w had no view. There were a handful of shops in town and the one I wanted to go in the most was never open any time we checked. We did enjoy some crabs and a little boat ride on the water but there wasn’t much to do there. We ended up driving to Ocean City and Virginia Beach, but found those locations to be very touristy. The trip was a huge disappointment in every way, from start to finish.

3. Oahu, Hawaii. I enjoyed some parts of this island very much, but it got off to a rocky start. The condo we rented that was supposed to be ocean front was located on a golf course and there were lizards running wild inside. We pulled up stakes and paid way too much for a condo at the Turtle Bay Resort next door, which ended up being simply gorgeous and wonderful (even if we had to eat dirt for a couple of months to pay for it). The Iolani Palace, one of the top things we wanted to see, was closed when it was taken over by rebelling Hawaiian nationalists for just the few days we were there.  We also found the traffic around Honolulu nearly intolerable, but loved the North Shore. My daughter got a UTI and wouldn’t go in the water. Not a complete disaster, but definitely not a dream vacation. It’s not an island I would return to.

4. Hong Kong and Japan. It was hellishly hot when we were in Hong Kong, making it very challenging to do much walking. My husband became suddenly very ill when we were there. We arranged for a doctor through our hotel who diagnosed him with food poisoning. We missed our last day in the city due to the illness and then somehow got him on a plane to Tokyo. He slept the entire way and barely made it to the hotel. I have no idea how he got through customs and immigration with a fever. He recovered slowly (my daughter and I went out and about without him for a few days) and then became ill again on the plane ride home (a serious resistant infection that is believed to have begun with the misdiagnosed food poisoning). I spent most of the trip in a panic about what to do to help him or terrified of eating anything for fear of getting sick myself. The anxiety levels were intense. I also didn’t like most of the food I could eat (being gluten intolerant made it very challenging) since raw fish and cow stomachs are not my cup of tea. Japan was beautiful and there were many things I enjoyed but it’s just not my list for a return visit after everything we went through.

Given how much we have traveled, we are lucky to have had so few true disasters. There have been minor glitches and problems on other trips:

– A broken boat motor in the Finger Lakes

– A houseboat with a propellor that fell off in the middle of a lake in Ontario’s Kawarthas. We waited nervously for a tow as our boat drifted closer and closer to rocks. We spent our first night in a marina instead of anchored by an island as planned. I also managed to have a swimmer’s ear infection during this water vacation and was told not to get it wet.

– Various illnesses, including UTIs, colds, flus, sprained ankles (inside the Tower of Pisa), and mono across the world.

– Carsickness adventures with both children and a husband prone to seasickness.

– An engine that blew in our van on the way home from the Finger Lakes. We had to turn the heat on in August to pull the heat off the engine to get it home.

– Having our car parked in on all sides at the Versailles parking lot and being trapped for an hour or so until someone left so we could get out. Couple this with a wait of about three hours to get into the palace and local police who merely laughed at our parked in predicament and it was a very unpleasant day.

– A hotel in Puerto Rico that was so far away from anything that we spent the entire time in the car

– A pent up emotional reaction to a family tragedy that finally hit me when we were away celebrating our anniversary and ruined a special night

What are your vacation disasters? Are there places you would never return?

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