Traveling Faux Pas?

If you travel, mistakes and detours are in store.  My brother recently booked a hotel in South Carolina.  He actually wanted to book  the same named hotel in Colorado.  It took a few calls to Hotwire to correct the problem.  Some people have made critical air reservations.  Booking Athens, GA instead of Athens, Greece for example.  We have had our fair share of traveling faux pas ourselves.  We like to share just a few of our major blunders.  We like to comment and share your faux pas too on Facebook. 

A memory that we will never forget is finding parking in Corfu Town, Greece. For some reason, parking is a premium around that city. 

It would have been easier on motor bike.

We flew in late one summer day in 2008.  With our rental car we found a section of several open parking spaces right across from our hotel. Eureka! ;  Hakuna matata!  Finding a parking space was not that hard.

The island of Corfu is my favorite island. So beautiful, so much to do and see.
The road and scenery is quite impressive. Kathie took this picture from a moving car.

The next morning we got up early and decided to travel across the island to Palaiokastritsa, a spectacular sea-cliff area of Corfu.

Corfu is my favorite island in Greece.

All these large busses surrounded our car!  We had parked in a bus zone.  I didn’t read the Greek signs, nor could I read them.  I now know what they mean, “it was Greek to me.”

Parking signs in Greece are not in English. This sign is easy to understand.

 Our car had a wheel lock and most dastardly our license plate was taken.  The Greeks are cleaver.  In 2001, we just rode away from our parking ticket in Monemvasia, Greece.  It was not the same way in 2008!

So happy to have our license plate back in our hands!

It took nearly a half a day to fix this problem. We quickly learned about Greek “bureaucracy” and even met a nice Greek woman clerk who gave us “cold” water. She could see we were hot and in pain over this ordeal.  After paying 100 Euros, we had to walk to another building to collect our license plate. When the officer finally came in, he had a good number of plates. 

One of the interesting products that Corfu makes is “Kumquat liqueur.”

Our second faux pas is to take advantage of opportunities. In the summer of 1988, United Airlines offered us “free tickets to anywhere” if we agreed to “get bumped” in London.   We were novices to traveling at this time.  We said “no.”  We now think back on how naive we were.

Doing your homework on the route traveled is a must, particularly on foreign roads. I just assumed that road along the eastern side of Peloponnese was a well-traveled route.  It looked mighty interesting.

The Corinthian canal is in the Peloponnese.

Little did I know that the road turned inland along the canyon on a winding road without guard rails. Every curve there were Greek crosses on people who had perished along that section.

Greece is religious. A cross and bell on the island of Santorini.

Kathie hates heights and by the third curve “she was in tears.” The two lane road turned into a single road along the canyon.  Eventually we reached a small Greek town called “Cosmos.”  I took a neat picture of a Greek truck hauling garlic. 

The memory of my wife in tears, though, is what I remember most.  Looking back now, I could have taken a turnpike down to Sparta and missed this road all-together. 

For those interested in going to Greece in the summer and seeing the Parthenon, we recommend not seeing it during mid-day, the intense heat of the day. It is superbly hot on that five hundred foot hill.  We have had the pleasure of seeing the Acropolis three times, all mid-day, and saying to ourselves, “why did we travel mid-day!” 

Greece is a spectacular country. We have been blessed to have traveled there four times.

Knowing the territory is vitally important. Sometimes it is life or death.  I have had that experience at the age of 13 going down and up the Grand Canyon with the family in one day. The night before we had seen a campfire presentation and the National Park Ranger said he would be at South Kaibab Trail 8:00AM.  Don’t know what happen, but he wasn’t there.

Picture from the North Rim, Mount Hayden.

So my father, age 44, my brother 12, my sister 8 and I started to walk down the trail. We had one gallon of water.  We were supposed to have a gallon a piece.  My mom stayed at the campground thinking we were trekking for a few hours. 

It was so easy to walk down this trail. You could see the blue-greenish Colorado River below.  “This trail was a breeze.” Touching the Colorado became our goal.

One hour came two and two came three hours. I separated from the group (another faux pas).  Luckily a Park Ranger on horseback saw me and later saw my dad. “You need to go after your son.” 

We made it to the bluish-green Colorado River. We must have swallowed half of that river.  We walked along the bottom for two miles.  I will never forget seeing ripples of heat off the white sand.  This was July 21st, 1968. We were told it reaches 120F in these parts.

Eventually we came to the famous Bright Angel Trail. There are three watering-holes along this eight mile route.  It was also eight miles up.  Every so often there were signs saying something like “If you want a helicopter, it will cost you $200 dollars per person.”  This was 1968 $200 dollars.  My father made a comment, “we’ll make it to the top, I will buy you all ice-cream!” 

In 2015 Bright Angel trail is well marked and traveled.

We did pass a father with his two small daughters. I don’t know if they ever made it to the top.  People every year die in the Canyon, I now know why.

We made it to “Indian Garden”—a welcome oasis– and I saw someone skinning a rattlesnake. They were going to eat it.

The trail is littered with mule dung. It is not a pleasant sight or smell. 

Many years later we learned the way we trekked the Grand Canyon is highly “NOT” recommended. We left at 8:00 AM and made it to the top at 7:00PM. My sister, Kristy, was the first one to the top.  My brother and I were so tired that we even sat in the mule dung.  To this day, I think the Grand Canyon is “the biggest hole in the world.” 

For me, the Grand Canyon is the biggest hole in the ground.