EMBRACING THE EXPERIENCE pt2: The Bad and The Ugly.

But not letting them stop you.

The scene of the crime…almost (the phone picture was better). Gare du Nord, Paris, France. February, 2015.

So, last time around we talked about a lot of new and really positive experiences I had on my first ever solo adventure which came about by embracing experiences and opportunities where they came.

The trip, however, was not all sun-shiny moments (as is bound to happen on every trip), but knowing how to bounce back from those issues is a huge learning experience not just in terms of travel but facing challenges in your day to day life as well.

Where to begin….

I guess my real first brush with trouble occurred when on the (very early!) morning of my third day out as I tried to move from Paris to Lyon. If you remember, I booked my train tickets via a third party site (voyages) and I am not kidding, it was horrible.

I had gone over my plan checking, double checking, triple checking (you get the idea) all the numbers I would need to get the tickets, the location the directions said I would leave from, and everything written down nice and neatly on the notepad app on my phone—I was prepared.

Then the night before I discovered I was leaving so early that the metro wouldn’t be running yet. Great. I set my alarm super early, packed up what I could and had my clothes out for the morning and my essentials set before going to bed—I had it covered.

The next morning, I walked to the station and headed in with just over the half an hour they recommended to be safe only to discover there were no Euroline machines to pick up my tickets at. And, at the time in the morning I was there, the train stations information desks weren’t open and neither was the voyages question/help line. I was on my own and I had no idea what I was going to do.

After a long (and repetitive due to language barriers!) conversation with a shop owner, I discovered that despite all the information I had received, Eurolines did not use the station I was at. I never found out where they connect, but by the time I found out, my train would have been gone anyway.

So what did I do? Feeling like I was going to cry out of frustration, I got out my card and booked myself a new round-trip ticket to Lyon. I wasn’t going to let an issue like that screw me out of my trip, after all. However, remember to write to the company if issues like this arrive—you can usually get your money back or something if you can show that it was a failure on their part, or, at the very least, you may make them change something in their system which can help future travelers not have the same issues you did!

But, as the title indicates, that was simply the BAD and now we move onto the UGLY:

On my last day in Paris—it always seems to be Paris, doesn’t it?—The ugly reared its head in terms of ‘no good deed goes unpunished’:

I was good Samaritan-ed and my phone was pick-pocketed.

Yep, the oldest trick. I was exiting the Gare du Nord train station (a photo spot for the above—a Chuck and Blair location shot from the series Gossip Girl – also maybe my trouble is more train stations than just Paris.) where a woman was struggling with a box in the turnstile to the metro. I put my phone in my pocket for five seconds to help out and when my hand was in my pocket again, my phone was not.

Train stations are notorious for this and the thieves are professionals you will not catch. It sounds mean, but don’t help people out unless things are buried under layers of clothes that no one can get to and even then, play it safe.

I quickly traveled back to the hostel where my bags were and video chatted with my dad. We got most things sorted (including a good cry), and his main point, and one to focus on, is: this is just stuff and stuff can be replaced.

What stunk, however, was that I had pictures from that morning and the day before that were on the phone and hadn’t been loaded to any other storage space (some were on my other camera but, do to battery power and charging issues, those were limited).

A few things you can do in these situations are have a way to contact someone to help (even if this just means crying), have copies of numbers you haven’t memorized but are those close emergency contacts, have a way to remotely wipe the phone of any personal information (make the phone a useless brick), and give yourself the moment to be freaked out and cry if you need to—it’s not being unreasonable.

However, once you do that, you have a choice to make.

For me, I could have sat around the hostel on my computer for my remaining five or so hours I had in the city, or I could pick myself up, go out and explore, and make the most of the time left rather than let one thing and stupid people ruin what was mostly a very good trip.

In the end, I used the last hours to sprint from one destination to another, capturing (as close as I could) pictures from the places I’d visited and lost along with the phone with my steadily dying camera (that thing was a real trouper!).

This stress was compounded by some travel stress (a two hour delay do to ferry docking issues and no phone to contact anyone or make plans for the rest on my day!) But I would still consider this a great trip. After all, you learn a whole lot when things get bad—sometimes these lessons are about who you are as a person and what’s important and other times it teaches out to make better choices.

There’s always a silver lining to be found and a challenge to be faced, so make the best out of bad situations instead of letting them hold you back and get out there without worrying about the worst that can happen. Take care of yourself, be smart and keep rolling with the punches—accept nothing less!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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EMBRACING THE EXPERIENCE pt2: The Bad and The Ugly.

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