As I mentioned in my previous post, I will be using this blog to document some of my previous travel experiences (good, bad and more often than not funny) until such time as I begin my journey! This experience really wound me up actually. Nevertheless, when I play it again in my mind it is pretty funny. I can understand why everyone else finds it a laugh, even if it is at my expense.
This story starts in northern Morocco. Well, actually what happened in Morocco was erm, nothing happened there which was relevant to the story. I should have just said that it started in Malaga, Andalucia, Southern Spain. Well, I suppose I did get a ferry from Morocco to Spain so yeah. Okay, scrap this paragraph, onto the next one.
Once upon a time, no. Seriously who would start a story like that if it isn’t aimed at children?!
Right, I got on a ferry from Northern Morocco to Malaga a few days before Christmas in 2014. My plan was to spend a night in Malaga before flying back the following morning to see my family for Christmas. I was due to be back in the UK on the 20th of December I believe. Now this never went to plan whatsoever, as I will detail below.
As I had a Friday night in Malaga, I decided I would go to a place where one of my students had a second home, the place was called Torremolinos. Little did I know that it would be the place that was synonymous with what some people refer to as the British Costa Del Sol although I have come to refer to it as Costa Del LOL. One has to laugh otherwise they’d cry. It’s basically throngs of people called Derek or Tracy who go to Spain to suck up the culture. By which I mean have 12 pints of Carling and 2 full English breakfasts a day. A bit like a hot and sunny Scarborough with more racists. Anyway, I digress from my actual story!
As I was there, I thought sod it, I’ll mingle with the locals. Little did I realise they’d all be British or Irish. Sod it, I thought I’ll go and have some pints with some lads. I proceeded to get rather drunk, and eventually it was time for me to head back to my hotel room. In fairness I did meet some interesting people there. I had a good sleep, and woke up just in time to get a taxi to Malaga airport. When I arrived, I tried to check in but, alas MY PASSPORT HAD DISAPPEARED!
Now naturally in these circumstances my first reaction was to pace around whilst allowing expletives to flow from my mouth. Once I had gathered my thoughts and managed to compose myself, I decided the sensible thing to do would be to retrace my steps. I took a taxi back to the hotel, and the receptionist said it wasn’t there. I had resigned to the fact I wouldn’t be going home that day so I booked the room for another night. Luckily, they weren’t fully booked so I was able to check in again. I put my bag in my room then proceeded to visit every bar and establishment that I had visited the previous night. No joy. A person from one of the bars with whom I had conversed recommended that I call the British consulate in Malaga. Excellent idea, I thought. I went back to my hotel to do that right away.
When I got back to my hotel room I realised the time had gone past 6pm!! I tried to call but, the office was closed. A few more profanities escaped from my lungs before I decided to just sleep it off and call them in the morning. GUESS WHAT? IN THE MORNING IT WAS SUNDAY! The consulate wasn’t open on a Sunday! I think at this point there was more swearing in my room than there had been on a book in America’s oldest courtroom!
Obviously, I had to book another night at the hotel – this was becoming increasingly expensive! The following morning I went straight to the Consulate. After much deliberation, and several hours of waiting I got a temporary travel document for €150 and they assisted me so I could buy the next available flight that afternoon into Bournemouth which cost an additional €150 roughly. Finally, I was going home and could relax. Or could I?
I got on my flight as scheduled, and got into Bournemouth airport that evening as planned. So far so good, right? Wrong. The airport security took me aside and proceeded to question me for quite some time. Apparently a single British guy travelling from Morocco to Spain and then onto England with a temporary travel document looked a bit dodgy. I wasn’t importing hash!!!!! Eventually they let me through and I was free to head onto the final leg of my journey.
Whilst I was travelling, there had been torrential downpour which had resulted in extensive flooding in the south of England! This meant that the trains had been cancelled! How was I going to get home now?! Basically, I knew that there was a bus home from the centre of Bournemouth, so I went to the bus stop by the airport and got on the bus. I didn’t know the area very well at all, and it was dark and rainy, so I specifically asked the driver if he could let me know where the bus stop was, and tell me so I could get off. I sat on the bus for a while until it eventually came to a stop at a bus station. “Ah great”, I thought, this must have been Bournemouth bus station. I got off and looked at all of the timetables… but none of them said Salisbury where I was going. I went and asked another driver, as the driver from the bus I was on had already left. He said, “Nah, this isn’t Bournemouth, it’s Poole. There are no buses from Poole to Salisbury”
“AAARRRGGHHH!!!”, I screamed internally. Why the hell did the driver not tell me! The driver I was speaking to said I should go back into Bournemouth quickly as the bus to Salisbury was due very soon. I got back on the bus with a frown as large as an upside down Cheshire Cat. I doubly made sure the driver told me where to get off this time! I got off, and walked up to the bus stop, drenched from head to foot and looked at the timetable. THE LAST BUS HAD LEFT TEN MINUTES PREVIOUSLY! I was pretty skint by this point as I had spent all of my money on the new travel arrangements. I didn’t have enough for a taxi! I had to call my parents, who called a taxi company and paid over the phone by card.
I was finally in a taxi, and on my way home. Thank goodness, nothing else could go wrong surely. The taxi driver got to Salisbury, about a 25 minute walk from my house and said he wouldn’t go any further. This was infuriating as it was still pouring down with rain, and I now had to pull my bags through floodwaters to get home. I finally got to my mum’s house, and dragged my soaking wet self and bags into the back porch. I dried myself off quickly and got changed, I then went down to open my case to open my bag and get the bottles of sherry that I had bought my mum for Christmas. I undid the zip and discovered that both bottles had shattered, and all of my personal belongings were soaked in a combination of rainwater and sherry.
All I could do at this point was turn to my mum and say, “Merry f**king Christmas”
I laugh looking back, but this was an incredibly stressful journey. I got out the other end though, and these kinds of experiences help to develop one’s resolve and patience which will be essential for the big journey that I am planning on going on.
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