As discussed in an earlier post, life is full of awkward moments – which is why I chose to share some of mine.
Here are a few choice highlights of my awkward travel moments.
This is probably the one that springs up most often: my crippling fear of heights. Funnily enough, this hasn’t ever stopped me attempting to climb tall things (including the Sydney Harbour Bridge). I seem to forget just how bad my fear is when I’m safely at ground level looking up at something that doesn’t look that big at all until, inevitably, I’m clinging to a hand-rail for dear life shakily passing my camera to a friend to take photos while I ‘enjoy’ the view.
Though I managed to precariously scale the Scotts Monument in Edinburgh, the Campanile in Venice, and even sat through an agonisingly uncomfortable drink at Manchester’s Cloud 23, Cologne cathedral and the St Sophia cathedral bell tower in Kiev both defeated me.
3. Overnight trains
I love overnight trains. There’s something so magical about them – like being in spy novel or maybe an episode of Poirot – but they definitely pose opportunities for awkward situations. On my first overnight journey (Moscow-Kiev), there were two incidents: a creepy old man a little too interested in my forthcoming female friend and a second enthusiastic man who heard us speaking English and rushed over to play us an English song on his phone – a very loud hymn – at 5am.
On the return journey, a family who had been designated tickets separated from each other decided to try and share the tiny bed across from us. This was a ridiculous idea and probably the reason I woke up at around 2am with the family’s youngest son sat on the end of my bed, tickling my feet.
Tickling my feet.
It was not OK.
2. Being drawn in Yaroslavl
Living in Russia, there were awkward moments at every turn, but none more so than this.
My landlady’s friend was an artist, and on meeting her for the first time, she remarked on my ‘interesting face’. Naturally, I was flattered and confused. She asked if she could draw me sometime. Having decided a free portrait would make a great gift for our mums for Christmas, a friend and I went over to her studio.
There were four other people there. And they were there to draw me.
Turns out, the woman ran an amateur evening art class, so I sat in the centre of the room for two hours, while four complete strangers attempted capture my interesting features.
At one point, the Titanic theme tune came on the radio.
1. Accidentally locking a Polish woman in a cupboard
It’s exactly as bad as it sounds.
Wandering around Malbork castle without an audioguide (the batteries were charging, and no, there wasn’t a replacement), we had taken to opening doors at random to find our way around. Finding a door with a key in the lock, I tried to open it. I wiggled the lock and tried again, before an angry woman on the other side of the door starting shouting in Polish. Naturally, I assumed she was telling me I wasn’t allowed to through the door. I ceased trying to open the door but the banging and shouting and anger continued.
Suddenly, a curator in hysterics ran in from the next room and opened the door to reveal a tiny, furious old Polish woman in a storage cupboard. One curator continued laughing, the other probably never laughed again.
We then continued into the next room to find it was a dead end, and so had to walk back out past the old woman. Horrendous.
Without a doubt the most awkward travel moment in my life.
What’s your most awkward travel experience?