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Our craziest travel experiences

Published October 10th, 2012

Sometimes the best part about travelling is the unexpected. Missing your train or getting lost may induce tantrums and tears at the time, but when those outside-your-comfort-zone moments happen and you’re forced to just ‘go with it,’ that’s when the adventures truly begin. Over our years of travelling we’ve experienced our fair share of missed trains and tearing-up-the-map moments. Not to mention braved some crazy conditions and surreal experiences that we look back on with fondness. Here are just some of our favourites crazy travel experiences:

 

Braving a storm in Spain

My craziest travel experience happened when I went to Benicassim, a 4 day long camping music festival in Benicassim, Spain. On the second night of the festival, the temperature dramatically dropped and the wind picked up just before the main act was due on stage. The wind was out of control! We could hardly walk or even keep our eyes open due to the wind and dust. By this stage, most people had returned to camp and we were told the entire night of music was cancelled and the other half of the campsite had to be evacuated. We were "lucky" enough to not have to move anywhere but we did have to place rocks in the corners of our tents to stop them blowing away. Somehow we all made it through the night in our flimsy and tiny tents (with little to no sleep). In the morning I woke up to the tent completely collapsed on me and the campsite looking like a bomb had hit it with people's belongings everywhere. – Anna

 

Receiving a royal treatment in Vanuatu

SF's product loader Clair in Vanuatu

Clair on an emotional village visit in Vanuatu

On a recent work trip to Vanuatu I was taken by surprise and given the royal treatment by some villagers from the Island of Tanna. My grandparents were from the island and very well known and respected but I wasn’t expecting that the man pouring my coffee at the hotel buffet would know who they were. After a quick chat Bill asked me to come to his village as there were elders who would love to meet me and tell their stories of dealing with Kath and Bob in their 40 years on Tanna. The next day I took two of my colleagues with me for the 40 minute drive through the southern area of Efate. I had no idea what to expect and was taken aback when greeted with beautiful leaf leis and a ceremonial head dress made of chicken feathers. We sat in the middle of a thatched hut and exchanged stories and photos of my grandparent’s time on Tanna. They asked me to come back and help the island again as my grandparents did. It was extremely emotional and everyone shed a tear at some point. After an hour with the villagers I was given traditional straw mats and bags and two massive bunches of bananas and headed back to the hotel with wonderful memories. It was a surreal experience that I’ll never forget.   - Claire

 

Choosing between life and pants in Germany

Whilst exploring Munich and enjoying the sights, we stumbled across the man made river of Eisbach.  After watching people try and ride the wave and after countless wipe outs, we decided it would be fun to swim from one side of the fast flowing river to the other.  After diving into the icy water, I realised that my bikini bottoms were around my ankles! It was then I was faced with a split-second decision:

 

A) Try and pull my pants up and risk ending up in Austria.

B) Try and pull my pants up and risk drowning.

C) Forget the pants and get to the other side.

 

I ended up choosing option C and lived to tell the tale. After the humiliation, I think I certainly earned my crispy roasted knuckle of pork and litre stein at the famous Hofbräuhaus, which was my next stop! - Laura

 

The French Alps

Driving through the Alps

Driving through the Alps

Winter comes quickly and harshly to the Alps and navigating the roads can be dicey. When the sun's shining though, you can feel like you're on top of the world and snatching views of the scenery - between the hairpin bends - becomes an art. It was during one of these deliciously-sunny days I was driving alone across the border of the French/Italian Alps. I noted the change in language and font on the signage (as you do) and was looking forward to practising my Italian in a few hours. Then, rounding a bend, suddenly half the road was gone. Landslip at 2,000 metres.

 

There were no other cars in sight and if I'd had a phone there wouldn't have been reception anyway. I sat with my motor idling in the crisp, otherwise silent air. Maybe another car would come by? Perhaps the road was unstable at the point I'd stopped? I couldn't turn around - the idea of doing a 3-point turn onto a snow bank at the edge of a precipice didn't appeal. The sound bite of a newsreader announcing my death flitted across my mind. Sometimes the only way is forward. I inched the car to the wrong side of the road - as close to the mountainside as I could, and quickly drove around the gaping bitumen hole. – Sara

 

Eating with Geishas in Japan

After two weeks with my partner in Tokyo, it was sadly time to fly home (aren’t those days the worst!). But before we headed off to the airport, we decided to find the most traditional sushi place we could. After looking around Ometosando, we decided on a very expensive looking restaurant on the top floor of Omotesando Hills. The friendly waiter took us to our seats where we kneeled next to two Geishas. I couldn’t stop looking at them. The waiter explained that the day was a special day in Japan and traditional ceremonies were taking place all around Tokyo. The Geishas were eating out of square bamboo boxes. As we couldn’t read the menu, we just pointed to their meals and smiled. Out came these two boxes with weird multicoloured squares of unrecognisable food. The strangest was a grey coloured cube. We asked the waiter what it was and he brought out a translation book that read ‘dragon’s tongue.’ Thinking ‘when in Rome’ I downed the so called dragon’s tongue and it tasted exactly how you would imagine a dragon’s tongue to taste. Do not recommend! - Lauren

 

Lauren Burvill

Australian born but London based, I'm a sucker for big cities and small tropical islands. When travelling, I like eating like a local, dressing like a local, but staying in 5 star style. Have a travel story to share? Tweet me @laurenburvill.