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What to do when it all goes wrong

Destination Elite
06 September 2013
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"No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell" Jewish proverb

article-1363519-0D7D6247000005DC-638_634x391What do you do when your dream vacation turns into a nightmare?

It doesn’t matter how wonderful the images look on the web, chances are your vacation rental may not exactly resemble those airbrushed and resized pics you’ve been drooling over! I have a friend who dutifully researched and carefully planned the perfect vacation for his family, taking in the needs and peccadillos of his wife and three pre-teen daughters. He rented a picturesque little villa in Italy; the Villa and its location ticked off all the appropriate boxes and was within walking distance to the beach. On arrival, they noticed the Villa was a lot older and more run down than in the web images, but the location was lovely, so undeterred they settled in to what would be their home for the next two weeks. Early in the morning they left for the markets and later strolled to the beach, on their return they sensed someone had been in the villa. The following day one of the daughters reported that there was a man, in a dirty singlet, living in the storage shed in the back garden. To cut a long story short, the owner had reluctantly vacated his own villa for the summer to take in tenants. This arrangement may have been acceptable if he had not resorted to hanging about, snarling, and barking instructions in a voice reserved for errant children.  Worse still, he made himself at home when they were out and even cooked himself meals in the kitchen. Frankly, the two weeks could not have gone fast enough, the family felt under constant scrutiny from a very menacing intruder.

What would you do under the same circumstances?

We once rented a bed and breakfast in a small village in the south of France. Jet lagged and irritable we finally located the terrace on a back street of town, not easy as it didn’t have a house number. The little terrace boasted a beautiful garden, and hot tub, as we entered we noticed a damp and musty hole in the wall, the proprietress explained that is where the hot tub would eventually go. We proceeded to climb five flights of narrow stairs to the attic, carrying two very heavy bags. The room was charming in a shabby chic French country way, except of course for the plumbing; being that high up in the house the water pressure was non-existent. However, the garden was lovely and we had a delicious breakfast each morning seated beneath a burgeoning wisteria. Perhaps we need to open our minds to new experiences, and let go of our preconceived expectations only then can we really enjoy ourselves. Our first trip as a family to New York, we stayed in what was described as a charming English style hotel, close to the park and museums, perfect or so we thought. On arrival we found that the aging hotel appeared to be under renovation, the gruff desk clerk pointed us in the direction of our room. Off we struggled with our luggage only to find the ancient elevator seemed to be stuck on another floor.  The door to our room had a paper number affixed which was upside down and read 9 when it should have said 6 , the floor boards creaked and groaned as did the ancient bed. The bathroom was stained and dingy you could hear the water gurgling through the recalcitrant pipes. Something had eaten away the wood of the vanity and having its fill was slowly eating its way through the carpet. “Let’s give it a night, if it’s no better in the light of day we'll find something else!” After a sleepless night of blaring sirens, gurgling water pipes and neon signs that shone constantly through the window we left.  We moved to the other side of town to a family friendly, clean, comfortable hotel with a serviceable bathroom and an American flag fluttering out front! Sometimes, I wonder if our expectations are just too high, when we travel we’re out of our element, which is one of the reasons why travel is so captivating. For many of us though, our holidays are precious, and we have spent lots of time and money in planning the perfect vacation. If things are really bad and not at all what you expected …move on. Sometimes it’s difficult if you’re travelling with friends or family, you don’t want to appear spoilt or fussy, this is when honesty is the best policy, and they too are probably waiting for you to give the green light to get out of there. My advice is go and experience all you can, get out of your comfort zone, immerse yourself in a new culture and way of life and always remember, wherever you are it has got to be better than being back at home or at the office at your desk!
"Here's to a vacation of no regrets" Joan Ryler
Do tell …have you experienced a dream holiday that turned into a nightmare?