Stressful travel experienceswelcome to the unlikely traveller

1) Departing Cyprus airport

Despite having travelled on a plane countless times over the years, I had a bit of a shocker when I departed Cyprus for Romania. (Allow me to at least blame the after-effects of food poisoning). I clocked the departure and gate data from the monitors and proceeded to head to where I should. I approached the first set of people that ask for passport identification and then I went through the x-ray machines. Moments before though I realised something wasn’t right here. I don’t ever recall placing my HOLD luggage (as in my massive backpack) on the security belt!? Yes folks, my backpack was seemingly accompanying me on the W!ZZ aircraft as HAND luggage. The obvious problem here then is that all the stuff you’re not allowed to transport via hand luggage and so you put in the hold area was found and rejected. Why didn’t someone spot or raise this with me when I was walking through the various check points!? Since when can a 50 litre backpack go on as cabin baggage!? Anyhow, I now had a serious problem as I was about to loose a lot of stuff and considering they check before you board so you’re not carrying two pieces of luggage, I’d have been stuffed one way or another!

What happens next might be unprecedented I’m not sure. I was so enraged that I strongly said ‘Ok, well obviously I will be heading back the way I came in to now go and ‘check-in’ my luggage’. A couple of employees said that wasn’t allowed and that security would not let me go back out. I said ‘We’ll see’ and proceeded to pack up the crap they had taken out of my backpack to then go in the opposite direction to all the people coming through. I think they saw in my face I was not about to give this up without a fight. Naturally I got stopped and questioned by the same passport control person so I said I was going to the check-in desk to put this massive thing you can see on my back onto the plane and thankfully I didn’t get any further grief…!

That was ten minutes I wouldn’t want to repeat again but there you have it folks, I went back through the x-ray machine and passport control and checked my bag in! Thank God.


2) Departing Belgrade for Novi Sad by bus

I had a pleasant walk to the bus station and I bought a ticket without any drama. I found what looked to be the right bus area and so I passed the ticket to what I thought was the bus driver (he later turned out to be the right hand man of the driver responsible for checking tickets etc…). Anyhow he said ‘yes’ in the sense that I had found the right bus and then he ushered me to the area where they stow the luggage. He loaded my luggage on but then asked for money with hand gestures. (He didn’t speak English). I said I had no money – which I genuinely didn’t having bought the bus ticket and then a snickers bar which cleared my out of all Serbian dinars. I even showed him my empty wallet but he still kicked up a fuss and muttered stuff. At this moment other people came over to pass their bags to him so whilst he was distracted I entered on to the bus. Remember at this point I had absolutely no idea if this was a scank on his part or a normal, accepted process but nobody had mentioned this to me at either the hostel or the bus ticket station. Minutes later he came on to the bus and requested from me the corresponding stickers he had placed on my baggage which showed my ownership. I handed these back but was finding this all very confusing. I naturally concluded that he would have taken off the corresponding tickets from my cases  for whatever good that would do!? Anyhow we departed and that was that. I checked that my luggage was not left by the side of the bus which it hadn’t and so we set off for the 2 hour journey ahead – but that wasn’t to be the end of the drama…

Within ten minutes he began his ascend up the bus doing his ticket stamping. I looked to my left and indeed saw the guy next to me had his ticket out – I suddenly thought to myself he has seen my ticket so he knows I’m valid so-to-speak so he’ll presumably just walk past me – besides he retained my ticket from what I recall. I anxiously waited till he approached the second half of the coach where I was  sat and then the drama began:

‘Ticket’ or whatever the term was he used to request from me.

I said ‘You have seen my ticket’, ‘You have my ticket’.

He responds back in Serbian, me in English. Comical really but it wasn’t at the time! This went on for another long 15 or so seconds and I’d imagine people were beginning to look although I was not able to process anything in my periphery as my eyes and his eyes were firmly fixed on each other. I kept repeating ‘You have seen my ticket’ and he he kept saying whatever he was saying. He started to reference my pockets and so I began searching and a short while later (I have many pockets in my travel attire) I found it. In this moment I had a mixture of relief, embarrassment and annoyance. I must have subconsciously thought this is how he was going to shaft me with what happened earlier. I promptly tried to apologise and then he said something to try and amuse the rest of the audience. Big man that, seeking recognition from uninvolved bystanders whilst I couldn’t respond or communicate back in anyway.

Needless to say I sat for the rest of the journey full of thought whilst my anger dissipated. Only in Belgrade, hey :-)