Europa, Europa, send my money back over: My foreign travel filled with mistakes

After having the experience of a lifetime at the opening week of Oktoberfest in Munich, I learned a lesson about air travel in Europe I would not soon forget. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes, so here are four mistakes I made you don’t have to on your first foreign trip.

A beer tent at the Oktoberfest in Munich. Photo courtesy of Bailey Mosley/Connect.

A beer tent at the Oktoberfest in Munich. Photo courtesy of Bailey Mosley/Connect.

I spent three months living in a town in Spain called Barcarrota. During the last couple weeks of my stay, I decided to fly out to Germany for Oktoberfest.

Schnitzels, IPA’s, men in lederhosen… Munich’s Oktoberfest might have actually been my own personal heaven. This trip was one of the best experiences of my life.

But leaving was another story.

Travel mistake #1: Don’t trust the front desk

I ask the front desk of my hotel for the quickest and cheapest way to get to the airport and they led me to a bus. Only this bus never coming (great), so now instead of having 3 hours I’ve got 2 and a half plus waiting another half-hour for the taxi who, luckily for me, knew a back way around the traffic jams and was fluent in English.

Which brings me to…

Travel mistake #2: Don’t count on candies: Cab drivers love to take advantage of Americans

That lovely cab ride was 90€ (actually it was 87.50 but the kind sir suddenly forgot English and wasn’t going to offer me change, of course). Well there goes more than the total amount I spent in Germany. He didn’t even have complimentary candies. Will I make it to my flight? Well, we’ve got 60 minutes to figure it out. Luggage drop off, security and gate. No problem right?

Well my cab driver drops me off at terminal 1A insisting that the terminals are small and it is very close by. Only I find out all 57 airlines are next to each other stretching across what seemed to be a mile. I shit you not, it was a ten-minute speed walk and lucky me, Air Europa is the last one. And the line is at least 25 people deep. How many desks are open might you ask? 1 desk.

Travel mistake #3: Do not expect check-in desks to have common sense.

This goes on for 30 minutes until finally someone comes and opens another. Now, I’m fairly close to the front so I step aside to join that line. Three people deep. Smooth sailing? Nope. Person number one had four more family members to add on and person number two had an angry wife to add to the mix. Add 15 minutes, and I’m up front. This lady actually helped me out and got me through quickly. Great.

Now to security. Not bad. Get to the gate. Gate change. But only be a few feet I wait patiently in the back of the line only to come to the front of the line and hear BEEP BEEP BEEP, “please step to the side”.

Here it comes, the biggest mistake of them all.

Travel mistake #4: Overbooking popular flights is a hobby of cheap, foreign airlines.

Everything’s in German, only four of us are here, Air Europa is in a panic and frazzled like it’s their first day. Still standing here. It’s now 11:03.

So Air Europa overbooked the flight, and I am a part of the lucky fab five who have to stay behind as our flight leaves with our luggage along with my hopes and dreams of having a cheap and uncomplicated flight back to Spain.

So now I’m forced to miss my bus I paid for in Madrid and I have to stay here, at the Munich airport, for nine hours. So, of course, we get refunds of 250€.

The rude airline slave told us to wait to check-in, however, I went against her suggestion and checked in by 1 p.m. so that I had an actual seat number and a ticket. I probably ate a gallon of overcooked and overpriced pasta at the airport while making phone calls to friends so I could couch surf in Madrid until I could catch another bus home.

I made my second flight, had an awesome two nights with friends in Madrid and caught the next bus back to the Barcarrota.

And honestly, now, I’m not even upset. Everything happens for a reason, and maybe I was supposed to stay behind. Or maybe it’s karma getting me back for closing elevator doors on people at hotels.

Who knows.

At Least I learned from my mistakes.

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