Strolling around New York City
So this is a blog post I am by no means proud to share, but since laughing at other people’s misfortunes is apparently the thing which causes most happiness in people (I have no source for this, I have just been told that and believe it must have been said by a pretty terrible person, but oh well) I thought I would still share it with you. Even some of my closest friends do not yet know the specifics of what actually happened on this trip, so… ta da! Here you go.
In July last year I had a trip booked to Mexico City, which I had planned for months. Why Mexico City, you ask? Well, because I really wanted to go to Mexico because of the amazing culture and food, and I am not a big fan of holidays where you just lie on a beach (though I do occasonally enjoy them and actually just came back from one of those trips to Cyprus), so I did not feel like going to any of the beaches. I wanted to go somewhere I could enjoy the local food, explore the real culture and speak to locals. So Mexico City it was.
Now, I had booked this trip months in advance and thought I had most of the trip figured out. I had booked a hotel, made sure I did not need any visas, printed my tickets and packed my bag. The day before my flight I had double checked the departure time and had asked my parents to drive me to the airport. So far so good. When the three of us were in the car on our way to the airport I had a second look at my ticket, and realized I had looked at the wrong flight. I would have a layover in London and I had accidentally checked the time of departure for that flight to Mexico, not the flight from Gothenburg to London. In other words, I casually strolled into the airport with my luggage two hours after my flight had already departed. Darn. Now I am a big believer in people and situations being powerless without your reaction to them, so I try to stay calm and rational in situations like this, and even though it is easier said than done there is definitely no use in panicking (or in this case, asking yourself how you could possibly have been this dumb). So, while trying to remain calm I went up to the service desk and asked if there were any flights available to London within, preferably, the next ten minutes or so. Needless to say the woman at the desk looked at me like I had a couple of screwes loose and said she was sorry but no, there weren’t.
So, slowly realizing that I would miss my flight to Mexico and lose about €1000, the whole “being calm” thing kind of went out the window. Luckily, my parents were both there and after doing some googling I found a flight for Mexico the next day and my dad kindly agreed to lend me the money. Obviosuly this would cost me a fortune, but I would honestly rather spend the next decade paying my dad back than missing out on a trip that I had been planning for months, because of my own stupidity.
Said and done, the next day I was on my way to Mexico City and everything went well this time around, and I’m so happy I actually went because Mexico City is AMAZING. I went on Couchsurfing and wrote a post about being in town and asked if anyone wanted to hang out, and I got a lot of messages from people who wanted to show me around. Because of that, I got to taste some amazing food, see really interesting markets, climb some pyramids and have people drive me around in their own cars just to show me places in and outside the city.
Delicious tacos al pastor, with pork, onion, cilantro and cheese
For two days I had a really sweet guy drive me around Mexico City, showing me where I could get the best tacos and quesadillas, as well as taking me to the Frida Kahlo museum, which I had wanted to see for ages.
These quesadillas were honestly some of the best food I have ever had
The day after, a guy who was two years younger than me (and related to Pablo Escobar) but probably the biggest gentleman I have ever met in my life drove me around for the whole day, taking me to Teotihuacan to see the pyramids and to a place with waterfalls, as well as to several different tiny restaurants where we had some amazing food.
Some entertainment before a three course lunch at a tiny outdoor restaurant
After having visited some old ruins in the centre of the city, we took a bus to a museum in downtown. In my life I have been to some strange museums, like the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb and a museum of chocolate in Cologne, but never had I ever been to a museum dedicated only to a certain type of alchol until I went to Mexico City. By Plaza Garibaldi, where the mariachis are playing music in their traditional outfits, is the Museo del Tequila y el Mezcal – the museum of tequila and mezcal. By paying entrance you get a free shot of each one, along with a tutorial of how to actually drink them (turns out there is more of a technique to it than I had realized, while doing drunken shots in sketchy bars). The big sombreros that we were given by the bartender might have made the situation a bit more touristy than I had hoped for, but it was still an amazing experience! And the technique they taught us actually made the shots a lot less painful to drink.
At the end of my trip, I was invited to join a guy from CoushSurfing (bless this site) along with his girlfriend and best friend to do a food tour of Mexico City, trying food and drinks from different parts of Mexico. So it’s fair to say that my trip to Mexico definitely did not disappoint in terms of food, or in any other terms to be honest.
That is, until I went to the airport to go back to Sweden. I had packed all my stuff, left my hotel and gotten a taxi to the airport, ready to check in for my flight. I handed over my passport to the woman behind the counter at the airport and thought that everything was just peachy. However, that was not the case. Apparently I did not exist. At least my name did not exist on the list of passengers. As it turned out, when I missed my flight from Gothenburg to Mexico, my return flight back to Gothenburg was automatically cancelled. Will you look at that. So I asked the woman if I could still get a seat on the flight if I (reluctantly) paid for another ticket. That turned out to be impossible, as the flight was already full. Some sneaky bastard had stolen my seat. I then asked if I could get another ticket for the next possible flight back home, but as it turned out that would cost me the equivalent of €2000. Now this is a good time for you to envision me turning around and making a dramatic exit, leaving this woman with her €2000 tickets. So I walked up to another counter and asked for the next flight to Sweden, and there seemed to be a trend going on because the man at this counter also asked for €2000, even a bit more. I then started asking for the next possible flight to literally anywhere in Europe, and now we were suddenly talking €2700.
Slowly I started to accept that I was not going anywhere that night. I thought that the best course of action would be to get somewhere to stay for the night, do some googling for tickets and then go back home the next day. Luckily there was a hotel at the airport, so I figured I would stay there for the night. Close and convenient. Turns out however that this hotel wanted at least €100 for one night (seriously airports, calm down with your ridiculous over pricing. At this point I had already broken the bank by buying a €4 bottle of water, so bye bye fancy hotel). What I did then was call the hotel I had stayed with before, asked if they had any rooms (yes, they did) and then took my suitcase and got into a taxi. I have to say it was a pretty odd feeling going right back to the hotel I had just left. Once I got back I opened up my laptop and started googling for tickets back home, and doing that made me think some pretty desperate thoughts (which I will not share here, but it might have involved selling certain things), because the prices for buying a ticket for crossing the Atlantic the next day were pretty traumatizing. Finally, I did however find a reasonable price (which would still cost more than I had in my bank account) for a ticket which would have a nine hour layover in New York. Mind you, just a couple of days earlier I had been discussing the US with one of the Mexican guys I met and told him there was no way I was going to the US for as long as Trump is president (#ImpeachHim), but I guess this was yet another lesson in how meaningless plans are because that is the exact ticket I bought (after several phonecalls made to the airline asking whether I needed a visa), thanks to my lovely dad who lend me several hundreds of euros more.
Said and done, the next day I was in New York City. I walked into the airport in Mexico City, and this time no existential crisis was needed because this time around I did, in fact, exist. I got on the flight and me and my little carry on suitcase went to the US. Once at the airport I went through immigration, got a pretty stamp and took a shuttle to Fifth Avenue. I had several hours there to walk around Fifth Avenue, Times Square, see the Empire State Building and eat some delicious dinner.
Dinner at Times Square
So this is the story of how I was going to Gothenburg, but ended up in New York by mistake, and with hundreds of euros in debt to show for it. So for those who ask me how I afford to keep traveling – I DON’T. I’m in debt and have to sell certain types of favors in order to get places. Wait, what? Who said that?
All joking aside, traveling usually gets more expensive than you originally plan, even if you don’t mess up as royaly as I did. Try to always bring enough money for emergencies, because unplanned things do happen. Credit cards get stolen, flights get cancelled, hostels lose your booking. Pack a little extra money and if nothing bad happens – yay! Extra money!
Please tell me I am not the only one who has ever messed up this bad. Have you ever missed a flight or been in any other kind of travel related emergency? Let me know and help me feel better about myself!