FOR a change, our travel stories will focus on travel woes, mishaps and misadventures; in short, out of the ordinary happenings during a trip.

I’ll start out with my own experience in Milan decades ago. The hubby and I were walking along one of the pedestrian streets when we were met by a group of four teenage girls, one of them carrying a baby. They were blocking our way by dancing right in front of us. We didn’t realize then that they were trying to distract us while the one with the baby very deftly dug into the coat pocket of the hubby and pulled out the US$200 that he had prepared to change into liras.

I didn’t notice the whole operation, but the observant husband did and just as deftly pulled out the stolen money that she had tucked in the garterized waist of her skirt. Wow! He got back his $200 in the blink of an eye. The pickpocket was taken by surprise and the whole gang hurriedly ran away. And this has become a family joke... the Italian pickpocket was pickpocketed by a Cebuano lawyer!

We continued our sightseeing all the way to the legendary Milan cathedral. So many people were in front of the cathedral looking up to the spires. In the midst of the chatter in Italian which we could not understand, we finally figured out that there was a man up there threatening to jump. Before long, policemen, a fire truck and an ambulance arrived. There was so much drama at the Duomo that day and we were there to witness it. However we decided to go away before anything untoward happened to avoid the accompanying pandemonium.

It was time to heed the call of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, and off we went to see the world-renowned work of art. Unforgettable Milan!

Atty. Elizabeth T. Reyes,

General manager

Land and Sky Travel Services, Inc.

“It happened in the ‘90s when I led a group on a pilgrimage. As we were crossing from Portugal to Spain, I smelled gasoline. I asked a few people near me and they smelled it too so I called the attention of the coach driver. He stopped the engine, went down the bus and examined the underchassis. He said there was no leaking. So we continued the trip but the smell was still there. The bus driver slowed down, cringed his nose and stopped again to inspect. He called someone on his phone apparently asking what could have caused the gas leak. He examined some more but found nothing, so we drove on. I was very worried because I was responsible for 36 lives onboard, 37 including mine. I prayed without ceasing.

Finally we arrived at our hotel and I heaved a big sigh of relief, thanking God for hearing my prayers. After dinner, two of my pilgrims who were sitting at the back row of the bus came to my room and confessed that one of them had caused the gas odor in the bus. Mrs. A apologized profusely for causing the inconvenience, but she said she felt ill during the ride (gikabuhi) so she massaged her stomach with ‘ginamit nga gas’ to relieve the pain. And she told me a long story of other homegrown remedies for all sorts of ailments. Unknown to me she brought used kerosene all the way from Cebu! I was dumbfounded. To think that the cause of so much anxiety in the bus was just an old folk’s remedy for that Cebuano malady known as ‘kabuhi!’

Well, anyway, all is well that ends well!”

Cookie Q. Chan,

General manager

Southwind Travel and Tours

“One unforgettable trip of mine was back in November 2015, when I was leading a tour group to Europe. We were in Switzerland heading out to Germany when I woke up to some disturbing messages on my phone. The news came that Paris, our next destination, had been bombed. Frantic and confused, I did a lot of phone calls to our tour operators and others asking for suggestions on how to proceed or to cut back if need be.

Thankfully, I had the calmest passengers with me who just looked up and said they were going to just follow what was best for everyone. The news said that the borders could be closed any minute for security reasons. Deciding to push through would mean travelling for four hours to reach the border and should it be closed, travel another four hours to another country with no hotel booking and itinerary as yet. A big dilemma! The options were either to take the risk or to retreat.

Most of the passengers were first-timers in Europe and of course, Paris was on top of their bucket list. I could feel that they would be greatly disappointed if we would not complete our itinerary. So we decided to go on to Paris. I set up a back-up plan with a temporary hotel booking in Frankfurt and temporary seat blocking with the airline out of Frankfurt just in case Plan A would fail.

Finally with lots of guts, we were on our way to the ‘City of Lights’ along with a litany of prayers. It was a very quiet trip and we were on our toes till we reached the French border. We put out signs on the bus bearing “Paris Nous Sommes Avec Vous” (Paris, we are with you). After four hours of holding our breath, all 50 of us breezed our way into France. Prayers answered!

It was not the usual Paris tour because strict measures were in place and security was so tight. However, we luckily came through and got home safe with all the passengers happy, and yes, they had lots of stories to tell about their unexpected European journey-turned-adventure.”