Over the years, I have been learning more and more about myself, and one thing I’ve realized lately is that I am just not a planner. At all. It will be 11:30 P.M. on a Saturday night, and I will have absolutely no set plans until the minute I step out my front door. But, as cliché as it sounds, I usually do prefer to just go with the flow (I blame being a Sagittarius).
And being spontaneous has proven to be both beneficial, and not so beneficial, while traveling. But in this post, I’m just going to focus on the positive, because there have been quite a few times when my last-minute planning has led to some of the most unusual, unforgettable experiences I’ve ever had— ones I’ve looked back on and thought, wow, what are the odds of that happening?
Since today is #TravelTuesday, it seemed fitting for me to tell you some stories about the times when failing to plan ahead actually worked in my favor.
I’m going to start with a story about the first trip my roommate and I tried to plan together when we were abroad. I think it was the Wednesday or Thursday when we decided we wanted to go away that upcoming weekend, so we Googled cheap flights from London. That’s when we stumbled upon Norway. Hmm… that’s random, let’s go! But after we booked the flights, we hit a so now what?, so we attempted to figure out what we were going to do when we got there. We discovered Pulpit Rock— Preikestolen— and decided we were going to hike it, but then we found out that it wasn’t anywhere near to Bergen where we had just booked a flight to. So instead of Pulpit Rock, in Bergen we end up getting dragged into Barry’s Bootcamp in the square because they were trying to win the Guinness World Record for Largest Bootcamp Held in a City Center (or something along those lines). My roommate said yes to the Norwegians who asked us to join, which I was not very thrilled about, to say the least. We ended up sprinting around in circles, stopping for pushups and other abdominal workouts, all while the instructor was counting in Norwegian: en, to, tre, fire, fem, seks, syv, atte, ni, ti. I woke up extremely sore, but hey, I got a free t-shirt, and a hilarious story to tell people about. It was totally worth it.
My next story is from the time we went to Barcelona. We were trying to find a place to eat dinner, and we had done absolutely no research and didn’t even really know where we were, so we just wandered around the strip until we came across this Greek restaurant called Dionisos.
A Greek restaurant? In Spain? Yeah, well the food wasn’t that memorable— it was good but not the reason I’m writing about it. I’m telling you about Dionisos because of the ambience and experience. Each customer is given a white plate in the beginning of the meal. Well, that’s a little weird. What is this for?, my friend and I thought. Then, a white-haired man, who we assume was either manager or owner, says something in Spanish; all of a sudden, everyone starts chucking the white plates at the ground until they all shatter. This is accompanied by a bunch of OPA’s before traditional Greek music starts playing throughout the restaurant. The man with the white hair comes to our table and starts pulling me up to “do a traditional Greek dance” around the restaurant. I’m resisting, but he’s also insisting, so I don’t really have a choice, do I? I get up and link arms with the fellow diners, as we all make our way around the circumference of the restaurant, kicking our legs in unison. It was quite the sight, and quite the experience. I was mortified at the time, but now I can look back and think about how fun it was.
I wanted to save the best for last, so that’s why I’m ending with this story from when I was in Sardinia. When preplanning, we waited until the last possible minute to book our rooms, just like always, so we just went onto Airbnb to look for somewhere cheap to stay, and we ended up booking this one called Surf Terrace. When we got there, we were in for an unexpected treat. Our host, Lucien, was unlike anything we were expecting. He spoke multiple languages and welcomed us into his house with tomato and mozzarella sandwiches for lunch; we also came home one night to find him tattooing his friends because he was a tattoo artist on the side. But our favorite thing about Lucien was that the first day we arrived, he and his friend Francesco, who spoke little English, took us sailing around the Sardinian coast. They pointed out each of the little coves and told us stories as we watched the sunset. And we only got to do this because we just so happened to book the right Airbnb totally last minute.
So the moral of the story? Don’t be too set in your ways about what you want to do during your time abroad because sometimes the best things are the little things that you don’t plan for. They just happen. Has anything like this ever happened to you? Let us know below!