My worst travel experience (so far)

I just came back from, what so far, is my worst travel experience. It was a city trip to Riga, a beautiful city I would love to visit again. Next time, I would do things differently tho…

In a couple of days, I’m leaving to Botswana for 3 weeks. Three weeks of no internet. Which means I will miss my girlfriend, and she will miss me (I think). For that reason we booked a trip together before I leave, so we can make sure we had our dose of each other.

We pick a date as close as possible to the trip, we go on TravelBird, and we book our trip. Not a dark cloud in the sky. We are over the moon when we find a nice city trip deal to Riga. Click, paid, booked.

And then shit hits the fan

TravelBird goes bankrupt. They stop completely. In the Netherlands (which also operates to Belgium), they have a commission that takes over the customers and makes sure everyone can go on their trip or get their money back.

I’m in the category that gets a guarantee for their departure. I’m happy with that, but to be sure I e-mail the hotel that was booked for me. Or that should have been booked for me.

I explain the situation to them, and they confirm the messages. TravelBird did go bankrupt and try to book for me. But the booking was refused because of non-payments by TravelBird. A decision of the hotel I can totally understand. They too have a business to run. And accepting bookings from non-payers can send them the same way TravelBird went.

Emailing back and forth

I email to the commission, explaining they haven’t made the booking they guaranteed me. They send me a letter, signed by their CEO, that I can show the hotel. I tell them it’s a bit ridiculous since everyone can make a letter like that.

“Yeah, but it has the signature of our boss!”

Fine, I’ll send it to the hotel. The receptionist’s reply was “We can’t accept this letter as a form of payment as anyone can have written this letter. I couldn’t agree more.

A lot of e-mails go back and forth from me to the commision. I’m claiming I want to have my money back. They claim that’s not possible. I claim they at least make the booking that I will pay for myself and reclaim the money with them. They can’t guarantee it anymore and tell me I can get my money back if I want.

I’m flabbergasted by this change of decisions, and by then it was only a day before departure. I wanted to visit Riga, the money-back thing came too late. I told them that.

Actually, I started my e-mail with: That’s the most friendly ‘Fuck You’ I’ve ever received.”

I don’t get mad easily, but don’t push my buttons by going back on your word.

I’m coming on my own terms

A day in advance I email the hotel again, to let them know I’m coming and will pay for it myself. I just want to be sure I will arrive somewhere and have a room.

Of course, I only book the room. I will have to reclaim the money afterward, so the extra’s I booked on TravelBird isn’t in my package. A dinner and a cocktail. The hotel asks an extra 40 euros for it, but I’m still not sure if I will see that money back. So I skip it.

Upon arrival at the hotel, I notice it’s a nice hotel. Or at least, the reception is nice. At the room, I notice it’s a bit outdated. TravelBird lured me with the four-star hotel thingy but little did I know that didn’t have to mean anything.

The window of my room only has one-half of the curtains. Luckily we are on the top floor and no one can look inside. But still.

The furniture is old, which isn’t a drama. But I expected more of all of it.

There are two beds for us. Two single beds. As you might know, I hate that stuff!

On the second day, after our long day visiting the beautiful city of Riga, we arrive back to the hotel to find our door is still open. Housekeeping left it open when cleaning the room. Or yeah, the door sucks. But they should know. Lucky for us nothing is gone.

Except for our towels. Housekeeping did take them with them. But never replaced them. So I needed to go downstairs to ask towels at the overcrowded receptionist. He was there by himself, helping three families check-in and bring my towels upstairs. Poor him.

On the way back home my RyanAir flight had the most turbulence I ever experienced. Which didn’t help to make me feel good either? But hey, that’s life. End of rant.

What was your worst travel experience so far? Let me know in the comments!

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