No matter how thorough our Product Managers are in planning the best trips ever, how brilliant our leaders are, and how perfect the weather is, there are always things that crop up on the road and throw a spanner in the travel works.
While a flat tyre in the Serengeti, a delayed flight in Cairo or a bout of food poisoning in Cusco aren’t the most enjoyable experiences, those bumps on the road can often result in some funny, weird and spontaneous adventures. Recently, we chatted to a few of our leaders about some of their favourite moments on Intrepid trips:
Anton, from Russia
“I was with a group on the Trans-Siberian Railway, travelling from Moscow to Lake Baikal. I bought a kilo of red caviar from the chef in the restaurant carriage – it’s a very Russian thing to do, and my group was very keen to try it – as well as some black Russian bread for everyone, and some vodka too. A couple of guys appeared and they looked like young gangsters from one of the Ural towns – they were very interested in our group, and I thought ‘Well, this will be a good conversation’.
We ended up having a big party, with the train staff closing the restaurant carriage to everybody else and just leaving it for us. These guys were carrying a disco ball with them so they pulled it out and they brought their own music and we had a private party with dancing and a disco ball, red caviar and vodka.”
Nacho, from Argentina
“My first trip was the craziest. A volcano erupted in Chile, with the ashes blowing towards Argentina, and then a snowstorm, and then one of my passengers fell into a ditch in Mendoza – and broke three teeth. All of these at the same time, on my very first trip too, was absolutely crazy. I dealt with it the only way you can; changing hotels, tickets, and the itinerary, and then holding the hand of the girl in the hospital.”
Silvia, from Japan
“Whenever we stay at a traditional monastery there are usually a few stories that come out of the onsen (traditional bath house). These are segregated baths where you must take off all your clothes. It’s common in these bath houses to wash other people’s backs. A girl on our tour didn’t know this and was just having a bath when an old naked Japanese lady came in and started washing her. She didn’t speak any English. I think it was a bit of a shock!”
Dani, from Spain
“I had this American couple on a trip. They were really into food, however he was a vegetarian. We found this really nice place where they do paella classes in Valencia – it’s just so fun! This guy went there because his wife wanted to do the paella class, which takes an entire day – they go to the local market with the chef, they buy the ingredients, then they begin the class. When I arrived in the afternoon, he was eating paella – with rabbit and chicken in it! I said ‘but it’s not vegetarian’ but he said he didn’t care, that it was one of the best experiences of his life. He said ‘it’s once in a lifetime, I don’t want to miss it. I prepared it, so I have to enjoy it.’
Khalid, from Morocco
“I was guiding a group in south Morocco; they were really inquisitive and wanted to experience all that Morocco had to offer. We passed a traditional wedding ceremony in our mini bus; the wedding guests all follow the family of the bride and groom, people are singing, beating drums, dancing and women ululating… I was able to speak to the father of the bride, who insisted that we come and celebrate with his family! When I told the group, they were so surprised and happy to be invited – we ate, drank and danced with the family for several hours and had so much fun! I think that is one of the best parts of being a guide – you get to facilitate new experiences between people.”
Emir, from Turkey
“My favourite story is about two female travellers from New South Wales. They were 82 and 84, and were the some of the happiest campers I’ve ever met. One day, we trekked to the top of a 2200-metre-high mountain; when other people on the tour tried to help them in the tough parts they refused, and said they can easily do it. I was just mesmerized by them; their behaviour throughout the tour and how much they loved life! In Turkey, when people get older they usually become more and more grumpy, but I would like to age the way these two ladies did. They were the youngest spirits I’ve ever met. When we got to the top of the mountain we had some good Turkish wine and chatted while watching the sunset. Patricia, one of the ladies, said ‘Emir, my Turkish friend, our generation grew up with one simple idea and you should also follow it all your life: if you don’t like what you are doing, just don’t do it’. She said the key to happiness is loving what you do.”
Meet our amazing local leaders on an Intrepid small group adventure.
All images by Patrick O’Neill.