|Even with careful planning, their 'accidental' moments were some of the best.|
Every month we feature funny, cautionary, or inspiring anecdotes from travelers. If you have a true (short) travel tale to share, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a photo that illustrates it, please attach it. And don't forget to tell us your first name and the city where you live. We'd love to hear from you!
Mistakes Make Magic Moments
We read many travel guidebooks before deciding to bring Rick's to Italy with us. My wife, two children and I were going to stay a week in Venice, a week in Tuscany, and a week in the Cinque Terre.
On a side trip from our small hill town villa in Vezzano Ligure, we decided to take the train to Pisa for the day. We arrived at the small train station but no one was around and the office closed. We didn't know how to purchase train tickets. We finally found a maintenance worker who helped us via gestures and pantomime (with a few Italian words sprinkled in) purchase tickets from a machine. The only ones on track 3, we were waiting patiently for the 9:20 train when a man emerged from the office building. He stopped, looked at us, and raised both hands in the universal gesture: "What are you waiting for?" I answered, "Pisa"! He echoed, "Pisa!" as he slapped his forehead and gestured for me to cross the tracks and come over to him. I showed him our tickets and then pointed to the train schedule. He pointed at the bottom of the schedule, which said in Italian, "Not on festival days." We didn't know which days were festival days. He took me into his office and after 20 minutes had written out a schedule for us with directions for which train to catch, where to transfer, and times of arrivals — return trip information included. Neither one of us spoke the other's language but we communicated. After much thanks and a few minutes wait, we got to Pisa.
Upon arriving, we were all hungry. I'd noted a Rick Steves restaurant recommendation in the book, and found a sign for the establishment. We walked in and noticed that all the patrons were locals. A simple menu was offered and we had a great meal.
As we were leaving, I thought I'd show our waitress the guidebook reference, figuring it would make her day. I pointed it out to her. She smiled and said, "Next door."
— Gregory and Sharon in San Carlos, CA
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