A no-so-great day: stolen ticket, scary cab experience, and being lost.

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Hi, Everyone.

I’m stopping by to say hello & tell you about my crazy day. Some of you have had some troubles going over to the other blog, so I am just going to share this here tonight.

Traveling is fun, but today it was far from perfect. It started out great. I woke up, got ready for the day, and then headed out for some breakfast next door at Bob’s Bake shop. It was time for me to head to the station to get on my train for Strasbourg. Luckily, I left two hours in advance. I’m kind of a newbie at the European traveling. I’m sure all of the other big blog travelers would have had no trouble.

It all started when I walked about a block from the hostel. My directions were not matching up with the street signs, and so I decided to wing it and ask people for the way. Well, the local’s directions weren’t matching up either.

After going in circles for miles, the wheel on my luggage broke off. I finally found the train station after walking around for miles and miles carrying a 45 pound luggage.

I got to the station and sat there for a while. I started too look around; I noticed that none of the signs said “Strasbourg” at 16:55. I started to feel as if this wasn’t right. I asked a younger couple to help, and they were incredibly friendly. I was in the wrong station. I had no idea Paris had more than one station. This is all new to me. She wrote down everything I needed to know and I went about my way. I had to get on Metro 4 and get off at another station.

I ran downstairs to hop on the metro. As soon as I got down there, I forgot to get a ticket, so I had to run back upstairs and buy a ticket for the metro.  I got on the metro and asked the man next to me to confirm that this was the right one and he said “no.” Turns out, he had no idea what he was talking about and it was the right metro. I hopped back on it and got off at the right station.

Finally I was in the right station. I pulled out my ticket to check the time and boom. It was gone. My ticket was gone! Some teenager ran past me, snatched my ticket, and I never saw him again. I’m guessing he was either going to sell it or thought I had something else in my hand. After holding onto everything so tight, locking everything, and keeping an eye on people…this happens. At this point, I wanted to cry. I was so frustrated, but I did the opposite. I started laughing; I couldn’t believe this was actually happening.

I stopped and took a deep breath. And remember, I don’t have a phone during all of this, so I don’t have GPS or the ability to call anyone. I didn’t want to call it quits so, I went to the ticket booth to buy another train ticket. It didn’t have an English option; I had no idea what it was asking me. I can usually figure it out, but this one made no sense. I went to about five information stands until finding the right place to get a ticket.

The lady told me I had five minutes to get on my train, so I bought a ticket for 75€ and then ran to my train. I found my spot, sat down, and took a deep breath. I was so flustered and I had to process what had just happened.

The train ride was peaceful.

“Directions for after the train email: “Tomorrow you will go to Strasbourg, a nice city. At Strasbourg station you need to take the bus 21 or 2 to go to the X then follow “x”.”

Most people would be able to follow that to a Tee, but I’ve never been on buses, trains, or had any idea what any of that meant. I didn’t want to mess with it after having such a horrible train experience, so I took a taxi. Well, that was a big mistake.

I’m a very trustworthy person. I gave the taxi driver my address to the hostel. He said it wasn’t far and so I trusted him. He started to drive and we chatted a little. He was very nice. I started to get an uneasy feeling. He was on some kind of interstate. He pulled out his phone and started texting someone and he swerved over into the next lane and almost killed us. I kindly told him to not text on his phone while I’m in the car.

We were still in the car twenty minutes later, and I mentioned that this was a little further. He said he thinks he’s going the right way. I replied, “what do you mean you think? You typed it into your GPS. ” He said he was going to pull over and call someone. We were on some kind of side road with nothing around, lots of woods, very dark, little street lights, and a little construction. Ahead there was a big white van with it’s lights on. All I envisioned was someone coming out of that van, grabbing me, and I’d never be seen again. I started hyperventilating. I asked him again “where are we going”…no reply. I repeated over and over, “where are you going!” He finally turned around and said, “don’t worry, I take you there.” I said no no no! Take me back! Turn around right now! Don’t go this way! I was freaking out at this point. I’ve never been in a cab where the person just stops and calls someone on an off road.

I didn’t have cell service so I couldn’t call anyone. The first thing that came to my mind was to hurry and grab his phone off the dash and call the hostel, and so I did. I jumped over the seat and grabbed his phone. I had the hostels number on the address page. I started telling her what was going on and that she needed expect me in three minutes and if I didn’t show up to call the cops. Lucie is a black belt and I’m not, but I would have fought to my death if anything were to happen.  I told the driver to find the directions, take me there, and I wasn’t going to get off the phone until he did. I couldn’t have gotten out of his car there because I had no idea where he was! My luggage was in the trunk and I didn’t wanna lose that again.  It was literally in the middle of nowhere.

He finally arrived at the hostel and I met up with them at the front. I’m still pretty shaken by the whole situation, whether he was a good guy or not, I’ll do anything to stay safe. I probably sound like some scared, lunatic American, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Deep breaths,

Taralynn.

Comments

  • Kyra

    I randomly saw this blog today (late, I know) and I can relate 100%! I studied abroad in Europe this summer and went to 5 different countries (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and France). During my time there I went through a lot of these experiences too! My first night in Paris my friends and I decided to visit the Eiffel Tower at night (obviously!) and we left the tower to go back to our hostel around 11:00 pm. We went to get on the metro, rode through for a few stops, and all of a sudden it stopped, the lights turned off, and they kicked us off…this was definitely not our stop! We got off and asked why we were kicked off, the man said “There’s a metro strike and we don’t want to go to anymore stops tonight so everyone has to get off now.” Well this was our first night in Paris and we had no idea how to maneuver this city! We started walking around a little bit and overheard a group of women talking in english. We walked up to them and asked if they could help us with directions. They were very friendly and we found out they were from New York (I’m from Wisconsin)! They had been in Paris for a week so they were getting familiar with it. We gave them the address of our hostel and they ended up walking us all the way back! It was so nice to meet them. We didn’t get back until 2:00 that next morning!

    Another similar incident I was in was in Prague in the Czech Republic. We were walking around shopping and all of a sudden a man came running up to me and grabbed my purse. Luckily, I had been in Europe for about a week and had known better than to let my purse hang free. I had it around my body and under my jacket, so the man tried to grab it but it didn’t come off my body and I pulled it out of his hands…he ran after that.

    These were really scary experiences but looking back on it is really cool. Now they’re great stories to tell!

    Reply to Kyra
  • Hnou

    Wow that’s scary and I think you did the right thing.

    Reply to Hnou
  • Elisabeth

    It’s all about the fight or flight response. Sounds like you chose to fight! Good for you!

    Reply to Elisabeth
  • Steph

    OMG! That whole day sounds utterly terrifying! It’s a sad fact that when you are travelling alone it’s safer to trust no one. My cousin was in South America, got into a cab, ended up being shot on the side of the road by the cab driver who was trying to assault her. She’s ok now, but it’s just another reason to be on your guard at all times. You did the best and only thing you could have done in that situation – must have taken amazing guts to take his phone like that. I hope your trip improves 🙂

    Reply to Steph
  • Kristin C

    God in Heaven, please protect Lucie and Taralynn both on the rest of their journies. Help them know you more and be led in safety, in Jesus name, amen 🙂
    Be safe you two!

    Reply to Kristin C
  • Rebecca

    Wow! Thanks for sharing Taralynn! I had a similar experience happen to me when I was studying abroad. You are one smart girl and we’re all proud of you that you remained calm enough to think logically and call the hostel! Since my event happened, I’ve purchased a Vigilant alarm which I keep on my key chain. When pulled the sound is louder than a drill hammer! Obviously I don’t think it would have helped you in your situation, being in the middle of the woods and all, but you never know! Hope you are enjoying your stay in Europe!!

    Reply to Rebecca
  • Magali

    Hey, I hope you’re okay now.
    Being alone in a foreign country must be a little scary, especially if you’re going through stuff like this.
    France is not a terrible country but like everywhere sometimes it sucks.
    You have to know you can have pre-paid card for your phone for 5 or 10 euros AND even if you don’t have credit or a card you can phone the police with the 17, (it’s call “appel d’urgence” if you don’t have a card).
    Also, if I were you I’ll mark my destination on a paper to show to people if you are lost, like that even if they don’t speak english they can help you.
    And always take the bus or the subway, not because taxi are all bad guys but because it’s better to be with a lot of people and it’s a lot cheaper.

    I really hope the rest of your journey will be pleasant, and you will like my country.

    If you are ever coming in normandy and you are lost, feel free to message me, if I can be of any help.

    Reply to Magali
  • Sarah

    Oh my goodness. My heart was beating fast reading this post. Taralynn, I am so glad you trusted your instincts and took the phone from him. He sounded very sketchy and that experience sounded frightening. I’m so glad you are safe and you are extremely smart, brave, and thought well on your toes.

    Reply to Sarah
  • Jo

    Hi,
    I’m proud of you. Solo traveling is tough especially when you don’t know the language.
    I’d recomend the Lonely Planet guides for the cities you are in. They have map sections and ideas on places to go and prices etc.
    If you’re staying in hostels check if they have maps/local info available for you. The staff are usually happy to have a chat and share what they know.
    Don’t forget it tends to be the bits that don’t go to plan that make the best memories.
    If in doubt sit down and enjoy a coffee xx

    Reply to Jo
  • Jessica

    What a freaky experience! I’m glad you are okay!

    Reply to Jessica
  • Alissa

    Taralynn, I’m so glad you’re ok–that sounds really awful, and so scary. It sounds like the trip organizers should be more specific about directions, locations etc.–you can’t expect tourists to be experts on public transportation systems in foreign countries.

    I can’t recommend highly enough adding an international roaming and data package to your cell phone plan. I have At&t and did this last year when we went to London. It was well worth the additional $60-75 I paid–stuff like a GPS, google translate, and just the ability to look up things while you’re out is invaluable.

    Anyway, will be saying a little prayer for you…take care <3

    Reply to Alissa
  • Allison

    My heart beat so fast reading your entry. When I traveled, I felt the least safe in Paris and Rome. Take the good with the bad. It’s a part of travel. The scary bits make for good stories later.

    Reply to Allison
  • Lauren

    Wow, scary! I’m impressed how well you kept your wits about you. France is not unsafe but there are bad people in any country. It’s your first time traveling solo and there is definitely a learning curve! Don’t be afraid to ask bus drivers for help, they will usually help you get to where you’re going.

    Thank you for taking the time to post so often! I hope you get the chance to enjoy the nightlife with fellow hostel travelers!

    Reply to Lauren
  • Kate

    Taralynn! This story sounds awful! I myself am from America and currently in Europe for the first time… My boyfriend and I have been backpacking since the beginning of October and it has been quite the experience! We actually just got to Paris after being in Southern Europe. I was hoping I’d run into you walking the streets lol! Anyways… Not sure if you have an iPhone/ smartphone, but if you do PLEASE look up this app- it is called CityMaps2Go $2.99 on the App Store and worth every penny- trust me!!! Don’t get the free one, Invest in this! Even if you have no cell service/wifi- this is a magical gps! Not sure if it works off some sort of satellite but it has been our lifesaver over here! Neither my boyfriend or I have cellular service turned on or wifi imbedded in our phones and this tracks our every move! No joke- we have been to some really out of the way places in Italy and it still works. All you need to do is download the maps of the cities you will be in while you’re in a wifi area and you are set! You can even plot points of specific places you want to see! It has a compass that points you in what direction you’re going in too. It has train/bus stations and stops marked as well to help you find where you can get transportation. It can occasionally be a little slow, but it will save your life in situations like these!! I honestly don’t know how we would’ve made it through 5 countries in the last month without it! So glad to hear you’re okay! Be safe, have fun, and get this app if you can! PLEASE! 🙂

    Reply to Kate
    • Anna

      The location services feature uses gps crowd sourcing (locations of people around you). I agree, it is shockingly accurate! All my iPhone pics from Europe show up on the map.

      Reply to Anna
  • Amanda

    Wow that is not a great way to start off, but the important thing is that you are safe and thought on your feet! All the best with the rest of your trip! Stay safe and enjoy 🙂

    Reply to Amanda
  • Wonni

    Oh lord…TARA!!! What a horrible trip!
    I must admit, that I´d bee messed up, too, when I had to travel by train or bus. I love to drive in my own car.
    That´s absolutly my fear… getting robbed and than get lost.
    Pretty cool, that you grabbed his f*cking phone to call the hostel!
    uaaah… this post really created a slight panic while reading.
    I´m so glad, that you mastered this situation!
    Feel hugged!

    Reply to Wonni
  • Paige

    It sounds like you need to learn how to follow instructions. There is a reason they told you to take the bus. I guess you spent more time putting cute outfits together and over-stuffing your suitcase instead of learning about potential death traps in Europe like human trafficking. Next time you travel make sure you do more research about safety.

    Reply to Paige
    • Allison

      Why is this necessary? What benefit do you get from reading a stranger’s scary experience abroad and making snotty remarks about it?

      Reply to Allison
    • Laura

      Sounds like you need to learn to stop being a rude judgemental bitch. Good luck with that.

      Reply to Laura
    • Jessa

      Honestly, give the girl a break. It is her first time abroad in a foreign country, and it CAN get hectic. There is really no need at all to be insulting. Constructive criticism and advice is nice without the extra attacks.

      Reply to Jessa
  • Liz

    How come you don’t have a mobile with you?. Whenever I arrive a new country the first thing I do is get my mobile to work for the place I am. You sound pretty naive on trips. You seem to trust in ask people and take a cab. If you need to ask someone go to an information point. Ask someone who works in the train station. Asking random people or trust in a cab driver is not a good idea.

    Reply to Liz
  • Alaina M.

    That was so smart to grab the driver’s phone!

    Reply to Alaina M.
  • Rachel

    Oh my! that is intense. Travelling alone does not sound favorable, I’m thinking that’s why my mom always told me to travel in groups. So sorry this happened to you! Glad everything worked out though.

    Reply to Rachel
  • Mathilde B

    I’m really sorry about what happened yesterday ! France is not that safe you know … All I can say, is that if you need to take a cab, pick one in a cab line if possible, so you can be sure it’s a real cab. Also, before you go anywhere, give the driver the address and ask him how much it will cost. Hope this will help ! Enjoy the rest of your trip and be safe 😉

    Reply to Mathilde B
  • CaBaJe

    “Don’t get in a taxi!! Be Safe girl you’re an American in a foreign country! Prayers!”
    You kidding?
    1) One bad taxi driver who doesn’t know the correct directions doesn’t mean you have to avoid taxis in general.
    2) France is hardly Afghanistan… I doubt you get kidnapped in a taxi just because you are American. I have never ever heard of such a thing.
    3)And if a god existed she would have bigger problems to take care of than a lost blogger in a developed country…
    I’m positive Tara can handle such a situation without heavenly intervention.

    Reply to CaBaJe
    • CC

      @CaBaJe, thank you! I didn’t believe what I was reading, being kidnapped by a taxi driver in Europe ?! Yeah right. Anyways, if there’s a safe country where every thing is realiable, then it’s germany 🙂

      Reply to CC
  • CaBaJe

    Buy a cheap prepaid card for your cell phone.
    In case of emergency there is a main phone number which works in whole Europe and is easy to remember: 112

    Reply to CaBaJe
  • Caro

    Be proud 🙂 You’re safe and you had good reaction.
    J’espère que la suite du voyage se passera mieux et plus tranquillement.
    Tu verras que cette expérience difficile te donnera ensuite plus de confiance en toi, en ton instinct et en tes capacités pour t’en sortir bien.

    Reply to Caro
  • Léa

    It was really a bad experience. If You still need help, I live at one o’clock of Strasbourg. The police number is 17 on all the phone. Sorry for the quality of my English. Still safe journey and do not hesitate if You need.
    Léa

    Reply to Léa
  • cait @pieceofcait

    ugh, this sounds like a movie!! glad your alright!

    Reply to cait @pieceofcait
  • Lucie Aidart

    That sounds horrible. I am so sorry you had to experience that. Between me and my harassment in a bus and you, we are starting off the exchange with a bang…
    I almost never take taxis in France, so I don’t really know what was going on there. You get this kinda of weird stuff in South America, but never heard of something like this in France. He probably had no idea where he was going and was asking people on how to ge there? Anyways, it was a good reaction.
    So sorry for the crazy metro and train situation, but you reacted very well and you made it so that’s what important.
    You didn’t get 3G in France. Would be good to get Google Maps, awesome to use to take buses, taxis or to walk around. Try also the app Map with me. You download the country you want and you get awesome offline maps, although to GPS tracking system.
    Let me know if you need anything, but don’t worry we learn from our mistakes. And btw, anywhere in the world I would choose public transport over taxis if possible. There always are people around and you can trusts yourself more than a taxi driver.
    Anything wrong with my blog that I can fix to make it easier?
    Take care.

    Reply to Lucie Aidart
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thank you so much Lucie! Are you going to be extending your time in the states? If so, I’d love to meet with you. A couple of the readers had problems getting to your blog because of their malware protection. There was a setting they had to fix on their software, so hopefully all is well now. I did some reading into it. My computer was doing the same thing. It wasn’t your blog.

      Your advice is great and I will see what I can do about the apps!

      Thanks so much and I love our posts 🙂

      Taralynn

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
      • Lucie Aidart

        No, unfortunately not this time, it’s out of my budget. You are staying overseas longer? But I would love to meet you at some point, I am sure it will happen! Ok, glad it’s fixed then!
        Me too, keep them coming
        xx
        Luie

        Reply to Lucie Aidart
  • Amanda

    One of the best things I ever learned from my dad,
    “You panic, you die.”
    Best thing I ever learned. No, it does not mean in every situation if you panic you WILL die. But in ANY situation if you panic the worst could go wrong. You sound like you started to panic but got a hold of yourself and thought a quick, smart, plan through. Good job. My dad would be proud. 😉

    Reply to Amanda
  • Mary

    So sorry you went through such a traumatic event! Traveling abroad can be one of the most challenging events in life…it is also a time to grow and stretch because you have to depend on yourself. Sounds like you are doing just that. At the time it seems SO stressful because that is your current reality. When you come back to the states you will have been so blessed by it!! Hang in there, girl!

    Reply to Mary
  • Hamster

    Yikes! Unfortunately sometimes traveling can be scary as hell. I’m glad it turned out alright, even if you had to take drastic measure to ensure your safety.

    Reply to Hamster
  • Suzanne

    That is so scary! You definitely don’t sound like a lunatic. Good thing you trusted your gut and eventually made it there safely. Hopefully the rest of your trip goes smoothly!!

    Reply to Suzanne
  • Jamie Bird

    You are very gutsy! As someone who has been abroad on my own since September, and has never been to Europe before I can agree with you that it is very different. A few days ago I was in Milan and it was scary because my friend and I had to get by without speaking the language.Upon arrival, I got robbed in the Metro, and a friend of mine got harassed by people selling bracelets. I’m really impressed that you stood up to the cab driver and took his phone. That’s amazing! I probably would’ve just waited it out and seen what happens, which I’m not proud of. It’s very difficult travelling as a woman on your own, and it’s even harder when there’s a language barrier. I’m glad you’re okay! When you said there was a white van with lights on, I immediately thought of Taken like the other commenters. Good thinking, and you totally weren’t being overboard because taxi drivers should know where they’re going before they start leaving!

    You should swing by Scotland if you have time, the people here are terribly friendly!

    Reply to Jamie Bird
  • Candace

    Taralynn, I’m so sorry you had such a terrible day. I am glad you’re safe, that taxi story made my heart pound, thank GOODNESS he got you to your hostel. At least your trip can only go up from here?

    Be safe, take care of yourself!

    By the way, it’s COLLLLD here in NC! (I live in Raleigh!)– the mountains got SNOW! Wow!

    Reply to Candace
  • Natasha

    Oh that is so awful Taralynn. Hopefully this will be the worst you will experience!! Just remember though how you dealt with it, you reacted, you trusted your gut when you needed to and you got back safely. You did what you had to! You are stronger than you think and you will learn from the experience. Don’t let it ruin the rest of your trip and try and get back on track and have fun!!! xoxo

    Reply to Natasha
  • Mallory

    Haven’t you seen the movie Taken??? Don’t get in a taxi!! Be Safe girl you’re an American in a foreign country! Prayers!

    Reply to Mallory
  • Amber

    I’d be bawling and going home! Lol, so glad you’re okay! I hope the rest of your trip turns out much better than this :[

    Reply to Amber
  • Julie

    I’m sorry you have to experience that on your first days… but welcome to France!! I’m even surprised that those people were nice with you and you didn’t had to deal with some crazy people. Keep your belongings alway with you, that is something I always forget when coming back home, since here you can trust people a lot more.

    Reply to Julie
  • Amy

    That is very scary! I hope your trip gets better. I’m very glad you are ok. It was very smart of you to do what you did.

    Reply to Amy
  • Crystal

    Sheesh thats so so scary!! When I traveled in Europe our guide told us to definitely not trust random people as sad as it is. I’m sure in any country there are the bad apples who spot tourists and take advantage. Stay safe, Tara!

    Reply to Crystal
  • Amanda @ Positively Amanda

    Oh my gosh!! That sounds terrifying 🙁 So glad you are okay!

    Reply to Amanda @ Positively Amanda

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