How to embarrass myself

Recently, I wrote about livability of cities, and when studying the international top 10 lists, I also came across the city of Vienna. Now, as I told you, as much as I love Vienna, I wouldn’t somehow like to live there. Strange, huh? I love Vienna’s morbid charme, all those beautiful, beautiful buildings, its picturesque setting, and at last but not at least its delicious food. So why not live there?

Well, it might have something to do with a most embarrassing experience that I once had there on one of my business travels. Which brought me back to a post of one of my favourite expat bloggers The Traveling Times called “Embarrassing Moments in Travel“. You should check it out, Tara’s drugged out in London, screaming in Brasil and struggling with language moments are hilarious!

I didn’t award her the Inspiring Blog Award for no reason, and that post amongst others did inspire me. Probably, everybody who travels a lot can tell quite some stories… So what’s with my Vienna experience? Well, I was working for a prestigious cosmetics company at that time and had to visit one of our employees. She is the nicest lady you can imagine and she always took time to show me around and entertain me. That one evening, she had arranged for a dinner at one of Vienna’s at that time most fashionable and poshest Italian restaurants.

A glass of champagne

No, this was not the reason for my mishap… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We both had dressed up for this occasion and were prepared to paint the town red. The restaurant was beautiful, and my consultant was excited to see some famous people. After sharing a glass of champagne, I felt strangely lightheaded (at that time, I was still used to drinking LOTS of bubbles, so this wasn’t my normal reaction, believe me!), and by the time the starters arrived, I even felt very nauseous. However, not wanting to spoil this special evening, I digged in – and had to RUN outside where I threw up right in front of the entrance where everybody inside could see me through the glass door. Needless to say that for me the evening was over. I spent a lousy night in my hotel room praying to die right then and there. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, and I could swear that some Viennese still point fingers when they see me…

I had a similar accident of “spitting it all out” on a flight to England with my mum. I was 13 at that time and terribly nervous for I was supposed to be a bridesmaid – a tradition fairly unknown in Germany. On our flight back to avoid another mishap, our friends gave me a full load of Dramamine which already knocked me out on the way to the airport. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. So there I was on the train to Heathrow, drooling, my head resting on my mum’s shoulder rolling off every now and then and upon arrival, I was barely capable of standing on my two feet. My poor mum had to drag our 2 suitcases on her own, and since probably everybody just thought that she had a misbehaved drugged out teenage daughter, nobody was willing to help. On my flight back home, I had a clear head again. And a revolting stomach. Oh well…

I also had a funny incident in Prague: Our company had a beautiful office there in a very old building right downtown. However, the lifts were kind of small, and since we had a lot of stuff to carry, we had to take it in turns. I got into the lift first and shared it with an elderly gentleman. The doors closed, and we started chatting. After 30 seconds the doors opened again – and there were still my colleagues waiting outside and we hadn’t gone anywhere. I told my colleague to wait a little longer to press the button since apparently, this was a very slow lift. The doors closed again, we continued our little conversation, the doors opened – same scenario. It happened three times, we just couldn’t make our way up, but each time I failed to notice! At the fourth time, I couldn’t help but hiss at my poor colleague what she thought she was doing. As it turned out, it wasn’t her fault. The lift only could be operated from upstairs, they had to get me up as a security measure. My “What are you DOING???” and my lift romance clearly made me the laughing stock for the duration of our stay…

Boeing 747-400 takes off from London Heathrow ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At another conference, we had been staying in Southampton, and I had decided to travel further to London to spend the weekend. When our taxis arrived to take us to our various destinations, we were all fluttering around, hugging, blowing kisses – we must have looked like a flock of colourful doves. Heel wearing doves. Of course. After I had said good-bye to everybody, I grabbed my two suitcases (there’s a lot of pressure to look stylish during a conference, two suitcases were the minimum amount of luggage you could bring for a week) and scuttled towards my cab. However, I tripped and came down really hard – elephant like. My trousers tore, my knees were bleeding like mad and that’s how I arrived at my very chic hotel in London! Luckily, the British are much too polite to comment on those things, but if the Queen had seen me – she wouldn’t have been amused!

Another time that I thoroughly embarrassed myself during a conference was when my luggage went missing. I had been doing a makeup installation in Switzerland and got a call that I had to attend a conference in England last minute. Not a problem of course for a tough world traveller. Since I didn’t have much time, I didn’t bother to change but got on the plane in my dirty installation clothes. When I arrived at London Heathrow, there was no sign of my luggage. Never mind, it would probably get there the next day. Fingers crossed. I got to the hotel, exhausted, sweaty and dirty, grabbed a Gin & Tonic with my beautifully dressed colleagues and went to bed. The next morning, I had no choice but to put on the same clothes again and walk into our conference room full of well rested, chic ladies. I felt so embarrassed that I didn’t dare to speak up, let alone walk to the front, and my luggage only showed up one week later!


I didn’t care much for Amsterdam’s beauty that day. (Photo credit: maurobrock)

And my last incident that I am going to share with you happened in Amsterdam. It had been a long, tiresome day. I had flown in the very same morning on the red eye from Hamburg and was eager to get home to unwind. So I made my way to the gate, sat down and waited. Apparently, the flight was delayed since there was not boarding announcement but I was so tired, I didn’t mind, I just kept staring ahead of me trying not to fall asleep. Finally after about 90 minutes, the boarding call came, I grabbed my stuff and went to the gate where the friendly ticket lady told me that my ticket was for another airline. “So?” I asked dumbly. She said, “You must be mistaken, this is not your flight.” upon which I asked, “But where is my flight?” That lady must have thought I was the thickest person on the planet, but she very friendly suggested I should check the departure information. I pulled myself together in an attempt to make my last brain cells work and checked the display – only to find out that my gate had already closed. Nevertheless, I started running towards it and luckily, there were still people queueing up. Relieved, I got into the queue – and finally saw that this was the line for Milano! My flight to Hamburg had long left, and since there was no other flight, no train, no nothing, I had to check in at the Hilton to take the first flight the next morning. Yep, travelling is such a glamorous business!


6 thoughts on “How to embarrass myself

  1. Thanks Kristin!

    It was fun reading your stories to know I’m not alone. I wonder if we remember these moments more because they happen in such unique places (or maybe we are just more prone to them happening to us!).

    • That’s actually a good question. Maybe it is both. When we are travelling, we are out of our comfort zone and we have to pay attention to so many things that we would otherwise do automatically. And with the divided attention, we are more accident prone.
      But also probably we remember it better because those incidents become connected with a place. Like “mice – Brasil” for you. 😉

  2. Great stories. I don’t have anything to compare (thankfully), just the normal flight delays, upset stomachs, one reservation where my name was completely mangled and I was booked as a man into the hotel “Mr. XXX” – but overall while tiring, I’m getting better at business travel.

    • Lucky you, Mr. XXX, haha! I always felt that the more I travelled, the more accidents happened. Just because I was always in such a hurry.
      Now as a solely leisure traveller, nothing ever happens anymore. Well… Touch wood!

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