North America Travelog

Backpackless Backpacking – Part I

August 17, 2014

Let me begin this update by telling you about one of the most ridiculous things that’s ever happened to me while travelling to another country.
lena backpackingMy flight was supposed to take off at 4pm and I was at the airport at 1.30pm, then had to queue up in front of the check in for almost an hour. When I checked in I wasn’t given a proper boarding pass and I was told that I should make my way to the gate asap and change my “ticket” into a proper boarding pass with a seat/row number… When I tried to get my boarding pass at the gate, they told me to sit and wait til I was called. So I waited. And waited. And waited. Boarding started and I kept waiting…. When most of the passengers had already boarded the aircraft, I went up to the gate again and asked them what was going on. Then the lady replied: “don’t you worry, Ms Braun, there are good chances that you can catch this flight…we’ve already found some other volunteers to take a flight to Toronto tomorrow… But you have to wait. I’ll give u a boarding pass when everyone else is on board…”
Eventually, I was the only passenger left at the gate…together with two other backpackers. Then the lady approached us and said: “Well you guys, take 2 minutes and decide who’s gonna fly to Toronto now…or just throw a coin. I’ve got one seat left!” I’ve never felt so helpless and speechless and betrayed in my life! Seriously, what do you buy a flight ticket for when there is no guarantee that you can actually be on that flight??!!

In the end, the three of us had a vivid 2-minute-discussion about who’s gonna fly. The backpacker guy said that he had a friend in Frankfurt that he could stay with for a night and apart from that, he hadn’t booked an accommodation in Toronto in time, so there would probably not be a free bed in a hostel that night anyway. (All TO hostels were fully booked). The girl was supposed to travel on to Montreal by plane, but she’d have had a much better flight connection the next day, so I WAS GIVEN THAT SEAT. And honestly, I have never before entered an aircraft as the very last passenger with everyone else starring at me like “because of you our flight is delayed for half an hour” – but then again, I kept smiling back thinking “THANK GOD I have the privilege to be the last passenger to enter this plane…”
However, I still don’t know WHY they’d picked ME and the other two backpackers to volunteer… I was not the last one to buy the ticket. Not the last one to check in either. I just don’t get it. And still I am so grateful that those two people let me have their seat. It was a shitty situation for all of us, but those two are the ones who had to spend the night in the transit lounge…

The flight was okay and we made it to Toronto in time, but guess what didn’t make it to Canada? My backpack. Including: clothes, shoes, underwear, make-up, tooth brush, all my booking cobfirmations, laptop, chargers, …
After staying at the airport for another 1,5 hrs to fill out forms regarding my missing luggage, I was able to take an airport express to the hostel, which was by far the only thing that really worked out that day.

Day 2 without backpack: My first night at the Canadiana Backpackers Inn was pretty ok. I met some nice peeps who letcn tower me borrow some of their stuff to freshen up a bit. I got up at 6am because I couldn’t sleep any more due to the jetlag. I had a few pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast and checked out afterwards in order to find my way to the coach station in time. Of course I got completely lost in downtown Toronto and almost missed my bus to Montreal. When I got onto the bus, there weren’t many seats left. That moment I felt as if I couldn’t take it any more. My body was covered in sweat from running to the bus, I was tired because I hadn’t slept much, I was surrounded by skyscrapers, I had nothing with me apart from a daypack with my camera, 70$ cash, my cell without charger and still no info as for where my backpack had gone… I was frustrated and I’d hardly ever felt this helpless in my life. I was honestly about to burst into tears as the bus left the coach station… And then there was this very handsome young man sitting next to me whom I hadn’t really noticed when I sat down… 🙂
Andrew from Kingston talked to me throughout the entire ride and even shared his lunch-bread with me… I know that sounds pretty pathetic, but I really didn’t have any lunch on me. Seriously, that guy made my day. He really cheered me up and I realized why everyone says that Canadians are extremely friendly people.

Day 3 without backpack: I arrived Québec City in the afternoon and decided to walk up to the hostel instead of taking a cab. I knew that L’auberge de jeunesse is situated in the upper town, but the road was pretty steep. That was like the first time that I actually enjoyed not having to carry a 15kg-backpack. After I checked in and discovered that my German HI Hostel membership actually got me about 25$ discount, I was more than ever in the mood to go shopping: Shopping for underwear, a toothbrush, a t-shirt, some make-up and shampoo. After just 3hrs I’d already met a bunch of new people who were nice and let me use some of their stuff…

Day 4 without backpack: On Saturday I took part in hostel activities and joined some others on a daytrip to see the Montmorency Fall, which is higher than the Niagara Falls, but, obviously, less spectacular. Afterwards we chilled in the hostel, cooked some dinner and went out to see the fireworks in the harbor at night. It reminded me a lot of my trip to Malta a couple of years ago, where I watched the fireworks in the bays almost every night.

Day 5 without backpack started with a walking-tour through the city. Again I noticed how small Quebec City actually is. It´s definitely a walkable town. We visited all the main sights and attractions in just two hours, such as the famous Château Frontenac or Notre-dame-des-Victoires. I am going to stay in Quebec City until Wednesday. Since I´ve already seen most of the sights I will probably be spending my time maundering through Rue Saint-Jean with its cute, little boutiques or sitting in some nice cafés talking to people, listening to people speaking French, trying to understand le Francais des Québecois.

I will be writing some more details about Québec in my next update. At the moment, the most important thing for me is to finally get my backpack. This afternoon, another German girl and I called the airline in order to get some information on where the backpack is. Unfortunately, they couldn´t tell me anything, so we both got a little angry and put some pressure on that lady from Condor, so she promised that the airline would eventually cover all extra costs that were created by this “baggage inconvenience”… Well, we´ll see.

I have to say I am really pissed. It´s been five days without my luggage. No one has called me to tell me where it is or when I get it back. I have no idea what I´ll do if I don´t get the luggage when I am back in Toronto in one week´s time. I´m supposed to be travelling on a roadtrip through the US for a few weeks and that will definitely be a challenge without certain documents and supplies. On the other hand, I have met the most amazing people in the last few days. Those people in my dorm have helped me out with so many things. I´m literally wearing another person´s style every day and there were even some people who let me have some of their toiletries cause they are returning home. That has definitely been one of the best experiences – certainly one of those experiences that proved that it had been a good idea to stay in hostels, where people are generally extremely flexible, open and friendly.

I´d like to mention some very special people who have helped me sooooo very much throughout the last few days. Thanks for offering your clothes, supplies and hearts to me – Suzanne (thanks for taking such good care of me in Montreal), Marlene (thanks for graciously turning your personal belongings into my personal belongings 🙂 ), Esther & Emily (for letting me wear your “styles” for a day)

A bientôt!

PS: Due to lack of charger, laptop and USB cable, I am not able to attach any further photos. If you like, you can check out my Instagram for more pics.

Backpackless Backpacking – Part II



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About Me

Hi there, I'm Lena! I love being on the move around the world - travelling, diving or taking pictures. I've recently started dealing with and writing about ways to make diving more affordable. I enjoy sharing my experiences and tips with y'all, fellow budget backpackers and budget divers! Read more

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