The Great Phonecard Incident – Pitlochry, Scotland, Europe

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BUDGET $78 per day

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As an experienced traveler in Europe and the UK, I still have an occasional foul up. Considering that my wife and I had lived in Scotland for a year, we feel like real Scots when we return for a visit. On one particular return, we were staying overnight in a lovely village in the north of Scotland called Pitlochry. We had seen Pitlochry many years ago; we particularly enjoyed a visit to the live theater performance of "Arsenic and Old Lace". On this occasion, we decided to see what the theater was featuring. To our surprise and disappointment, once again they were doing "Arsenic and Old Lace". We opted to not see that performance again.

The real story is actually more fun than that, of course. Here it is.

The first thing we do when arriving in Scotland is purchase a phone card. It is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to use pay phones to call ahead for reservations, or if you have friends to contact, as we do. Unlike our phone cards, the British card is placed into the slot on the pay phone and then you make your call. When the call is over, you pull the card out. It still carries the remainder of its value.

On our last trip the card we purchased cost 10 pounds, at the time equivalent to about $20.00 U.S. We called our friends in Glasgow to let them know we would see them the next day. We used a bank of payphones just up the street from our B&B. At 5:00 the following morning, I woke up in a panic. I realized I had left the phone card in the slot of the payphone – not the first time. I jumped up, got dressed and rushed out to see if it might still be there. Much to my surprise and relief, there was the card, in the slot.

Being a frugal traveler, losing a $20.00 card would have put me in a funk for hours. Happily I ran back to the B&B, went quietly up the stairs to our room and found it locked. I knocked lightly trying to wake my wife. No answer. I knocked louder and called her name, worrying about waking others, but with no choice, I called louder. At this point I looked down and noticed the carpet seemed to be a different color than I remembered. It was in great haste and much embarrassment that I rushed out of that B&B and into the identical one next door where we were actually staying.

These travel experiences are some of the best stories we tell on our return from a trip.

Check out the author's website, Cheap Travel Europe.

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