Our mobile phones have become such an integral part of our life that, it is hard to imagine life without a mobile phone. A gadget which was once introduced as a luxury item has now transformed to a basic necessity of our daily life. But have you ever wondered how your day would look like if you don’t have a mobile phone? Or even worse than that a situation where you’re in a foreign land and all of sudden your mobile stops working in the middle of the night and you have an early morning bus to catch and you have no idea how to get to the bus stop? A mobile which would have shown you a map is no longer working. I am Chandan Sharma a professional banker from Bangalore, and I had this experience during my last trip to Europe while I was travelling through Baltic countries. So check out my mobile phone horror experience below and read my tips so you can avoid facing the same situation during your trips.
Using A Local Sim During My Europe Trip
I am a regular traveller and I do mostly solo and every time when it comes to mobile phone my format remains same, once I get to the airport I buy a local sim card, use it for my stay in that country or region and throw it out once I am back. This has always worked well for me from every aspect be it cost or to have a local number in case I have to make a local call or book any app-driven transport or anything else. Local sim makes life much easier.
Last September I was travelling to Europe and my itinerary was Bangalore>Antwerp>Riga>Tallinn>Helsinki >Vilnius>Bruges> Amsterdam>Bangalore. As usual, once I was in Antwerp I went to a local shop to buy a sim card and got an orange sim card for 20 Euro (₹1598 approx) it came with 5 GB of data internet and about 100 minutes of call time anywhere in Europe. It was perfect for me because I needed internet basically to check maps and google information about different things during my trip, but I was pretty sure I was not going to utilize more than 5GB during my 16 days stay in Europe.
When My Phone Stopped Working In Europe
With that sim card I was all set, and the next day I left for Riga where my stay was booked for 3 nights. On the 4th-day early morning at 7 am, I had to catch a bus from Riga to Tallinn, my next stop. On my last night in Riga, I had my dinner and came to my hostel only to realize that my internet wasn’t working anymore. I thought all I had to do was to restart my phone and nothing else. I switched off my phone to restart it, however to my horror now my phone was not getting restarted at all. I tried to restart it by clicking multiple buttons together but it was of no use.
I could see the Apple logo on the screen but the screen froze. It was around 10 pm at night. Had it been during day time I would have gone to any mobile store to get it checked, and to my bad, I had an early morning bus to catch and I had to wake up at 5 am for that. Now my phone wasn’t working, so neither could I put an alarm nor use my map to direct me to the bus stop the next morning.
If I missed my bus then my entire plan would get impacted. Luckily I had done some research the day before on how to go the bus stop so I was aware of the direction. I left the hostel by 6 am in the direction which I thought was right. In Riga, it was still pitch dark even till 7 am in the month of September. I started my walk and luckily I was able to reach the bus stop by using my basic instinct and the best part was I always kept the hard copies of my tickets with me, even though soft copies are accepted everywhere.
So I could show the hard copy of the ticket and get on the bus. Now the plan in my mind was once I reached Tallinn, I will find a mobile store and get my phone checked. But there was another problem. I wasn’t sure where to get down. I couldn’t check my maps and unfortunately, Baltic is not an English speaking region. So I couldn’t communicate with my driver either.
After about four and a half hours on the bus, I was in Tallinn but to my bad, the bus station was on the outskirts where there was only one café and nothing else. I wasn’t sure which direction to travel to get to a mobile store, but somehow I noticed a pathway where there were many buildings. So I assumed that it led to the city. I started walking in that direction. And suddenly I saw one mall right in front of me and I was sure there had to be a mobile store in there. But to my utter disappointment, I was proved wrong. Somehow the staff there told me that there was one more mall nearby, where I could find a mobile store. I started walking again based on his instruction and reached the mall. But yet again to my disappointment, the store didn’t handle Apple phones.
But the staff at that store told me he would call his colleague to help me. His colleague arrived in a few minutes and helped me to restart my phone. I don’t know what he did, but it worked. My happiness knew no bounds. I asked him how much I should pay him for which he said I didn’t owe him anything. He was just helping me to start the phone and had not done anything major but to me, that was indeed a major thing at that point in time. I thanked him profusely and checked my map to find out that my hostel was just 200m away from the mall. I get into the hostel and charged my phone thinking all that horror is over and the next three days it would work fine and help me explore Tallinn in the best way possible. Here are 13 Best European Honeymoon Destinations For Indians
The Mobile Phone Horror Continues
After my time in Tallinn, I had booked a ferry to a Helsinki day trip so with all the excitement I got into the ferry and landed in Helsinki. I had my return ferry by 5 pm. Around 3 pm I realized that I got a message informing me that my mobile data was over which to me was a shocking thing. I wondered how could 5 GB get over in just about 6 days where I was hardly using it for anything apart from checking maps. But the important thing was that I was in Helsinki and I had to catch my return ferry to Tallinn. Once I reached Tallinn, I had booked a night bus to Vilnius.
Now I started searching for a supermarket to recharge my internet and then I got to understand that in Finland, the Orange sim card is not sold, so I can’t buy top-up there for my internet. Then I decided to buy a new sim card but I was told that it wouldn’t work anywhere else apart from Finland. And I was in Finland for only 2 more hours, so it didn’t make sense for me to buy one for 10 Euros (₹799). I thought I could rather opt for an online recharge which I could do from anywhere else.
But even for internet recharge, I need internet. So I decided to go back to the ferry terminal as soon as possible. I did this so I could use the free Wi-Fi there to recharge my phone. I recharged my phone online for 10 Euros (₹799) which had about 2 GB data. But I was still unable to access the internet. On calling the customer service, I came to know that I had only recharged my phone for calls and not for data usage. But they converted the balance for data and I could use my internet. I was back at Tallinn and was able to catch my bus. You Must Go On More Vacations To Increase Your Productivity This Is What The Europeans Do
I spent two days in Vilnius without any problem and on the 3rd day, I caught a flight to Brussels where I was landing around 6.30 pm. The plan was to stay in Brussels for that night and the next day, early morning leave for Bruges. However, my horror was not yet over. Once I landed in Brussels I took a train to the city and again got a message informing me my internet data was over. I was able to reach Brussels Nord train station by 8 pm, but by then it was dark and most of the stores for phones were already closed leaving just restaurants open.
A Crazy But Great Learning Experience
Outside the train station, I couldn’t spot any stores for mobiles. I was not sure which direction I had to walk to reach my hostel. Even though my hostel was just 900m away, I had no clue about the direction I had to take. Suddenly I saw an Indian guy walking inside the station since I had a big problem, I wasn’t hesitant to talk to him to see if he can be of any help.
I told him that I had to go to my hostel but my net wasn’t working. I requested him to give me his hotspot for a few minutes. He happily agreed to help me. I connected to his internet and reached my hostel by 9 pm. Next morning I spent a few hours in Brussels and left for Bruges where I recharged my phone again for 15 Euros (₹1198 approx). I recharged my phone so I could use it for my next few days in Bruges and Netherlands and luckily it worked till I left the Netherlands. Did you know Amsterdam’s Crane Hotel Is Putting Five Stars To Shame With Rotating Rooms And Panoramic View?
Now when I look back at this crazy experience, I wonder if it was bad. Well, it was definitely not a great experience but great learning which taught me that we have become so dependent on our mobile phones. Thankfully I frequently travel and I was able to manage no matter how difficult the situation was. I was able to stick to my schedule and use my basic instincts and presence of mind to navigate my path.
Tips If You Face A Similar Situation
- Even though E-tickets are widely accepted, it’s always wise to keep a hard copy handy while you’re travelling solo.
- Do research for all your plans well in advance, so you have an idea about what needs to be done even if your mobile stops working.
- Buying local sim is still recommended from my side. However, it’s more important to understand the terms and conditions while buying a sim card.
- If possible, keep an extra mobile set with you which can be used if your primary mobile stops working or gets stolen
- The experience will teach you many things so do not fear to venture out.
This article was contributed to Curly Tales by Chandan Sharma. If you have an article or similar experience to share, do write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org