PASSPORTS STOLEN!

Have you ever felt like the universe is trying to tell you something? I felt it that time, like never before, and I'm not even joking, though I wish I was!
It all started with me planning a small weekend off in Rotterdam & Utrecht. Its just 2 hrs away from Brussels by train and that's how we planned to go....... and nothing went right with the whole planning. Everything was so bombarding, that I told my mom on phone that I didn't want to be on that trip even before going, even though it was just a pleasure trip... Here are my list of redflags & signs from the universe telling me 'don't go'!

Sign 1 - Accommodation was costly. Well, not really, but costlier than what I had expected! For €50 I got an Airbnb room without even a fridge or stove (in comparison to Brussels where €35 Airbnb room would come with a full kitchen) ! My choices were to do 2 day-trips (after-all Brussels to Rotterdam was only 2 hrs) or to book accommodation. Doing 2 day trips would mean €100 extra while staying there was only €50. So that's still a €50 savings though we'd spend on food & local travel. It would almost arrive at same total but staying there means, less travel. So yeah, inspite of this cost factor, I proceeded.
Sign 2 - Found that local travel within Holland is costlier than Belgium, after I booked the to & fro train & accommodation. I had assumed travel between Rotterdam and Utrecht would be almost negligible. After all, a return trip between Antwerp & Brussels would cost only €15 in weekdays & just €9 in weekends. But no, a return trip between Rotterdam & Utrecht is €24! With that information, making 2 day-trips would have made more economical sense than staying there. 
Sign 3 - Anyways, since now the tickets were booked, I proceed to book the entry tickets of one of the attractions. Next red flag - my payment went through, invoice got generated but ticket didn't show up! Small sliver of hope was they atleast recognized the payment and told my name was in their list.
Sign 4 - The night previous to our trip, Mr.V came home incredibly late, thanks to some last minute work commitments. I had hardly packed the needs for 1 night out (you'd not get this unless you've tried packing with a toddler).
Sign 5 - The day of travel. I wake up at 4:00AM to prepare baby food and pack something atleast. I look at my phone first thing as soon as I open my eyes and see this message - "Your Airbnb host has cancelled your booking"!!!!! What?????????? I mean, like what?????????? At this stage, I really had second thoughts. I really considered cancelling the €100 onward &  return train tickets for 2. But then, it couldn't be done. For atleast partial refund, I had to cancel atleast 1 day prior to travel date.... I look for alternative options. Ibis Budget at this point was more than €100. Airbnb were all €100 or more and nowhere near the city, but in next towns! I check return tickets and it was €50 for return from Rotterdam to Brussels on that day and €58 to go to Utrecht next morning. That made more sense. Mind you, all this is at 4:00-5:00AM. 
I quickly repack to make it a daytrip, removing our clothes and chargers etc. I seriously should have listened to the Universe at this point at least. This was a desperate attempt by the universe to stop me from going. I mean, Airbnb host cancels on the travel date????
Sign 6 - I settle down in the train and decide the book the return ticket for the same day and onwards for the next day. Its around 7:00AM now and the ticket prices are €70! It was €50 at 4:00AM and now, it was already €70. No choice, but we booked it, now that do not have a hotel or change of clothes.
RESULT 1 - I take the signs of the universe thrown at me as challenges and proceed. We sit in train and the train crosses Antwerp Berchem. Our backpack was in the overhead luggage area, on top of our heads. It was there. We kept an eye on it every 5 minutes. Then.......... It was gone! The super talented thief took our bag in a fraction of a second, between 2 of our glances. We know who that guy was. He was sitting behind us, inspite of an almost empty compartment in which he could have sat anywhere, which is why we were a bit cautions. Inspite of that, in a fraction of a second - woooosh! It was gone! 
It had our PASSPORTS! Not 3 but 5 including our old passports.... Passports, to me, where not just travel documents, but a collections of memories with the visas and stamps in it! It brings back fond memories of my solo travels and crazy day trips that I did before Atyudarini was born. The visas and immigration stamps were such a delight to just see and re-live those moments! GONE! Just GONE!!!! I cursed in front of my daughter and the TTE and then apologized.... GONE... Our passports where GONE!!!!
Along with it was my dearest Didymos Onbuhimo, a fabulous 10k mAH powerbank, a big Superbottoms diaperbag and food (most probably, the thief wouldn't know the value of the south Indian delicacies, Idli & Vada to be available in Europe's cold)!!! Anyways, we informed the TTE, who was kind and spoke gentle words. He told us to proceed to Rotterdam and see something for atleast half a day, coz our passports were gone and there was nothing we could do by going back immediately.

I THOUGHT THIS WAS THE REASON why Universe didn't want us to go...... BUT..........



Sign 7 - Mr.V also pacified me and we decided to proceed to Rotterdam to see atleast Kinderijk. But soon after crossing BE-NL border........... there was a 'person-on-track'! Train stopped indefinitely! Then after about 15 mins - guess what happened??????? Train went on reverse!!!! It was directed back to Antwerp Berchem. Ok! Bad luck indeed! Let's get back home from there. 

Sign 8 - But then, since the train had already checked-in & checked-out of Antwerp Berchem they couldn't go there, but had to check-in at Antwerp-West, a defunct, abandoned railway station (that's the one next to Zomerfabriek murals)! We could get down there, but.............. the station was closed. We couldn't get out of the station! A few others who got, out jumped out, but we couldn't do that with Atyudarini in hand. So we boarded the train again. Like what???????????
Sign 9 - From there, the train was redirected to Roosendaal. We got down here and took another train back to Antwerp Berchem. 
Sign 10 - We tried to locate a lost & found with a hope to see if it was left there in case, once the thief found that there is absolutely nothing valuable for him there except may be the powerbank (yes, Indian passport is not as valuable as UK or US passports. We cannot travel to most countries with just our passports, but a lengthy visa processing and prior approval is required)! But no. There is NO lost-and-found at all in Antwerp railway station. 
RESULT 2 - I changed Atyudarini's diaper in the railway station's diaper changing station and we had something to eat there and finally caught our train back to Brussels and went directly to the Police Station and filed the complaint. 
That night, Atyudarini's bum had slight bumps and next day it grew to be a fully flared up infection all over her body, thanks to changing her diaper in Antwerp Berchem diaper changing area!
At last we didn't go to Rotterdam or see anything anywhere at all, though we did get set our foot down in Netherlands, inspite of being on-the-go from 6AM to 1PM!! 

ROTTERDAM DIDN'T WANT TO SEE ME, AFTERALL!!!!!

and
MY LUCK TOTALLY SINKS & DROWNS AT ANTWERP BERCHEM RAILWAY STATION!!!!

Its been more than a month since this happened. As of now, we had applied for the re-issue of our passports at Indian Embassy in Brussels and we've gotten it now and Atyudarini is fine as well after a week's course of antibiotics.


So here's a TIP - Scan ALL your passport pages. As you travel and add to your visas & stamps, keep scanning those pages. Even if you lose your passport, you atleast have a copy of each and every travel dates/stamps etc.


In my attempt to not waste the €100 of the original train tickets, WE ENDED BLOWING UP €500 (yes, new passports for all 3 of us costed more than €300) and I feel like sh*t!!!! 
This might be a good time to say that I'm on Patreon. I would be more than happy if you decide to support me & be my Patron!!!


EDIT May 1st 2019: 2.5 months after stealing our backpack, the thief seems to have realized that ours was Indian Passport which is technically of no use to them! I got a call today from Indian Embassy and all our 5 passports (3 new & 2 old) have been returned, intact in their cases!!! The money spent on reissuing the passport is already wasted. Atleast now the memories of my trips with the stamps & visas are back!!!!!

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

20 comments:

  1. This is my worst fear! I don't know what I'd do if I had my passport stolen. This is so common on the trains all over Europe, I'm so paranoid I always keep all of our luggage right by us. Sorry you had to go through that!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh what a terrible traveling experience this was! The cancellations and high prices were bad enough. Nobody needs their stuff stolen while trying to enjoy their day.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That was a nightmare journey. I used to be a Tour Manager for a rail holiday company & I NEVER put my bag up in the luggage rack. It stayed on my knee or at my feet with the long strap in my hand. However I didn't have to travel with a baby.
    Trains in Europe are horrendous for thefts. Thieves are so fast & slick at what they do your stuff is gone in an instant. At least you were all Ok, eventually. It's just so traumatic & even worse with a baby.
    One funny story was when I had constantly warned everyone on an Italian tour for nearly two weeks about thefts & not letting anyone touch or help them with their luggage. When we got onto the Eurostar at Gare du Nord travelling to London people had so many cases they had to send a member of staff to help organise the luggage rack as samaller cases were taking up space needed for the large luggage. One of the chaps on the tour suddenly got up and started yelling at him telling him to get off his luggage. I explained things were perfectly safe on the Eurostar & he was a member of staff reorganising the luggage. Some red faces all round but it was hard not to laugh as the chap had caused a rumpus in Milan the day before when he got into the wrong carriage & couldn't get into the right one due to all the cases blocking the aisle & he started yelling he was never going to travel by train again! I was certainly hoping he wouldn't be on one of my tours again! Sometimes I wonder why I love travelling by train, but I do & now it's just for pleasure.
    Hope your next adventure is a happier one.

    ReplyDelete
  4. How unfortunate! You know what they say: "Misery loves company!" A misfortune never come alone. It always pulls others after it. What a nightmare journey! Being notified the very last minute that your Airbnb reservation has been canceled is bad enough, not to have to put up with a stolen passport as well. Hope you didn't give up entirely on seeing Rotterdam.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh man.....what an epic story! So sorry to hear that it all just didn't work out for you and to make it worse, so expensive! Just one of those unfortunate series of events. Glad your daughter is ok now but that would probably have been the worse part of the whole ordeal for me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jane Dempster-SmithMarch 29, 2019 at 5:28 AM

    What a nightmare of a journey! I know what it is like to have passports stolen, we had ours stolen in Ecuador. When we visited Belgium last year we thought the costs were high but we have not travelled to the Netherlands so we had nothing to compare it with. That train journey OMG, especially when travelling with your daughter as well. Hope your next travels are full of fun!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very sad know the happenings....
    All is well...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Losing a passport is a nightmare than losing a my boyfriend. It is unfortunate it happens to you, but these passport thieves will experience bad karma soon. Overall, glad you all are safe and unharmed.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ouch, I am so sorry to hear how a lot of things went wrong on your trip. It was hardly a weekend getaway and everything that could've gone wrong, seems like it did! I can imagine the horror when the airbnb host cancelled the booking last minute, its happened with me before and it was horrible. Also, I'm sorry that your child fell sick, that could've only added to the stress of the journey. Of course, losing your passport is no pleasure either. Glad things are okay now and I'm sure you'll get your new passports from the embassy soon.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Whooo, I can't imagine what should I do If this happen to me in the future, but hopefully it won't. Just like you, I also believe that the universe has its own way of telling us that we shouldn't go to this place, or should have done this, and signs keep coming. I had several experiences about this one as well, and mostly, I follow, but there are times I don't, which I always caught myself facing a problem. Things like this though can be really stressful, but still be thankful that you're physically okay.

    ReplyDelete
  11. So sorry to hear about your misfortune. I can't even imagine the stress and inconvenience especially when you have a baby.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh my gosh, I'm really sorry to hear about everything that happened! It just sucks that people who steal bags or purses or even phones that don't ever consider that they could be majorly disrupting someone's life, especially in the case of a foreigner whose passport goes missing. I know how demoralizing it can be even when everything else is going fine, so that must've been really terrible to happen after all these other issues on the trip. Hope everything returns to normal soon and hope you all feel better :(

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ouch! Lost passports---and other important documents for that matter---is truly discouraging, frightening, and inconvenient. One of the things we do to prevent such disasters is 1) always keep our passports and important documents in our person, or 2) keep them in our hotel safe, and 3) bring certified true copies (colored printouts or photocopies) of our passports.

    ReplyDelete
  14. What an awful experience! I wish it never happen with anyone. I don't understand why people do inhuman activities and steal others stuff?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Losing a passport must be a very bad experience. It almost happened to me in Kuala Lumpur. I forgot it in the hotel on my way to the airport and realized it after I reached there. Good thing I left early and had enough time to get it back, so yeah I can definitely relate.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow! This almost sounds like it is off a movie!! What horrible bad luck! It is good you are able to share the not so glamorous side of travel, even though I’m sure it still makes you upset. :(

    ReplyDelete
  17. I sometimes get bad luck in my trip. So I can understand how worst your situation was at the trip.
    I even didn't thought about the 'Signs' that the universe told me at that moment. Your story brought to me a really great idea about that.
    Anyway, those bad things have gone. Let just enjoy the best coming trips!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh my God, that was miserable experience. But I must say you are really courageous amidst all those mishaps.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I had stopped reading blog posts for a while so I didnt come across this post when you had written it. This sounds like a nightmare. I am glad that you got your passport finally (saw your FB status)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi there! In future I would suggest that you keep your backpack with you at all times.I never put my backpacks or luggage in the luggage racks on trains within Belgium or even if I am travelling to the Netherlands unless I am taking thalys. I have had so many problems with my passport in the past that I understand how frustrating it is when something as valuable as a passport gets stolen. Luckily for you, your passports are Indian. If they had been UK or US, you would probably have never seen them again. For future reference, there is a lost and found at Antwerpen centraal station.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting...! Why not leave a comment.? And tell your friends..!!!
By commenting you accept to our GDPR Policy.