Finding your way around a strange town is always somewhat problematical, but a few searches will stand out.

“Remember walking all over Cordoba?”

“Oh gawd yes. . .”

We “only” had five bad-trip days, but they stand out in the memory. Cordoba didn’t seem like a big city. We were to take a bus from the train station to “downtown,” where we expected hotels to appear.

Except we missed downtown and got off the bus in a suburb, and it was a bigger city than we had thought. We walked for miles, run together, I don’t know how far. It was hot.

We melted down and cursed signs with arrows pointing to “HOTEL.” They seemed to be a cruel practical joke. We kept following the signs and finally collapsed in a tourist office, fortunately open late, at about 6 p.m.

Without it . . . I don’t know what would have happened. The office was delightfully air-conditioned, and I told the woman behind the desk that if she couldn’t find a room I wasn’t leaving. I would sleep on her floor. She thought I was joking.

A few phone calls later a pleasant hotel owner came to the door and assured us that we were almost there, and he had one vacant room, and it was “only” 65 euros. We could have kissed him.

We were soon cooling off in a pleasant room in an old mansion, and were only steps from Cordoba’s interesting old Jewish Quarter.

Prague presented another walking torture. This time the guilty party was the young woman in charge at the hostel. We got off the tram at the stop she had named.

It was the wrong stop. Then we walked a circle of many blocks in the wrong direction. Never would have found it but for a pleasant shopper at the grocery along the way. She said she didn’t know the street, but had a map in her car.

“Oh fun!” she said excitedly, pointing at the map. “You’re nearly there! Turn left on this street,” pointing to the corner, “then right on the next street for two streets and there it is!” Bless her heart, she saved me. (Sharon was in better condition for these marathons.)

We arrived at last. I pointed out to the hostel gal that her directions were way wrong.

“Oh gee,” she said grinning. “Oh well, mistakes happen.”

I swore revenge, but forgave her later when she and another woman helped us get through a telephone maze to cancel my pickpocketed credit card.

And we had such a good time in Prague back in ‘92, I think it was.

Heidelberg street numbers were a joke, leading to another insanely long walk.

We simply got mixed up in Lisbon, Portugal, and walked in several long and ever expanding circles to our hotel, eventually homing in on it. (Our best hotel deal, a three-star joint at a one-star price, made it worth the walk for Mr. Cheap.)

Barcelona’s Hotel Ibis (a chain throughout Europe, and a good deal generally) gave funny directions, in retrospect. At the time, it seemed like a disaster.

Ibis hotels are often located in the suburbs so they offer good prices, but at the end of a weary day we had to navigate two metro systems in this huge city and got off the metro after dark. We noticed two things that posed a problem: There were very few street lights out in the ‘burbs, and in the European manner, there were no street signs. So the humorous street name of Albert Einstein Place was completely useless. What to do?

We saw there was one lighted building, that of a bar/restaurant. We inquired and one server knew of the Ibis.

(Hooray! we would return and leave him a nice tip!) He took us outside and pointed up the dark street: “See that stoplight? You go to the NEXT light, and turn right. There is the Ibis.” He seemed on the level, and what choice did we have?

We got to the light in question and looked right. . . nothing but more darkened buildings and an empty street. “So,” I said, with just a hint of sadness in my voice, “we have a 50-50 chance. Right or Left.”

Sharon, sensing impending disaster, said “Look, I’ll go down to that corner (barely visible in the darkness) and see if I can see anything. I’ll yell.”

“OK,” I said, relieved. “Yell HELP! and somebody gets beaten to death with my cane.”

But soon she yelled “YEA! THERE IT IS! I could see her pointing at the green and orange Ibis neon high above a building. the long two and half blocks around and into the place discouraged me, but I recovered and felt really good when I badgered the clerk into free Wi-Fi for the night, which had been shortened by their bad directions, etc.

Berlin was a sad stop the first time. Again, we got flawed directions with street numbers that didn’t make any sense.

Our bus driver out of Berlin’s magnificent train station — has to be the finest train station in the world, or at least in Europe — tried to be helpful and even got off the bus to point us to the street we wanted.

Unfortunately, this street was “Kleine-whatever,” a walk street with a name similar to the street the hotel was on. Again, we sought help and a young woman at a very expensive hotel took us outside and pointed us toward Main-whatever, and we completed another beastly long walk, culminating in a dump in which the Wi-Fi didn’t work and when I tried to complain, I found that the phones didn’t work, and there was no one there after 6 p.m.

I gave brief thought to trashing the place, but settled for a nice Greek dinner in the only restaurant open in sight, this being Sunday.

Were we having fun yet? Damn right, and it was a breeze finding hotels in Berlin in a later visit, and in Madrid, Krakov and Bordeaux, for instance. The Bruges hostel only involved a short walk.

St. Malo, one of our best stops altogether, was the slickest transition. We simply took a cab for 10 euros, and a couple of miles later were grateful we hadn’t tried to walk. We took deep breaths of the North Atlantic atmosphere and had a lovely night’s sleep.

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