Aston Villa

Aston Villa slideshow

Championship results: Milwall hold Sunderland, QPR lose to Aston Villa and Brentford fall at Cardiff

Championship results: Milwall hold Sunderland, QPR lose to Aston Villa and Brentford fall at Cardiff

Mo Way! Neither Newcastle or Aston Villa Fans Seem to Want Mo Diame After Newcastle Star Linked

​Newcastle fans have reacted with excitement at rumours circling that Mo Diame could set for a move to Aston Villa in January following a lacklustre fifteen months at St James Park. Despite scoring the goal that earned Hull victory in 2016 Championship Play Off Final, Diame remained in English football's second tier for another season after joining Newcastle, and although he was a regular feature of the team that secured a return to the Premier League as champions, Diame has made just one...

Mo Way! Neither Newcastle or Aston Villa Fans Seem to Want Mo Diame After Newcastle Star Linked

​Newcastle fans have reacted with excitement at rumours circling that Mo Diame could set for a move to Aston Villa in January following a lacklustre fifteen months at St James Park. Despite scoring the goal that earned Hull victory in 2016 Championship Play Off Final, Diame remained in English football's second tier for another season after joining Newcastle, and although he was a regular feature of the team that secured a return to the Premier League as champions, Diame has made just one...

Jason Isaacs on Twitter bullies, being trolled by William Shatner, and Anthony Rapp's bravery: 'What he did was heroic'

When I first see Jason Isaacs, he’s barrelling down the corridor of a smart London hotel, being loudly and amusingly rude about a film he hasn’t liked, a brace of anxious PR people trailing in his wake.  First impressions can be revealing: Isaacs is not afraid to speak his mind. In conversation, Star Trek’s latest captain is a tanned, loquacious cannonball, leaning in slightly at the start of his sentences as if carried along by sheer force of momentum. While other actors laughed along with Sean Spicer’s jokes at the Emmys in September, that night Isaacs posted a photo of the ex-White house press secretary propping up the bar, with a caption calling him “the thuggish face of Orwellian doublespeak”, a “poisonous purveyor of lies” and a “modern day Geobbels”, with “the aura of a giant festering abscess”. This frankness is a quality that may have helped him in Armando Ianucci’s satire The Death of Stalin, in which he played Red Army commander Georgy Zhukov – the only person bold enough to criticise the dictator to his face. He has a knack for playing military strongmen (in Soldier, The Patriot and Black Hawk Down), and has recently returned to these kinds of roles, both in The Death of Stalin and alongside Brad Pitt’s grimy tank gunner in Fury. When it’s not soldiers, it’s creepy scientists (in Netflix drama The OA, and hospital horror A Cure for Wellness). His latest role is a bit of both. Gabriel Lorca, warmongering captain of the titular starship in Star Trek: Discovery, has a short temper, a Southern twang and a menagerie of captive aliens on which he carries out dubious experiments. Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca Credit: CBS On the spectrum of good to evil, Lorca is a long way from Patrick Stewart’s noble Captain Pickard. He may well be closer Lucius Malfoy, Draco’s slippery dad in the Harry Potter films. Malfoy remains Isaacs’s best known role but, curiously, the 54-year-old Liverpudlian also has fans who know him best as a kind of living meme. The phrase “Hello to Jason Isaacs” is a running joke on Radio 5’s film review show (on which Robbie Collin, film critic of this parish, occasionally pops up). It has since gone global. It's appeared as a blink-and-you'll-miss-it visual gag on Jay Leno’s chat show, and been read out over the tannoy at an Aston Villa match. Type “Jason Isaacs” into Google, and the website wishes him a cheery hello. Naturally, there was only one way to begin our conversation. Hello to Jason Isaacs. What’s the best “hello” you’ve had? Mostly ones where I’m not there. People have said in their PhD theses and in their wedding vows. I’ve had it across a canyon when I’ve been hiking, out of nowhere. [He yodels:] “Helloooo toooo Jaaaaason Isaaaaa…” Where was that? I’m trying to remember. I think it was probably California. I’ve had it in the airport, I’ve had it in the loo on a plane – which is maybe not the best time for it. Actually, I remember the best one: I was at a charity event and Sir Alan Parker was there. Obviously, I’d never met him – I lived so far below the bottom of the totem pole, and he sat on top. He said "Hello to Jason Isaacs," and I was like "No! Surely not!" How does Discovery measure up to previous Treks? I wouldn’t have taken the job had I thought that it was anything like any other Star Trek series, particularly the ones I grew up worshipping. I thought Kirk and Spock were one of the best double acts, and nobody should attempt any sort of pale reboot of that. Running around with a phaser looking heroic – that's been done, it’s been done to a Mount Rushmore level. This is a completely different animal, it's a 15-hour miniseries about identity and war and moral challenges, and everybody's got secrets and flaws. Have you meet any other Star Fleet alumni? I met Jon Frakes, who directed an episode of Discovery, and who played Riker [in The Next Generation]. He’s hilarious, and gave me a top tip. He said, “Are you having trouble with your hands, darling?” I said, “Yes, I don’t know where the f--- to put them – there’s no pockets in space!” He told me, "Don’t ever start a scene with your hands on your hips. You’ll never get them off." Didn’t you also have a strange to-do with William Shatner? Bill Shatner started to troll me online. I was misquoted about about Star Trek, and we got into this wild banter with each other. Then I met him and he seemed to have no knowledge of it at all. So I’m not sure he does his own Twitter feed, but I rather enjoy engaging with whoever online William Shatner is. The online Jason Isaacs can be rather feisty too. You spend quite a bit of time responding to trolls on social media, particularly the ones who say actors should steer clear of commenting on topical issues I don’t really understand this digital megaphone that we’re all given, but nonetheless it's there and I can use it. I don't like bullies – it seems absurd to say it – and I don’t like sexual predators and I don’t like racists. And I get to tell them so, and occasionally they try and defend themselves. If speaking out against racists, misogynists, bullies, homophobes, liars and warmongers ‘fogs’ my work...wipe the scum off your glasses. https://t.co/bacWRdtn8Y— Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) November 5, 2017 They should watch out, because it’s not just me. Most sane, moral people in the world don’t like them either, so they can stick their heads up above my parapet if they like, but they'll get them cut off. But that’s got nothing to do with the show. The show deals with these issues in a much more subtle, inclusive, far more optimistic way. Is Discovery a political show? I think the only reason to make it is because of current events, because of the political context. We live in very dark days where division and hatred and racism and misogyny are being propagated from the most powerful seats in the world. What was always very powerful about Star Trek is that it presented a vision of the future where these barriers didn't exist anymore – they weren't even in discussion. It's not front and centre in the story, but you’re looking at a bunch of people who solve problems together. Between them, gender, colour of skin, sexuality – none of these things present a barrier to success. 50 best TV shows on Netflix UK Your Discovery co-star Anthony Rapp was in the headlines recently, because of the awful experience he claims to have had with Kevin Spacey. You seem to be a close-knit cast. Is it something he’d spoken to you about before coming forward? No, it's a decision he made by himself. But we’re very close. We’re unbelievably proud of him, and inspired by him, because he took the decision to stick his neck out and tell a story when no-one else had. There were a couple of days of silence, where other people didn't [come forward] and I’m sure it was very worrying for him. But we were all very supportive and of course the stories are pouring out now. Did it come as a shock to you? I think are friendships aren’t really for public consumption, but it didn't come as a shock to me that he did something incredibly noble and brave. What he did was heroic. It's been incredibly heartening to see him proved right. With every one of these sexual predators being exposed, whose victims are having their day, you can’t help but feel that it might be part of a movement which will make things better for other people in the future.” Tweeting about Donald Trump’s administration, you’ve suggested we could be looking at quite a dark future. Do you think we’re moving closer to the utopian world of Star Trek, or further away from it? If you zoom out, to look at how people were behaving to each other hundreds of years ago, then there's no question that we’re moving towards it. Women’s lot has got better in the world, generally. Children get to go to school. There is an understanding through most of the world that people have rights - whether it be to an education, or that we look after each other when we’re sick and dying. Recently, I think we’ve slid a few feet back down the well in America, and I hope we’re going to arrest the tide of that slippage in Europe. People have been encouraged to come out from the shadows and say incredibly ugly, venal things… but if you look at the great sweep of history it’s all moving one way, and it's a positive way. But will we have time to get there? Will historians of the future understand, I wonder, that the escalating thermo-nuclear conflict that led to them scrabbling for survival on the smouldering remains of our planet came about because the American president was a mean girl? In a corset? https://t.co/dlyTNG9rPT— Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) November 12, 2017 How did you put your own stamp on Lorca? The whole thing’s a collaboration, but there are many things I’ve brought to it that weren’t on the page. I made him Southern because he’s a military man... and I wasn't aware of any other captains who’d been like that. It was reverse engineered; Lorca had to be unlike any other captain. I wouldn’t have played him English, as I didn't want to be a pale shadow of Patrick [Stewart]. I also decided to stand up; so in his little ready room there was a chair, and I said “Let's get rid of the chair,” because he’s a man of action – he doesn’t like sitting down. If you’ll forgive me a silly question, which Hogwarts house would Lorca be in? Oh, I can’t possibly answer that. He lives in Discovery. I thought the Harry Potter stories were so perfectly told, they’re sacred to me. I don’t like whoring them out... and I don’t like this kind of mish-mash, as if it's a product, a “franchise”. I get very upset, because for me a franchise is a drive-through burger place. I leave that alone. For instance, I don't like to do Lucius Malfoy's voice in Sainsburys when people ask me to do it for their kids – because he lives in that world and it is sealed forever. Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Credit: Film Stills Alright then. Did you keep any souvenirs from the Potter films? No. It was because of Alan, God bless him. The fabulous late Alan Rickman took all the gold coins from Gringotts bank... and from the day he did, that every single prop was on inventory forever. My wigs are now on touring exhibitions. I did complain about not having  a wand for a while, so they sent me one – and I promptly lost it. Star Trek’s about to take a two-month hiatus. What can we look forward to when it’s back? I can’t tell you. It's a bit like when I used to do magic. I was a very keen amateur magician, and people would ask me how the trick was done. But if you tell them they get annoyed and disappointed - because what they really want is the painful anticipation of not knowing. It’s like trailers. I hate so many trailers nowadays. I try to discourage my children – who are addicted to them – from watching them. If it's a film they want to see, what would be the point? Who gets a book and has a quick look at chapter three, chapter 10 and the last page? Star Trek: Discovery returns on January 7. The first nine episodes are available to watch now on Netflix

Jason Isaacs on Twitter bullies, being trolled by William Shatner, and Anthony Rapp's bravery: 'What he did was heroic'

When I first see Jason Isaacs, he’s barrelling down the corridor of a smart London hotel, being loudly and amusingly rude about a film he hasn’t liked, a brace of anxious PR people trailing in his wake.  First impressions can be revealing: Isaacs is not afraid to speak his mind. In conversation, Star Trek’s latest captain is a tanned, loquacious cannonball, leaning in slightly at the start of his sentences as if carried along by sheer force of momentum. While other actors laughed along with Sean Spicer’s jokes at the Emmys in September, that night Isaacs posted a photo of the ex-White house press secretary propping up the bar, with a caption calling him “the thuggish face of Orwellian doublespeak”, a “poisonous purveyor of lies” and a “modern day Geobbels”, with “the aura of a giant festering abscess”. This frankness is a quality that may have helped him in Armando Ianucci’s satire The Death of Stalin, in which he played Red Army commander Georgy Zhukov – the only person bold enough to criticise the dictator to his face. He has a knack for playing military strongmen (in Soldier, The Patriot and Black Hawk Down), and has recently returned to these kinds of roles, both in The Death of Stalin and alongside Brad Pitt’s grimy tank gunner in Fury. When it’s not soldiers, it’s creepy scientists (in Netflix drama The OA, and hospital horror A Cure for Wellness). His latest role is a bit of both. Gabriel Lorca, warmongering captain of the titular starship in Star Trek: Discovery, has a short temper, a Southern twang and a menagerie of captive aliens on which he carries out dubious experiments. Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca Credit: CBS On the spectrum of good to evil, Lorca is a long way from Patrick Stewart’s noble Captain Pickard. He may well be closer Lucius Malfoy, Draco’s slippery dad in the Harry Potter films. Malfoy remains Isaacs’s best known role but, curiously, the 54-year-old Liverpudlian also has fans who know him best as a kind of living meme. The phrase “Hello to Jason Isaacs” is a running joke on Radio 5’s film review show (on which Robbie Collin, film critic of this parish, occasionally pops up). It has since gone global. It's appeared as a blink-and-you'll-miss-it visual gag on Jay Leno’s chat show, and been read out over the tannoy at an Aston Villa match. Type “Jason Isaacs” into Google, and the website wishes him a cheery hello. Naturally, there was only one way to begin our conversation. Hello to Jason Isaacs. What’s the best “hello” you’ve had? Mostly ones where I’m not there. People have said in their PhD theses and in their wedding vows. I’ve had it across a canyon when I’ve been hiking, out of nowhere. [He yodels:] “Helloooo toooo Jaaaaason Isaaaaa…” Where was that? I’m trying to remember. I think it was probably California. I’ve had it in the airport, I’ve had it in the loo on a plane – which is maybe not the best time for it. Actually, I remember the best one: I was at a charity event and Sir Alan Parker was there. Obviously, I’d never met him – I lived so far below the bottom of the totem pole, and he sat on top. He said "Hello to Jason Isaacs," and I was like "No! Surely not!" How does Discovery measure up to previous Treks? I wouldn’t have taken the job had I thought that it was anything like any other Star Trek series, particularly the ones I grew up worshipping. I thought Kirk and Spock were one of the best double acts, and nobody should attempt any sort of pale reboot of that. Running around with a phaser looking heroic – that's been done, it’s been done to a Mount Rushmore level. This is a completely different animal, it's a 15-hour miniseries about identity and war and moral challenges, and everybody's got secrets and flaws. Have you meet any other Star Fleet alumni? I met Jon Frakes, who directed an episode of Discovery, and who played Riker [in The Next Generation]. He’s hilarious, and gave me a top tip. He said, “Are you having trouble with your hands, darling?” I said, “Yes, I don’t know where the f--- to put them – there’s no pockets in space!” He told me, "Don’t ever start a scene with your hands on your hips. You’ll never get them off." Didn’t you also have a strange to-do with William Shatner? Bill Shatner started to troll me online. I was misquoted about about Star Trek, and we got into this wild banter with each other. Then I met him and he seemed to have no knowledge of it at all. So I’m not sure he does his own Twitter feed, but I rather enjoy engaging with whoever online William Shatner is. The online Jason Isaacs can be rather feisty too. You spend quite a bit of time responding to trolls on social media, particularly the ones who say actors should steer clear of commenting on topical issues I don’t really understand this digital megaphone that we’re all given, but nonetheless it's there and I can use it. I don't like bullies – it seems absurd to say it – and I don’t like sexual predators and I don’t like racists. And I get to tell them so, and occasionally they try and defend themselves. If speaking out against racists, misogynists, bullies, homophobes, liars and warmongers ‘fogs’ my work...wipe the scum off your glasses. https://t.co/bacWRdtn8Y— Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) November 5, 2017 They should watch out, because it’s not just me. Most sane, moral people in the world don’t like them either, so they can stick their heads up above my parapet if they like, but they'll get them cut off. But that’s got nothing to do with the show. The show deals with these issues in a much more subtle, inclusive, far more optimistic way. Is Discovery a political show? I think the only reason to make it is because of current events, because of the political context. We live in very dark days where division and hatred and racism and misogyny are being propagated from the most powerful seats in the world. What was always very powerful about Star Trek is that it presented a vision of the future where these barriers didn't exist anymore – they weren't even in discussion. It's not front and centre in the story, but you’re looking at a bunch of people who solve problems together. Between them, gender, colour of skin, sexuality – none of these things present a barrier to success. 50 best TV shows on Netflix UK Your Discovery co-star Anthony Rapp was in the headlines recently, because of the awful experience he claims to have had with Kevin Spacey. You seem to be a close-knit cast. Is it something he’d spoken to you about before coming forward? No, it's a decision he made by himself. But we’re very close. We’re unbelievably proud of him, and inspired by him, because he took the decision to stick his neck out and tell a story when no-one else had. There were a couple of days of silence, where other people didn't [come forward] and I’m sure it was very worrying for him. But we were all very supportive and of course the stories are pouring out now. Did it come as a shock to you? I think are friendships aren’t really for public consumption, but it didn't come as a shock to me that he did something incredibly noble and brave. What he did was heroic. It's been incredibly heartening to see him proved right. With every one of these sexual predators being exposed, whose victims are having their day, you can’t help but feel that it might be part of a movement which will make things better for other people in the future.” Tweeting about Donald Trump’s administration, you’ve suggested we could be looking at quite a dark future. Do you think we’re moving closer to the utopian world of Star Trek, or further away from it? If you zoom out, to look at how people were behaving to each other hundreds of years ago, then there's no question that we’re moving towards it. Women’s lot has got better in the world, generally. Children get to go to school. There is an understanding through most of the world that people have rights - whether it be to an education, or that we look after each other when we’re sick and dying. Recently, I think we’ve slid a few feet back down the well in America, and I hope we’re going to arrest the tide of that slippage in Europe. People have been encouraged to come out from the shadows and say incredibly ugly, venal things… but if you look at the great sweep of history it’s all moving one way, and it's a positive way. But will we have time to get there? Will historians of the future understand, I wonder, that the escalating thermo-nuclear conflict that led to them scrabbling for survival on the smouldering remains of our planet came about because the American president was a mean girl? In a corset? https://t.co/dlyTNG9rPT— Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) November 12, 2017 How did you put your own stamp on Lorca? The whole thing’s a collaboration, but there are many things I’ve brought to it that weren’t on the page. I made him Southern because he’s a military man... and I wasn't aware of any other captains who’d been like that. It was reverse engineered; Lorca had to be unlike any other captain. I wouldn’t have played him English, as I didn't want to be a pale shadow of Patrick [Stewart]. I also decided to stand up; so in his little ready room there was a chair, and I said “Let's get rid of the chair,” because he’s a man of action – he doesn’t like sitting down. If you’ll forgive me a silly question, which Hogwarts house would Lorca be in? Oh, I can’t possibly answer that. He lives in Discovery. I thought the Harry Potter stories were so perfectly told, they’re sacred to me. I don’t like whoring them out... and I don’t like this kind of mish-mash, as if it's a product, a “franchise”. I get very upset, because for me a franchise is a drive-through burger place. I leave that alone. For instance, I don't like to do Lucius Malfoy's voice in Sainsburys when people ask me to do it for their kids – because he lives in that world and it is sealed forever. Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Credit: Film Stills Alright then. Did you keep any souvenirs from the Potter films? No. It was because of Alan, God bless him. The fabulous late Alan Rickman took all the gold coins from Gringotts bank... and from the day he did, that every single prop was on inventory forever. My wigs are now on touring exhibitions. I did complain about not having  a wand for a while, so they sent me one – and I promptly lost it. Star Trek’s about to take a two-month hiatus. What can we look forward to when it’s back? I can’t tell you. It's a bit like when I used to do magic. I was a very keen amateur magician, and people would ask me how the trick was done. But if you tell them they get annoyed and disappointed - because what they really want is the painful anticipation of not knowing. It’s like trailers. I hate so many trailers nowadays. I try to discourage my children – who are addicted to them – from watching them. If it's a film they want to see, what would be the point? Who gets a book and has a quick look at chapter three, chapter 10 and the last page? Star Trek: Discovery returns on January 7. The first nine episodes are available to watch now on Netflix

Jason Isaacs on Twitter bullies, being trolled by William Shatner, and Anthony Rapp's bravery: 'What he did was heroic'

When I first see Jason Isaacs, he’s barrelling down the corridor of a smart London hotel, being loudly and amusingly rude about a film he hasn’t liked, a brace of anxious PR people trailing in his wake.  First impressions can be revealing: Isaacs is not afraid to speak his mind. In conversation, Star Trek’s latest captain is a tanned, loquacious cannonball, leaning in slightly at the start of his sentences as if carried along by sheer force of momentum. While other actors laughed along with Sean Spicer’s jokes at the Emmys in September, that night Isaacs posted a photo of the ex-White house press secretary propping up the bar, with a caption calling him “the thuggish face of Orwellian doublespeak”, a “poisonous purveyor of lies” and a “modern day Geobbels”, with “the aura of a giant festering abscess”. This frankness is a quality that may have helped him in Armando Ianucci’s satire The Death of Stalin, in which he played Red Army commander Georgy Zhukov – the only person bold enough to criticise the dictator to his face. He has a knack for playing military strongmen (in Soldier, The Patriot and Black Hawk Down), and has recently returned to these kinds of roles, both in The Death of Stalin and alongside Brad Pitt’s grimy tank gunner in Fury. When it’s not soldiers, it’s creepy scientists (in Netflix drama The OA, and hospital horror A Cure for Wellness). His latest role is a bit of both. Gabriel Lorca, warmongering captain of the titular starship in Star Trek: Discovery, has a short temper, a Southern twang and a menagerie of captive aliens on which he carries out dubious experiments. Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca Credit: CBS On the spectrum of good to evil, Lorca is a long way from Patrick Stewart’s noble Captain Pickard. He may well be closer Lucius Malfoy, Draco’s slippery dad in the Harry Potter films. Malfoy remains Isaacs’s best known role but, curiously, the 54-year-old Liverpudlian also has fans who know him best as a kind of living meme. The phrase “Hello to Jason Isaacs” is a running joke on Radio 5’s film review show (on which Robbie Collin, film critic of this parish, occasionally pops up). It has since gone global. It's appeared as a blink-and-you'll-miss-it visual gag on Jay Leno’s chat show, and been read out over the tannoy at an Aston Villa match. Type “Jason Isaacs” into Google, and the website wishes him a cheery hello. Naturally, there was only one way to begin our conversation. Hello to Jason Isaacs. What’s the best “hello” you’ve had? Mostly ones where I’m not there. People have said in their PhD theses and in their wedding vows. I’ve had it across a canyon when I’ve been hiking, out of nowhere. [He yodels:] “Helloooo toooo Jaaaaason Isaaaaa…” Where was that? I’m trying to remember. I think it was probably California. I’ve had it in the airport, I’ve had it in the loo on a plane – which is maybe not the best time for it. Actually, I remember the best one: I was at a charity event and Sir Alan Parker was there. Obviously, I’d never met him – I lived so far below the bottom of the totem pole, and he sat on top. He said "Hello to Jason Isaacs," and I was like "No! Surely not!" How does Discovery measure up to previous Treks? I wouldn’t have taken the job had I thought that it was anything like any other Star Trek series, particularly the ones I grew up worshipping. I thought Kirk and Spock were one of the best double acts, and nobody should attempt any sort of pale reboot of that. Running around with a phaser looking heroic – that's been done, it’s been done to a Mount Rushmore level. This is a completely different animal, it's a 15-hour miniseries about identity and war and moral challenges, and everybody's got secrets and flaws. Have you meet any other Star Fleet alumni? I met Jon Frakes, who directed an episode of Discovery, and who played Riker [in The Next Generation]. He’s hilarious, and gave me a top tip. He said, “Are you having trouble with your hands, darling?” I said, “Yes, I don’t know where the f--- to put them – there’s no pockets in space!” He told me, "Don’t ever start a scene with your hands on your hips. You’ll never get them off." Didn’t you also have a strange to-do with William Shatner? Bill Shatner started to troll me online. I was misquoted about about Star Trek, and we got into this wild banter with each other. Then I met him and he seemed to have no knowledge of it at all. So I’m not sure he does his own Twitter feed, but I rather enjoy engaging with whoever online William Shatner is. The online Jason Isaacs can be rather feisty too. You spend quite a bit of time responding to trolls on social media, particularly the ones who say actors should steer clear of commenting on topical issues I don’t really understand this digital megaphone that we’re all given, but nonetheless it's there and I can use it. I don't like bullies – it seems absurd to say it – and I don’t like sexual predators and I don’t like racists. And I get to tell them so, and occasionally they try and defend themselves. If speaking out against racists, misogynists, bullies, homophobes, liars and warmongers ‘fogs’ my work...wipe the scum off your glasses. https://t.co/bacWRdtn8Y— Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) November 5, 2017 They should watch out, because it’s not just me. Most sane, moral people in the world don’t like them either, so they can stick their heads up above my parapet if they like, but they'll get them cut off. But that’s got nothing to do with the show. The show deals with these issues in a much more subtle, inclusive, far more optimistic way. Is Discovery a political show? I think the only reason to make it is because of current events, because of the political context. We live in very dark days where division and hatred and racism and misogyny are being propagated from the most powerful seats in the world. What was always very powerful about Star Trek is that it presented a vision of the future where these barriers didn't exist anymore – they weren't even in discussion. It's not front and centre in the story, but you’re looking at a bunch of people who solve problems together. Between them, gender, colour of skin, sexuality – none of these things present a barrier to success. 50 best TV shows on Netflix UK Your Discovery co-star Anthony Rapp was in the headlines recently, because of the awful experience he claims to have had with Kevin Spacey. You seem to be a close-knit cast. Is it something he’d spoken to you about before coming forward? No, it's a decision he made by himself. But we’re very close. We’re unbelievably proud of him, and inspired by him, because he took the decision to stick his neck out and tell a story when no-one else had. There were a couple of days of silence, where other people didn't [come forward] and I’m sure it was very worrying for him. But we were all very supportive and of course the stories are pouring out now. Did it come as a shock to you? I think are friendships aren’t really for public consumption, but it didn't come as a shock to me that he did something incredibly noble and brave. What he did was heroic. It's been incredibly heartening to see him proved right. With every one of these sexual predators being exposed, whose victims are having their day, you can’t help but feel that it might be part of a movement which will make things better for other people in the future.” Tweeting about Donald Trump’s administration, you’ve suggested we could be looking at quite a dark future. Do you think we’re moving closer to the utopian world of Star Trek, or further away from it? If you zoom out, to look at how people were behaving to each other hundreds of years ago, then there's no question that we’re moving towards it. Women’s lot has got better in the world, generally. Children get to go to school. There is an understanding through most of the world that people have rights - whether it be to an education, or that we look after each other when we’re sick and dying. Recently, I think we’ve slid a few feet back down the well in America, and I hope we’re going to arrest the tide of that slippage in Europe. People have been encouraged to come out from the shadows and say incredibly ugly, venal things… but if you look at the great sweep of history it’s all moving one way, and it's a positive way. But will we have time to get there? Will historians of the future understand, I wonder, that the escalating thermo-nuclear conflict that led to them scrabbling for survival on the smouldering remains of our planet came about because the American president was a mean girl? In a corset? https://t.co/dlyTNG9rPT— Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) November 12, 2017 How did you put your own stamp on Lorca? The whole thing’s a collaboration, but there are many things I’ve brought to it that weren’t on the page. I made him Southern because he’s a military man... and I wasn't aware of any other captains who’d been like that. It was reverse engineered; Lorca had to be unlike any other captain. I wouldn’t have played him English, as I didn't want to be a pale shadow of Patrick [Stewart]. I also decided to stand up; so in his little ready room there was a chair, and I said “Let's get rid of the chair,” because he’s a man of action – he doesn’t like sitting down. If you’ll forgive me a silly question, which Hogwarts house would Lorca be in? Oh, I can’t possibly answer that. He lives in Discovery. I thought the Harry Potter stories were so perfectly told, they’re sacred to me. I don’t like whoring them out... and I don’t like this kind of mish-mash, as if it's a product, a “franchise”. I get very upset, because for me a franchise is a drive-through burger place. I leave that alone. For instance, I don't like to do Lucius Malfoy's voice in Sainsburys when people ask me to do it for their kids – because he lives in that world and it is sealed forever. Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Credit: Film Stills Alright then. Did you keep any souvenirs from the Potter films? No. It was because of Alan, God bless him. The fabulous late Alan Rickman took all the gold coins from Gringotts bank... and from the day he did, that every single prop was on inventory forever. My wigs are now on touring exhibitions. I did complain about not having  a wand for a while, so they sent me one – and I promptly lost it. Star Trek’s about to take a two-month hiatus. What can we look forward to when it’s back? I can’t tell you. It's a bit like when I used to do magic. I was a very keen amateur magician, and people would ask me how the trick was done. But if you tell them they get annoyed and disappointed - because what they really want is the painful anticipation of not knowing. It’s like trailers. I hate so many trailers nowadays. I try to discourage my children – who are addicted to them – from watching them. If it's a film they want to see, what would be the point? Who gets a book and has a quick look at chapter three, chapter 10 and the last page? Star Trek: Discovery returns on January 7. The first nine episodes are available to watch now on Netflix

Saunders praises Celtic forward Moussa Dembele's qualities

The former Liverpool and Aston Villa star showered praise on the 21-year-old for his performance in Brendan Rodgers’s squad

Aston Villa Fan View: Our summer signings assessed

Aston Villa Fan View: Our summer signings assessed

Two Ireland fans pretended they were in a Martin Laursen fan club to get into the Denmark game

Former Aston Villa centre-back, Martin Laursen

For the Love of the Game: Two Ex-Premier League Players Join Non-League Side Egerton FC

Former ​Trinidad & Tobago international Jlloyd Samuel spent 12 years in the Premier League playing for the likes of Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers before finishing his league career in Iran.  Samuel has however resurfaced as ​​BBC Sport reports that the 36-year-old has become the player-manager of Egerton FC in the 12th tier of English football.  He plays and manages the Chesire League One side with former Ajax midfielder Dean Gorre as well as American businessman Jim Cherneski.  The...

For the Love of the Game: Two Ex-Premier League Players Join Non-League Side Egerton FC

Former ​Trinidad & Tobago international Jlloyd Samuel spent 12 years in the Premier League playing for the likes of Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers before finishing his league career in Iran.  Samuel has however resurfaced as ​​BBC Sport reports that the 36-year-old has become the player-manager of Egerton FC in the 12th tier of English football.  He plays and manages the Chesire League One side with former Ajax midfielder Dean Gorre as well as American businessman Jim Cherneski.  The...

For the Love of the Game: Two Ex-Premier League Players Join Non-League Side Egerton FC

Former ​Trinidad & Tobago international Jlloyd Samuel spent 12 years in the Premier League playing for the likes of Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers before finishing his league career in Iran.  Samuel has however resurfaced as ​​BBC Sport reports that the 36-year-old has become the player-manager of Egerton FC in the 12th tier of English football.  He plays and manages the Chesire League One side with former Ajax midfielder Dean Gorre as well as American businessman Jim Cherneski.  The...

For the Love of the Game: Two Ex-Premier League Players Join Non-League Side Egerton FC

Former ​Trinidad & Tobago international Jlloyd Samuel spent 12 years in the Premier League playing for the likes of Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers before finishing his league career in Iran.  Samuel has however resurfaced as ​​BBC Sport reports that the 36-year-old has become the player-manager of Egerton FC in the 12th tier of English football.  He plays and manages the Chesire League One side with former Ajax midfielder Dean Gorre as well as American businessman Jim Cherneski.  The...

For the Love of the Game: Two Ex-Premier League Players Join Non-League Side Egerton FC

Former ​Trinidad & Tobago international Jlloyd Samuel spent 12 years in the Premier League playing for the likes of Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers before finishing his league career in Iran.  Samuel has however resurfaced as ​​BBC Sport reports that the 36-year-old has become the player-manager of Egerton FC in the 12th tier of English football.  He plays and manages the Chesire League One side with former Ajax midfielder Dean Gorre as well as American businessman Jim Cherneski.  The...

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

The worst holidays of all time? Trips from hell revealed by Telegraph Travel writers

Being a travel journalist isn't all frills and five-star hotels. Telegraph Travel's regular contributors reveal their worst holiday experiences. Mauled by a lion in South Africa Charles Starmer-Smith  "You'd better put on an old jumper as you might get some blood on it," said our driver, with a grin, as we clambered into the Land Rover to visit the lion sanctuary at Legends resort, deep in Limpopo Province, in the far north of South Africa. I laughed it off, before slipping on the most padded jacket I had. This was a date with a lion after all. I took solace from the fact that the lion I was going to visit was called Mapimpan, which means “little baby” in Shangaan, and it was little more than a year old. The lion was just a few days old when Arrie, the sanctuary’s resident lion expert, found it wandering the roadside, injured and malnourished. It had been raised with a view to being released back into the wild. It was made clear that if I wanted to go into the lion’s enclosure it would be entirely at my own risk. It was a chance I was prepared to take. "You cannot show him any fear. And, above all, don’t turn and run. He’ll think you’re prey," said Arrie as we approached Mapimpan’s enclosure. I gulped and nodded. Arrie entered the pen. Heart surging, I slipped inside and the gate locked behind me. I approached slowly and bent down to stroke Mapimpan’s wiry underbelly. It pawed at my shoes, rolling on to its back. "He likes you," said Arrie with a smile. I began to relax, chuckling with disbelief. Then Mapimpan emitted a low growl as it circled around me. "Remember it just wants to play," said Arrie, sensing my fear. That was when the lion clamped its jaws around my calf, its teeth sinking into my flesh. It rose on to its haunches, towering above me and I was spun into a waltz with a 300lb predator – as I pushed desperately at its throat to keep away its jaws. This did not feel like playing. The worlds best wildlife holidays: an A-Z guide With a series of fierce clips to Mapimpan’s nose Arrie managed to get it to release me. I had to fight the overwhelming urge to run. But I remembered Arrie’s warning. So I stood there motionless, my heart thudding, my lungs gasping for air. Mapimpan seemed to be more docile now. I exhaled with relief. But then it slipped back through Arrie’s legs, and was on me again, its teeth bared as it lunged towards my neck. I raised my forearm to divert its jaws from my face, then felt razor-sharp teeth ripping into my shoulder. The next few seconds were a blur of claws, teeth and shouts as I stumbled around, helpless against the power of this animal. Not a moment too soon, Arrie managed to free me from Mapimpan’s clutches, cornering it on the far side of the enclosure. It was my cue to leave. People ask whether I blame Arrie for putting me in that predicament, and my answer is still no. It was my choice to go in and it is an experience I will never forget, despite the stitches I needed after "playing" with Mapimpan. An unwanted houseguest in Croatia Peter Hardy It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us. "I think someone's living in the garage beneath us," said our 11-year-old daughter. Someone was - the owner of our holiday villa on the Croatian island of Brac, plus five members of his family. When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company. The family's clothes were still in the bedroom cupboards, and other belongings were scattered everywhere. Our young children were intrigued to discover a dresser drawer stuffed with sex aids and porno films. Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping. A trip to Brac, Croatia, didn't work out too well for Peter Hardy Credit: FOTOLIA "You can swim from the door," stated the brochure. Not quite. First you had to cross a road to reach the harbour wall of the busy little port. Yes you could swim here, but it took us a morning to discover that the water was heavily polluted with sewage. Our 14-year-old son immediately developed a serious skin infection and we spent much of our two weeks queuing outside the (excellent) doctor's surgery. At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming. Charged by an elephant in Zambia Brian Jackman  Back in the early 1980s when I was still new to Africa I went into Zambia's Kafue National Park on a walking safari with a veteran guide called Cecil Evans. The bush was dense in places and I was relieved to see that he carried a rifle. Suddenly, without warning a very aggressive bull elephant exploded from the trees and came straight for us, head high and screaming like an express train. "Stay where you are and don't run," said Evans, a singularly worthless piece of advice since my legs had already turned to jelly, rendering the option of running impossible. He stepped forward, slapped the butt of his gun and shouted obscenities at the angry tusker, which skidded to a halt just a few metres in front of us, shaking its huge ragged ears as it towered over us. Elephants: approach with caution Credit: 2630ben - Fotolia There followed a nail-biting stand off which ended only when Evans took off his bush hat and hurled it at the elephant, screaming "Bugger off" at the top of his voice, after which the big bull spun round and lumbered off into the bush, ripping a sapling out of the ground as it did so. Had we been subjected to a mock charge or faced down the real thing? "Could have gone either way," said Evans afterwards, "but I sure didn't want to shoot unless I had to."  Taken for a ride in Vietnam Trisha Andres My German friend Lilian and I had just landed in Hanoi. We were hungry and tired and desperate to get to our hotel. At the airport, around a dozen young Vietnamese men in neat black suits approached us and offered taxis. We chose one that looked benign and professional. He quoted us $10. Outside, he waved down a car and got in the passenger seat. My friend and I exchanged looks. Was he not the driver? A muscular man stepped out of the cab and carried our luggage to the boot. We were confused but exhausted and just got in the car. As we approached the city border, the muscular man turned around and said: "You have to pay $50 each for the toll fee." I protested. Unsure of the situation, I said I’d speak to the woman at an information desk, little more than a hut located nearby. I asked her in English if we were really meant to pay a fee. She shrugged. She didn’t speak English, nor I Vietnamese. I went back to the car and insisted we were not paying and we drove on through the tollgate. I noted no exchange of money was made. I felt relieved - we were on our way. But then we pulled into a petrol station. The two men looked back at us and the man beside the driver said: "We did a favour for you; we paid for the tollgate fee. Now you do us a favour and pay for the petrol." I was aghast. "What kind of a taxi is this! We agreed on $10 and that’s all we’re paying." Frustrated by our refusal to pay for the fuel, both men stomped out of the car.  Lilian turned to me, looking alarmed. "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" "That locking sound. Check your door. My door’s been locked from the inside." "I can’t open mine either." My mind raced. Instinctively, I jumped onto the passenger seat from the back seat and pried open the door. It too was locked. I moved over to the driver seat and noted that the window was half-way open. I forced it down and opened the door from outside. I jumped out and let Lilian out too. I pulled the boot lever to take our luggage out. The two men looked alarmed – as if they had just been found out. As soon as we had pulled our luggage out of the boot, they rushed back into the car and drove off. The scene looked like something from a Western, dust trailing behind the car. We stayed there standing, with our luggage. The petrol staff were sat on stools, munching on cucumbers, looking at us like we were mental. I looked up at the sky. It was dark, no stars that night. Stray dogs barked nearby. We were in the middle of nowhere. Hoi An, Vietnam Credit: Copyright:Khoroshunova/Photographer:VoldHoro Scammed in India Cat Weakley Beware the Delhi scammers. After arriving at the airport back in the 1990s we (cleverly, we thought) caught the bus to our hotel in Connaught Circus. The bus was (amusingly, we thought) chased all the way by tuk tuk drivers. They arrived before us and proceeded to convince us that the hotel - and every other hotel in the city - was fully booked. Furthermore, we were told there was civil unrest, with tourists being targeted, buses being attacked, a curfew in place and the British embassy closed. Our only choice? A taxi to Agra for $200. We didn't die on the journey, and we ended up paying $120. But still... On another trip to India, around the same time, reps from the Jammu & Kashmir tourist office convinced us to fly to Srinagar, as it was "perfectly safe". It was only on the plane that we spotted the headline: "Shooting has broken out at 200 points in city of Srinagar". We spent a few fraught evening as the only tourists on a fleet of houseboats, watching nightly displays of gunfire.  Incredible photos of India by Steve McCurry The long road to Hanoi Oliver Smith  I've been chased by flying cockroaches in Ko Pha Ngan, robbed in Oruru, and slept through my birthday after drinking several bottles of Bière du Démon (12% ABV) in Paris, but for protracted agony, nothing matched the 27-hour bus ride I endured with an ex-girlfriend from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi in Vietnam. Most people take the plane, and our Lonely Planet guidebook said the journey was highly inadvisable, but we would save hundreds of pounds that could be better spent on Chang beer and a trip to Ha Long Bay. We turned up on time, tickets in hand, but of our bus there was no sign. Half an hour later, we figured we'd been scammed and found another travel agent down the road. A service would be leaving shortly, and there were two seats going spare. What luck. As we boarding the battered old coach, we quickly realised our folly. We were the only tourists on board, and far from the sleeper service of my dreams, our bus was being used to ship every conceivable supply across the border into Vietnam, from George Foreman Grills to wicker furniture. The floor and the footwells were covered with sacks of grain and rice, meaning leg room was non-existent. My feet rested level with my waist and my knees were pressed hard against the chair in front - in this position I remained for more than a day. Hanoi: arriving by plane is recommended Credit: shafali2883 - Fotolia As we left Vientiane the light rain became a thunderstorm (this was the rainy season), and we were soon struggling at a snail's pace through muddy, barely finished roads. There was no air conditioning (obviously), and stops were sporadic and unscheduled. We paused for a few hours at a roadside restaurant to allow the driver some respite - I even nodded off myself. But then he went inside for breakfast, leaving the coach door open and all the lights on. I woke with swarms of insects flying around my head. Innumerable hair-raising manoeuvres later, and after a two-hour wait at the border (featuring the obligatory attempt by immigration officials to extort money from the unwitting foreigner), we arrived in Hanoi, bruised, battered, but not quite broken.  More holidays from hell Attacked by a sea lion in Antarctica On holiday with Hurricane Rita My brush with death in Bhutan A rogue sausage in France Anthony Peregrine  I've been mugged in Naples, chased from a brothel in Nashville (it looked like a regular bar, honest) and attacked by fleas the size of cats in a King's Cross doss-house - but nothing compared to the suffering caused by a rogue French sausage. The saucisse-de-Toulouse was bought from a stand inside the ground of Agen Rugby Club. It was too long to fit in its bun, and irresistible in a primal way, as the best-looking sausages always are. It proved an ideal accompaniment to the leathering handed out to local lads by Northampton Saints RFC. ("That Steve Thomson - he's got legs like cooling towers," said an Agen fan, admiringly.) Meat lust proved Anthony Peregrine's outdoing Following the match, I joined both French and English supporters in moderate celebration and/or drowning of sorrows, before returning to my hotel bed. From which, a couple of hours later, I was obliged to leap before hurtling to the bathroom where I stayed, pretty much full time, for the next three days. My short break in Agen, timed to tie in with the match, turned into the longest comfort stop in recent French history. The hotel called a doctor who proved more interested in talking rugby than my imminent death. "It will just have to work its way through the system," he said. "If any more works its way through my bloody system I'll have to bring in outside supplies," I replied. On the fourth day I emerged - thinner, whiter and wiser. I vowed then and there never again to buy food, hot or cold, from an outdoor vendor anywhere at any time - and I never have. Except once, when I fell for grasshopper gruel in Orizaba, Mexico - but you really don't want to hear about that.  The hotel from hell in Costa Rica Joanna Symons  One of the best holidays I've ever had with my family was a trip to Costa Rica. We saw a magnificently erupting volcano, a magical quetzal bird in the cloud forest, rainbow-billed toucans and a four-eyed opossum. But there was one black spot - a hotel that still sends shivers down my spine. It was a so-called eco lodge, three miles from the nearest road and even further from any town or village, and we were dropped off there for three days of outdoor adventure. If I'd seen our room before our driver left us, I'd have leapt on the bonnet to stop him. A cheerless, cramped little box in the grounds, with just enough room for two double beds. One wall was composed entirely of flimsy, wafer-thin glass, held in place by a DIY-looking wooden frame - potentially lethal for two jack-in-the-box boys aged nine and 11. Things didn't get any better when we walked to the main hotel building where a dinner buffet was laid out on grubby tablecloths crawling with flies. The food looked as though it was left-overs from a party the night before, so we made do with some slices of stale bread and joined the entire hotel staff by the television (unsurprisingly there didn't seem to be any other resident guests) to watch Costa Rica play a World Cup football match. By half time the boys were nearly asleep so I took them back through the now lamplit grounds while my husband, beer and Costa Rica flag in hand, settled down for the second half. As we passed some bushes I heard a rustle and glanced down to see a large snake flex and whip across the path between me and the two boys - who were just a few yards ahead. In the dim light it looked horribly like a deadly Fer de Lance viper. The boys were oblivious, thank heavens, but that was only because they were preoccupied by the ferocious barking of a large dog - which seemed to be getting closer and closer... We were nearly back to our room and as the dog closed in, the boys began to run. I fumbled for the key as an enormous mastiff-cum-werewolf bounded towards us. The nine year old panicked and fell headlong, the 11 year-old yelled blue murder, I prepared to throw myself in front of the fangs and then - miraculously - a hotel security guard burst out of the darkness and grabbed the dog just as it was about to leap. Apologising profusely in Spanish, he clipped it to a thick chain and - with difficulty - dragged it away. Costa Rica's lovely if you choose the right hotel Credit: www.bogdanlazar.ro/Bogdan Lazar We had no car, no mobile reception and it was miles to the nearest town, so we had to stick it out for the night. But the next morning I borrowed the hotel phone and - in a stage whisper because the manager was hovering nearby - begged our local tour operator to rescue us. By lunchtime we were in a clean, safe hotel in a nearby town. It was only £50 a night for the four of us, but it felt like the Ritz. Bitten in Paris - and compared to Thatcher Hannah Meltzer It was the summer after A-Levels, so three friends and I decided to reward our hard work in French class with a holiday in Paris. With a budget of £10 per person per night for accomodation, we checked into a four-person room in a two-star hotel. A couple of days in, one of our number woke up with itchy pink spots all over her arm; we went directly to the local pharmacy, who, though unsure what they were dealing, prescribed - in true Gallic style - a vast range of potions and ointments, including a throat spray (I'm still not sure why). As the days passed, two more of the group were afflicted with horrible, itchy marks. After another trip to the pharmacy, we realised they were bed bug bites. We complained to the hotel owner - a deeply jaded man, who seemed to have given up on life around the same time he gave up on his hotel. He told us: “These are not bed bug bites! You’ve all been running around Paris doing god know’s what - you probably picked up some fleas off a dog.” Charming.  An insider's guide to Paris 01:39 Not to be deterred, we located our nearest internet cafe (these were the days before smartphones) and printed out images of bed bug bites. We brought them back to our unsympathetic friend and used a mixture of hand gestures and shaky French to hammer home the point that our afflictions were indeed caused by critters residing in our hotel. After some tough negotiations, he offered us a refund of 50 euros each and the right to leave early without paying the bill, as well as - bafflingly - a bottle of Champagne (to toast the bugs, perhaps). He didn’t let us leave, however, without a parting word communicating his reluctant respect for our bargaining skills: “Vous êtes strong English women... like Margaret Thatcher.”  Struck down in Magaluf  Charles Starmer-Smith  I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, high on post-A-level euphoria and numerous cut-price cocktails, when I stepped out of a bar in Magaluf in June 1997. After six sheltered years in public school, my friends and I were revelling in being on our first holiday away from our parents. It took three seconds for that feeling to vanish. As I opened the door I took a sledgehammer punch in the stomach. Doubled over and gasping for air, I managed to raise my head and catch a glimpse of three or four football shirts: the blue and claret of West Ham, or was it Aston Villa? A second blow to the back of my head was the last I remember. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the gutter, covered in my own vomit and blood, nursing bruised ribs, and with boot marks across my stomach and a gash on my head. My watch, wallet and shoes were all gone, along with one of my eyebrows. It had been shaved off. Magaluf: what could go wrong? Credit: JAIME REINA The bald Alsatian of Andalusia Johnny Morris I was studying in Granada, Spain and very keen to show off the "real" Andalusia to my much missed girlfriend visiting from London. My sketchy research took us to the outskirts of Malaga where I had been told that we could find authentic and cheap accommodation for the start of our holiday. With no TripAdvisor, no smartphone and not a lot of common sense, I knocked on the first door of a dilapidated row of cottages next to the busy docks road. The family who were in the middle of supper (fish bones, white bread and industrial brandy) looked a little annoyed when I cheerfully trotted out my well rehearsed "Habitacion doble, por favor?" With a shrug the eldest son took us inside and pointed us to what can be only be described as Wild West jail cell complete with a straw strewn floor. Looking for a bed in the tatty gloom I was surprised to find that the room was already occupied by large dog. The boy whistled and out of the darkness came an Alsatian with a huge hairy head and a completely shaved body. The bizarre combination made the evicted beast look both terrifying and pathetic at the same time. Open mouthed we stumbled out an excuse and escaped to a place down the road that offered the relative comfort of a neon 'Hostal' sign. We then spent a sleepless night trying to forget the bald Alastian while listening to neighbouring guests energetically entertaining passing lorry drivers on an hourly paid basis. 'Authentic' Andalusia lost some of its appeal that evening and unsurprisingly my girlfriend never visited me in Spain again.  Where's the authentic bit? Stuck in the mud of Iceland Hugh Morris I got my camper van stuck in silt on the first evening of an Icelandic road trip and had to call the police only to be told, rather unsympathetically, my girlfriend and I would have to call out a tow truck. Deciding I did not want to do that - and pay for it - I attempted to flag down a saviour on the three-cars-an-hour roadside. I was eventually rescued by a man returning home from a midnight fishing trip on his quad bike who eyed up the situation, drove home, and returned with his 4x4, pulled the van out and give us the head of a freshly-caught salmon as way of recompense for his country's pesky and deceptively unstable river banks.  TOP 10 | The worlds happiest countries Skiing hell in Slovenia Adrian Bridge There are moments when you know almost immediately as your plane touches down that something is wrong, very wrong.  I had one as soon as we landed in Ljubljana for the start of what was going to be the annual Bridge brothers ski escape. The sky looked ominously grey, the temperature was ominously warm. And almost immediately it started raining. We tried to cheer ourselves. It might be dull and wet here in downtown Ljubljana, but up in those mountains it was all going to be pristine snow and breathtaking views and and lung-cleansingly clear air, right? Wrong. As we drove north the following morning we had a sinking feeling that all was not well. True, we did ski in Krvavec - if you can call spending two hours repeatedly going down pure sludge on the sole slope that was open skiing. Surely higher up it would be better? Snow is a key part of skiing Our plan had been to base ourselves on the beautiful lake of Bohinj and from there to strike out to the resorts of Vogel, Kanin and Kranjska Gora, all of which looked stunning (or so the pictures indicated). But it was not to be: just as the insistent rain lower down had reduced the slopes of Krvavec to a miserable mush, a dramatic downpour of snow at altitude had resulted in the complete closure for safety reasons of the resorts higher up. For four days we comforted ourselves with touristy trips to the picturesque Lake Bled and games of backgammon. We visited Kobarid and learnt about the extraordinary First World War front that had been carved into the ice ridges of the mountains. We ate cream cakes and drank lots of Slovenian wine. (On our final night we ended up having a rather splendid evening with the mayor of Bled, but that’s another story.) Sure we were upset that we had been denied the surge of energy and the health-restoring excitement that comes from hurtling down the slopes at speed, but there had been some compensations. And needless to say, when the time came to board the plane back from Ljubljana, the skies had cleared, the temperatures had dropped and we got our first (and only) glimpse of the spectacular Julian Alps. Dogged by suspicion in Colombia Michael Kerr  Colombia's fascinating, but it's not a country where you want to be suspected of drug smuggling. It happened to me twice. The first time, en route from Cartagena to Bogotá, I was told that my checked-in suitcase had excited a sniffer dog. Two policemen took me back through security and went through everything, sniffing at clothes, books and toiletries and jabbing a penknife through the soles of my walking boots. I worried that something might have been planted on me. I had visions of a night in a cell and a visit from a sceptical British consul. Then one of the officers twisted the lid off a bottle of handwash gel, sniffed deeply, and said, "It must have been this." Both of them apologised and one escorted me back through security to ensure I didn't miss my flight. A few hours later, waiting in Bogotá for a flight to Madrid, I heard my name called again. Once more, my case was turned inside out. The pages of books were fanned - including those of Rosario Tijeras, a novel by the Colombian writer Jorge Franco about a young woman who gets mixed up with the drug cartels. Finding nothing of interest, the officers stuffed everything back in and I did my best to tidy it up. This time they had been brusquer and there was no apology. Yes, I should have dumped the bottle of gel after the cop's guess that that was what had excited the dog in Cartagena. But I was rattled and in a rush. The label on the gel said "it kills 99 per cent of bacteria". Maybe. But if sniffer dogs take it for drogas, I won't be carrying it again.  Don't excite sniffer dogs in Colombia Credit: Leonardo Spencer/Leonardo Spencer Snowed in at Stansted Nick Trend December 2010. Stansted Airport. Booked on an EasyJet flight to Geneva for a long-anticipated family ski holiday in Val Thorens. Standing at the terminal gate looking at the heavy grey snow clouds creeping towards us. "We'd better board soon," I think, or the snow will close the airport. A few flurries. "Your flight has been delayed for half an hour because of the late arrival of the incoming plane". Snow settling. "Please board and take your seats as quickly as possible". View from the plane window - tarmac covered in snow. Half an hour later, still at the gate - six inches of snow. An hour later. "I'm sorry to say the airport has been closed, please disembark from the forward exit". No affordable alternative flights for four days. A skiing holiday cancelled because of snow.  Top 10 | UKs busiest airports A campervan catastrophe in New Zealand Belinda Maude I  attempted to drive a rather tall camper van into a multi-storey car park after my trusty passenger assured me we'd fit. The shower of fiber glass from above was the first indication that this might not be the case. After reversing back out onto the street and causing a minor traffic jam in the city of Dunedin we drove three-and-a-half hours up the NZ coast with a gaping whole in the roof. It rained the entire way. Tears were shed as my Mum has loaned us the money for the (hefty) insurance fee.  Feeling sheepish in Santiago Jolyon Attwooll I was feeling exhausted but smug as I strutted down the arrivals corridor at Santiago Airport in Chile. Having negotiated a night marooned in indecent hours in a lonely terminal in Buenos Aires, I was ready launch myself into my first project as a guidebook writer. Oh yes, it was a globe-trotting life of glamour for me, always on the road, in the know, and assured in foreign places... except now I couldn't find my passport for the life of me. I delved into every pocket, unpacked and repacked my bag, then unpacked again. Suffice to say, it wasn't there. My first act on Chilean soil (airports don't count) as an all-knowing guidebook writer was a sheepish visit to airport police to report a lost passport. Santiago: you'll need a passport Credit: ALAMY I would love to tell you how much better it got travelling around Chile, and in a way it did. Although I had to shift my schedule around as the British Consulate sorted out my travel documents, I still covered a lot of ground, painstakingly filing away reams of colourful descriptions, phone numbers and opening hours. I certainly felt more fortunate than the poor bugger posted to Patagonia, who found much of the area shut down for winter, and ended up whiling away most of his trip chatting to fishermen. But then there was my trip home. Oh, I made it back in timely fashion, tightly clutching my fresh maroon passport. However, those documents, notes and brochures, all carefully stashed into my rucksack and dropped off trustingly at the airport check-in... well, they weren't quite so lucky.  Robbed on Christmas Day Henry Druce Disaster struck in the early hours. I was in a brand new rented campervan with my wife and another couple on what was planned as a budget ski trip to the Alps. We set off early in the morning from London, caught our ferry to Calais in good time, and then started the long journey to Chamonix.  By 2am we were exhausted, and decided to stop at a service station for a nap. The next thing I knew it was morning with light streaming through the windows and I heard my wife say: “Where’s my purse?” Half asleep, I looked around and realised I didn’t have my wallet either. Next thing I heard the couple, sleeping in the back, exclaim: “Where’s all our ski gear?”  It soon became clear we had been robbed of almost everything of value, including cash, credit cards, iPods, skis and even our winter clothing. We couldn’t fathom how the robbers did it without us hearing. We lost more than £3,000 worth of kit. So much for a budget holiday! And just to add insult to injury, it was Christmas Day. The confessions of an air hostess

FILE PHOTO: Ireland's goalkeeper Shay Given celebrates at the end of the Group E match against Germany at the World Cup Finals in Ibaraki

FILE PHOTO: Ireland's goalkeeper Shay Given celebrates at the end of the Group E match against Germany at the World Cup Finals in Ibaraki, Japan, June 5, 2002. REUTERS/Mark Baker/File Photo

Shay Given lifts the lid on Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, the Republic of Ireland's 'bad cop, bad cop' coaching combo

Shay Given lifts the lid on Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, the Republic of Ireland's 'bad cop, bad cop' coaching combo

Shay Given lifts the lid on Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, the Republic of Ireland's 'bad cop, bad cop' coaching combo

Shay Given lifts the lid on Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, the Republic of Ireland's 'bad cop, bad cop' coaching combo

Shay Given lifts the lid on Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, the Republic of Ireland's 'bad cop, bad cop' coaching combo

Shay Given lifts the lid on Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, the Republic of Ireland's 'bad cop, bad cop' coaching combo

Shay Given lifts the lid on Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, the Republic of Ireland's 'bad cop, bad cop' coaching combo

Shay Given lifts the lid on Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, the Republic of Ireland's 'bad cop, bad cop' coaching combo

Your Premier League club's saviour: Who is going to return and save the season?

Nothing enhances a player's reputation like being absent as his team struggle. While those on the pitch are guilty by association, players waiting in the wings become potential saviours - their positive attributes embellished and their flaws forgotten. We might call this dynamic the 'Abou Diaby Phenomenon', a player who will be eternally judged by what he might have become rather than what he was. So who are the players ready to return and save your team's season? Arsenal  Jack Wilshere  A fully fit Santi Cazorla is the player Arsenal really need, but that looks a distant prospect given he now has part of his arm grafted to his ankle. Jack Wilshere has made five starts in the Europa League and Carabao Cup, but has played little more than 20 minutes in the Premier League. 'Super, super Jack' is sung by travelling Arsenal fans from the early stages of away matches, and he is a player who embodies the idealised absentee. When fans close their eyes and think of Wilshere the player, they see what he used to be rather than the player he now is. Arsenal floundered against Manchester City's aggressive pressing, when they really could have used a player with Wilshere's ability to keep the ball in tight spaces and wriggle away from opposition pressure. Wilshere's gametime has been severely limited this season Credit: Getty images Bournemouth  Callum Wilson On the verge of an England call-up and subject to several, slightly lazy, Jermain Defoe comparisons, Wilson's career was shattered by a cruciate knee ligament injury in September 2015. The Bournemouth forward worked his way back from that serious injury, only to sustain ligament damage in his other knee this January.  Eddie Howe is easing him back to action, with one Premier League start and one substitute appearance in October. Bournemouth's style of play means they will never be the league's tightest defence, so they need to outscore teams and Wilson can help them do that. He was a sharp, penalty-box striker before the injuries, adept at turning on a sixpence and getting shots off unexpectedly (hence the Defoe comparisons). Football fans of all stripes would love to see him back to that level.  Wilson's goals could help Bournemouth secure safety Credit: PA Brighton and Hove Albion  Sam Baldock  Brighton have kept most of their key men fit, but Sam Baldock is one player who was a reliable squad member in the Championship and has yet to play in the top flight due to a calf strain. Missing a large chunk of pre-season invariably leads to a truncated campaign, but Brighton will hope Baldock can return to add welcome depth over the Christmas period. He signed a new three-year contract at the end of last season, so Chris Hughton clearly believes in him.  Burnley  Tom Heaton  High-flying Burnley do not need saving after a fine start to the season, but although Nick Pope has deputised brilliantly they will be even stronger for having their No.1 back. With Joe Hart's stock falling and the rough edges in Jordan Pickford's game becoming more apparent at Goodison Park, Heaton could rival Jack Butland at England level. There is always a question mark over goalkeepers at clubs such as Burnley, who play behind a packed defence and are heavily involved. How he copes behind a higher defensive line while having fewer saves to make will decide if he gets a big move.  Chelsea  N'Golo Kante The ball-winning midfielder returned for Chelsea's victory over Manchester United and made an immediate difference. The champions will be stronger after the international break with Kante in their midfield, and his importance has only increased since the sale of Nemanja Matic. A central midfield of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas is exciting with the ball, but provides too little protection for Chelsea's back three without it.  Kante returned to action last week Credit: Getty images That said, Kante's reputation has become slightly inflated. He is a very effective specialist, who brings vital balance, but has found himself exposed by high quality opponents such as Christian Eriksen and Mesut Ozil in big matches.  Crystal Palace Christian Benteke He might not be the striker Palace fans want, but might be the one they need. Wilfried Zaha has looked impressive playing through the middle, but one injury and Roy Hodgson would be looking at Andros Townsend up front. Hodgson has favoured 4-4-2 in his previous club jobs, and Benteke and Zaha could prove a complementary partnership.  The temptation with a striker like Benteke is to play too long, too early. The Belgian is static - the issue that has stopped him succeeding at 'Big Six' level - and is not going to create his own chances. He needs to ball brought to him, and Zaha can certainly do that. The former Aston Villa man also has a habit of scoring goals in spring, which could prove the difference in a relegation battle. Like a modern-day John Stead, if you will.  Everton  Ross Barkley Ostracised by Ronald Koeman and a transfer target for both Chelsea and Spurs, it could be too late for Barkley to revive his Everton career. But it need not be. If the new manager takes a shine to him, Barkley's return could be like a new signing for Everton.  Not another Everton No.10, I hear you say. But Barkley possesses qualities not shared by Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klassen. He is more of a ball-carrier, capable of stepping past his man and disrupting the opponent's defensive shape. Too often, his decision-making has disappointed and he has a bad habit of taking too many touches rather than letting the ball do the work. But he does bring a touch of 'fear factor' to Everton, who have looked slow and pedestrian this season. That only liberates teams to attack their fragile defence with abandon, because there now there is nothing to be scared of in the other direction. For all Barkley's faults, teams will worry about him because he is capable of driving straight through the heart of a team. Huddersfield Town Philip Billing Not due back until the New Year, but Billing is a player with huge potential. A rangy central midfielder who impressed a wider audience in Huddersfield's FA Cup replay at Manchester City last season, the left-footed Billing would bring balance to David Wagner's team. Still only 21, he might not start every Premier League game but could prove a joker in the pack come the second half of the season - important because teams will start to work then out. Philip Billing got injured against Swansea in mid-October Credit: getty images Leicester City Vicente Iborra Craig Shakespeare never had the chance to work with Leicester's big summer purchase from Sevilla as Iborra missed the first few months of the season through injury. He has worked his way back up to fitness though, scoring in a 2-2 draw at Stoke last time out. Claude Puel will need him to stay fit, and to form a true partnership with Wilfred Ndidi. Leicester are looking to rebuild their midfield following the departure of Kante and Danny Drinkwater over the past 18 months.  Liverpool  Adam Lallana  The former Southampton midfielder was an acquired taste for a while, with critics accusing him of looking neat and silky without any threat to the opposition. That was dispelled last season when Lallana became one of the first names on the team sheet for club and country. His tireless energy fits Jurgen Klopp's co-ordinated press perfectly, but he also brings Liverpool welcome guile and creativity.  At times, Liverpool can rely too much on speed of foot, and when teams sit deep and deny them space to gallop into they struggle. Jordan Henderson offers little cutting edge from deep, but Lallana is the ideal link between him and Liverpool's biggest strength - their front three. Even Philippe Coutinho can be a little bombastic and individualistic to fulfill this role, but Lallana is a real team player. Manchester City  Vincent Kompany  Unlike Bonnie Tyler, City are not holding out for a hero as they sit eight points clear at the top of the Premier League. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola would welcome having the experience of Vincent Kompany available again. Despite his propensity to dive into challenges and wander out of position, City's captain does bring added assurance to their other defenders (though John Stones has been excellent of late). The team is evolving away from Kompany, for too long they have relied on him to be a sticking plaster, but as they try to close out the title in the second half of the season they might need him. Manchester United  Paul Pogba The most egregious case of a player's reputation sky-rocketing from the treatment table. Pogba is undoubtedly Man Utd's best central midfielder, but you do wonder if some fans are expecting a super hero to return to and turn Jose Mourinho's team into cavalier title challengers. No matter how much money you spend or how much squad depth a manager has, every elite team have three of four players who cannot be replaced  - and Pogba is one of United's.  United are desperate to get Pogba back Credit: Getty images Whether their football should have deteriorated quite as dramatically however, is debatable. Pogba's return will get United moving through the thirds more smoothly and provide better service into Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.  Newcastle United  Aleksandar Mitrovic  There are good reasons not to play Aleksandar Mitrovic, not least his tendency to pick up at least three red cards a season. But Newcastle have looked toothless in front of goal of late, and there is no doubt Mitrovic is what is technically known as a 'handful'. Joselu has not been the upgrade Rafael Benitez was hoping for, while Dwight Gayle looks to be another David Nugent or Rob Hulse. Mitrovic provides more aerial threat, and with the right service from wide areas could be dangerous.  Southampton Mario Lemina The former Juventus midfielder has only been out injured for a few weeks, but that is enough to remind Southampton fans of his quality. A couple of the big clubs might regret not taking a chance on this genuine all-rounder, who was controlling games for Mauricio Pellegrino in the early weeks of the season - and went toe-to-toe with Nemanja Matic and Pogba at St Mary's. He might not solve their goalscoring problems, but Southampton need Lemina back. Stoke City Bruno Martins Indi Missed most of September and October with groin and pelvis injuries, and versatile defender Martins Indi would give Stoke's backline a better balance. Mark Hughes has favoured a back three this season, which suits the Dutch defender who is comfortable in one-against-one scenarios and can play as either of the outside centre backs. Mame Biram Diouf still looks a liability at right-wing back, and Martins Indi's presence might allow a more senior defender to slot into the role Diouf currently occupies.  Swansea Renato Sanches One of the most exciting acquisitions of the transfer window, Renato Sanches has not quite scaled the heights of Euro 2016 during his time at Swansea. He arrived lacking first-team minutes, looked extremely rusty and has since picked up a thigh problem. However, if Paul Clement can harness his abundant talent then he could prove the difference between Premier League survival and relegation.  The signing of Renato Sanches was billed has a huge coup for Swansea Credit: Getty images Under Clement, Swansea are a team comfortable without possession. They have conceded only three away goals this season, and picked up away draws against Man Utd, Spurs and a victory at Anfield during his tenure. They tend to fall short in games when they are asked to take the initiative - losing at home to Watford, Leicester and Brighton already this season. Sanches is the type of player who can take the ball and drive them forward at the Liberty Stadium  Tottenham Hotspur Mousa Dembele  Everything is going swimmingly for Mauricio Pochettino, but if he could choose an early Christmas present it might be a fully-fit Mousa Dembele. Eric Dier has covered well for Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks has kept things ticking while even Moussa Sissoko has been halfway component. But Dembele in full flow is a cut above the rest.  Pochettino once remarked that Spurs 'don't exist' without him, and it is to the Tottenham manager's immense credit that he has found solutions that negate his absence. But it is no coincidence that Dele Alli has struggled for form (until his two goals against Real Madrid) while Dembele has sat on the bench. Alli does all of his best work without the ball, arriving into the picture late-on in moves and adding the final shot, pass or deft flick.  This means he has to be surrounded by teammates who can get the ball to him - which is why England are unlikely to see the best of him. Christian Eriksen's clipped crosses and incisive passing are one route, but Dembele's dribbles are another and they cannot be replicated. He can also take the ball on the back foot under pressure, and the attention his runs attract leaves space for Alli.  Watford  Roberto Pereyra A player who can be as much of a match-winner for Watford as Richarlison, but he keeps picking up injuries. The former Juventus midfielder adds quality to Marco Silva's side - though he would do little to make sure they stop throwing away leads. You also fancy Pereyra would have scored the penalty Tom Cleverly missed with the game on the line at Everton.  Pereyra scored at Chelsea recently Credit: Getty images West Brom James Morison Will he save West Brom's season? No. But Morison is a reliable player they have had to do without, and one of their only midfielders capable of scoring the odd goal (if Tony Pulis doesn't tether him 10 yards in front of the centre backs). Has a good shot on him from outside of the box, and times his runs into the penalty area well.  West Ham James Collins  No team has conceded more goals than David Moyes's new charges, and despite their apparent lack of pace the steadying presence of James Collins could prove beneficial. The 'Ginger Pele' - as West Ham fans affectionately refer to him - would allow Winston Reid to move to the right side a back three and stop Cheikhou Kouyate playing in that role. Nothing special or transformative, but you can be sure David Moyes will use him. Unless he signs Phil Jagielka and Paddy McNair. 

Your Premier League club's saviour: Who is going to return and save the season?

Nothing enhances a player's reputation like being absent as his team struggle. While those on the pitch are guilty by association, players waiting in the wings become potential saviours - their positive attributes embellished and their flaws forgotten. We might call this dynamic the 'Abou Diaby Phenomenon', a player who will be eternally judged by what he might have become rather than what he was. So who are the players ready to return and save your team's season? Arsenal  Jack Wilshere  A fully fit Santi Cazorla is the player Arsenal really need, but that looks a distant prospect given he now has part of his arm grafted to his ankle. Jack Wilshere has made five starts in the Europa League and Carabao Cup, but has played little more than 20 minutes in the Premier League. 'Super, super Jack' is sung by travelling Arsenal fans from the early stages of away matches, and he is a player who embodies the idealised absentee. When fans close their eyes and think of Wilshere the player, they see what he used to be rather than the player he now is. Arsenal floundered against Manchester City's aggressive pressing, when they really could have used a player with Wilshere's ability to keep the ball in tight spaces and wriggle away from opposition pressure. Wilshere's gametime has been severely limited this season Credit: Getty images Bournemouth  Callum Wilson On the verge of an England call-up and subject to several, slightly lazy, Jermain Defoe comparisons, Wilson's career was shattered by a cruciate knee ligament injury in September 2015. The Bournemouth forward worked his way back from that serious injury, only to sustain ligament damage in his other knee this January.  Eddie Howe is easing him back to action, with one Premier League start and one substitute appearance in October. Bournemouth's style of play means they will never be the league's tightest defence, so they need to outscore teams and Wilson can help them do that. He was a sharp, penalty-box striker before the injuries, adept at turning on a sixpence and getting shots off unexpectedly (hence the Defoe comparisons). Football fans of all stripes would love to see him back to that level.  Wilson's goals could help Bournemouth secure safety Credit: PA Brighton and Hove Albion  Sam Baldock  Brighton have kept most of their key men fit, but Sam Baldock is one player who was a reliable squad member in the Championship and has yet to play in the top flight due to a calf strain. Missing a large chunk of pre-season invariably leads to a truncated campaign, but Brighton will hope Baldock can return to add welcome depth over the Christmas period. He signed a new three-year contract at the end of last season, so Chris Hughton clearly believes in him.  Burnley  Tom Heaton  High-flying Burnley do not need saving after a fine start to the season, but although Nick Pope has deputised brilliantly they will be even stronger for having their No.1 back. With Joe Hart's stock falling and the rough edges in Jordan Pickford's game becoming more apparent at Goodison Park, Heaton could rival Jack Butland at England level. There is always a question mark over goalkeepers at clubs such as Burnley, who play behind a packed defence and are heavily involved. How he copes behind a higher defensive line while having fewer saves to make will decide if he gets a big move.  Chelsea  N'Golo Kante The ball-winning midfielder returned for Chelsea's victory over Manchester United and made an immediate difference. The champions will be stronger after the international break with Kante in their midfield, and his importance has only increased since the sale of Nemanja Matic. A central midfield of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas is exciting with the ball, but provides too little protection for Chelsea's back three without it.  Kante returned to action last week Credit: Getty images That said, Kante's reputation has become slightly inflated. He is a very effective specialist, who brings vital balance, but has found himself exposed by high quality opponents such as Christian Eriksen and Mesut Ozil in big matches.  Crystal Palace Christian Benteke He might not be the striker Palace fans want, but might be the one they need. Wilfried Zaha has looked impressive playing through the middle, but one injury and Roy Hodgson would be looking at Andros Townsend up front. Hodgson has favoured 4-4-2 in his previous club jobs, and Benteke and Zaha could prove a complementary partnership.  The temptation with a striker like Benteke is to play too long, too early. The Belgian is static - the issue that has stopped him succeeding at 'Big Six' level - and is not going to create his own chances. He needs to ball brought to him, and Zaha can certainly do that. The former Aston Villa man also has a habit of scoring goals in spring, which could prove the difference in a relegation battle. Like a modern-day John Stead, if you will.  Everton  Ross Barkley Ostracised by Ronald Koeman and a transfer target for both Chelsea and Spurs, it could be too late for Barkley to revive his Everton career. But it need not be. If the new manager takes a shine to him, Barkley's return could be like a new signing for Everton.  Not another Everton No.10, I hear you say. But Barkley possesses qualities not shared by Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klassen. He is more of a ball-carrier, capable of stepping past his man and disrupting the opponent's defensive shape. Too often, his decision-making has disappointed and he has a bad habit of taking too many touches rather than letting the ball do the work. But he does bring a touch of 'fear factor' to Everton, who have looked slow and pedestrian this season. That only liberates teams to attack their fragile defence with abandon, because there now there is nothing to be scared of in the other direction. For all Barkley's faults, teams will worry about him because he is capable of driving straight through the heart of a team. Huddersfield Town Philip Billing Not due back until the New Year, but Billing is a player with huge potential. A rangy central midfielder who impressed a wider audience in Huddersfield's FA Cup replay at Manchester City last season, the left-footed Billing would bring balance to David Wagner's team. Still only 21, he might not start every Premier League game but could prove a joker in the pack come the second half of the season - important because teams will start to work then out. Philip Billing got injured against Swansea in mid-October Credit: getty images Leicester City Vicente Iborra Craig Shakespeare never had the chance to work with Leicester's big summer purchase from Sevilla as Iborra missed the first few months of the season through injury. He has worked his way back up to fitness though, scoring in a 2-2 draw at Stoke last time out. Claude Puel will need him to stay fit, and to form a true partnership with Wilfred Ndidi. Leicester are looking to rebuild their midfield following the departure of Kante and Danny Drinkwater over the past 18 months.  Liverpool  Adam Lallana  The former Southampton midfielder was an acquired taste for a while, with critics accusing him of looking neat and silky without any threat to the opposition. That was dispelled last season when Lallana became one of the first names on the team sheet for club and country. His tireless energy fits Jurgen Klopp's co-ordinated press perfectly, but he also brings Liverpool welcome guile and creativity.  At times, Liverpool can rely too much on speed of foot, and when teams sit deep and deny them space to gallop into they struggle. Jordan Henderson offers little cutting edge from deep, but Lallana is the ideal link between him and Liverpool's biggest strength - their front three. Even Philippe Coutinho can be a little bombastic and individualistic to fulfill this role, but Lallana is a real team player. Manchester City  Vincent Kompany  Unlike Bonnie Tyler, City are not holding out for a hero as they sit eight points clear at the top of the Premier League. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola would welcome having the experience of Vincent Kompany available again. Despite his propensity to dive into challenges and wander out of position, City's captain does bring added assurance to their other defenders (though John Stones has been excellent of late). The team is evolving away from Kompany, for too long they have relied on him to be a sticking plaster, but as they try to close out the title in the second half of the season they might need him. Manchester United  Paul Pogba The most egregious case of a player's reputation sky-rocketing from the treatment table. Pogba is undoubtedly Man Utd's best central midfielder, but you do wonder if some fans are expecting a super hero to return to and turn Jose Mourinho's team into cavalier title challengers. No matter how much money you spend or how much squad depth a manager has, every elite team have three of four players who cannot be replaced  - and Pogba is one of United's.  United are desperate to get Pogba back Credit: Getty images Whether their football should have deteriorated quite as dramatically however, is debatable. Pogba's return will get United moving through the thirds more smoothly and provide better service into Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.  Newcastle United  Aleksandar Mitrovic  There are good reasons not to play Aleksandar Mitrovic, not least his tendency to pick up at least three red cards a season. But Newcastle have looked toothless in front of goal of late, and there is no doubt Mitrovic is what is technically known as a 'handful'. Joselu has not been the upgrade Rafael Benitez was hoping for, while Dwight Gayle looks to be another David Nugent or Rob Hulse. Mitrovic provides more aerial threat, and with the right service from wide areas could be dangerous.  Southampton Mario Lemina The former Juventus midfielder has only been out injured for a few weeks, but that is enough to remind Southampton fans of his quality. A couple of the big clubs might regret not taking a chance on this genuine all-rounder, who was controlling games for Mauricio Pellegrino in the early weeks of the season - and went toe-to-toe with Nemanja Matic and Pogba at St Mary's. He might not solve their goalscoring problems, but Southampton need Lemina back. Stoke City Bruno Martins Indi Missed most of September and October with groin and pelvis injuries, and versatile defender Martins Indi would give Stoke's backline a better balance. Mark Hughes has favoured a back three this season, which suits the Dutch defender who is comfortable in one-against-one scenarios and can play as either of the outside centre backs. Mame Biram Diouf still looks a liability at right-wing back, and Martins Indi's presence might allow a more senior defender to slot into the role Diouf currently occupies.  Swansea Renato Sanches One of the most exciting acquisitions of the transfer window, Renato Sanches has not quite scaled the heights of Euro 2016 during his time at Swansea. He arrived lacking first-team minutes, looked extremely rusty and has since picked up a thigh problem. However, if Paul Clement can harness his abundant talent then he could prove the difference between Premier League survival and relegation.  The signing of Renato Sanches was billed has a huge coup for Swansea Credit: Getty images Under Clement, Swansea are a team comfortable without possession. They have conceded only three away goals this season, and picked up away draws against Man Utd, Spurs and a victory at Anfield during his tenure. They tend to fall short in games when they are asked to take the initiative - losing at home to Watford, Leicester and Brighton already this season. Sanches is the type of player who can take the ball and drive them forward at the Liberty Stadium  Tottenham Hotspur Mousa Dembele  Everything is going swimmingly for Mauricio Pochettino, but if he could choose an early Christmas present it might be a fully-fit Mousa Dembele. Eric Dier has covered well for Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks has kept things ticking while even Moussa Sissoko has been halfway component. But Dembele in full flow is a cut above the rest.  Pochettino once remarked that Spurs 'don't exist' without him, and it is to the Tottenham manager's immense credit that he has found solutions that negate his absence. But it is no coincidence that Dele Alli has struggled for form (until his two goals against Real Madrid) while Dembele has sat on the bench. Alli does all of his best work without the ball, arriving into the picture late-on in moves and adding the final shot, pass or deft flick.  This means he has to be surrounded by teammates who can get the ball to him - which is why England are unlikely to see the best of him. Christian Eriksen's clipped crosses and incisive passing are one route, but Dembele's dribbles are another and they cannot be replicated. He can also take the ball on the back foot under pressure, and the attention his runs attract leaves space for Alli.  Watford  Roberto Pereyra A player who can be as much of a match-winner for Watford as Richarlison, but he keeps picking up injuries. The former Juventus midfielder adds quality to Marco Silva's side - though he would do little to make sure they stop throwing away leads. You also fancy Pereyra would have scored the penalty Tom Cleverly missed with the game on the line at Everton.  Pereyra scored at Chelsea recently Credit: Getty images West Brom James Morison Will he save West Brom's season? No. But Morison is a reliable player they have had to do without, and one of their only midfielders capable of scoring the odd goal (if Tony Pulis doesn't tether him 10 yards in front of the centre backs). Has a good shot on him from outside of the box, and times his runs into the penalty area well.  West Ham James Collins  No team has conceded more goals than David Moyes's new charges, and despite their apparent lack of pace the steadying presence of James Collins could prove beneficial. The 'Ginger Pele' - as West Ham fans affectionately refer to him - would allow Winston Reid to move to the right side a back three and stop Cheikhou Kouyate playing in that role. Nothing special or transformative, but you can be sure David Moyes will use him. Unless he signs Phil Jagielka and Paddy McNair. 

Your Premier League club's saviour: Who is going to return and save the season?

Nothing enhances a player's reputation like being absent as his team struggle. While those on the pitch are guilty by association, players waiting in the wings become potential saviours - their positive attributes embellished and their flaws forgotten. We might call this dynamic the 'Abou Diaby Phenomenon', a player who will be eternally judged by what he might have become rather than what he was. So who are the players ready to return and save your team's season? Arsenal  Jack Wilshere  A fully fit Santi Cazorla is the player Arsenal really need, but that looks a distant prospect given he now has part of his arm grafted to his ankle. Jack Wilshere has made five starts in the Europa League and Carabao Cup, but has played little more than 20 minutes in the Premier League. 'Super, super Jack' is sung by travelling Arsenal fans from the early stages of away matches, and he is a player who embodies the idealised absentee. When fans close their eyes and think of Wilshere the player, they see what he used to be rather than the player he now is. Arsenal floundered against Manchester City's aggressive pressing, when they really could have used a player with Wilshere's ability to keep the ball in tight spaces and wriggle away from opposition pressure. Wilshere's gametime has been severely limited this season Credit: Getty images Bournemouth  Callum Wilson On the verge of an England call-up and subject to several, slightly lazy, Jermain Defoe comparisons, Wilson's career was shattered by a cruciate knee ligament injury in September 2015. The Bournemouth forward worked his way back from that serious injury, only to sustain ligament damage in his other knee this January.  Eddie Howe is easing him back to action, with one Premier League start and one substitute appearance in October. Bournemouth's style of play means they will never be the league's tightest defence, so they need to outscore teams and Wilson can help them do that. He was a sharp, penalty-box striker before the injuries, adept at turning on a sixpence and getting shots off unexpectedly (hence the Defoe comparisons). Football fans of all stripes would love to see him back to that level.  Wilson's goals could help Bournemouth secure safety Credit: PA Brighton and Hove Albion  Sam Baldock  Brighton have kept most of their key men fit, but Sam Baldock is one player who was a reliable squad member in the Championship and has yet to play in the top flight due to a calf strain. Missing a large chunk of pre-season invariably leads to a truncated campaign, but Brighton will hope Baldock can return to add welcome depth over the Christmas period. He signed a new three-year contract at the end of last season, so Chris Hughton clearly believes in him.  Burnley  Tom Heaton  High-flying Burnley do not need saving after a fine start to the season, but although Nick Pope has deputised brilliantly they will be even stronger for having their No.1 back. With Joe Hart's stock falling and the rough edges in Jordan Pickford's game becoming more apparent at Goodison Park, Heaton could rival Jack Butland at England level. There is always a question mark over goalkeepers at clubs such as Burnley, who play behind a packed defence and are heavily involved. How he copes behind a higher defensive line while having fewer saves to make will decide if he gets a big move.  Chelsea  N'Golo Kante The ball-winning midfielder returned for Chelsea's victory over Manchester United and made an immediate difference. The champions will be stronger after the international break with Kante in their midfield, and his importance has only increased since the sale of Nemanja Matic. A central midfield of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas is exciting with the ball, but provides too little protection for Chelsea's back three without it.  Kante returned to action last week Credit: Getty images That said, Kante's reputation has become slightly inflated. He is a very effective specialist, who brings vital balance, but has found himself exposed by high quality opponents such as Christian Eriksen and Mesut Ozil in big matches.  Crystal Palace Christian Benteke He might not be the striker Palace fans want, but might be the one they need. Wilfried Zaha has looked impressive playing through the middle, but one injury and Roy Hodgson would be looking at Andros Townsend up front. Hodgson has favoured 4-4-2 in his previous club jobs, and Benteke and Zaha could prove a complementary partnership.  The temptation with a striker like Benteke is to play too long, too early. The Belgian is static - the issue that has stopped him succeeding at 'Big Six' level - and is not going to create his own chances. He needs to ball brought to him, and Zaha can certainly do that. The former Aston Villa man also has a habit of scoring goals in spring, which could prove the difference in a relegation battle. Like a modern-day John Stead, if you will.  Everton  Ross Barkley Ostracised by Ronald Koeman and a transfer target for both Chelsea and Spurs, it could be too late for Barkley to revive his Everton career. But it need not be. If the new manager takes a shine to him, Barkley's return could be like a new signing for Everton.  Not another Everton No.10, I hear you say. But Barkley possesses qualities not shared by Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klassen. He is more of a ball-carrier, capable of stepping past his man and disrupting the opponent's defensive shape. Too often, his decision-making has disappointed and he has a bad habit of taking too many touches rather than letting the ball do the work. But he does bring a touch of 'fear factor' to Everton, who have looked slow and pedestrian this season. That only liberates teams to attack their fragile defence with abandon, because there now there is nothing to be scared of in the other direction. For all Barkley's faults, teams will worry about him because he is capable of driving straight through the heart of a team. Huddersfield Town Philip Billing Not due back until the New Year, but Billing is a player with huge potential. A rangy central midfielder who impressed a wider audience in Huddersfield's FA Cup replay at Manchester City last season, the left-footed Billing would bring balance to David Wagner's team. Still only 21, he might not start every Premier League game but could prove a joker in the pack come the second half of the season - important because teams will start to work then out. Philip Billing got injured against Swansea in mid-October Credit: getty images Leicester City Vicente Iborra Craig Shakespeare never had the chance to work with Leicester's big summer purchase from Sevilla as Iborra missed the first few months of the season through injury. He has worked his way back up to fitness though, scoring in a 2-2 draw at Stoke last time out. Claude Puel will need him to stay fit, and to form a true partnership with Wilfred Ndidi. Leicester are looking to rebuild their midfield following the departure of Kante and Danny Drinkwater over the past 18 months.  Liverpool  Adam Lallana  The former Southampton midfielder was an acquired taste for a while, with critics accusing him of looking neat and silky without any threat to the opposition. That was dispelled last season when Lallana became one of the first names on the team sheet for club and country. His tireless energy fits Jurgen Klopp's co-ordinated press perfectly, but he also brings Liverpool welcome guile and creativity.  At times, Liverpool can rely too much on speed of foot, and when teams sit deep and deny them space to gallop into they struggle. Jordan Henderson offers little cutting edge from deep, but Lallana is the ideal link between him and Liverpool's biggest strength - their front three. Even Philippe Coutinho can be a little bombastic and individualistic to fulfill this role, but Lallana is a real team player. Manchester City  Vincent Kompany  Unlike Bonnie Tyler, City are not holding out for a hero as they sit eight points clear at the top of the Premier League. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola would welcome having the experience of Vincent Kompany available again. Despite his propensity to dive into challenges and wander out of position, City's captain does bring added assurance to their other defenders (though John Stones has been excellent of late). The team is evolving away from Kompany, for too long they have relied on him to be a sticking plaster, but as they try to close out the title in the second half of the season they might need him. Manchester United  Paul Pogba The most egregious case of a player's reputation sky-rocketing from the treatment table. Pogba is undoubtedly Man Utd's best central midfielder, but you do wonder if some fans are expecting a super hero to return to and turn Jose Mourinho's team into cavalier title challengers. No matter how much money you spend or how much squad depth a manager has, every elite team have three of four players who cannot be replaced  - and Pogba is one of United's.  United are desperate to get Pogba back Credit: Getty images Whether their football should have deteriorated quite as dramatically however, is debatable. Pogba's return will get United moving through the thirds more smoothly and provide better service into Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.  Newcastle United  Aleksandar Mitrovic  There are good reasons not to play Aleksandar Mitrovic, not least his tendency to pick up at least three red cards a season. But Newcastle have looked toothless in front of goal of late, and there is no doubt Mitrovic is what is technically known as a 'handful'. Joselu has not been the upgrade Rafael Benitez was hoping for, while Dwight Gayle looks to be another David Nugent or Rob Hulse. Mitrovic provides more aerial threat, and with the right service from wide areas could be dangerous.  Southampton Mario Lemina The former Juventus midfielder has only been out injured for a few weeks, but that is enough to remind Southampton fans of his quality. A couple of the big clubs might regret not taking a chance on this genuine all-rounder, who was controlling games for Mauricio Pellegrino in the early weeks of the season - and went toe-to-toe with Nemanja Matic and Pogba at St Mary's. He might not solve their goalscoring problems, but Southampton need Lemina back. Stoke City Bruno Martins Indi Missed most of September and October with groin and pelvis injuries, and versatile defender Martins Indi would give Stoke's backline a better balance. Mark Hughes has favoured a back three this season, which suits the Dutch defender who is comfortable in one-against-one scenarios and can play as either of the outside centre backs. Mame Biram Diouf still looks a liability at right-wing back, and Martins Indi's presence might allow a more senior defender to slot into the role Diouf currently occupies.  Swansea Renato Sanches One of the most exciting acquisitions of the transfer window, Renato Sanches has not quite scaled the heights of Euro 2016 during his time at Swansea. He arrived lacking first-team minutes, looked extremely rusty and has since picked up a thigh problem. However, if Paul Clement can harness his abundant talent then he could prove the difference between Premier League survival and relegation.  The signing of Renato Sanches was billed has a huge coup for Swansea Credit: Getty images Under Clement, Swansea are a team comfortable without possession. They have conceded only three away goals this season, and picked up away draws against Man Utd, Spurs and a victory at Anfield during his tenure. They tend to fall short in games when they are asked to take the initiative - losing at home to Watford, Leicester and Brighton already this season. Sanches is the type of player who can take the ball and drive them forward at the Liberty Stadium  Tottenham Hotspur Mousa Dembele  Everything is going swimmingly for Mauricio Pochettino, but if he could choose an early Christmas present it might be a fully-fit Mousa Dembele. Eric Dier has covered well for Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks has kept things ticking while even Moussa Sissoko has been halfway component. But Dembele in full flow is a cut above the rest.  Pochettino once remarked that Spurs 'don't exist' without him, and it is to the Tottenham manager's immense credit that he has found solutions that negate his absence. But it is no coincidence that Dele Alli has struggled for form (until his two goals against Real Madrid) while Dembele has sat on the bench. Alli does all of his best work without the ball, arriving into the picture late-on in moves and adding the final shot, pass or deft flick.  This means he has to be surrounded by teammates who can get the ball to him - which is why England are unlikely to see the best of him. Christian Eriksen's clipped crosses and incisive passing are one route, but Dembele's dribbles are another and they cannot be replicated. He can also take the ball on the back foot under pressure, and the attention his runs attract leaves space for Alli.  Watford  Roberto Pereyra A player who can be as much of a match-winner for Watford as Richarlison, but he keeps picking up injuries. The former Juventus midfielder adds quality to Marco Silva's side - though he would do little to make sure they stop throwing away leads. You also fancy Pereyra would have scored the penalty Tom Cleverly missed with the game on the line at Everton.  Pereyra scored at Chelsea recently Credit: Getty images West Brom James Morison Will he save West Brom's season? No. But Morison is a reliable player they have had to do without, and one of their only midfielders capable of scoring the odd goal (if Tony Pulis doesn't tether him 10 yards in front of the centre backs). Has a good shot on him from outside of the box, and times his runs into the penalty area well.  West Ham James Collins  No team has conceded more goals than David Moyes's new charges, and despite their apparent lack of pace the steadying presence of James Collins could prove beneficial. The 'Ginger Pele' - as West Ham fans affectionately refer to him - would allow Winston Reid to move to the right side a back three and stop Cheikhou Kouyate playing in that role. Nothing special or transformative, but you can be sure David Moyes will use him. Unless he signs Phil Jagielka and Paddy McNair. 

Your Premier League club's saviour: Who is going to return and save the season?

Nothing enhances a player's reputation like being absent as his team struggle. While those on the pitch are guilty by association, players waiting in the wings become potential saviours - their positive attributes embellished and their flaws forgotten. We might call this dynamic the 'Abou Diaby Phenomenon', a player who will be eternally judged by what he might have become rather than what he was. So who are the players ready to return and save your team's season? Arsenal  Jack Wilshere  A fully fit Santi Cazorla is the player Arsenal really need, but that looks a distant prospect given he now has part of his arm grafted to his ankle. Jack Wilshere has made five starts in the Europa League and Carabao Cup, but has played little more than 20 minutes in the Premier League. 'Super, super Jack' is sung by travelling Arsenal fans from the early stages of away matches, and he is a player who embodies the idealised absentee. When fans close their eyes and think of Wilshere the player, they see what he used to be rather than the player he now is. Arsenal floundered against Manchester City's aggressive pressing, when they really could have used a player with Wilshere's ability to keep the ball in tight spaces and wriggle away from opposition pressure. Wilshere's gametime has been severely limited this season Credit: Getty images Bournemouth  Callum Wilson On the verge of an England call-up and subject to several, slightly lazy, Jermain Defoe comparisons, Wilson's career was shattered by a cruciate knee ligament injury in September 2015. The Bournemouth forward worked his way back from that serious injury, only to sustain ligament damage in his other knee this January.  Eddie Howe is easing him back to action, with one Premier League start and one substitute appearance in October. Bournemouth's style of play means they will never be the league's tightest defence, so they need to outscore teams and Wilson can help them do that. He was a sharp, penalty-box striker before the injuries, adept at turning on a sixpence and getting shots off unexpectedly (hence the Defoe comparisons). Football fans of all stripes would love to see him back to that level.  Wilson's goals could help Bournemouth secure safety Credit: PA Brighton and Hove Albion  Sam Baldock  Brighton have kept most of their key men fit, but Sam Baldock is one player who was a reliable squad member in the Championship and has yet to play in the top flight due to a calf strain. Missing a large chunk of pre-season invariably leads to a truncated campaign, but Brighton will hope Baldock can return to add welcome depth over the Christmas period. He signed a new three-year contract at the end of last season, so Chris Hughton clearly believes in him.  Burnley  Tom Heaton  High-flying Burnley do not need saving after a fine start to the season, but although Nick Pope has deputised brilliantly they will be even stronger for having their No.1 back. With Joe Hart's stock falling and the rough edges in Jordan Pickford's game becoming more apparent at Goodison Park, Heaton could rival Jack Butland at England level. There is always a question mark over goalkeepers at clubs such as Burnley, who play behind a packed defence and are heavily involved. How he copes behind a higher defensive line while having fewer saves to make will decide if he gets a big move.  Chelsea  N'Golo Kante The ball-winning midfielder returned for Chelsea's victory over Manchester United and made an immediate difference. The champions will be stronger after the international break with Kante in their midfield, and his importance has only increased since the sale of Nemanja Matic. A central midfield of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas is exciting with the ball, but provides too little protection for Chelsea's back three without it.  Kante returned to action last week Credit: Getty images That said, Kante's reputation has become slightly inflated. He is a very effective specialist, who brings vital balance, but has found himself exposed by high quality opponents such as Christian Eriksen and Mesut Ozil in big matches.  Crystal Palace Christian Benteke He might not be the striker Palace fans want, but might be the one they need. Wilfried Zaha has looked impressive playing through the middle, but one injury and Roy Hodgson would be looking at Andros Townsend up front. Hodgson has favoured 4-4-2 in his previous club jobs, and Benteke and Zaha could prove a complementary partnership.  The temptation with a striker like Benteke is to play too long, too early. The Belgian is static - the issue that has stopped him succeeding at 'Big Six' level - and is not going to create his own chances. He needs to ball brought to him, and Zaha can certainly do that. The former Aston Villa man also has a habit of scoring goals in spring, which could prove the difference in a relegation battle. Like a modern-day John Stead, if you will.  Everton  Ross Barkley Ostracised by Ronald Koeman and a transfer target for both Chelsea and Spurs, it could be too late for Barkley to revive his Everton career. But it need not be. If the new manager takes a shine to him, Barkley's return could be like a new signing for Everton.  Not another Everton No.10, I hear you say. But Barkley possesses qualities not shared by Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klassen. He is more of a ball-carrier, capable of stepping past his man and disrupting the opponent's defensive shape. Too often, his decision-making has disappointed and he has a bad habit of taking too many touches rather than letting the ball do the work. But he does bring a touch of 'fear factor' to Everton, who have looked slow and pedestrian this season. That only liberates teams to attack their fragile defence with abandon, because there now there is nothing to be scared of in the other direction. For all Barkley's faults, teams will worry about him because he is capable of driving straight through the heart of a team. Huddersfield Town Philip Billing Not due back until the New Year, but Billing is a player with huge potential. A rangy central midfielder who impressed a wider audience in Huddersfield's FA Cup replay at Manchester City last season, the left-footed Billing would bring balance to David Wagner's team. Still only 21, he might not start every Premier League game but could prove a joker in the pack come the second half of the season - important because teams will start to work then out. Philip Billing got injured against Swansea in mid-October Credit: getty images Leicester City Vicente Iborra Craig Shakespeare never had the chance to work with Leicester's big summer purchase from Sevilla as Iborra missed the first few months of the season through injury. He has worked his way back up to fitness though, scoring in a 2-2 draw at Stoke last time out. Claude Puel will need him to stay fit, and to form a true partnership with Wilfred Ndidi. Leicester are looking to rebuild their midfield following the departure of Kante and Danny Drinkwater over the past 18 months.  Liverpool  Adam Lallana  The former Southampton midfielder was an acquired taste for a while, with critics accusing him of looking neat and silky without any threat to the opposition. That was dispelled last season when Lallana became one of the first names on the team sheet for club and country. His tireless energy fits Jurgen Klopp's co-ordinated press perfectly, but he also brings Liverpool welcome guile and creativity.  At times, Liverpool can rely too much on speed of foot, and when teams sit deep and deny them space to gallop into they struggle. Jordan Henderson offers little cutting edge from deep, but Lallana is the ideal link between him and Liverpool's biggest strength - their front three. Even Philippe Coutinho can be a little bombastic and individualistic to fulfill this role, but Lallana is a real team player. Manchester City  Vincent Kompany  Unlike Bonnie Tyler, City are not holding out for a hero as they sit eight points clear at the top of the Premier League. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola would welcome having the experience of Vincent Kompany available again. Despite his propensity to dive into challenges and wander out of position, City's captain does bring added assurance to their other defenders (though John Stones has been excellent of late). The team is evolving away from Kompany, for too long they have relied on him to be a sticking plaster, but as they try to close out the title in the second half of the season they might need him. Manchester United  Paul Pogba The most egregious case of a player's reputation sky-rocketing from the treatment table. Pogba is undoubtedly Man Utd's best central midfielder, but you do wonder if some fans are expecting a super hero to return to and turn Jose Mourinho's team into cavalier title challengers. No matter how much money you spend or how much squad depth a manager has, every elite team have three of four players who cannot be replaced  - and Pogba is one of United's.  United are desperate to get Pogba back Credit: Getty images Whether their football should have deteriorated quite as dramatically however, is debatable. Pogba's return will get United moving through the thirds more smoothly and provide better service into Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.  Newcastle United  Aleksandar Mitrovic  There are good reasons not to play Aleksandar Mitrovic, not least his tendency to pick up at least three red cards a season. But Newcastle have looked toothless in front of goal of late, and there is no doubt Mitrovic is what is technically known as a 'handful'. Joselu has not been the upgrade Rafael Benitez was hoping for, while Dwight Gayle looks to be another David Nugent or Rob Hulse. Mitrovic provides more aerial threat, and with the right service from wide areas could be dangerous.  Southampton Mario Lemina The former Juventus midfielder has only been out injured for a few weeks, but that is enough to remind Southampton fans of his quality. A couple of the big clubs might regret not taking a chance on this genuine all-rounder, who was controlling games for Mauricio Pellegrino in the early weeks of the season - and went toe-to-toe with Nemanja Matic and Pogba at St Mary's. He might not solve their goalscoring problems, but Southampton need Lemina back. Stoke City Bruno Martins Indi Missed most of September and October with groin and pelvis injuries, and versatile defender Martins Indi would give Stoke's backline a better balance. Mark Hughes has favoured a back three this season, which suits the Dutch defender who is comfortable in one-against-one scenarios and can play as either of the outside centre backs. Mame Biram Diouf still looks a liability at right-wing back, and Martins Indi's presence might allow a more senior defender to slot into the role Diouf currently occupies.  Swansea Renato Sanches One of the most exciting acquisitions of the transfer window, Renato Sanches has not quite scaled the heights of Euro 2016 during his time at Swansea. He arrived lacking first-team minutes, looked extremely rusty and has since picked up a thigh problem. However, if Paul Clement can harness his abundant talent then he could prove the difference between Premier League survival and relegation.  The signing of Renato Sanches was billed has a huge coup for Swansea Credit: Getty images Under Clement, Swansea are a team comfortable without possession. They have conceded only three away goals this season, and picked up away draws against Man Utd, Spurs and a victory at Anfield during his tenure. They tend to fall short in games when they are asked to take the initiative - losing at home to Watford, Leicester and Brighton already this season. Sanches is the type of player who can take the ball and drive them forward at the Liberty Stadium  Tottenham Hotspur Mousa Dembele  Everything is going swimmingly for Mauricio Pochettino, but if he could choose an early Christmas present it might be a fully-fit Mousa Dembele. Eric Dier has covered well for Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks has kept things ticking while even Moussa Sissoko has been halfway component. But Dembele in full flow is a cut above the rest.  Pochettino once remarked that Spurs 'don't exist' without him, and it is to the Tottenham manager's immense credit that he has found solutions that negate his absence. But it is no coincidence that Dele Alli has struggled for form (until his two goals against Real Madrid) while Dembele has sat on the bench. Alli does all of his best work without the ball, arriving into the picture late-on in moves and adding the final shot, pass or deft flick.  This means he has to be surrounded by teammates who can get the ball to him - which is why England are unlikely to see the best of him. Christian Eriksen's clipped crosses and incisive passing are one route, but Dembele's dribbles are another and they cannot be replicated. He can also take the ball on the back foot under pressure, and the attention his runs attract leaves space for Alli.  Watford  Roberto Pereyra A player who can be as much of a match-winner for Watford as Richarlison, but he keeps picking up injuries. The former Juventus midfielder adds quality to Marco Silva's side - though he would do little to make sure they stop throwing away leads. You also fancy Pereyra would have scored the penalty Tom Cleverly missed with the game on the line at Everton.  Pereyra scored at Chelsea recently Credit: Getty images West Brom James Morison Will he save West Brom's season? No. But Morison is a reliable player they have had to do without, and one of their only midfielders capable of scoring the odd goal (if Tony Pulis doesn't tether him 10 yards in front of the centre backs). Has a good shot on him from outside of the box, and times his runs into the penalty area well.  West Ham James Collins  No team has conceded more goals than David Moyes's new charges, and despite their apparent lack of pace the steadying presence of James Collins could prove beneficial. The 'Ginger Pele' - as West Ham fans affectionately refer to him - would allow Winston Reid to move to the right side a back three and stop Cheikhou Kouyate playing in that role. Nothing special or transformative, but you can be sure David Moyes will use him. Unless he signs Phil Jagielka and Paddy McNair. 

Your Premier League club's saviour: Who is going to return and save the season?

Nothing enhances a player's reputation like being absent as his team struggle. While those on the pitch are guilty by association, players waiting in the wings become potential saviours - their positive attributes embellished and their flaws forgotten. We might call this dynamic the 'Abou Diaby Phenomenon', a player who will be eternally judged by what he might have become rather than what he was. So who are the players ready to return and save your team's season? Arsenal  Jack Wilshere  A fully fit Santi Cazorla is the player Arsenal really need, but that looks a distant prospect given he now has part of his arm grafted to his ankle. Jack Wilshere has made five starts in the Europa League and Carabao Cup, but has played little more than 20 minutes in the Premier League. 'Super, super Jack' is sung by travelling Arsenal fans from the early stages of away matches, and he is a player who embodies the idealised absentee. When fans close their eyes and think of Wilshere the player, they see what he used to be rather than the player he now is. Arsenal floundered against Manchester City's aggressive pressing, when they really could have used a player with Wilshere's ability to keep the ball in tight spaces and wriggle away from opposition pressure. Wilshere's gametime has been severely limited this season Credit: Getty images Bournemouth  Callum Wilson On the verge of an England call-up and subject to several, slightly lazy, Jermain Defoe comparisons, Wilson's career was shattered by a cruciate knee ligament injury in September 2015. The Bournemouth forward worked his way back from that serious injury, only to sustain ligament damage in his other knee this January.  Eddie Howe is easing him back to action, with one Premier League start and one substitute appearance in October. Bournemouth's style of play means they will never be the league's tightest defence, so they need to outscore teams and Wilson can help them do that. He was a sharp, penalty-box striker before the injuries, adept at turning on a sixpence and getting shots off unexpectedly (hence the Defoe comparisons). Football fans of all stripes would love to see him back to that level.  Wilson's goals could help Bournemouth secure safety Credit: PA Brighton and Hove Albion  Sam Baldock  Brighton have kept most of their key men fit, but Sam Baldock is one player who was a reliable squad member in the Championship and has yet to play in the top flight due to a calf strain. Missing a large chunk of pre-season invariably leads to a truncated campaign, but Brighton will hope Baldock can return to add welcome depth over the Christmas period. He signed a new three-year contract at the end of last season, so Chris Hughton clearly believes in him.  Burnley  Tom Heaton  High-flying Burnley do not need saving after a fine start to the season, but although Nick Pope has deputised brilliantly they will be even stronger for having their No.1 back. With Joe Hart's stock falling and the rough edges in Jordan Pickford's game becoming more apparent at Goodison Park, Heaton could rival Jack Butland at England level. There is always a question mark over goalkeepers at clubs such as Burnley, who play behind a packed defence and are heavily involved. How he copes behind a higher defensive line while having fewer saves to make will decide if he gets a big move.  Chelsea  N'Golo Kante The ball-winning midfielder returned for Chelsea's victory over Manchester United and made an immediate difference. The champions will be stronger after the international break with Kante in their midfield, and his importance has only increased since the sale of Nemanja Matic. A central midfield of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas is exciting with the ball, but provides too little protection for Chelsea's back three without it.  Kante returned to action last week Credit: Getty images That said, Kante's reputation has become slightly inflated. He is a very effective specialist, who brings vital balance, but has found himself exposed by high quality opponents such as Christian Eriksen and Mesut Ozil in big matches.  Crystal Palace Christian Benteke He might not be the striker Palace fans want, but might be the one they need. Wilfried Zaha has looked impressive playing through the middle, but one injury and Roy Hodgson would be looking at Andros Townsend up front. Hodgson has favoured 4-4-2 in his previous club jobs, and Benteke and Zaha could prove a complementary partnership.  The temptation with a striker like Benteke is to play too long, too early. The Belgian is static - the issue that has stopped him succeeding at 'Big Six' level - and is not going to create his own chances. He needs to ball brought to him, and Zaha can certainly do that. The former Aston Villa man also has a habit of scoring goals in spring, which could prove the difference in a relegation battle. Like a modern-day John Stead, if you will.  Everton  Ross Barkley Ostracised by Ronald Koeman and a transfer target for both Chelsea and Spurs, it could be too late for Barkley to revive his Everton career. But it need not be. If the new manager takes a shine to him, Barkley's return could be like a new signing for Everton.  Not another Everton No.10, I hear you say. But Barkley possesses qualities not shared by Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klassen. He is more of a ball-carrier, capable of stepping past his man and disrupting the opponent's defensive shape. Too often, his decision-making has disappointed and he has a bad habit of taking too many touches rather than letting the ball do the work. But he does bring a touch of 'fear factor' to Everton, who have looked slow and pedestrian this season. That only liberates teams to attack their fragile defence with abandon, because there now there is nothing to be scared of in the other direction. For all Barkley's faults, teams will worry about him because he is capable of driving straight through the heart of a team. Huddersfield Town Philip Billing Not due back until the New Year, but Billing is a player with huge potential. A rangy central midfielder who impressed a wider audience in Huddersfield's FA Cup replay at Manchester City last season, the left-footed Billing would bring balance to David Wagner's team. Still only 21, he might not start every Premier League game but could prove a joker in the pack come the second half of the season - important because teams will start to work then out. Philip Billing got injured against Swansea in mid-October Credit: getty images Leicester City Vicente Iborra Craig Shakespeare never had the chance to work with Leicester's big summer purchase from Sevilla as Iborra missed the first few months of the season through injury. He has worked his way back up to fitness though, scoring in a 2-2 draw at Stoke last time out. Claude Puel will need him to stay fit, and to form a true partnership with Wilfred Ndidi. Leicester are looking to rebuild their midfield following the departure of Kante and Danny Drinkwater over the past 18 months.  Liverpool  Adam Lallana  The former Southampton midfielder was an acquired taste for a while, with critics accusing him of looking neat and silky without any threat to the opposition. That was dispelled last season when Lallana became one of the first names on the team sheet for club and country. His tireless energy fits Jurgen Klopp's co-ordinated press perfectly, but he also brings Liverpool welcome guile and creativity.  At times, Liverpool can rely too much on speed of foot, and when teams sit deep and deny them space to gallop into they struggle. Jordan Henderson offers little cutting edge from deep, but Lallana is the ideal link between him and Liverpool's biggest strength - their front three. Even Philippe Coutinho can be a little bombastic and individualistic to fulfill this role, but Lallana is a real team player. Manchester City  Vincent Kompany  Unlike Bonnie Tyler, City are not holding out for a hero as they sit eight points clear at the top of the Premier League. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola would welcome having the experience of Vincent Kompany available again. Despite his propensity to dive into challenges and wander out of position, City's captain does bring added assurance to their other defenders (though John Stones has been excellent of late). The team is evolving away from Kompany, for too long they have relied on him to be a sticking plaster, but as they try to close out the title in the second half of the season they might need him. Manchester United  Paul Pogba The most egregious case of a player's reputation sky-rocketing from the treatment table. Pogba is undoubtedly Man Utd's best central midfielder, but you do wonder if some fans are expecting a super hero to return to and turn Jose Mourinho's team into cavalier title challengers. No matter how much money you spend or how much squad depth a manager has, every elite team have three of four players who cannot be replaced  - and Pogba is one of United's.  United are desperate to get Pogba back Credit: Getty images Whether their football should have deteriorated quite as dramatically however, is debatable. Pogba's return will get United moving through the thirds more smoothly and provide better service into Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.  Newcastle United  Aleksandar Mitrovic  There are good reasons not to play Aleksandar Mitrovic, not least his tendency to pick up at least three red cards a season. But Newcastle have looked toothless in front of goal of late, and there is no doubt Mitrovic is what is technically known as a 'handful'. Joselu has not been the upgrade Rafael Benitez was hoping for, while Dwight Gayle looks to be another David Nugent or Rob Hulse. Mitrovic provides more aerial threat, and with the right service from wide areas could be dangerous.  Southampton Mario Lemina The former Juventus midfielder has only been out injured for a few weeks, but that is enough to remind Southampton fans of his quality. A couple of the big clubs might regret not taking a chance on this genuine all-rounder, who was controlling games for Mauricio Pellegrino in the early weeks of the season - and went toe-to-toe with Nemanja Matic and Pogba at St Mary's. He might not solve their goalscoring problems, but Southampton need Lemina back. Stoke City Bruno Martins Indi Missed most of September and October with groin and pelvis injuries, and versatile defender Martins Indi would give Stoke's backline a better balance. Mark Hughes has favoured a back three this season, which suits the Dutch defender who is comfortable in one-against-one scenarios and can play as either of the outside centre backs. Mame Biram Diouf still looks a liability at right-wing back, and Martins Indi's presence might allow a more senior defender to slot into the role Diouf currently occupies.  Swansea Renato Sanches One of the most exciting acquisitions of the transfer window, Renato Sanches has not quite scaled the heights of Euro 2016 during his time at Swansea. He arrived lacking first-team minutes, looked extremely rusty and has since picked up a thigh problem. However, if Paul Clement can harness his abundant talent then he could prove the difference between Premier League survival and relegation.  The signing of Renato Sanches was billed has a huge coup for Swansea Credit: Getty images Under Clement, Swansea are a team comfortable without possession. They have conceded only three away goals this season, and picked up away draws against Man Utd, Spurs and a victory at Anfield during his tenure. They tend to fall short in games when they are asked to take the initiative - losing at home to Watford, Leicester and Brighton already this season. Sanches is the type of player who can take the ball and drive them forward at the Liberty Stadium  Tottenham Hotspur Mousa Dembele  Everything is going swimmingly for Mauricio Pochettino, but if he could choose an early Christmas present it might be a fully-fit Mousa Dembele. Eric Dier has covered well for Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks has kept things ticking while even Moussa Sissoko has been halfway component. But Dembele in full flow is a cut above the rest.  Pochettino once remarked that Spurs 'don't exist' without him, and it is to the Tottenham manager's immense credit that he has found solutions that negate his absence. But it is no coincidence that Dele Alli has struggled for form (until his two goals against Real Madrid) while Dembele has sat on the bench. Alli does all of his best work without the ball, arriving into the picture late-on in moves and adding the final shot, pass or deft flick.  This means he has to be surrounded by teammates who can get the ball to him - which is why England are unlikely to see the best of him. Christian Eriksen's clipped crosses and incisive passing are one route, but Dembele's dribbles are another and they cannot be replicated. He can also take the ball on the back foot under pressure, and the attention his runs attract leaves space for Alli.  Watford  Roberto Pereyra A player who can be as much of a match-winner for Watford as Richarlison, but he keeps picking up injuries. The former Juventus midfielder adds quality to Marco Silva's side - though he would do little to make sure they stop throwing away leads. You also fancy Pereyra would have scored the penalty Tom Cleverly missed with the game on the line at Everton.  Pereyra scored at Chelsea recently Credit: Getty images West Brom James Morison Will he save West Brom's season? No. But Morison is a reliable player they have had to do without, and one of their only midfielders capable of scoring the odd goal (if Tony Pulis doesn't tether him 10 yards in front of the centre backs). Has a good shot on him from outside of the box, and times his runs into the penalty area well.  West Ham James Collins  No team has conceded more goals than David Moyes's new charges, and despite their apparent lack of pace the steadying presence of James Collins could prove beneficial. The 'Ginger Pele' - as West Ham fans affectionately refer to him - would allow Winston Reid to move to the right side a back three and stop Cheikhou Kouyate playing in that role. Nothing special or transformative, but you can be sure David Moyes will use him. Unless he signs Phil Jagielka and Paddy McNair. 

Your Premier League club's saviour: Who is going to return and save the season?

Nothing enhances a player's reputation like being absent as his team struggle. While those on the pitch are guilty by association, players waiting in the wings become potential saviours - their positive attributes embellished and their flaws forgotten. We might call this dynamic the 'Abou Diaby Phenomenon', a player who will be eternally judged by what he might have become rather than what he was. So who are the players ready to return and save your team's season? Arsenal  Jack Wilshere  A fully fit Santi Cazorla is the player Arsenal really need, but that looks a distant prospect given he now has part of his arm grafted to his ankle. Jack Wilshere has made five starts in the Europa League and Carabao Cup, but has played little more than 20 minutes in the Premier League. 'Super, super Jack' is sung by travelling Arsenal fans from the early stages of away matches, and he is a player who embodies the idealised absentee. When fans close their eyes and think of Wilshere the player, they see what he used to be rather than the player he now is. Arsenal floundered against Manchester City's aggressive pressing, when they really could have used a player with Wilshere's ability to keep the ball in tight spaces and wriggle away from opposition pressure. Wilshere's gametime has been severely limited this season Credit: Getty images Bournemouth  Callum Wilson On the verge of an England call-up and subject to several, slightly lazy, Jermain Defoe comparisons, Wilson's career was shattered by a cruciate knee ligament injury in September 2015. The Bournemouth forward worked his way back from that serious injury, only to sustain ligament damage in his other knee this January.  Eddie Howe is easing him back to action, with one Premier League start and one substitute appearance in October. Bournemouth's style of play means they will never be the league's tightest defence, so they need to outscore teams and Wilson can help them do that. He was a sharp, penalty-box striker before the injuries, adept at turning on a sixpence and getting shots off unexpectedly (hence the Defoe comparisons). Football fans of all stripes would love to see him back to that level.  Wilson's goals could help Bournemouth secure safety Credit: PA Brighton and Hove Albion  Sam Baldock  Brighton have kept most of their key men fit, but Sam Baldock is one player who was a reliable squad member in the Championship and has yet to play in the top flight due to a calf strain. Missing a large chunk of pre-season invariably leads to a truncated campaign, but Brighton will hope Baldock can return to add welcome depth over the Christmas period. He signed a new three-year contract at the end of last season, so Chris Hughton clearly believes in him.  Burnley  Tom Heaton  High-flying Burnley do not need saving after a fine start to the season, but although Nick Pope has deputised brilliantly they will be even stronger for having their No.1 back. With Joe Hart's stock falling and the rough edges in Jordan Pickford's game becoming more apparent at Goodison Park, Heaton could rival Jack Butland at England level. There is always a question mark over goalkeepers at clubs such as Burnley, who play behind a packed defence and are heavily involved. How he copes behind a higher defensive line while having fewer saves to make will decide if he gets a big move.  Chelsea  N'Golo Kante The ball-winning midfielder returned for Chelsea's victory over Manchester United and made an immediate difference. The champions will be stronger after the international break with Kante in their midfield, and his importance has only increased since the sale of Nemanja Matic. A central midfield of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas is exciting with the ball, but provides too little protection for Chelsea's back three without it.  Kante returned to action last week Credit: Getty images That said, Kante's reputation has become slightly inflated. He is a very effective specialist, who brings vital balance, but has found himself exposed by high quality opponents such as Christian Eriksen and Mesut Ozil in big matches.  Crystal Palace Christian Benteke He might not be the striker Palace fans want, but might be the one they need. Wilfried Zaha has looked impressive playing through the middle, but one injury and Roy Hodgson would be looking at Andros Townsend up front. Hodgson has favoured 4-4-2 in his previous club jobs, and Benteke and Zaha could prove a complementary partnership.  The temptation with a striker like Benteke is to play too long, too early. The Belgian is static - the issue that has stopped him succeeding at 'Big Six' level - and is not going to create his own chances. He needs to ball brought to him, and Zaha can certainly do that. The former Aston Villa man also has a habit of scoring goals in spring, which could prove the difference in a relegation battle. Like a modern-day John Stead, if you will.  Everton  Ross Barkley Ostracised by Ronald Koeman and a transfer target for both Chelsea and Spurs, it could be too late for Barkley to revive his Everton career. But it need not be. If the new manager takes a shine to him, Barkley's return could be like a new signing for Everton.  Not another Everton No.10, I hear you say. But Barkley possesses qualities not shared by Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klassen. He is more of a ball-carrier, capable of stepping past his man and disrupting the opponent's defensive shape. Too often, his decision-making has disappointed and he has a bad habit of taking too many touches rather than letting the ball do the work. But he does bring a touch of 'fear factor' to Everton, who have looked slow and pedestrian this season. That only liberates teams to attack their fragile defence with abandon, because there now there is nothing to be scared of in the other direction. For all Barkley's faults, teams will worry about him because he is capable of driving straight through the heart of a team. Huddersfield Town Philip Billing Not due back until the New Year, but Billing is a player with huge potential. A rangy central midfielder who impressed a wider audience in Huddersfield's FA Cup replay at Manchester City last season, the left-footed Billing would bring balance to David Wagner's team. Still only 21, he might not start every Premier League game but could prove a joker in the pack come the second half of the season - important because teams will start to work then out. Philip Billing got injured against Swansea in mid-October Credit: getty images Leicester City Vicente Iborra Craig Shakespeare never had the chance to work with Leicester's big summer purchase from Sevilla as Iborra missed the first few months of the season through injury. He has worked his way back up to fitness though, scoring in a 2-2 draw at Stoke last time out. Claude Puel will need him to stay fit, and to form a true partnership with Wilfred Ndidi. Leicester are looking to rebuild their midfield following the departure of Kante and Danny Drinkwater over the past 18 months.  Liverpool  Adam Lallana  The former Southampton midfielder was an acquired taste for a while, with critics accusing him of looking neat and silky without any threat to the opposition. That was dispelled last season when Lallana became one of the first names on the team sheet for club and country. His tireless energy fits Jurgen Klopp's co-ordinated press perfectly, but he also brings Liverpool welcome guile and creativity.  At times, Liverpool can rely too much on speed of foot, and when teams sit deep and deny them space to gallop into they struggle. Jordan Henderson offers little cutting edge from deep, but Lallana is the ideal link between him and Liverpool's biggest strength - their front three. Even Philippe Coutinho can be a little bombastic and individualistic to fulfill this role, but Lallana is a real team player. Manchester City  Vincent Kompany  Unlike Bonnie Tyler, City are not holding out for a hero as they sit eight points clear at the top of the Premier League. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola would welcome having the experience of Vincent Kompany available again. Despite his propensity to dive into challenges and wander out of position, City's captain does bring added assurance to their other defenders (though John Stones has been excellent of late). The team is evolving away from Kompany, for too long they have relied on him to be a sticking plaster, but as they try to close out the title in the second half of the season they might need him. Manchester United  Paul Pogba The most egregious case of a player's reputation sky-rocketing from the treatment table. Pogba is undoubtedly Man Utd's best central midfielder, but you do wonder if some fans are expecting a super hero to return to and turn Jose Mourinho's team into cavalier title challengers. No matter how much money you spend or how much squad depth a manager has, every elite team have three of four players who cannot be replaced  - and Pogba is one of United's.  United are desperate to get Pogba back Credit: Getty images Whether their football should have deteriorated quite as dramatically however, is debatable. Pogba's return will get United moving through the thirds more smoothly and provide better service into Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.  Newcastle United  Aleksandar Mitrovic  There are good reasons not to play Aleksandar Mitrovic, not least his tendency to pick up at least three red cards a season. But Newcastle have looked toothless in front of goal of late, and there is no doubt Mitrovic is what is technically known as a 'handful'. Joselu has not been the upgrade Rafael Benitez was hoping for, while Dwight Gayle looks to be another David Nugent or Rob Hulse. Mitrovic provides more aerial threat, and with the right service from wide areas could be dangerous.  Southampton Mario Lemina The former Juventus midfielder has only been out injured for a few weeks, but that is enough to remind Southampton fans of his quality. A couple of the big clubs might regret not taking a chance on this genuine all-rounder, who was controlling games for Mauricio Pellegrino in the early weeks of the season - and went toe-to-toe with Nemanja Matic and Pogba at St Mary's. He might not solve their goalscoring problems, but Southampton need Lemina back. Stoke City Bruno Martins Indi Missed most of September and October with groin and pelvis injuries, and versatile defender Martins Indi would give Stoke's backline a better balance. Mark Hughes has favoured a back three this season, which suits the Dutch defender who is comfortable in one-against-one scenarios and can play as either of the outside centre backs. Mame Biram Diouf still looks a liability at right-wing back, and Martins Indi's presence might allow a more senior defender to slot into the role Diouf currently occupies.  Swansea Renato Sanches One of the most exciting acquisitions of the transfer window, Renato Sanches has not quite scaled the heights of Euro 2016 during his time at Swansea. He arrived lacking first-team minutes, looked extremely rusty and has since picked up a thigh problem. However, if Paul Clement can harness his abundant talent then he could prove the difference between Premier League survival and relegation.  The signing of Renato Sanches was billed has a huge coup for Swansea Credit: Getty images Under Clement, Swansea are a team comfortable without possession. They have conceded only three away goals this season, and picked up away draws against Man Utd, Spurs and a victory at Anfield during his tenure. They tend to fall short in games when they are asked to take the initiative - losing at home to Watford, Leicester and Brighton already this season. Sanches is the type of player who can take the ball and drive them forward at the Liberty Stadium  Tottenham Hotspur Mousa Dembele  Everything is going swimmingly for Mauricio Pochettino, but if he could choose an early Christmas present it might be a fully-fit Mousa Dembele. Eric Dier has covered well for Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks has kept things ticking while even Moussa Sissoko has been halfway component. But Dembele in full flow is a cut above the rest.  Pochettino once remarked that Spurs 'don't exist' without him, and it is to the Tottenham manager's immense credit that he has found solutions that negate his absence. But it is no coincidence that Dele Alli has struggled for form (until his two goals against Real Madrid) while Dembele has sat on the bench. Alli does all of his best work without the ball, arriving into the picture late-on in moves and adding the final shot, pass or deft flick.  This means he has to be surrounded by teammates who can get the ball to him - which is why England are unlikely to see the best of him. Christian Eriksen's clipped crosses and incisive passing are one route, but Dembele's dribbles are another and they cannot be replicated. He can also take the ball on the back foot under pressure, and the attention his runs attract leaves space for Alli.  Watford  Roberto Pereyra A player who can be as much of a match-winner for Watford as Richarlison, but he keeps picking up injuries. The former Juventus midfielder adds quality to Marco Silva's side - though he would do little to make sure they stop throwing away leads. You also fancy Pereyra would have scored the penalty Tom Cleverly missed with the game on the line at Everton.  Pereyra scored at Chelsea recently Credit: Getty images West Brom James Morison Will he save West Brom's season? No. But Morison is a reliable player they have had to do without, and one of their only midfielders capable of scoring the odd goal (if Tony Pulis doesn't tether him 10 yards in front of the centre backs). Has a good shot on him from outside of the box, and times his runs into the penalty area well.  West Ham James Collins  No team has conceded more goals than David Moyes's new charges, and despite their apparent lack of pace the steadying presence of James Collins could prove beneficial. The 'Ginger Pele' - as West Ham fans affectionately refer to him - would allow Winston Reid to move to the right side a back three and stop Cheikhou Kouyate playing in that role. Nothing special or transformative, but you can be sure David Moyes will use him. Unless he signs Phil Jagielka and Paddy McNair. 

Your Premier League club's saviour: Who is going to return and save the season?

Nothing enhances a player's reputation like being absent as his team struggle. While those on the pitch are guilty by association, players waiting in the wings become potential saviours - their positive attributes embellished and their flaws forgotten. We might call this dynamic the 'Abou Diaby Phenomenon', a player who will be eternally judged by what he might have become rather than what he was. So who are the players ready to return and save your team's season? Arsenal  Jack Wilshere  A fully fit Santi Cazorla is the player Arsenal really need, but that looks a distant prospect given he now has part of his arm grafted to his ankle. Jack Wilshere has made five starts in the Europa League and Carabao Cup, but has played little more than 20 minutes in the Premier League. 'Super, super Jack' is sung by travelling Arsenal fans from the early stages of away matches, and he is a player who embodies the idealised absentee. When fans close their eyes and think of Wilshere the player, they see what he used to be rather than the player he now is. Arsenal floundered against Manchester City's aggressive pressing, when they really could have used a player with Wilshere's ability to keep the ball in tight spaces and wriggle away from opposition pressure. Wilshere's gametime has been severely limited this season Credit: Getty images Bournemouth  Callum Wilson On the verge of an England call-up and subject to several, slightly lazy, Jermain Defoe comparisons, Wilson's career was shattered by a cruciate knee ligament injury in September 2015. The Bournemouth forward worked his way back from that serious injury, only to sustain ligament damage in his other knee this January.  Eddie Howe is easing him back to action, with one Premier League start and one substitute appearance in October. Bournemouth's style of play means they will never be the league's tightest defence, so they need to outscore teams and Wilson can help them do that. He was a sharp, penalty-box striker before the injuries, adept at turning on a sixpence and getting shots off unexpectedly (hence the Defoe comparisons). Football fans of all stripes would love to see him back to that level.  Wilson's goals could help Bournemouth secure safety Credit: PA Brighton and Hove Albion  Sam Baldock  Brighton have kept most of their key men fit, but Sam Baldock is one player who was a reliable squad member in the Championship and has yet to play in the top flight due to a calf strain. Missing a large chunk of pre-season invariably leads to a truncated campaign, but Brighton will hope Baldock can return to add welcome depth over the Christmas period. He signed a new three-year contract at the end of last season, so Chris Hughton clearly believes in him.  Burnley  Tom Heaton  High-flying Burnley do not need saving after a fine start to the season, but although Nick Pope has deputised brilliantly they will be even stronger for having their No.1 back. With Joe Hart's stock falling and the rough edges in Jordan Pickford's game becoming more apparent at Goodison Park, Heaton could rival Jack Butland at England level. There is always a question mark over goalkeepers at clubs such as Burnley, who play behind a packed defence and are heavily involved. How he copes behind a higher defensive line while having fewer saves to make will decide if he gets a big move.  Chelsea  N'Golo Kante The ball-winning midfielder returned for Chelsea's victory over Manchester United and made an immediate difference. The champions will be stronger after the international break with Kante in their midfield, and his importance has only increased since the sale of Nemanja Matic. A central midfield of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas is exciting with the ball, but provides too little protection for Chelsea's back three without it.  Kante returned to action last week Credit: Getty images That said, Kante's reputation has become slightly inflated. He is a very effective specialist, who brings vital balance, but has found himself exposed by high quality opponents such as Christian Eriksen and Mesut Ozil in big matches.  Crystal Palace Christian Benteke He might not be the striker Palace fans want, but might be the one they need. Wilfried Zaha has looked impressive playing through the middle, but one injury and Roy Hodgson would be looking at Andros Townsend up front. Hodgson has favoured 4-4-2 in his previous club jobs, and Benteke and Zaha could prove a complementary partnership.  The temptation with a striker like Benteke is to play too long, too early. The Belgian is static - the issue that has stopped him succeeding at 'Big Six' level - and is not going to create his own chances. He needs to ball brought to him, and Zaha can certainly do that. The former Aston Villa man also has a habit of scoring goals in spring, which could prove the difference in a relegation battle. Like a modern-day John Stead, if you will.  Everton  Ross Barkley Ostracised by Ronald Koeman and a transfer target for both Chelsea and Spurs, it could be too late for Barkley to revive his Everton career. But it need not be. If the new manager takes a shine to him, Barkley's return could be like a new signing for Everton.  Not another Everton No.10, I hear you say. But Barkley possesses qualities not shared by Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klassen. He is more of a ball-carrier, capable of stepping past his man and disrupting the opponent's defensive shape. Too often, his decision-making has disappointed and he has a bad habit of taking too many touches rather than letting the ball do the work. But he does bring a touch of 'fear factor' to Everton, who have looked slow and pedestrian this season. That only liberates teams to attack their fragile defence with abandon, because there now there is nothing to be scared of in the other direction. For all Barkley's faults, teams will worry about him because he is capable of driving straight through the heart of a team. Huddersfield Town Philip Billing Not due back until the New Year, but Billing is a player with huge potential. A rangy central midfielder who impressed a wider audience in Huddersfield's FA Cup replay at Manchester City last season, the left-footed Billing would bring balance to David Wagner's team. Still only 21, he might not start every Premier League game but could prove a joker in the pack come the second half of the season - important because teams will start to work then out. Philip Billing got injured against Swansea in mid-October Credit: getty images Leicester City Vicente Iborra Craig Shakespeare never had the chance to work with Leicester's big summer purchase from Sevilla as Iborra missed the first few months of the season through injury. He has worked his way back up to fitness though, scoring in a 2-2 draw at Stoke last time out. Claude Puel will need him to stay fit, and to form a true partnership with Wilfred Ndidi. Leicester are looking to rebuild their midfield following the departure of Kante and Danny Drinkwater over the past 18 months.  Liverpool  Adam Lallana  The former Southampton midfielder was an acquired taste for a while, with critics accusing him of looking neat and silky without any threat to the opposition. That was dispelled last season when Lallana became one of the first names on the team sheet for club and country. His tireless energy fits Jurgen Klopp's co-ordinated press perfectly, but he also brings Liverpool welcome guile and creativity.  At times, Liverpool can rely too much on speed of foot, and when teams sit deep and deny them space to gallop into they struggle. Jordan Henderson offers little cutting edge from deep, but Lallana is the ideal link between him and Liverpool's biggest strength - their front three. Even Philippe Coutinho can be a little bombastic and individualistic to fulfill this role, but Lallana is a real team player. Manchester City  Vincent Kompany  Unlike Bonnie Tyler, City are not holding out for a hero as they sit eight points clear at the top of the Premier League. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola would welcome having the experience of Vincent Kompany available again. Despite his propensity to dive into challenges and wander out of position, City's captain does bring added assurance to their other defenders (though John Stones has been excellent of late). The team is evolving away from Kompany, for too long they have relied on him to be a sticking plaster, but as they try to close out the title in the second half of the season they might need him. Manchester United  Paul Pogba The most egregious case of a player's reputation sky-rocketing from the treatment table. Pogba is undoubtedly Man Utd's best central midfielder, but you do wonder if some fans are expecting a super hero to return to and turn Jose Mourinho's team into cavalier title challengers. No matter how much money you spend or how much squad depth a manager has, every elite team have three of four players who cannot be replaced  - and Pogba is one of United's.  United are desperate to get Pogba back Credit: Getty images Whether their football should have deteriorated quite as dramatically however, is debatable. Pogba's return will get United moving through the thirds more smoothly and provide better service into Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.  Newcastle United  Aleksandar Mitrovic  There are good reasons not to play Aleksandar Mitrovic, not least his tendency to pick up at least three red cards a season. But Newcastle have looked toothless in front of goal of late, and there is no doubt Mitrovic is what is technically known as a 'handful'. Joselu has not been the upgrade Rafael Benitez was hoping for, while Dwight Gayle looks to be another David Nugent or Rob Hulse. Mitrovic provides more aerial threat, and with the right service from wide areas could be dangerous.  Southampton Mario Lemina The former Juventus midfielder has only been out injured for a few weeks, but that is enough to remind Southampton fans of his quality. A couple of the big clubs might regret not taking a chance on this genuine all-rounder, who was controlling games for Mauricio Pellegrino in the early weeks of the season - and went toe-to-toe with Nemanja Matic and Pogba at St Mary's. He might not solve their goalscoring problems, but Southampton need Lemina back. Stoke City Bruno Martins Indi Missed most of September and October with groin and pelvis injuries, and versatile defender Martins Indi would give Stoke's backline a better balance. Mark Hughes has favoured a back three this season, which suits the Dutch defender who is comfortable in one-against-one scenarios and can play as either of the outside centre backs. Mame Biram Diouf still looks a liability at right-wing back, and Martins Indi's presence might allow a more senior defender to slot into the role Diouf currently occupies.  Swansea Renato Sanches One of the most exciting acquisitions of the transfer window, Renato Sanches has not quite scaled the heights of Euro 2016 during his time at Swansea. He arrived lacking first-team minutes, looked extremely rusty and has since picked up a thigh problem. However, if Paul Clement can harness his abundant talent then he could prove the difference between Premier League survival and relegation.  The signing of Renato Sanches was billed has a huge coup for Swansea Credit: Getty images Under Clement, Swansea are a team comfortable without possession. They have conceded only three away goals this season, and picked up away draws against Man Utd, Spurs and a victory at Anfield during his tenure. They tend to fall short in games when they are asked to take the initiative - losing at home to Watford, Leicester and Brighton already this season. Sanches is the type of player who can take the ball and drive them forward at the Liberty Stadium  Tottenham Hotspur Mousa Dembele  Everything is going swimmingly for Mauricio Pochettino, but if he could choose an early Christmas present it might be a fully-fit Mousa Dembele. Eric Dier has covered well for Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks has kept things ticking while even Moussa Sissoko has been halfway component. But Dembele in full flow is a cut above the rest.  Pochettino once remarked that Spurs 'don't exist' without him, and it is to the Tottenham manager's immense credit that he has found solutions that negate his absence. But it is no coincidence that Dele Alli has struggled for form (until his two goals against Real Madrid) while Dembele has sat on the bench. Alli does all of his best work without the ball, arriving into the picture late-on in moves and adding the final shot, pass or deft flick.  This means he has to be surrounded by teammates who can get the ball to him - which is why England are unlikely to see the best of him. Christian Eriksen's clipped crosses and incisive passing are one route, but Dembele's dribbles are another and they cannot be replicated. He can also take the ball on the back foot under pressure, and the attention his runs attract leaves space for Alli.  Watford  Roberto Pereyra A player who can be as much of a match-winner for Watford as Richarlison, but he keeps picking up injuries. The former Juventus midfielder adds quality to Marco Silva's side - though he would do little to make sure they stop throwing away leads. You also fancy Pereyra would have scored the penalty Tom Cleverly missed with the game on the line at Everton.  Pereyra scored at Chelsea recently Credit: Getty images West Brom James Morison Will he save West Brom's season? No. But Morison is a reliable player they have had to do without, and one of their only midfielders capable of scoring the odd goal (if Tony Pulis doesn't tether him 10 yards in front of the centre backs). Has a good shot on him from outside of the box, and times his runs into the penalty area well.  West Ham James Collins  No team has conceded more goals than David Moyes's new charges, and despite their apparent lack of pace the steadying presence of James Collins could prove beneficial. The 'Ginger Pele' - as West Ham fans affectionately refer to him - would allow Winston Reid to move to the right side a back three and stop Cheikhou Kouyate playing in that role. Nothing special or transformative, but you can be sure David Moyes will use him. Unless he signs Phil Jagielka and Paddy McNair. 

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