About this time of year people start considering overseas holidays, either for sunshine or city culture. I prefer to relax cosily here, hoping for snow, and recall travel disasters – much more plentiful than happy times abroad.
There was the first time driving into Paris - after an horrendous Channel crossing in stormy weather. Not only was everyone sick but, just when nearing France, we had to turn back and do it all over again.
One even more unfortunate passenger had severe peritonitis.
After all that we found Paris closed, not having realised most residents there also went on holiday in August.
Or there’s our night out in Venice, after a calmer ferry ride from a nearby tourist hostel.
We ventured ever deeper into narrow alleyways, searching for a restaurant we could afford and emerging finally in a large square. There a red Hammer and Sickle flag flew over crowded trestle tables before a temporary stage. It was the annual bash of the local communist party and, as welcome foreign comrades, we were invited to enjoy free stew and tumblers of red wine. Great – until there was a power-cut, whereupon everyone got out torches and departed. Such cuts were common at that time. It took us hours to trace our way back through the dark labyrinth.
Then there was camping by Lake Garda, with overnight thunderstorms which washed away our tent.
Or, in Tuscany, where my companion fell and broke his leg climbing a camp-site’s high, locked gates. On the plus side, the best views of Florence were from the orthopaedic hospital terrace.
Finally, I remember touring Austria – such wonderful scenery and so clean! However, at their prices, we could barely afford a bag of chips and soft drinks.
How good it is to recall! Then smile and put up my feet, safe and snug at home.
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