What Could Go Wrong?
The airport was at least two hours from home if the traffic cooperated. Don’t have a slowdown on my route, please.
No delays… because travel has no downside.
But factoring in what could be a delay is part of the logistical process. You’re going away for a month? That leaves about four or five days for travel time. Get used to it. What could go wrong?
This was an adventure, nonetheless. I was looking forward to seeing the people I missed for seventeen years and I was betting we had all changed somewhat.
Well, we probably changed a lot … Let’s move on.
Once I arrived at the airport for the first leg of my journey I was ready.
No going back, not for a month anyway.
Truth be told, I like to travel, but I don’t really like to fly. The airports are busy, the queues are long and that boarding attendant person was mean to me. I was getting tired already.
This Is My Getaway!
Ok, strap yourself in and take out your crossword puzzles. The plane was FULL, and the man next to me was snoring. He’s a big guy, a giant, who was slipping toward me, mumbling in his sleep.
I was on the aisle so I just leaned away from him. Did that efficient air hostess tell me to sit up straight?
Are they going to throw me off the plane?
We hadn’t left the ground yet, and our pilot said there would be a delay for takeoff.
Fine with me; I don’t like to fly.
When we took off my knuckles were white. It’s a little silly on my part, I know, but looking at a plane I wonder, how do they get this thing off the ground?
I know about lift and thrust but how do they really get this huge pile of metal off the ground?
I was so giddy that I started talking to strangers, which I never do.
I appeared to be a novice traveler, and I suppose for some things I was. We compared itineraries and final stops. But you can’t make friends because they won’t stay very long; everyone is moving on.
I Am A Logistical Genius!
When I arranged this trip, I was so happy that the main flight was direct; no stops on the way. Fifteen hours, and ten minutes without a break. Wow, this was new to me!
I was saving time by not having to touch down anywhere. I thought I was so smart.
During my illustrious career as a seasoned traveler, I was unaware of how stale the air could become in an aircraft cabin, after 15 hours!
While circling over Johannesburg, South Africa, everyone was in a panic,
looking for fresh air and solid ground.
I was ready to break a window but I thought we should land first.
I always envisioned that I would deplane and look fresh, relaxed, and happy. Upbeat!
I wanted to descend the mobile staircase looking like Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality… Just in case my friends were watching from behind those massive windows inside the terminal.
The bathrooms were so busy I barely had time to splash my face or brush my teeth; the water was down to a trickle.
I was disheveled, wrinkled, and limp.
I needed a shower and real food.
Eggs Benedict came to mind; I was delusional.
Leaving the plane was magical as we felt sunshine, breathed the new air and there was a breeze. Everyone inhaled and smiled!
Well, well, things did change in seventeen years. The airport grew and morphed into a city.
The distance from one end to the other was more than ten football fields, and that did not include the departure lounge.
There was no train to take me to the other end.
I started walking.
This Was My First Time:
The first time I flew overseas my first stop was London, England. I got on a bus at Heathrow Airport, and because I am a very curious person, I wanted to sit behind the driver so I could see everything.
But he was driving on the wrong side of the bus! Did he know this?
He turned the corner so wide and nearly hit the oncoming vehicle! What was this guy up to?
I couldn’t look. I covered my eyes and cowered in my seat. I wanted to cry. But the driver was laughing and shaking his head… Tourists!
Our next flight had been delayed indefinitely and as this was in the days when planes fell out of the sky regularly, we agreed to find another airline.
We were off to the booking offices in the mall! My ability to speak my mother tongue would be tested … challenged!
Enter a New Language
How hard can this be? I was in England and they speak English. We would understand each other… I’m good… I got this!
I tried to order breakfast and did not understand a word from the waitress.
She was kind; she spoke slowly and enunciated every word, loudly.
She called an older woman for help. She was smart; she handed me a menu and let me look at the pictures … She helped me make a decision.
This was breakfast time. We still had twenty-four hours left to try and communicate in this foreign land.
Did everyone know we were strangers in a strange land? Did borrow and beg and army and navy give us away? That’s Cockney for “eggs and gravy”.
We studied it before we left home, and they didn’t understand us?
I get testy when I am not understood.
That afternoon we hailed a taxi, to see the sights. The driver was American! He said, “I’ll take you everywhere for a flat rate and you’ll see everything”.
He understood us – we had to keep him!
Later we stopped for dinner and ran the gauntlet of “do you have a res-er-vation? Hm?”
We replied, “No, sir, we don’t”, so, “howmanyareya,
and dpleposx menu,ok”?
We decided to visit the bar first.
There is really no such thing as a downside to travel. No bad experiences …
Mostly I remember all the unplanned events.
Sometimes We Drove A Car
While visiting Rome, we drove on the peripherique, a highway circling the city. At intervals, there are signs indicating direction, so we adjusted accordingly.
We made U-turns. We made lots of U-turns. It was getting late and we could not find our direction. We were in a southbound lane, wanting to go north.
We were very frustrated so we polled other drivers for help.
I love Italy and Italians. They are friendly and helpful even though no one speaks English. That’s ok. Their friendliness goes a long way.
But don’t ask for help on the peripherique, in Rome, in the heat of summer.
We really did learn a whole new language!
Now They Are “Our” Tourists!
I talk about Belgians often in my posts and this is no exception. They could have so much fun doing anything! Laughter was made for them.
Some people from our work were visiting Belgium from South Africa. There were so many fun places to go to; this was no exception.
We visited a historic village, with a bar and grill on its edge, surrounded by acres of gardens with lanes throughout. You could drive around the grounds or sit at a picnic table.
It was midday and drizzling, as usual, as Belgium has a lot of rain. Worse than the UK, I think.
We walked around the historic village for two hours, in the rain.
We thought we were dressed for it, but it permeated.
We were freezing and no one was going to admit defeat.
Later, we ran into the bar and grill, all fifteen of us, and surrounded the huge fireplace.
Within five minutes we each had a warm toddy in our hands. We ate… We drank.
After a long while, we were ready to drive home. By now it was dark and we had to manage the labyrinth of lanes and gardens around us.
In a little place like this, outside the villages nearby, not much money is spent on outdoor lighting. It was the blackest black out there and no one knew the way out.
And, no one would admit defeat.
Show Me The Downside; There Isn’t One
We all started to drive at once. The rain had stopped and our windows were down.
We nearly all collided but in dodge-em car style, we swerved around each other and drove up and down the garden lanes, chasing each other!
What’s that sound? It built up slowly and became very loud!
We were all laughing hysterically!
Antoine fell out of his car, rolling in the gravel and holding his stomach.
He was in pleats!
My husband was clutching the steering wheel and looking to see who he could outrace in that garden.
I had tears running down my face and I couldn’t speak.
We were laughing so hard; I never had so much fun!
All those unplanned events are what make it so memorable.
Fun is not orchestrated like canned laughter.
These memories tickle me every time I think of them. I remember the weather, what we ate, and the people who were there. I remember all of it.
My strongest memory is that travel has no downside!
What’s not to like?
…Is that laughter I hear?
I would love to hear about your travel adventures. Leave me a comment, or ask a question.
I will get back to you within 24 hours.