Having just returned from a four week European holiday, I’m poorer of pocket but vastly richer in other ways, including material for blog posts. Like life itself, travel does not bestow its joys unconditionally. But looking back, the joys will remain cherished memories, while the lows have been consigned to experience and after-dinner jokes.
Living in Australia has many advantages which we often take for granted. One of these is you rarely see armed guards in the streets (which we did in both Dublin and Paris). However, Australians who want to travel anywhere much further afield than South East Asia suffer the huge disadvantage of tyranny of distance. I estimated that from closing our front door in Adelaide to opening that of our hotel room in Dublin took approximately 26 hours in non-stop (and virtually non-sleep) journeying and the home leg was even worse. There’s not much bon about this sort of voyage.
But until the airlines decide to prioritise passenger comfort over revenue earned and enlarge the sardine tin allocated to economy class travellers (which isn’t likely to happen any time soon), we must endure. And when you consider how much there is to be gained from travel, all the little dramas and frustrations pale into insignificance . It is a truly mind-expanding and soul enriching experience. However difficult it may be to scrape up the money and find the time to go, it’s one of life’s enduring pleasures that you never regret.
There are many ways to keep travel alive. In my parents’ day it was the dreaded slide evening, an ordeal where you’re held captive in a darkened room while an endless stream of fuzzy photos of places meaningful only to the holiday makers flicker on the lounge-room wall. Holiday snaps now are a different proposition altogether. With smart phones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest, everyone’s a photographer and the world can see just where you are and what you’re doing within seconds. Posting to social media has the benefit of immediacy and universal access but it’s a fleeting thing, here and gone within seconds, overtaken by brighter and newer attractions. To make the experience more meaningful, you need time to reflect, particularly when you’ve crammed a myriad of places and sensations into a short, hectic time frame. So that’s what I’ll be doing over the next few blog posts – putting some words to the photos so that even though we’ve unpacked the bags and been dragged kicking and screaming back into the daily routine, I can retrace our steps and enjoy the magical mystery tour all over again. If it reminds you of a slide night, feel free to tune out.
Here’s a few snippets to be going on with:
Most memorable: spending a week with my daughter and son-in-law and their two children in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Lots of quality bonding time with Isla, aged four and Amie, aged one (who we hadn’t met before). Grandchildren who you see rarely are especially precious.
Most beautiful: almost impossible to choose but if you like ancient French villages with narrow, cobbled streets, quaint old stone buildings ringed about by canals, bridges, rivers and streams, you’d go for Crécy la Chapelle, about 40 minutes east of Paris.
Most cringeworthy tourist experience: Tourists with selfie sticks. On a Bateau Mouche tour of the Seine we nearly had our eyes put out by the bristling forest of these weilded by narcissistic idiots who seemed to think none of the glorious sights they saw were adequate without their grinning face front and centre of the shot.
Favourite place visited: Paris – I left my heart there (again) as how could you not?
by Anne Green