Sunday Travel Stories

Five travel positives:

  1. I get to see other cultures.
  2. I get to eat delicious foods.
  3. There are certain smells that remind me of certain places.
  4. I always feel good when I’m traveling.
  5. I get to see Paris again this year.

It’s a great idea to travel to places where some sort of attack has just happened. For example, my girlfriend and I were planning on going to Barcelona one Thanksgiving. Then the 7/7 bombing happened. I told her to start looking for hotels in London because that’s where we were going. She didn’t understand until we booked round-trip flights for $267. Then she understood. Not only are the fares cheap, the security is amped up so it’s perfectly safe. Morbid, I know, but hey we were on a tight budget.

On that same trip my late husband (then boyfriend) joined us because the fare was so cheap. We got a triple room and it worked out great. While leaving a pub one evening after dinner there was a man sitting with a woman eating their dinner. She was odd looking and the first thing you would notice; the kind of woman you would expect to own a lot of cats. Her manner of dress was overdone and over the top weird. That wasn’t the weirdest thing at the table, the man had this huge almost Afro type hair style, but if you looked closer you noticed he had that hair-in-a-can spray on hair on the top of his head. It was terrible looking, yet neither of them acted like they knew how ridiculous they looked. Obviously there is someone for everyone.

Again on the same trip we were in a pub in Covent Garden to meet my friend who lives in London. While we waited a guy came in with the craziest grey hair that stuck up in all directions. It was a terrible look. Not spray-on terrible, but not attractive at all. Five minutes later he removes his crazy grey hair to reveal a normal dark brown hair cut conservatively. Why the hair-hat?

Not all of these stories involve pubs, but most of them do. We were in Sienna in Tuscany. The hotel we stayed in ran out of hot water every morning so I started showering in the evening to avoid that unpleasantness. Travel in the winter is good because you get the holidays as free days off, and there are fewer tourists typically. The husband and I were leaving a pub from inside the city walls and started walking back to our hotel outside the city walls. We are walking and walking outside the walls wondering why it was taking us so long to get back to the hotel. At one point we came to a part of the road where there was no sidewalk so we ran because of the cars passing very close to us. Once we got to the bottom of the hill we realized that we were actually on the highway and not on the road that lead to our hotel. We backtracked into the city walls and found an Australian pub to get directions. Even though I studied Italian for three months I didn’t have enough of the words to say that we were lost and needed directions, so we assumed someone would speak English in the Australian pub. Not so much. We showed the bartender the map we got from the hotel and he looked at it and shook his head. Although he didn’t speak English, he knew enough words to tell us we F’ed up and he would call us a cab. It turned out the map we were given was actually sideways; north pointed left.

My girlfriend and I were staying in an extremely cheap hotel in Paris. The toilet was down the hall and up the stairs, the shower however was across the hall from our room. The German couple from down the hall would shower together and get water all over the anteroom and leave their soaking towels on the floor. It was weird and rude, but we never got up early enough to get in the shower first. We met a few guys while having coffee on a sidewalk one evening. We spent the better part of the evening talking to them and they seemed like pretty good guys so when they invited us to a friend’s birthday party the following night we felt comfortable agreeing to join them. We met them and one of their friends at their apartment and had tea before we went out. Back downstairs the five of us piled into their little Punto which is approximately the same size as an American FIAT. One of the guys, Samir, was sitting in between me and my girlfriend in the back seat. Samir was getting a little handsy with both of us and we had to keep rebuffing his attempts. Both of us turned towards our windows and made sure we knew where his hands were the whole time. The first stop we made was to pick up a friend, there was no way another person would fit inside that car, but that’s what they told us we were doing. After about ten minutes of waiting the girlfriend and I decided to get out of the car to have a cigarette while we waited. An hour later the friend never materialized. Next we go on to the party, it’s about ten o’clock by now. We get to the “party” at a bar in the outskirts of Paris. Samir goes inside with the friend we had met that night. They come out fifteen minutes later and tell us we can’t go inside. Apparently, no one in the car was invited to this party so we had to leave. Girlfriend and I were so angry but since we were on the outskirts there were no trains we could take so we reluctantly get back inside the tiny car. Fending off Samir’s advances again and facing our respective windows we are getting angrier and angrier and just want to sit down, have a beer, and chill out without these guys. Then, as we traveled down the freeway we were sideswiped on my side of the car and the guy tore off the wing-mirror of the Punto. Well, this pisses off the driver so he starts to pursue the side-swiper! Girlfriend and I are screaming at the driver to slow down and leave it be, but he won’t slow down. The side-swiper finally loses us and a short time later we are on the Champs Elysees and he finally stops. GF and I get out of the car followed by Samir who wanted to convince us to stay with them. All my French came flooding back to me in that moment and I yelled at him that it was my life and I had a young child I wanted to see again and how dare they toy with our lives and wellbeing! Then I grabbed GF’s hand and we marched off arm-in-arm. After they drove off we slowed down and headed over to the Irish pub we liked. That’s when I finally had to say, “My window smelled like ass.” Apparently hers did too and we had a huge laugh until we realized that our faces were pressed up against the same surface that someone’s ass had been on.

While staying in the south of Italy in 2014, the late husband and I took a train from Sorento to Pompeii. Every single person within the car was playing Candy Crush. It was funny to see that the addiction was universal.

On our way back to our hotel in the Bastille area of Paris I tripped crossing the road, a lovely Frenchman saw me fall and helped me up. Unfortunately, I had imbibed a little too much and shortly after I was back on my four inch heels I was back on my knees in the road. This time the Frenchman simply said, “Mon dieu!” and walked away while the husband yells, “Keeks!” like I had done it on purpose! We did make it back to the hotel finally without further incident.

Those are some of my richer tales from my travels. I can’t wait to add to my travel journal this coming Christmas. I am taking the kid to Paris with a side trip to London to see my friend and to visit the Harry Potter soundstage that we missed our first time to London. I’m sure there will be tales from that excursion as well.

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