Friday, July 23, 2004

Road trip

Like Lyn, I am about to head off on holiday with my parents. Three weeks: Cambridge, Lakes District, Edinburgh. I’m to meet them in a nearby village and drive the family into Cambridge in the rental car.

Driving, in Cambridge. The idea weirds me out. I’ve only ever cycled here, and have not been behind a steering wheel in ten months.

Anyway, time for some pet peeves and lessons learned in my continuing spate of tourism:


(1) The self-narrating American. (S)he says: “Will you look at that bridge!” Doug thinks: It’s over a hundred metres long, nearly a millennium old, made of rock and right in frikken front of me. Where the Hell else would I be looking?
(2) European school-children on supervised holidays. Massed adolescence is not any better when it is French, German or Italian. Though watching them for’n kids trying to steer punts is terribly amusing, provided you’re on a bridge, not the water.

(3) People who, despite Ryan Air’s policy of boarding people in orderly batches of 30 by ticket numbers (after old people and those with children), still mill about in an absolute crush at the boarding gate.

(4) Those chronically unable to enjoy their holiday: “… and she looked at me like I was mad when I asked if we could sit together, just because we weren’t animals and didn’t barge our way to the front.” Doug thinks: It’s not allocated seating. Is spending a one-hour flight not grafted to your beloved’s side going to kill you?

Or: “You said outside TWO free drinks on this tour, I’d like my mineral water as well as my coffee, please.” Doug: Lady, the man is sorting out drinks for two dozen people here, I have every confidence he’ll come back with your precious second beverage.

(1) When backpacking, carrying your own towel is always a plus. Douglas Adams really knew what he was on about.

(2) The world is a desperately small place. (Witness my bumping into college buddies in Barcelona, and meeting a girl at the hostel who knew someone I’d worked with on the phone fundraising campaign).

(3) Carrying a litre of water, camera and notebook at all times is seldom a wasted effort.

(4) The dumb hat, stupid shorts and ratty old sneakers packed for emergencies will almost always turn into necessities.

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