During the Easter holidays I returned to my family home in a sleepy village not so far from Bath. After a Sundays worth of sharing stories of the past term with my parents and kid sister (the latter of which was censored, of course) I decided to catch up with some of my old friends. All but one had gone back to uni, and we realised that we’d have to make our own fun. Down to the travel-agents we went. First mistake.
After an hour or so of chatting to one of those orange ladies and scanning through pamphlets about rental cars and resorts that said nothing more than “Doesn’t this person look happy?” we came to the end of our collective tether. No wonder holidays are a stress: how are you supposed to decide when/where you’re going when the only explicit information you’re likely to get is hanging on the thread of computer “literacy” exhibited by 40 something Ms Peroxide?
We checked how much of our loans we had left between us, polished off the remaining overdraft and returned to the shop with a couple of hundred quid and the staunch request of “getting somewhere and back again with this money; starting tomorrow.” Second mistake.
After squaring away the details with our friend in the travel agent, followed by our parents; we left the following day for Espanol. Dr Zeuss himself would’ve been proud of us as we hopped on a bus, to get to the train, then onto bus, took three hours! LAME! Third Mistake: we avoided driving because of the parking fee (definitely should’ve thought about car hire, or something!)
We checked the bags in at the first desk, shared the inside of our pockets with some well dressed strangers, re-enacted Agincourt in the departure lounge with hundreds of fellow sweaty travellers, joined the Conga line at the desk, listened to another orange lady who was smiling and pointing rather enthusiastically towards “Here, here and here”, had a few bevies and voila! Barcelona!
We had a fantastic three days (the furthest our wallets originally stretched) despite confusion with the locals and a number of episodes with over-confidence in tube-travel. Fourth mistake: Car hire Spain was another option we should’ve had the foresight to arrange from the travel agent, but you live and learn.
On the fourth day we made our way to the airport. The mantra throughout had been to avoid watching television and be as active as possible: fifth mistake. As we arrived at Barcelona’s finest with our luggage in tow we realised that the psychotic man at our hotel reception was actually warning us of the scrum we were about to face. Hey; I never learned Volcano in Spanish, and the receptionists absurd hand gestures seemed hapless out of context.
Maybe we could’ve stayed a few days on the house, maybe we could’ve stayed a few days on the blag: anything would be better than the combination of another departure lounge battle and the absolute conviction my friend had that “if we stayed long enough we’d get to leave first”. Fortunately we only had to wait a day and a half. Unfortunately we had to wait A DAY AND A HALF!!!
Well. I’m back now, no thanks to Mt Eyjafjallajokull (wtf?), and I’ve definitely learned something today.
1) Don’t go holidaying with a friend who thinks EVERYTHING will “Work out alright!”.
2) Consider car rental before public transport abroad.
3) Consider car rental before public transport at home.
4) Volcanoes blow.