For a lesser Gluckspilz than myself, my latest holiday "experience" might be proof that I am a travel companion to be avoided on account of my dismal luck in foreign climes.
I've previously detailed my airport ordeal, while departing from Chad, where I got stuck for four days and then covered in insects. My latest travel saga was less exotic, less prolonged and less buggy. However, there were two toddlers involved, which effectively takes it to a whole new level of suffering:
It all happened on the way back from Spain. We have a strange relationship with Spain - it features prominently in our lives as my parents live there and are prone to sending evangelical emails about its delights. Sun! Sea! Shoes! Sun! Spain has it all!
Except when we go, when the rain in Spain falls mostly on our pain-ed faces, which are pressed up against hail-lashed windows as we shiver in the lowest temperatures since records began (presumably they only began after our last visit, cos it was just as bleeding cold then) and listen to gnarled old Spanish men announce that they can now die happy after seeing snow for the first time in their long, olive-oil soaked, sun-drenched lives.
But this Christmas was delightful. We went to the beach. Had lovely walks wearing a light sweater. Rolled up our trouser legs and dabbled our toes in the mineral-rich waters of the Mar Menor and then ordered patatas bravas at a pavement cafe while the kids dropped ice creams down themselves and ended up rabbit-punching each other in a fight over some shells that were discarded and forgotten three minutes later. Ah, happy memories.
And then we tried to go home: one flight delay, two toddlers and an eleven-hour wait at the airport. Eleven hours with no pram, no playground and no (legal) tranquilizers. It is truly amazing what parents can do with an iPhone, a set of moving walk-ways and a mostly-deserted Duty Free concession (come on kids, let's play hide 'n seek in the changing rooms in Desigual again - yaaaaaaaay!).
Of course, we also passed some time by losing our iPad at the security check and traipsing off to get a police report and have them check the CCTV video, only for the iPad to mysteriously emerge from inside the security scanner after spending some time drawing attention to itself by hiding. It got a spanked bottom and sent off to bed without its dinner, I can tell you.
Too much time with toddlers?
Anyway, after arriving at Alicante Airport at 11am, we took to the skies just before 10pm, landed back in Switzerland at midnight and finally rolled home after 2am. We could have driven home in that time, and then I would have had space to buy more shoes.
So did the experience "ruin a perfect holiday"? Not at all. It was a total pain in the scrotum, I give you that, but not all negative. Don't worry, I'm not coming over all sappy, optimistic, glass half full (hey, at least we didn't take off in a faulty plane and DIE!), "let's recognise the learning experience in every ordeal" on you. No, it just didn't seem that bad because this shit happens to us ALL THE BLESSED TIME.
Maybe it's because expat life means that you tend to travel quite a lot, so statistically we have more opportunities for journeys to go boobies-up. But even so, there have been some howlers:
- a double date-style couples' holiday in Kos, when one quarter of the foursome decided to come out on the first day of a two-week stay to his unsuspecting and, erm, straight girlfriend. So that was awkward.
- being stranded during a diving trip by a violent storm on an uninhabited island while five months pregnant and having to be rescued in an elderly helicopter by the Omani Royal Air Force.
- getting stuck in Barbados for an extra day because of a volcano on a neighbouring island. OK, that's a bad example - there are worse places to be stuck. Chad, for example, where there are loads of insects (did I mention the insects?).
And there are others I won't regale you with: I know a certain hospital in St Moritz rather too well; got arrested en route to Sao Tome; suffered permanent scarring from sunburn on my left butt-cheek in Bali (the right one remained, mysteriously, unscathed).
So why do I keep travelling? Wouldn't it be better to admit defeat and embrace the staycation that's so fashionable these days?
Well, yes, every one of our sagas results in a "never again" conversation with The Husband. But, rather like my regular pledges to backup my photos, muck out the fridge and never start drinking until I've finished cooking, good intentions are easier said than done.
We're off to Florida in a few weeks. You might want to avoid the state. Or States.