A deal absolutely fabulous
An offer to good to be true
A journey of a life-time
During the break from school
A deal absolutely fabulous
An offer to good to be true
A journey of a life-time
During the break from school
Sometimes a journey never feels as lonely, as does one taken with others. The tour group was a diverse collection of individuals. They were strangers brought together by the promise of “shared” discovery. Thus far, all Helen had discovered was that the loud blonde, Ellen smoked too much and used every opportunity to cloud the doorway. Rita spent at least half of the travel time in the loo, and queues usually formed while others waited for her to “finish.”
So much for adventure and commradery. The next time she went to London, Helen concluded, she was going to drive herself.
Thus far the Nile Cruise had been everything Troy and Mary had hoped for. Their cabin was a quiet paradise, in which the could escape into the bliss of their second honeymoon. The entire experience was packed with adventure and romance.
Yesterday’s excursion had been a wonderful hot air balloon ride, in which the panoramic beauty of the Nile and surrounding desert was spread out below them. Then a exquisite dinner and an evening of quiet cuddles finished the day.
This morning, they has taken a camel excursion to the pyramids with all of the appropriate photo-ops. Now they sat is a cafe enjoying strong Arab coffee.
“This is so perfect,” Mary said. “And you know what, I think this copper coffeepot makes it taste even better.”
“Tell you what, when we are done here, let’s go to the souq and see if we can find one just like it,” Troy suggested.
“Oh that sounds marvelous,” Mary said excitedly. She gulped down her last swallow of coffee, and took a photo of the coffee set on her iPhone to be sure they “just the one.”
They then spent well over an hour going in and out of the brightly adorned stalls in search of their elusive set. The shopping adventure also yielded several trinkets they intended to give as gifts, as they discovered them along the way.
At one stall there was an assortment of beautiful hand-woven carpets, and Mary paused for a long while staring at a rose coloured one, with a very artful design, that she thought would look perfect in their bedroom back home. She sighed, and stepped away, only to glance back at it at least twice more.
As they rounded the next corner, they came upon the exact coffee set they were after. After the requisite haggling had been completed, the boxed set was bundled under Troy’s arm along with the bag which contained the small gifts that were purchased earlier.
“Troy Honey, can we take just one more look at that carpet?” Mary asked with feigned shyness.
“Sure,” he said, adjusting the their exotic buys.
She looked longingly at the carpet for a moment and, in not much more than a whisper, said – “I wonder how much it is?”. In an instant, the keen-eared proprietor swooped in, “300 British – 350 American. The very best price,” the man announced.
“Wow, at that price – does it fly?” Troy said with a chuckle.
“No – no, it is 700 for the flying one,” the man said in an earnest tone.
A few moments later, Troy was staggering under the load of the rolled up carpet, and the boxed coffee set, though Mary had taken the bag of presents.
As they retraced their steps through the souq, trying to get to a taxi stand, Troy muttered, “I should have taken the flying one.”
It had been a long drive and Estella and Filip were exhausted when they arrived in the city. To add to their discomfort they found that the gates to their intended caravan site had been locked at 2 AM and would not open until 6.
“There’s no place to park and I can’t wait here for three and a half hours,” Estella said. “I need to get some sleep.”
“I’m not in much better shape, but I tell you what; why don’t I drive for a bit and look for a place to park, and you get some sleep?”
They traded places and Estella settled in. Filip drove through streets packed with parked vehicles. Nowhere seemed to provided a space large enough for the car and caravan. Then he saw a sign for a car park, so he thought himself in luck. To his surprise he found that it was a subterranean facility, but in his bleary-eyed condition, decided to give it a go anyway. The caravan barely cleared the entry gate, but made it all the same, and Filip continued down the long downward ramp into the facility’s interior.
No spaces, he mused to himself as he began to weave his way upwards again through several levels. Finally on the very top level, he spied a big enough space and pulled into it and promptly fell asleep.
It was after 10 when the couple awoke.
“Where are we?” Estella asked.
“In an underground car park,” he said through a yawn.
“Did you see the prices!” she said looking up at the sign.
“No, I didn’t look. I was desperate.” he admitted.
“Not half as desperate as you are going to be. It says, ‘Monthly permits only,’ and according to the sign, that’s 200 Euros.”
“Two – two hundred,” he stammered.
“Look over there,” she said.
Filip glanced over at the narrow passage marked “Fire Exit.”
“It’s worth a try,” she said.
Filip nodded, and steered towards the hope of tariff-free escape.
Howard could hardly believe his eyes when he saw the advertisement for “the ultimate Tolkien experience.” The holiday package was being offered by a company called Gandalf Excursions based in Australia, and it featured an all-inclusive deal at an incredibly reasonable price.
With images of vacationing in some ideal Hobbit Hole in New Zealand, Howard rang the number and booked the very next opening with the agent.
The flight to Christ Church was long and tiring, and it may have been the fatigue of the first leg of the journey that made it so he didn’t wonder why his connecting flight was on a seaplane. Although he didn’t want to miss a single moment of the experience, exhaustion got the better of him once the transfer was made, and he quickly fell asleep.
He woke to the revving of the plane’s engines, and he felt the shutter as the aircraft bounced on the waves as it landed. It maneuvered into its moorings and the Tolkien fans were ushered onto a rickety wooden dock. As they looked on in disbelief, clouds of thick yellow-green sulfurous smoke drifted across the bleak volcanic landscape. Black sand and pumice ash covered the pathway to the rusty World War Two vintage Quonset huts that would serve as their accommodation during their stay. A badly painted sign at the end of the dock read, “Welcome to Mordor.”
Travel Thursday #1: Your challenge today is to conjure up the best or worst trip imaginable and write a story or poem sharing it with the world.
Kim and Davis were really struggling. They had taken the Number 3 bus from the airport as the hotel had told them too, and they got off at the eighth stop once they got into the city proper. It had all seemed so easy. The email had said they would only need to cross the street, and the hotel would be the tall blue building on the right. The problem was, there were no blue buildings.
They crossed the street, baggage in tow, and began asking for directions.
“Do you speak English?” they asked a man of about forty, who responded only with a negative shake of the head.
“Do you speak English?” they again asked; this time to a matronly looking woman who was waiting for the Number 4 bus. “A little, she responded.”
“Great,” Davis said, “Do you no where the New Palace Hotel is?”
“New Palace? No. This I do not know?” she responded.
As a thirty-something man in a business suit approached, Kim blurted “New Palace Hotel?”
The man stopped in his tracks and said in clear but accented English, “Okay, go left at the crosswalk, and then stay on that street for 42 blocks, then take a right.”
“Thank you so much,” Davis said, and the two began the journey, counting off each crossroad. At last they came the the 42nd street and turned dutifully right. To their dismay, they were welcomed by a sign which read not “New Palace,” but rather “Tourist Information Office.”
The Sams were unique in their sameness. Samuel and Samantha were both born on 3 August 1978. They were both 5′ 6 ” tall with brown hair and blue eyes. The had met while both were first year Geography students at Durham University. With so much in common it seemed in the stars, Leo in this case, that they belonged together.
They married, got jobs at the same environmental research firm, and even had twins – Amy and Anny. They had their favorite restaurant – LuLu’s, and took their holidays predictably at the same beach resort in Pago Pago.
“Now that the girls have gone to uni, let’s do something different,” Samantha said out of the blue.
“What do you have in mind?” Sam replied.
“How about a cabin in Scandinavia or Canada for holiday this year?” she said.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We have always gone with summer sun and a beach,” he reminded her.
“Exactly the point,” she said.
“Okay,” he said, “But it needs to be a good one.”
After some searching on the internet she said, “I found one in Finland. The Google translate says ‘First Class Cabin’ in wooded location. It says it is a unique venue.”
“I don’t know,” he said unconvinced.
“Wow, doing the conversion, it’s half the price of our usual holiday. Can’t we give it a go?”
“Okay, book it. First Class sounds good at that price,” he said.
The holiday was truly something different. Shame about the English-Finnish translation.
It seemed a simple enough request: an economy class ticket to Athens, Greece. I was on my way to an archaeology seminar, at which I was going to be presenting a paper on the problems of post-Victorian spoil in the corrupting of sites.
With my bags packed and ticket in hand, I arrived at Gatwick and was surprised that I was expected to fill in a United States visa form. I rolled my eyes and thought “Sounds like Trump’s America, needing to file if you will be within 24,000 miles of US territory,” but filled it in I did.
I put my carry-on in the overhead storage and settled into my seat. I must have dozed through the rest of the pre-flight. Later as I woke I was surprised at the number of southern drawls I could hear from my fellow passengers.
“I can’t wait to get to Athens,” one explained to a neighbour. “I haven’t been home for years.”
Shortly afterwards the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent. He then announced that the temperature in Athens, Georgia was a mild 72 degrees.
When I “de-planed,” I insisted on seeing someone at customer services. I was told I would first need to clear customs, and the desk would be on the left after leaving immigration.
I tried to explain that I wasn’t staying, but to no avail.
I followed the crowd to the customs hall and the agent asked to check my bag. She opened the bag, and then pushed a button. Suddenly five more agents arrived.
“Sir, what are these?” the first asked.
“They are Medieval glass beads in the one plastic bag, and Victorian beads in the other. They are examples from my research,” I began to explain as they brought a German Shepard to sniff the bags of brightly coloured, pill sized beads. Fortunately the dog was not phased by the contents.
I finally got to the service desk, and after some apologies I was given a ticket back to London, it being too late to make the Athens conference.
As part of the apology I was give a $20 voucher to be used in duty-free. I quickly went into the DF concourse and grabbed a “real American hot dog” for only $19.95. Being late for my flight I swiftly put this and my nickles change into my carry-on.
After boarding, we were delayed by severe thunderstorms, but eventually took off. The plane soon reentered the stormy weather, and we were pummeled by a series of lightening strikes. One of the engines caught alight and we made a controlled but unplanned descent into the ocean in the Devil’s Triangle.
The plane came down in surprisingly calm water off the coast of a small island. There were a few bumps and bruises, but everyone survived.
On the island was a series of WW2 metal huts, a large campfire pit (which was strewn with charred Pepsi cans and carbonised marshmallows), and several kayaks. We had places to stay – a win, and some might try to seek rescue by taking a kayak to a bigger island we could see on the horizon, but no one felt intrepid enough to give it a go.
Two days later we were surprised by the sound of a ship coming into the lagoon near the campsite. Sixty-four Bahamian Boy Scouts and their leaders had just arrived to use the camp. We were rescued. I quickly gabbed two Pepsi cans and a handful of marshmallows.
As soon as I returned to England I began my most important academic work: “The problems of modern leisure rubbish on the preservation of WW2 historical sites.”