Travel, oh travel, I heart thou. I’ve had my share. I’ve been spoiled. I could tell you about luxuriating on the beach in Thailand without kids last year, or about travelling to Italy with my best mate a few years ago for a wedding, WITHOUT KIDS. But I won’t. Not today, anyway. Today for my Lounge travelling tale I’m trawling the photo archives, taking the time machine back to 2001, when I hit Europe with a backpack for the very first time.
I had my trusty buddy F with me on the Eurostar, wearing our daggy jeans, sneakers and neck safety belts for our travellers cheques and passports (HELLO, people, this was 2001. The internet had only, like, JUST been invented). We were so cool. So chic. So au fait with the French language. So ready to take on Paris. SO unprepared to be reduced to tears by the train ticket dude at Gare du Nord.
Do you like Paris in the springtime? We liked Paris in 35 degree summertime sweat, when all the streets smelt like pee. Ah… the beauty of a city of dog-lovers. We made our way out to the fancy schmancy burbs to stay with our acquaintance Walter in Sceaux. Walter was Charmin – as in, German. Charm, itself, was lacking, though he laid an approximation of it on pretty thickly at first. Walter, Walter, Walter. He kindly put us up, and was no threat at all to a couple of 22-year old girls in daggy shorts, resembling an IT-nerd crossed with Ronald McDonald. He told every person we spoke to that we were Australian, and after the guffaws died down (and we scrabbled through our dictionary), we discovered he was also saying we’re from a British colony full of convicts. IRATE we were. FURIOUS! Being stuck in the middle of Epernay, surrounded by des Caves, it made the most sense to sink our fury into the teeth of all the French champagne we could muster. We were like drovers. Rounding them up, and putting them down. We showed him.
Still somewhat upsetting to me to this day is that I was only hit on ONCE in my entire three months of travel in Europe. I blame being oblivious to what being hit upon looked like (until it was actually grabbing at me), my HORRENDOUS wardrobe, my natural F*(&* off face, and being desperately in love with my boyfriend (who is now my husband). These factors, combined with the fact I was a good head and shoulders taller than most of the men in Europe made me a very unappealing prospect. In any case, this particular hit was hard to miss. ‘Want a Vespa ride?’ Sure. Where are we going? Oh. ‘Your boyfriend, he no thinking about you. He with the other girls at home. What you come here for? He forget you’. This photo was taken on the way BACK, after I refused to get back on the bike with blondie (the perp) and rode home with harmless instead. I have sunburn and ‘bugger off’ written all over my innocent face.
Quite famous I was in Rome though. They made me some coffee. Still waiting on the royalties. Bastardos.
And Spain? Spain was MAD. A whirlwind of wonderful. We decided to randomly jump off the train in San Sebastien, which was a brilliant decision, since they had the running of the bulls that day, and a thousand million tapas bars in every street, and beaches that burned my legs to a glorious shade of purple, and a festival that saw men peeing up the walls until 2pm the following afternoon. Then Barcelona (with Spamburgers, and more wonderful), and Madrid (with less wonderful), and the COSTA BRAVA. Ahhhhhh. The beach, and a week to relax at Llafranc. Except, it was September 11, 2001, and the World Trade Centre was hit. It was a surreal place to experience the media trickles of tragedy, amidst such relaxation and beauty.
We walked, we swam, we read, we drank Sangria in the sunset, and ate paella in the dark. We walked to the shops by the seaside path, and drank bottles of San Miguel that were cheaper than water. We recharged. Then we threw on our packs and launched into the rest of Europe, a couple of sunburnt girls heartsick for our boyfriends, with really crappy wardrobes.
Linking with the air hostess with the mostess, Rachel at www.theviblog.wordpress.com