Saturday, July 21, 2007

You think you have it bad ...

One week in England and it's fair to say it's not been our finest of trips.

Changeable weather at best and, on Sunday and Friday, monsoon-sized downpours. Ben has a hugely irritating mouth infection and our house in Ludlow has been letting in water. It took Sarah five hours to get back to London on Friday, escaping entrapment in the many flooded towns of middle England by the skin of her teeth. We saw half a day's cricket at Lord's today between the downpours.

Still, let's be thankful. Here are two other travelling parties that fared worse than us.

The first is the family group that booked our house to celebrate the parents' ruby wedding anniversary.

The children made it but the parents marked 40 years of wedded bliss with 85 others on blow-up beds in a school in the small Gloucestershire town of Ledbury where they were stranded by the floods, missing the special dinner they had booked at one of Ludlow's finest restaurants last night. Yet today when I spoke to the wife, she was hugely cheerful and completely without bitterness.

Worse perhaps was Chris Anderson of Wired/Long Tail fame. His Holiday from Hell as described on his blog needs no embellishment:

I'm just landed back in the US after what was, hands down, our worst vacation
ever. It was supposed to be a nice week in the UK with family, a week
in Normandy with the kids to speak French and then home. But everything
went wrong. We knew things were going to be funky when we tried to do all the
flying on frequent flier miles and could only get coach seats with extra stops
on inconvenient days, including red-eye legs. And we knew that I wouldn't have
Internet access in France (scary!). But it got oh so much worse.

I'll just list some of the catastrophes and you'll get a sense of my last 19 days. First,
that weird rash I had on my arm just before we left turned out to be Lyme
Disease (from a tick bite three days earlier). Fortunately the
rash looked like a blood infection in the hours before we got on the plane
so I went to the ER and they gave me an antibiotic prescription, which happens
to be the same way you treat Lyme Disease. So there was nothing to do but just
suffer what turned into a full-body rash, a fever, flu symptoms
and chronic joint pain. But that lasted for ten days, during which I was
just useless.

Then there was the small matter of the rain. It rained Every.
Single. Day. For 19 days. It rained in England (widespread flooding, and the
wettest June in history). It rained in France (also the wettest June in history,
and a good start on the wettest July). When we got back to England, it rained
some more. Those of you who tried to watch Wimbledon have a sense of what it was like.

Then the airlines lost our luggage TWICE. Once permanently. We had to
wear the same clothes for two week and share two toothbrushes between six
people. (Yes, I know we could have bought more toothbrushes, but they were eight
euros each at the airport and we refused on principle).

Then the youngest girl got head lice.

Then airports were attacked in the UK, so every check-in turned into a two-hour ordeal. The kids refused to speak French.

Indeed, despite a whole week of drilling in that very country, the youngest one still couldn't even remember the word French.


Now I'm at the airline lounge in Boston, waiting six and half hours for my flight home to San Francisco.

The only good that came from this fiasco is that it was so decisively terrible that I may never have to go for a whole-family vacation in Europe again. It's road trips to Tahoe and the beach from now on. Hurray!




1 comment:

Christophe said...

Don´t worry, soon you´ll be back in Barna. We had the most amazing stay at Calella. Very fine hotel, on the rocks, overseeing a deep blue see while eating a very fine paella. Then a 4 hours kayak ride (alright , not to anyone´s taste) to the Islas Formigues off the Costa Brava shore, just when the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior showed up, filming us snorkling around our yellow super tiny boat, unreal! Then back to the costa for swims in crystal waters, in little calas with nobody else. Then the Chambao gig at Cap Roig, just sensational, full of emotions. We ended the day wirth a nice and loaded "Caipi" on the beach. On sunday a long walk/run to Tamariu, then more swims, more walks, more great food....All in all a fantastic WE, far away from the floods.
One piece of advice, take the north access to Palafrugell, via Girona. The south access is shorter but there are huge road works and we got stranded for two hours on our week back.
Next week is your turn, enjoy Elvis and all the rest.
See you my friends.
Christophe