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Little Trip of Horrors

November 22, 2023 7:11 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

photo of Russ Hatz sleeping on suitcase in flight boarding areaby Russ Hatz 

Everyone has had one or some of these travel issues at one time or another, but all of them in a month?! Makes you want to put your passport away. Last month my wife and I returned from a month in France, Spain and Italy.  

ur trip began on an inauspicious note: on the morning of our flight, Icelandic Air booked us on another airline when they discovered a mechanical problem with our plane – all to the good. However, what had been a ten-hour, one-layover trip became a three-airport twenty-hour trip. Experience has taught us to carry a couple of days’ clothing in each other’s suitcase. Good thing we did, as flight delays and missed connections found us in Paris, late at night, minus a suitcase. Our bag caught up with us eleven days later. 

Our plans included extended stays in Paris and Barcelona. Even though we started planning months prior to our departure, we often found major museums and popular sites fully booked. We endured the lines and managed to see the requisite Parisian sites. After a week in Paris, we happily escaped the crowds and relaxed with Servas hosts Joseph and Marie-line in the Loire Valley. Another French Servas couple, Bill and Nad joined us. How peaceful the green was, how plentiful the wine! 

TRAVEL TIP: If you plan to use Servas in Spain or Italy do not rely on email.  According to Joseph, Spanish and Italian Servas hosts communicate almost exclusively through WhatsApp. 

We then caught a train for eight days in Barcelona. Although we’d heard frightening tales, we found the streets of Barcelona no more troublesome than those in Paris. Once again, many sites were booked, but Barcelona is a great walking town. 

TRAVEL TIP: If you must book an Airbnb, should the accommodation not live up to expectations, it is possible to get a refund. 

At this point, we were tired of streets, traffic and crowds, so we took a seven-day cruise as a vacation from our vacation! The weather did not cooperate. Luckily, neither one of us is prone to mal de mer. This gave us the opportunity to visit Menorca and Toulon, but perhaps of more interest to history buffs, Corsica and Elba of palindrome fame. Our cruise ended in Civitavecchia, which gave us an opportunity to see a few sites in Rome we’d missed eight years earlier. 

Our flight home was simple – only a six-hour delay and a slight luggage mishap which the airline covered thanks to the EU airline passenger bill of rights. 

In many ways, time seems to stop when you are on vacation. The tragedy of October 7th occurred during our journey. It gave us pause and made us more aware than ever of the need for peace organizations like Servas to foster empathy and understanding. 

Some day you, too, might have a Little Trip of Horrors. Remember: sometimes the worst trips are the best trips, and that the luxury of hindsight often provides opportunities for laughter.  Safe and, hopefully, stress-free travels.  


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