Whenever we go away on holiday we declare it to be the “worst trip ever”. Sometimes there are some pretty valid contributory factors that would make anyone’s vacation the “worst”, but mostly it’s a saying we have adopted and it helps us push on our regular travels around the globe, as well as our repeated visits to the same old places.
In Turkey we visited at the end of the season, and found that the town was packing up around us. We’d see a full shop set up one day, and go past in the evening and discover that it wasn’t there anymore. It was totally packed up, locked up, signage down and there were no signs it had been a shop at all. We were advised to go on a day trip tomorrow or else it wouldn’t be going until next year. So of course we did. At one point in our holiday we had to buy new clothes because we’d gone expecting sunshine, and didn’t have anything warm to wear.
And then the heavens opened in an absolutely amazing storm. The best storm we’ve ever witnessed. We went to the cinema, instead of sitting around the hotel bar as other people seemed to be doing, and when we left, we discovered we needed a boat to sail back to our hotel. The paths were now fast-flowing rivers and we got totally drenched splashing through the water to get back to our room to watch the rest of the storm. In the morning we discovered a few boats had been washed ashore, and the nearest pier had collapsed under the weight of a ship. It was really fascinating and for lots of reasons was our “worst trip ever” but in many others, the best.
We went on a cruise down the Nile and we caught the worst Pharaoh’s’ revenge ever. We actually had sickness and diarrhea for two straight weeks, before we managed to speak to a doctor who gave us pills to clear it up within the day. Another Nile cruise we were on we went for a drink in a cafe along the river. We asked for beer, and discovered, to our horror part way through the bottle, that it wasn’t Stella (an Egyptian beer) as we’d asked for, but instead homebrew, and there were things inside that another cruise guest described as a “goat’s beard”.
On the same trip we were actually able to visit our (pictured) Egyptian friend’s village, and took part in one evening of a 15-day-long stag do. Such great memories – just as well – because the memory card we used to take photos of this once in a lifetime experience completely failed (less of the worst trip ever, and more “worst memory card ever” but still!).
On another cruise we stayed in Giza for a few days at the end of the cruise, and we were there at the same time as President Obamba. The hotel was in walking distance of the President’s hotel, and the pyramids, and so we walked past his hotel on the way there. Unfortunately his presence had blocked the road off, and we had to walk the long way round in (at least) 35’C heat. “Worst trip ever” we grumbled. And then on the way back we were allowed to go past his hotel and the reason for the blockage was revealed – they’d been painting the lampposts in his honor. They were now a lovely silver colour, as were the painters (seriously – head to toe silver), and the cars parked on the street. Nope, they’d not moved them, and dripped silver paint everywhere!
Egyptian dive trip
Rob and I love to dive, and we have stayed on several boat safaris before we had children. This is a really great way to tour lots of dive sites, doing about 4 dives per day, and eating and sleeping on the boat. One boat, the Tiger Lily, was the worst boat I’ve ever been on. During the rough crossing over the Sinai (which most safaris do) the crew didn’t really prepare the rooms for the way the boat would be tossed around on the water. So when we returned to our bedroom after the sea had calmed, we discovered the toilet had overflowed into the bathroom, the door had opened somehow, and there was raw sewage floating about, with the contents of the toilet bin bobbing in the water. Not pleasant. To their credit I think they cleaned it up pretty quickly.
Dive sites we’d been looking forward to got cancelled without warning, and we actually went to do some dives and discovered we’d been dropped in at the wrong point and we were going to miss the wreck completely. On the SS Thistlegorm, the dive guide was pretty tired or something, and he decided to do the briefing and then not come with us. Fine, except this was like diver soup, with about 10 boats moored up in the same spot, the sea was choppy, and it was night time. I tried to go in, but my mask got swept off my face near the surface, and if it wasn’t for Rob being very experienced the rest of the people on the boat wouldn’t have known how to get to the wreck or where to go to see it. The Tiger Lily was not the “worst trip ever” because we made fantastic friends who we have since been on many holidays with.
South of France
We went to Nice for one holiday with our friends from the Tiger Lily. There weren’t many elements that made it the “worst trip ever” but driving through a slow moving traffic jam to St Tropez, just to eat a Croque Monsieur, and then return to our villa in Villefrance sur Mer while pregnant and needing a wee wasn’t my favourite.
I will say quite briefly that we also have crowned Disney World one of our “worst trips ever” and suggest you read this post for tips on how you can make your trip to Disney with a 3 year old magical.
There are a few places we’ve visited that have been undergoing maintenance of one of their major landmarks. For example, the first time we visited Washington DC, the National Monument was closed for renovation. The second time, the Capitol Building was covered in scaffolding. These are minor things but kind of make a difference for holiday snaps!
During one trip to Mexico I was covered in mosquito bites. I even had one particularly attractive, massive, one right in the middle of my forehead. Not the worst thing that could have happened, maybe, but it felt terrible at the time.
In Amsterdam I dropped my phone into a canal with the first photo I took while there. In Mexico we made brilliant friends with a Dutch couple who we have had to stay with us in the North East of England and we stayed with them in their place in Den Helder. In Den Helder we visited the biggest Japanese garden in the Netherlands, which is actually the size of an average back yard (not quite, but nearly). The hype had made us interested to go, so it was a bit of a let down!
I won’t tell you why Cuba was the worst trip ever (but it very nearly could have topped the charts) but I will stress that women shouldn’t be alone there, however confident you might feel. I loved it in Cuba, and will recommend it to everyone. We hired a car with our dive guide as the driver and visited remote villages, drank fire water, listened to the most amazing solo guitar show, and had a crazy experience with trying to fill up with petrol after Castro decided to swap all the staff in each filling station. We also went to meet our dive guide’s parents and had such a lovely cup of coffee at the top of a block of flats, overlooking a baseball stadium. Just wonderful.
We have such amazing memories of places we’ve visited. Even if we do call them the “worst trip ever”. And so this world map by Maps International will help us chart the places we’ve visited, and serve as a reminder to keep on exploring in case the next trip is perfect in every way.
The map is beautifully printed in a choice of colours, and you can choose to have one or two lines of text at the bottom. We have the white wood framed version, but you can all get it in a pin board. It’s available at nottonthehighstreet.com or direct from the team at Maps International.