To share, or not to share, that is the question.
My wife and I are fairly sociable people; I only bite on Wednesdays, and she not at all (well…).
Anyway, we have been away with friends and by ourselves, and I have to say that going away with friends is like childbirth – after a while, they say, you forget how much it hurts.
Sorry, I’m being flippant, perhaps. But let me explain. When Di and I are by ourselves, we please ourselves. We like to follow our noses, and poke around here and there. If we don’t want to do something, we don’t. If we want to go somewhere, we do. You get the picture.
But we’ve been away with friends where it’s been a whole new ballgame. Some things just grate. Let’s look at a few:
You’re in the dining room enjoying dinner, when out of the blue comes the question you never want to hear: ‘Okay, so what are we doing tomorrow?’
My immediate response is along the lines of, ‘Whatever the hell you feel like doing!’ A quick and painful kick in the ankle from Dearly Beloved kills that response stone dead. But as the herring said when someone asked what had happened to his best friend, the whale: ‘Do I look like my blubber’s kipper?’
Do what you want to do, people. We travelled with one couple and all he wanted to do at every port was head for a bar.
Me: ‘Oh, look, there’s the castle where Richard the Lionheart was held prisoner in the 1100s!’
Him: ‘Ooh, look, they have Erdinger on tap. Let’s go here!’
Same person at dinner: a glass of wine and a glass of beer. Drink beer, then hold empty glass above head while drinking the wine. Shake glass. Look annoyed if not refilled within 15 seconds. Rinse and repeat.
Another friend disliked being at sea. Hello? You’re on a cruise! What exactly did you expect? That same couple then joined us on the Rocky Mountaineer train – and complained because they couldn’t get off it during the day. And the subsequent coach tour… well, it would have been so much better if I had driven them in a hire car. Who, me?
We travel with another couple who are a delight to be with. She goes with the flow, joins in anything. And he simply says, ‘Yes, I’m in,” or, ‘You know, I think I’ll stay back and read today’. Great! No hassle, no ill feelings.
Then there was the close friend on an Amsterdam-to-Budapest cruise, holding up a glass of fine German Riesling to the cruise director (or whatever his title was): ‘Listen, Aussies don’t like this sour slop. Find us a decent bottle of SSB’. To their credit, they did. I would have said, ‘The gangway is over there... madam’.
Another couple, in Germany: ‘I don’t like this foreign food. Haven’t they got anything decent?’
So, do I sound bitter? I certainly don’t mean to. We love to travel and love to help others experience what we do. Sometimes it’s hard, yes. But in the long run, it’s worth it.
When even the complainers and the whingers say, nostalgically, ‘Do you remember when...?’ you know you’ve had a win.