Travel can be one of the most rewarding, exciting, and in some cases luxurious ways to spend one’s time. It can also be frustrating, difficult and downright miserable. And that switch from good to bad can happen in the blink of an eye.
The mountain of travel plans I have stacked up for this summer began modestly with an easy 1.5-hour flight from Nice to London. The plan was to meet the Englishman, who was flying from Tel Aviv, before taking a taxi to our hotel outside of the city for a wedding the following day.
A consummate producer, he planned everything to the minute. Perfectly coordinated flights, no checked bags, taxi waiting to cart us, and our luggage away, hotel expecting our arrival, what could go wrong…
We simultaneously deplaned our respective aircrafts and made our way to Heathrow airport’s immigration and border control, so it was hardly a surprise to bump into each other as we entered the hall.
But here is where reality diverged from the plan (as it so often does). He marched off to the EU Passport holders line and I to join the massive crowd of foreigners wanting to enter the country.
And while he breezed through in a matter of minutes – ahead of schedule – I inched along with the other 600 people anxious to get their passports stamped and be off into the night. After 2 hours of wearily pushing my bag in front of me a few feet at a time, through the maze of a line, I was still waiting.
This man and his rather short fuse, had spent the same two hours pacing, as he fielded calls form the taxi driver waiting out front – who was charging dearly for each minute that passed – and the hotel, which was closing for the night.
As I got nearer to my turn at the passport control desk, I could see his tense frame on the other side of the barrier, with nearly visible steam pouring from his ears.
Heathrow has been in the news of late for the atrocious security system currently in place, and if this is the situation on your average Thursday night, I dread to think what this mad house will be like as the Olympics near.
But after cancelling the cab, and persuading the hotel to leave us a key, we averted major crisis and managed to make it in time to procure a few bags of chips and some beers from the hotel to take back to the room.
The matrimonial festivities the next day were beautiful (and boozy) enough to quickly fade the unsavory memory of the night before, and it turned into a lovely weekend.
When travelling, It’s good to remember that perfect plans are all well and good, until the real world gets in the way. The key is to have enough slack in the system that the bumps along the way won’t throw everything into disarray, and not to let the inevitable problems detract too much from the things that do go well.
Easier said than done of course, but I think travelling well is a skill that one needs to acquire just like playing an instrument. It takes practice, and knowledge that only comes with experience.
Lot’s of mistakes need to be made in order to figure out what works and what absolutely doesn’t. Which is great for me as I am prone to making lots and lots of mistakes.
Next on the agenda is the beautiful, wild, island of Corsica. Taking my own advice and learning from past mistakes, I will be sure to pay close attention to which cheeses I put in my mouth this time around.