Who are you going to ask for directions, for recommendations, for tips when you’re travelling far far from home and you don’t speak the language?
Back in the day when my children actually kind of liked each other and kind of got along, we took them on a number of summer vacations overseas to Europe. In the months leading up to such trips I would overdose on travel books – Fodor’s, Frommer’s and especially DK Eyewitness Travel were my kind of porn, not to mention Conde Nast Traveler magazines and the TV show Rick Steeves’ Europe.
We generally rented apartments in the big cities for a few days, then drove our rental car (minus the dog) to the
Due to my incredibly thorough and never-ending research,
we I knew the recommended sites (the castles, cathedrals, museums) to see and the top restaurants to savour meals (the local pubs, the tucked away bistros, the hidden tavernas.)
Of course, this was before there was an app for all that.
However I have found out the hard way that the views expressed on Trip Advisor don’t always match my own, like the place in Miami Beach that came highly rated. Yes the location was amazing, but the service was virtually non-existent and majorly disappointing given our midnight arrival after 12 hours of travel time. Also the carpet sagged in many spots over strange protrusions, the bed was hard and lumpy and the pool staff &/or drink staff never materialized.
Now my daughter, the Weird One is absolutely, positively, totally the opposite of me – yes, she does take after my husband, the Original Obnoxious One, although she’s more a seat-of-the-pants kind of gal, a go-with-the-flow bohemian babe with chutzpah.
No planning or preparation ahead of time, no way!
For example when visiting Paris with classmates, in order to fully experience the city in all its glory, she went to confession at Notre-Dame Cathedral. Yeah, that one – the religious centre of France constructed 850 years ago. The thing is, we’re not Catholic – my kids were baptized in the Presbyterian Church but it’s been many years since we graced its doors.
But she didn’t go to Notre Dame to confess her sins…oh no, that would be too pedestrian, too…normal. No, the Weird One went to confession at one of the largest and most historically significant cathedrals in all of Europe, heck in all the world, so she could have a life chat with the priest.
And ask him exactly where to go and what to see in Paris.
Can’t say I’d recommend this as a shining example of how to how to procure travel advice in a foreign country, but when you’re the Weird One, anything goes!