The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Ich liebe dich

on December 9, 2013

Nana Moon and I currently have a difference of opinion on what 20 degrees Celsius will feel like. She thinks it’s short sleeves weather just like a British summer’s day and I think it’s jumper, jeans and quite possibly a winter coat weather. We haven’t even started our mini trip yet and already a minor dispute.

We’re off to Hanoi, Vietnam tomorrow morning for three days SANS kids! What will that feel like? At the moment full of super excitement tinged with a modicum of guilt to be off on a jolly without the family so it seems only right that I fully maximise this opportunity to balance out the guilt. Late nights, long lie ins, leisurely breakfast, lunch and tea at child unfriendly restaurants, (actually why bother with restaurants let’s just hit the bars) and tourist activities that don’t need to accommodate a pushchair or have baby change facilities. No rucksack filled with endless snacks, wet wipes and nappies. No eating meals earlier than everyone else and lying very quietly in the dark whilst #1, 2 and 3 fall asleep before watching television on mute.

Even if it’s only for three days, it’s three days to remind me of Holidays Before Children. Before the resort based with Kid’s Club option we tried to resist but now find so appealing. It took a while to accept that holidays are not just about us, it’s about the children too and the fact they still need to eat and sleep on time. When we went on our first family of five holiday to Phuket in August this year, we were sometimes THAT family with the over tired, over hungry, angry baby trying to do a bit too much just because we’re on holiday. But what a shame it is to take the trouble of going all that way somewhere new by aeroplane and yet never leaving the resort.

Nana Moon is rather well travelled around south east Asia but Vietnam is a place neither of us have been to. I’d been fully reassured by Ms Beefy that Nana Moon is THE best travel companion because she produces fully illustrated travel itineraries that come laminated. So I waited. And waited. And nothing came. Eventually time was running short and I thought I best get something booked in. So we’re flying Tiger Airways and staying in a hotel with 55% discounted rates I found on Agoda and we’re only taking 10kg hand luggage which would be more than adequate until the question of packing winter clothes came in.

I take this faith in my holiday planning skills as a sign of trust because the last time I booked us a cheap mini break away in November 2004, the hotel was in Croatia, the airport we landed at was in northern Italy and the route from A to B in our hire car took us through Slovenia.

How did this happen? Well, have you ever wondered exactly what sort of people pay attention to those ads in the daily newspapers that say ‘£12 a night hotel deal’? Yep. Neither of us had a lot of spare cash at the time, £36 for three nights in a hotel plus £40 Ryanair flights seemed a bargain worth taking a risk on. Sort of assumed Trieste Airport would be nearish the hotel and most definitely in the same country at least!

Quite a surprise to discover it wasn’t and would involve driving a vehicle across two borders on the other side of the road in a car where the passenger usually sits. Until that point I’d never done either things with a car before and it was very weird and scary too plus Nana Moon was making me nervous with her fierce concentration. Our road trip didn’t start off well upon exiting the airport and looking in the wrong/right direction and narrowly avoiding some car on the wrong/right side of the road and constantly grabbing thin air with my left hand when going to change gears even though there wasn’t much room between hand and car door but 13 years of natural reflex is to blame.

I think I’d still rather drive than read the map though because the pressure would have been even greater and I certainly wouldn’t want to ire the wrath of Nana Moon in a confined space in a foreign country. So we’re driving out of Trieste, northern Italy on our way to Croatia trying to locate the toll road that was only meant to take us a few junctions into Slovenia before looping back out again. Except we somehow missed the exit. We’re driving along this near deserted motorway, higher and higher, the air is thinning out and there’s mist enshrouded mountains ahead. How did that happen? I don’t think we’re going the right way you know. Somehow though we manage to get out of scenic Slovenia and back on the road to Croatia.

I think I’m doing ok with the driving now after that detour added a bit more driving experience. Except I somehow manage to mount a curb at an empty junction. There’s silence in the car but I can feel it. The ‘you better not have damaged the car and cost us millions in the excess’ telepathic accusation coming from my right. Then it’s time to switch over the driving and guess who clips the wing mirror of a parked car? Yep but I’m not going to say anything about that.

Although we were in Croatia, it was the mostly Italian influenced Istria region. We didn’t see any war bunkers or discarded army tankers where we were, you had to be more on the mainland. It was out of season when we went and fairly quiet but I like it like that without much hustle and bustle. It was beautiful from the little we got chance to see and I would definitely go back to Croatia again.

Lots of German tourists come to Istria because apparently it’s a straight route down from Germany and so the language of most Croatian tour guides include Italian and German as well as English. I always feel it’s good manners to try out a few phrases of the country you’re visiting rather than shouting English very slowly and so when our Guide said he spoke German, which I understood Nana Moon to have some experience of, I thought it would be a good idea they had a happy conversation together about our trip away. Except it didn’t seem to be flowing very well. In fact it wasn’t flowing at all. What did you say Nana Moon? Well, apparently she told the Guide ‘Ich liebe dich’. I love you. Wow, that was fast work, I thought you were asking him where did he live?

So tomorrow when we arrive in Vietnam, Nana Moon won’t be asked to practice her Vietnamese I don’t think. And I certainly won’t be repeating any useful phrases she tells me too after her German faux pas, I’ve seen Full Metal Jacket.

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