Liars

In talking about some government nonsense that purports to help airline travelers, Insty opines:

Of course, airlines often seem to fudge the reasons for delays or cancellations.

Being a gentleman, he’s giving them too much credit.  “Always” more than “often”, in other words.

Back when I were a leech consultant, I remember having to catch the last flight out of Nashville to Chicago one night.  There were just four of us passengers in the waiting area:  all wearing suits, all carrying briefcases, and all obviously frequent fliers.

One of the guys said, “Anyone want to give odds on whether this flight’s gong to be canceled for a ‘technical problem’?”  Nobody was interested — we were all gloomily certain of that eventuality.  Then I said, “Why don’t we run a book on how long from now before the flight’s canceled?  Five minutes, ten minutes… what am I offered?  Who’s in, for a dollar?”

Needless to say, that got everyone’s attention, and after each of us had picked a time (we were about 20 minutes from the scheduled takeoff), we waited expectantly.

When the announcement finally came, I bet it was the first time that the gate staff had ever had that announcement greeted with whoops and hollers, and money changing hands.

We were told that they’d made arrangements to put us up at the airport hotel overnight, so all four of us met up in one guy’s room and played poker till we had to catch the dawn flight the following day, emptying all four rooms’ courtesy bars in the process.  Must have cost the airline a fortune.

FYI, it was an American Airlines flight, but it could have been any of them, the lousy bastards.

On The Water

When one has traveled a lot and seen “the sights” — those things which are perennial tourist attractions (the Louvre/Eiffel Tower, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Trevi Fountains, and so on), there is often a desire to create a theme for one’s next trip, based on either a specific interest, or just on whimsy.

One couple I know, who are keen not to say fanatical gardeners, did such a tour of Europe and visited only the palatial gardens of France, Italy, Germany and Britain.  They managed to fit it all into a month, although as the wife admitted, they could have taken six and been much the richer for the experience (although much the poorer financially because Europe).  One woman of my acquaintance did something similar, but going over in the late spring so that she could visit all the major flower shows in Europe — and if New Wife reads this, I’ll have to hide the credit cards.

And of course, for the true art lovers, nothing could be better than touring the Prada in Madrid, the Louvre in Paris, the Art History (Kunsthistorisches ) Museum in Vienna and of course the Rembrandt- and Van Gogh museums in Amsterdam, to name but some.

Mention of Amsterdam, however, got me thinking about a tour based on a different theme altogether.

 

Yes, canals.

Now of course, when one says the word, the city which springs immediately to mind is Venice, but let’s just set that aside for the moment while we consider some alternatives, just for kicks.

Amsterdam, of course, would be a great starting-point for such a tour, in no small part because the canny Dutch are keenly aware of the appeals thereof, and the canal tours are many and excellent.  Also, if you get tired of doing that (can’t imagine why), you can always hop off and visit some of the city’s other attractions (see above), or to grab a tasty pannekoek or package of fries (hold the mayo, Frans).  Yum.  But let’s move on, just a little down the coast by train, to:

Bruges.

The “Venice of the North” is justly famous, and I don’t know a single person who has been there and come away disappointed.  However, my knock against both Amsterdam and Bruges is that if you don’t want to sit in a boat sailing along a canal, or you’ve got bored with doing so, the canal banks are often short of places to sit and enjoy a pint of beer or gin while watching the world sailing by.  Such is not true of France’s

Annecy:

And just in case that isn’t enough, I should point out that Annecy is located in the Savoie district, which means you also get views like this, when you’re sick of looking at canals:

Yes, those are mountains in the background… not to be found in Amsterdam, Venice or Bruges.  From some list or other:

 

Annecy is called the “Pearl of the French Alps.” Because of its location, squeezed between Lake Annecy and the Semnoz mountains, Annecy can’t grow much — so it has preserved its old town as it was centuries ago, threaded with more canals than roads. It’s not packed with tourist attractions or booming nightlife. Its charm comes instead from peaceful waterways lined with pastel-colored houses, nonstop gelaterias, tiny cafes, and restaurants.

Feet starting to itch, yet?

There are many large cities, of course, which feature canals as either recreation or as a means of getting from one place to another:  Stockholm, Copenhagen and, of course, Venice.  All of these are popular — millions and millions of tourists over the decade couldn’t all have got it wrong — but I have to tell you, the smaller places appeal to me too, as much if not more.

And in case you’re wondering why I’m sailing down this little tributary [sic]  and have gathered so much info:  I want to do such a tour with New Wife, just as soon as the pieces fall into place.

The Other Side Of The Cap

Last time, we looked at Juan-les-Pins.  Today, we’ll go about a mile east across Cap- d’Antibes, and look at the far-less trendy Antibes itself — which I have to say, I prefer to its glitzy neighbor now that I think about it.  Here it is:

I don’t know if Antibes is an older town than JLP, but it certainly feels older:

Ex-Drummer Knob and I had dinner here — not at this exact restaurant, but two doors down, and the meal with wine came to just around $30 each.  Other out-of-season prices are also reasonable, more so than across the Cap:

Five euros for a glass of squeezed OJ is one-fifth the cost of the same in Juan-les-Pins…

Also, in Antibes you don’t get sunsets because it faces to the east.  Of course, that means beautiful sunrises:

I have to stop doing these posts, because they are making the old feet start to twitch uncontrollably… or maybe that’s just the onset of Parky’s.

Which would make it all the more imperative to get over there soon.

Living Rough

I’m not talking about that cardboard-box-under-the-freeway lifestyle, but the camping thing.

Outside the Army — which is a whole ‘nother sort of camping — and excluding those “tent in the garden” escapades as a child (which I didn’t much care for either), I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually pitched a tent and lived outdoors for longer than overnight.

And on one of those occasions there was a horrendous thunderstorm which caused a miniature flood in the campground, soaking our bedding and all our clothes.  We ended up sleeping in the car — as it happens, a 1976 Alfa Romeo sedan, which was never anyone’s idea of spacious.

We left for home at dawn the next day and that evening, three hundred miles away from the campground, my buddy and I scored with a couple of sisters at the bar of the Sunnyside Hotel in Johannesburg (where they were spending the weekend, much more sensible) and bonked our brains out overnight.

And said bonking took place in complete privacy and seclusion in the girls’ hotel room — okay, maybe there wasn’t that much privacy between the four of us — but it’s still better than Doing The Deed under canvas, where a noisy conclusion usually brings a loud round of applause from the other campers (don’t ask me how I know this).

So articles like this one leave me completely unmoved:

Perhaps you’ve been put off by the horrific scenes at airports up and down the country and are thinking: ‘No, I don’t need that.’ Perhaps the cost-of-living crisis is making you question a pricey holiday overseas. Perhaps the sunny weather we’ve been having is an encouragement to stay put here in the UK.

And that’s where camping comes in: easy-going, affordable and, if you follow our guide, you’ll discover there’s still availability for this summer.

…all accompanied by pictures of lush landscapes with no sign of thunderstorms, ants, mosquitoes, sundry rodents, wild beasts or murderers, which are all part of actual camping nowadays.  And nary a toilet in sight, of course.

The whole outdoor thing has been much overrated, in my opinion.

I might think about having a small-ish RV to tour around and so on, which could be okay, but that’s not really camping, is it?  (More like taking your apartment for a spin in the countryside.)

And you still have to find a toilet somewhere.  And forget altogether those bus-sized elephants which look like the things rock bands tour in.

I can hear the catcalls now:  “Kim, your idea of roughing it is staying at a Holiday Inn Express.”

Guilty as charged.  Your opinions may vary.

Slovenia

In response to my RFI about Slovenia, I got this from Reader Tim N:

Adding some holiday to work trips to Europe, one year we rented a car, drove from Germany through Austria (where our family lived in the early 50s), then to Slovenia and on to Venice before heading back to Germany.


Took a small boat to the island in middle of Lake Bled. A couple heard my wife and sister talking, asked “Are you Americans?” When they gave a positive answer, the same person asked “Why are you here?” The inference being, how did you find this wonderful place?
Wine is great, people, food, architecture. Just a wonderful visit. Will return.

Here’s a pic of said island (right-click to embiggen):

And there you have it.  Duly added to Ye Olde Buckette Lyst.

And yes, I envy Tim’s trip, bigly.