World Travel: Different Perceptions

I was thinking about my mum today, and smiling as I remembered something she once said.

In 1978, my mum was 54 years old. She had never been outside of Britain, happy to spend all her holidays at seaside locations in England, or visiting friends in Scotland. She had never been to Wales or Ireland, and was content not to have done so. At the time, we still had a shop in south-west London, an off-licence. I had taken a full time job, got married the previous year, and she employed a full-time assistant to help her run the business. I helped out whenever I was free.

One weekend, I was looking though some newsletters, and found one offering a trip to Rome for anyone who held a licence to sell alcohol. It was a five-day tour, escorted by guides, and included all flights, meals, and accommodation. I suggested to my mum that she should go. There would be other single people taking the trip, and it was a small group who would all have something in common, of owning a pub or off-licence. She had never flown in a plane, or owned a passport, but she had seen the Audrey Hepburn film ‘Roman Holiday’, and had previously mentioned a desire to see Rome.

Once I assured her that I would take time off from my job and run the shop for her, and that my wife and I would move back into the upstairs accommodation for the duration of her holiday, she gave in and applied for a passport, sending off a cheque for the deposit on the holiday at the same time. So in June that year, she headed off with a small suitcase, taking a taxi to the airport to meet the tour organiser at the terminal. I was envious, as I had never been to Rome. (I eventually got there in 2002.)

On her return, she looked less than excited. I asked her if she had a lovely time, and she shrugged before replying.

“It rained twice.”
“The food tasted funny”.
“It was too hot, even at night”.
“Everyone hangs their washing out over the street”.
“All the buildings look shabby and run down”.

I reminded her that the buildings she was referring to dated from as long ago as 300 BC. But she shrugged again.

“Well they could do them up a bit. It’s a long way to go to look at someone’s washing and some ruined temples”.

At that point, I gave up.

Many years later, (2009) when I was working for the Police in London, one of my colleagues booked a holiday of a lifetime to Egypt. A full tour of the ancient sites, including Cairo and The Pyramids, and a luxury cruise down The Nile to Aswan. As I had visited Egypt in 1989, I told her what to look out for, and added that I was envious, as I had not seen Cairo or The Pyramids on my trip.

When she got back to work, looking very tanned, I asked her what she thought of her wonderful experience.

“Well, there are lots of stones, beige stones. And beige columns. Once you have seen one, all the others look the same. The food on the ship was good though”.

76 thoughts on “World Travel: Different Perceptions

      1. Why not doing so, Pete! We are individuals and find our time and place for recreation by ourselves, individual as we are. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Beeing honesty, for me it would be horrible to book a holiday where I would have to spend the whole time in a group that was almost unknown to me. Maybe it’s a lasting influence from the time at the boarding school. lol You have done well, and this is the only what counts. xx Michael

        Liked by 1 person

      1. It depends on one’s liking actually. I am happy to learn about history, so historical places amuse me. But anotehr person who just wants a vacation may not find the same kind of interest in ruins… ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You have to get the experiences of Delphi, after you had studied Greek culture for a longer time, and would have been able guiding people through this area, originally fulfilled with wonderful temples and statues. As i saw it the first time some years in the past, i was very deprieved. Only stones, particles of stones, and nothing else. xx Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  1. This really made hubby and I laugh. We both love to travel and have seen all the beige stones and shabby old buildings with washing hanging out. We found it all very exciting, but it all depends on your attitude. ๐Ÿคฃ

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I laughed out loud at your mum’s comment “It’s a long way to go to see someone’s washing’. My own mother loved to travel and often did. Me, I prefer to stay in the UK. Nowhere is as good as home, so I’m with your mum on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My Mum only flew that once, and hated flying. So she took a ship to Jersey when she went there for a long weekend, but was seasick for the whole trip both ways. She never left England again. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never been to Scotland, furthest north is Hadrians wall, looked over, thought if thats Scotland, you can keep it (only to find out I was still 10 miles inside England, mmmm dont say it ๐Ÿ˜) I think travel as much as you can while your young and able enough to do so. plenty to see in your own backyard when international travel is not an option. Can relate to your mum though, my dad once presented whith a plate of spag bol pushed it away, said to my mum get that foreign muck away (I think WW2 had a bigger effect than I realised) where is me bangers and mash

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  4. I am always enthralled with any place I travel. I always find something exciting in the culture, architecture, weather, or the people. I had hoped to travel in my retirement years, but Covid certainly impacted that dream.

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    1. I did my travelling when I was fit and capable, Maggie. Now I am old, I am content to rediscover England, and to go to the same familiar places on holiday. No airports, no check-in delays or bad insect bites. I am more than happy to look back, and to remember.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pete, people are amazed when I point out that at least 75% of US citizens dont have passports….they NEVER leave the country: afraid of the foreign language, money, food, water – you name it, they don’t want to explore other cultures at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I competed The Knowledge I took my wife on a Nile cruise (she always wanted to see Egypt). We had an Egyptian expert who had a degree in Egyptology. Every time we visited a site he would point at a phallic symbol engraved on a wall (yes there was plenty of them), and say: “and here we have another depiction of the pharaoh”.

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    1. We had a guide at each place of interest on a short Nile Cruise, but I tended to escape from them as I wanted to be free to try to take photos with no people around.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  7. I once took a guest from the Midwest, who had never left those forested plains, to Zion National Park. The park’s scenery is breathtaking, but the guest showed absolutely no interest in it. Incomprehensible!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I overheard a tourist while standing on Tower Bridge, my favourite thing in London. He turned to his female companion and said, “What’s the big deal? We have bridges bigger than this one crossing the interstate back home”.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My mother would have the same view. She only ever got excited about flowers. I was on a cruise once to the Antarctic. It was mind-blowing and daylight around the clock so I never wanted to sleep for fear of missing something. One day when the weather was brilliant and the scenery stunning, there was a group of passengers playing scrabble. It was sacrilege!

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  9. Haha… nice memory Pete. My parents loved going abroad later in life when they could. I even took a week off school to help run their newsagent’s shop whilst they went to Jersey – it was a competition win so the dates couldn’t be changed. My headteacher was not very impressed.

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    1. My mum also had a long weekend in Jersey. When she got back all she did was complain that it had rained all the time and the duty-free shops had the same things for sale that she could buy in London.
      ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This one gives me a laugh. My Mother, in the late 80s visited the UK, and London with her best friend. She did the tours and such and enjoyed it. One tour was to Stonehenge, which would impress anyone, but her. I asked her how it all went when she returned to Texas, as your mother also, she said it was a long bus ride to see an old pile of rocks.

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  11. This was funny. I have heard of people like that. Even though my parents were country pumpkins, they got braver and more curious as they got older. We took them to England, Hawaii and Alaska. They loved every new place and were as excited as school children.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Vi was right about Rome. Every inch of the place from the pavement up to about seven feet (extended arms reach I guess) was covered in graffiti when I went in 2010. Their subway network was shockingly bad. The graffiti on the Mussolini freezes on the Ponte Duca Dโ€™Aosta bridge near the Stadio Olympico was awful (and not even politically inspired).
    A beautiful city but it was in dire need a spring clean.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, Keith. When we went in 2002, I thought it was an amazing place. But we were only in the central tourist area, and just for four nights. I didn’t see any bad graffiti near where we stayed.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

    1. Yes, I appreciate everyone is different, GP. That’s what makes people interesting, I suppose. It wouldn’t be much fun if we all thought the same about everything. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. ‘…The eye of the beholder.’ Although, to be fair, I’m starting to sympathise with her.
    These days, the holiday isn’t worth the hassle of hanging around in airports. (And getting to them!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mum never went abroad again, Sue. She had a long weekend in Jersey, which she didn’t consider to be ‘abroad’. But she was unlucky with the weather, so never travelled after that. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thatโ€™s a shame, but it probably wasnโ€™t for her – we all travel in different ways, I would say for me it stems from curiosity about people and places. The weather is to some degree secondary

        Liked by 1 person

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