My husband and I revel in travel. We’ve been to all 50 states and 40 countries in the world. Hurrah!
Our travel agent is a fortunate man because we usually bring our trips to him, so that he books appropriate air travel and the occasional side excursion, benefitting from the fees that our tour company pays to booking agents. He’s scored a free cruise and other bonuses and benefits.
But, as my husband says, “He has the right hammer”. He booked my husband’s business travel, so he’s well aware of my man’s travel preference, knowing how to score the best seats. He’s been loyal, so we are, too, allowing him to score.
He is also breezy, fast-talking, web-savvy, and world travel secure.
We are not.
We need to be guided, escorted and, well, coddled a bit. We crave adventure with ease. We are Boomers, after all, entitled to such treatment. We’ve earned-and-saved the bucks, so we spends as we wants. A perk of being well-heeled as well as older. A perk that we prefer.
The following recounts God-incidence of 1 1/2 years ago, when we met the dear friends with whom we recently stayed in Australia.
We were headed for adventure, cruising the China Seas to visit Japan, Korea, and China. However, we planned to arrive a day early to acclimate to jet lag as well as assure that we didn’t miss the boat. We’d never traveled to countries where English wasn’t spoken readily (since the advent of the EU, most of Europe is), and we’d never not been met at the airport.
“Just take the train!”, our travel agent said and rapidly printed a page of instructions, complete with a picture of the ticket kiosk at Narita Airport.
Well, the airport scene was chaotic when we arrived after the overnight trip, and Larry, who hates airports after years of traveling about, was no help. Despite a sleep aboard the plane – jet lag compounded by culture lag – overwhelmed me. So I didn’t do recon for the next day’s task to return to the airport: to board a train for the trek to our cruise ship’s berth. That was already too many steps for a bewildered, albeit well-traveled California blonde to assimilate. I merely allowed a pert, alert Japanese tourist guide to shepherd us onto our airport-close hotel’s free bus transport.
We relaxed after a timid evening meal, pointing at menu items (no pictorial support) to order our meal, in our hotel. Perhaps overnight I’d become valiantly intrepid.
Refreshed, however, I devised a plan. We couldn’t be the only ones here a bit early for our cruise ship. I decided to pay notice to other tourists in our hotel. There’d seemed to be many who were foreign born ’round eyes’, in various shades of pale, seated around the hotel dining room the night before. I saw them at breakfast, too. Feeling as if my scheme might work, I smiled to each couple, making eye contact with several, and generally feeling more secure.
We returned to our room, brushed our teeth, and zipped shut our bags. As usual we were early, with plenty of time to suss out the transport bus to the airport, so down to the lobby we went.
There were many people just like us seated in the luxuriously spacious lobby, scattered among the plentiful, splendidly upholstered leather couches and chairs. Travelers abroad have an unmistakable bearing and clothing type, so I approached several one-by-one.
However, each, in turn, told me that they’d just completed a trip such as ours and were awaiting transport to the airport to go home.
One Scotsman spoke, in his unmistakable brogue, of the tears on shore as their ship departed (later, the townsfolk performed the same for our ship – imagine that!)
Strike out. Strike out. Strike out.
Another smiling couple appeared, wheeling bags and heading immediately to the posted bus transport schedule. I approached them, asking them if they were headed to the airport. They said “Yes and come with us. We noticed you at breakfast, too.”
We became fast friends on the bus ride – which was a direct one, to the harbor, which our agent hadn’t told us about btw! We welcomed them to our round table of six aboard the ship – our ‘nest’ after the onslaught to the senses that travel aboard is – having the time of our lives all around. Mutual adoption complete!
Allow me to introduce you to our Aussie friends for life –