Life is currently a whirlwind, what with my new persona; ‘International Girl of Mystery’, jet-setting off to exotic locales, sipping cocktails in the sun. IN THE SUN! Draped in floaty holiday attire. HOLIDAY ATTIRE! Surreptitiously trading in foreign currency. FOREIGN CURRENCY!
Reality check; we went abroad for five days. I wore some loose-fitting trousers and spent three Euros on a souvenir tea-towel. The first paragraph paints me as Villanelle, but this paragraph has Vera Duckworth written all over it. And now I’m not sure I wish to be either. (Do your own Googles, I’m not going to be responsible for spoilers).
If you’d like some background, hit this list;
This is where I’d say ‘I’ll wait’. But I won’t. We’ll see you back here if you don’t nod off in the meantime. No obvious need to bore yourself with all that though, the next couple of sentences cover it really.
So it began; ‘Operation Foreign Vacation’. I stepped on a plane for the first time in twenty years. The detectives amongst you will have deduced I lived to tell the tale. Shall I tell you where we went? Would you like to guess? I’ve dropped a couple of clues already.
Before there was any getting on planes, there was a roadtrip. We chose, for a legion of reasons, to depart from an airport which, if you knew where we lived, would have you smacking your head at the insanity. Luckily, due to my meticulous organisational, cover-all-angles nature, we have no regrets with that decision. Only that we forgot to eat our first homegrown melon which we’d packed as part of our roadtrip picnic. At least the car smelt summery (albeit with a soupçon of rot) for our return on a cold October’s night.
Quote of the outbound drive;
HE: ‘You really are nervous aren’t you? Don’t bite your nails Babe.’
ME: ‘I’m not biting my nails. I’m playing the saxophone.’
Five sax accompaniments, seven headbangs, twelve vocal murders and a triumphant drum solo later, the airport loomed into sight. Well, it was only a tiddly airport (one of the legion of reasons), so loom is an exaggeration. My blood pressure however, translated the word ‘airport’ to ‘inter-galactic horror-infested travel hub, from which you may possibly die’. Though the very clever marketing peeps had brainstormed, concluding the words ‘Death Machine’ on the side of the aeroplanes could be off-putting for some, so had opted to use the less confrontational phrase ‘EasyJet’.
Luckily, the airport car park snacks, the cannabis oil and the classy tin of espresso martini, played their part and prevented me for hot-tailing it back home. Again, fastidious with the planning; I won’t drink one drop of alcohol and drive. A hard fast rule I’ve always stuck to. So I knew a tin of sin would not only stop me driving away, it would help me board that plane.
Harnessing the inner cool, hip, international travellers who we were hoping to become, we confined our luggage to just cabin bags. I confess, I probably spent more time measuring my case than I spent on any other aspect of preparation. My partner is, thank heavens, more casual about details, choosing to ‘wing it’. With regards his liquids allowance, he was banking on fate to provide him with the requisite clear bag to hold his ablution requirements. Of course, this was only five items; two of which were mine. His wish was granted out of thin air and he sailed through security, barely creating a waft as he breezed to THE OTHER SIDE.
I, on the other hand…….
I, who had measured her liquids bag (containing nine items) to THE MILLIMETRE.
I, who had even checked there was no metal on her underwear.
I, who politely asked if I needed to remove my necklace (which I wanted to wear because it was one of six – ONE OF SIX – which I had packed for this five day break. And before you ask, I wore four of them).
I, who had doubly researched the titanium biopsy markers in my boobage area would be of no issue for the walk-through detector.
Set off all the alarms. ALL OF THEM. And was dragged aside for a FULL BODY SCAN. No metal detecting wand for me. WE WANT TO SEE THE SIZE OF THOSE HIPS! And your liver.
Hanging on for dear life to the espresso martini which was threatening to leak from a selection of orifices, I managed to take this invasion into my radiation output with a calmness that belied my true inner turmoil. I had three hours on a plane ahead of me. Plenty of time there for crying and wetting oneself.
As it turned out, I opted for a minimal leakage around the eye area on take-off and landing, and all other bodily fluids were kept in check. I’d love to tell you about the flight, but my spinning head made it difficult for memories to take a foothold. Hard to practise mindfulness when you’ve gone full Linda Blair.
All I know is; it got dark.
The one thing I’d neglected to account for was the couple of hundred people on our flight would all be getting off at the same place. Who knew? Fortunately not all were going our way.
We didn’t want to make this trip too easy, so instead of booking a package, we – ALL BY OURSELVES – booked our flights and accommodation separately, dictating the need to determine our own transfer. Taxi? Not if we can do it cheaper. Let’s get a bus! Identification of our stop was very easy. Alas, our bus appeared to be stopped elsewhere. We conversed with a local; ‘Yeah, they sometimes do that’. But she seemed nonplussed by the situation, so we played it nonchalantly and acted nonplussed too.
Via the marvel of Google Streetview, we had identified our stepping off point, especially useful given the darkness. Streetview failed to mention the bus wouldn’t stop at the little icon indicated, because the road was temporarily closed. A minor blip, averted due to the recognition of a large distinctive statue;
‘RING THE BELL! THERE’S OUR LION!’
And so off the bus we got. On the edge of the capital city of a foreign country. With our little cases and directions to an apartment with a padlocked key box. Our first time abroad together. We wondered what lay ahead and how we would fare. Expectations were initially low, given we couldn’t work out how to cross the road.
It was, as it turned out, all very easy. Not just the crossing of the road. The whole trip. Our destination, chosen for that purpose. Far enough away, in a different clime, to feel we had ‘travelled’; historically and culturally a bit of a home from home.
Ah, stuff it. I’m going to have to tell you where we went, I’m tying my head in knots to avoid it…….
We got on a plane and flew to Malta.
It was CHUFFING BRILLIANT.