On the Road Again

We were given the last two seats on the Air Canada flight; backing right on the restrooms.
“It smells like an outhouse back here,” Brenda remarked. Normally such an odour would bother her, but she was heading out for a five week international trip. With her single-minded intensity my wife is the equivalent of a Muslim extremist when it comes to travel. We were rolling through the Canadian Rockies seven years ago when we got the message at breakfast that a storm sewer on our street had backed up and our basement was flooded.
“I’ll get our return tickets’ date changed,” I said, jumping out of my chair. “No, no,” she retorted. “Finish your pancakes. Paul will take care of it.” Paul was our next door neighbour and Brenda saw no need to rush back when we were still scheduled for another two-and-a-half weeks and hadn’t even reached Yoho National Park as of yet.
The stewardess approached me with a large, very-full glass of red wine. (Oops – I mean flight attendant.) “We’re so sorry that we had to stick you back here… and your screen won’t be working either. So there’ll be no movies, but I hope you like red wine.” She looked at me and smiled. “You look like someone who does.” I didn’t know what that meant. “I’ll keep the wine flowing all flight.” Our daughter Rachelle had walked back to see us from her seat half the plane up. “I don’t like sitting by myself,” she exclaimed. Then she took in a deep breath. “But it stinks back here.” The flight attendant, however, had some good news. “Once we take off you won’t be smelling it anymore.”
She was as good as her word. The wine never stopped but the nauseous odour disappeared and the flight held no new surprises. But the first day after an overnight thirteen hour trip is never easy, especially with a fanatic as your travel planner. We collected our baggage and then Brenda said, “I’ll find out where we catch the subway and then the tram to our hotel.”
Despite a long night of red wine I was suddenly alert to the danger. “Jeezus Murphy,” I exclaimed, even though Rachelle doesn’t like me to use anything approaching profanity. “Why can’t we ever take a vacation like normal people ? We’re on a holiday- not a Crusade.” Two of our last three trips had been Christmas excursions to Cuba and I had grown used to the soft life. Brenda must have had almost as many libations as I because she was unexpectedly accommodating to my whining. “Okay- we’ll ask these taxi drivers.”
One of the points of ‘discussion’ in our marriage is our sometimes differing views on travel . I like it, at least I’ve always been told that it’s good for me, but I’m not a fanatic about it. My view is that we go for two weeks, three at the most, and we travel in a comfortable, accustomed manner like most sane people. Unfortunately, Brenda begs to differ. She would stay away for her whole ten week summer, which is what she used to do before she met me. And she would pay for this by pinching pennies as only a Scot with the maiden name Laird could do. (No offense intended.) I’ve seen her negotiating for a deal on bottled water with Buddhist monks in Burma. Luckily for me I’m writing this so I don’t have to include what she sees as my so-called weaknesses.
After approaching four different cabbies we had to submit to what the going rate to our hotel would be. It was a twenty five minute ride. He let us off at the bottom of a very steep cobble-stoned street. “Your hotel up there,” he pointed. “Cars not allowed.” It was a very hot morning and a very steep climb. My role on holidays is car driver and pack horse. We wouldn’t pick up our car for the first five days, so I hoisted the heaviest bags out of the trunk. “We can check in right away, but I don’t want anyone falling asleep on the beds,” my wife instructed. “We’ll be going out to see the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome, the Basilica Cistern and the Grand Bazaar.” Rachelle looked over at me and rolled her eyes. I winked back at her. We’d have to stick together.

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