I’m on a two-week trip around France and Spain with my aged papa so that he can see Barcelona and his grandchildren (in that order, if not in that order of importance) before he dies.
Here are some of the highlights of travelling with a man who has always wanted to be eccentric in his old age and has realised he’s running out of time to do it properly.
- Perching our empty(ish) cups of airline coffee on the top of the seat in front of him in the plane and then being surprised when they fell onto the unsuspecting passenger’s head, dribbling cold coffee into her clean hair. Passenger couldn’t see dad, so she turned round and glared at me.
- Insisting on getting my heavy backpack out of the baggage holder and then dropping it onto another unsuspecting passenger’s head.
- Spending the entire flight complaining very loudly about the user interface of the entertainment system (it was lousy, I agree).
- Not bringing any toothpaste or deodorant (the first because the tube was full (!) and the second because he’d run out).
- Pushing in at the passport control queue because he didn’t see the line you had to stand behind and thought everyone else was just loitering.
- Shouting ‘Oi! Stop that!’ at a French woman who hooted for her friend at the airport pick-up.
- Seeing a pair of chimneys on the bus ride to the hotel and saying ‘Oooh look, Bergen-Belsen’ quite loudly.
Some other highlights of the trip:
- Seeing a real Concorde by the side of the road. It was stuck up on some poles so it would look a bit like it was taking off. Actually a bit sad, but anyway.
- Discovering that Roissy-en-France (the village next to Charles De Gaulle airport, where we stayed last night) is a rather lovely little medieval village covered in flowers, parks and photogenic window shutters.
- Drinking a litre of Loburg beer at a café on the sidewalk while watching a man run round the village four times. (Only person in France crazier than my dad.)
- Eating steak tartare and loving it. Also, being told by concerned waiter that it would be raw and being able to reply ‘Yup, I love raw meat.’ (Perhaps am already following in father’s crazy footsteps.)
- Realising that cigarette smoke actually smells nice in France, so I don’t have to come over all Evil when people smoke next to me here.
- Realising that cigarette smoke is still extremely common in France, so it’s just as well it smells better here.
- Dad surviving 20 hours of travel and 2 hours of wandering around village searching for somewhere that would give us food. (Which is why we ended up drinking so much beer.)