What doesn’t kill you…

I have four priorities in my life. They are, in order:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Travel
  • Music

Food runs a very, very close fifth to music, but the important thing is that after my nearest and dearest, travel is what I consider to be integral to my happiness.

I try to go away at least 3 times a year and I rarely spend more than £250 in total on each trip. By the end November, I’ll have been to Austria, Spain, Poland, Guernsey, Germany, France and Greece in the past 12 months. Several of these trips were organised or devised by my fellow adventure-seeker, blaspheming partner in crime and kindred spirit – Susana.

We’ve been on same amazing trips together, from the crater of Vesuvius to the Christmas markets of Vienna to the warm waters of Formentera to nudist picnics in suburban Berlin. If I’m going on a trip with Susana, as well as getting some stimulating conversation peppered with some violent sexual imagery I can also count on some sort of balls up or mishap. But these tend to make our trips all the more special, if incredibly stressful at the time.

The Quest for the Blue Grotto
During an idyllic day trip to Capri during a week-long break to Naples , Susana and I were told that the number 1 sight on the island was the rather ethereal sounding ‘Blue Grotto’ – cue several hours of walking along a dusty road trying to get some sense out of local nonagenarians and being greeted with increasingly bemused looks from passing motorists.

Several hours later (!), we come to the Blue Grotto – or a chained up rusty gate proclaiming to be it anyway, surrounded by several mangey cats. Bearing in mind that Susana and I had long stopped talking to eachother by this point, this really was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Luckily it made for a funny story by the time we were out drinking with our fellow hostel guests in Naples later that evening, even if Susana had narrowly escaped being bludgeoned with a rock and left by the roadside in Capri by myself.

I was also made homeless when Susana came to visit me when I was working in Ibiza in the summer of 2004, and we once showed up in Helsinki for a day trip from Talinn in dense fog on a 6am ferry to find out that it was May Day and so everything was closed, which led to us spending half of our day in a coffee shop waiting for Susana’s migraine (I still maintain it was a hangover) to pass, getting hysterical on a plethora of caffeinated drinks in the process. I couldn’t even begin to list the amount of dramas that befell us during our walk across Galicia. Needless to say we met a lot of characters who liked speaking to pilgrims, and several angry dogs who weren’t quite so welcoming.

So, I urge more of you to embrace a more DIY approach to travel, because even when things go wrong, you can still have a great holiday in spite of them, and more often than not, because of them. Treat your journey much like you would a spouse – love them for better and for worse.

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