1 May 2015
My Italian fling
She was half my age; Italian, beautiful, clever, and funny. And for a week we explored the Italian Lakes together, having the time of our lives.
Just Roberta and me. And a dozen other tourists. And my wife.
Yes, despite all my self-booked travels, many of them on my own, sometimes I prefer a tour group.
Roberta led us on a “walking tour” of Northern Italy, with a peek over the border to Switzerland, where we had lunch in the shadow of a glacier and returned on the legendary Bernina Express. A professional guide, Roberta had done this itinerary and similar many times before, so she had the local knowledge, she knew the timetables, she spoke the language, she was an expert on the hiking trails, and she knew the best restaurants.
If I had tried to organise my own trip, it would have been a hopeless muddle, with every chance of an expensive disaster, and the certainty of stress every time I had to break out the phrasebook to buy a ticket.
Byway of example
There was one bad moment at Lake Garda when we discovered too late that the public bus timetable had changed, and we had missed the bus by five minutes with a two-hour wait for the next one.
This could have been a black hole in the day, but instead, Roberta strolled us along the lake shore – a feast of scenery, activities, and gelati – and we caught the bus when it came by on the next run. She dealt with the difficulty, made a plan that worked, and we had a grand time.
If it had been me struggling with the local geography, the bus route, and the timing, I probably would have chosen a safe course and sat around drinking bus terminal coffee for two hours.
It’s all too hard
I’m pretty good at being my own travel agent nowadays. But every now and then, there’s a challenge I don’t want to face by myself.
Or the Italian Lakes. I looked at the complexities of public transport – the buses, ferries, and trains I’d have to work out to get around – and the multitude of hotels, all promising marvellous views and superb cuisine. It all looked daunting, and my Italian language skills were minimal.
The best part was that all the friction of travel was handled by others. We tourists just stood around and gawped and took pictures of everything and chatted while Roberta scurried about and took care of the details.
Thank you, Roberta!
If the destination warrants, yes, I’ll happily take a tour again. There are some cheap Europe deals around, often including flights there and back.
Have you ever taken a tour? What were the high points?