The Weasel is not very good at holidays. To some extent my life has been one long holiday, such as living on a narrowboat for two years or becoming a small-holder (very small). Living in Scotland, one feels one is perpetually on holiday, for good and bad reasons. But officially one is supposed to "go on holiday". Now, I don't know about you but this idea fills me with terror. How do you go about investing massive amounts of cash in something so unknown and so uncertain to have a good ending, without feeling just a bit of trepidation?
The Telegraph has for years run a column where they interview celebs about hols from heaven and hell. Celebs of course like to go where nobody will hassle them, but for the rest of us it always seems to be that lurking sense of disappointment that, not only are we not recognised, but we are the people who get the table next to the lavatory and a hotel that is run by people who had to get a whole new identity because they are on the run from Interpol.
I cannot say that I have ever been truly, constantly happy on holiday. My favourite time was a month Interailing when I was in my twenties. I could visit, let's say, Vienna, decide that it wasn't quite as exciting as Holly Martins found it, and simply get on a Wagons Lits sleeper to Belgrade. Or I could fall in love again with a girl from Sweden and take her offer up of "if ever you are in Stockholm, look me up". This type of holiday is characterised by spontaneity, serendipity and infinite choice.
These days you can control the horror, to some extent. I use tripadvisor a lot. It has proved remarkably good at helping us avoid disaster and those reviews that were good, generally are reliable. I don't like hotels. Even when I was being paid to be in them with expenses, I hated them. After the first two days, you just fancy egg and chips and a glass of beer, and the symphony of fruits de mer on a bed of something squirted onto the plate becomes an effort, not a pleasure. So, these days, for longer sorties, we prefer self-catering. Not that that is without its horrors. Over 20 years ago I booked a luxury gite for a week, only to find that cooker did not work and the open fire needed logs that were not supplied. It rained all week. We failed to book a restaurant on Sunday and ended up paying £100 for a chicken leg on a plate, drenched in what looked like cat sick. Young Weasel cut his finger open on the dishwasher, We were robbed, I backed the car into a post, and we got stopped at customs in Dover and had everything ransacked, up to (but not including) the anal probe.
The moral and lesson of all of this is this: The best places are not those that are good when all is well. The best places are those places that will support you when there is a problem.
Below, I have a not comprehensive list, based solely upon my own experience, of places you can trust if you are in a fix, and places you can't. I wonder if your experiences tally?
France - Trust
Spain - Cannot Trust
Scandinavia - Trust
Germany - sort of Trust, as long as you are white and drive a nice car.
Scotland - Not as a holidaymaker.
North Africa - Don't go.
Switzerland - Trust
Italy - Borderline - it pays to make friends with the locals.
There are plenty of gaps for my wonderfully well-travelled readers to fill in.