International Writers Magazine: Why we (used to)Travel - From Our Archives
is that time of year when were all reminiscing about holidays.
Sitting by the kitchen window looking at the boring rain falling
as you eat.
in an office surrounded by agendas and timesheets as your afternoons
drone on. Life is too short to work
a full year with no holiday, and sick days just dont do the
You check your bank
account and, realistically, you cant even afford to spend a night
at the Holiday Inn in Croydon, let alone leave the country. The flights,
hotel, budget, date deciding, its all too exhausting and you begin
to think its easier to just spend a a week in bed with take away
food and all the luxuries of cable TV.
But peer pressure is calling and youre desperate to escape. You
want to save pictures of the Roman coliseum to your desktop, spend your
hard earned money on overpriced sandwiches in middle-of-nowhere airports.
You want to finally put that liberating out of office on, and let all
your contacts know that if anything urgent happens, well they should
contact someone else, because from today until the 6th October, it really
isnt your problem! And when you return, you want to make sure
everyone in the office knows that you put those Italian holiday chocolates
on the kitchen table, youve been drinking 2 bottles of Frascati,
and yes, you have a tan.
Office politics are fascinating. And holidays are almost as competitive
as pay rises and promotions. A relative newcomer to the work-world,
I am intrigued by its clockwork. You start to see all your teammates
and bosses announcing the proverbial out of office. Barcelona, Paris,
Ibiza (always a harsh one), even Dublin sounds enviable. The receptionist
has taken three days off to do nothing at home. Holiday chocolates are
being brought to the office kitchen left right and centre. And youre
still there answering the phones? No way.
My destination of choice was Rome. We got lucky with the legendary £0.00
Ryanair flights. Only to discover it was another £20 to pay on
card, £40 taxes (each), £18 for luggage, £12 for travel
insurance. Reverse psychology as it is, by the time the total had reached
£200 we had already fallen for Rome and there was no backing out.
If all roads really did lead to Rome we would have found a better deal,
but my lunch break was nearly over and if I didnt book now, who
knows how much theyd be by dinner.
So on a very late Wednesday night my out of office comes on and I begin
the impossible task of fitting Italian-style outfits (best dressed people
in the world) in to a 50x24x42 piece of hand luggage. Boyfriend arrives
with a simple bag of clean boxers, three t-shirts, shorts and a pair
of jeans. Two in the morning comes quickly and off we go to on a smelly
coach to Stansted airport. By 04:10 we check in at Stansted, Starbucks
is just about to open and a tall skinny latte is all thats keeping
me from completely passing out with exhaustion.
We arrive in Rome and the sun is baking. Piazza Navona, beautiful. Lunch,
were starving. Arrive in the room, lovely flat, quickly get changed
and out to sight see. Everything stunning and breath taking we
are in complete happiness. Finish the night having a best-ever-in-my-life
spaghetti carbonara in Trastevere, where the locals go, truly rolling
with the Romans.
next few days are just filled with perfect times. Amazing sights,
great company, unforgettable food, a day trip to Tuscany, Rome by
day, Rome by night, tour guides, churches, tourist traps, ice creams,
more ice creams. Were in awe of Rome, the Audrey Hepburn and
Gregory Peck of the twenty first century, albeit without the looks
and the Lambretta. On day two it rained non-stop, but that didnt stop us.
four gave me possibly the best pizza I have ever encountered in
my life, as well as a trip down memory lane (to put it mildly) in
the Roman forum and coliseum. A complimentary tour done by Jason,
a writer for the New York Times who lives in Rome and treats
stingy tourists to free tours, taught us all about the Christians,
the Popes, Caesar, Marc Anthony, and Rome in general (so thats
who Brutus was).
Next stop: Vatican
museum. Bit of a tourist nightmare, but put it this way, if you can
still be breathtaken in the Sistine chapel whilst surrounded by tourists,
guides, old and young people, families, couples, smelly people, moaning
people, trampling into you, pushing against you, and with throbbing
feet from walking through a four hour museum to get there you
can imagine what it would do to you in an empty room.
ended with a nighttime walk around the Piazza di Spagna and Fontana
di Trevi (no white cats, otherwise I would have totally done an
Anita Ekberg) and even more ice cream. Ive seldom eaten so
much in my life. I loved it.
Now Im sitting in the kitchen watching the London rain fall
and fall, loving the fact that, just for a few days, I didnt
have to be a part of it. And tomorrow Ill be knocking up,
tanned and happily plump, into my office with a smile (and the proverbial
box of chocolates, Italian). I loved Rome, and I love work, but
we all need a bit of both. Roll on Christmas time is all I can say.
Davies October 2008
Gabriela works in Public Relations in London
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