I’m not a natural adventurer. I hate to pack, I cannot speak any other languages and I really am not a fan of not knowing exactly where I am. You will not find me exploring nooks and crannies of cities, nor will I be spotted ordering something off a menu of which I have no comprehension of which animal it has come from.
Combine all this with a gentle and constant subconscious hum of anxiety about terrorism, muggings and plane crashes; I admittedly may not be the best companion on a holiday. However a recent jaunt to Hungary with my boyfriend has really opened my eyes to the wonderful world of travelling.
It all began so badly. An early start combined with an overpriced Full English breakfast (next to a couple on their second bottle of white wine at Luton Airport before 6.30am) and the left arm of my sunglasses snapping off, I was grouchy, nervous for the flight and all out of sync.
Huffing and puffing like I’d just ran a 5k (beating Roy), I made my way to the toilet for the umpteenth time,
my semi-useful sunglasses gently resting on my left ear and nose as I joined the long and winding (road) queue for the loo. I stood there, totally zoned out deciding whether to have orange juice or prosecco on the flight. Ooh and maybe some Pringles?
“You can go toilet other end of terminal.” I heard.
A cleaner then gestured her arm past me and politely invited me and the few women behind me to move on. She scurried on past us into the toilets.
There was an eerie silence. Everyone in the queue was sizing each other up. Sacrifice my place in the queue? No way.
None of us made eye contact with each other. We collectively knew it was all or nothing.
Either all of us go or none of us go.
And low and behold – no one moved a muscle.
It was like a protest – how dare they suggest we go to another urination station, it would mean the people just joining this queue would get our hard earned space.
We’d already invested time, blood, sweat and tears into this, what if we walk to the other end of the terminal and find an even bigger queue?
What if we piss ourselves – our boots and shoes slowly and stinkily filling with shame-laced-urine? That would make for an incredibly uncomfortable flight.
Or worst of all, what if this is a hoax. This could be a snippet for Saturday Night Takeaway, and there IS no other toilet and the ‘cleaner’ is actually someone from Coronation Street in a clever disguise.
I start eyeing up the men (not like that) that are stood in the frustratingly much shorter queue for the gents.
Hold up – is that Gino D’Campo with that fake leg?
Perhaps Johnny Vegas is moonlighting as that large Caribbean man? (I hope not, that would be incredibly un-PC).
I’m dragged back into the land of rational thinking by a suitcase gently pressing against my calves. The queue in front of me was moving along and it was my time to comply. I dutifully shuffled into the toilet and did my 15th wee of the morning. The rest of the journey and flight were pretty uneventful, much to my delight.
A highlight of the holiday was a trip to the thermal baths – a tranquil and ornate haven which felt incredibly luxurious. We swam, we relaxed it was fantastic.
Then we heard a bell.
A very distinctive bell, like the one they used to use in playgrounds in the 1990s to indicate break time was over.
We saw everyone flock to the big pool. It turned out it was a SUPER MASSIVE WAVE MACHINE running on the hour, every hour.
We were straight in. The waves looked fun, everyone was laughing and smiling and reassuringly there were four lifeguards on the side (which upon reflection should have been the warning sign I wish I had clocked at the time). The waves began and people were cheering and ‘riding’ them (basically just jumping into them, I didn’t quite understand the appeal?) but then the waves got bigger, stronger and more frequent.
I felt the urge to hold on to the rails at the side and thank God I did.
Before I knew it a middle aged man literally flew past me at supersonic speed. All I saw was a watch, a bald patch and the SPEEDO logo whizz past in a blur.
He became totally submerged under the water, reappearing near the shallow end. He was trying to stand up but by the time he had got his bearings and flushed the water out of his orifices, another wave slammed him to the ground.
Naturally, this made me crack up laughing, but unfortunately was the perfect opportunity for the water to try to slam me to the bottom of the pool mid cackle. I let go of the rail to accompany my cruel laugh with a pointing finger, so bystanders knew what to look for in relation to the sounds coming out of me, and to make sure the man knew just how foolish he looked.
My body was flailing around like one of those inflatable promotional characters you see outside car dealerships, except it was my legs and just one arm flailing around. I managed to get my grp back with both hands, that’ll teach me for pointing and laughing at someone.
It was like a bad Hollywood movie, with terrible acting but terrifyingly real waves. It honestly felt like we were experiencing a natural disaster, a huge contrast to the silence and stillness of the 40 degree thermal baths, where the only sound is the flicking of a newspaper (yes, someone was sat there with the paper, all the letters slowly leaking off onto his hands).
After what felt like a lifetime (ten minutes) the waves ceased. People slowly left, catching their breath, pulling their bikini tops back up (!!) and returning to their horizontal position on their sun loungers.
I stumbled across the pool, wiping my eyes to relieve the sting of chlorine and doing that thing you do when you put half your hand in your war and wiggle it about like a lunatic to get any remaining moisture out so you can hear straight.
I was reunited with my boyfriend and we embraced like we had just been through a horrific tragedy.
“I couldn’t see you! I couldn’t see you!” I said, traumatised.
“That was amazing!!!” he replied. “Let’s come back in an hour!”
I then realised he wasn’t hugging me back thinking ‘thank god you’re alive’.
He was just hugging me back.
I was clutching to his torso like a Koala up a tree.
The rest of the trip was great fun. I ate new foods, saw new places and came back feeling like the ultimate culture vulture.
Am I now an adventurer?
Not quite, but I’m excited for my next holiday.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have a pair of sunglasses to repair and a segment idea to submit to Saturday Night Takeaway.