I may have disappeared for a few days but have left you in the very capable hands of Wendy from Very Bored in Catalunya. I have been following her posts for a year now because she is funny, clever and sometimes a bit rude. She also gave me a boot up the arse by suggesting I send an article to The Sunday Times which was then published. A true blogging buddy!
Whilst Trish is enjoying Madrid, the beautiful architecture, the museums, the Bernabéu and the fine dining (well I say fine dining, I’m sure that her son Rory will find a place that does Chip Pizzas), she has rather worryingly asked me over to do a guest post for her.
Trish is, as you may have deduced from the title of her blog, a seasoned holiday goer. If any of you don’t know, I am, as in much of life I find, a giver not a taker in that I am in the holiday business. My husband runs a Fishing Guide business out in Catalonia, Spain and we also operate a small guest house where we accommodate the visiting anglers.
My poor overworked husband has to spend his days floating up and down the lower reaches of the majestic River Ebro. With the sun on his back and his rod in his hand, he meanders down the peaceful waters in the hope that a very large fish may attach itself to his line. His eyes are sullied by the stunning mountain vistas as he is accompanied by like-minded souls (usually from Essex), the poor sod has to endure chewing the cud about the merits of Spurs and the downfall of Leeds United whilst taking the occasional sip out of his chilled bottle of Estrella cerveca. As you can imagine it’s a hellish job.
I on the other hand had it easy. As the sole employee of our guest house I was rather underworked. All I had to do was make a full English breakfast each morning for the hungry anglers, prepare some packed lunches, clean a 5 bedroomed and 5 bathroomed villa, spend a few hours filling in paperwork and queuing for fishing licences, go food shopping, visit the bodega to top up the beer supplies, prepare and serve a 3 course evening meal for up to 8 people and then clean up afterwards. A doddle in comparison I am sure you’ll agree. I’m not entirely sure why I decided to give it all up and only work a couple of mornings after having a child.
As a person whose duty it is to provide an enjoyable holiday experience, you get to really quickly hate holiday makers, especially when you are in such a close environment with them. To this end I would like to create a little list of things that should go towards making your holiday a pleasant one and not have you leaving the hated tourist.
Have manners – please and thank-you go a long way. Try to learn to say them in the language of the country you’re visiting, along with hello and goodbye. It’s not difficult, learn them and use them. Never, ever, click your fingers at a waiter unless you like the taste of spit in your soup.
Overcome language barriers – there will be times when speaking different languages causes problems. Shouting loudly and slowly in English to a person who doesn’t speak English is not a solution. Better to take a pen & paper and draw your way out of trouble or better still, carry a small pocket dictionary of the other language around with you.
Don’t complain about the food – if you want bangers and mash, or fish & chips go to Scarborough not Tuscany. Sample the local delicacies, you might be pleasantly surprised. If you are one of the anglers that had to suffer that sloppy shepherd’s pie of mine that night, you’re excused and you can complain. Sorry!
Get a EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) and travel insurance – too many people forget about getting insurance nowadays, they think that just because they are only away from home a few days and they’re in Europe it’s OK. I know from some very grave experiences that it’s not OK.
Do obey the law as you would at home – if it’s illegal in the UK, you can be pretty safe in betting that it’s also illegal in a foreign country and a lot harder to talk yourself out of.
Have respect for your surroundings – treat your holiday home as you would your own, if not better. Also consider your neighbours, those in the next hotel room, the villa next door etc.
Don’t pee in the pool – seriously, that’s just not on.