This morning I climbed around in the Swiss Alps. Yes, it was cold and therefore I decided to jump over to Shanghai. However, this city didn’t turn out to be what I had expected, , all I encountered was sky scrapers and towers and what I wanted is the exotic Shanghai I knew from books and stories told by friends who were there. I never visited Shanghai, I am generally a bad traveler, and it seems that traveling via the internet was especially invented for me.
In my old diaries every trip we took many years ago has been written down and described in detail. Sometimes these details I describe are disappointing. In one book I tell how standing deeply moved before the Pieta in the Vatican, I tried hard to ignore my aching feet. Again and again I hate to read about my complaints during trips which should have been immensely exciting.
Walking through the pretty streets in Munich I shivered with cold. My husband took pity on me and we walked into a shoe shop to buy some warm boots. The only pair we found in my size were very, very pink. I never took them off during my whole stay in Germany and my clothes-conscious husband avoided looking at my feet. He also refused to take these boots back with us to Israel and they became an argument between us which quite grew out of proportion. This started the famous “boots battle” during which I put the boots into the suitcase, with my husband slinking stealthily to the suitcase at night in order to take them out. Boots battle kept us busy for quite a while.
In London, in a nice but modest restaurant I kept on asking my husband how those Britons manage to spoil a simple dish like sausages and baked potatoes.
“Sausages really shouldn’t matter to you, said my husband, we are going to see the Tower this afternoon!”
No great comfort for me, the Tower meant again endless walking and my feet, although now in comfortable pink boots, which I had adopted forever, were hurting.
Looking back, I regret so much that small upsets spoiled my fun of sightseeing. On a narrow alley in Switzerland, we couldn’t move our car because a goat stood in our way.
My husband went out of the car in order to persuade the goat to move, but all it did was stand up on its hind legs and place both its front legs on his shoulders. in something which almost looked like an embrace.
“It’s in love with you, I said, It must be a female goat!”
“And you of course are jealous, he said, and you know what’s good about this goat? It doesn’t wear pink boots!”
Coming back from a trip the things which one remembers most are the things which went wrong. We take it for granted that we enjoyed those fabulous views, the green forests, the rolling hills, the peaceful lakes; but I never forgot how afraid I was to board a cable car which was completely open like a ski lift and which rode at rapid speed across mountains in Rumania. I kept my eyes closed throughout the whole ride and maybe this is why one of my open sandals fell off into the deep and may still be lying there undiscovered in a Rumanian forest. A taxi had to take us into town and to a shoe shop where I got new sandals, no boots..
All excited to take my first trip unaccompanied, I boarded a plane to New York. A woman who was sitting next to me and had never flown before was completely panicky and held on to me for dear life all throughout the flight. And as if this wouldn’t be enough, she got airsick too. After an infernal trip finally at Kennedy airport she literally grabbed one sleeve of my jacket asking me to find her connecting flight to Miami. I had no idea how to find my own connecting flight to Curacao and in sheer despair I handed her over to an unsuspecting stewardess who was just standing around with no clue of her impending fate.
Also in New York I got separated from my cousin in the subway and I will never forget the moments of sheer panic until she managed to find me.
In Budapest an angry taxi driver shouted in Hungarian at me and my husband and we had no idea why. We had paid for the ride and wanted to walk away but he wouldn’t let us. This was the time when I vowed never, but really never to go to a country where I can’t make myself understood.
Yet I wouldn’t mind a trip to the moon next time I’m around. Not right now, definitely not right now.