Memories are made of this

TRAVEL NIGHTMARES: What was your worst experience?

WITH the summer almost over, and you’re maybe looking at all those snaps or selfies taken on the beach or in the pool, it’s always instructive to look back at past holidays and ask yourself what made certain ones stand out. Perhaps for completely the wrong reasons – they were travel nightmares?

One of my first was many years ago as a student on a Greyhound bus travelling around the USA. A youth had a Sony Discman playing a compilation CD so loud I’m amazed his eardrums didn’t burst. Five hours in, one passenger cracked, leaned over and casually cut through the headphone wire. We all gave him a silent round of applause.

Another nightmare, shortly after my return, was standing nose-to-armpit for two hours in the dark on a static London tube on a suffocatingly hot summer’s afternoon. That bit was just about bearable, but an American lady piping up that we should all introduce ourselves was tortuous and, in seconds, had all the passengers on the verge of throwing up.


And what about flights? Let me count the ways. I recall a 13-hour flight seated next to an engineer called Arnold with an obsessional passion for talking about his work. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to violence against another person by means of a moist towelette and a bag of nuts.

And Ryanair? Where to begin and how much time do you have? Cramped into seats smaller than those on the average bus, every available space covered with adverts for their booze and raffle tickets, continual announcements which should have been safety announcements, but were adverts for their booze and raffle tickets. Even if you tried to get some sleep, you were woken up by a hostess trying to sell you… more booze and raffle tickets.

Now I admit I don’t like flying. Ever since a bad experience as a child in a turbo prop to storm-bound Malta (the nosewheel bursting halfway down the runway upon finally landing … that was fun … sparks flying and smoke everywhere) when the pilot announced: “We’ll soon be landing at Luqa airport. Or quite near it.” Actually, “quite near” turned out to be 200 miles away in another continent – Tunis, North Africa. What’s your worst travel experience, I wonder?

Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’

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