About me

Are my holidays jinxed? Holiday disasters around the world!

Many holidaymakers say they have suffered a holiday nightmare from hell, but mostly they are describing their hotel resembling a building site or maybe having to put up with bathrooms and bedrooms dirty with local wildlife living there. These are, in my opinion, par for the course when taking a package holiday and holidaymakers sometimes hugely exaggerate these problems.

No, I’m not saying that people are making up these stories but, occasionally, people’s expectations of their hotel and accommodation in a foreign country are not realistic and certainly – more often than not – their resorts look nothing like the luxury venue featured in the glossy travel brochures and on the slick websites.

I enjoy travelling and would travel more often if I could afford it. However, pre-Covid, I did manage to enjoy at least two holidays abroad each year, but am now feeling massively deprived as I have not been abroad since September 2019.

Stranded in Sydney, Australia 

My first brush with misfortune came in 1977 when I flew to Melbourne to visit my mother and grandmother, who had emigrated there seven years before and we hadn’t seen each other since then. It was also my first time of travelling alone. There’s nothing like opting to travel half way round the world for your first attempt at solo-travelling!

With no premonitions of impending doom, I boarded my Thai International flight at Heathrow Airport bound for Sydney stopping briefly for a re-fuel at Rome and Bangkok. At Sydney, I was due to disembark and climb aboard an internal flight for onward transmission to Melbourne, where my family would be waiting to meet me.

My first feeling that something was wrong was when I realised that my Thai International flight was running late and the estimated time of arrival was about half an hour before my next flight’s departure to Melbourne. Cutting a long story short, we landed at Sydney at exactly the same time that I was due to take off from Sydney to fly to Melbourne. It was almost 11 o’clock at night and, to make matters worse, the stewardess told me that all planes stopped flying at 11pm due to the airport being in a residential area and all the airport staff went home.

When we landed, I went to ‘Arrivals’ and collected my suitcase and then looked around to find some help. I felt like I was the only person in the whole of the airport. Everywhere was deserted except for one official on a Qantas desk. Everyone else had gone home. Luckily, this official seemed to know his job and he booked me on another flight to Melbourne at 8am the next morning, then booked me into a hotel in Sydney for the night and organised a taxi to take me to the hotel.

Of course, this was before the obsessive use of mobile phones and there was no way that I was able to call my family waiting at Melbourne Airport to greet me off the flight I had missed. There was no way either of letting them know what time I would eventually be arriving!

Still,  I decided to make the best of a bad situation and enjoyed my night-time scenic taxi ride round Sydney, lapped up the luxury of a hot shower, room service snack and a comfy bed to sleep in till my next taxi came to pick me up at 6.30am to get me to the airport.

When I did arrive in Melbourne, nicely refreshed from my jaunt in Sydney, my family were fraught with worry and frazzled from having had to sleep on an airport bench all night hoping I would arrive on one of the flights coming into Melbourne every few minutes! They were not happy, although obviously relieved that I hadn’t been kidnapped by a sex trafficker.

Measles in Majorca

Years later, when our daughter was about eight years old, my husband and I took her and our seven year old son to Majorca. On the outward flight from Bristol, the child behind us was coughing non-stop and I whispered to my husband that I thought the child could have whooping cough and that I hoped our children didn’t catch it. Sure enough, two days before the end of our holiday, our daughter Sarah became ill. We called a doctor and were amazed when the diagnosis was measles and not whooping cough! The doctor said Sarah had to stay in the hotel room with blinds closed to keep out the sunlight and that we would not be able to travel home in two days time.

However, the hotel management had a different view of things and said we couldn’t stay at the hotel and that we would have to move out as they had other guests booked into our room when we vacated. This then meant getting help from our tour operator’s representative at the resort, who told us we would have to leave, but he would arrange a taxi for us to the airport as we would not be allowed to travel on the organised airport transfer and mix with other passengers.

Leaving the resort in a taxi with our daughter’s eyes shaded with a baseball cap and wearing sunglasses, we made the journey to the airport, where the four of us were escorted by armed guard across the runway to the waiting plane. After we had been seated at the back of the plane away from other passengers, the pilot came to speak to us and told us in no uncertain terms that he did not want us travelling on his flight.

Thankfully, we were allowed to stay on board but, when we disembarked at Bristol, we were again treated like lepers and escorted by armed guard to get our luggage and then out through customs. We were segregated away from other passengers and, therefore, had no delays, no searches – just walked straight through! We could have been using the measles as an excuse to smuggle drugs for all they knew!!

Motorbiking and paragliding fun and misfortune in Fethiye

I think I must have been nearing 60 years old when my husband and I went to Turkey with my son, Adam and his friend, Charles. I should have known that an elderly lady’s holiday with three Alpha males would end in near disaster. It seemed a good idea at the time to hire a couple of motorbikes and tour round the area getting off-track and seeing the countryside. It certainly was a great way to travel until I tried to get off the bike and caught my leg on the red-hot high-level exhaust pipe! My skin was seared and badly burnt but, fortunately, a kindly Greek lady came to my aid and rubbed some home-made ointment on it and bandaged it for me.

My bandaged leg did not inspire much confidence though when, a couple of days later, I joined a group of would-be parasailers who were planning to jump off the ancient 6,460 ft Babadag (Mount Anticragus)  near Fethiye and parasail to the beach below. The trip had been cancelled twice before because of high winds and, this time, I really wasn’t thinking of third time lucky, but more like three strikes and you’re out!

After well over an hour bumping and jolting up the mountain in an open Landrover, we reached the loose shale surface at the top of the mountain. We were briefed about what to do and what not to do i.e. under no circumstances should you stop running after your parasailing buddy expert tells you to “run”!!

Of course, I had to have the tallest buddy! He had to be about 6’4” with really long legs, whilst I am about 5’2” with short dumpy legs. After I was clipped on to his harness and he shouted “run”, I found it very difficult to mimic the strides and speed that he was doing. My leg revolutions were doing about four rounds to his one! Then, the unthinkable happened: the expert buddy shouted “stop”. Now he had implicitly said “don’t stop once you start running”, so alarm bells started to ring straight away, especially when I realised that we were being slowly dragged over the slippery shale to the edge of the mountain. Luckily, other ‘experts’ were on hand to drag us back from the edge of the precipice and untangle the knotted parachute, which had caused the emergency stop in the first place.

I saw out of the corner of my eye that my husband had his eyes scornfully raised to the sky and was telling everyone “it could only happen to my wife!” Thanks for your support and concern, dear hubby!

So did I try again or did I give up suspecting that the first attempt was a divine warning? Yep, you guessed it, I went again and, this time, ran without any problems, jumped off the mountain edge and glided effortlessly through the heavens enjoying the spectacular panorama below of the Aegean Sea, the Turkish landscape and the Greek island of Rhodes in the distance. After about 20 minutes of downward drifting, we came gently to a faultless landing on the beach – narrowly missing one surprised sunbather that had no idea that a crazy English woman was about to land on the Olu Deniz beach after jumping off the mountain!

Rhodes island from the air

Antipathy to Antigua’s honeymoon hotel murder

I’ve always wanted to go to Antigua. I love the Caribbean and Antigua is right up there as one of the places to visit, yet I still haven’t been there!!

Because this Caribbean island is on my list of places to visit, we booked what seemed like a fabulous holiday in a luxury resort that had less than 20 wooden cabins on the side of a mountain overlooking the famous Jolly Harbour.

However, after booking and paying for the holiday, I did a bit of research. Yes, I know. I should have done this first, but unfortunately didn’t.

What I read horrified me. Just two years before, a honeymoon couple from the UK were murdered in one of the cabins at this resort. It wasn’t the fact that this could happen again that put me off going to this resort, but the fact that we might be put in the same cabin where this unfortunate couple had died.

The reports about the murder were dreadful and I really did not feel that I could stay in a resort where a happy newly-married couple had been brutally murdered. So we cancelled and transferred our money to a holiday in St Lucia.

The end of the world in St Lucia

So, we escaped the horror holiday in Antigua and went to St Lucia instead. Nothing could go wrong, could it?

A fabulous resort with a newly installed lazy river winding around the stunning tropical gardens with sun-loungers secluded in the flowers and shrub borders. Day two of the holiday and I was lying back in the shallow coolness of the lazy river with a cocktail in hand gazing up at the palm trees overhead. Then I realised the sky looked odd. The sun was partially covered by a hazy cloud and there was a halo all around it. People all around the hotel gardens were stood still gazing up at the phenomenon in the sky and one even said “It’s the end of the world!”

The end of the world is nigh

It turned out that the unusual feature in the sky in St Lucia was caused by the volcanic ash cloud ejected during the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. It had the potential to cause damage to aircraft engines, so this resulted in the grounding of many flights.

People on holiday with us were panicking about how they would get home and some, who had to leave in the next day or two, didn’t know which hotel they would be moved to. We just took it in our stride and were of the mindset that, if we had to stay in beautiful St Lucia for a few more days or even weeks, we were quite happy to do so.

Unfortunately, by the time we were scheduled to return back to Britain, the crisis was over and we flew back on our scheduled flight on the day we had originally booked.

Nearly capsizing in the Greek Islands

Who doesn’t love the Greek Islands? And if you can go to several Greek Islands all in one holiday, then that’s a bonus. We booked a sailing holiday and joined a flotilla in Sivota on the island of Lefkada to go sailing for two weeks around the South Ionian Islands. It was idyllic until……

Halfway through the holiday, we were warned that some bad weather was due that day and we should make our way across the open water to the islands of Kalamos and Kastos as quickly as possible. No time for sightseeing today! Halfway across the vast expanse of sea, the rain started to pour down and then the wind got up whisking the sea into huge waves. We could hear other boats in our flotilla making MayDay calls on the group radio and shouting that they were trying to find shelter in tiny harbours to keep safe. We didn’t have the luxury of finding shelter as we were right out in the middle of the sea lane. Our sails were flapping madly and our tiny sailing boat was out of control. My husband told me to grab the rudder in no uncertain terms, whilst he clipped himself on to the side of the boat to climb up and bring in the sails whilst we were being thrown around at the mercy of the elements.

I was absolutely convinced we were going to capsize and die. It didn’t help when a particularly big wave tipped up the boat at a precarious angle and flung me across the boat banging my face on one of the instruments. My husband was still struggling and fighting with the sails when the mast broke in two and the sails just hung there flapping uselessly in the wind.

For about six hours, we battled against the Greek storm and eventually made it to the inlet that led to Kalamos harbour. The steep mountain sides of the inlet protected us from the wind and, like a miracle, we managed to gain control of the boat, limped into the safe harbour and moored up outside a taverna. Despite not having eaten for around eight hours i.e. since having an early breakfast, we ordered a massive Metaxa brandy and some baklava to give us a sugar rush.

I’ve loved brandy and baklava ever since!

Airline liquidation on Lefkada holiday

I thought it was strange when I was getting some Euros at the Bureau de Change at Stansted Airport that the cashier said to me “Do you know how you’re getting back home?”

Of course, I knew how we’d be getting back. We had a return flight booked back from Lefkada with Thomas Cook.  Ha! How wrong could I be? I should have realised by now, after all the other holiday mishaps I have encountered over the years, that my holidays are jinxed and not what they seem!

Thomas Cook chose that day to fly their last charter flight before going into liquidation and we were on it!!

Once again, with the fifty shades of flight fiascos in St Lucia a not-so-distant memory, thousands of holidaymakers were going to be left stranded at holiday destinations throughout Europe. And it looked like we could be part of that fiasco.

Just as before, we didn’t let it bother us. We did, however, check with the owner of the villa where we were staying if we could stay on for another week, if we had to.

Beautiful view from our villa pool

When she confirmed that the villa was vacant for another week, we enjoyed our holiday with not a care in the world whilst all the tour operators worked frantically to get us home on the scheduled day at the scheduled time to our scheduled airport – Stansted.

China crisis and Covid lockdown

When you have a milestone wedding anniversary, you want to celebrate it in style, right? That’s what we decided to do for our 40th ruby wedding anniversary in April 2020. My brother-in-law has lived in China with his Chinese wife for several years and we thought it would be great to make the trip of a lifetime and travel over to visit them for a few days. As we are avid Formula 1 fans, we decided to take in the Chinese Grand Prix, which so happened to be the same day as our wedding anniversary. We planned on spending a few days in Shanghai to do some sight-seeing before and after the motor race and then jump on a flight to Cambodia via Vietnam to enjoy a relaxing tropical island paradise at Phu Quoc off the southern coast of Cambodia.

Guess what happened next? Yes, Covid-19 bombarded the world with a pandemic and lockdowns causing flight cancellations, holiday chaos and disruption and death to millions of people around the world.

We were one of the lucky ones, as we did manage to get all our money back from the tour operator, the airlines and the Formula 1 ticket agency. However, our special anniversary was not the special holiday-of-a-lifetime celebration we had planned but was spent at home in lockdown with a fillet steak and a bottle of red!

Has it put me off travelling and exploring the world? Definitely not. I love the adventure. So exciting. Bring it on!


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