People, people everywhere: One downside to travelling 37



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The negative side of visiting wonderful places is always that there are so many people who also want to see them and after a while you get a feeling you understand Garbo’s desire, “I want to be alone,” so we ducked into a little seaside village off the beaten track called Sestre Levant which proved to be an unexpected delight. It was by far the best budget accommodation we had experienced. We couldn’t fault it and the food was delicious. The beach didn’t compare with ours but my companion took a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. It felt like heaven after a crazy few days.

Portofino is a place much talked about and it was absolutely breathtaking but once again over run with people. On top of that, the roads were so narrow we had a few very near misses so decided to hot foot it to Genoa.

Genoa on a Sunday was quieter than usual which suited us. We were still able to look at some of the historic sites. Porta Soprana dated back to the 12th Century and had quaint little cobbled lanes threading behind its walls. There was a bric a brac market where everyone seemed to be having a great time making fun of each other’s wares. We sat beside it and enjoyed a drink as some wandering musicians entertained us and then passed around the hat.


Once again we elected to escape the big city and booked into another quaint hotel – Hotel Italia in the town of Certosa Di Pavia. The rooms appeared to have a Spanish influence. Really high wooden ceilings and each had a staircase leading up to a mezzanine floor which housed a comfortable couch from which it was possible to view the stars through a little window in the ceiling. We were also pleasantly surprised to find another remnant of the Renaissance period in the form of a rather ornate monastery within walking distance. Perfect for a Sunday stroll on a balmy day. The weather was really kind most days.

Milan 2

Although we elected to stay in places that were away from cities, it was still marvellous to experience them. Milan – where even the suited men on bicycles managed to look like film stars; Verona – where the fatal Romeo and Juliet saga took place and then onto Maranello – the birthplace and home of the magnificent Ferrari. As soon as we entered the town and saw the white horse glittering in the square, we knew we were there. It was actually a dear little town.


Next was Bologna where we just had to have the mandatory big bowl of Spaghetti bolognaise and a bottle of Lambrusco. In every place we visited there were so many moments in history which never ceased to amaze us and it was with some sadness that we climbed the steep steps in our last port of call, Perugia, knowing that it was time now to head back to Rome. We did find on our way back that in fact all roads do not lead to Rome and got lost amid some road works.

I realise how fortunate I was to have a companion who was not only good company but also an excellent driver. It is certainly a benefit to be able to hire a car and enjoy the freedom it gives you.

Now it is back home and thankfully some work which will certainly help to pay some bills.

Recently there was an SAS article about having no regrets at the end of our day. A few years ago I thought my life was over, I had no idea of the joys that were ahead. Now I am gradually ticking off my bucket list and I’m glad I didn’t leave this one too late.


Have you ever visited these areas? Where’s your favourite place you’ve travelled?

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Lyn Traill

Lyn Traill is a very late bloomer and is grateful to feel she is being more productive now than at any other time in her life. Whilst still involved in corporate consulting, her real passions are writing and speaking. She has had a number of educational books published but ‘Sizzling at Seventy – victim to victorious’ was her first book for adults. Lyn’s mantra is that it is never too late to find your ‘fabulous’.

  1. I did enjoy my European trip, and was very surprised at the numbers of people doing something similar, it is a population on the move.

  2. Hubby and I are fortunate enough to travel O/S, (or anywhere for that matter, but O/S is way cheaper) for a couple of months/year. Neither can stand large crowds so we avoid them. We hire a car and a cottage and do day trips to areas around our accommodation. We have met some fascinating people, found some unusual sights all without the hassle of queuing, losing the other or just getting a glimpse of the attraction because of crowds. This is especially applicable in the USA where we avoid cities, shopping centres etc. You never know when some loopy gunman is going to cut loose over there.

    6 REPLY
    • We found this in Canada Anne in Oct/Nov – hired a car in Vancouver and went all through the Icefield Parkway (where all the tour operators go summer time) had no trouble seeing the attractions and able to take heaps of pics without the jostling – it was magnificent!!

    • Just finished 3 wks in sth France and 3 wks in Croatia with a river cruise in the middle. Went with another couple which cut accom and car hire in half.. Last year a month in Ireland and a month in sth of England. One trick I have picked up is to find out where the tours take you then follow the route if we want anything “touristy”. Certainly less expensive in the long run.

    • Not quite on the subject, but does anyone else think the “Trivago” adds saying they “know everything about hotels” sound like spies on hotel customers and seem like voyeurs, or is it just me?

    • We did a couple of coach tours in UK and Europe when we went on our first overseas trip, and while we enjoyed most of it, we really hated being in a coach with so many people, and everything was crowded and frantic. We now book all our trips online, hire a car and self catering cottages and find it so much more enjoyable. We can take our time and stay longer if we really like a particular place. The cottages are great, you get the whole place to yourself and can spread out, catch up with locals and it’s much cheaper in the long run because you can shop and prepare meals, and of course get up when you want to. Coach tours are great if you are not confident about driving overseas, but we’ve never encountered any problems.

    • We have never done any organised coach tours ourselves so far Jane, have done a couple of day tours while on holidays, which are good but hate the regiment of it all. We book all our flights, accomm on line, hire cars if needed and do a lot of research on line re things to see and do which has worked out well so far. Love the freedom of seeing and doing things at our pace. The internet is a wonderful thing.

    • Kris Drury You have written exactly what we (hubby actually) do. All done online, even visas. No stuff ups yet. Hubby has even been able to find business class fares at very low cost.

  3. I was in Italy in 1992 and loved it. Fast forward to 2006 and couldn’t believe how it had changed; so many more people, had to pay to get into some of the churches we had previously just wandered into. Both times was at the end of the season – September/October, so dread to think what it would have been like in July and August.

  4. Pick your time – if you go Autumn you miss a lot of the crowds during peak seasons for the tour companies – have found this when we have been to Canada and USA – still to get to Europe so hope that will be the same

    1 REPLY
    • The trouble with parts of Canada so much is only open for summer. We went to a lakeside town with nothing open, everything all locked up till the next season and it was only a couple of weeks into Autumn or Fall.

  5. I always try to go at the beginning or end of the tourist season. Have just had a tour of Portugal which was amazing ….tourist buses everywhere in Lisbon and the Algave but as soon as we moved north very few buses and the most amazing things. I also did a tour of Ireland and Scotland and found that few buses toured Northern Ireland which was wondrful and we stayed a night up in the top of the Isle of Skye……no 5 star hotel or other tourists but a simply wonderful place

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