Don’t you enjoy that feeling of the uplifted spirit that you experience when you have booked and confirmed the last of your flights and tours for an overseas trip? You know, the one that is closely followed by “Thank God for credit cards!”
The excitement and anticipation associated with international travel is especially strong for Australians. Our country is a long way from Europe, the Americas, northern Asia and Africa. A case in point: for our trip to Europe earlier this year, 30 hours elapsed from when we locked our front door to when arrived at our hotel in Paris! Not that we’re complaining but the logistics do make up quite a project, even with the help of a competent travel agent.
Anyway, Maggie likes few things better than a travel project – you should see the folios she compiles – and, last night, she put the final jigsaw piece in place – a flight from Dubrovnik to London – for a month overseas in September/October next year. We will fly to London and spend a few days there before taking a week-long Insight Vacations coach tour of some of the sights of England, Scotland and Wales. Then we will fly to Zagreb to join another Insight tour, mainly of Croatia, including several nights on that country’s Adriatic coast. The flight back to London will give us the opportunity to catch up with faraway friends over dinner at a renowned restaurant, Bibendum, before we head to Singapore for a three-day stopover on the way home to Melbourne.
Meanwhile, we will continue to explore various corners of our home state, Victoria.
Our next trip will take us to the north east, with two nights in the King Valley and two nights in the Kiewa Valley. The area around these two districts is renowned for its beautiful scenery, winter ski fields and summer bush-walking. I have fond memories of hiking in the high country in my ‘teens; Maggie has not-so-fond memories of frequent visits to the ski slopes in her 20s and 30s, which left her with permanent damage to a knee.
But I digress.
Over the last 25 years or so, the region has also become highly regarded for its wines and fresh foods, as well as restaurants that do fine things with the local produce. Much of this activity has evolved from the long-established presence of Italian migrants and their descendants, reflected in Italian grape varieties and the farming of chestnuts, goats and the like.
We will head off next Tuesday, the first Tuesday in November, Melbourne Cup day, a public holiday in Melbourne and an opportunity for many citizens to take Monday off and make a long weekend of it. So, there will be only light traffic for our journey and the hotel rooms that were fully booked from Friday evening to Tuesday morning will be freshly cleaned for our arrival.
Travel and food stories will ensue.