Turbulence panic, wasp escapes, and a mild threat of wolves: My 2018 year in travel

As 2018 draws to a close, lots of people are looking back at the last 12 months and sharing the lessons they’ve learnt from this year in deep and meaningful blog posts. I was going to do this too, but then I did a Twitter poll asking if people would like to read this sort of thing or some of my funny/hapless travel stories from the year instead and the latter won by a landslide. I couldn’t let the 8 people who voted down, so here we go, in chronological order, some of my favourite travel tales from 2018. Enjoy:

1) Losing my shit (literally)

In April I went on holiday with my best pals to Portugal for two weeks of sun, sea, cocktails and naps. Towards the end of the holiday we decided to go on a boat trip along the Portuguese coast, which was all fun and games until our tour guides started offering out cups of free Sangria which of course I accepted despite it being 10am and the only thing I had consumed so far that day. Towards the end of the tour they told us to finish our drinks so I tipped my head back, forgetting I had a hat on to protect my poor ginger scalp, and it flew off into the sea. I was absolutely fine with ignoring the ridiculous situation I had created and pretending nothing had happened (classic life manoeuvre) but our tour guides were absolutely buzzing at the opportunity to launch a rescue mission and spent the next 20 minutes circling around my capsized bonnet with a massive hook like some mad fairground game while I shouted WILSONNNN at it, my friends quietly facepalmed in the corner, and the other people on the boat muttered something about bloody tourists. Good times. Here he is post recovery (I wasn’t allowed to hold it again until we got back to dry land):

2) ‘I think I might be dying’

Anybody who has ever flown with me knows that I am not a good flyer. At all. I am low key terrified of each stage of the flying process that involves being in air, which is quite a lot of time. This is made even worse by the fact that I spend a lot of time flying out of/into Leeds Bradford Airport, which is the highest airport in the UK and EXTREMELY FUCKING WINDY as a result. Every flight I was on this year took me back to the time I flew back from Dublin and tried to distract myself from some light turbulence by reading my book but was instead met with these very reassuring words on the first page:

3) Threat of wolves

We saw this in the newspaper a week before going to Berlin which was very funny but also slightly terrifying:

4) How to survive an existential crisis

This summer I went backpacking across Europe on my own for a bit and my first stop was Berlin. After landing at the airport I hopped onto the U Bahn to go to my hostel and it was quite a long journey so I decided to get my book out and have a read to pass the time. It was a new book that I’d bought specially for the trip called ‘How to Survive the End of the World’ by Aaron Gillies who you might know from Twitter by his handle @TechnicallyRon. Anyway, after a few minutes of reading I could see a German guy sat opposite me out of the corner of my eye tilting his head towards the cover of my book every so often. Eventually I looked up and caught his eye and he told me, deadly serious, that Berlin wasn’t that bad and that I didn’t have to worry about an impending apocalypse. My GCSE German skills didn’t quite prepare me for reassuring strangers about existential dread, so I just let out a nervous laugh instead and put it away til he got off while trying to look chirpy.

5) Dresden night tour experience

My next stop was Dresden and I spent one of my days with another English solo travelling girl who I had met on a free walking tour around the city. After spending a lot of money on food and escaping some angry wasps (see below) we decided to sign up for a free night tour that was happening later that day. We met at the starting point along with half a dozen other people and were met by a very energetic guide who proceeded to give the most memorable tour I’ve ever experienced. It included a brief warning about technology and fake news while we were stood in a field, a bit of random spontaneous role play in the middle of a busy street, and some mysterious drinks that I’m pretty sure were about 97% alcohol judging by the state of my head the next day. I also couldn’t really understand what he was saying during the whole thing and spent most of the tour wondering if it was actually happening or if I was just having a weird dream. In conclusion, it was definitely worth the money.

6) Getting held hostage by wasps

One of the side effects of this summer’s heatwave was an increase in the number of wasps and I managed to bump into a lot of them when I was in Europe, resulting in some very embarrassing (and very public) moments that I’ll probably think about every night for the next 50 years when I’m trying to get to sleep. These moments include asking a Chinese waiter to check in my bag that I’d kicked across the floor to see if two wasps were still in there and fully diving to the floor halfway through checking in to a hostel while yelling BLOODY HELL in my very Yorkshire accent that apparently gets stronger when I’m scared of flying insects.

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