Before I start talking about my trip, I need to digress and get something off my chest.
I have many American friends – no, this isn’t about The Donald – whom I love dearly. They are funny, they are smart, they are great people. But I have learned that not all Americans are as wonderful as my friends, so I just have to ask – why on earth do they only let the totally moronic Americans travel outside of the country? Americans have a reputation for being nasty tourists – loud, rude, demanding – and truthfully, you far too often see that stereotype being perpetuated by American tourists.
Here are a few who really should have stayed at home…
We arrived at the hotel where we were supposed to check in for our river cruise. From this hotel we would be bused to the ship, and our luggage would be sent over ahead of us. It was lovely – a big room with tables, snacks and drinks, and a full view of the waterfront. We joined a harmless looking couple at a table. Her name was Dana, his name was Al, and we were told to remember them as “D’n’A” from Pittsburg. He had no sense of humour, the personality of a dead fish, and the social graces of a tarantula. She spent her time trying to overcompensate for his failings, becoming seriously off-putting in her efforts. We telepathically agreed to avoid this couple onboard.
We were joined by two ladies from Florida, both of whom seemed to be looking down their noses at everyone. Conversation turned to our flights and these ladies were horrified that we had actually flown Air Canada. Turned out one of them had flown Air Canada. Once. And would NEVER fly with them again.
Stephen: (puzzled) But why would you fly from Miami to Montreal to go to Paris in the first place? Wouldn’t it have been easier to fly out of JFK?
Florida Idiot: (as if speaking to a moron) Air Canada only flies out of Montreal. So I had to go to Montreal.
Stephen: But – (thinks better of it and changes line of questioning) So what was wrong with the Air Canada flight?
FI: They were LATE! (and she sat back in her chair, waiting for us to be appropriately shocked and horrified. We weren’t.)
Stephen: Late? Like, a day late?
FI: An HOUR late! We were an hour late leaving Montreal.
Stephen and I exchanged glances, not quite catching the point here. So a plane was late. Is that a reason to boycott the entire fleet? Stephen decided to pursue questioning.
Stephen: Why were they late?
FI: There was a STORM!
Stephen: A – storm?
FI: Yes. There was a storm and the plane left an hour late and I’ll never fly with them again!
Stephen: (turns to me) Sweetie, shall we go get more drinks?
And then there was the retired lawyer from North Carolina and his “travelling companion” from Philadelphia with whom we had the misfortune to sit during dinner our second night. We never did tell him Stephen was a trucker because he spent most of his available talking time ranting about some truck driver who turned down their street by mistake and in trying to get turned around to leave mowed down the lawyer’s mailbox and tore up his lawn. And the neighbour who saw it happen didn’t even think to get a name off the truck. I say “available talking time” because there was a young lady roughly in her mid-thirties at the table who worked for the State Department in Wahington and she monopolized the conversation. In short, she wouldn’t shut up. And she was loud! Her mom was sitting silently at the end of the table, obviously used to being talked over. We didn’t sit with them again.
But the icing on the cake occurred late in the cruise after dinner one night. We had met a lovely group of people, all from England, and had taken to sitting together for all our meals and traveling together on most of the excursions. We got along well and there were a lot of jokes and much laughter – often very loud – at our table. This didn’t seem to go over well with the ladies sitting behind us who hailed from Atlanta, Georgia. They seemed to feel it necessary to add the “Georgia” part just in case we were all too provincial to know where Atlanta is. These two ladies were true Southern Belles, all growed up. They say “Bless your heart” to your face and slice you to ribbons behind your back. After one particularly laughter-filled dinner we stood to leave our table just as they did theirs. Our friend Janet was trying not to back into them as she pushed her chair in, and the one lady said to her, “My, y’all were having a lot of fun tonight. I have to tell you, I always thought you Brits were all dull and boring.” My jaw hit the table, and Janet was quite rightly offended, and quickly snapped back, “Well, I guess you haven’t met the right kind of Brits then if you think we’re dull!” I felt like cheering for Janet. I mean, seriously? At what point did that lady actually think it would be acceptable to make a comment like that?
So here’s the plan, America….from now on, please keep these people at home and let the rest of the world see that you have some wonderful and delightful people by letting them do the travelling. Please?