Travel: Your holiday disaster

Ian Sanders discovered that Basil Fawlty is alive and well and living in Austria
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The Independent Travel
THIRTY-SIX hours before the wedding, our honeymoon flights were changed from 6pm on Sunday to 6am. The reception was due to end at midnight 100 miles away and we had no car. A kindly relative stepped in to sort it all out: we were given two tickets for the "midnight express", the bus that goes to all of the airports, one by one. We had nothing to spare for a hotel, so we bedded down in the concourse at Heathrow for the hours left until check-in time.

We arrived at Salzburg and joined another bus, which herded us to a tiny and dull Austrian village, only to be transferred yet again. Hungover, hungry, tired and decidedly snappy, we were the only passengers with an annoyed tour guide, who promptly tried to sell us day trips. We pretended to be asleep, which was not a good idea on those churning mountain roads.

Following a tedious journey we arrived at our hotel. We presented ourselves to Herr Fawlty who said: "Your room is not ready. Go away." We turned to the rep, but she had disappeared. For two hours we slumped by the lake, watching the rain clouds gather. Finally, we got our room with a view of the lake, a balcony of dripping geraniums and, presumably, the mountains on the other side of the rain.

After a refreshing sleep and some of the champagne thoughtfully provided by our friends, we hurried for dinner. We were late. Herr Fawlty took us to our seats where we faced the ultimate horror. Two more crystal-eyed honeymooners looked up at us. "You are sharing table here. There is nowhere else." It shouldn't have been so bad, but it was. Perhaps it was a personal space thing. Of course none of us was so rude as to say that this was an unsatisfactory arrangement. We tried ignoring each other, but we were all just too horribly polite. Of course their flights hadn't been changed, had they?

The rain stopped five days later and we went walking. Several hours later we returned, dripping like two otters. Herr Fawlty smiled, handed us our key and two spa tokens. "On the house," he said. The next morning the sun streamed through the curtains, the scent of geraniums and steaming boots filling the room. My wife hates the smell of geraniums and reached for the inhaler. I rose to shut the window and realised that I had burned my feet in the sauna.

Our friends are horrified that we have trouble remembering where we spent our honeymoon. But there was one blessing. We swore always to travel independently and we have never looked back.

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