Sunday, September 2, 2012

Polystyrene floats too, of course

So, three things came together today: the strong, blustery wind blowing away all the cobwebs and also the moulded polystyrene that misguided householders are putting out today for next week's inorganic collection (They don't take polystyrene, people! It's going to blow down the street and end up wedged in a bush till kingdom come! Don't do it!); my new glasses, which may not be a total success since they're making me cross-eyed when I read, which isn't the aim, I believe; and a story by my colleague Angela in the Sunday Star-Times about one day on our Rhone cruise, when we toured Arles, went to Les Baux and visited an olive mill.

The connection is the wind, which in France was the Mistral blowing icily from the north down the river valley, and so strongly that it whipped my glasses off my face and sent them bowling merrily over the cobblestones of pretty little Les Baux, perched on its hilltop. The glasses had already been broken, by me trying to straighten a bent arm/leg/wing after sleeping on them on the flight from Abu Dhabi, and instead snapping it right off, so that I had to wear them from then on as a kind of pince-nez, which made me feel silly and - rightly, as it turned out - insecure. That was back in mid-April, and I only got my new glasses yesterday, which is a long time to walk around behind a screen of scratches (though I did get a new arm a week later, for FREE! in Lyon).

That was also the first full day on the boat, Uniworld's River Royale - my stories have yet to be published, but I've been doing my best since then to sell the concept of river cruising to anyone who will listen, and was enthusing about it just yesterday at a party. I pretty much always enjoy all my trips (Macau and the Gold Coast are the stand-out exceptions) but the two river cruises I've done, along the Rhine and the Rhone, were both so exceptionally and completely lovely that I'm wondering already how I could wangle myself another. So much to enjoy: great food, comfortable cabins/suites (even if not huge), excellent friendly staff, unpacking only once, always having something to look at, and being deposited every time right in the centre of the towns and cities we visited. It's a brilliant way to travel, truly: not cheap (so I'm told, cough) but really worth treating yourself. Do it!

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