It was the holiday of a lifetime. For Brian and Doris Felch their dream had finally come true. Travelling all around the world with Arcane Tours, all inclusive food, drinks and luxurious accomodation. Paris, Rome, Delhi, Sydney, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, New Orleans and back home again in a week. A bargain for just £2,999 a head.
“This is comfortable,” said Doris, as they were shown to their seats on the air-conditioned coach in the Dover garage. “So much space.”
“Better be for what we paid,” said Brian, faux grumpiness disguising his love of the leatherette cushioning and introductory fizzy wine, beaming internally they had stumped up the extra for the front seats with the best view on the bus.
They departed on schedule after the last passenger had boarded, the giant 360° windows flickering into digital life, displaying the white cliffs of Dover floating past. Doris craned her neck back to see them disappear into the distance as they crossed the channel, a tear in her eye. “We’ll meet again,” she cooed softly.
For lunch they were served crusty baguette with strong smelling Camembert and Ham. “Ooh, I wish I’d packed the Branston,” said Doris, sniffing the pongy sandwich nervously.
“It’s all part of the experience love,” said Brian, secretly agreeing with her. “We’re global travellers now.”
That evening, as the lights of the Eiffel Tower twinkled before them, they dined on mussels and vin rouge. Only a few mouthfuls in Doris came over all queasy, so Brian manfully requested fish and chips for both of them instead. They were blooming good chips, although the Frogs always put too much vinegar on them.
They slept well that night, the seats reclined back almost flat, and awoke to a beautifully sunny day in Rome that shone brightly through the window. It was hot too, the air conditioning was on a lower temperature. Doris ate pasta, to live a little, while Brian had steak, although he wasn’t too sure about the cheese sauce. The rest of the week was a whirlwind of exotic sights and culinary adventure that opened up their world.
They experienced a mild dose of Delhi belly in India, but the Taj Mahal looked stunning through the pink LED glow of the front screens, and they were glad the safety of the bus kept notorious child beggars at bay.
“I wish I’d packed the camera, dear,” said Doris.
“Don’t worry love, they give us photos at the end with the package I booked,” said Brian.
“Oooh, you are clever my love.” They held hands.
In Sydney they both enjoyed classic pie and chips as the coach floated past the Opera House. “Even better than back home,” Brian remarked on the meal. He wasn’t so impressed with Ayers Rock, but at least it was one more to tick off the bucket list.
Turtle soup on the Galapagos Islands was certainly the place to drink it. The wildlife was as exotic as anything Attenborough could dream up. In Honolulu they were surprised by a traditional Hawaiian greeting as a tanned lady handed out colourful leis to all the passengers. Doris was over the moon they could keep them as a memento, although the heat was getting a bit much. The over head sun lamps burnt them both a little, but luckily Boris, their on-coach converge, guide and physician for the week, was on hand with some alco-wipes to refresh their pink skins.
Flying over America, Brian could swear the windows began to flash with the red light glow of pornographic imagery that night. “Just a bad dream dear,” said Doris, although they did snuggle a little bit closer over the arm rest.
Their new found passion led them to indulge in some gumbo in New Orleans as they watched a traditional jazz band. “I didn’t know you could have drive in concerts,” said Doris.
“Well, they’ve got the space over here haven’t they,” said Brian. “America’s a damn big country.”
By the time they disembarked at Dover again they were tired but invigorated by their epic voyage of discovery. “It all looks so different,” said Doris, blinking in the chill English wind.
“We’re seeing the old place with new eyes,” said Brian, in a rare moment of philosophical enlightenment. “But it sure is good to be home.”
“There’s no place like it.”