Over the years, our travels have been pinpointed with acts of kindness that have often made our trip – turning a sad or frustrating situation into one that has restored our faith in the world – so for this month’s travel linkup, all about kindness and making a difference in the world – and these are a few instances that rest in my memories.
I’ve worked professionally with a few charities, but not travelled as such to volunteer or make a difference (yet!) so I thought I’d thank a few people who made our trips infinitely lovelier by just being their kind selves.
That Polly Lady – Doha, Qatar
Last year I made the rather big, rather agonised over decision to serve notice in my office job and launch my own business as a freelancer in an industry that I had no professional experience in (just blog experience.) Instead of having an ‘Eat Pray Love’ holiday, I decided to skip out of the UK and enjoy 3 weeks tripping around the globe, resetting my soul as it were, via the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore on a solo holiday (unfortunately Mr Kiwi couldn’t come due to work commitments and feline complaints).
The lovely, lovely Polly kindly offered to take me in, and invited me into her Doha home where I spent the first few days of my newly found freedom relaxing…
…and generally making a nuisance of myself with her lovely expat friends at brunches, birthday drinks and hanging out in Sophia’s teepee when not floating in their pool. I’ve never really said this to her, but her kindness meant so much to me as I began to shake off the past few years of stress, and begin to adjust to my newest professional chapter. Kind of like a butterfly with 40’C heat stroke.
Hotel Concierge – New Orleans
We were greeted at our hotel check-in desk with a full serving of Southern hospitality that we came to adore in Louisiana. With old-fashioned brass bank teller’s glasses perched on his nose and a Southern drawl we could have listened to for hours, we chatted with our concierge who smoothly took our details, asking us about our plans over the next few days.
After exploring New Orleans, and taking in every note of jazz that we could, we happened to be road tripping up to his hometown – a tiny town up a few hours up the banks of the Missippi River. Giving us all kinds of local recommendations, he looked back down to the desk, considered his screen and after a moment’s pause looks back to us and says “well, as it’s your first visit to our city I do believe that I am at liberty to upgrade your stay here with us.”
It was the loveliest start to an intriguing visit – and his tips for our night in St. Francisville were absolutely invaluable insider knowledge.
“Would you like any recommendations of where to eat this evening? Yes? There is a beautiful family run restaurant nearby that is wonderful. Let me get you a printout with the name and address for L’Atelier 115 in Pessac. I can call them and book a table for you.”
An hour and a luxurious bath accompanied by a wine made on site later… “Ahhhh, you are going now to dinner? Wonderful! Wait, where is your car parked? Oh, no no no, you must not walk there – let me drive you.”
The housekeeper very kindly (and quietly tutting the whole way) drove us down to the gorgeous restaurant, exacting a promise from us that we’d get a taxi home – but realising that it was only a 10 minute walk, along a straight road passing grapevines shifting in the twilight breeze we snuck back on foot – all the while blessing her kindness. She even checked at breakfast the next morning that we got a cab…
Northern Lights hunting – Tromso, Norway
Gathered around their mini-van, us tourists all dresses in varying degrees of thermal gear were assessed from head to foot by our tour guide, experienced in dressing for the cold night in the Arctic circle. One by one we were given additional layers (I was the only person left to my own devices as I’d borrowed a marshmallow ski suit from a friend) and schooled in the art of knowing when we were getting cold. And to tell our Mum for the night, when we needed a boost of warmth in the shivering night.
Once we spotted the Northern Lights, we shuffled through the pitch black darkness to a Saami site where trade camps are pitched all summer long, to lay that fire and talk nonsense. No-one really spoke of the Lights, as if it was almost taboo. Our grinning hosts, one a gregarious Glaswegian, the other a no-nonsense Norwegian Mama whose brood seemed to include these ethereal flickerings, broke open a celebratory tin of Shortbread and Jaffa Cakes (“Aurora Jaffa Cakes” I was assured with a theatrical wink) and a wee dram of Whiskey to warm us from the tops of our heads, to the tips of our toes.
Tammy – Austin, Texas
Having decided to explore Austin as the first stop on our Texas & Louisiana road trip, one of the things that I really wanted to do was to catch up with someone who loves England almost as much as I do; Austin local, and fellow blogger Tammy. Picking us up from our cute AirBNB (initially with a couple of pats for our dog and pygmy goat neighbours) Tammy and her kids took us on a insiders tour of their city.
Not only did they share their views and experiences of this burgeoning city, but they took us on a tour which included some absolutely cracking Bar-B-Q at a place that only locals know about – and claims to be the worst in Texas. Well, if that keeps the tourists away, then we’re all for it. Not only do we still dream of the unctuous meat, but even the potato salad starts up our appetites when we think of it. Her welcoming kindness helped us fall in love with her city – in fact it made our trip.