Tuesday 5 November 2019

Paris and Other Disappointments

This book was totally a cover buy. Of course I've never been disappointed in Paris. Well, when I say never- sometimes a particular patisserie will be fermé on the day you go. That's disappointment right there. But that's a rookie error and you soon learn to check if where you're planning to go is randomly shut that day. 

Paris and Other Disappointments is a travel memoir. Adam's father, Tommy, was born in Germany, and came to Australia at age 2. Tommy had never been back. He would often comment "I'd bloody love to go to Europe". So one day Adam took his father at his word, and suggested a trip. Soon they were making preparations, and settling on an itinerary - Germany, France and London. Although you do have to wonder why his father wanted to go...
Though I struggled to find what he liked, I definitely knew what he didn't like. The arts were not for him, having never shown an interest in theatre, architecture, gardens, live music, painting, dance, literature, sculpture, poetry or history. I've never known him to go to a museum, probably because when you think about it it's just a 3D book that you have to walk around, and I knew where he stood on both books and walking. 
Well, I'm glad I won't ever have to travel with Adam's father. We wouldn't make good travel companions. I have travelled to Europe with elderly relatives, and it was great. But they were interested in all the things that Adam's father wasn't. Thankfully. It just took a bit more research, and asking the whereabouts of the l'ascenseur (lift), it's usually there somewhere, just well hidden. 
Even as we were first preparing for the trip, I knew finding things to do was going to become an issue. Not liking anything at all tends to eliminate possibilities at a fairly rapid rate, and a continent with such a rich history gave Dad an almost limitless supply of things to turn down. 
Adam was quite well travelled, and often travelled alone, but his family aren't big travellers. "To me it's a choice not to go overseas, because nowadays, with such cheap flights and accommodation packages available, it's so easy."
I'm not from a family of travellers. Mum and Dad both immigrated to Australia as babies - Dad from post-war Germany and Mum from India, where her father was stationed while serving in the British Army. It staggered me that, apart from my sister going to Japan on exchange in high school, 80 per cent of my family hadn't been overseas as adults. 
And Paris? They got off to a bad start. An overcrowded train from the airport into the city. Adam had booked a really bad AirBNB. No lift, and an absolute cesspit of an apartment. 
The bedrooms contained sheetlets mattresses, which in a past life must have been used to soak up spilled colostomy bags. 
Wow. You're never going to have a good stay anywhere you're staying in an apartment like that. 

Naturally, Adam explores the lure of European churches to the Antipodean traveller. 
I'm not a huge fan of either - of churches or paedophiles - and there's no way I'd ever visit a church in Australia expect for a wedding or christening.... In Europe churches have a magnificence that draws people into them, regardless of their denomination. I'm also more inclined ato have a look knowing I can leave whenever I want, without having to sit through my friends' self-written vows. I guess the ornate detail is also a drawcard, the churches decked out to show riches and wealth - effectively the casinos of their time. 
And so how did father and son get on? Pretty much like everyone who travels with someone. 
Life wasn't built for people to get along every second of every day. Overseas trips are worse, small annoyances heightened by the stress and expectation of travel, plus the close quarters, tension building like the single drops of water on the forehead of a torture victim. 
Adam Rosenbachs is an Australian comedian. His wasn't a name I knew particularly. Although he was a writer for Spicks and Specks so I'm sure I've seen his work. 


Brona said...

I watched Spicks & Specks pretty religiously & I don’t remember thus comedian either!

Nice work getting in a Paris book for #ausreadingmonth 😊

Brona said...

PS I added your link to my AusReadingMonth linky.

Louise said...

I think he was more a writer for Spicks and Specks, not sure if he was ever on screen. Yes, pretty good title for November - nonfiction, #ausreadingmonth and Paris to boot!