Thoughts about getting older

I’m getting old(er).

I recently celebrated a big birthday (you know, one of those with a zero on the end), and we moved our annual holiday back a bit so we could celebrate my birthday in the sun.  Corfu, actually.

It’s been a rough year: I had a nasty virus which kept me off work for 6 weeks, and when I went back I was on a ‘phased return’ – which meant I only just managed to get back to my full contract hours the week before the holiday; there was also a bereavement which I won’t talk about here. (Most of you know about this already, anyway.)
Consequently, I was really feeling my age before we travelled, and was in great need of some rest.

The airport we used is a good 2-3 hours drive away from home, and the drive was tiring.  Very.  And we planned the trip to allow for hold-ups, so we arrived at the airport four hours before the plane was due to take off – and then it was delayed by two hours.  So, in all, if you count the time sat at the airport waiting, our travel time was around 15 hours.

We arrived at 3 in the morning, local time, and went straight to bed.  Next day, we were both zombies, and did nothing beyond eat, drink, and lay around.  My partner at the pool, me in our room avoiding the sun.

My partner was making use of a rollator (a walking frame with brakes, and a seat, allowing the user to stop and rest when needed), while I was tiring easily, and aching all over.  We moaned about the food (always cold); the distance from the sea, the quality of the hotel (we booked a 4-star; and got a 2.5 star); and we discovered that one of the two excursions we had booked and paid for was actually on a ‘party boat’ – loud music, lot’s of drinking, and highly active – which started before breakfast and ended after dinner was finished, meaning a day without food unless we bought it on the boat.  (We were on an all-inclusive holiday, and had not budgeted for meals.)

Getting old sucks.  Everything is harder to do, except spend money.

Our other excursion took us around the island to view the highlights, and they were great – if you could get to them.
We visited a Kumquat distillery, and sampled their products, which was nice.  But we had to walk to get there.
We went to a café that overlooked Mouse Island, which was nice.  But we had to walk…
We stopped at Paleokastitsa for an hour or two, so we could buy lunch, visit the monastery, or laze on the beach.  Only the monastery was up a hill, the restaurant was so crowded there we no room to get the rollator through, and the sandy beach had nowhere to sit and the rollator wouldn’t roll across it.  So my partner sat on the rollator, while I stood, on the path overlooking the beach, in the shade because it was almost forty degrees.
On the excursion, we also visited the Achilleion Palace.  In itself, it was lovely – and most of you will have seen it without realising it, as it was one of the locations in the Bond film ‘For your eyes only’.
But, there was a lot of walking.  And a lot of staircases…
And this was a trip for those with mobility issues!

We took a trip on our own, too.  We used the local bus to go into Corfu Town, and wandered around the shops in the narrow back streets – which was the whole reason we chose Corfu in the first place.
But yes, we did a lot of walking, in forty degree heat.  And the bus was crowded by the time we got on it – standing room only.

All in all, our age and health issues were making this far from restful.

But…

In the Achilleion Palace, as we approached the grand staircase, our tour guide quietly took us to one side, and led us to a hidden lift – so while our group had to walk down the crowded stairs, we rode down in tranquillity and were met at the bottom by the guide, who led us back to the group.
Once the tour was over, and we had a little free time before returning to the coach, the guide sought me out again, and told me of an easier route back to the coach, avoiding some steps.

And on the bus into and back from Corfu Town, the crowded bus with standing room only, my partner and I were both given seats: on the trip in, the young man who gave me his seat then spent the entire 2o minute journey holding the rollator to stop it falling over.

At the airport, at both ends, we were taken aside, then transported to the plane in what I can only describe as an elevator on wheels: It was a good size room, capable of taking 15-20 wheelchair bound passengers, which you walked into at ground level, and which then drove you to the plane before rising up and docking with the door on the plane – so you just walk/roll straight on board without having to use the steps.
We were the last ones off the plane, as we were asked to wait – but we were then taken by the mobile elevator to the airport, where we were escorted to the front of the queue at passport control and customs.  Last off the plane, first to get through!

Maybe getting older isn’t so bad after all.



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