IT’S not easy if you are scared of heights and the thought of sitting in a plane for hours on end frightens you, and this is the reason Rae Buswell of Shepparton had chosen never to fly.
But as the years went by, the yearning to see the world grew until she knew she would have to push herself to try it.
So, as a tester, she and husband, Gary decided to take a trip to New Zealand. Yes, it was nerve wracking but Gary was very supportive as were her friends. Those first steps onto the plane were agonising and then you’re charging down the runway and up into the sky. Once you’re up, there is little you can do but continue on and Rae was learning to fly.
With that under her belt, Rae wanted to see as much of the world as she could, so she booked an overseas holiday that would last for 55 days.
Her first stop was Dubai. Rae says it was a fascinating city but so hot. They went on a tour called ‘The City of Merchants’ and toured the old city with its mud brick buildings. They also visited the spice and gold souks. Rae and Gary found the heat was getting to them and they soon found out why. The temperature had reached 53ºC.
Leaving Dubai, they flew to Rome. That evening they went on a night tour and marvelled at the main sites all lit up. The next day they toured Vatican City, The Sistine Chapel, The Colosseum, and so much more and even took a side trip to Ancient Pompeii.
They had joined an Insight tour called Country Roads of Italy. Rae says they visited some very interesting towns and stayed in small family hotels, really seeing Italy from a different perspective.
The tour took them along the Amalphi Coast. It was wonderful, but very steep. Then on to the small town of Orvieto. They stayed with a local, family run hotel and had their evening meal at a local restaurant. It was really good.
They then travelled to Assisi and visited the church of St Francis, then on to Perugia. The town was the site of Roman ruins and because the site was on a steep hill the officials had installed a number of escalators to take you to the different levels. It was a fascinating place to see.
Finally arriving at the top of the hill, they were back in the town and were greeted by musicians taking part in a jazz festival. Everyone joined in and had a wonderful time.
Next was Radda, an old walled city. They took a bus to a nearby town and a fascinating restaurant with a normal façade, but as you entered the restaurant it was set among ancient Roman ruins. Dinner was a six course meal of local produce and the local wines flowed. It was a wow of a night.
They now moved on to Lucca, another walled city, and they stayed at a very stately old home. Their room was huge with wonderful antique furniture from a past era. The room had 14 foot ceilings and they felt right at home.
They continued their travels via Modena, the home of balsamic vinegar and stopped for a tasting. Aged for six years, the balsamic was very mellow and very tasty.
Next was Parma and a stop at a family run cheese factory. The farm took great care in the section of its cattle and Rae and Gary where shown a room filled with over 500 wheels of cheese worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It was time to leave Italy and move on to Venice. Their hotel was on a main canal and they used water taxis to get around. After seeing the highlights by day they took a night tour on water taxis, seeing Venice behind the scenes.
Now for a complete change of pace, they flew to Zurich. From the airport they travelled to Basel from where they boarded an eight day cruise on the Rhine to Amsterdam. Rae says their ship, the Avalon Waterways Tranquility II, was just magnificent and it was only the ship’s second voyage.
Rae and Gary had a wonderful time on the cruise, seeing many towns along the way. On reaching Amsterdam, they saw the canals and toured the city.
Now the next leg of their journey took them on a train trip to Paris. They just loved it and toured all the main sites and then on to Euro Rail to travel to London. The train was delayed for 55 minutes as refugees had to be cleared from the tunnel entrance.
They travelled to Bath, saw Stonehenge and experienced all the excitement of London. In Harrods they stopped by the watch counter. An attendant wanted to show them something and out came a beautiful ladies watch with a face made up of pink magnolias that opened to reveal the time. Rae wasn’t game to ask the price but the attendant told her it was only 800,000 pounds.
From London they journeyed to Edinburgh where the Tattoo was in full swing. Their hotel was at the foot of the hill that leads to the castle and they could hear the bands performing.
From Edinburgh they would travel to Belfast, but the only way to get there was by twin-engine light plane. Rae was given the window seat. It was a long way down but by now Rae felt quite safe.
In Belfast they stayed with a couple they had met in New Zealand after Rae’s first test flight. They had been one of the groups of friends who encouraged her to continue flying. It was a great reunion and they were shown all that the region had to offer during their stay. Finally they journeyed on to Dublin and after a short stay it was time to journey back home.
What had been the highlight? Rae says Italy’s country roads. And had being away for 55 days quenched Rae’s thirst for travel? Well actually no, so they are heading off again in July, but this time they are heading to Helsinki from where they will travel the Baltic States.
Rae would like to thank Tara from Lyn McNaughts Helloworld Travel Mooroopna for arranging everything and suggesting all the places they visited and for even arranging for a big bowl of flowers to greet them in their cabin on the cruise. But most importantly for encouraging Rae to learn to fly.
Until next time,