This might be one of the more personal blog posts I’ve written, so don’t be surprised if I delete it! I have a small confession to make.
Back in 2000 I travelled to Prague. Prior to the visit I had been to Holland on several occasions, France and Barcelona. It was my first coach holiday and the overland journey from Lancashire to the Czech Republic was arduous. I think I estimated it was 42 hours front door to hotel.
What surprised me was the heightened level of anxiety on the way to the coach station and I reached a point where I was hoping I’d miss the coach. Once on the coach the fear evaporated almost instantly and I had a tremendous holiday.
It was so good I booked another one when I got home. And a coach tour to Austria. And told everyone where I was going. . . .
A couple of months before the second Prague trip the anxiety started to kick in again and this time it wouldn’t stop. Anyone with a real phobia will know how debilitating the condition can be. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t think straight. Every waking moment seemed to be on the trip and some inexplicable terror waiting for me.
With about a week to go I cancelled everything: hotel, flights; lost about £500. I cancelled the Austria trip and lost a couple of hundred quid there too. And since then I haven’t booked another foreign trip.
I’ve wanted to travel to Europe for over fifteen years and this ridiculous phobia has clobbered me every time. Even now I can stand still in the evening and scare myself just by thinking ‘I’m going abroad tomorrow.’ But now I want to do something about it.
In June and July Helene Fischer will be on tour in Germany and I desperately desperately want to see her live. Tickets are from 75 euros upwards, return flight about £150, hotel costs about £350. But it’s not about losing the money, I couldn’t care less about the money. If I could get there I could get to Paris and Vienna and Monaco and Valencia and Budapest and Bamberg and Klontalersee, the Italian Lakes, the Bavarian Alps, the Norwegian fjords. (Not all at once obviously.)
I’m not scared of flying. I love flying. It doesn’t bother me not being understood; I get that all the time in England. Lost abroad, someone will help; ill, medical insurance. There’s nothing rational or real stopping me from travelling.
Transformation weekend? I’m going to buy a ticket. Haven’t decided which venue yet, but the Olympic Stadium in Munich would be spectacular and there are a lot of hotels around the Olympic Park. Nuremberg would be good for a day in Bamberg 30km away. (Getting ambitious now, but I know once I’m there I’d be okay.)
If in June or July you read a review of Helene Fischer live you’ll know it started here. I might even keep a running commentary going. It all sounds very self-indulgent, but who knows, there might be others who suffer a similar phobia, or others who might have overcome theirs. If I don’t do something about it I know I’ll regret it one day.