Two days remain of our trip, filled with breathtaking scenery, quaint villages, staff so helpful you wish they were relatives, and obscenely wonderful food.We've especially enjoyed the company of two other couples. We knew them slightly before, but have now solidified our friendship over dinners, cocktail hours, and touring. It's unusual for two couples to connect, never mind three.
But then like so many Edens, we have discovered a serpent.
Ann, one of our happy six, was ambushed last night by the gentleman under whose auspices our trip was organized. I wrote that in the passive voice for a reason. As far as I can tell, Tony's only claim to fame was gathering our names and money and sending both to a travel agent.
Most of our 21 person group is composed of married couples,and yet at the beginning of the trip when we boarded our plane we found that no one was sitting with his or her spouse. (Except of course Tony, who "organized" the trip.).
We told Tony of this issue, but received nothing in return except raised eyebrows. Thus, our three couples contacted the travel agent directly and now have been seated for the return flight with our spouses.
As I said, Ann, a woman much sweeter than me, was ambushed by Tony and berated for our group's proclivity for eating all meals together and socializing predominantly within our gang of six. Obviously, our solving the flight problem on our own (something Tony should have done) was the real issue and now we're dealing with the specter of Male Ego.
Since then I've been practicing speeches along the line of:
"Considering the amount of money we've spent on this trip, I expected to be able to choose with whom I eat dinner."
"At this age, I'm done with people instructing me how to behave."
"We've made several trips through you, Tony, and as a businessman, is it wise to make your clients feel uncomfortable?"
I should probably mention that among the rest of our 21-person group is a heavy smoker, a person determined to be the center of attention, a few remarkably clueless people, and a person who slogs around in a perpetual funk. And then there's our "organizer", who has a ready store of off-color jokes, all of which I've heard at least twice.
There. That was cathartic - I feel better now.
On a happier note, here are some scenes from Bratislava, Slovakia, an absolutely lovely little city.