Dave Harcombe is recovering from an operation and looks back at some very special memories.
Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island is very special. Olde-worlde buildings yet bang upto date Canadian values and charm.The cruise ships are in today, as we sit on the boardwalk overlooking the harbour. Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth looks magnificent as always.
“I Am I Said” by Neil Diamond is playing on the sound system. His music has had more impact on me than any other artist. Sharing mum’s birthday his songs truly have formed the soundtrack to my life. Memories swim through me like dreams. And this “frog who dreamed of being a King” is still trying to become one.
Appetite satisfied once again. Where to now?
Fantasy travel is great, I am beginning to enjoy it. Calm down Dave don’t get carried away – only a few hours left. Let’s enjoy what’s still to come.
The Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg is my favourite museum. Who would believe that such a dour brick building and scruffy entrance would lead to such a magnificent display of miniature worlds, all so elegantly crafted. It’s such a hands-on museum and that’s its winning charm. Buttons to press everywhere. The working airport is a work of art.
Into the time machine once again. Destination England. Harrogate, Yorkshire – not too far from home. Betty’s is a Yorkshire institution especially their afternoon tea. Quintessentially English service from a bygone age. A crust-less sandwich, English tea, mini cakes. I almost swoon at the macaroons. A piano tinkles in the background. A finish with a Fat Rascal and lashings of butter. Oh so good! I think I have had a little too much – feel a bit queasy now.
Is there a more perfect city than Lucca, Italy? No I don’t think there is. Atmospheric, romantic sensual. Endless delights at every turn. The essence of Italian life encapsulated within the walls. These battlements have not been tested since being built in the 16th century. I’m cycling these walled fortifications peering into the gardens and lives of thee wonderful people who live in this terracotta roofed city.
I have sent the good Doctor to Bruges to bring back some French, oops Belgian, fries. And some chocolate too. He shouldn’t be too long. Cycling doesn’t half make you hungry.
The rib-eye steak in Koa, Palma, Mallorca is fantastic. The warm air from the narrow street permeates inside. At the table the atmosphere is even warmer. I sat here with my two favourite travel writers, Bill Bryson and Michael Palin. Both have brought the world closer to millions through such wonderfully descriptive writing, with humour, often tongue in cheek. Where would the world be without humour? – sterile and monotonous.
These two guys kindled my interest in writing many years ago and I yearn to be as good as them. Ah well, maybe in the next life.
I reflect on family and friends I have lost. Loved ones who have left an indelible mark on me and my family. “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” indeed. Where is Michael Ball when you need him?
We decide not to finish the meal with a coffee but walk to Cappuccino, our favourite cafe in Palma. Overlooking the marina it is a gorgeous spot to share life with the locals. Thankfully most can speak English. And the coffee is amazing too.
The annual concert by Andre Rieu is in full swing. In Maastricht now where the home grown lad is creating musical magic. The iconic Vrithof square is a perfect spot for a concert. Bars and cafes line the square packed with people enjoying life.
Just in time to dance The Blue Danube with Babs. Success, I manage not to tread on her toes this time. And now a surprise. Guest singer Michael Ball takes to the stage. I told you, it is my fantasy. “Love Changes Everything” and it really does. Give it a go.
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen opened in 1843 and it is to here I travel for my final destination. But first just a quick check on The Little Mermaid. Sitting forlorn cold and naked. But no goose bumps though. Tonight she still has got her head. There seems to be an unusually high number of mermaid decapitators in Scandinavia.
Over 100,000 lanterns waft in the breeze, dangling from trees, illuminating the beautiful gardens and rides. Laughter and pleasure on all faces – young and old. So where better to see out the last hours of my magical carpet ride trip. Thank you Doctor. Thank you darling Babs. It’s been a blast. And I’m eating the biggest ice cream this diabetic dare eat.
It is midnight now. The rides are silent and the fireworks in full explosive swing. Music and gunpowder in perfect harmony. And the song?
“What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.