Loving Ibiza, and Paris, and Amsterdam…
Island in the Sun
We love Ibiza. We spent several months there 26 years ago, and the last six or so weeks working in a hotel bar called ‘The Gringo’ one night a week for fifty quid. This money had to feed and house us for the entire week. We had no PA or microphones and had to work cold. We got free beer so we’d arrive at the hotel at 11 o’clock in the morning and drink, swim in the pool and get dizzy.
We didn’t plan it this way, obviously; Bob was offered a gig in a bar there and I was going over for a three-week holiday once he got settled. His job was cancelled (long story – one guy got ‘sacked’ seven times in one season – it’s a funny business…) but not until after I got there. Then, thanks to the guy he was sharing the apartment with, we were left with nowhere to stay. I couldn’t leave him there on his own even though he tried to talk me out of staying, so we worked out a programme of songs and went off to find work.
This was the first time we’d worked together: I’d never really sang for Bob because I hadn’t worked as a singer for a long time (since I was 15-16) and he was a professional musician. Thought he might not like my voice, and I wanted only to impress him. We’d only been together about eight or ten months at this stage.
It sure was an adventure. We’d been playing the Gringo for a fortnight to a crowd of Irish punters which was grand because we knew what they’d like to hear and we had great fun with them, and then one night came in and there was a bunch of Belgians looking at us, arms folded, waiting for the entertainment to start. One bloke asked for the song ‘Get the Belt from Around Your Head’. Tookus a while to realise he meant ‘Take the Ribbons from Your Hair’…
Over twenty years later we returned for a holiday. And another, and another. But we’ve never been back to San Antonio – went to Ibiza town and later Santa Eularia, nice and quiet and very beautiful. There is a cactus in San Antonio with our initials carved into it, though, and I’d like to see that again.We’d love to live there someday.
Paris ~ two weeks in the City of Light
Can’t remember what year it was but we both wanted to go to Paris, and we went in August. ‘There’ll be nobody there!’ commented one obviously experienced traveller when we mentioned our plans, but their fears were unfounded… And it was the most amazing two weeks: what a city, what food, what pleasant people.
Everybody was so friendly. I didn’t do French at school but had my phrasebook and used it every chance I got. Bob seemed quite at home – well, he had been there before – but he has a natural saunter and could easily have been a boulevardier in another life.
The weather was magnificent for all the time we were there, and on the day we visited Versailles there were at least two people carried off in ambulances due to sunstroke.
The day we went to the Louvre it was closed but it didn’t matter (Bob says the Mona Lisa is over-rated…) The hotel we stayed in was close to the river in the Theatre district but lovely and quiet, and had little shops and a bakery nearby where we’d pick up bread, cheese and really good wine. Every night we tried a different restaurant. But the best night was the cruise on the Seine. It was so Parisian, and – unusually for him – Bob did everything that was romantic: bought me a rose before we boarded, danced after dinner – I thought he’d gone a bit mad but it turned out he was enjoying himself. It was a magical night: the Eiffel Tower was sparkling theatrically as we disembarked and we were dizzy with happiness.
Quite wonderfully, my brother Gerard and his wife Beatrice came to meet us, they drove from Cologne and we had a great couple of days with them discussing the meaning of life. It was a chance for them to get to know Bob and I think we all had a good time. We certainly laughed a lot. Beatrice is very charming and attractive, and Gerard is a little eccentric (like his little sister) – all qualities that Bob appreciates. Gerard is also a musician so he and Bob have that in common.
Amsterdam ~ last but not least
The first time we went to Amsterdam in December 2008, we booked three days in the Amstel, a beautiful 5-star hotel which overlooked one of the many canals and had enormous stained-glass windows. It had been the corporate headquarters of several shipping companies and a fabulous art deco theme ran throughout the building.
I was on my knees with ‘flu or something quite virulent. And it was minus 4 degrees – we weren’t prepared for that. Dublin, when we were leaving, was about 10 degrees and very comfortable. We were freezing. So off we go to buy clothes. Bob gets a big thick navy jumper but all I could find was a tee-shirt which I wore under everything. Of course we got the hats – see pictures – but to try to do anything outside of a building was almost impossible.
First night there I woke in this huge bed, couldn’t find Bob and floundered around until I made contact with his back somewhere east of me. Huge relief. Was hallucinating a little, I think, as I had a temperature (and as yet no opportunity to sample any of the wares of Amsterdam), and felt dreadful, so ran a bath and lay there reading my book until I thought I could sleep again. Climbed back into the enormous bed beside a fast-asleep Bob until the morning.
We decided to do the river bus tour and that was a lot of fun, even though I was as sick as a dog. We got off every now and again to sample aforementioned wares and one day decided on an Irish restaurant for our lunch (can’t remember the name). The place smelled of sewerage, the menus were sticky and the entire place looked filthy. We rapidly exited.
The buildings were all decked out for Christmas – we got there on the 28th of December – and they looked so gorgeous. We particularly loved their light fittings: all types of lamps and chandeliers, plentiful and stylish.
One evening we decided to clean out the mini bar as it was complimentary and I thought I’d order some room service. It was like wading through mud: the guy at the end of the phone didn’t seem to understand anything I said and we were baffled at this. At that point Robert was coming down with a chest infection (which later laid him flat) and both of us were weak with the cold.
At the airport on the way home I had begun to rally but Bob was very sick. Luckily I found these loungers (Dublin Airport take note) where he slept for about two hours before our flight. By the time we got home he was very ill indeed and ended up on antibiotics. Then we discovered he was allergic to penicillin as he got violently ill on it.
One of the highlights, though, was the day Bob bought me my first digital camera. It was very funny but you’d have had to be there – and have been taking cold medication and another things…
Then, in May 2011, we went back to a small comfortable hotel right beside the train station for five days and had a wonderful time. It rained a lot but it was mild and we found a lovely little supermarket with chandeliers (that’s the way to do it) where we could buy a 6-pack of Heineken and a bottle of wine for about 8 euro (again, Ireland take note – Jeez!).