It is probably worth explaining that Julietours is the sort of travelling experience I am notorious for organising. If you want to travel first class and lie on a beach all week, speaking English to well-trained staff who anticipate your every need, I am not your girl.
If you like to pack as much as possible into hectic days of sightseeing, shopping and eating, stretching the budget by choosing cheaper hotels, home-stays and overnight train rides, you and I are on the same wavelength.
It’s not all as ghastly as it sounds – there is always time on a Julietours for a spa treatment, a cocktail in a world class bar, or the buffet breakfast at the best hotel in town, but (as daughters #1 and #2 would not hesitate to tell you) there are often days you can only laugh about later.
Classic Julietours Moment 1
We arrive on an overnight train in Hue as the sun rises, and although there is a hotel booked, the rooms are not available. Breakfast is a series of interesting local snacks at a street stall, followed by a rickshaw ride to explore the ruined Citadel. It is only 8am and daughter #1 is ready to kill me.
Classic Julietours Moment 2
We decide to go from Tokyo to St Petersburg without flying… midway through a 48 hour crossing from Osaka to Shanghai, we are hit by a typhoon. Daughter #2 plunges from the top bunk to the floor.
Classic Julietours Moment 3
Cuba, dusk is falling, we are sitting by the road with all our bags, waiting for a bus which is manifestly lost in transit. The ice cream fridge at the nearby truck stop contains only litter. Daughter #1, disgustedly kicking her way round the car park, scoops up tictac-like eggs from a baking hot wall into her bag. Days later, when she opens it next, out spills a clutch of baby lizards.
Classic Julietours Moment 4
The 61 Up, allegedly travelling overnight between Yangon and Bagan, has no glass in the windows, no fan, no table, but plenty of wildlife, and arrives 8 hours late, at sunset. Daughter #2 has insect bites which are already infected, the ‘taxi’ drivers refuse to haggle so we take the 8km ride into town sitting on mats in the back of a pick-up truck, stopping only to be fleeced in US$ for visitors permits. And then it starts to rain…