This image has been sitting in my drafts folder for a long time. I had written the usual few lines but could not bring myself to press the “Publish” button somehow. This is one of my favourite photos of Siena, then why my reluctance to give it a place on my blog site? Then it hit me! Everytime I look at this photo, the face of my Tour Leader appears beside it!
Don’t get me wrong! I enjoyed my Europe tour immensely. I am just saying that this trip could have been so much more pleasant if our Tour Leader had not shown himself up to be such an inept, negative, lazy and jaded asshole!
Let me elaborate on why I use such strong terms.
From Day 1 at the airport, he made it clear to everyone that he didn’t want to go to Europe. He sounded angry and bitter with his tour company for assigning him to lead yet another tour to Europe! He had totally forgotten that while he may have gone to Europe many times as part of his job, it was a first time for many of us. We had been saving up and looking forward to the trip. He shouldn’t have taken out his frustrations on us.
During the tour, he hardly gave us time to look at our surroundings. It was always a hurried walk from Point A to Point B. It was stressful and energy-draining.
During the journey inside the bus, he did not volunteer any information on the towns we passed, nor draw our attention to any points of interest. It was clear that he was only going through the motions and crossing off the list in the tour itinerary. Is it too much to expect our Tour Leader to have at least some basic knowledge of the country’s local customs, culture and practices? It got to the stage where everyone was resigned to the fact that there was no point in asking, because he either did not know or did not want to share any information.
Upon reaching our destination, our Tour Leader was always the first to get out of the bus. But instead of waiting for everyone to come out so that we could walk as a group, he would already start walking. Too bad if you are not out of the bus fast enough. And if you happen to be sitting at the back, good-luck to you! By the time you get to come out, the Tour Leader is way in front of you – that is, if you can even see him! He was indifferent to the disparity in our ages – ranging between 4 years to 81 years old!
The 4-year old girl and her mother suffered from altitude sickness while we were at Mont Blanc. They decided to opt out of the tour to Jangfraujoch, Switzerland. At the time when this change of mind was made known, our group had not even made it to Switzerland, which meant that the Jangfrau train tickets had not yet been purchased. The audacity of our Tour Leader! He refused to refund a single franc from their CHF530.00 that he had collected three days earlier from the family. I was disgusted with his unethical behaviour! I bet he kept the money for himself!
I am not ashamed to admit that I was secretly smirking when our Tour Leader had to walk back all the way to Pisa to look for two members who had not showed up. If only he had done a quick count at Pisa before herding everyone to the coach (a 10-minute walk away), he would have known there and then that we were still short of two people!
Now back to this image and why the Tour Leader’s face always appears alongside it. During our walk into Siena, we had to go past a stretch of ancient brick walls with arched openings at certain intervals. I was curious to find out if there was anything behind those walls. I was hoping that the Tour Leader would slow down his pace and give us a chance to take in our “new” surroundings. No such luck!
Knowing that there was little likelihood that I would pass that area again, I walked up to one opening in the wall. I was delighted to spot a small, neat courtyard behind it. I took a snapshot and went to rejoin the group. I could not have been away for more than one minute. But the look on the face of the Tour Leader…you would think that I had killed his mother!
I don’t forget so easily. After this episode, I kept interactions with him to an absolute minimum, deliberately pressing his buttons whenever I got the opportunity.
My last “revenge” took place at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. It felt good, but that’s another story!