But zis is vhat you bought!

Two friends 60 plus travelling on their own through Europe. Strange things are bound to happen.



Early morning on the way to Florence Italy from travel2Beatenberg Switzerland.

We reach the train station in Interlaken with 10 minutes to spare before having to catch a train to Milan. I leave my friend with the bags and run to the ticket office to validate our ticket bought online.


The officer at the ticket office looks at the ticket and says in barely understandable english: “You vant to go by ze boat?”

It took me a few moments to process what he was saying before answering : “No the train”

“But zis is vhat you bought zis is for ze boat”,  he says

He shows me the word “shiff” hidden away in one corner of the ticket. My heart sinks and I think fast. Buy another ticket is the only option.

When asking to buy new train tickets he answers: “No is okay,  I vill change it for you but you must not talk ze train is coming”

So, although I have a million questions, I keep quiet.  His computer is agonizingly slow and I hear the train arriving outside.

At last he hands me the tickets with the words: “You must run ze train is leaving” and run I did.

We make it onto the train and sit down feeling relieved .

Then the funny side of the situation hits me as I recall the incredulous look and sound in the officer’s voice and face when I presented him with my online bought tickets. I wonder what my face looked like?

We travel to Milan where we have to change trains to Florence.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A few days later, another train station, this time in Milan. Our travels are coming to an end and we have to go to Lake Como for the last night of our journeIMG_1620y.                                     A simple 30 minute journey by train and we will be there. But it was not to be. On this morning the electronic system showing the platforms and times for departing trains malfunctions. Time goes by and no magic number to indicate the platform from which our train will depart appears on the system.

A metallic voice rattles off instructions in Italian of which we understand nothing. By the time we realize what the problem is, it is 5 minutes before the scheduled departure time of our train. We frantically ask people around us to explain the Italian only to be met by blank stares and shrugs of shoulders.

I set off to  find information at one of the ticket booths, weaving my way through early morning commuters, tourists laden with luggage and backpackers obscuring the view with their huge packs on their backs.

At last I find an official who can speak english, to hear again:” Platform 4 run the train is leaving”.

So  I run again shouting at my friend: ” Run platform 4!”

We run with our wheelie bags and as we run I feel my bag gaining momentum, pulling me along in stead of me pulling it along!

Out of breath we make it onto the train. I flop down completely out of breath and smile inwardly as I think what a sight we must have been,  Two 60 plus ladies both a little overweight, running with their luggage and jumping onto the train.                                        But it was not the end yet. Barely two stations further we are instructed to get off the train and change to another. Completely lost we try to find out which train and which platform would be the right one.


The only answer I  get from the officer is : “Non stresso, go Chiasso”

I understood it meant don’t stress but what Chiasso meant I didn’t know. Much later we understood we were meant to take the trainline in the direction of Chiasso.

Eventually we meet a friendly couple from Spain also travelling to Como who direct us to the right train. We reach Lake Como after a 5 hour journey. Here it is pouring with rain.Exhausted and hungry we find the first open cafe and sit down with our luggage still in tow.

When the rain eventually lets up we continue to our hotel where we are rewarded with this wonderful view from the window of our room.


Will I do it again?

Yes definitely, the joy of discovering new places far outweighs the difficulties encountered along the way.






Weekly Photo Challenge: Wanderlust,It Is All About the People

Wanderlust To travel is to see and experience new places  but above all  it is about discovering new cultures and how people live their daily lives. Nothing brings home the fact that I am far from home than seeing the difference in lifestyle

Parisiens relaxing in spring sunshine on Place des Vosges Paris 


Street vendors in Dar es Salaam Tanzania 


On the way to work in Venice Italy 


Chasing The Elusive Butterfly

IMG_2855He spots a butterfly. Runs towards it and tries to catch it. The butterfly flies away, with him chasing after it. Over and over he tries without success. He is my two-year old grandson.

But why? I ask myself while watching him.

Why does he keep on chasing the butterfly?

Does he think it can play with him?

Does he only want to touch it, feel it, experience its beauty?

Does he think holding it will make him happy?

Is he simply chasing it because it is a new experience?

As I watch him trying to catch the butterfly over and over again without success , it reminds me of people in general. Looking around me, I see people running and running trying to catch the elusive butterfly of happiness.

We chase after worldly possessions, new experiences, new relationships, new looks, in a never ending quest to catch the elusive butterfly of happiness.

But what does being happy mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary happiness is :

a state of well-being and contentment, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.

This seems to imply that being happy is a feeling, brought about by  the pursuit of pleasure, and the avoidance of pain.

A realistic goal? No.

This kind of happiness can only be found when all else is taken care of. In an ever-changing world filled with uncertainty, both economically, politically and emotionally, finding pleasure and experiencing no pain or negativity is truly like the elusive butterfly. It always sits on the next bush to be chased after, only to fail in catching it.

Life is never perfect and always harbours a surprise just around the next corner. Accidents happen, relationships come and go, health changes in the blink of an eye, economic status fluctuates without warning. All this  leave us gasping for air and wondering where happiness has fled to.

Being happy lies in finding the ability to be content no matter what the circumstances are. It is to smile when it is raining, to be grateful for the small things, to rejoice in every relationship which has meaning, to assist others less fortunate, to enjoy every day no matter what it brings.

The apostle Paul describes it in the following words:

I know what it’s like not to have what I need. I also know what it’s like to have more than I need. I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens. I am content whether I am well fed or hungry. I am content whether I have more than enough or not enough. Philippians 4 :12  

Above all life has taught me to be happy, is to know myself, to accept who I am and where I am to be content with my own companionship, for no one else is responsible for my happiness and contentment.

Writing this piece about happiness is to remind myself to stop chasing the elusive  butterfly of happiness, as it will always sit on the next bush.   To keep on chasing after it will cause more feelings of discontent and unhappiness. Therefore I will strive to find happiness and contentment in whatever life hands me every day.

What will you do?

Chase the elusive butterfly , or find happiness in what you have?