x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The appeal of solo travel

With a knack for attracting eccentric types, walking might be the best way to travel

I'm not good with public transport. Or, should I say, rather, it is not good with me. No matter my location (be it in Glasgow or meandering along Sheikh Zayed Road), the time of day, or even the mode of getting from A to B, fate always decries that I end up sitting next to the person who stuck Play Doh up their nose when they were young.

Essentially, it has come to my attention that I attract eccentric people like nobody's business.

Flying back to Abu Dhabi from my most recent holiday, a long weekend spent in Jordan, it didn't go unnoticed that the portly gentleman sitting next to me had decided to spend the entire three-hour journey sporting a pair of plastic gloves. Sure, planes are a regular hotbed for germs (or so the scaremongers say), but unless my hygiene-loving neighbour was about to encase himself in a hermetically sealed oxygen tank, those gloves were going to do nothing.

Then again, I also remember the time, many years ago, when I found myself sitting next to a sweet-looking old lady on a long-haul flight to Toronto. Taking note of her purple rinse and book of crosswords and puzzles, I let out a sigh of relief that I'd landed such a perfect travelling partner.

How wrong could I have been.

Barely had the plane achieved lift-off before she decided that the best thing for me and the other 200 or so passengers on board would be a concert: that is, we were treated to her singing - with her very off-key voice - the soundtrack to Grease.

But it wasn't until a recent journey from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, on the bus, that I realised just how much worse a situation my unwelcome skill could create. On my way to an interview, my journey was continually interrupted by the woman to my left. Having spent the majority of the drive tutting loudly, unhappy that the poor driver was so stupid as to stick to the speed limit, she eventually tipped over into even more extreme territory. Wanting to get off the bus before it reached it's final (and only) stop, my companion decided the best way to negotiate with the driver was to scream in his face, before ordering him to stop upon pain of death. To his credit, he just kept on driving.

Still, given my track record, possibly the best idea would be to take up walking, and stick to destinations I can reach by foot.