All Elyn Aviva wanted was a quiet, peaceful vacation in a rented cottage in Penzance, Cornwall. Noise, traffic, and a lack of privacy was what she got instead. Ready to call it quits and return home, she creates a mental trick that helps her to endure. Until it doesn't.
by Eric Lucas
Who needs ice at 3 in the morning?
No one. But that didn’t stop the ice machine out in the hall from heroically performing its appointed rounds, manufacturing fresh delectable ice in a steady, cacophonous landslide for all those hotel guests who simply have to have martinis at vampire time. It was 3:12am. The relentless clatter of cubes into basin sounded like the dwarves of Moria hammering orc swords. Clack. Thwark. Thunk.
That’s what it seemed like to me, jet-lagged and testy after flying into San Francisco from Vienna. It’s a long way. You cross nine time zones, and when you arrive your “day” has stretched nine extra hours.
All I wanted was a quiet room. Peaceful sleep.
Quiet is the ultimate travel luxury, the almost unattainable Holy Grail of journeying through the 21st century. In airports you will listen to CNN or Kenny G whether you want to or not; if you do find a corner that has escaped Orwellian electronic coverage, that’s where Nadia Sulaiman is changing the diapers on all eight of her brood. On the plane, unless you’re in first class, Dennis the Menace is practicing soccer on your seatback; if you are in first class, you’re right behind two robber barons gobbling Bloody Marys at 8am and planning a leveraged take-down of Amalgamated First Second National Global Savings & Loan. If you buy noise-canceling headphones, you discover that they cancel only ambient noise, thus magnifying conversation.