“Err… don’t you have any warmer clothes?”
The pair of tourists looked at me in confusion.
“It’s freezing outside,” I said, indicating my coat, boots, scarf and gloves.
“But we only brought summer clothes.”
“What ever gave you that idea?”
It was the middle of the Greek winter in Athens, with the temperature hovering around five degrees Celsius (14°F) one miserably cold morning.
“But the brochure shows blue skies and sunshine.”
“Yes – in summer. But this is winter!”
I led them outside to the waiting taxi. The're just going to freeze their butts off, I thought, zipping myself up against the morning frost.
I was amazed by the regular sight of under-dressed tourists, erroneously anticipating glorious sunshine during their brief visit to Athens. Not likely, with biting winds pushing the chill factor closer towards zero.
These naive tourists either didn’t read up about the places they were visiting, or they were grossly misled by their travel agent. I suspected it was a combination of both factors.
I, on the other hand, never travelled anywhere without my well-read guide book, meticulously highlighted and dog-eared at appropriate pages, such as average temperatures, what to wear and recommended vaccinations.
Be prepared, is my motto. Although I confess I’ve been embarrassingly caught out in the past, like the time I returned home from Peru or the day I went bushwalking in Sydney...
Not too hot, not too cold
April-May is the best season here on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast: We’ve farewelled the rainy season and high humidity and the evenings are comfortably warm.
We’ve been blessed with sensational sunshine these past couple of weeks, although a chill has started to creep into the air. It’s time to rummage for warmer clothing.
Winter is fairly mild up here, and that’s why I love living on the Sunshine Coast. While we’ve got balmy weather most of the time, I’m temporarily discomforted by the intense humidity or accumulation of mould on furniture and clothes during the rainy season; but they’re minor irritations compared to the rest of the year.
Besides, there are worse places to live.
I’ve always been a temperate climate type of person. I don’t like extreme heat and I especially don’t like the cold; which is amusing, as I’ve lived in, or travelled to, several cold locations over the years, including:
• Goulburn (about an hour before Australia’s capital Canberra in the Southern Highlands of NSW)
• Larisa, Greece (-20°C or -4°F)
• Karuizawa, Japan (-12°C or 10°F)
• Camping at 4800m in a tent in Tibet
What to pack?
I generally avoid travelling overseas during the winter months, although nature doesn’t always comply with my travel plans. That’s why it’s easier travelling lightweight during the summer, as packing winter clothes adds extra bulk and weight to my backpack or suitcase.
However, I’ve noticed that packing an overnight bag for a weekend away takes up just as much planning:
• Warm clothes – just in case it’s cold
• Lightweight clothes – just in case it’s hot
• A spare set of clothes – just in case
• Hmm… summer pyjamas or winter pyjamas?
• A spare pair of shoes – just in case
• Cleanser, moisturizer, deodorant, body lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste
• Nail file and clippers – just in case
• Handbag, purse, mobile phone, charger, water bottle
• A book to read – just in case I’ve got some spare time
And that’s just going down the road for a weekend choir retreat! Sometimes it’s just easier to return home than have a sleepover.
Have you ever turned up somewhere totally unprepared?
Do you prefer winter or summer?
New Zealand 2008
New Zealand 2006
United Kingdom 2004
Athens Olympics 2004
Beijing to Athens 1994
I acknowledge the traditional Custodians of the land on which I work and live, the Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi and Joondoburri people, and recognise their continuing connection to land, the waters and sky. I pay my respect to them and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.
© 2023 HARI KOTROTSIOS