Smell of Fanta evokes magical mix of vodka and a beautiful bay
ASK any traveller what it is that evokes a strong memory of a place and he will tell you it’s not the many photos he took, rather the smells.
The sense of smell is so powerful, it takes you back in time to a place you visited and enjoyed, even if it was decades ago.
I can never go past a lavender bag in a gift shop without being instantly whipped back to Provence in summer when the fields were a sea of purple to the horizon and the fragrance permeated everything.
Whenever I smell garlic mingled with tomato and seafood I am once again walking the streets of Nice where every hole-in-the-wall bistro seemed to be serving
moules mariniere out on the footpath to a busy crowd of customers.
One whiff of vermouth and I am taken back to that first and most magical time I visited Venice more than 40 years ago.
Obviously vermouth was the drink du jour – its herby aroma wafted from every tiny bar in every busy street.
Let me pass by a chargrill, and there I am, right back in a taverna on a Greek island waiting for my octopus to cook.
One unmistakable smell that takes me back to a heady day spent sailing in a wooden craft in Halong Bay is an unlikely one: the sweet fake orange smell of Fanta.
There we were, a group of travel writers sailing on the still and green and seductive waters of Halong Bay, when someone (could it have been me?) produced a bottle of vodka. The vodka was warm. There was no ice or fridge on board, and the only thing available to put with it was warm Fanta.
As travel writers, they quickly improvised, found some paper cups and drank the awful warm mix as though it was nectar from the gods.
It was the beauty of the bay, the glory of the islands, the tranquillity of the area, the overall heady air of the exotic, washed down with warm vodka and Fanta that made us so happy that day, and later had us jumping off the top deck of the wooden boat like boisterous teenagers into water every bit as warm as the fizzy Fanta.
It may not be a memory to appeal to most, but it is a magical one for me.