Talking Travel 3 – Beginnings

Flying high

I don’t recall my first flight.

In fact I don’t recall much about my first airport experience although it’s written down in a journal somewhere. I recall the flight back because it was 12 hours of absolute suffering with dysentery. Not recommended as a first holiday experience boys and girls!

But I certainly wasn’t put off by the cramped space, reclining seats in my lap and the dubious food. Nowadays they seem almost part and parcel of the experience and to be expected. One day I’ll pay for an upgrade, just to find out what it’s day I’ll win the lottery to pay for it as well.

Airports are fascinating places and I recall my parents saying on several occasions that they would take me to an airport so I could watch the planes landing and taking off. They never did but there is something quite enjoyable about watching a plane thunder along a runway and then shoot skywards and a plane, all those tonnes of steel, landing so gracefully. I shall admit I take pleasure in sipping a coffee whilst watching events unfold whilst waiting for my own flight.

Airports are great people watching places. Who are they? Are they coming or going? business or pleasure? Are they quite sure that bag they are carrying is cabin luggage as it dwarfs my suitcase in its dimensions?

That is a question rarely far from my lips. How come so many people have such huge bags they take into the cabin?. I thought there were size limits but I see so many individuals wrestling with ‘hand baggage’ lol, that seems to have got the ill considered seal of approval and I will then witness a member of the cabin crew put their back out or dislocate their shoulders attempting to heave the bag into an overhead locker and mould it into shape!. By contrast, my modest backpack seems utterly feeble.

And suitcases. Huge things, things you could carry an entire family in, or the family car!. Once again I look at my modest offering and start worrying that I’ve not brought enough whilst also chastising myself for bringing things I won’t use!. It’s a conundrum.

I do take too much. But I don’t take very much. I reuse items if they aren’t crumpled or smelly or dirty and since most countries I visit are hot I can usually get away with shorts and t-shirts and a pair of sandals. My packing is quick, sorted thoroughly and covers all eventualities!. My partners is like forcing a frolicking crocodile into a bag!. She worries about the weather, what suits her, what doesn’t and then also recalls the fact that she needs a make up bag containing all manner of brushes, oils, unguents, pastes, powders, scissors and other items likely to be confiscated due to their dodgy looking nature!.

Then it’s the little plastic bags for your liquids. I do that for both of us only to arrive at the airport to be told by some officious functionary that your bag, which meets the size and shape requirements, is not the bag you should be using and therefore you have to transfer everything into the approved bag …which is identical to your own.

And having done all that you approach the check in desk to be asked where you are flying to, as though you are checking in for Paris but really want to go to Colombia!. ‘And where is Sir flying to?’ – ‘Medellin, Colombia.’ – ‘Umm, Paris is so nice, I’m quite envious.’ Then there’s the obligatory questioning about your bag and if you packed it yourself. I did. Well done sir!. Over here everyone, there’s a man who can pack his own case!. And of course they carefully check it’s weight, something you have already done with your portable travel scales but which haven’t accounted for the burly man pressing down on your case and which accounts for it being 20kg overweight and subject to a huge fine…and yes, this does happen.

Duty free. I don’t smoke or drink so that’s a waste of my time and I’m not lugging stuff about for 16 days for somebody else. Yep, I’m mean..get over it lol.

I usually stroll through the shops, perhaps purchase a book for the flight, some sweets, an acceptable bottle of water. Occasionally I will pop into an exclusive boutique and caress it’s fine wares whilst wincing inwardly at the extortionate prices that only the wealthiest can afford, all the while trying hard not to choke to death on the scent of the over perfumed young woman who eyes me with unbridled contempt, as certain as I am that no purchase will be made that day.

A lot goes into a holiday before you even set your delicate tootsies upon a foreign shore. All you can hope is that all the hassle, the stress, the endless security and rules, don’t detract from the end result, sunning yourself in foreign climes.

But boy oh boy, could we do without it.

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