Wednesday, 19 May 2010


I detest flying.
In the good olden days when one was allowed on board with as much water and booze as they could carry, when the personnel and crew was nice and one got cushions and blankets without asking, it was tolerable and sometimes even exciting. Now it's the century of Fruit Bat, we've had terrorists that made travelling miserable for us dehydrated people, volcanic ash which made the tickets disgustingly expensive...

Alrighty, a silly story, you deserve it.
So, there was 9/11. We were scheduled to go, or to be exact, to fly to Cyprus two weeks later. We included yours truly, my mother who is able to get lost at a Podunk bus station, her sister, my scaredy-shit aunt, who had never really travelled, her two teenage sons and all my grandparents that were alive at that time, three pieces altogether, including an alcoholic and chain-smoker grandma and slightly senile and considerably idiotic know-it-all grandpa.
Cynical as I am, I ordered diabetic fare for grandpa because he prefers cakes - yes, there were days when they actually served meals included in the price of the ticket. I took a huge first aid kit that included a bottle of alcohol and required my mother that she take one onboard - it was before someone decided that cheap vodka could be used to poison the captain or wtf.
Things went as crazily as they could. I knew the hotel so upon seeing the keys, I assigned to me and to my mother the room most distant from the others. Later on I learned that the downstairs room with garden view was meant for alcoholic grandma who claimed that she wouldn't be able to climb the stairs. Gah. At Day 2, mom crept to me asking for the sunburn ointment for grandpa who knew what's best for him, the best of his day was refusing sunscreen. Alcoholic grandma was sulking for no apparent reason. Aunt got hives so I pulled out allergy meds and hives ointment. Normal grandma got sunburnt - more panthenol and hardcore sunscreen for her. Teenagers were annoying. During the first five days, I used up all betadine, band-aids, mosquito repellents, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhoea stuff and sunscreen I had. My father was to arrive for a few days only so he was ordered to plunder the pharmacy, booze wasn't exactly required due to easily obtainable local wine and I was grinning smugly and whenever someone whined about someone else, I smiled and said I had been telling it all the time.
The real Rio was the journey back. I left my shoes in the room and checked out. Then I realized I was barefoot, explained at the reception, got the keys and went back. Meantime the room was serviced and the maintenance denied existence of my shoes so I was going back in beach thongs.
Grandpa fell asleep at the airport bathroom and the flight was delayed because of our group.
My father is the alpha male which sometimes interferes with my traditional rank of navigator and the who deals with natives - he snatched the ticket stubs and I was somehow required to place the chaotic mob of my relatives not knowing where while being yelled at by several angry flight attendants (they probably immediately recognized who is the real boss here, that's what I call good training). I reclaimed the stubs and found out an elderly couple blocking our seats. Upon polite request, they refused to move so I channeled the attendants' anger to them.
We were seated, grandma got pissed at grandpa that she wanted the window seat and they started arguing. Alcoholic grandma installed the sickness bag on her lap and started explaining, including vivid gestures, how sick she is going to be for sure and that she will die soon. Cousins started fighting for something. Aunt had stupid questions and mom made faces at her. Father yelled at his mother, the alcoholic grandma, to drop it. Grandpa wanted to have a smoke and I needed to tell aunt, who was at hand, to get the cigarettes away from him, plain explanation that this is a non-smoking flight elicited a reaction along the lines of Nobody will tell me what I can do.
It took just around ten minutes for the attendants to get the point and they kept me inundated with champagne while smiling understandingly. I ended up in Vienna in an improbable state of mind, smiling widely and wearing beach thongs in snow, which didn't matter to me at all.
That's how I realized that being drunk doesn't make flying any nice but it makes me not to care.

Long bus routes are like flying. Sans onboard meal and much longer. That's why I try to avoid buses as much as possible.

Trains, on the other hand....
I've always loved trains. There is a theory that it's the genetics, my great-grandfather was a railroad engineer (and a sailor before that) but most likely it's just because.

I'm going to a conference in Leeds. The previous time I checked the airline tickets were around 300 euros, meantime there was that volcano with sexy name (1) doing its job and today the price soared to around 700. And I hate flying. I hear that it's never gonna get any better, prices rising, service worsening, security idiots being idiots... so I simply decided not to fly. It's not that convenient anyway. One day, I'll extend this no flying policy for trips overseas. After all, if the gods had wanted us to fly, they'd give out the tickets for free. (2)

I'm in the midst of planning the train trip via Cologne, Brussels and the tunnel. Exciting.

(1) Sure I know how to write Eyjafjallajökull. I like silly jokes, that's it.
(2) The who gets the Terry Pratchett reference right will get a large sample of Sira des Indes, of which I intend to rant soon.


  1. I like travelling by train too. Maybe it's also because of an ancestor: my Italian grand-grand-father was a train mechanic!

  2. Ohje, should visit our famous huge cathedral above the main station.