On the road, again

When my older daughter complained nicely that I’d taken her little sister on a trip to Europe, but not her, I took notice. We talked during the US Thanksgiving holiday about when would work for her schedule and I booked flights to England. Our timing was great as the trip coincided with when our two favourite football teams were due to play each other, at my team’s home ground. That was due to be on March 1. I was excited by the prospect of going to my old stomping ground and acting crazy about every pass or shot made, saved, or blocked. Well, that had to be tempered when her team made it to a cup final, which is due to be played the same day as the league game had been scheduled, at Wembley. I asked my daughter to see if she could get tickets: so far, not a dickey bird. We’ll see how she fares.

The trip fits well with my attempt to write a book. I’m currently trying a memory dump so that I’ve lots of autobiographical material to play with. What I’ve found is that my geographical location affect show I recall some instances. So, a trip to London can help rouse or refresh memories.

I’ve travelled a lot and know a few things about making flights more comfy than they otherwise would be.

One thing is to request a seat in an exit row: you get much more space, even though the rest of the service in coach sucks.

Travel can also be made less burdensome by travelling with less luggage, or apparently so. I’ve several wants and desires to satisfy in England, so I carry a large suitcase. But, with the need to take bulkier winter clothing, I have less space. Solution: take a smaller suitcase for those clothes and pack it into a larger suitcase. I can always juggle luggage on my return and the clothes makes good padding. Many airlines charge for bags, and charge more for 2nd pieces, so this reduces that cost. As it turned out, Delta didn’t charge me for a bag on my way out.

It’s also worth carrying a roll-on as hand luggage plus a lightweight empty backpack, which is ideal for purchases at the airport duty free shop. Most airline have no problems with this combo. It’s easier to move around airports with a roll-on, as it can also take the backpack if it’s gotten heavy. The backpack then is useful at destination for carrying things on any trip. You basically show up at checkin with two pieces but have four.

Schmoozing is on my docket for this extended trip. I’m a networker of sorts, but sort of accidentally. Connections are always useful, and in retirement people often rely on those they’ve had for a while. I’m actually trying to nurture new ones in old places. I’ve made contact with financial sector professionals through social media and decided it would be useful to meet some of them. So, I’ve two contacts lined up tentatively; both happen to work for heavyweight financial newspapers.

The other thing on our notional itinerary is to partake of some English fare to which we are partial and to take a trip ‘up north’, so she can visit her maternal grandparents. Did I hear someone say “pie and a pint”? Aye, lad.

All that is in the imagination. One has to deal with some realities of travel first. I’m not going to whine too much about travelling to the US. But, I will try to look for positives in what I experienced.

The woman flight attendant spoke at a rate closer to an over-caffeinated auctioneer. I think she was giving advice about what to do after landing, but I’m not really sure.

I was asked at Customs by an officer if I was visiting from Jamaica. When I said yes, he asked whether it was business or pleasure: “Business, but mainly pleasure,” I replied. “Then have a great time,” he said. What does he think I will get up to?

I really dislike travelling by American Airlines but we’ve been trapped with them for decades. Today, I gave Delta a whirl. Well, Atlanta is easier to deal with. Only about a two minute walk to Immigration. Baggage claim is just a few steps away. A train takes you to the various concourses, and the signposts are clear. Delta has a lounge that reflects they realize that people want to eat more than pretzels and cookies: I opted for clam chowder, and chicken salad with cranberries; I saw chilled mushrooms and olives, too. Considering that most flights don’t offer food beyond peanuts, this was a welcome change. Looking around, I also note bowls of fresh fruit and lots of large bottles of drinking water. It’s not so difficult American.

Anyway, I’m not in the travel business and glad for that. It’s freezing in the US, and I’ve exchanged 82 degrees F, for 28 degrees. Insane. In Hot-lanta? I know that further north, where I’m headed, already has snow. Cowabunga!