Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Joys of Jetsetting?

Spotted a golf course on the approach to Heathrow

As an aviation journalist who has flown all around the world the past 30 years, I am often asked two things: do you like traveling? And, as much an assumption as a question, you must have seen some great places?

My response to the first is that I like being at the different business events, interacting with some really interesting, intelligent, and personable people. I don’t even mind the time in the tube because it gives me uninterrupted time to get some writing done, or ideally some reading. What I deplore is the hassle of getting to and through the airports. Between the traffic and the security lines, it’s like a gauntlet, especially stressful if you’re tight on time. (I’ve written about projects and technology which, in time, will streamline the security process.)

More and more often, I’ve been adopting my wife’s philosophy of getting to the airport early. I once teased her (actually I teased her more than once about the same incident) because we arrived at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam a full 3 ½ hours before our flight. Then Monday, to avoid rush traffic in Dallas (which materialized only briefly), I ended up at DFW a good 3 hours before my flight to London. Mmmmmm. Rather pleasant not to have to fret about slow TSA screening, rushing to the gate, etc. I had plenty of time to get my ropers shined, sit a spell at Cool River for a beer while doing emails. Even thought about a massage for my back but decided to wait until I got home to the best pair of hands in the world.

As to the question of seeing the sights, my advice is take the train or drive. For years I saw only the airport, hotel, and conference centre. Paris? My first time there a couple of us snuck away from the airshow the final afternoon for a three-hour whirlwind – run to Montmarte, run through the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa (surprisingly small), catch a bateau to see the Eiffel Tower. Time to reflect and enjoy? Forget it.

The past couple years, though, with Donna-Lane as my guide and intrepid fellow explorer, I’ve had opportunity to see not only well-known tourist sights (I proposed to her … again … at Tour Eiffel - but hundreds of out of the way places – museums, historic sights, centuries-old churches, hole-in-the-wall bistros, seaside promenades – the kind you never see in guidebooks. We’ve been to Russia, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Ireland, Canada, the US, and of course France and Switzerland.

The true joy is seeing things together, whatever we’re exploring. Each finding and pointing out things the other did not necessarily notice, seeing our world through two different  perspectives even though we’re next to each other. (Usually followed by a search for our respective cameras to archive the memory.)

I’ve been away nearly two weeks now, and I’m writing this on the red-eye, so my body clock is totally turvy. I’m trying to focus on getting some work done in the time left til we land (and start the shuffle-shuffle, undress-dress security routine again at Heathrow) … but mostly I’m missing my lover and looking forward to arriving home. Only one more bus, one more plane, one more taxi, and one more train to go. 

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