Day 8 Port Said and the Suez canal

So here we are at Yoga there are only two of us today our friend is staying overnight in Cairo so our instructor has only Judi and I to contend with. Still doing circuit training rather than slow methodical stretching but at least I am getting used to it. The breathing colors at the end still concerns me he keeps say to block everything out but all I can hear is the thud thud thud of the treadmills behind us and a guy bellowing “Y’ULL HAVE TO SHOUT I’VE GOT MY IPOD ON” so the colors I am breathing are beginning to resemble a Jackson Pollok (Google it).

We do not dock until noon so after breakfast I take the opportunity to get a haircut which will save me having to learn the word in Russian when I get home. Hanging around the sun deck I can see the Joggers on the track above me. I noted the other day 13 laps equals a nautical mile (1,852 yards which will come in useful later). There are 8 to 10 people in various stages of movement so semi-professionals some almost walking. They are all going the same way bar one, why is there always one not only is he going in the opposite direction to everyone else he can’t seem to make up his mind if he is going on the inside or the outside so he upsets the rhythm of each one he passes. I am sure they are not amused but seem too polite to tell him. There garb is varied and there is one old sun bronzed chap in dayglow yellow speedo’s who is striding with purpose. Not for me I think so I head off for the bottomless pit call the coffee station.

As we enter the dock there are lots of things to see. A couple of small religious sites a small harbor for the tiny fishing vessels we have been passing for the last hour or so. Lots of big container ships and bulk carriers. a huge floating dry dock and a ship building yard. Port Said owes everything to the Suez Canal and has prospered and suffered with both. During its early life it was the center of attention then after the abdication of the last Egyptian king and the subsequent Suez crisis and WWII it got bombed heavily. The Arab Israeli war saw the canal closed for several years so not much luck for the town. We are only stopping here to pick up the people who stayed in Cairo and will only be here 6 or 7 hours. Judi and I decide to take a stroll into the town behind the security wall even though everyone says there is not much out there. As it happens everyone is correct. There really is nothing endearing about the place and several other brave tourists like us can confirm. If we had gone on a scavenger hunt we would not have brought many treasures back.

The highlight really is to sit on the top deck and watch the big ships glide gently by and little car ferries trying to pass in front and behind them and the tugs pushing pulling and nudging things int the right place. The pilot boats the police boats the fishing boats and a host of others all performing a little water ballet. I spent quite a while and a good few camera clicks recording it all until Judi insists we try again at the trivia quiz. We pass a lone Jogger on the track and it is damn hot today so I am surprised someone has the mental determination for it. We have to wait in the Casino lounge for the quiz master who has decided it was being held on a different deck and whilst we wait we pair up with a brother and sister from LA. Eventually we get started and are stuck on the number of years the Berlin wall stood when their parents turn up. The girl asks her father if he knows, she asks him in Russian which was a bit of a surprise as the kids are as American as apple pie. Anyway he says it was done by krushchev and around 30 years I suggest only 20 but am shouted down (in the end I was closer though). Now there is a question how long is a nautical mile and given I am the only one to offer an answer it goes down on the pad. I am right of course and also correct that Mr Birdseye invented the Freezer but we still only get 11 correct so an improvement but not enough to get use the coverted luggage tags. Somehow I think we will be there until we do.

Back to the cabin and the jogger is still pounding away I wonder if he has done the 13 laps for a nautical mile yet. Our breakfast guy is also on the track but somehow I am not sure he can make it round once. He is happy enough taking his usual short steps with his stick and still smiling. You just have to hand it to some people they just keep going.

The gang are back together for dinner which is excellent as usual but the service is beginning to deteriorate a little. It is taking longer for them to complete things even handing out menus and clearing plates. Maybe they are short staffed or maybe they have extra tables but it takes us an extra 45 minutes to get through the meal. I am going to let it slide given how good the food is. (well for now anyway). We all have to prepare for a big day tomorrow Jerusalem and Nazareth. Top of my list for this trip and something I was never sure we would get around to so a lot of anticipation plus the clocks go forward again tonight so one hour less sleep so I had best get cracking.

Day 7 The second most important city in the Roman Empire

We dock in Alexandria around 7:15 but I have been up for an hour or so. Once I have had my 6 hours it is difficult to stay prone. Not sure what gene it is but it gets me up when the sun rises. I sneak out to get a coffee and sit on our balcony. As I am slowly waking along comes a Dolphin and swims alongside the ship right outside our cabin. I grab my camera and run off a few shots as it breaches the waves to grab air. In the end I just sit and watch as it plays around easily keeping pace with us. Judi thinks I should have woken her but its a choice you take it was not there for long

We take on the outer harbor pilot who steers us into the Western Docks. This is a working port and there are ships of every shape and size and you can see the cranes and barges already working hard to load and unload them. Another pilot brings us to the pier with precision we gently come to rest close to the port gates. On the other side of the pier is another cruise liner which looks to be 4 or 5 times our size. Our tea and coffee arrive and we collect ourselves. We are not doing the Pyramids this trip one because we have already seen them, two because it is a 3 and a half hour journey each way so 7 hours in a coach is not a holiday.

We are doing “Easy Alexandria” Named after Alexander the Great as his Imperial capital the all conquering warrior never actually lived here dying at 33 he was brought here for burial although they are not exactly sure where. Alexandria was the capitol of Egypt under the Ptolemy’s and the Romans. It was Cleopatra’s base and had one of the seven wonders of the world the Pharos lighthouse and the Library which for several decades was the leading place in the world for all manuscripts. Books were confiscated from travelers arriving here copied and handed back. The unfortunate thing is fate failed to smile and the city fell into decline being revived by Mohammed Ali in the 1800’s. The British also used the port during both world wars. You can see the former glory in some of the buildings however it only serves to remind you of how it was not how it is.

How it is is rather different, the Egyptians have a knack of accumulating rubbish and they do it well every gutter and street corner has 20th century rubbish, drinks bottles and cans, plastic bags, remnants of food and everything in between. Lets hope the Pharos are not looking down on them, once leaders of civilization and architecture and now something else entirely.

Out tour starts at the Fort of Qait Bay partially built from the rubble of the lighthouse which shows a healthy disrespect for ancient monuments which we in the west have also adopted, lets tear it down rather then preserve it. It was Ok neat and at least clean, on to the new Library with strangely enough lots of books. For some reason our guide can not take us in and we wait for an “official” guide for 40 minutes (Process & progress). The new guide tells us all about the new library but nothing at all about the old one. The only point our tour remembers is the ticket includes an hours free internet access so everyone dashes off to the machines as soon as she stops speaking. Several emails and facebook entries later we head for the Roman Amphitheater. Quite good but a little small. Ruined by the Egyptians building a new one opposite the original and spoiling the ambiance. It is very hot and we are given 40 minutes to wander around a 400 meter site not surprisingly we head for the coach after 15.

Back at the dock we decide not to head for the ship but to take a walk around the shops. Once we pass the Taxi and horse carriage drivers who in other countries would be charged with harassment we saunter around. Surprisingly we are ignored by most people even though we are plainly not local and are dressed in white with straw hats on. We enter a road full of stalls selling food, there is a man with a bicycle which is covered in herbs which people are pulling off and buying. Tomatoes, potatoes, various peppers and lots of stalls selling fish. I really really want to get me camera out but decide I will commit it to memory. No picture could adequately show the mayhem. The Fish mongers are trying to out shout each other laughing and clowning around the people being drawn one way then the other as freshness is touted as well as price. It is all great fun an we just stand and watch for a while as shrimps, crabs and small fish are wrapped in newspaper and handed over for a few coins. Whilst we stand several people say hello or ask are we ok or how we like their town. It is difficult right now to comment on litter even though it is in the back of my mind.

We eventually drift off as we are not looking for food but some linen trousers for me. We are guided into a few shops by eager locals and eventually I find what I am (well Judi) is looking for not too trendy and not too thin. Just right although possibly 4 or 5 inches too long, no matter I will just roll them up. Eventually we head back the souk was a blast and it is a little “Hansel and Grettle” trying to retrace your way out of one of those places but with a little help we are back where we started from. We were probably fleeced on price but in reality we still paid cents on the dollar.

The afternoon is spent hanging around although we did try the 4:30 trivia quiz and got 9.5 of 20 which should be worrying (although we were not the lowest) but given the first prize is a luggage tag it is not worth worrying over. We head for diner which tonight is “undefined seating” which means just find a table. A number of the passengers are staying overnight in Cairo so they have reduced the dining into one sitting. We manage to sit at our usual table and we talk to some Scottish people who had braved the 7 hour Pyramid trip and their comments were all about the rubbish and heavy handed hawkers. A shame to come away from what I consider to be possibly the greatest series of building made by man thinking only of the impact of modern society on it.

We meet ups with David an Jo for a drink or 2 or 3 later taking our leave only when I point out we have Yoga again tomorrow.


Day 6 When did I stop worshipping the Sun

Day 6 When did I stop worshipping the Sun

Yoga is almost the same as yesterday except with a slight swell we do not try the balance positions which I think is a good thing. Even on flat ground I can not stand on one leg so on a boat it is just farcical. Managed to put the docket out so we at least got tea and coffee and the 3 cups I had started to kick in with the first stretch. did I mention there are only 3 of us in the class so 4 with the instructor “Bradley” (A made up name I think) so we constitute half of the lesson. This is the last one for a couple of days so lets make the most of it and Stretcccccch. I survive and stagger off for breakfast, lucky for me it is on the same deck, Toast boiled eggs (for a change) and coffee. We find a table in fact given how small this boat is it is a little surprising that what ever meal we are at there are tables available. On the Alaska cruise we would get food and then wander around for 10 minutes whilst it got cold searching for somewhere to sit. (there is probably some mathematical ratio for tables to people to time somewhere). The old guy is there before us but we have nearly finished by the time he actually gets his butt on the chair.

We have a spa day pass today which means we get to sit at the front of the boat where no children or bands are allowed. A sort of quiet area, it is quite and also a sun trap so a lot of time is spend trying to get out of the sun. Now I don’t remember when I changed from wanting to sit in the sun to wanting to avoid sitting in the sun. I remember times gone by when I though the best possible day would be lying on a deckchair slowly frying myself. Interestingly Egypt where we are heading actually worshipped the Sun as a religion and there are some followers on the ship. Greased up they lie prone only stirring to reapply more bronzer and to turn themselves over to baste another portion. Some of them will need to turn many times given the girth or physical size. These days given a choice I will walk on the shady side of the street and where possible avoid direct sunlight. I am not particularly worried about skin cancer or premature aging (think it is too late for that) I just don’t like it any more.

Heading back across the deck for lunch my old guy is trying to lower himself onto a lounger I help him down but now I am worried he will get sunstroke trying to get himself back up ( I will check on him on the way back). If you think we are eating all the time you are correct that’s what you do on cruises. Food is available 24*7. I must have been in the US too long as I put fruit on the same plate as my Mexican chili beef and takeo. Think I need the fruit more. Our guy is stood up by the time we pass again so he must have started to rise as soon as I helped him down.

Back in the suntrap we play shuffle chair for a while trying to avoid the sun until it is time for the wine tasting. A small diversion which gets us back inside in the air-conditioning. There are six selected wines and none of them are French, Kendal Jackson, Wolfblass, Moldavi? (spelling) and a couple of Chilean (Chilean chardonnay is good and worth a try these days for the price) The talk is informative and the handouts even more so. We end with a desert wine which would be great after dinner but not so good at 3:45 in the afternoon. I decide the spa is just a little too bright and decline to return. Judi say s she has to go as she has another spa appointment, who would have guessed. She will be getting loyalty and christmas cards from them this year I am sure. I head back to the cabin to finish my book, The second of the cruise. I normally only read novels on holiday not at home there are too many distractions and even when I read it is normal none fiction (not sure why they are not just labeled “fact”). So to have completed 2 books already for me is good. One about a swimmer who encounters a young whale and the second a book on short essays by the lady who took over from Alistair Cook (google him) who did those wonderful “Letters from America” which I and my mother used to tune in and listen to so many years ago. Even when I was no longer at home we would both listen and discuss when I called.

I went to post yesterdays blog in the top lounge only to find Team Dominican Republic holding another party which looks like it has been in full swing for quite a while. There is lots of Latin music and dancing, Kids and elders everyone is having fun and the bar staff are on their toes keeping up with them. It is good to see a group who are taking their enjoyment so seriously. I know they will be back here after dinner and continue into the small hours. It does not seem to impact them at all and they are always around at breakfast recounting the great time they had the previous evening. (note to self check the place out for a holiday)

I found some of the photos taken of us at “Formal” night and not as bad as I expected so need to start saving as these do cost you. Dinner is again excellent I have Rib eye steak and Judi salmon. (Elaine no pictures of this meal but plenty of others check the web photo album). We are engaged in conversation with out table guests and time flies fast. We are “encouraged” to leave by people clearing up around us, where did the last 2 hours go. Not ready to retire yet we meander to the lounge where several drinks later we decide enough and turn in all a little tired and emotional. There was an announcement late this afternoon telling us the clocks were being put back an hour tonight now we only put them forward last night which is weird. We conclude that as it is Ramadan there mush be some deviation on the daylight savings. Whatever it means an extra hours sleep and given we are not on muster until 8:30 am.

Day 5 A quiet day at sea

I am sweating and out of breath so maybe not as quiet as I had hoped. I am in the middle of what is supposed to be the Yoga class but the speed this guy is working us you might think it is Pilates. My yoga is more relaxed but right now I seem to be in some form of circuit training. Up down Stretch, downward dog, plank, squat, pigeon, camel, etc and did I mention it was only 8 am. So much for a quiet day. It didn’t start that well either it seems “I” forgot to hang out the morning tea and coffee sign so I had to scurry off and get it myself. When you do it yourself you can only carry one of each so limited caffeine which is not helping. The session ends with us breathing colors whatever that is Blue, Ggreen, Yellow, Orange and finally Red. I am sure it helps but my mind is not in a relaxed state so apart from the stretching I feel limited benefits.

Once over it is time for breakfast which means dodging the ditherers. The people who stand staring at food unable to make a decision fried or scrambled. white bread or brown. This is made worse by the sheer volume of options available. From steak to Ice cream. I am happy with toast and a couple of eggs and lots and lots of coffee. There is one guy who is now a feature of the dining as he is very frail and it takes several minutes for him to lower himself into a chair and even longer to get up again. I don’t say this in jest but to note anyone can cruise and well done to those who do. We will all be old at sometime and if I still have the gumption to travel around the world like this guy then I will have good reason to be pleased with myself. It is all to easy to get frustrated with people as they age but remember what ever life you are living it is because someone before you built it. They are not all national hero’s most just ordinary people doing ordinary jobs but all part of what ever system or process which allows you to live the lifestyle of your choice and do what ever you chose to do right this minute. Next time you see one say thanks or help them along, your turn will surely come.

After Breakfast we go and find a shady spot on the deck, this lasts for 30 minutes as we plan to go to a lecture on Alexandria which is our next port of call. I know little about this place so the idea of someone giving me the low down saves me the reading. Jo the host is funny and a little irreverent but informative so worth the effort. He does go on and on about the sunsets too long though. I think to myself the ones I saw at lake Titicaca will live with me forever (the pictures should be on Picassa under Peru) and seriously doubt these will be anywhere close.

Back to the shady deck for 30 minutes then the ping pong tournament starts, click, click,,, click, click,,,, click click,,, The Cruise champion is crowned inside 40 minutes ( I think he is semi professional) and order is resumed and other 30 minutes and it is time for lunch. Think the old guy has not quite finished breakfast but game as ever he is trying to sit down to the Chinese buffet.

Back to the not so shady spot and drag the chairs around a bit, 30 minutes and the water volleyball starts, The pool can accommodate around 20 people so 2 teams of 5 each thrashing around bumping into each other is possibly dangerous but it all ends fairly well. Then the band strikes up. I say band I mean a singer and a bloke on some computerized machine which plays backing tracks. The singer stands in the full sun which makes her a brave girl indeed as she will fry.

Judi is off now she has booked some appointments at the spa. This gives me the opportunity to move down a few decks in lie under one of the lifeboats in the shade. There I manage to write yesterdays blog . I get some time to doze until some kids decide it would be a god idea to chase on another up and down the deck. I am more fearful for their safety than the noise and am glad when the parent arrive. It is the pushchair man from yesterday and he herds them back inside.

I head back to the cabin around 6pm. It is formal night so need to dress up. It is also the Captains cocktail party where all the officers are introduced to the guests with brief explanations of what they do. They don’t look comfortable but this is part an parcel of modern cruising. Getting attached to the crew and visa versa is expected to build on the “experience”. A nice idea but I think they should give the officers a little more help as none of them except the Captain look happy about it. On to the photographs and my turn to look unhappy. I prefer to be on the other end on the lens and find it difficult to strike a natural pose. I give it my best shot and we shall see if this one makes its way home with us. On to dinner which again beats expectations our fellow guests are entertaining and all seem to have traveled more than us so we are full of “what did you think of” questions. At the end of dinner one of the waiters is doing tricks with paper napkins and somehow produces an extremely elaborate rose from a piece if tissue. I should have paid more attention as it was something quite spectacular.

On to the lounge for a night cap. Judi vodka I beer which comes in a can but is huge and must be a full pint. Not what I as expecting but hay its a holiday. We chat with some people until the contingent from the Dominican Republic arrive. On mass they file in like they all just stepped off a bus. There must be 60 of them so a few missing. The bar staff have already warned us about them. It seems the previous night they had the bar open until 3:30 am and were dancing none stop. The crew and the DJ are very pleased to see them as nobody likes to work in an empty bar. As soon as the music starts they are up and on the floor. Samba and Marengo seem to be the favorites. We stay for a couple of drinks until I remember we are crossing a time zone tonight which makes out 8am Yoga calls actually a 7am class, what joy.

So much for a quiet day at sea.

Day 4 Pompeii the best thing that ever happened to Italian archeology

Day 4 Pompeii the best thing that ever happened to Italian archeology

This was how the guide book we got from the ships library described our scheduled outing today. Not sure the residents of Pompeii who numbered around 8,000 would have agreed as the hot ash from Vesuvius rained down on them for three days killing every living think and burying it under several meters of the stuff.

We are woken at 6:30 with tea and coffee brought by our Thai steward. Just enough English to get by on he is pleasant and courteous which is more than I can muster at that time in the morning. I am normally limited to grunts so early. I need some caffeine and nicotine to kick start my day and I like to do in quietly on my own thank you very much. The reason for such an early start is we need to muster on deck 5 at 7:30 to depart. Ok drag myself together double check we have everything, camera spare battery so I am ok. Judi can worry about the tickets, sun cream, hats, money, etc. Off to deck 5 half way there Judi suggests we should have water. When I say suggest I mean decides, (they are very close) so I double back to get some and we still make it in good time. An hour later we are still there. We have our colored stickers K3 in Red. The reason for the tardy start is that we are using tenders which is a code for the lifeboats to get to the dock. We are moored in the bay and there are all sorts of customs and official stuff the ship has to go through and not point in getting agitated it will sort itself out.

By 9 am we are at least on the dock but managed to lose some of our K3 team on the way down two flights of stairs to the little boat shuttling back and forth. Another 20 minutes and the gang is all there. Now on to a shuttle but to take us to another bus. Think the guy has a relative in Moscow as he can pack them in and I can see Judi getting anxious as more and more people push us towards the back of what is actually a very small bus with 90% of the people standing. Up quite a steep slope to the town of Sorrento which looks cute. Through the town at pace and to the bus depot. Our coach is clearly labeled and as we board we get handed some small radio receivers and ear pieces. This is a fairly new idea I think. It allows the guide to give us the shpeal without actually needing us to stop and gather close. A few glitches as people fail to manage the technology of plugging in the ear piece and switching them on but it gets sorted. The driver takes us on the “scenic” route which is along the cliff tops. Quite spectacular the way these Italians can dart in and out of the traffic on their scooters. They are like bees buzzing out in front of the cars and darting back in at the last second and the scenic views are good as well. 40 minutes later we pull up at Pompeii with its usual ensemble of stalls and cafes and a “Cameo” shop. The toilets are downstairs at the back of the shop which of course means you have to pass by around 30 sales people before you get there. A tip is to let everyone else go in first and as they get picked off by the sales people you slip past and you end up being the only one getting to the facilities.

Our guide a tiny elderly lady is fending off silly questions like a professional. Was the Cameo Factory dug out of the ash as it has electricity, Can I call the US on this radio, and many more just as interesting. We chat to some people whilst the guide tried to herd the cats back into some order. Some people have taken the time to make purchases and ar enow laden with bags which they are going to have to carry around with them. There is a family with two small kids and a push chair that going to be interesting. A family in team shirts the eldest with a cap proudly baring the words ex Marine Veteran. Slow on his feet but staying with us none the less. Into the ruins and the radios work fine as long as you are within 40 feet of the guide. This seems to manage the mob and we can still wander off but once it goes quiet we know we need to rejoin the pack. Within the first quarter mile we have 6 people drop out and head back to the exit. It is very hot, it is elevenish and there is no shade to be had in the ruins.

If you are not familiar with Pompeii google it. The story is legend. The most interesting thing for me is that it was not as such ruined it was just covered. No earthquakes not burning down, no hoards of barbarians sacking the place and not taken to pieces to be used somewhere else. Many historic sites supper these fates and you are left to “imagine” who it might have been. Now that is not to say Pompeii is exactly how it was but all the infrastructure is there and you can see how it hung together as a working town. You can walk the streets and see the wheel marks worn into the stones. The fountains set at regular intervals overflowed into the street to wash them. The stepping stones used to cross the road even the no entry and one way systems. There were 60 odd bakeries and you can see the casts of people they found whilst excavating. Whilst all this was happening the English had only learnt how to paint their faces blue. The sophistication of the Roman empire is something to behold and something which has fascinated me since childhood. A point worth noting is the American veteran is still managing to keep up but the guy with the pushchair is struggling with the cobbles.

An hour later we are back at the cameo factory and we are let loose on the vendors. 15 minutes and back to the bus. The guide miscounts us and someone says loudly “has anyone seen my husband” Forgive me whilst they might be an accurate social status it might have been better to say has anyone seen a 6 ft man in a red shirt with a beard. I mean can you imagine searching and asking someone “are you a husband”. Anyway he turns up 10 minutes later (without an apology I might add) and we are off back down the cliff road to Sorrento. We arrive around 1pm and we have around 3 hours. We find a little place to have lunch which reconfirms my theory of fresh produce and simple preparation are the key to good meals. A small amount of wandering around although we decline the linen shirts at 3 times the price I paid yesterday. We do replenish the peanuts and diet coke which was good.

Onto the small shuttle down to the dock to get the tender not quite as packed as before but still a little sticky. The tender takes us quickly to the ship and we can relax. We are due to sail at 4:30 a schedule delays by 6 people who are late. There were several announcements looking for them on the ship but the way they check people on and off there is little doubt they are still in the town. They turn up 45 minutes late which in many cases would have meant they would have missed the sailing however as our next stop is Egypt in 2 days waiting will not disrupt our trip much. The people turn out to be from the Dominican Republic and it seams three are nearly 80 of them on this trip. Total guests are around 700 -750 so the majority on the tourists are from the Dominican Republic which I think is interesting given its economic status.

Day 3 A cruise ship should not be this difficult to find

Day 3 A cruise ship should not be this difficult to find

So day 3 starts with coffee and tea which Judi suggested I order so she did not have to go down for breakfast at 8am. So drinks on the balcony watching the sun rise over Rome. The breakfast when we eventually arrive is very good and thoughts of “this is what it will be like in France when we eventually give it all up” come to mind (although not sure the waiters will be included). Checkout around 9:45 and the bill has only two errors on it. No 32 euro charge for yesterdays sun lounger mattresses so all is fine. We plan to leave the cases at the hotel and use their shuttle bus to drop into town as I want some linen shirts as it is still very hot. Bus leaves at 10:30 (very civilized) wander down town looking more for shops than sights however we do pass by the Trevi Fountain again and I think it is even busier than yesterday Today is Monday so not sure why there are more tourists. The Centurion is still there this time on his mobile phone, Typical Italian waving his arms around and making gestures even though the caller cannot see him.

try a couple of shops without success even Massimo Dutti does not have much to offer then we spot a couple of shops and bang 4 shirts later we are back on the street. Judi would not let me buy the white linen trousers, she said they were a little too trendy what ever that means. We stop for a coffee on a corner by the Tomb on the unknown soldier and opposite the balcony Mussolini used to rant to the crowds (Google him). Nero said that to control Rome you needed to control the Mob which is the locals, Mussolini knew exactly how to do that.

Time to go back to the hotel and really start out holiday. Today we have to find our boat. The port is a little over an hour away so we are getting a taxi. The shuttle is waiting at the pickup point and we take our seats as we spin one more time past St Peters basilica and out of the old town. A point to note is that they do not allow any new buildings inside the city walls so no skyscrapers or funny shaped glass and steel places. The city has history on every corner and you really need a guide book or you will just wander past something which is 2,000 years old which would be a shame.

Into the taxi and sped North (I think) through some pleasant countryside. Not beautiful but good enough and slightly discolored with all this sunshine. An easy ride along the motorway. When I worked here I drove myself and it was in the days before GPS so navigation was “interesting”. I remember getting on one road when I was going to a friends for dinner. I was following the signs and after about 40 minutes had guessed I had taken a wrong turning. The sign probably said “The Road To Rome (is not this one)” anyway it was a toll road so the first stop was to pay. Trying to explain I needed to turn around the guy motioned an opening just past the toll. I of course had to first pay to get through then pay the same guy to get back across on the other side of the road. Very funny these Italians maybe he was on commission. We can see all the cruise liners at the port as we crest the last rise. Our ship (not boat please) is quite small only 700 passengers. Some of the big ones now take 2,500 to 3,000 so ours should be cozy as Judi puts it. Down into the town we go and head for the ships and there are lots of them. This is a ferry terminal as well as a container port so around the docks entrance it is chaotic. Our taxi driver is not quite sure where he is going and we have to steer him away from going on to one of the car ferries however at this level we seem to have lost all of the cruise ships. Now you would think that would be difficult but not so. Given all the ferries in the way we can not actually see where our craft is. Judi is only panicking mildly. It is 3pm and the ship sales at 6 so we actually have lots of time although the meter is still running. We suggest the river stops and asks but he is a man (they don’t like to do this) and an Italian as well ( really don’t like to do this) however our persistence pays off and he stops at a small cafe and gets directions. We are in the right place but there is a very small side road to take, whilst it is a small road it is quite long so a couple of kilometers later there we are in front of the Royal Princess. A tiny ship amongst it’s bigger cousins.

Now here is an interesting conundrum we all know Judi likes to be early in fact “likes” is probably not the right word. Well let me tell you boarding started at 1pm and Judi had planned not to get here until 3 pm. Why I hear you ask as you climb back onto your chairs, well the bottle neck created by everyone arriving for a 1pm check in is more than she can stand. So she reasons that by 3 pm the crowds will have died down and there will be less hassle. She is correct of course (and you ever doubted it, I thought not). We are the “ONLY” people checking in at this time. The only hitch is they plan to keep our passports which makes both of us nervous. We have our passports close to hans all the time and have done for about 10 years. Someone saying they will look after them for a couple of weeks makes the heart race a little especially when you think we are visiting 4 more countries along the way. Ok deep breath its part of the process so we toe the line. Onto the ship greeted at every doorway and every elevator shown to our cabin which is not bad at all. Judi thinks it is too near the lift but we shall wait and see. We got an upgrade to this one from a cabin with restricted views (The lifeboat blocks the window) so probably best not to complain about it. Test the emergency drill which is compulsory and Judi’s drill which is an orientation of the ship so we know where everything is. Back to the cabin and unpack. Everything gets unpacked and there are even enough hangers for both of us.

All that is left is dinner. We are on a fixed table and it is always interesting to see who your fellow diners are. There is a couple from Billarickie he works in freight forwarding (what ever that is) and a couple from County Down in Ireland. He used to train horses and she is a school teacher. Everyone seems to have traveled a lot so think this might work out ok. The dinner was better than expected with decent steak and fish. I had a Crawfish and Black Mussel Cajun dish with pastry on the top not what I expected but never the less very good. I do need to watch out as it was listed as a “a specialty dish” and you know me and “I’ll have the special” it normally gets me into somewhat of a pickle.

So now our holiday has actually started. I am really glad we took the time in Rome it really was nice and it reminded me why I think it is my favorite city (european edition) Tomorrow we should dock in Sorrento for an excursion to Pompeii. A 7:30 leave so a 6:30 wake up and I though this was a holiday. To cap it off Judi has booked me in for the 8 am Yoga sessions for the days when we are not on excursions, you got to love that girl.

Yesterday I forgot one of the dress code violations. Down at the pool there was a guy not sure of the actual nationality however he was short with light red hair. Taking off his shirt revealed freckles and a pasty white chest which may never have seen the sun before. The real problem was that he was wearing speedo’s and not just any speedo’s but white ones which made his flesh even that much duller. Now the sight of this was fearful enough but the thought that he might get into the pool was even more terrifying as the swimsuit might turn translucent. I have no idea what the manufacturer was thinking but the shop assistant is also to balme how can you sell these to someone with pale flesh and freckles no,no,no.

Day 1 Moscow to Rome

Day 1 Moscow to Rome

So it is late I think. We are in the Hotel Cavalieri which is the Waldorf Astoria over looking Rome and before you go thinking that is posh, the deal I got off the internet was too good to be true. I really though someone would ring me up and say there had been a mistake like that one in the news the other day who posted a rate of $0.02 cents per day and had to honor the bookings a $90,000 mistake so someone’s career has possibly been curtailed a little. Anyway to add to the hotel we also booked their limo to pick us up from the airport as it was only 20 Euro difference between them an a taxi and they know where the hotel is the taxi might not.

The flight was pretty uneventful although we were going out of Gate 10 which was the one I used to go to Brussels a month or so back (is it a couple of months wow).

The door to the loading bay had a huge lock on it although it did not stop about 15 Russians trying to force it open during the 30 minutes we were hanging around waiting to start boarding. When it was unlocked by security there was a tidal wave of people rushing down the stairs some trying to get in front of the guards which is just silly. Anyway Judi and I tag onto the back of the pack and by the time we get on the bus we seem to be part of the “How many people can you squeeze into an Airport bus” completion. Not sure if our drive actually beat the record but he must have been close. I think if the children count as a full body then the cup should be his by tomorrow.

A tip for you if you find yourself on an airport bus go for the middle door on the left. Planes board on their left from the front and the bus approaches them from the front so an ideal position I find. Well this time is was anyway as I was second onto the plan which given we were in row 27 was a good thing. Judi being less focused was unfortunately one of the also rans in this particular leg of the “Great race”. Don’t worry I would not have let them take off without her well probably not anyway as she knows where the boat tickets are. So apart from the girl in the third seat of our row putting her mascara on as the plane took off (the flight was 3 and a half hours so not sure what the rush was to get it done then) and a girl two rows back who managed to talk continuously and loudly for the whole flight (not sure she ever drew breath) and yes I do mean the whole flight there was no much going on. We were flying Aeroflot in a new Airbus so the plane was fine. Somehow I go a window seat which is never my choice. I don’t like the way the wings flap around on take off. I know it all works but planes are heavy and I was never good at physics I just assume the pilots are and assume it will be ok.

A ripple of applause broke out to announce our landing, never quite sure what makes people do that possibly a relief sort of thing.

We had been up from 5 30 am to get to the airport for 6:15 a good 30 minutes before the check in opened and 3 hours before the plane was due to leave. Judi did try and get us through but we got turned back by the security. Most of the flight was taken up be catching up on sleep. Passport control in Rome was a guy waving at us to go through and the cases came quite quickly which beats some of the experiences we have had recently. We do seem to have a lot of cases, 3 checked plus a wheelie and my rucksack but to be honest all are only half full. I am taking “Nancy’s” approach to holidays which s that all you really need is a credit card and a toothbrush so whilst we have the luggage there is room for purchases..

The airport is Fuminciaro (not sure of the spelling) and is somewhat familiar as it was the one I used when I worked in Rome (although that is closing in on 20 years ago).

Finding our driver reminded me of all of those little frustrating things the latin character has to offer. Lots of drivers with signs but not ours and after a phone call to the Hotel to confirm that the driver was actually there we tramped back and forth to eventually fine a middle aged lady talking on her phone with my name on the back of an envelope written in biro. Perhaps it was something of an inconvenience to have us getting in the way of what ever she really wanted to do. Thinking this is worth a mention to the hotel when we arrive, we step out into 37 degree sunshine. Not sure what 37 converts to but its hot. The silver Jaguar waiting a few meters way did something to calm us down as did the air conditioning inside it.

The hotel is on one of the hills to the North West of Rome so a winding route and a 40 minute drive. I even recognized some of the places on the way which made me feel good (no dementure yet then). A not quite modern hotel but very grand with lots of people fawning over us. Rooms not ready so we sit on the veranda coffee for me an a glass of wine for Judi (well it would have been 3 pm in Moscow). I was tell in Judi about the Beach holiday blog and she was trying to back track holidays to work out when the last “do nothing” holiday was. She tried to convince me that is was Belize until I reminded her we spent 4 hours on an unmade road in the back of a full 8 seater coach going to one temple in Nicaragua and that we had to have an armed guard escort us there and back to a second. Went on horseback to a third (And I got thrown) and a boat to a fourth so not what “I” would consider as relaxing.

The room is even bigger than the pictures showed and overlooks Rome (check out he pictures on Picassa) We decide to wait until 4 pm to go into town the Vatican is only a ten minute ride away. A down hill taxi ride reminded me why the Italian like Formula 1 so much they all think they should get a seat in the race. Suddenly you turn a corner and there it is. The Vatican in all its glory. It is just as you would expect however as you get nearer and go inside it takes on another format. It is huge and it must have awed anyone who saw it when it was first erected. The thought crossed my mind that we will be in Jerusalem in a week or so and how come Rome is the center of the Catholic faith whilst Israel is where it all happened. Not to worry there is so much to see. We have been to many cathedrals this is possibly the biggest although maybe not the grandest never the less it is iconic. We try and get to the Sistine chapel but it had closed so it means another trip back sometime. It is on my list and tried three times now so next time it needs better planning.

We wander around the town which is actually very quiet. Judi thinks everyone but the tourists have left the city and given the heat I don’t blame them. We are heading for the river to find somewhere to eat when we chance upon a square full of artists and restaurants. The funny thing is I have been here before and tripped up over it last time. Not really looking for it but just sort of stumbled across it. So we decide that’s where we will eat Judi finds one which is listed in a guide book (which we don’t have) and down we sit. Fresh pasta and simple salads. It does not take much to make a good meal just good fresh ingredients. We sit and idly watch the artists and the musicians playing and remembering many many different places we have been and dinners we have had.

It is only day one of the vacation and this has been a good one. My favorite city (because it is chock full of history every corner brings something) the sunshine a good meal and a couple of drinks a great way to start a vacation. Tomorrow we will have a real route and a plan. None of today’s adhoc wanderings so I best get some rest.

(I only took 238 pictures today so goodness knows what the total tally will be, they are not all there)

So what’s wrong with a nice quiet beach holiday

So what’s wrong with a nice quiet beach holiday

Good question and one I ask myself every now and again. I remember a couple of trips to Blackpool when I was a kid. (as one of 10 kids trips were are rare occurrence so they were remembered) There is even a picture of me on Blackpool beach all ribs and skinny arms. The place was around 90 minutes from where we lived so not exactly an adventure but when you are 8 or 10 any trip is exciting.

If you know me you know I like new places I think I have only been back to the same place two or three times. Bangkok is one and there is something about the place it used to be very dirty and smog ridden full of un-metered taxi’s and Tuktuk’s which are three wheeler motorbikes. These days the smoke has gone and there is an underground and a monorail. The “water taxi’s are still exciting you literally jump onto a boat and roar down the river to the stop you want and jump off.  Health and safety would not allow it in most country’s but it is one of those experiences you need to try once just to be able to tell people how scary it is.

So back to the question, it came to mind as we are 3 days from our next vacation. A Mediterranean cruise  which combines the best of what we need. We get to see different places but only have to unpack once. We used to try and cram a weeks adventure traveling around then a week in the same place doing nothing but it would seem those times are long gone. We have done holidays where you just keep moving and are in a different place every other night which means you never really unpack you just rummage around your bag trying to find things and wondering why you though it was a good idea to bring 3 jackets to a place which is 100 degrees. I met a woman in the US who says when you travel all you need is a toothbrush and a visa card which is a challenge but worth considering. Not sure I have ever had a holiday where I have either run out of clothes or regretted not bringing something.

It is different for business travel that I have down to an art form a single carry on can support me for 2 weeks and despite what Judi thinks putting things into plastic bags to organize them works for me. Having a house full of saved bags is somewhat of a drag but you need a stock to work from. These days I have progressed from shopping carrier bags to these new vacuum bags where you squeeze the air out. There is a down side which is that you can get far more into you bag so it gets heavier.  We have a golden rule on packing and cases. “You can take what ever you want as you are carrying it” it was concocted when Judi wanted to take 6 pairs of shoes to Santorini. This is a small Greek island and we spent two weeks in t-shirts, shorts and flip flops. Six pairs of shoes I think not but if my darling wants to take something then of course she can she is carrying it.

Santorini was probably our only “beach” holiday if only because it was so small there was actually nothing to do. I hired a car one day and it took me only a couple of hours to complete a full lap of the place. The biggest stretch of tarmac was the airport runway. A day out was to go to the main town 30 minutes away and watch the cruise ships disgorge all their passengers into the jewelry shops and café’s. Ironically we will be those people in a couple of weeks as it is one of the stops on the cruise. So I will return to a place I have been before. This time though I know exactly which jewelers I will go to. It is one we went into on our first visit which had some really unique gold items which at the time were well out of my price range. They probably still are but I have regretted buying Judi a necklace at least once a month ever since. So this time I will buy something just to get it out of my system.  Don’t worry about spoiling the surprise Judi is still not reading my blogs. (Word has just told me blog is not a valid word spelling think they need to get wit the times)

So off around Europe on a boat for a couple of weeks, I have a plan to blog about where we are every day so allocate some time to check for updates. I will also try and post pictures on Picassa but don’t worry I will include links. Listen to me it sound almost like I know what I am doing with all this technology. The reality of course is that I am at the limit of my capabilities and hanging on by a thread. The phrase “I am not technically gifted” springs to mind.

What is interesting about this trip is that it is less than a week before we travel and there are no piles of clothes around. Judi normally starts laying out clothes (and shoes) at least a week before they go into cases. Not this time although that might be because there is actually nowhere to put piles in the place we are in it is too small. In the States we had a whole bedroom devoted to this. It became a staging area where cases and clothes were stored and exchanged for other cases and clothes as we finalized our requirements.

This morning Judi even told me she has yet to book a taxi to the airport. The airport is Domodedovo which is the one serviced by the express train. I think if she is using a taxi then it is because the cases will be big. The train station is 20 minutes away from the flat which might be a drag too far although I did it on my recent adventure.

I have not got around to answering my question yet (sorry for the rambling)

I think there are so many interesting places in the world it would be remiss of me not to at least try and see as many as I can whilst I can. I am knocking on a bit now and I have this vision in my head of me in some old peoples home staring at the wall and when I eventually am physically there I will be remembering all the wonderful places I have been and the silly things we did and smiling inside.
I do not deride people who choose to return to familiar places again and again and secretly wish I could do that.
Maybe the next holiday will be lying on a beach somewhere (maybe next to a temple or a medieval fort or old city wall)

I cannot make this stuff up part 2

So almost ready to take off. Smiler decides to take the newspapers round and the babushka in the window set takes a copy of every one available. She ends up with five which I think is a little excessive even for a 4 hour flight. Maybe she will make fire lighters out of them when she gets home. Blond lady and she are getting along famously. I have no idea at all what they are talking about but they seem happy. I look for my peanuts and as I pour some into my hand two more appear. Both ladies to my right are holding their hands out for some and smiling broadly. Actually I am fine with this as the bag is much bigger than I usually buy and given I do not have enough personal discipline not to eat them all it is good someone will help me.


Ok we are off and in the air. Once leveled out someone tried to use the toilet at the front of the cabin and gets chased out by the business class stewardess who defends her territory like an Alsatian. Jerking the curtain closed so we do not disturb the some business class passenger who is unfortunate to be the sole focus of her attention for the next four hours. My new BFF’s and I continue to share the peanuts until smiler arrives with the drinks trolley. My companions order two drinks Babushka wants diet coke and a tomato juice the blond orange and fizzy water. I think they are trying to get their money’s worth. I just get orange.


About this time my previous row companion who seemed to b contemplating changing a diaper whilst in the middle seat cross from me is chased out by the angry Rottweiler in business. This means she needs to pass the drinks trolley which is at row 12 of 38. Smiler pulls it back into business to let her through and again from row 15 when she comes back. Rather than returning to her seat she decides to get something out of the overhead. Unable to do this with the little octopus she passes him to me. Mmmm still trying to get the blood to flow from our last encounter I guide his feet to the floor of the aisle rather than onto my knees. As soon as he feels something solid under his feet he is off however I have hold of his reins so he does not get far. He tries a couple of attempts to wriggle free but to no avail. He takes his wrath out on the closest thing which is half a glass of water which the passenger was hoping to drink rather than mop up. Smiler magically arrives with tissues whilst mum picks him up and goes back to her seat with a bag with a box in it. Out of the bag she pulls a box which contains a brand new portable DVD player. Now forgive me but I think she might have enough to keep her occupied than trying to get a new DVD to work and I personally doubt the battery will be charged up enough for her to get it running. If she is trying to pacify the toddler he is far more interested in the box (go figure). Lunch or dinner comes and goes with both my companions having rice and fish plus vodka which I have something resembling pasta with mince. It matters not what it is as it is just there to occupy the time.


Just to liven up the proceedings two more children have been released to run up and down the aisle bumping into things knocking things over and generally banging themselves into hard objects until they cried. When not on a path of self destruction they pass the time by pulling each other hair and stealing one another’s toys. I am not sure what logic the parents are using which makes them believe this is a good idea and you can feel the tension rise during the track and field events. Eventually they get tired and all sit down again.


I take the opportunity to visit the toilet and find a male steward leaning against the door. He moves aside and I find that his job this trip is to hold the door shut as someone has broken the lock. Back to my seat which now resembles the boot sale I went to last week. The blond lady is looking for something in her sack of a handbag and is systamatically emptying the contents onto my chair. If you have heard of the Tardis then this is the closest I have come to it. She collects everything up in her arms so I can regain my seat then promptly dumps everything into my lap. (It’s only 4 hour’s whistles through my mind). Eventually she finds her holy grail and pulls out a diary. She and babushka are swapping telephone numbers and addresses. We easily get everything back into the bag and it somehow slides under the seat in front of us.


We are starting to descend you can tell by the way the children start to get agitated. We will actually land on time which means we picked up around 50 minutes. This is needed as this plane has to turn around and get back to Heathrow before it closes. Landing is a little bumpy but the old adage “any landing you can walk away from is a good one” serves us well. The pilot gets a hearty round of applause which I always find entertaining. Pull into the gate and there is a mad dash however I remain seated. I know we are not getting off until the medical team has given us the all clear. Next comes the announcement for everyone to go back to their seats. The medical team board and start to use thermal cameras to check up out and even after they leave the plane everyone still seems a little reluctant to cross the threshold into business to deplane just in case they get bitten by the mad dog up there. Well I have been travelling now for 26 hours so I doubt I would feel anything so off I go.


First off the plane is unnerving as there are no signs and wherever you go people will follow. At the end of the gangway there are three options up down or right. I remember last time we were bused from the plan and Passport control was on the ground floor so I guess down. If I am wrong then there will be 150 disappointed people glaring at me. I guess correctly and am first at the control point. Through and even better news my bag is 5th off the plane. Through the green channel and all that is left is to walk the full length of the airport to get the train. 250 rubles for my ticket and only ten minutes to departure my luck is holding. On the train there is a woman with a shopping trolley selling drinks and chocolate so that is my treat for myself. 40 minutes later I am in the center of Moscow waiting on the pavement for Judi to pick me up. Lots of unmarked cars stopping to see if I want a lift but not this time.

Judi arrives I fling my bag in the boot and slip into the front seat.

Judi “How was the trip?”

Me “Fine just fine, another ordinary trip”.
Judi “There is always something interesting on my flights maybe you need to pay more attention to whats going on around you”
Me “that’s a thought, maybe next time I will”
I lean back and sink into the leather seat and close my eyes for a moment

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried

I am on the last leg of my trip so London to Moscow.

The following events are recorded as I remember them and trust me there is little or no embellishment.

The gate for our flight is 5c which is one of those many satellite gates Heathrow has.

Along a corridor down the slope ignore International Transfers and hang left, up the escalators along then down the escalators, down the steps and through the doors. The reason I comment of the route is I am waiting at the gate and a woman has just arrived with a stroller with a kid in it and 5 bags hanging off it. So way to go you. That was some feat to navigate that obstacle course. The lady takes the kid out of the stroller however every time its feet touch the floor it takes off like the energizer bunny. It does had reins attached so not sure why she is not using them. Anyway after a while she gives up trying to untangle all the bags and puts the child back in the buggy.

Now you should know there is a fault with the display boards at the gate and they are at times showing “Go to Gate”, “Boarding”, “Closing” or “Closed”. Now what this causes is mild waves of panic in the assembling crowd of passengers. Each new intake to the gate area falls for this until the not so friendly desk girl explains v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y which is a particular English thing when speaking to foreigners. This includes Canadians and Americans after all they do speak a different language. Anyway as the board cycles through options little waves of panic until we start to board at which point of course everyone panicked.

Russians can queue but it is disorderly not really queuing more bunching or grouping. Even though the call was for people with children everyone moves forward. My lady with the stroller moves forward clipping peoples legs with the bags however it is effective at clearing a path which is immediately filled by a trail of people spotting the gap. Next call is for rows 20 -44 which does not have the desired effect of thinning out the queue in fact the assembled throng (its now clearly larger than a group) continues to try and slip onboard however the gate girl stands firm and anyone with a row less than 20 is stopped at checkpoint Charlie (if you don’t know about checkpoint Charlie, Google it)

The reason I see all of this carnage is that I am in row 11, I managed to get the BMI automated kiosk to move me towards the front of the plane an aisle seat with nobody in the middle chair. The 10 -20 call comes and the bun fight ends as I slip quietly past whilst some guy with a heave Irish accent tried to explain to the desk girl exactly where she went wrong. Down the stairs and out and bump into the end of the queue to the plane. Probably about 40 people waiting to board so this idea of getting the back rows on first did not seem to have the desired effect.

It’s ok remember I am at the front with elbow room, well maybe not, I am at the front but the lady with the toddler and the bags is sitting in the middle seat (what joy) I have a Babushka at the window the bag lady plus kid on her lap in the middle then me. Ok stay calm you can do this its only 4 hours. Surprisingly there is ample leg room certainly although the row in front is still close enough for the kid next to me to easily kick the back of the chair in front. Mum turns him sideways so he could kick me instead. Not funny. Mom is trying to read a nursery rhyme to him however I think he is more interested in plotting an escape route. Whilst all this is going on a man in the row opposite decides this would be an ideal time to have a nose bleed. He is in the window seat and his companions vacate their chairs extremely quickly to let him through. The man with the Irish accent stops him a few rows back and explains exactly what he needs to do to stop it however I don’t think the Russian guy fully got it. Whilst all this is going on Mum has been rummaging through the three bags she has stuffed under the chair in front of her for something. What ever it is it is not there so up she gets and who gets to hold the brat child (got it in one) I do consider a short pinch but decide a crying baby at this point would not help. Some strength in these kids today. Mum finds a small bottle and he makes a leap for it using my general groin area as a launching pad. I need a moment before I can stand and let her in again.

Ok lets all settle down. Nose bleed man has come back although his shirt is quite a mess. Irish accent is asking if we are still planning to take off today. The stewardess who is quite young seems to have a perfect smile stuck on her face. One of those “I am very pleased with myself” smiles or “this is my first flight and I am having so much fun” what ever it is is keeping her very happy. So are we ready for the off, not really the Babushka at the window now decides to goad the mum with the kid into asking the stewardess if she could move up a row. We are in 11 and 10 is behind business class so there is probably 6 inches more room. Mum presses the attendant button and smiler comes over. Several versions of explanations later some middle aged woman agrees to swap places which I personally think is a great idea however the muttering going on under the middle aged woman’s breath indicate she is not so pleased. I stand whilst the cabin shuffle takes place mum kid three bags, middle aged lady a bag as big as a sack plus the tapestry she is sewing all dancing back and forth. An Irish accent is heard to say “they won’t bleedin take orf wit all those people standing up” I don’t even validate this with a backward glance. My mantra is its only 4 hours only 4 hours only 4 hours.

So are we set to go,,,,,,,,,, well nearly the pilot says due to the extended boarding time we are waiting for a new slot and should be a few minutes. Middle ages lady now next to me is furiously searching the tapestry for something. I note the pattern is of a panther on a mountain, given half the thing is panther and the panther is black I don’t think this will be too much of a challenge to her. Anyway she is obviously looking for something. It is her needle which she can not find. A though rus through my head that if she left is on her other seat the mum will no doubt find it soon sticking out of the kid somewhere. Middle aged lady wants to get up and go and look for it and stands. I notice it was on her lap as it falls to the ground. I lean forward to pick it up and she tries to vault over me in my doubled up position. Somehow I stop her crashing over me into the isle and present her with her needle. She says I am a very nice man and kisses me on the cheek.

The stewardesses while away the time by going through the safety demo, the kid steals the life jacket and won’t let go but smiler continues as mum prizes it from his grasp. She is now out of synch with the announcements but never brakes the smile, what a trooper.

A voice from behind asks “are we ever going to bleedin take orf” Smiler goes to investigate and I can clearly hear an Irish accent explaining how an airline company can be run more efficiently.

The question is will we ever take off, you will have to wait for the next installment.