The great escape

With the Covid Curse pretty much eliminating air travel to any place, reminiscing about my late wife Norma, The Pearl of the Orient and our many trips will have to satisfy my urge to wander. Here’s from back in the dark ages of 2010….

Well the Pearl and I made it safely out of North America across the pond and into rainy Ireland. There the clouds parted and with the exception of the odd shower we were treated to gorgeous weather.

Flying around Europe on budget airlines was another experience. We were booked on Ryan Air, a.k.a. SqueezyJet to U.K. and their reputation for being el cheapo is not exaggerated. It took us half a day to reduce our two 25 kg bags to three 15 kg bags, (an extra 35 Euros) which involved jettisoning my slippers, one pair of shoes, and several sets of underwear.

“But why can’t we leave some of your stuff behind,” I whined at the loss of my most comfortable pair of shoes and my ration of one set of clean underwear.

“Because your underwear is all pretty ratty, your shoes stink, and I need all my stuff (80% of the load) for the cruise!” snapped the Pearl as she pitched out more of my goodies.

It took us half a day to get everything reduced, re-weighed, and re-adjusted. The only casualty was the bathroom scales we used for the process. It would regularly go “TILT” when I stepped on it then picked up a bag to check the gain.

The Pearl had to kneel on the floor to read the weight as neither of us could focus on the numbers from standing height. It was not a pretty operation.

When we arrived at the check-in, we made sure we were early so we could double check our weights. We must have given the bathroom scale a hernia as we were now well underweight. I could have packed those shoes and slippers after all. Still there was the entertainment factor, watching other poor souls getting ripped off for their overweight sins. Fortunately for me they did not weigh individual passengers as well.

When we finally went down to the boarding gate, we thought the flight would be over half empty as there were very few checking in luggage. Wrong! There was a huge line where we were securely ensconced in last place. Even the Pearl sporting her cane and faking an extra limp couldn’t move us up in the queue. The plane you see was ‘festival seating’ and when the gate finally opened it was a mad scramble. The Pearl passed three joggers low and on the inside, but then coming down the stretch was cut off by an old lady in a wheel chair rolling high on the outside. Somehow we got a seat but after closing the doors everything came to a halt as they reopened and recounted the passengers- three times- before finally determining two had bolted through the gate without turning in their boarding passes.

The crew went through their pre-takeoff routine most of which was unnecessary, as in the event of a crash, we were so tightly squeezed in there would be no need to brace yourself. Can you say “sardines”? Also the seats were fixed in the upright position and there were no drop down table tops… can you say “leg cramps”?

Anyways we are safely settled here in Portugal, de-stressing. I think I’ll go out for a beer and maybe stock up on a new supply of underwear.