I love IgoUgo! It is the one travel site that does not restrict subjects that are common as long as the writing is reasonable and not terribly insulting to others. Those of us who write frequently are grateful. I know that I am. I also know that my subject is at least somewhat controversial and if the editors choose not to publish this piece, I will understand. I won't be happy, but I will understand.
I'm going to deviate for a bit anyway. I was just glancing through an article about travel that had a number of multiple choice questions that are part of a poll that the newspaper is conducting. As I went through the questions and answer choices, I was having a really difficult time finding the answer I would give from among the choices listed. One question was about what annoys me most about other air passengers? There were five answer choices among which were too much carry-on baggage, loud or rude behavior, foul smelling carry-on food, and a couple of others I don't remember.
Before I go on, I should first say a little about me and my attitudes for those (most of the readers) who have never read any of my comments.
I am a septuagenarian member (you may read "geezer" if you choose) of the backpacker/stay-in-hostels travelers and I have been traveling since the 1960's. I have learned to travel slowly for pleasure, relaxation, rejuvenation and because running is not something that I do well anymore. Where tours may spend four hours in a place, I may spend four days and go back again. I seldom have a real schedule. My only deadlines are arriving and leaving in and from Europe. Everything else is very negotiable (with myself).
My favorite countries are Scotland and Germany, but Belgium is creeping up there. Travel in Germany and Belgium is much easier because of the wonderful public transportation system and I like German food better. But Scotland is the land of my ancestors, so... Anyway, I find Scottish history to be fascinating and because we got our collective butts kicked by the English (the bad guys, although they will deny it) for quite a few centuries, I am always looking for Scottish heroes to worship and Scottish songs that point out the few times we got the best of those bloodthirsty Brits (and wrote about a hundred songs about the battle).
I am not a terribly adventurous person. I am afraid of heights and roller coasters; I won't climb 300+ steps just to be scared to death and nauseous, and I don't just simply love trying divine new foods. I will never be talked into bungee-jumping or sky-diving or eating snails or ox's testicles or haggis. I travel often and inexpensively, usually alone, and I always manage have a blast without spending US Treasury amounts on food or lodging! I am a very social person usually traveling alone, and if I want to have a conversation, it will be with a stranger. What better way is there to learn about another culture or city or just people in general?
As I said, I will not bore readers with reviews of expensive restaurants or lodging accommodations because I have never been inside either except to take photographs. In truth, I have seldom stayed in expensive hostels, much less hotels. I am not trying to plead abject poverty and wear it modestly (or immodestly) on my sleeve, but European travel is very doable on a small or limited budget, and available to many who believe that it is not possible for them. And, I think that I can prove it. My only disclaimer is that I am talking about solo travel, for the most part. Things are very different with a spouse or significant other, or with children, but still, it can be done, and I have suggestions for that too - next chapter.
Just for a quick example, I can spend four nights in a hostel for the price of one night in a medium priced hotel. I can save enough on one two-week trip to allow for another such trip for the same total cost as most tours. While I may not see as much in two weeks, a vacation is supposed to be relaxing and rejuvenating. How many people come back from a vacation just to need a vacation because they are so tired from their vacation? I have, and I don’t. When I get home, I can hardly wait until the next trip.
Slow and inexpensive is my motto. Enjoyment too. Please come along. Careful though, I am opinionated, explicit, and unambiguous as will become obvious . Perhaps even a little undiplomatic and politically incorrect.
So, back to the question about things that annoy me about other passengers. I am not trying to be insensitive to others, but this is a gripe that never appears in any kind of a poll about air travel. It is recent and on my mind, not because it happened, but because it happens so frequently to me and others. On a recent overnight flight to Munich from Chicago on a 747 jumbo, I was sitting in an aisle seat in the "Economy" section of the aircraft. A young woman was sitting in the window seat and we had introduced ourselves to each other when the occupant of the middle seat arrived. The person, who was well over 300 pounds, squeezed into the seat, put her purse on the floor under her seat, lifted both arm rests, and inflated herself into both seats on either side of her. I have done a pretty fair amount of flying in my life and this situation is fairly common. My presence of mind shattered, I grabbed the raised arm rest, and pulled it back down, saying, "Excuse me!" She then told me that "I always sit in the center seat so that I can be more comfortable." I said, "Ma'am, I'm sorry about the obesity in our country and your personal obesity and need for extra room, but I paid for all of this seat, and you are overlapping into well over one third of it with the arm rest down. I suggest that in the future that you purchase the entire row. I am not going to be responsible for your comfort or lack of it."
Obviously, that got flight attendants involved and because it was an over-booked flight there was no place to put either of us other than where we were. The young woman in the window seat thought that this was hilarious even though she was pushed against the bulkhead. The woman complained that she was so uncomfortable that she unable to sleep. She wasn't alone. In our row, none of us slept. Other than that, the flight was semi-peaceful, but very uncomfortable for all of us. The flight attendants apologized to me as I was leaving. At least there was that., but they didn't refund my money either.
Another major complaint of mine is that just when I'm attempting to fall asleep, the person next to me decides that we should have a lengthy conversation regarding something about which I know little and care less. I'll get into that little problem another time.
more coming... Obviously, there won't be any photographs.