Wednesday 6 May 2009

Fly away holiday

Work hard play hard

Going on holiday is an integral part of my work-life balance, I work hard but reasonably within the hours God provides rather than all hours as if we have reached the end of time.

A whole stretch of working is always followed by a period of holiday that would last a minimum of 15 days and can go up 22 days.

The holiday we get in Europe is one reason why I will not cross the pond for work, productivity should always include the ability to have more time off, productivity is not living in fear of losing your job and only having 2 weeks off a year – that, in my view is slavery. Period. To borrow an Americanism.

For good reason you need the first week to wind down, the second to get out and do stuff beyond the routine of bathing, beer and beach.

By the third week you should be ready to return and be the freshest proponent of your calling and career as well as have stories to tell about your experiences and adventures – my stories are told in my blogs and pictures – I take plenty of them and throw them up on flickr.

Routine or adventure?

Planning a holiday is not too difficult, it settles somewhere between seeing something new which I do at least once a year and returning to old haunts which have their benefits of comfort, security, knowledge and service.

Packing for holiday is however a completely different conundrum and one struggles between what one wants and what one needs. Not to forget anything I might need is what I want but I never end up with what is really needed.

So, after shopping for holiday things – first aid kit, vitamins, batteries and reading material it was left to me to pack for 3 weeks holiday in the sun, not just shorts but other things that would allow you to turn out well without having to go shopping for those things whilst away.

Scheduled for a charter

Usually, I travel to Gran Canaria by scheduled flights but that includes a stop-over in either Barcelona or Madrid and a 4 and a half hour direct flight from Amsterdam ends up run for 7 hours or more.

The benefits of scheduled flights are myriad, 4 trips to my frequent flyer account, double the miles and rights if things go wrong – though I was miffed when I found that flying on my own accord was almost EUR 400 more expensive than if I went by the included charter flight.

Besides, I am able to take up to 35kg as opposed to a paltry 20kg, that is just about enough for basic makeup and lip gloss.

So, I packed and weighed the stuff on a set of two scales, one digital the other analog and it came to 24kg, so I unpacked everything and struggled to jettison some stuff, it came down to 22kg on my contrived measuring system – it was in fact 24.5kg and I had to pay excess baggage to Transavia, a KLM company that KLM does not accord any flyer bonuses.

The way they get you to pay up is to ask if you want to jettison stuff at the check-in desk – how you could ever do that, I do not know, the suitcase alone is probably 8kg – I should have asked if I could have sealed mailbags.

My boarding pass was ripped up and I was given an invoice to pay up at a KLM window where I was issued with another boarding pass, but really, I could have just had it printed out at one of the terminals again – my suitcase was already on its way onto the plane.

For the witching hour

Did I say, my taxi picked me up at 2:00AM? I do not enjoy charter flights for all sorts of reasons and that is one of them – our flight was to take-off at 5:15AM and it was already airborne at 5:08AM – we were the second flight out of Schiphol.

My seat was on the second row, typical of when I travel on scheduled flights and I always have the window, a magazine or two and a Sudoku puzzle book, my Creative Zen Mozaic MP3 player was playing back the classical playlist as I settled down to a nap, a snore and the occasional jolt.

The seat belt was quite extended, the person who occupied it before me must have been wider than they were tall, but there was no heat from the last sitter.

Front row seats also have that unusual situation of being sparsely populated, the middle seat was unoccupied, and travelling Economy really did feel like I was travelling Business Class.

The man behind me must have been in his 60s but he fidgeted like a kid, banging at the back of my seat that I first gave his wife that look, she restrained him for a while and it continued, then I gave him that look and it stopped.

Observing people dropped off

On arrival at Las Palmas, at baggage collection you could see a study in bizarre human behaviour, I am no anthropologist but the baggage comes out on a conveyor belt meaning eventually no matter where you are stood along the 70 metres of conveyor belt, your baggage will eventually get to you, but they all bunch up that the starting point and wreak havoc on each other collecting their stuff.

I now arrange a personal transfer from the airport to the hotel because when we travelled on the coach we had a tour of all hotels in Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles until we are the last to be dropped off 75 minutes later.

I arrived at the hotel to the greeting – Welcome to your second home, Sir – it is my 4th time at the Riu Palace Maspalomas Hotel and I am a creature of habit because the staff here have the habit of making my stay the complete absence of stress the epitome of ease.

The rooms are not that luxurious, I have been in bigger suites, but it is people that make hotels not the building – as I remember, when leaving home, the heavens were open with rain pouring down, I arrived at my second home and the heavens were open with rays of sunshine kissing my body and making me tan naturally.

It is too far away to think of the 25th, I’ll just have a cocktail and put my feet up today.

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