Air travel in 2023

I arrive at the airport two hours before my scheduled flight and begin the continued long process. I have checked in online, navigated my way through questions, added documents and scrolled through the process. No, I do not want to check a bag, less chance of losing my belongings and certain delays at my destination where I would silently panic standing at the baggage carousel and will my bag to arrive. No, I don’t want to select my seat for an extra charge where the seat offers nothing extra except a different seat in steerage. No I’m not bringing explosives and indeed I’m complying with the liquid requirements.

I go directly to security and begin the process. Show my passport, show my boarding pass or some combination. No my passport isn’t needed, then the next airport it’s needed. Take off my shoes, no your shoes are fine. Take off my coat, unpack my laptop, two bins needed, one for the bag, the other for the computer. No one bin is all that is necessary. Take the liquids out. Finally walk through, nothing dings, yeah, or into the full body scan, I’m good, another airport later I’m not and need a pat down.

Time to repackage my belongings and commiserate with fellow travellers as we get dressed and sorted. Now I’m thirsty. I could have brought an empty water bottle, something else to lug around so need to buy water at $5 a bottle. Seems like a scam. It would be lovely to be provided with a bottle of water after the ordeal, though my dream of a kind, gentle world does not materialize.

The airport is noisy with constant announcements. The constant message, this plane is full and there is not enough room for carry on luggage, asking and pleading for folks to check their luggage. No thanks, my bag and I have been through quite a lot to get here and we are not interested in parting ways. I put my leg on top of my bag to seal my decision.

The next announcement is the delay. We are all in our places but the flight crew has not arrived, the plane is delayed, the flight crew has timed out. We need to wait. I find it interesting that I’m where I need to be hours before my flight and I don’t work in the airline industry and yet the reason for the delay is firmly on the shoulders of folks in the business.

Finally, after several announcements of further delays, boarding begins. It starts with the gold members, folks who fly frequently and I begrudge them nothing, they have done this process many times and deserve their reward. Then folks needing assistance, small children, then by zones. I always find it curious that though children and infirm board first, they somehow manage to leave the plane with everyone else, no longer needing assistance. It’s a miracle.

Halfway through boarding, there is no room in the overhead bins and now folks with backpacks, computers and their worldly belongings need to put their stuff under the seat in front of them. Sometimes their bag is taken and stored many rows from its owner. It’s predictably chaotic and delays the departure.

Finally, we are all seated. We wait on the tarmac for our turn, though are delayed by needing to de-ice, charge the plane or some other issue. We are finally off

The drapes are closed to stop the gawking of a better life just a few seats ahead

We reach cruising altitude, the seat belt sign is off and now begins the constant to and fro to the washroom, then the announcement to use the washroom closest, folks looking for a better life, ignore.

The headphones are offered, it’s important to not blink if needed, as the airline staff run through the aisle trying to sell at speed, predictably there aren’t many takers. Folks resign themselves to silent movies as their headphones are now in the overhead bin or with their newly checked luggage.

The next excitement is the drink and food trolley. Oh how I miss the meals of days gone by, included and complete with real silverware, usually with the local food of where were going. Now it’s paid food and liquor, whereby the $5 bottled water now looks like a bargain. Still we are offered a beverage and if we are lucky we can keep the can too, it’s rarity making it feel like a luxury. Sometimes we are offered pretzels or a cookie.

Then there is the lounging of the guy in front where his seat back is completely extended, decreasing my square footage whereby I can also extend creating a domino effect. I decline though put up with the constant movement and stretching whereby the seat continues to move, eventually causing my drink to spill. No worries the staff are burning through the cabin picking up garbage

We are close to our destination, though a further delay as we now need to circle the city to use up the excess gas. Isn’t there some sort of calculation?

We arrive and now begins the drive to the hanger. We need to wait again as the ground crew are not available. I wonder did they not know we were coming?

I have booked through one airline and was given a tight connection. My naivety had me thinking it was doable—the airline must know what is possible and yet despite arriving 2 hours before my flight and having an hour connection. It is now past the time of my flight, perhaps the flight will also be delayed?I had mentioned this to the airline staff and although they allowed me and seemingly half the plane off first, no further assistance is offered. I run through an airport I don’t know, to my gate, no one is there. I find a staff member to ask and am advised the flight has left. This flight was also delayed but not by enough for me. I have missed it by 8 minutes. Now what? I’m directed to customer service, a line stretching into oblivion and cue. Three hours later, it’s my turn.

I explain my situation, she checks her computer and happily announces it’s not their fault as there were too many planes in the sky. In effect I’m owed nothing. I calmly explain its not my fault, though if I was in charge of booking flights and ensuring there were just enough planes in the sky, this would not be a problem.

Not interested in looking for my own roach motel, I played the old lady card. She had to check with her Manager, I felt like I was buying a new car. She comes back and provides food credits, and lodging at a roach motel accessed through a shuttle. I notice for folks where the airline was at fault they also received airline swag (water bottle) and a granola bar—lucky pups!

I’m hungry and tired but navigate instead to the shuttle buses and wait. Many buses arrive. One shuttle bus driver advises our bus has broken down and we should go with him, three of us do.

We arrive at the hotel and share the broken shuttle bus story. All checking in ceases as they all stop to verify. In exasperation I advise that we don’t care and perhaps they could complete the check in and then sort out their dodgy bus. They hadn’t considered this, luckily this makes sense to them and the arduous process starts.

I’m given a room key, take the elevator to the third floor. When the doors open there is a wall. I am confused but push it out of the way and I’m free. The lodging is under construction, that might have been nice to know. I arrive at my door, and try the key several times, it does not open. I take the stairs, wait my turn and advise. Another key is given. I walk upstairs, and voila the door opens.

The room is an expected sad affair. I drop my luggage and proceed to the convenience store where I purchase a bag of liquorice. I’ve all but burned through the pretzels eaten on the plane.

I try to sleep, though fitfully. I’m afraid to miss my flight the next day. I need to arrive 2 hours prior to begin the process anew

My flight is delayed twice and we experience 3 gate changes. I spend all my credits on my breakfast, bottled water and snacks in case I’m stranded again. This time the Pilot comes into the boarding lounge to advise that our plane has a mechanical failure, but no worries they are hoping to quickly solve so we can be on our way. I fire off a quick text to my husband so if the plane crashes he can sue the airline for rushing the fix. I hope they take their time. He addresses us a couple more times and finally an hour later we begin to board.

All I can think of the experience is the amount of money paid to be inconvenienced. It wasn’t my money this time as my work paid. My trip was relatively last minute, booked two weeks before departure, the cost nearly triple the regular fare. Interesting how the price rises as the day to departure is closer. I think it should be opposite that the airline should be happy to sell tickets and fill planes to decrease their costs and their carbon footprint. How amazing if a flight had one cost from one destination to another regardless of the day booked. All seats in steerage the same cost. Still, I thank my good fortune that I do not work in the airline industry, how embarrassing to work for such a inefficient industry. How shameful.



We arrive in Amsterdam after a long night and day of travel. We are greeted at the airport by John’s cousin, Nelda and Aunt, Emmy. Such a welcome pleasure and so very different from other trips where we arrive without knowing a soul.

We enjoy a coffee and beer at the airport and collect our thoughts before continuing our journey. We find the lighthouse marker where we find Nelda’s car and relax while she expertly navigates the car to her home. I reflect on other trips where we frantically search for the rental agency and then twirl our way out of the airport, brows furrowed as we find our accommodation sleep deprived. I decide I like this experience much more.

We arrive at our destination, a beautiful, spacious apartment with a view of the Amstel river. We set our bags down in our room and visit for a few moments before exhaustion settles in and our eyes’ blink rate slows. We crawl into bed for a nap with a planned wake up call a few hours later to break the jet lag.

The knock on the door arrives and we peel ourselves away from the comfortable bed to the dining room where we meet Marieke, Nelda and Emmy for coffee. Soon dinner arrives without our effort and we indulge.

Satiated we decide on a walk around the neighbourhood. The light dims, the river shimmers as we admire architecture, each building unique and beautiful, all favourites its too difficult to choose. Nelda points out important landmarks, the train station, trolley and bridges. We get our bearings.

We arrive back, drink wine and learn about each other. Soon we are talking and laughing, like we have always known each other, deep belly laughs and tears run down our faces to round out our first night in Amsterdam.

Monkeys, Sloths, Canopy Tour and Hot Springs

The Howler monkeys wake us early with their screams. We are happy for the wake up call, though a volume control would be nice.

Our lodging at the Ceiba tree resort includes breakfast and happily we make our way to the dining room.

We opt to eat al fresco, enjoy the morning breeze, view of Lake Arenal and the amazing Ceiba Tree. The tree is over 500 years old. I sip my coffee and imagine what it has seen. I can imagine people in various attire marching through the timeline enjoying its shelter and all the animals that have called it home.

We speak to fellow Canadians at breakfast. One man asks what we thought of the drive, it’s clear his opinion as we detect a twitch. His wife is not ashamed to say she was car sick. We sit a little straighter, perhaps we are doing okay. We learn the mountain traverse last night was not necessary and that the roads are smooth. The map app cost us an extra tortuous 60km. We hate her and are happy to ignore her for part of the way back.

John is interested in a Canopy tour, a chance to zip through the jungle like Tarzan. Wanting to be his Jane, I nervously agree. We begin our drive and stop at a shop to inquire about the tour. We learn it is mere meters away.

We arrive, park in an impossibly large parking lot, pay for the tour and browse the over priced gift store chock full of tchotchkes. No knickknacks needed, we browse our way through. We find a beautiful lodge and enjoy a leisurely coffee. It is a beautiful place with its manicured plants and sanitized experience. How different from the more authentic experience we have been enjoying, less North American, more Costa Rican. I’m ashamed at the excess that seems to be required in places like this one and happy for our rental in the mountains.

We complete the paperwork for the tour supplying our passport information and blood type. We agree we understand emergency services may take time. We are then fitted with our gear for the Canopy adventure and my heart beats a little faster. A young family arrives with a young girl of 4 years. She declares it is her first time, I admit it is mine too. We both resolve to not be afraid.

We receive an in service and soon just like Tarzan and Jane, John and I are zipping from tree to tree through the jungle. The perspective unique as we see the trees from our perch then fly over with a birds eye view.

Eleven trees later we arrive at the terminus. Our ride back is an open air affair pulled by a tractor up steep inclines and impossibly narrow roads, equally exciting it is our bonus tour.

We change gear and soak our tired muscles in a series of natural hot springs rich in minerals. Each spring progressively cooler as we descend. The view of Volcan Arenal breathtaking with its frame of lacy palm fronds. A worker directs our sight to a Sloth in the tree. We watch him for a time, he scratches and like fireworks we ooh and ahh at the movement.

We have enjoyed our time at this resort and reluctantly begin the long trek back to our lodging. We comfort ourself with the knowledge that without the unnecessary extra mountain we have only 110km to travel. We allow 4 hours for the journey.

Every minute is required as we discover rush hour has waited for us. I’m toughening up as I no longer feel the need to cry, bite my nails or grip the dash. We crawl through the final hour. The map app throws up her hands once more as she directs us in a marionette circle. We are on to her though, allowing her to yip out directions in the background while we use our memory and find our way to our lodging in the dark.

It occurs to us that the GPS signal is likely being lost in the mountains and that perhaps the map app is not out to get us as we feared.

In any case, today we have enjoyed the journey, the car ride part of the adventure though not the entire story. 


via Daily Prompt: Together

Together, it is a warm word, inclusive.  In this big world it really is better if we hold hands and face it together.

We learn as children to hold hands when we cross the street to keep us safe.  We practice the buddy system and know that there is strength in numbers.  We are a social being and life is sweeter when shared with someone else.

I’ve relished my time alone and enjoy my own company.  I have loved travelling solo and experiencing the world with my own agenda.  These pursuits taught me to push myself further, that there was no limit.   A nagging thought pestered,  something was conspicuously missing.  It was the witness to the beauty or horror that I saw.  Someone that saw what I saw, or perhaps saw something different and in this manner added to the tapestry of the experience.  It was lonely at the end of the day, as I dined alone and wrote about the day.

I’ve enjoyed travelling with my husband, children and grandchildren and each adds to the experience.  It is never lonely.  There is negotiation of how the day will be spent and I don’t always get exactly what I want, nor do they. I do know that all the places that I travelled alone are now different with another person to share the experience.  Together is so much sweeter.


Its just after Christmas and we are on our way to Canmore for a week long trip.  We spend the first few days by ourselves and then our daughter,  son in law and our two young grandsons join us in this winter wonderland.

During the off holiday times, my husband and I spend very little time together.  He works nights, I work days and there are many days when we do not see one another.  Technology bridges the gap somewhat, though we are from a different world where conversation was face to face and somehow the emoticons fall short.  This week we spend an entire week together, relaxing and catching up with each other.

The condo we have rented is beautiful, though the blinds are curiously lowered at the top,  We unpack and settle into watching cable television, a treat for us as we have cancelled our satellite service several years previous in favour of Apple TV and Netflix.  The home improvement and real estate shows play a continuous loop for the duration of our stay until we are saturated and long for a break.  Commercials initially are a novelty, though very quickly become annoying as a 20 minute show stretches out to accommodate all the things that we should want or desire.

The bed is very comfortable and a television adorns the wall, a novelty for us as we fall asleep watching.  We wake in the morning and quickly understand why the blinds cover only the bottom half of the window.  The top reveals that we are surrounded by mountains and in my cozy socks and pyjamas I marvel at the view.  My heart beats just a little slower in the mountains.

Our destination is the townsite.  Canmore is a town outside of the National Park and as such land can be owned. The town has had a boom in recent years and its real estate is out of reach for most people.  Still, Canmore has retained its small town charm.  There are no big box stores on main street, opting instead for Mom and Pop shops, local artists and coffee shops.  Its a busy time, and we find crowds of people jockeying for position to park.  We find a spot off the main drag and set out to walk the shops.  The streets are bustling and the shops are doing a brisk business.

We find in one store chalk candy, a treat from Holland that is impossible to buy at home.  I have ordered from the internet previous, though the shipping charges and wait time are onerous.  We buy the majority of what is for sale, leaving a few bags for people that might follow.

It is a lazy time, where we have no particular place to be.  We walk the street, peruse the shops, find something to eat when we are hungry and then retreat to our rented home for the night.  We play scrabble, build lego and play card games.  We enjoy our family.  The boys are busy, happily playing with their lego.  It is a relaxing time after much hurrying prior to Christmas.

After several days of doing nothing, we decide to snow shoe at Lake Louise.  We book a tour and meet our group in Banff townsite.  We are the only people from Alberta, the remainder from around the world.  The drive is beautiful and off the beaten path.  We are treated to fir trees dripping with snow, Elk and at every turn a photo that demands to be taken.

Lake Louise is a jewel in the mountains.  The hotel sits on a perch with the lake stretching out in front.  Ice sculptures have been created and people enjoy skating on the lake.  There is an ice bar set up, sleigh rides and trails in every direction for those more ambitious.


We don our snow shoes and set out to explore. It is a hard climb, though the shoes make it somewhat easier.  We travel what seems like a great distance, though are mindful of the time and turn back to have time for a lunch at the hotel.  Earlier, we staked out our lunch destination.  It is a beautiful open room with views of the lake and mountains.


We arrive hungry at our preferred lunch destination and are denied service.  It is a busy time in Lake Louise and during these busy times, they will not serve people unless they are hotel guests.  This seems peculiar to us as the restaurant at 2 pm is nearly empty.  We are directly to a dark, dank restaurant on the lower level and for a tidy sum of over $40.00 we can have a hamburger, fries and a coffee, we decline.  We are then directed to a deli where the prices might be better, but alas the food is wrapped in plastic wrap and sits unappetizingly in the display cabinets.  We decide to not liberate it for its high price.  There is no place to sit, and we leave the hotel in search of something else.  We are directed to another hotel a short walk away.  We trudge through the snow, arrive and find it closed. We trudge back.  We are famished.  Considering our options, we decide to wait until we arrive in Banff for our sustenance.

We find a hotel employee at the Lake Louise hotel and register our displeasure.  A quick internet search shows that our complaint was not the first, though they are firm in their decision.  The response from the hotel is that their guests are paying for exclusivity and as a hotel they must comply.  Wow!  We may not be hotel guests, but we too have paid nearly $200.00 for the tour whose sole purpose was to take us to this hotel.  If you do have a chance to go to Lake Louise, leave your credit card behind, but don’t forget your granola bars.











Grateful, Thankful and Satisfied in Zanzibar

We spend the day relaxing, lazing around our room, reading and relish in the option of stretching out on the bed or sitting on the couch, so many soft surfaces to consider. Such a change from the last few weeks where a cozy spot was not possible as we moved from one place to another, comfort just beyond our reach.

We pop open a can of Pringles,our staple in this continent and nibble on the salty snack. We wash it down with ginger beer, a tasty refreshment that has kept nausea at bay these last few weeks as we climbed Kilimanjaro and bounced around in Safari vehicles.
Options abound for dinner, there are restaurants and choice that surround and its difficult to choose. Our group plans to dine together and we set out in our clean clothes to peruse the many options available.
The night is dark and stars sprinkle above us, lighting our way as we walk sandals in hand in the cool sand. We find a lovely spot just a short distance from our resort. A table is set on the sandy beach. We sit and our chairs sink into the sand as we hunker down for the duration. Candles abound and the soft lighting is magical. Menus arrive, we are bombarded with choice, drinks, entrees. We decide after considering all our options and I close my eyes and take in the moment. I can hear the waves lap the beach, coupled with a lively band that strums out its chords.

The food and drinks arrive and we eat and drink relishing each sip and bite. After days of stews, Milo and unbuttered bread, our taste buds explode. It occurs to me how much we take for granted in life and only when its taken away do we realize how fortunate we are. I make a mental note to always be thankful though know that in time the memory will fade.
Satiated, we begin the walk back to our beach bungalow. How lovely to know that there is a permanent structure waiting for us, complete with a comfortable bed and the ability to sleep for as long as we choose.

We bid good night to our friends, making loose plans to meet up tomorrow. Perhaps we will snorkel, kayak, or wander the beach, its difficult to decide at this moment of relaxation. I am not interested in further adventure at this moment, liking that time has stood still for a time.
In many ways this part of the trip is a typical beach vacation and we could be anywhere in the world in our safe, gated community. As I watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean, I am in this moment and content to have the next unfold without plan.