reflections on travel

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I have just finished review number 610 on my Trip Adviser page. Those who enjoy travel may care to read my utterances. I started taking this website seriously about 2008 when I began to realise how valuable it was to read the experiences of those who had travelled to a place that I might have been wanting to experience.

We all want different things when we travel and reading reviews is quite an art. You learn to dismiss reviewers who completely rubbish place or restaurant, especially if they have only written two or three reviews. An establishment that is completely bad would not remain in existence and it is often the case that the writer is having a bad day. There are five categories ranging from excellent to very poor. If you read the very good ones and the middle category you are more likely to get the most accurate impression.

how do I prepare for travel? I find that the vast majority of my  preparation takes place between four and two months before I leave. I find the information takes time to settle and that the inevitable jet lag or cultural shock is minimised when I’m already there in my mind.  However there are limits to what preparation can achieve. I remember once arriving in Sydney after a 36 hour journey, standing in a hotel foyer, and feeling that the floor was moving. I mentioned this to the receptionist and she just smiled.  Flying I view as a mixed blessing.

My sister has just come back from Australia where she was able to fly business class and tells me that there is such a difference between that and tourists or cattle class. Maybe one day when I have enough money I will treat myself but meanwhile I’d rather save the money and spend it on food at the other end. With regard to turbulence, I find the best thing to do is to focus on the far horizon. This acts as a stabiliser and is amazingly effective in reducing any motion sickness. Mind you I have to say that the modern jet is really very comfortable compared with let’s say a propeller airline flying at 10,000 feet and being buffeted around. Once I was on an Air India flight to New York and we suffered a bit with turbulence and I said to a pilot who happened to meet me on the back of the aircraft, how bad is this out of 10? He smiled slightly and said ‘a half’. from that moment I did not complain any more.

Flights up to 2 hours are neither here nor there especially if they are in a north or south direction. One of my longest flight was to Hong Kong which I think was about 14 hours. Mercifully we have videos and so on but I find a small image so unsatisfactory I think I would rather follow the flight Tracker.  I find I get into some sort of trance state, eat, sleep, drink, dream, stare at TV, read a book, go to the loo – time passes quicker than you think or perhaps time ceases to exist. I often wonder how many times we breathe in the air that has been exhaled by other people. It can’t be very healthy which is why we need a strong immune system.

I’ve been to America about 40 times mainly in the 80s and 90s. I felt the first few days very difficult, I would wake up at about 4 AM and go to have a pre breakfast breakfast at about 6 AM and then a proper one at 8 AM or so. I’ve never had so much coffee in my life and probably over eaten more chemical filled foods than I normally do. No wonder people are so fat. I wonder if the cars have special suspensions to cope with the extra weight, which is at a guess, easily double of the weight of the average person. Mind you were getting an obesity problem in the UK now with increasing numbers of people going from bariatric surgery. It’s all about ignorance. I think sugar is the main culprit.

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