Middle Aged Men in Lycra

No I did not make that up – it was coined by a journalist reporting on the World Travel Market and it seems that these Middle Aged Men in Lycra are going to be a force to be reckoned with in world tourism.
Here is the post –
“As for the middle-aged men in Lyrca, WTM is predicting that cycling will rival golf for leisure time of middle-aged men in the Americas. Golf is in a decline, dropping from 25 million players in the early 2000s to 19 million in 2013.” (Alexandra Talty)

Well if that is the case one can only hope that the MAMIL’s (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) have more dress sense than their golfing buddies.

Well maybe that is a little unfair – there are some pretty handsome golfers out there.

No – not that one – that’s not even a proper outfit Mr Daly.

But men in lycra – even middle aged…. that has a different ring to it.

(This is actually Tony Abbott who was the 28th Prime Minister of Australia.  You see anyone can be a MAMIL and he does it rather well.)

So  how does this growing trend affect us “other” travellers?  Well first of all I am sure they won’t be wearing lycra on the flight.  Will they?  Probably not!  But if they are serious cyclists they are going to want to take their own bike which takes up quite a bit more room than golf clubs.

And if you happen to be married to a MAMIL and travel with them then where the heck are you going to store that bike in your hotel room?

Other difficulties abound.  Either you are going to arrive in Europe and then cycle around from place to place which means carrying a back pack with all your belongings (i.e. extra lycra outfits, casual lycra for country pub evenings out, formal lycra and then those spare helmets in matching colours).  You would probably end up looking like this.

Hey guys – where’s the lycra.  I think the trick is with the MAMIL’s is that they don’t ride across country – they just do day rides.  That way they can get to a nice hotel and spend a comfortable evening.  That’s what middle aged people do.  No need to be cycling the roads with all your worldly possessions lashed onto you and your bike.

Now there is a way to do this – to kill two birds with one stone.  Get together with some like minded lycra clad people and go on a top class cycle tour.  This way you can enjoy the roads during the day, stay in super little boutique hotels every evening and have your luggage schlepped from one place to another.  Now that’s sensible.  And think how much pasta you can eat when you have been pedal-pushing all day!  An incentive I can live with.

Now that’s better – RWDMAMIL’s…

(in other words – Relaxed Wine Drinking Middle Aged Men In Lycra)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump vs Brussels

Wow – Donald Trump certainly doesn’t give classes in how to win friends and influence people.  The latest insults were hurled at the city of Brussels in an interview where he said “You go to Brussels — I was in Brussels a long time ago, 20 years ago, so beautiful, everything is so beautiful — it’s like living in a hellhole right now,”

Mmm – the people of Brussels didn’t like that at all but quickly responded via social media – don’t you love this.  You can get a message out faster than blinking.  The hashtag #hellhole quickly gained ground and these tweets and pictures appeared –

Embedded image permalink

Oh dear, looks like Mr Trump really upset the people of Brussels.  Maybe this presents an opportunity for Brussels to freshen up its image.  After all, Brussels is a beautiful and historic town full of lovely chocolate, waffles and fantastic beer.  So why then is this the most popular image in brochures and references to Brussels


Really?

I guess it could be worse… it could be something like this –
btourism - COME TO BRUSSELS IT'S A GAS

But I think this is the best answer Brussels could give
mpvstrump -  TAKE THIS MR TRUMP

 

Middle Seat Woes

It just seems to get worse and worse.  Everyone knows the middle seat sucks.  More often than not you get stuck next to a stranger – sometimes stuck in the middle of two strangers.  Even worse.  Especially arm hogging big strangers.  Do I have to repeat the arm rest rule –

Window seats get the window
Aisle seats get one armrest
Middle seat gets both armrests.

Aaaah – the good old days!

It was slightly worse for an unfortunate man flying from Hawaii to JFK.  He took the middle seat while his wife had the window seat.  Now … that`s what I call gallantry.  However his chivalrous behaviour was not rewarded by the gods. No siree.  The chappie sitting on the aisle seat proceeded to get drunk and then started playing with our Middle Seat Man.  Yes … playing as in touching his groin.  Oh my …. what to do in a situation like that?  Our Middle Seat Man said “What the hell?” or words to that effect upon which his molester took his pants off totally and started…. Well sorry.  You will have to read the full report in the New York Post.

Now this has to be the worst case of bad behaviour towards a Middle Seat Person.

Usually Middle Seat People have to put up with less grevious but still very irritating behaviours such as having no arm rest at all, constant interruptions from the small bladdered window person and nosy parkers peering at your computer screen.  No surprise that airlines are now charging a premium seat selection charge for the 2 seats on the side and even for the aisle and aisle in the 3 configuration of seats in the middle of the aircraft.  Some might try to outwit the system by booking the aisle and aisle and leaving the middle seat open.  Good luck with that – only works on flights that are not heavily booked.

Other common fellow passenger complaints such as smelly feet, smelly packed lunches, super-sized travellers, fidgets and non-stop talkers are amplified to frightening levels when inflicted upon the Middle Seat Person.  There is no escape except by way of medication.

Family roots and other tales

A popular reason for a trip to Europe is to visit ancestral homes or villages, find out more about Great Uncle This or Great Grandmother That and maybe complete missing chapters in a family history.  As Canada is a country of immigrants then just about everyone living here has a link to another country and many of the early settlers came from Europe or surrounds.  In addition many Canadians will proudly remember Uncles, Great Uncles or Grandfathers who died in one of the Great Wars.

How strange that they are called that – Great Wars – when so many people died and so many towns were bombed out of existence.  Yet it is so amazing to visit Europe and find beautiful buildings like the Cathedral in Cologne totally restored to its original magnificence after having been hit fourteen times by aerial bombs during the Second World War.  Although it was badly damaged it remained standing tall dominating a mainly flattened city with its spires serving as a navigational landmark for Allied aircraft.  It is satisfying that a building whose foundation stone was laid in 1248 is still there today for us to be enjoyed.

The Cathedral still standing after the aerial bombing raids

Serious genealogy experts will want to inspect church records, copy birth certificates and look at land records but for others less serious who want to combine a vacation with a walk down memory lane it is easy to sit in a village pub somewhere and enjoy the ambience of the place and let your imagination run riot.

Of course when digging back through your family’s history you may uncover more information than you really want.  Here is one funny story I found about what to do when you uncover the Black Sheep of the family –

What to do about the Black Sheep

The Smith’s were proud of their family tradition. Their ancestors had come to America on the Mayflower. Their line had included Senators and Wall Street wizards. Now they decided to compile a family history, a legacy for the children. They hired a fine author. Only one problem arose — how to handle that great-uncle who was executed in the electric chair. The author said he could handle that chapter of history tactfully. The book appeared. It said, “Great-uncle George occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution, was attached to his position by the strongest of ties and … his death came as a real shock.”

Probably the most visible sign of families connecting with the past were the people I saw visiting the famous cemeteries of Belgium.  Walking through the cemeteries there was evidence of visiting family members with small tokens laid at the headstones.  It made me feel so connected to be able to see which regiment they had fought with, where their home was and how old they were when they made the supreme sacrifice.  Even sadder of course are the unmarked graves “Known unto God”.  I only recently read that this is attributed to Rudyard Kipling who lost his son John in the First World War.  His death could not be absolutely confirmed and Kipling refused to believe his son had died.

So if you are planning a trip to Europe take a little time to dig out the family history (if you have it) and find out where your family came from.  Make a detour and go out to visit that little village – get a feel for the people, the atmosphere, the food.  After all – these things, this place, played a part in who you are today.

Be careful what you write

Well our world has become much smaller thanks to social media.  And that can be a good thing or a bad thing – depending upon your point of view.  It’s certainly a good thing to be able to reconnect to old school friends on facebook or family living far away and how cool to be able to have a chat on video to your best friend halfway across the world…. for FREE !  Wow.

There is however a down side.  Once you press that key that posts, publishes or sends – that’s it boy!  Forever!  OK yes I know you can recall emails.  So how many times have you received a recall notice of an email that was sent to you half an hour earlier that you didn’t even bother to open yet.  Now you are interested.  What did they say wrong that they want to recall this email.  Aren’t we weird?

Other social media platforms are introducing ways you can remove a tweet or an instagram post after the fact.  It doesn’t change the fact that someone might have seen it and screen captured.  It’s there – somewhere in cyber-space – until it rears its ugly head.

It makes me wonder about all those online review sites and the angry reviews posted there for all the world to see.  So you go on vacation and you and your girlfriend have a fight and suddenly everything sucks!  The hotel, the food, the beach is rocky, the waves are rough.   But, once that post is out there the damage is done.

We saw examples of this in elections last year where facebook posts years old were dragged out to the public which seemed a bit stupid really.  Thank goodness they didn’t have social media when I was a teenager.  And I am not saying why either!

Examples of stupid facebook posts abounded around Christmas and the New Year.  Was it all that champagne perhaps that drowned out the Goodwill to All Men thoughts that we are supposed to embrace during this time of year.

This was Holly Jones post about her ruined New Year’s Eve …
facebook post

Oh dear…. in response the Manager replied –
‘We love feedback, whether it be positive or negative.
‘I especially like feedback like this so others can see the disgusting people that we have to deal with sometimes.  First of all, the ‘overdosing junkie’ that you speak of was a 70+ year old woman who had a heart attack. Thankfully she was finally revived at the hospital and survived. It sounds like you were very concerned about her so I thought you should know. But I can completely understand why you think being intoxicated a**holes that didn’t understand your bill should take priority over a human life,” he added. ‘I especially appreciate you making your server (who doesn’t curse) cry as well. I’m sure she really enjoyed working on New Year’s Eve just to deal with people such as yourself.’

And remember if you are going to make your fight public – well it really is public.  Russell Crowe had a tantrum when Qantas wouldn’t allow his kids hoverboards on the flight.  It ended up with him looking rather petulant and silly.   And if you haven’t read it yet, sit down and enjoy this onboard feud that happened a couple of years ago – all posted live on twitter – to the fascination of all who followed.
https://storify.com/EliLanger/this-man-is-hilariously-live-tweeting-his-flight-n

Almost better than Coronation Street!  (But not quite….)

 

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Family vacations and herding cats

So hubby says to you “Honey I think we should plan a vacation to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary”.  What a great idea.  Maybe a Caribbean cruise?  You happen to mention it to your sister who says “Fantastic – we’ll join you”.  ….  OK.  Well now that your sister is coming you should maybe invite your brother and sister-in-law.  Then you have to invite your parents and …… his parents.

Now your parents and his parents get along just fine – in small doses – and you can usually get through the Thanksgivings and Christmasses without any hassles but a whole week together?  They are very different.  Your parents like bingo, stand up comedy and a few glasses of wine.  His parents prefer a small glass of sherry and a string quartet.  But hey!  They say cruises these days cater to all types and with 2000 people on board then it should be easy to get lost in the crowd.

But then Great Aunt Ethel pops up on the radar. Of course she wants to come – how can we leave Great Aunt Ethel out of the picture?  Only problem is Great Aunt Ethel is 75 and is travelling as a single as Great Uncle Ernest shuffled off his mortal coil a few years back.  This provokes a family debate about how unfair the cruise lines are to charge double just because Great Uncle Ernest is not around any more and after all you are a travel agent – isn’t there someone you can speak to?  Tell you what – let’s put Tamara in with Great Aunt Ethel.  Then Tamara’s mom and dad only have to share their cabin with two kids intead of three and Great Aunt Ethel doesn’t have to pay the single supplement.  

No-one refers this to Tamara – after all she is only 14.  However Tamara finds out about this scheme via her younger sister Chloe (aged 6) who has radar ears and picks up everything.

“Hahahaha – you’re going to have to share a cabin with Great Stinky Aunt Ethel”….

Tamara – “My life is ruined!  MOM…. you can’t do this to me.  Then I am not coming.  That’s it.  I am going to run away.”

No amount of reasoning or bribes can convince Tamara to share a cabin with Great Aunt Ethel.  However your mother in law has already phoned the cruise line directly despite the fact that you are the travel agent on file.  Naturally the cruise line can do ANYTHING for a member of the public and immediately offers a reduced single supplement for Great Aunt Ethel.  Wonderful, now you look like a complete idiot but at least Great Aunt Ethel is off your hands.

In the meantime your father in law has been reading online reviews about the cruise ship and is starting to question your choice of ship, cruise line, itinerary, pre cruise hotel and flights.

***DEEP BREATH***

You reassure him about the cruise line, gently advise him that he has been looking up the wrong ship and reassure him regarding the itinerary which you have done before and absolutely loved.

After getting everyone’s deposits on file your get a phone call from your brother-in-law.  He needs to tell you confidentially that he is considering leaving your sister and therefore the timing of this cruise is totally out for him.  He hasn’t told your sister any of this and now he has dumped this in your lap.  Do you say anything or not?  How can you not?  And of course the deposit is non-refundable.

***WAIT A MINUTE****

Isn’t this supposed to be about your wedding anniversary?  Phone the cruise line rep, call in a favour, get all the deposits fully refundable, cancel all the bookings and get the refunds to everyone’s cards.  Quickly get the last two seats on that flight to Tahiti, book the overwater bungalow, tell your husband…..

***DON’T TELL ANYONE ELSE***

 

 

Christmas spirit in your carry on

No I don’t mean a bottle of hooch – although it might be a good idea bearing in mind that this week is the busiest travel time of the year and no doubt the roads, highways, airports and ferry terminals will be chock full of Christmas travellers.  A bit like the Great Migration.  If the herd moves you better follow otherwise you will be left out.

So you know it is going to be frustrating – especially for those experienced travellers who will stamp their feet and sigh at the person who doesn’t have their passport ready and open at the picture page.  Experienced travellers keep their carry on down to a minimum aerodynamically designed bags…. for the person who travels once a year or maybe less this is like entering another world.  They struggle on board the flight with coats and bags and purses.  Maybe they don’t understand the etiquette of only storing your carry on in the bin over your seat.  They don’t do this often you see.  This is a special trip to have Christmas dinner with family far away.  So haul out a little bit of that Christmas spirit from your carry on and help that 4.10″ lady put her oversized unwieldy bag in the overhead bin.  Look how nice that made you feel.  By sharing the Christmas spirit with her you got a little dusting of Christmas spirit on your shoulders and it feels good.

And when the plane arrives finally and lands, you as the experienced traveller will know that everyone is immediately going to stand up and start craning their necks to see if the doors have opened yet.  You know that it takes a while to hook up to the bridge and the plane generally only has one exit and yes it will take a while for everyone to get off.  For the Christmas traveller however this is great excitement.  They are just that much closer to an exciting time with family and this strange and wonderful adventure is still not over.

As they get off the plane they will be somewhat bewildered and not really sure which way to go in the airport to get their bags.  Lend a hand and a smile.  You know this airport – point the way.  Be Christmassy…. it doesn’t hurt.  And just imagine – when they finally get to Goderich Ontario or Ketchum Idaho or wherever the family is – imagine them telling people around the Christmas table about this kind person they met on their trip who helped them with their bags and showed then how to use the on board tv and even showed them where to collect their bags.  You won’t see it or hear it but you will feel it – the Christmas Spirit.