Posts Tagged: I’m off

13 DAYS

I am off for my longest trip in ages- 13 days away from Edinburgh and Ben. It should be an exciting one. I start in Istanbul, then fly via Madrid (just the airport) to Mexico City. After a compact week in Mexico, it is off to Bogota for a few days and then arriving in Edinburgh (after passing through Madrid and London).

I recently made it to bronze status on my BA card and I am hoping for an upgrade or two! That would be so great.

In other travel news- Thailand is booked for January. Ben is joining me- we cannot wait.

UPCOMING TRIPS

At the end of the week I will be heading out on my first trip of the recruiting season. I will then be on the go for the majority of the month, gone almost every weekend from now until early November.

My poor sweet Ben will be on his own. Plenty of Ben-time and time to realise he cannot live without me and just not enough to realise he can (you can ask him where the threshold is- somewhere between 4 and 12 days).

Of all the cities- only Mexico City will be new. I have been getting loads of pointers and cannot wait to explore.

Here is where I will be:

  • Moscow
  • London
  • Paris
  • Istanbul
  • Mexico City
  • Bogota
  • Athens

I will be posting from the road- so stay tuned for adventures and please don’t forget about Ben.

BACK TO MSP

I love spending hour upon hour on an airplane so much so that this week, I have two long haul flights! Tuesday a flight from Almaty to London and London to Edinburgh and then two short days later from Edinburgh to Newark and Newark to Minneapolis. 

I have not been back to my home town since September 2011. This visit is extra special- my youngest brother, Will, is getting married (this first reason) to Ieva and as a result of this exciting event, it will be the first time my three brothers and have all been together in over three years! A momentous occasion. It will be a true test to see if we still enjoy each other as much as we think we do- our last visit was to surprise my mom on her 60th birthday (now you all know how old my mom is) and that weekend in New York was one of the top five-family moments I have had (others include our wedding and John and Adele’s wedding and maybe the Christmas we went to see Amistad). 

We will be back for just under two weeks and have a packed schedule- from a trip to Duluth to see my Aunt Kim and Uncle Tim to haircuts (it would not be a trip to MSP without a visit to Paul), plus Ben and I are going to be the show and tell for my godson Leo’s kindergarten class!  

I’ll keep you posted on all our Minneapolis adventures including wedding photos!

UPGRADED

OMG… As I was boarding BMI Flight …, I was handed a new boarding card. I thought it was just a new seat, maybe exit row but I boarded and realized that 5C is so much better than 34C! What a comfortable way to spend seven and a half hours. 

I think the flight attendants realized rather quickly I am new to this ra-sha-sha section of the plane. I was too fascinated by the complimentary Miller Harris hand lotion and lip salve and setting aside the socks, eye patches, ear plugs and mini-Colgate tube with toothbrush as a gift for Ben. There is even lumbar support and a velvet pillow- along with pillow with a cotton pillow case so my hair did not get frizzy.

They have a menu, there are three choices, I opted for the continental breakfast, with fresh fruit presented on a chilled plate. The champagne tasted better from the real glass tumbler. There were even warmed viennoiseries and cafe alonge with the crema in tact. I could get used to this.

This is the first time I have flown BMI- a member of the Star Alliance. Could it be my Miles and More points which got me this upgrade? I am afraid to ask, I do not want to go back to place behind the brown curtains. 

In all the flights I have taken, this is only the second time I have had the pleasure and comfort of an upgrade. The last time it was just (I say thought now, but at the time I was really excited) to premium economy, this is really so much better.

I hope for a double upgrade (travelling with Ben!) on Friday- does Continental do that?

Even the babies are cuter and better behaved in business class. 

RUSSIA REVIEW-THE AIRLINES

Three flights in the last week from three different Russian airlines.

FLIGHT ONE: CDG -> LED- ROSSIYA AIRLINES

FLIGHT TWO: LED->SVO- AEROFLOT

FLIGHT THREE: DME-> ALA- TRANSAERO


Rossiya Airlines was a new one for me. Not a member of any of the frequent flyer alliances I have cards for. Unless you are in Russia, flying to another Russian destination you are not able to check in online, a minor setback and due to Air France restrictions, I was also unable to check in at the Edinburgh airport. This flight was slow to get going- a two hour delay because of a technical issue does not inspire confidence especially after boarding and seeing a plane from the 80’s and still has the smell of stale cigarette smoke and a hint of cooked green peppers. I felt really packed in and I was wearing my comfortable travel jeans. 

I had flown Aeroflot before and was quite nervous about the age of the plane- it could also have been I was squeezed next a window while two jolly Russians downed vodka and tomato juice chasers. At the time I going from Moscow to Istanbul and was relatively new to international business travel. Well in the fours years since that first flight, nothing on Aeroflot has changed or been upgraded, I am just more adept to traveling and remembering to ask for an aisle.

From my seat in almost an exit row on flight three (where I compose this entry) Transaero is the best. I have already received a pre-departure hard candy, a comfort pack (slippers and eye patches). The seats are leather or a close second and my arms are not touching my neighbors. There is a screeching child just across the aisle and its (a denim on denim outfit makes it a mystery) parents did not bring any toys and it does not seem to be enjoying the in-flight magazine.

The meal is coming and I smell green peppers.

ZDRAVSTVUJ

Another week, another destination in this exciting two months of non-stop travel. I type this from Paris-CDG as I wait for my Rossiya Airlines flight- yes, I too had never heard of Rossiya, lets see if it beats Aeroflot.

St. Petersburg is my destination, followed by Moscow and from there I will be weekending in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

More later.

THE OTHER BIG BEN… A post fair walk to the bus. Now we are chilling at Craig and Lesley’s. Enjoying some cable T.V., we do not even need to talk. Ben got his fill of my talking this morning on the train. A captive audience. 

This photo has not been altered. Captured with the iPhone.

COOL, YO… The fair venue was just across the street from Westminster Abbey. The bells were on full peal. A good event, loads of interesting candidates. 

BEST OF INDIA-MUMBAI

Mumbai was an over the top city! I was able to do some sight-seeing with Rahul, but again, the majority of the photos were taken from the car.

(You can see the Portuguese influence in Mumbai- before the English)

(The bay- known as the Queen’s Necklace)

(Colorful apartment building)

(The balance, the load)

(Roadside garden store)

(The tuc-tucs, I did not take a ride this trip-next time)

(There is a lot of horn action- you can see why)

(My tour guide in Mumbai-Thanks Rahul!)

(Slow and steady)

(The Mumbai Rail Road Station- UNESCO World Heritage Site)

(The Mumbai Rail Road Station- UNESCO World Heritage Site)

(Mumbai Station- trains carry 7 million people a day, the trains do not have doors)

(India Gate)

(The lone-stylish woman)

I had a wonderfully sweet driver in Mumbai- Sunil, he took great care to ensure I arrived on time to the right locations- ‘Mam you call, I bring car’, his English was limited but we managed and he pointed out some of the historic places as we passed. I hope he will be my driver in May.


HEADING TO INDIA

Good morning from Amsterdam. 

I leave today for my three city, six-day tour of the sub-conitent. I arrive tonight in New Delhi, where I will spend a day sight seeing tomorrow, unless the hotel spa and pool have more appeal. Monday begins the- all work, all the time, I move on to Bangalore, followed by Mumbai. 

I am leaving behind 40 degree, rain and clouds to arrive to 90 degree sunshine. Due to mosquitos and respect of the Indian culture, one needs to remain covered. A real packing challenge, not the remaining covered part (I am part Smyth after all), especially given how much I love tropical temperatures. 

I have granola bars, trail mix, bug spray and Pepto Bismol tabs. I have been vaccinated and warned about rabies, the Japanese mosquito/pig disease that turns your brain to mush. I am so excited! 

The highlight: In Mumbai I will meet Rahul, Rahul was a classmate of Ben’s and has moved back from Europe. We will have an afternoon of visiting the former Bombay and seeing the sights with a native.

I land in Edinburgh next Sunday morning at 10.00 a.m.

The people who have been to India either love the experience or hate it, I will report back and if I do not have my fill of India this week, another trip is scheduled for May, when it will be even hotter.

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