The Twilight Zone

Note: in the interest of time, I’m not editing much. Please feel free to auto-edit as you read.

It’s 5:26 am and I feel better than anyone has a right to feel at such an ungodly hour. It might be due to the fact that I’ve slept a full night once again. Hooray!

Though I love to travel, I’ll admit to a true distaste for flying. It used to be fun. An adventure! Now it’s just a grind. I do still enjoy people watching at the airport – that part is fascinating. But the rest of it — the crowds, the too-small seats and aisles in the planes, the jostling for overhead compartment space, ugh. The airlines have turned what should be the joyous first step of a journey into a cause for girding up ones loins (whichever loins may be appropriate) in order to go forth and conquer.

Things you realize when you’re on the plane:

  1. Its worth any amount of money or sneaky wheedling to upgrade your seat to something more comfortable. Even at 5’2″, I have trouble folding my body into a window seat. Don’t know how anyone over 6 feet fits could possibly do it! A middle seat spells vulnerability – you may not get to use either arm rest depending on the size and accommodating nature of your row mates. An aisle seat means breathing room and freedom to get up when you like. However, it also means having to get up whenever either of your row mates needs the bathroom. Okay, let me just say it like it is: there’s no good seat on an airplane anymore. Except in first class. So unless you can afford another thousand or so bucks for your flight, your best bet is an after-ticket purchase of a seat upgrade. For less than a hundred dollars, you might get business class (2-3 more inches in every direction) or for less than two hundred, all the way up to first class. Do it. You won’t think it necessary while you’re procuring tickets in the comfort of your own home. But in the middle of that four hour flight across the country, you’ll be kicking yourself (just kidding, you can’t move your legs now) that you didn’t.
  2. It’s always better to take less. The lighter you travel, the less burdened you feel. I worked hard to pack myself into one carry-on rolling bag and a backpack. I met my goal, but each one is stuffed to the gills. Once at the airport, I began to think of things that really weren’t necessary that could have lightened my load and could have given my suitcase a break from having to use the expansion zipper. When you pack, you’re trying to prepare for every possible contingency. You’re constantly thinking “Well, I might want this.” Or “I might want to do that.” Those kinds of thoughts always result in too much stuff getting packed. Here’s my packing mantra: you can’t think of and prepare for every possible circumstance in which you might find yourself. Instead, take items you know you will need, re-assess what you need once there and buy as needed. Also, leave room in your bag for those once-there acquisitions. Anything you really need can be bought there: extra warmth, sun block, a pair of flip flops, a sun hat (or, in this case, a rain hat), extra pair of jeans or socks… There will not be a shortage of opportunities to acquire things – especially when traveling in Europe. Think of it as helping the local economy. Sure enough, when I was packing at home in 95 degree heat, I thought an extra fleece pullover or wool sweater was an outrageous idea. I couldn’t imagine being cold. Now I’m sitting on the banks of Loch Lomond. It’s raining and probably 55 degrees outside and I’m think that everyone in my group is going to see me in the single fleece pullover I brought EVERY DAY unless I buy another. Luckily I brought a fold out duffle bag for extra purchases while here. I think my first one will be a frickin’ wool sweater.
  3. In the midst of uncomfortable, sleepless travel, know that eventually you will get to your destination and resume your regular sleep schedule. YES!!! I usually sleep on my side or stomach. Falling asleep in a chair, even a comfortable one (not that I’m saying an airline seat is comfortable) doesn’t feel natural to me. International red-eye flights, where you depart late in the evening and arrive the next morning are not sleep-inducing situations for me. Instead, I think of an overnight flight as one really long session of listening to an audiobook. Inevitably, an international flight places me solidly in what I refer to as the “Twilight Zone”. Things happen around you but they don’t quite feel real. The light’s bit off. Colors and outlines of things look strange. You say things, but you seem to hear your own voice through a looooooong tunnel. Did you just say something funny to that person or insulting? You’re not quite sure. Luckily, my partner Heather never schedules anything other than the most gentle of activities on our first day “in country”. We arrived, drove a half hour to the loch, wandered a bit in the conservation village of Luss, took a water taxi across the loch and tumbled into our accommodations in the village of Balmaha. I skipped dinner and went straight to bed. Ah, horizontal never felt so good.

A few quick pics for you:

The international terminal at Logan Airport, Boston. So exciting!!!
The conservation village of Luss, on the banks of Loch Lomond.
The view from the water taxi while crossing the lake. There would be more of these but HEY! I HAD TO HOLD ON!!!
Walking to our hotel in the village of Balmaha, on the banks of Loch Lomond.
The day’s end: whisky and then BED at the Oak Tree Inn, Balmaha. Oh bed, I am happy to greet thee.

An aside: the loo in Glasgow International Airport is super clean. They even got a certificate!

Why am I noticing the loo at the Glasgow airport? Because THIS is coming in my next post:

Suzie flies in a tiny plane to the Outer Hebrides, where the plane lands on a beach.

P.s. There’s a family of Glaswegians sitting behind me right now, laughing and talking before going off on holiday. Ah kennah unnerstahnd a fookin whert there seeeyin.


  1. What a magical beginning! I love that you took a water taxi to be able to get to your hotel.
    For some reason, Centurylink or WordPress has decided that I really don’t want to follow any of the blogs I have subscribed to. I get no notifications at all. I also cannot find an option to change my email address. I will send you my new address, and if you have a way to subscribe, please do.


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