Tag: Travelling

Coronavirus

Last week, I was shocked at the rise in the infection rate in the Netherlands. It went from 8 cases to close to 400. Reading up on it a bit more, it seems to have a r0 of between 2 and 3, so that makes sense. Marrying that to the lacks response from the Dutch to take this seriously (cancelling events, closing schools, etc.) and especially to stop the false equivalency to a seasonal flu, made me a little nervous.

I was planning on going to Amsterdam tomorrow, but after waking up this morning to see that the U.S. had shut down air travel between Europe (specifically; Shengen) and the U.S., it didn’t seem outside the realm of possibility to have the U.K. do the same thing while I was over. I decided to rebook my flight for next month instead.

(This is the same trip I was going to take before the airline went into administration, by the way. It seems this trip was cursed.)

Flybe Collapse

So this morning I woke up to the news that Flybe, the biggest European regional airline operating out of Exeter, has collapsed and are ceasing services immediately. This means my flight for next week isn’t going to be operating, neither is the flight that I had literally booked just yesterday for next month! I’ve instructed my bank to submit two chargeback claims, but who knows whether I’ll get those costs reimberused. I also had to buy a new ticket for next week, so in 24 hours I was down more than ¬£600.

More importantly, this means that from now on getting to and from Amsterdam will be a lot harder than it was before. Until another airline starts operating flights on this route, I’m going to have to flight out from Bristol. There is a bus that goes from Exeter to Bristol airport, but that will eat into an hour or two on each end of my visit to Amsterdam.

Before, I had arranged with my work to give me the Friday afternoon off without having to eat into my vacation time. This would allow me to come into work in the morning, hop into a taxi at noon and make my early afternoon flight. Now, with an extra 2 hours of travel time, I’ll likely not be able to do that, and I doubt my employers will be accommodating enough to allow me to skip all of Friday just so that I can make an early afternoon flight. I’ll see what the commute to the airport will be like next week.

On the way back, I’ll have another extra couple of hours, which means I’ll have to catch an earlier flight than normally. Before, I would take a mid-evening flight, usually around 21:00, and I’d arrive home between 22:00 and 23:00. Now I’ll have to get an late afternoon flight, which means gaming will be jeopardised. I’m hoping to find that the total travel time back isn’t too bad, and I can get a slightly later flight next time which means I won’t have to worry about compromising my gaming time.

I guess that it was quite fortunate that we’ve had such a wonderful connection the last few years.

New Orleans Trip

Here’s a quick brain dump of my trip to New Orleans:

Last week, Joasia was in New Orleans for a conference and I decided to join her by flying out on Friday. I flew out through London in the morning and arrived in the early evening. It was quite a long flight, but the flight was comfortable so I felt okay when I arrived.

I made my way to the hotel, got my key, got changed and headed to the conference dinner that Joasia was at. I arrived halfway through dinner, got a quick bite to eat (something light because I was feeling a little dirty inside) and had a few drinks as we socialised a little with some of the people at the conference.

The following morning, Joasia was off for the second day of the conference, while Jim arrived at the hotel. He was gracious enough to fly in for the weekend. We went to get some breakfast and I think this is where things went off the rails for me a little bit.

When visiting the United States, I always have to get used to the food. It’s easy to eat heavy, greasy and too heavy foods. The breakfast I chose was heavily lathered with hollandaise sauce (which seemed to be a staple for breakfast foods in New Orleans, because it was part of a lot of dishes, I noticed) and I suspect my stomach decided to start protesting, and it didn’t stop protesting throughout my trip.

Jim and I spent the rest of the day going through the World War II museum, which was very interesting, although a bit coloured, especially in regards to the Pacific theatre. The museum was set up in a way to convey a particular narrative, which is something I’ve been seeing more lately. Most notably, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. I’m not sure how I feel about it, because it becomes very hard to draw your own conclusions instead of adopting the conclusions provided to you through the narrative.

The rest of the weekend was spent exploring the city, especially the city’s multitude of restaurants and bars. We also went to Jean Lafitte National Park for a two hour hike through the bayou where we saw a dozen alligators, which was kind of awesome.

We had arrived in New Orleans just after Mardi Gras, and the city was still a mess, with certain streets being a war zone of plastic beads, discarded cups and just general junk everywhere. That, coupled with the poverty of certain parts of the city, gave me the feel that there was little going on in the city which wasn’t based on binge drinking.

We went to The Presbyt√®re, a museum on the edge of Jackson Square, which had two exhibitions; one on Mardi Gras and one on hurricane Katrina. I went to check the Katrina exhibit while Joasia and Jim checked out the Mardi Gras one. It wasn’t amazing.

Jim departed early in the morning on Monday, and Joasia and I went to the Whitney Plantation, about an hour outside of New Orleans. There were several plantations to consider, and Joasia decided to go for this one because it was less about visiting a beautiful plantation, and more focused on slavery and the dreadful economics behind it. It was an incredibly insightful, educational, horrible and beautiful visit. The tour guide was an amazingly knowledgeable and passionate man by the name of Ali.

When we got back to the city we decided to visit the garden district and admire the beautiful houses there. Sadly we just missed our chance to visit the Lafayette cemetery, but we went through that on a self-guided tour the following day.

Throughout all of it, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, a terrific video game I played when I was in my teens, which is set in large in New Orleans. I recognised and knew about a lot of things because of this game. I’m sure when looking back on the game now a lot of things are probably horrible tropes, but I still remember it fondly.

The flight back was okay until we arrived back in London to find that our flight to Amsterdam was cancelled due to weather. When we finally made it home, we had been up for 35 hours and dead tired. And my stomach was still giving me trouble.