19th October 2013
Me and my girlfriend are off on holiday today. I get up at 5am for work normally, but getting up at 3am was still painful. I bounced out of bed and into the shower (much to the surprise of my girlfriend), but that initial energy had ran out before I left the bathroom, and I was bumbling around like a zombie until the taxi arrived.
We flew into Reus airport. It seems to be pronounced Ray-oos. With less of an OO sound, if that makes sense. Rayus.
We flew with Thomson, and I’m happy to say that they seemed to have dropped the hideous safety video they had last we flew with them. It was performed by children of primary school age, with all the various plane roles from air hostess to pilot played by children. I found the whole thing nauseating and unprofessional, and told them as such when they asked for my comments on the return flight.
This time, there was no video at all and so it was demonstrated by staff. Maybe the video was broken. But if this is really something so important I must watch it for my safety – no matter how many times I’ve flown on an identical Boeing 757, then I want it demonstrated by people old enough to help me down the inflatable slide, should that eventuality ever occur.
Fears of flying
I found it one of the better flights I’ve had, due to what I can only describe as games of distraction.
I’m quite a nervous flyer. I’ve been worrying about the flight for days. I sat down and immediately checked for a sick bag in the pocket. It wasn’t there, so I requested one. This was before they’d even closed the doors. I’ve never been sick on a plane but having the bag there makes me feel that at least I wouldn’t ruin the only jeans I’m taking with me, or the hair of the person in front of me, should that moment arise.
However, I actually did ok. I played a little game with myself during take-off (probably my least favourite bit of flying actually), where I tried to mould a Starburst sweet into various shapes while it was inside my mouth.
Once in the air, I put a double-adapter thing into my iPhone, connected two pairs of headphones and started listening to an Answer Me This podcast with my girlfriend. When that finished (by which point my girlfriend was fast asleep), I put some music on and read on my Kindle for a bit. The flight seemed to go quite quickly.
I read something online ages ago that helped ease my fears a bit. For example – that when the plane takes off and it feels like the engines are running at maximum speed, giving everything they can, they’re really not giving anything close to max. I also read that you can’t tell whether the plane is going up, down, or what. Without an anchor to gravity, you can’t really tell what the plane is doing at any point – something that pilots apparently have to learn to ignore and just rely on what the instruments are telling them.
If I remember, I’ll dig out that website address, and put a link to it on here, in case anybody reading this is also a nervous passenger.
That said, it’s partly that site which helps, but there’s a fine line between thinking about the plane, and *overthinking* the plane. You’d probably scare yourself from driving a car on the motorway if you spent the whole time thinking about what might happen if a wheel fell off, or your brakes suddenly failed. It’s the distraction of conversation, the radio, your own blinkered ignorance and the confidence in your own vehicle and ability that gets you through.
A good book, some music, etc. seemed to help me immensely.
At some point in my life I’d like to visit America, or Japan. New Zealand, perhaps. I’m going to need a fuckload of distraction to manage any of those, that’s for sure, if this is what it takes for me to manage a 2 hour flight to Spain.
There was quite a lot of flying through cloud for the landing, which is an unpleasantly-bumpy feeling. That said, flying back from Corfu last year, there was constant bumpyness due to a nearby lightning storm, and the seatbelt signs remained on for over an hour. Which makes this feel pretty fucking easy.
By the way – something else from that website I’ll add the address of later – is that when you’re flying “through” lightning, you’re not really doing so. You’re flying “near”(ish) it. There is all manner of systems/instruments keeping you well away from the dangerous bits.
Reus airport is so insanely small and quiet it makes Bristol airport look like Heathrow. Our plane lands, we all get off, and walk a short distance to the outside of the main building. Then we get to watch the baggage handlers unloading the suitcases, and driving them the same distance we’ve just walked to the carousel which starts where we’re now stood. For the time and effort of the handlers and carousel, they might as well have just dumped the cases on the tarmac and let us pick out our own. No other planes landed or took off while we were there.
We pre-booked a bus transfer from Reus->Salou with Thomson, but we’re not staying in a Thomson hotel because we couldn’t find one we liked at the last minute when we booked this whole holiday (sorry Thomson – there was a lot of terrible Tripadvisor reviews relating to hygiene and food quality). So after the initial confusion that caused, we arrived and they dropped us off at one of their hotels (just across the road from our self-catering apartment complex). Sadly, it’s 9.30am, and check-in isn’t officially until 5pm. They say we can leave our bags in a locked room, and come back at 3pm.
Which gives us plenty of time to explore Salou.
It’s not bad. It’s tidy, clean, there’s lots of palm trees.
It’s clearly aimed at British tourists. There are more places selling a full English breakfast than you’d find in Bristol. We had lunch in a place selling grilled sandwiches and Tetley tea, which also had free wifi. They know what this particular Brit wants when he’s tired and hungry, that’s for sure.
There was hardly anyone about in Salou by the way, and roads were dead between the airport and here. For a Saturday morning, it’s incredibly quiet. I’m less worried about pickpockets at least, if 80% of Salou’s population have just arrived on the same flight I was on.
There seems to be quite a few open parks in Salou, and lots of benches to sit on. It’s very clean really. There’s quite a few people with dogs, but hardly any dog poo, which is nice. And I haven’t seen a single cat. More good news.
Already, I don’t think either of us are going to get to learn much Spanish. In shops so far, it works like this. We say hello in Spanish, they reply “that’ll be €3.50” in English. We say “gracias” when we get our change, they say “thanks – bye” in English.
We saw so many lizards in Ibiza, and I know they’re not unique to that island (despite what some t-shirt slogans might suggest), so I was disappointed not to see any all day.
Upon finally checking in to our self-catering apartment, I opened the toilet door, and there was a tiny little one right there running around behind the pedestal! It scared the crap out of me as it darted from one side to the other, so we shut the door, and I used the other bathroom. (Oh yes – this apartment is ridiculously big for just 2 people. It could sleep at least 4, probably more.)
But what to do about it? I opened the door again, took some pictures, and my girlfriend looked for what we might be able to catch it in. She suggested a dustpan, but I’m not sure that with the speed this little thing could move, we’d be able to keep hold of it for more than a second.
We phoned reception and they sent someone out. Someone who, sadly, killed it while “removing” it, emerging from the bathroom holding it by its tail. Sorry, lizards.
The apartment is very nice though. Big sofa, flatscreen TV (in the living room), a kitchen with a full oven, hob, full-height fridge freezer, slimline dishwasher, washing machine.
The TV has quite a few channels from all over Europe, plus BBC1 and 2. Which means I can watch the final of the Great British Bake Off on Tuesday.
The apartment has a lot of the plates and cutlery we might need, plus cups, glasses (both wine and tumbler style), and a teapot. There is however, no kettle…..which is no problem as we bought a travel kettle with us. Oh yes – that thing is worth its weight in baggage allowance overcharges. (Not that we’ve ever been over, yet. 14.5kg in one shared suitcase, and 2 small carry on bags. How on earth do people manage to use the full 20kg?).