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Distant Lands

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

What your flight attendants know that you should too, Part 1

media_114;right;thumbHelpful tips from some anonymous friends in the skies - who have, trust us, seen it all.  Next time: on-the-plane survival tips…

Packing and airport terminal survival tips:

  • Always get to the airport as early as possible.  Flights start to board 45 to 25 minutes before departure, so try to be at your gate at least 45 minutes to an hour before the flight. 

  • Because you're going to be in busy public places, to keep an easy eye out for your children, dress all kids in similar clothes, all in khaki pants or jeans, and all in red or orange shirts.  This makes it easy to see them as well as describe them.

  • Have each child take a small backback with some of their favorite toys, activities and books.  Child back packs are best because they can wear them and you

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Ascending the Acropolis

Here's what you do:  You take the Athens metro to the Monastiraki station (at night, if possible).  When you exit, the Acropolis is to your right and will take your breath away.  The enormity of it, the glimpses of the Parthenon on top, the sheer ancient impact, can't be conveyed by photos.
Click on image for a larger version

From Monastiraki, you can get overpriced souvlaki at a number of tavernas, do some tourist shopping, see some cool things (Hadrian's Library, the Temple of the Winds).  I don't recommend entering the Acropolis site via the Monastiraki side, however: I like the tempo of ascending the other side and exiting through the Agora.  Also, on Sundays there [...]More

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Toddlers on Ice

My dearest girl: you who skate in your socks on our front hallway floor and run outside after an ice storm to see how far you can skid in your boots.  We took you ice-skating today for the first time. 

For all of three minutes.  Then you discovered that your feet hurt; that it was difficult, cold, and scary; and that there was an ice-hockey foosball table in the snack room.

We'd been thinking of all the great outdoor places there are to skate in the winter in the northeast - Rockefeller Plaza, Penn's Landing in Philly, the seasonal rink by the National Gallery of Art in DC - and I'll admit to visions of you out there, although possibly a bit older, and with a decent pair of skates… not the soulless, edgeless, ankle concrete that we rented today.

Still, this wasn't the worst idea for a daytrip in the books, and it let me test the waters before [...]More

Monday, 11 February 2008

Is Business Class Worth It?

media_114;right;thumbI had the opportunity to fly business class once, with a separate seat for my child.  I imagine this isn't usually an option for most people - I know it's not for me - but I'm here to report back on whether the grass really is greener up toward the front of the plane.

The seats are bigger, and they recline.  And there's more room between them, so your toddler can't reach other people (as easily).  But you can’t put the armrests up, and they are quite wide, so my back was killing me from having to lean over the armrest for 15 hours. 

If you recline the seat to a comfortable level, you can’t leap out of your seat quickly when the toddler takes off or starts emptying the bag of goldfish onto the floor. 

There's a personal entertainment system at every seat (or every pair), but the controller for all the gadgetry was placed where the kid could get to it, and worse, he inadvertently


Monday, 04 February 2008

It's not you... it's your airline

media_114;left;largeIt really doesn't matter who you're traveling with, or why - business or pleasure. Flying sucks. We're being crammed onto ever shrinking econo-buses, filled with dry, or even sick air; having plans shredded by schedule and equipment delays - all while outfitting our own food, water, pillows, and distractions, and praying that we don't get stuck on the runway for hours.  It feels as if the airlines want us to buy our tickets and then decide five minutes before the flight that it would be better to walk.  Better yet, they might ask us to pay more to actually get on the flight.

And that's before you become a parent who needs to get somewhere with a toddler who might or might not fall to pieces in public.

In the charged atmosphere of the airport terminal, parents with young children remain travel-pariahs - and it seems to be getting worse. It doesn't [...]More
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