Daily Post: Middle Seat

It’s not all too often that the WordPress Daily Post writer’s inspiration is a topic I can relate to travel but this one certainly is travel related from the get go. It’s called Middle Seat and they want to know how you handle a very chatty stranger that you’ve been seated next to en route to your destination.

As it happens, I don’t often seem to get caught with a very chatty seat mate on a plane. I’m a large person and I try to pick a seat that’s next to an empty one, hoping the plane doesn’t fill up. It makes things more comfortable for me and the person beside me. Sometimes I get lucky and the empty seat stays that way and sometimes it’s filled. The odds seem to be about 60/40 in favour of a seatmate on the long haul flights. Never, ever do I sit in the middle seat of a 3 or 4 seat section and in general, prefer the aisle so it’s easier for me to get out.

I do remember one flight where I had a very nervous seat mate. She jumped and squeaked and fretted at ever sound the plane made. She was white, she was fidgety, most definitely a nervous flyer. When the landing gear thumped down into place, I thought she’d lift right out of her seat. I joked, “Ok, if you *didn’t* hear that, we’d be in a lot more trouble !” I chatted to her, make a few jokes, and I think I distracted her enough.

One other time I sat beside a tiny French-speaking nun. She didn’t say too much and her English wasn’t too good. When she did make the occasional remark, mostly I just smiled and nodded because her accent was very strong and I couldn’t make out what she said. My French is very much limited to what I learned in school, 35  to 40 years ago! I can interpret numbers, food, directions but it’s not really up to holding a conversation and I suppose her English was about the same.

The last really enjoyable conversation I got into with a fellow traveler was in the summer of 2014 with my friend. We were heading to Montreal to see Queen in concert. She sat in the row behind me and got into a conversation with her seatmate about music and concerts and drew me in as well. It’s a bit more awkward, trying to talk to someone in the row behind but we managed. He turned out to be a Jimmy Buffet fan of great stamina, belonging to an online fan group whose members follow the singer religiously and travel around to meet up and attend his concerts. I can identify with that in my own way, since I have been known to travel under the same sort of circumstances to hang out with my online friends who are fans of Coronation Street. Fandom has given me lots of travel opportunities and has expanded my circle of friends enormously.

I have had lovely conversations with occasional seat mate but I’ve never got “stuck” with someone that prattled on and on endlessly, annoying or boring me to tears. When I have had  a seatmate that wanted to talk, they were friendly, and congenial. Mostly, though, whoever is beside me in the middle of the three or in the other seat, if it’s a “two-fer”, keeps to themself as do I. I am not a shy person but striking up a conversation under those circumstances seems to bring out the shyness in me more. It’s more than just small talk isn’t it, when you’re on a 6 hour+ flight somewhere. I am, however, pleased if my seatmate does want to talk and it all turns out ok.

I shouldn’t have jinxed myself like that. I’m flying out next weekend to the UK on the overnight flight. If I get a seatmate, it could be a disaster now that I’ve said I am usually lucky! Oh dear.

WPC: Creepy

The WordPress weekly challenge asks us to show something creepy.

The first time I traveled somewhere that affected me was the battlefield of Cullodden in Scotland. I passed through the visitor centre and out on to the area where the great battle between the Highland Scots and the English armies clashed on April 16, 1746. The Scottish were decimated. Many were buried on the fields in mass graves by clans. You can still see the risings in the earth and clan markers for some of them. There’s also a spot called the Well of the Dead, a spring in the earth where a particularly fierce charge through the English line of defence ended with the death of Alexander MacGillivray on this spot. This is a marker to his bravery. While walking around through the paths and looking out on the area, though it likely looks far different now than it did back then, and there’s a road cutting right through the middle of it, you can still feel something, maybe the spirits of the dead, maybe lingering cries of the dying as the wind whispers through the trees.

The Well of the Dead. Culloden, Scotland

Another recent creepy thing that we saw was this death mask in the Tower of London, something that an executioner wore.

Executioner’s mask, Tower of London

One website you’ll want to save

MapHappy

It’s not often I’ll blog about a specific website but every now and then I come across one that’s really good and has a lot of useful information for travelers.

map happy is a travel website that’s full of interesting and useful information. It seems to be run by three women (there are three mentioned on the “About” page) but they have a lot of contributors. The site is one where you can spend a lot of time getting lost while browsing the many interesting and informative articles. It’s all good information, tips and tricks, gadgets, and general tech geekery. They aren’t selling anything, either. Also, I think it’s American based so some of the tips are geared towards Americans traveling but for the most part, anyone will find a lot of useful and interesting reading there.

The range of the topics is quite broad, varying from practical advice on passports, public transportation, hotels, rental cars to the mundane but entirely useful like how long a travel sized shampoo bottle might last you, how to say basic numbers in a half dozen or so languages, or how to get Amazon packages delivered while traveling.

You can create a login but that’s really only necessary if you’re going to want to comment on articles. You can read and browse all through the site for free. Note, I don’t work for them and I don’t write for them, and I gain nothing by plugging them, either. I have just spent about an hour happily clicking from one article to another when I should be doing other stuff!

Travel Theme: Grey

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is “Grey”.

Skies are often grey and foggy when we travel, but also here at home where Halifax often has fog rolling in from the Atlantic.

Foggy view of Halifax Harbour from the MacKay bridge

Aside from the often grey-skies we seem to encounter when I travel, the other “grey” that seems to stand out is sculpture and statues.

Wall frieze in Chatsworth House, UK

And finally, one of my favourite things, classic cars. This collection of grey/silver ones are classic British cars.

Classic British cars

 

Daily Post – Beneath your feet

This week, the Daily Post challenge is “Beneath your feet“.

It’s a long way down from the lookout on the CN Tower in Toronto. It was the tallest structure in the world before the towers in Dubai opened. The views are great, and they have the glass floor that is a bit freaky to walk on. My instinct is to tip toe across the glass but of course that isn’t going to make you any lighter. Your head knows the glass will hold but your body thinks, Uh uh!

Through the glass floor at the CN Tower, Toronto

Traveling through the Movies – A Monster in Paris

monsterTraveling through the Movies is an series of occasional posts wherein I talk about movies that I’ve seen with wonderful location shots, scenery that makes you want to travel to that location.

This latest movie is a bit different than the usual travel type movie. This one will take you to Paris but a Paris that is idealized, stylized and animated. Yep. A Monster in Paris is an animated movie.

The movie takes place in Paris 1910. A young film projectionist, Emile, and an arrogant inventor, Raoul, cause havoc in the laboratory of an absent scientist and a seven foot monster is created as a result. The monster, which turns out to be a giant flea, falls in love with a lovely young chanteuse, Lucille, who sings in the “Oiseau Rare” (The Rare Bird).
monsterMonster
The “monster” is sympathetic. He didn’t ask for what happened to him and hates that everyone is afraid of him. Lucille takes pity on him and befriends him, helps to disguise him into an almost-pseudo Phantom of the Opera like get up so her friends can save him from the murderous Commissioner. There’s an underlying love story, too. Raoul and Lucille, who bicker and seem to be at odds are pretty much ensure that they will end up together. Emile and Maude who works near his cinema house are shyly awkward but you know they’ll find a way to work it out as well. It’s a bit of a mystery how the 7 foot tall flea turns out to be a guitar virtuoso and composer who also has an excellent singing voice and the ability to perform a very pretty two step, and some of the story is a bit far fetched even for an animated film but it’s fun to watch anyway.

monsterEiffel

monsterCobbled

MonsterMonmartre

monsterNight

monsterOiseau

It’s a good romp through the streets and skies of Paris. The artwork that creates the Paris of 1910 is exquisite. It’s delicate, misty, filled with little details. It looks like a storybook.

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