Airplane mode: My travel playlist

In flight entertainment

Airplane entertainment often isn’t that great and most of the time I found that reading a book is a much better experience than watching a movie that get’s interrupted every the plane bumps into some clouds and the captain feels the need to tell you about it.

Unlike other travel playlist the airplane playlist is a little more difficult to put together. When road-tripping you want music that will keep you awake on a 13-20 hour plane ride you want something that can help facilitate sleep as well be a good companion to your reading material or your working (I work on planes).

Music is the most important thing to me when I am about to be technically cut off from the world for a significant amount of time. If I am unable to listen to music while it tends of make the experience or the more tasking and you find things begin to drag on.

You will find that sometimes that it pays to be prepared with your own entertainment and your own headphones because sometimes inflight entertainment system just stop working (thanks KLM).

So here is what I have been listening to for the couple of plane rides in no particular order, feel free to suggest additions.

Passenger — Let her Go
Lorde — Royals
Ellie Goudling — Burn
Daft Punk — Get Lucky
Lynyrd Skynyrd — Sweet Home Alabama
Guns n Roses — Paradise City
Queen — Bohemian Rhapsody
Wyclef Jean — Gone Till November
Lorde — Glory and Gore
Ellie Goulding — I Know You Care
Orbital — Doctor? (Dr Who Theme remix)
Kings of Leon — The immortals
Kings of Leon — Pick Up Truck
Peter Cincotti — Angel Town
Kings of Leon — The End
Jay Z — New York
The Red Hot Chilli Peppers — Aeroplane
Vampire Weekend — A-Punk
Two Door Cinema Club — Come Back Home
Adele — Skyfall
The Lumineers — Stubborn Love
Lana Del Rey — Young and Beautiful
Nero — Into the Past
Florence and the Machine — Drumming Song
Florence and the Machine — Rabbit Heart
Sleeping at Last — Turning Page
Imperial Mammoth — Requiem on Water
Amy Winehouse — Love is a losing game
Amy Winehouse — Back to Black
Billy Joel — We didn’t start the fire

Missioning through the Macy’s labyrinth for stamps

stamps

I started this new thing where I send postcards to friends from wherever I am. I think it is a great idea and they seem to like it, it’s kinda like bringing them along on my trips.

Being in San Fran, I though this would be the best place to send a postcard from, great plan. The steps are easy, get said postcards, get stamps, write message and post. It turns out that step two is not as easy as it sounds.

Macy's men

I met up with my friend Agnes (hi A), who kindly volunteered, well she was dragged along, to mission with me on the quest for stamp. First clue that this was going to be interesting came when we were directed to the Macy’s on Union Square, apparently there was a post office on the first floor. Okay, sure why not.

Turn left to the dungeon ma’am

Post office

Okay, the lady didn’t say that but she might as well have. Firstly we ended up in the men’s store of Macy where no one knew anything but no fear the women’s store was right across: “because Macy’s takes up the block,” Agnes notes. It does.

We happen into the fragrance section of the women’s store, it smells like a brothel. We then directed to go down and keep going to the back. The very back. Yup, the post office lives in Harry Potter’s closet. It took us while to figure out where we are going between the bedding and fine china, people where queueing to post their letters and whatnots.

“This is Magic!” Agnes exclaims. She is having fun. The queue is long, I am not having fun.

stamp machine

Wait, what’s this? it’s a self service stamp machine. Success! No, wait… It only accepts credit card, you have got to be kidding me!

“How does it work, though?” I ask.

Agnes decides to test a theory: try to activate the machine with her bank card, it works. Okay we are winning again. What kind of stamps? International. Canada or China? Huh? Other International. Type in the name of your country. type type. How many stamps. Type Type.

Success!

We have stamps and postcards are written and ready to be posted.

Pretty sunsets and smiling fish: walking San Francisco

City view

I got off the plane at SFO and the first thing I thought was, I think I should go for a run. Yes, all the crazy running tweets have made want to run. Also this is the beauty of San Francisco though, its beautiful wide streets, great parks and amazing views do make you want to run.

I didn’t run, I walked very fast ( no, really).

You can also walk slowly. There is plenty to do here, and you can easily walk 20 blocks without realising just how far you have walked. Little cafes will greet you at every corner, and neighourhoods lend themselves to adventures and the chances to get lost are plenty — you all know how much I love that.

The thing you need to know about this walking San Fran business is that it is not easy. As great as it is to walk San Fran it has some major gradient issues. A walk through the neighourhoods of San Fran is exercise, it’s fun exercise but it is kinda tasking.

Alcatraz

My first walk through the city was through Ghirardelli Square and onto the jetty to see the city from the water’s perceptive — in way. From this point you can see Alcatraz quite closely and people fish around here. People fish and leave it out for you to see. I was a smiling fish with lady parts, that is all I will say on the matter.

Smiling fish

I enjoyed the fish walk so much I decided to take an hour walk from Polk street up toward Broadway all the way through Pacific Heights, this particular neighbourhood is what locals call “where all the expensive houses are”.

Back to my to walk. The top of Broadway is a great place to watch a sunset when you are not expecting one, when you stand there at the top, especially now in the fall the cool air tingling your skin and look up toward the bay at the pink hue of the sky, something happens. For a moment, the world stops and your breath is stolen by what lies below.

Pink sunset

It’s quite the mesmerising sight that even locals walking their dogs stop to bask. Can you imagine what it must be like to have this every day of your life. At this time of the year, it doesn’t last very long as the days are shorter and sunset comes and goes quite fast but if you catch it, it is worth it.

There is something about the city that grips you the moment you let it.

Hotel woes: A bad day at the Southern Sun

SS

In my line of work, a hotel stay is very common, sometimes especially in the last few months I have felt more at home in hotel rooms than I do in my own home. It’s great living the hotel life, everything magically cleans itself up and food appears with a one button summon. It is a amazing.

Expect when it isn’t.

I recently stayed at the Southern Sun in Montecasino ( my first time there), a place like this with multiple stars, you would expect a certain level of service. I did and I was sorely disappointed. The ventilation in my room was shoddy, there wasn’t a wardrobe for my luggage just the thing to rest it on, come now — but I thought ‘you know what the view is amazing and it’s only for one night’.

Apparently things weren’t going to improve. I wasn’t able to have breakfast as I was leaving before it started but for some unknown reason I couldn’t get a cup of coffee to go, I mean jeez even the City Lodge can do that.

I waited around for about 10-15mins for someone to check me out, I am sorry my insanely early flight that I might miss is an inconvenience to you right now. The most annoying was the mysterious charge of around R2000 ($180) that appeared on my bill. I was there for one night and in that time I was in the room for the time I slept in it. I was nowhere near the bar but apparently I have had quite the time racking up bill like that. Interestingly the check out guy couldn’t show me the tab I signed to prove I was there and authorised this bill of awesome. I am not paying that if you can’t prove it was me which it wasn’t. So I didn’t.

It’s all quite sad because I really like the Southern Sun. I think perhaps someone was just having a bad day and a bunch of things just fell through the cracks, I am sure the service there is usually impeccable, this time just wasn’t quite it.

The hotel is actually quite beautiful and well suited. I would recommend but I am not sure I can in good conscience, perhaps someone else can tell me of their experience?

Update: The hotel called me and apologised and sorted out the wrong bill issue, so we are all happy clams now. They went all James Bond and looked at surveillance footage, yay them.

6 things the average schmuck needs to know about flying business class

Bus class

This is a guest post from my friend Stuart, who just got back from Italy in style. Read his business class exploits below.

“Would sir like to take a look at our selection of international newspapers?” That was the moment they got me, the moment I felt able to release some of the pent up social anxiety about flying business class. First, I enjoy seeing how news is reported around the world. Second and more importantly, a broadsheet would work perfectly as a barrier between me and the stares of the economy class travelers I’d ordinarily be traveling with.

Their glares are just one of the things you’ll have to deal with if, like me, you unexpectedly find yourself in the front of the plane on an international flight. It won’t be easy to come to terms with — okay it’ll be a lot easier than dealing with the crying babies and chronically obese snorers in economy — but I’ve put together a few pointers that should help you feel a little less shocked during your time among the one percenters.

1. Everyone looks just like you

You might feel like you don’t belong. That’s especially natural if, like me, you’ve spent most of your life with your knees hunched up against your shoulders in economy. The truth is though, unless your clothes look like rags, you’ll be pretty much indiscernible from everyone else. None of that however will stop you feeling about as comfortable as a geriatric at a Justin Bieber concert.

2. You’ll get champagne before take off

Or juice, or water. The point is you won’t have time to sip it like your mother taught you. You’ll have to quaff it. But that’s okay, you’re flying business class! Quaff away champ.

3. Everyone will hate you

Okay maybe not everyone, but the people shuffling into economy will shoot you looks that could burn through aluminum. Okay maybe they won’t, but that’s what it’ll feel like. Every inch of you will want to scream”I’m just like you!” But you won’t, because then the dream might end and you’ll end up back with the peons.

4. You’ll be tempted to examine the contents of the free toiletry bag

Don’t. Just don’t. Accept that it’ll be good and use it when you need to. Doing otherwise would be like snooping around the mansion your company hired for its end of year do.

Actually that’s a load of crap. Have a look. Your wealthy companions will be doing the same thing and pocketing every freebie that comes their way. How do you think they got wealthy enough to afford business class in the first place?

5. It will change you

And not for the better. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll get used to the high life. Chairs that don’t have massage functions will seem weird, along with laminated menus and special cubby holes for your shoes. I suggest volunteering at a homeless shelter to regain your sense of perspective. Be sure to use the express queue for immigration though.

6. Baggage collection is the great leveller

When you fly business class, you’re given preferential treatment from pretty much the moment you check in. When you leave the plane at your final destination however, the airline’s responsibility has pretty much ended. You’re now in the hands of the airport, and all it’s really interested is getting as many people in and out as efficiently as possible. This realisation will hit you hardest when you’re waiting for your luggage at the carousel. Sure it might arrive a little earlier than everyone else’s and you won’t be as bewilderingly exhausted (because your seat actually allowed you to sleep) but in every other way, you’re just like all the other stiffs trying to get to their families or the least dodgy-looking taxi driver.