Travel Advice

[Felapton Towers at a strange hour. A phone rings. Timothy the Talking Cat sitrs, weak and weary having spent the night pondering over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore. He answers the phone.]

Timothy: Ahoy. Felapton Towers. Timothy the Talking Cat speaking.

Camestros: Hullo, hullo. Timothy! I need a bit of help!

Timothy: Where are you? What is that echoing background noise?

Camestros: I’m in an airport Timothy. And I’ve forgotten something Timothy.

Timothy: OK, take your time. What kind of airport are you in?

Camestros: Ohhhhh it’s a big one Timothy. A BIG one and very international.

Timothy: Would you say it is a hub?

Camestros: Oh very much a hub, Timothy!

Timothy: OK, stay calm. Let me talk you through this.

Camestros: Roger wilco good buddy over.

Timothy: Do you have your boarding pass?

Camestros: Yes yes yes. In my many pocketed trousers Timothy.

Timothy: Do you have your passport?

Camestros: Yes yes yes. Very much in the same trousers but different pocket.

Timothy: Do you have your bag?

Camestros: Yes yes yes. On my back.

Timothy: Did you check your luggage?

Camestros: NO NO NO! No I didn’t!Where is it!

Timothy: Did you HAVE any luggage?

Camestros: Um no.

Timothy: OK, check your bag.

Camestros: It’s got several pairs of dirty socks and dirty underpants in it.

Timothy: OK, good that probably means you are heading home. Now check the bag for electronic devices.

Camestros: Ohhhhh there’s a lot of them.

Timothy: Kindle?

Camestros: Check.

Timothy: iPad.

Camestros: Check.

Timothy: PC Laptop

Camestros: Check.

Timothy: Mac laptop.

Camestros: Check.

Timothy: Raspberry Pi you keep in your boot?

Camestros: Check and worth it just to make a booting up joke.

Timothy: Nest of recharging cables?

Camestros: Yes….and…there’s more than I started with.

Timothy: Wallet?

Camestros: Check, got to have my wallet to buy stuff in this exciting airport.

Timothy: Like what?

Camestros: Oh this place is full of shops for the busy traveller. Shops to cater for a travellers need.

Timothy: For example?

Camestros: Well…diamonds? There’s a Cartier and a Tiffany. If I need some diamonds I’m sorted. Also posh handbags.

Timothy: To keep your diamonds in?

Camestros: Exactly. Also I could by a new suit, very expensive booze or chunky overpriced watches.

Timothy: OK is there a big picture of a celebrity advertising the big chunky overpriced watches?

Camestros: Yes yes yes!

Timothy: Is he looking at you funny?

Camestros: yes yes yes!

Timothy: Have you been riding the travellators backwards for maybe three hours?.

Camestros: Maybeee.

Timothy: Were you stuck in an airport for hours and drank lots of booze because the bar was the only comfy place to sit and recharge your gadgets?

Camestros: Maybeeee.

Timothy: OK I know what you forgot.

Camestros: What!!!

Timothy: You forgot to sleep and are now tripping out on a cocktail of sleep deprivation, airport booze and the alienating architecture of modern aviation.

Camestros: fffreeaaakkkkyyyy

Timothy: See you when you get home.

Camestros: Oh oh we’re boarding! Byeeee.

Timothy: Byeeee….

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10 thoughts on “Travel Advice

  1. I actually had to have my watch battery replaced at an airport jewellery / watch shop once. They were very nice actually, though the lady at the counter asked for the brand and I said, “Uhm, I don’t know. It’s not a brand name watch.” The price was no more expensive than at a local shop either.

    Regarding things you can buy at airports, at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport you can buy tulip bulbs. I have actually bought some there, too, during my return trip, because the selection was much better than at the garden shop.

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    1. There is a display of Vegemite at Sydney Airport but my favourite weird thing on sale in an airport was when Sydney airport had stocks of baby-milk formula on sale. There’s a long running thing where Chinese visitors buy up lots of formula in Australia. At the peak of one such mass buying they even had it in the duty free shop at the airport.

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      1. The mass buying of baby formula by Chinese travellers is a common phenomenon in Europe as well as a result of a scandal about tainted baby formula in China, which resulted in several deaths. Some drugstores in cities with a high volume of Chinese visitors even limited baby formula sales to three packs per person for a while. I’ve never seen baby formula in an airport shop, though it is a logical thing to sell there, even without Chinese mass buyers. After all, parents travel with babies and babies need food and diapers.

        Helsinki airport has a Mumin shop and a Santa’s World of Christmas shop, both of which I found amusing.

        Regarding unusual products sold in airports, at Liverpool’s John Lennon airport, I saw several posters advertising the morning after pill for sale in the airport drugstore, 17 quid per pill, up to three sold to the same person. The reason behind this was that Liverpool was closest to Ireland and the morning after pill was not yet legal in Ireland at the time, so Irish women either hopped on a plane to buy the pill and take it in the required time window or they bought a stash of three to take home and keep in reserve or sell. For that matter, until fairly recently the morning after pill was available only on prescription in Germany (and by the time you got a doctor appointment and a prescription, it was usually too late), so there was an active blackmarket on university campuses. Students, often exchange students, would buy the morning after pill during trips to the UK and then sell it to other students. I’m not sure if it’s still going on, but when I was at uni it was common knowledge among students that this or that student sold what was euphemistically referred to as “Boots products you can’t get in Germany”. Interestingly, I later found out that the professors had no idea this was going on.

        Coincidentally, the one thing I’d really like to see for sale in airport shops are plain t-shirts in plain colours at an affordable price for people who manage to throw up during a flight or spill something over themselves or have a baby throw up all over them. There was one time my Mom had to throw up during a turbulence ridden flight from the UK to the Netherlands. We cleaned her up as well as we could in the airport toilet in Amsterdam and then tried to purchase something for her to change, because she’d soiled her sweater. But because airports only sell overpriced clothing, she finally had to resort to a bright orange t-shirt from the souvenir shop with “I love Holland” emblazoned all over it.

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      2. //Coincidentally, the one thing I’d really like to see for sale in airport shops are plain t-shirts in plain colours at an affordable price for people who manage to throw up during a flight or spill something over themselves or have a baby throw up all over them. //

        Yes, also cheap underwear and socks – particularly for when flights are cancelled.

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      3. As I recall that was tied in with adulteration of dairy products in China with melamine. (Watering milk reduces the nitrogen content; adding melamine puts the nitrogen content back up, so the watering can’t be detected by measuring the nitrogen content. Unfortunately melamine is toxic.)

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      4. Oh yes, definitely cheap underwear and socks. And basic toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorizer, etc…) rather than just expensive designer scents.

        Approx. 20 years ago, you could find a Knicker Box, Sock Shop, Tie Rack and W.H. Smith in every British train station. I always thought this was a good idea, because there is a definite need for emergency underwear (though I never liked the Knick Box stuff), socks and – if you’re someone who has to wear them – ties. Nowadays, the Knicker Boxes, Tie Racks and Sock Shops are gone, though W.H. Smith is still there.

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  2. Tim was remarkably helpful. I suppose he’s going to hold this over you.

    I used to regularly change planes at a domestic airport that had a branch of their local science museum gift shop for years. That was great fun for killing time or for picking up a little something for Xmas (when I was always passing through). But it’s closed now.

    ISTM that Wal-Mart or other big box retailer could make a killing if they started up little shops where you could buy changes of basic clothes as mentioned above. They could jack the prices of generic brands up to nosebleed levels (for them) and it would still be cheaper. One unisex style/color t-shirt, jeans, socks, one style ladies/mens undies, in small range of sizes, no XS or XXL. Maybe generic unisex toiletries, again store brand only. Must be some collusion among airports. Lots of people might not normally go for Wal-Mart, but when you’re stuck on a layover, lost your luggage, or you’ve soiled your last whatever (or you’re a budget traveler anyway), they’d buy.

    I can think of times I certainly would have. Heathrow said our luggage hadn’t made it from the US as we were transferring to Scotland at 10 PM. They’d have it on the last flight and it would be there by morning, but meanwhile there we are in the clothes we’d been wearing for 5000 miles and nearly 24 hours since leaving home (flight delays) . You BET I’d have paid for us to get some fresh stuff.

    Living where I do, EVERY local airport has fresh sourdough bread for sale and I’ve toted loaves along many a time. No pharmaceuticals, though. Some people do use the vending machines for tech gadgets, even at the ridiculous markups.

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