I am Anthony E. Savvides. This is my blog.

Reflections & adventures of a writer at heart, a journalist by trade and a waiter by night.

Posts Tagged ‘London

I will never fly Virgin Atlantic (ever again)

with 7 comments

The crew on the Virgin Atlantic flight from Logan Airport in Boston to Heathrow Airport in London was the worst. Not the crew as a whole, but particularly the one (of many) blonde stewardess(es) who woke me up four times (FOUR!!) within two and a half hours. First, she felt it necessary that my pillow be behind my back instead of in my hands on my lap. You know, because if a pillow gets loose in the cabin during takeoff, that’s real trouble. I managed the near-impossible task of falling asleep before we ever even rolled away from the gate, but she had to ruin what had the potential to be some fantastic sleep. Well, as fantastic as it gets on a plane.

Next, a couple of hours later, she woke me up to make sure my seatbelt was on. It was. But, the seatbelt light wasn’t even on, which I pointed out to her. Her response: “For your safety, it should be on at all times.” REALLY? You felt it necessary to wake me up to to check that my seatbelt was buckled under my blanket? You suck at your job.

Rant about airplane safety: I’ve been on enough planes where I feel comfortable saying that, if anything were to happen, Gob forbid, that seatbelt that’s buckled across my lap is going to do nothing for me, especially not save my life. If anything, it’s just there to keep me in my seat for an extra half second while I pull the clip up to release it. Airplane safety, to me, seems like a bit of a joke. Sure, I understand not smoking on the plane and not opening the emergency latch mid-flight if there is no emergency. But seat belts? I don’t buy it. It’s different than a motor vehicle seatbelt, which actually has a locking mechanism and has saved lives. These seat belts on these planes are just ridiculous, like the ones on a school bus. If it’s just holding my waist down, and not my upper body, then it’s just going to hurt me. In my opinion, if there’s a problem on a plane, there’s very little that can be done to avert disaster.

I woke up, again, this time on my own, and got up to stretch a little bit in the aisle. I used the lavatory, drank some water, and returned to my seat. Across the aisle to my right, two men had changed their seating and I was now staring at two empty seats. “Jackpot!” I thought. I collected my blanket, pillow and headphones, and snuck across the aisle into my new paradise. I plugged in my headphones, chose something to play in the background, and curled up into a ball. What felt like hours later, but was only mere minutes, the blonde woman again shook me awake. She had become the bane of my existence on this flight.

“If you want to sleep in these seats,” she said, “you’ll have to pay extra.” I was exhausted. I was still half asleep. I wasn’t really listening. I said “fine, whatever,” and rolled around. She tapped my shoulder again, this time harder. “Sir, what are you doing? If you don’t pay, you have to return to your seat.” At this point, I was ready to smack her in the face. I didn’t. I sat up, nodded, and said “Fine, I’ll pay.” All I wanted, for crying out loud, was some uninterrupted sleep on the flight. She strutted up the aisle without another word toward the rear of the plane. Moments later, another, kinder and prettier flight attendant arrived next to me. She knelt down, and asked how I wished to pay. I pulled out my American Express card and said “credit, please.” She smiled and took my card. I asked what the charge would be in US dollars. She clicked a few buttons on her little portable register. The privilege of sleeping on these two seats cost me $43. It was a bit steep, especially so many hours into the flight, but I paid it. I didn’t want to sleep sitting up, nor did I want the devil, err, the evil flight attendant, to wake me up ever again. As soon as I signed the bill, I laid my head back down and was sleeping again within five minutes. Unfortunately, as the captain prepared the plane for landing, my sleep was again disturbed. It would have been fine if it were anyone else, but there she was, her cold eyes looking down at me telling me I had to wake up, sit up straight, and, again, fasten my seatbelt. Ugh, the seatbelt. I know that you can’t be laying down across seats without a belt on during the final descent, and I knew that this wake up call was inevitable. It always is. But I wish that the same lady who charged my credit card woke me up. I just hated this woman so much at that point that it didn’t matter I had slept for over three hours.

Alas, this terrible travel experience finally ended and we landed safely in London. The whole group, all 40 something of us- 46, if I had to guess, but don’t hold me to it- walked through the labyrinth that is Heathrow Airport, through yet another security checkpoint. Down a few flights of stairs and up some more escalators, we wound up on a bus that drove us to the terminal where we would eventually catch our connecting flight to Amman with British Midland International airways. Three new friends (Melanie, Eric and Amanda) and I walked through the terminal a bit and found a nice little restaurant. We sat on two  couches and ordered some drinks to kill the hour until we could board the plane.

The flight to Jordan from England was a much, much better experience. There was only one blonde flight attendant, Georgie, and she was sweet. Sarah, another member of the crew, was so kind throughout the flight. (She’s also beautiful; her deeply green eyes and sharp, dark features pulled me in from the moment I saw her as I boarded. The English accent doesn’t hurt, either.) She and I got to talking when I woke up, on my own, from my nap around 12 p.m. (London time, 2 p.m. Amman time). My seat, 28D, was in the final row of the plane, just in front of the lavatories. So, when I woke up from my glorious, uninterrupted nap, I ventured into the crew’s staging area/cabin located at the plane’s rear.

On the way to Amman from London, a nice stewardess offered me a leftover fruit jelly from first class. Mmmm. I was snacking in style, right next to the lavatories. I guess sitting in front of the crew’s cabin has its perks.

The timing was perfect, as the crew had just rolled out drink carts, so I had the space to myself to stretch out a bit. Sitting ans sleeping on three planes in one day caused the worst feeling in most all of my joints, especially my knees and neck. Sam and Matt eventually found their way to me, and the three of us stood there, chatting, until we were forced to return to our seats for, you guessed it, the final descent. We had to buckle our seat belts, after all, because the little light went on.

We touched down at Queen Alia International Airport, and as I looked out the window while the plane descended and the landing gear roared from below, I was overcome with happiness, and joy. It felt so nice to be returning to this place that I fell in love with just last year, and to the people who welcomed me and my peers into their country. To see the desert and the tarmac as we descended was, for me, pure bliss- especially after the long, long day of traveling that was now coming to an end.

Welcome (back) to the Hashemite Kingdom, at Queen Alia International Airport.

Disclaimer: I began writing this post on a (digital) post-it note on both of the flights, from Boston to London and then from London to Amman. I finished it earlier last night, and tweaked it a bit more this morning. More soon, photos too. I think I may set up a flickr account, or some other web-based service, as viewing photos in a slideshow is much easier and more enjoyable than within a blog amidst all this text.

I’ll end this post by apologizing for how long this post is. I guess I had to rant about the longest day of travel I’ve ever experienced. Thanks for reading, y’all.

One more thing to add: after revisiting, I may have miscounted. The mean flight attendant woke me up THREE times in a matter of two and a half hours. Still, it was annoying.

Advertisements

Logan to London, after Long Island this morning

with 5 comments

This morning, I didn’t wake up. I just haven’t slept. I spent all of yesterday saying goodbye to family and friends, as well as procrastinating packing. I got to see a lot of my cousins, aunts and uncles at my cousins Joanne and Charlie’s home. We watched some television together, shared a kettle of tea and many, many desserts. Around 10 p.m. I left with my brother, and returned home.

We spent the rest of the evening, until about 1 a.m., together, playing Fifa and watching television. A few good friends, Frank and Rob, came over to say goodbye and bid me farewell. We chatted a bit, and they eventually left to head home to go to bed.

After my brother called it a night, seeing as he had work this morning, I spent a few more hours watching the last few Mad Men episodes I hadn’t seen. Around 2, I finally made my way upstairs and packed.

Image

My room, after my luggage was stuffed and zipped shut, looked like this. This year, my luggage is a small one, weighing in at just 30 pounds. That’s 20 pounds under the Virgin Atlantic limitIt’s a mess, my room, yes, but an organized one. All along the wall under the window are my books, stacked neatly. Next to those are my boxes- boxes of electronics, and, essentially, my desk from my dorm room. When I get home, later on this summer, my first order of business will be cleaning up and organizing my room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning, after not sleeping, laughing and spending a good time with my family and friends, and packing, I arrived at JFK Airport and flew to Boston. I landed at 9:47 a.m.

Image

My city on Thursday morning, as we rolled down the tarmac at JFK. I landed in Boston approximately 52 minutes later.

Now, about 10 hours later, I’m at Logan again and boarding the flight to Heathrow Airport. For now, London is calling. More to come soon, after a long flight. And finally, some sleep.

Written by AESavvides

May 10, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Home, and gone again

with one comment

Being back in New York, I know I’m home. It just feels right, you know? It feels natural. Not to say easy, but rather comfortable. I didn’t feel at home in Boston, I was never comfortable there, and it didn’t help that I spent the better part of four years bouncing in and out of residence halls.

I don’t want to be misunderstood; I am incredibly happy with the education at Northeastern, and that I wound up in Boston for my undergraduate studies. However, I will be clear on one point: I have zero to no love for the city of Boston as a place to live. People are rude, life’s expensive, and it’s a fake city. (Take that with as many grains of salt as you would like, as this is all coming from a New Yorker.)

In two days time, I will arrive in Amman, again, almost a year to the day from my first visit. I’ve spent just over two weeks of my life in Amman, and about four years in Boston, but can say that Amman felt like a more natural fit for me. Maybe that’s just a first impression, and five weeks this time around will leave me feeling otherwise. I don’t think that will happen, but people always (used to?) say, “Never judge a book by its cover.” (I question whether or not the phrase is still in use, because I haven’t heard it since middle school.) You might say two weeks in a city is that kind of an experience; I got to experience all of the best Jordan had to offer. Maybe you’d consider two weeks an insignificant amount of time to “live” somewhere. Maybe last time I was just a visitor. This time, though, I will throw myself wholeheartedly into this country, the host family experience and the culture. I take off tomorrow.

Written by AESavvides

May 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm