Flygskamed and exhausted, but it was just a holiday, Greta
I’ve really burnt up my flight miles recently. I’ve been truly “flygskamed” as the Swedes say, jumping on an off big jets to have a holiday with family on the other side of the planet.
Had we been acquainted, Greta Thunberg would have given me a right dressing down. She has a certain way about her that girl!
She’s onto something though. The Swiss bank UBS recently reported that air travel numbers could halve if present ‘flight shaming’ trends continue. I bet the airline industry didn’t see that coming.
Mind you, we’d only just be arriving if we’d sailed on a yacht. But I am with Greta on this. I loathe flying. Crammed in a hollow aluminium tube at the mercy of a couple of young pilots and an overworked cabin crew serving stodgy food is not my idea of fun.
On one leg of our journey a young woman nearby had a panic attack just on take-off. She screamed and tried to rip her clothes off.
I understood her concern. Takeoff is always an existential moment, when several hundred people defy gravity and collectively wonder if they’re experiencing their last moments on earth.
Anyway, I must give it to the cabin crew. They calmed the young woman down very smartly.
But the holiday itself? Well it was a wonderful extended family affair all around.
Airports are another gripe. They were once glamorous places. Now they’re just trucking yards for humans, where you can walk for kilometers along dreary corridors to find your next flight or a taxi out of the place.
And the tourists! Wave after wave of them in the places we went — Ibiza, Barcelona, Grenada, London (twice, briefly).
All poking around in the little tourist shops my wife and daughter love, while we abandoned men stand around outside nodding sympathetically to each other.
Tourism, I have to say, has become a megalithic monoculture. The cute and beautifully renovated old Ibithan farm house we stayed in belied the fact that the stone terraced fields surrounding it, intensively cultivated since Roman times, are now crumbling from lack of attention.
These days the money is in building hotels rather than growing food, which says a lot about the modern world.
On top of this, there was little or no birdsong even though we were quite rural. We hear a lot about the breakdown of biodiversity, and it seems that pesticides and lack of habitat have apparently wiped out a substantial portion of Europe’s bird life. How sad.
Maybe it’s an age thing, but good old culture shock is truly a thing of the past for me. I remember the thrill of travel when I was young, the colour, smells and humanity of Asia, the grand history of Europe, the exoticism of North Africa.
Spain, in my early years, was a romantic, albeit fascist, kind of place. Now, thanks to the miracle of globalism, it’s just like everywhere else.
The clothes, phones and nose rings of home are the same as when one gets off the plane on the other side of the world. Tapas was once an excuse for a feed as much as a drink for impoverished young travelers. Now I’ll just take the drink, thanks.
What a bland global culture we’re becoming.
God, I sound like a grumpy old stay-at-home. I probably am.
But the holiday itself? Well it was a wonderful extended family affair all around. Lots of boozy long lunches in exotic locations, meeting new partners and burying the ashes of one recently departed, lots of laughs and tears. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
And I loved the high speed train from Barcelona to Granada. Never been on one before, but I reckon they’ve got a future. No panic attacks, even at 300 kilometres per hour.
More power to flygskaming I say.