When a Writer Drinks

When a Writer Drinks

Occasionally, when I drink, I start to write.  I often believe that the writing is profound, in a Truman Capote kind of way.  Then, I show it to Eric after, he reads it, shrugs his shoulders and I realize it was quite possibly, complete crap.  Because when a writer drinks, often times, it’s crap. On our way from Abu Dhabi to Dublin, we flew sheer across the Gulf.  Something I have never done during the day.  We were flying home to family, for a funeral, and certainly not the most celebratory of trips. That may have been why I had two, very good pours, of whiskey before 11 am.  Eric joined me.  At least I was not drinking alone. There was part of me that enjoyed the banter between Eric and I.  The discussions about our seat neighborhoods, the other people who boarded the plane, the fact that there was a window in the bathroom of our Etihad flight.  I think that we each relished the moment where we could pretend that this was a normal flight, a normal trip to Ireland, instead of a rushed, last minute booking to celebrate, and bury, someone who Eric thought of as a brother. I recognized how strange the flight was, even as we pretended to be normal.  Eric noticed that I had become fascinated with the landscape out the window.  As we made our way north, we flew over Kuwait City – so much beige, and in complete contrast to our landscape in Bali. Then, the map function on the Etihad entertainment system told me we were crossing over Baghdad. I...
The Day I “Wrestled” a Snake in Bali

The Day I “Wrestled” a Snake in Bali

I have no photos to truly support this blog post, this experience.  Sometimes you just have to trust me that an experience happened, in one way or another.  One morning, Eric and I decided to spend some time at Luxe Cafe, which has some of the fastest wifi in town.  I needed to download an application.  We decided to go the long way, through the villages, rather than attempt to drive against traffic on a one way street, often patrolled by local police.  I made my way north out of our driveway onto the “main” road of Jalan Tirta Tawar.   I generally enjoy driving up this part of Ubud.  Rice fields and villas dot the sides of the road.  There is very little traffic and on this sunny morning, I was enjoying the breeze as I drove my motorbike north.  Until, just before the bend at the top of the road, a giant snake suddenly crossed the road.   I had no time to react, or stop, and could not have driven around it without careening into the rice paddies.  He was dark brown.  He looked wet.  Most of all, he was the longest snake I have seen outside of a zoo.  He may not have been longer than I am tall, but he was probably at least four feet long.  I am sure his length will increase as I continue to tell this tale over the years.  Just like the size of the bear I once hit grows with each telling of the story.  But, that is a story for a different day.  So, imagine this sight: ...
Etihad Airways Business Class on Jet Airways Aircraft!

Etihad Airways Business Class on Jet Airways Aircraft!

What goes up must come down.  Good things don’t last forever. I am sure there are more metaphors, but I was amazed at how quickly our customer service experience with Etihad Airways soured.  At least they waited until our second flight.  After attentive customer service while on the ground in Amman, due to some Twitter exchanges, we landed at Etihad’s home base in Abu Dhabi, and things just went south. Earning and Redeeming Frequent Flier Miles We spent years collecting the miles we have, and I am a little stingy with how I use them.  I only redeem my miles for saver awards, meaning there is less availability, but when the seats are available, it is a steal.  Similarly, I only redeem miles for an upperclass award, like business class or first class, on a really good airplane, on a long haul flight. When we were figuring out how to get from Kuala Lumpur to London and back using miles for some of the legs and doing stop overs in the Middle East, our flight planning became like a giant logic puzzle.  Add in my trip to Dublin for TBEX, and it was a downright nightmare.  With miles on American Air, United, US Air, Delta, and British Airways, it became a search for who flies where, with which partners, and how can we book it, and what is the best value for our miles.  It’s a little fun to figure it all out, I won’t lie, but can be frustrating nonetheless.   Initially, we planned to fly from Dublin to Istanbul to Amman on Turkish Airlines using our United...
Flying Through Amman With Etihad Airways Help

Flying Through Amman With Etihad Airways Help

Our original itinerary through the Middle East used our American Airlines miles and had us flying Royal Jordanian to Bangkok.  We splurged on the miles to land us in Business Class, ensuring that Royal Jordanian had a “proper” business class, worth the miles. Then, we realized we did not want to travel anymore.  When we decided to try to change our itinerary to come home early, we were offered business class on Etihad Airways, one of the airlines with the best reputation in the world.  Qatar Air might claim to have 5 start service, but Etihad has a better reputation.  So, we jumped on the chance.  We would fly from Amman to Abu Dhabi, then onto Kuala Lumpur, all in Etihad’s top notch business class cabin. The one thing about a lot of these Middle East stop overs and flights (and even Singapore for that matter) is that departure times are a little wacky.  Our flight from Singapore to Doha departed at 2 am, arriving at 5:30 am.  Doha to London was 6 am, no big deal.  We arrived in Amman on a wacky itinerary.  We left Dublin at 5pm, arrived in Istanbul 4 hours later at 11pm, had a 3 hour layover, left Istanbul at 2 am, and arrived in Amman 3 hours later at 5 am.  Needless to say, we did not sleep a wink that night, on our crowded Turkish Air economy class flight.  Our original Royal Jordanian itinerary from Amman was scheduled to leave at 2am, not a fun departure time either, but doable. But, the Etihad itinerary took the cake.  With a departure of...
Flying the Dreamliner with Qatar Airways – A Photo Essay

Flying the Dreamliner with Qatar Airways – A Photo Essay

I have one rule when flying: If you have to fly across the world in economy, it is best to do it on a non-American airline. So, when we got a decent price on a one-way Qatar Air flight from Singapore to Doha, and then continuing to London, with a one week stop over in the Middle East, we jumped on it.  After all, Qatar Air claims to be the world’s only “Five Start Airline.” Our flight to Doha was on a new Boeing 777, and was very nice.  The seats were comfortable, with a decent amount of leg room.  The entertainment system was great.  The cabin was new and clean.  My only complaint, really, was that the service was just fine.  Yeah, I said it, fine.  It was better than most American Air or Delta flights, but for the world’s only five star airline, it was fine. We had a choice of continuing flights, from Doha to London.  Many of them were at very reasonable times of day.  And, for a flight through the Middle East, that is a luxury – many flights are in the middle of the night.   Eric wanted to take the 6 am flight, forcing me to get up around 3:30 am, just to fly the Dreamliner with Qatar.  It would be our first Dreamliner flight, and he promised me I would be impressed.  Really, my thoughts or feelings were of no concern to an aviation junkie who just had to fly the Dreamliner.   As the flight got closer and closer, Eric became more excited.  You could not gage his excitement, though,...
Driving a Motorbike in Bali

Driving a Motorbike in Bali

One of Eric’s New Year’s resolutions, when we started 2013, was to write a blog for With Husband In Tow.  Now, technically, he finished the blog on December 22, so, this was accomplished in 2013, but with my blog schedule…Finally, The Husband speaks out for the first time on the site.  If you want more from The Husband, follow @TheHusbandInTow on Twitter.  Now, in Eric’s own words: In sales, they say that the best way to learn is “trial by fire.” Hand the salesman a list with names and phone numbers and start calling. Sure you’ll be nervous and not present the product like it should, but you’re getting used to pitching your product, building confidence with each call.  The same can be said for operating a motorbike for the first time. When I picked up the motorbike from Ketut (it means third son in Balinese), I had no other option than to put in the key, turn the ignition and ride on back to our villa. I hadn’t the slightest idea how to start the motorbike. I assumed you just turned the key, much like a car, and away you go….wrong!  It turns out that you have to turn the key, engage the brakes, make sure the kickstand is up and push the starter button. It was a good thing that I put my pride aside for a moment and played dumb with Ketut (not a difficult thing for me) by saying that it had been awhile since I last rode a motorbike and could he “refresh” my memory on how to start it. I might not have...