The Chronicles of a Rep in Ibiza and Charlie the cat

 

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View of Santa Eulalia from the apartment balcony

My favourite destination in all my years being a holiday rep was Ibiza!

Prior to going, my only image was of huge nightclubs, dancing til dawn , Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs, Paris Hilton and tons of other celebs who frequented the island during the height of summer.

Ibiza is the one place that would be considered a reps dream destination! Who doesn’t want to drink and party until sun rise…or watch the world’s BEST sunset sipping sangria with hundreds and thousands of people from all over the world? Ibiza is pure heaven…and I recommend any newbie to consider a placement there at least once in their career.

All of that partying is truly wonderful…all of that sunset-watching is enjoyable…but there comes a point where all of that becomes monotonous and all you really prefer to do is rent a dvd and snuggle up with your cat….

As a rep you are definitely NOT allowed to have a pet in your accommodation. It is one of the rules that is clearly stipulated…right next to “No smoking” and “NO chewing gum” in uniform. But there are ways to get away with smoking in uniform, or chewing the odd gum or two…and strangely enough, there are ways to get around the whole “pet” thing too. *cue mischievous smile*.

During this particular season, I worked in Santa Eulalia in Ibiza and it was a great location that was a little bigger than a village, but smaller than a town. It was a mix of modern, contemporary and old. It had a great marina, cute little beach bars, fabulous restaurants from Thai to Italian, unique bars and overall, it had a wonderful feeling about it. Because there wasn’t anywhere for me to live that particular season, I had to share an apartment with the team leader in the area. For anyone who doesn’t already know this, the team leader accommodation is literally 1 step down from a manager’s accommodation…so yes…for the first time since becoming a rep, I was living in what most would call the “lap of luxury”. A 6th floor apartment overlooking the marina and the sea, within easy walking distance to all my hotels and amenities – and close enough to KFC/Pizza Hut so they could deliver!! Thats right people…KFC delivered!!! Talk about landing in paradise! My dreams had come true that season for sure – I got Ibiza as my placement (which, along with Cyprus, was damn hard to get), I got the area where I wanted to work…and as an added bonus, I got to live in a fabulously furnished apartment with a proper kitchen, comfy sofas, a TV and DVD player and the perfect view! Oh….and did I mention that the DVD rental store was 2 doors away from my apartment – right next to the little shop where my roomie and I bought all our snacks and drinks for our continual movie nights? Yeah…thats right people…I WAS IN HEAVEN!!!066

Finally having an accommodation that felt more like “home” instead of a prison cell, was certainly a refreshing change. But as anyone knows, a home never feels quite right without a pet. Do not get mistaken, I was definitely not going to go out of my way to break any rules by purchasing a pet…and I certainly was not actively looking for one under rocks and in bushes…but if one happened to stumble upon my path, I definitely wasn’t planning on thinking too hard or too long about calling it my own.

As luck would have it, this one fateful morning I headed to my usual duties in a hotel which had approximately 4 guests, and it was here that I simply sat and stared at the walls hoping and praying for the time to end. As I saw the time drawing to a close, I breathed a sigh of relief and quickly packed up and rushed out the entrance. Lo and behold, there he was! He was the sweetest, friendliest cat you could ever imagine. He was just sitting there, waiting for any random person to show him affection…so I obliged. Now of course, I did not immediately think about claiming him as my own since cats have absolutely no loyalty, and this cat probably wandered off because he was tired of his owners. I petted the little creature and I headed off in the direction of my next hotel – not giving it another thought.

After the usual afternoon siesta, I made my way back to the hotel where I had seen the cat – and as I walked up the stairs of the entrance there he was again. Just sitting there, looking all lonely and sad. I bid him hello, gave him a courteous rub on the head and walked into the hotel. My interest was piqued now…why was this cat hanging out at the entrance of this hotel that barely had any guests in it…especially any guests that would even give him the time of day. Strange I thought. And even stranger when I asked the reception staff if anyone knew who the cat belonged to and all of them said they didn’t know. Hmmmm.

Once my shift had ended I knew what I had to do…I was going to commit the ultimate sin…I was going to kidnap the cat! I knew that this was what I had to do…the cat was probably looking for a new owner…and I decided I was up for the task! I scooped the cat up, and since I didn’t have a box, I stuff the cat into my work bag…which was pretty tricky. The cat was very friendly on the ground…but funnily enough he did not take too kindly to being kidnapped and stuffed in a bag that was certainly not suited for catnapping purposes. Now this is where it got really tricky – the walk from that hotel to my apartment was a bit of a distance – about 20 mins to be exact. Try adding extra weight to that distance and having to fight with a wriggling bag and look normal in the process…that 20 minutes felt like hours! The other part of the plan I forgot to factor in was that I had to visit one more hotel before the end of my evening shift. YUP! A cat screaming from my bag, trying to act normal and praying to god that a manager didn’t decide to “pass by” had me on edge. I was obviously NOT about to finish my duties for the evening…instead I was headed back to the apartment with my furry captive and help him settle into his new home instead!

How I managed that 20 minute walk without appearing insane I am not sure…how I made it into my apartment building and in the elevator without encountering my neighbours I have no idea…and I have no clue what was going through my mind when I finally sat on the sofa and opened my bag to release my captive. All I knew is I was SUPER excited for my roommate to come home so that she could meet our new pet for the season!

Yeah…good question…how was I so sure how my roommate (my team leader, by the way) was going to feel about breaking the rules and having a cat…in an APARTMENT on the 6th floor?? Yeah…potato patato, tomato, tamato…who cared! What was there not to love about a purring ball of fluff!

Thankfully when my roommate returned home that evening she was so excited! We set about naming our new friend and eventually decided on Charlie. Charlie was our new pal and he accepted us as his new owners, friend and family. Charlie was a well trained apartment cat. He had no desire to run through the front door and make a bolt for the outside world. He was happy chilling on the sofa or perched precariously on the balcony ledge…which really made my stomach lurch. Even when the other reps came around, they were totally not bothered about Charlie either. It was as if Charlie was meant to be with us…and that was the routine of our summer season. 098

Now, the downside of any season is that it must come to an end…but before it does, certain things can occur:

  • Your roommate has an accident and the manager comes to visit
  • The owner of the apartment is selling it and must show potential buyers around

 

Ahh yes…the 2 most agonizing occasions, especially when one has broken the sacred commandment between rep and company, which of course means the company has broken that rule outlined by the owner of the property! I knew I was well and truly FUCKED! Now any sensible rep would probably have done the obvious…thank the cat for the happy memories and wonderful cuddles and then dump its ass on the street and hope that another kind soul finds it. Well, I did not do that…instead I bribed the cat with food and snacks and locked its ass in my wardrobe and prayed that it did not get frightened and start mewing. As my luck would have it, it started mewing and I started coughing! I think the owner of the apartment thought I was a frigging nutcase…or seriously ill…he did grab his potential buyer and bid a hasty retreat out of there before either of them caught my cooties.

Despite those 2 incidents, it was a happy occasion and Charlie was great comfort to me especially when my roommate had to return to Scotland for about a month and a half due to her illness. Charlie kept me company and for the first time as a rep abroad in a strange country, I finally felt like I was “home”. Saying goodbye to Charlie at the end of the season was VERY emotional, and my roommate and I made sure that he went to a good home. I still think about Charlie, and thanks to him, I will always remember my adventures in Ibiza. 068

 

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Repping in Rhodes Island – good, the bad…the near death. 

After my first introduction to Greece I knew that I felt a connection to the people and the culture. I felt like I belonged.  I knew that my 3rd summer was going to have to be on a Greek island. Thank goodness the Travel Gods heard my prayers..rhodos island.I was headed to Rhodes for 6 months and I was chuffed to bits.

I’m not sure why I always felt I had been caught off guard when I arrive in Greece. Somehow I manage to forget that the toilet paper has to go in the bins, there are no washing machines and accommodation is as basic as a broom cupboard. I forget these major issues…yet I still want to go! Is that glutton for punishment or simply embracing a past life? Whichever it was, I was thrilled to be in Rhodes like an excited child in a candy store!

_Lindos-Streets

Lindos

“Rodos” (as the Greeks called it) is an island which has one of the most infamous places in all of Greece…Lindos! Such a beautiful picturesque whitewashed village perched on the side of a hill with its little cobbled stoned walkways, quaint shops, boutique bars interspersed with traditional tavernas. The beach located in the cove below was probably the best on the island…white sand and crystal clear water that lapped gently onto the shore line. Sounds rather glorious doesn’t it? One small, tiny, itsy little downside to Lindos…it was the HOTTEST place on earth in summer. The temperature would reach to over 100 degrees….in the shade!! If you were brave enough to withstand the heat on that side of the island… Your car tyres may not have. There were instances where the heat was so bad car tyres would literally melt. Yup…some would have said “hell”…but since I wasn’t located on that side of the island… I was in heaven!

The one time I did go to Lindos for a night out with a bunch of reps, I got so blindingly drunk in one of the bars I ended up puking all over the beautiful cobbled stone streets in front of the locals, climbed over some wall, and had to be escorted back to a reps apartment where I passed out until morning. So my one time in Lindos was scarred and I was far too embarrassed to show my face down there again.

Rhodes is a very historical island covered in huge amounts of ruins and old temples. There is amazingly dramatic scenery, picturesque views and overwhelmingly lovely people. There are trips to the nearby island of Symi – home to the worlds finest sponge divers – yes…thats right…’sponge’ which you use to bathe with, originated at the bottom of the ocean. This was a fascinating eye opener for me…learn something new everyday! Not only are they renowned for their sponge diving abilities, but also their shrimp…YUM! Symi shrimp has got to be the most delicious crustacean I have ever had the pleasure of eating in its entirety.

For those people who like cheap bargains such as cheap cigarettes and even cheaper dvd’s, then Turkey is pretty much a hop, skip and a jump away by ferry. Ok…let me rephrase that…on a map it looks like a hop, skip and a jump…in reality it is a stomach churning 1 hour journey that feels more like 3 days. That particular day we went across to Turkey was AWFUL! It was raining, the sky was dark, it was freezing and the waves were strong enough and big enough to rock and roll this giant sized catamaran/ferry boat thingy.

My first 3 months in Rhodes was definitely not hunky dory. My first couple of months was in Kalithea – where I couldn’t drive, so I had to rely on my colleague to get me to my 2 hotels. I was quite close to Falaraki – but the 2 nights I went out there for the entire summer was definitely not all it was cracked up to be. After 2 months there was a ‘rep shift around’ – which meant I was transferred to a hotel in the middle of freaking nowhere in Kolymbia…my view was a mountain.  I was actually the one to beg for a transfer…luckily one of the newbies decided she couldn’t handle the job and left…the Universe answered my prayer and I was moved closer to civilization.

For the remainder of the summer I was based near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rhodes Old Town, in the resort town called Ixia. I was repping 4 hotels that were located along the single main road that led around the island. It was a great spot actually. My hotels were all in a row, there were reps from other companies based nearby (who I got on really well with), and there was a cafe a few doors down from my hotels that served awesome food and had English channels so we could catch up on soaps and shows like XFactor.

I lived in one of my hotels…which was pretty awesome…only from the point of view that I could sneak off to my room early and get reception to call me if guests needed me. Bonus! What wasn’t so great was being on the sane floor as guests…I would literally have to become James Bond every time I walked in and out of my room. I would come out of the elevator and pretend I was delivering a note to my door. I would pause….wait…look around…and quickly open the door and run inside. Coming out was kinda the same. I would stand at my door quietly, crack it open, take a quick peek and bolt out of there like a bat out of hell. The hotel staff used to laugh at me and my stealth moves. I’m sure I entertained them a lot.

Living in a hotel had its perks. I had a clean room. Fresh linens and towels delivered once a week, free meals available on the top floor restaurant, an abundance of friends (all the staff in the hotel), TV with a couple American channels and not very far to go once my day was finished. However the downside was major… No cooking facility…except a kettle. No place to hang wet clothes after hand washing them and absolutely no privacy since every staff member knew your comings and goings at all times during the day and night.

Rhodes

Rhodes Old Town

Life in Ixia was quite peaceful. I enjoyed having meals with my colleague (LT) once a week at a taverna that quickly became our regular dining spot. We would regale each other with stories of our guests antics and we would compare notes on our sales techniques and customer service approach. Sometimes we would go to Bar Street and have our own mini bar crawl. Life in Ixia was quiet because we were the only reps in the area since everyone was spread out across the island.

To be perfectly honest, my season in Rhodes passed without much of an issue… until the end…when I actually waved goodbye to the entire team and watched the hotel I lived in, close down for the summer. It was not by choice I was staying….I had been too much of a procrastinator when it came to to renewing my passport. Now I was literally stranded on a Greek island which was now officially closed for the summer!

For the duration of my stay on the island, I had to find somewhere else to call my temporary home. I had no idea when the passport would turn up – but I knew I needed it to arrive asap. In the meantime, I had to arrange an alternative flight to the UK via Athens (with a 6 hour layover) and I had to find a friend who could pick me up in the UK and allow me to stay with them until I could find someone else to stay with until the winter season started. Sigh!!! What a rigmarole!

Naturally I was a rep…which meant I had luggage…and lots of it! How on earth was I going to get my entire life back to the UK without incurring major costs that would require the sale of my left kidney and first born child?? Luckily enough a local friend of mine suggested a grand idea – and for anyone who doesn’t know about this – its so SIMPLE… I posted my 3 over sized suitcases to the UK for a fraction of the cost of being charged the overweight fee! (It took about 3 weeks – but if you can wait, then I definitely recommend it).

Eventually, after much panicking and worry I finally got my passport in my hand! I can barely describe the relief I felt. After spending nearly 3 weeks eating subway sandwiches in a hotel room, nothing felt greater than being able to confirm my flight out. This was no longer a holiday destination where I was living my dream – the weather had taken a turn for the worse as winter was drawing in quite fast, and it felt like I had entered a nightmare.

I went to bed the night before my flight feeling relieved that I was actually leaving… but I was quite anxious about where I was going to stay and if my friend would be able to pick me up.  I remember quite clearly that I woke up the next morning and my ear was completely blocked and hurting me! I panicked – because I knew that if this had happened to a guest I would have strongly advised they got an all clear from the doctor before flying. Here I was with liquid now draining from my ear, and the mere thought of going to a doctor to be told I couldn’t fly was NOT high on my list of priorities. There was no way in hell I was going to be told I couldn’t fly – I knew whatever I did next would have been a huge risk….

I remember landing in Athens a few hours later unable to hear a sound out of the still draining ear, and in rather excruciating pain. I went to the pharmacy got some drops and cotton, and simply prayed because there wasn’t much else I could do. The layover was the worst part of the entire journey, because this is the point when a raging fever started. I felt delirious, exhausted and so unbelievably cold. Every ounce of energy was starting to leave my body slowly as I waited patiently for my flight to be called. All I wanted to do was sleep. My eyes were burning me, my throat was dry… I knew I couldn’t fall asleep otherwise I would miss the flight. Thankfully after a torturous 6 hours the flight started boarding and I slumped into my seat like a rag doll feeling rather frightened and unsure what was going on with my ear as it continued to drain a funny colour.

I barely remember landing in the UK, waiting for my friend (RG) to pick me up or reaching her parents house. I know I made small talk but I kept dipping in and out of consciousness. I know that by the time I got to her parents house I was burning up and I literally passed out. I remained delirious for what felt like weeks. I couldn’t eat or drink anything…it made me puke. I was burning up on the inside and I had made peace with my Maker…I was just upset my mom didn’t know what was happening to me and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

God bless RG’s mum for taking care of me with cold rags, ice, medication and a trip to the doctors….once the fever had broken. Turns out I had contracted a rather serious ear infection which had damaged my eardrum. I was lucky it hadn’t ruptured…but I was completely deaf in one ear for 2 months….worse feeling ever!

My time in Rhodes was wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable – but my procrastination proved I had to manage my time properly, get organized and stay focused. I changed a lot after that incident – I definitely made sure to check my passport expiry date every year…just in case I had another brush with death.

Repping in Benidorm felt like the pits of hell! 

Benidorm…sigh. What can I say really? First impressions?… I had clearly made the biggest mistake of my life by turning down Egypt for such a complete shit pit! It was a far cry from Costa del Sol or even the Canaries. My first thought was that karma was a bitch and the company was punishing me for turning up my nose at my original placement. Don’t get me wrong…Egypt is lovely, but at the time they were having a little issue and I really didn’t want my mother to get a call saying “there’s been a slight accident…”

Once again I was the lonely old rep heading to resort late. I was travelling on my own but this time I was better equipped to face the challenges. On this occasion I really didn’t want to talk to anyone on the plane…considering that when I looked around the metal tube I saw NO one under the age of 65. My next clue as to what to expect , was overhearing snippets of conversation flowing between couples…

“This is our 43rd time here. I hope Pablo has our usual room ready”

“The last time we came we went to that market…do you remember Bob? The one that had all those gypsys. Robbing little bastards they are”

“I wonder if there are any new trips? I hated Gibraltar. That bus made me feel sick”

“Do you think we will see Sandra again. She was a nice rep. I hope she’s there. Such a caring girl…not like the other one”

I slowly slipped my headphones on and sank deeper into my seat. Clearly this was NOT going to be the easiest or best season if this was what I was facing.

Now please understand that being in a plane with nearly 200 passengers over the age of 65, i was clearly going to stick out like a freakishly giant sore thumb. It was only a matter of time before the whispers started and I could hear …

“Aye, Barbara…do you think she’s a rep? Looks a little young don’t you think? I hope she’s not ours. I want to see our Tom again…I liked him. Such a good lad”

All I knew was that I just needed that captain to step on the gas before there was an all out lynching…because once they had sussed I was a rep for sure, there was going to be no escape. I would have to listen to every complaint, every issue. I would have to nod politely, smile graciously and try to evade as many personal questions as possible.

Don’t get me wrong…I loved the older guests! They all had fascinating stories to share, full of wonderful insight and often times were the only type of guest who gave nice little gifts and relieved themselves of all their toiletries, books and magazines when they were leaving. The older guests…most of them… were totally precious…but the other half were pompous know-it-alls who were a complete pain in the arse to be around.

I finally landed in Alicante unscathed…thank god. The drive into Benidorm was not pretty. The skyline was a far cry from what I was used to. It was a jungle of skyscrapers and huge concrete structures. I couldn’t even see the beach…I wasn’t even sure where it was or how far it was. I know I had said it before…but this was NOT what I had in mind. Where were the one story buildings with cobbled stone streets? Where were the little local tavernas with old local men sat outside? Where the hell was the sea? Where was the breeze? Where was I???? Somehow I  had landed in some kind of hell.

Arriving at night definitely did not prepare me for what I saw in the day. What I saw at night was actually pretty compared to the greyness that existed. Getting my bearings was difficult at first until I realised that the entire layout of the resort was a grid system. But it felt a lot like being in a small town than it did being in an actual tourist resort. I felt more like a business woman going to work each day, instead of like a ‘holiday’ representative. That being said…the initial impression was not great and I vowed I would do my time as a prisoner and make a hasty retreat as soon as the warden set me free.

During my first month I had a stint in a little office that we shared with our German counterparts. Our company had decided to trial a new concept. For all the hotels that barely had any of our guests in there, instead of wasting man power by having a rep in these hotels, these guests could make their way to this central office and speak to a rep or they could call . Office hours were the usual repping  hours (including the break for siesta). Let’s just say that this little concept did not sit well with a huge majority of guests. You see, as I mentioned before, guests are funny creatures. They need to have their hands held and they NEED to complain about something to someone. So imagine their disgust when they arrive (for the 43rd time) and realise that Sandra the rep is gone and they are left with no one! Instead they are left with a phone number and a long walk to an office! Catastrophe!

So not only had I arrived in visual hell, but I had arrived as the guinea pig for some crazy idea…and even though I had escaped unscathed from the plane…here I was now face to face with the same blasted passengers I had tried to hide from! This was NOT a good start.

Our German counterparts in that small office kept laughing at me and my colleague. Every day they would shake their heads and  ask us why British holidaymakers were so loud and why did they complain so much…what was I supposed to say? I would just shrug and answer the phone to yet another screaming guest.

The bosses soon after moved us from that position, and moved me to another side of the ‘town’. I was given control of 3 hotels. All in walking distance and all relatively small compared to the monstrosities that were around. I was now starting to settle into life somewhat…I never had a choice though…I had to remain longer than I thought! I was trapped in this prison for another 3 months…I intended to make it bearable.

The guests in my hotels were really nice…only downside (not really)…all the guests were returning guests which meant if there was nothing new to offer them then they were not coming to my welcome meeting ,and they refused point blank to buy any trip. As one guest said,

“I could probably teach you everything you need to know about this place. I’ve been coming here 50 years…”

Once I had established that I was off the hook with having to sell, I just turned up the notch on my customer service…because old people LOVE to fill out questionnaires! I was attentive, understanding, talkative and I was a listening ear. The oldies quite liked me actually *smile*.

On one occasion I got a call from the emergency hotline to tell me that my guest was in a terrible state. She had lost her husband and needed help finding him. Naturally I wasn’t the least bit panicked. Guests have a tendency to exaggerate (known fact). I was sure when she said “lost”, she really meant he was around the hotel exploring. Well…she was half right. He was “lost”. He had ended up in the hotel bar during the night and had fallen asleep. But after finding him there he had no recollection of where he was or who his wife was. His alzheimer had kicked in and he thought his wife was some sort of temptress. He kept telling her to go away and leave him alone. He kept shouting he needed to go back home to his wife. Oh boy! That was my first encounter with something like that and it was awful. It was frightening to see the sadness and confusion in his eyes. There was nothing I could do except be gentle and try to explain that he was with his wife and everything would be Ok. Needless to say, the following day she had to book an emergency flight home. The condition had deteriorated rapidly and she knew she couldn’t manage.

Of course the wonderful Benidorm was filled with the strangest people and even stranger situations. After a rather hectic arrival day I got a call from the airport rep telling me I should expect a guest and I was to keep an eye on him. Hmmmm…ominous I thought. Well, this guest turned up and on further inspection things were a little out of character. It was an elderly gentleman travelling on his own without any suitcase. His only bag was a black supermarket shopping bag. In it, he had the following – a comb, a brush, underpants (1) and his passport. I kid you not! He had been standing at the baggage carousel until all the bags were gone and the reps had to go get him. He had forgotten that he didn’t bring a bag. When they tried to question him he kept saying he needed to get away. As you can imagine his family was called immediately and he was admitted into hospital until they arrived. Its common knowledge that Benidorm has the highest incidents of natural deaths…it is where the geriatrics go to take their last breath. Luckily I didn’t have any incidents, but my colleague did. The guest called him up to the room because she needed help waking her husband. The man had died in his sleep while she was sleeping next to him. Poor woman!

Amid all the geriatrics, deaths, “robbing gypsys” and the slips and falls (old people are frail and break easily), we had an active social life. Benidorm is one of the cheesiest resorts I have ever worked. It caters to everyone and every mood. The nightlife is active and entertainment is on every corner. There are live sex shows, comedy shows, musical acts. There’s dancing and singing performances. There’s magic acts and there’s impersonators….and then there is the infamous Sticky Vicky. A visit to Benidorm is not complete without watching a grandma completely naked, pulling things out her hoohaa. That’s right folks…this lady can create electricity with her hoohaa when she inserts a light bulb! Good old Vicky!

I learnt  a few repping tricks in Benidorm…getting home early in the morning and the shift starts in a couple hours? Put on your uniform! That way you can jump out of bed (after you’ve pressed the snooze button on the alarm at least 10 times) and head to work without being (too) late. Want to go home early from the bar but all the reps won’t let you leave? Tell them you’re heading to the bar to get a round of drinks then sneak out through the crowd.

Benidorm was the one resort where there was no tension or rift between rival companies. Every rep knew they were in hell and we all couldn’t wait to get away. Some made their getaway quicker than others…via the backdoor…under the cover of darkness. Yup! Some reps just ran away in the middle of the night. No goodbyes, no warnings, no nothing. It takes some guts to do it…(he knows who he is)…but the urge to escape was too great, and could any of us blame them.

I had served my sentence well, and with dignity at the end of winter 2. I received my badge of merit and I was renounced of my past disservice. I was free to leave the highrised ,geriatric hell hole.

As I drove away in the bus – back to the airport – I stared out at the skyline and thought about the experience. I was glad it was over, but I had learnt to deal with far more issues than I ever thought possible. I had been pushed to my limit countless times. To me, I had  completed another level in the University of Life, and for that reason I would be forever thankful to the home of Sticky Vicky.

Backpacking vs being a Holiday Rep

tenerife view from apt

View from my apartment in Tenerife

I am truly overwhelmed by the amount of reach that my blog “what is a holiday rep and what does that mean” has made across the world. It has pretty much gone viral at this point – from the UK to Russia, from Mexico to South Africa – everyone is connecting with a simple post that has so much meaning to people spanned across the globe.

I know that I wrote about what would seem to be the darker side of repping – but it is important to highlight the lighter side. The lighter side of being a holiday rep and even a club rep, far outweighs the tedious complaints, sore feet and long days. It is filled with endless sunshine, romance and above all it is filled with total security.

There are hundreds and thousands of people (young and old) who crave adventure. Who yearn to throw in the towel and jet off into the sunset forgetting about everything they left behind, in search of a new life on faraway shores. But not everyone has the nerve to do it because the idea is daunting and even frightening. The thought of having no control, no idea what to expect and the deep rooted fear of leaving security for insecurity.

Anyone who has backpacked off the beaten, or not so beaten path, will attest to the fact that it involves a lot of research and prep. You have to pour over Lonely Planet guide books, trawl the internet and talk to as many people as possible to figure out the best and most suitable options. It takes time to plan, budget and create a rough itinerary of where to stay, how to get around, where to go and where NOT to go. Once in your desired destination you then have to consider work options depending on the time of year – be it olive picking in Italy, fruit picking in Australia, teaching English in Burma or maybe bartending in Spain.  There are those who simply don’t care – they pack their bag and turn up in a country and pray that they can last for even a few months without calling home to beg for funds to return. Whichever category you may fall in, the one thing is sure, nothing you do is totally secure.

…That is why millions of people across the world go on holiday! They crave that adventure but they want to ensure that their every move is planned and they can be guaranteed that whatever they do, they are safe and comfortable.

I have to thank the Travel Gods for having the hindsight to tap into a market of creating holiday packages that provide that sense of adventure for the more discerning traveler. These Travel Gods tapped into an unlimited supply of human beings who crave the freedom to explore and engage, knowing that they are protected by the very company they have put their trust in.

These same Travel Gods then realized that there were even more eager and willing young people (and more mature), who wanted to experience this limitless freedom on a more permanent basis – hence, the birth of Holiday Reps!

Working under an already established company, with footholds in almost every part of the world, means that the options are vast, the freedom of movement is inhibited and more importantly – every basic need is met. As a rep you are provided with flight tickets, accommodation (NO BILLS), food, transport, phone (depending on your position), uniform and a little stipend each month. After that is established, it is then up to the rep to work hard (make more money), prove their worth, and take care of everything they are given. There may be rules and regulations – don’t chew gum, no drinking or smoke in uniform, don’t steal company money (duh!), wear the uniform correctly, be at work at least 15mins before start…and the list goes on. But it’s nothing that would be deemed as difficult to adhere to. One thing though… with all the rules, there is one thing they do promote – WORK HARD, PLAY HARDER! …And that has to be the singularly most awesome mantra you could tell a rep…believe me when I say, you will never find anyone as sociable and more fun loving as a rep! We know how to dance until sunrise and go straight to work – the key was always to fall asleep fully dressed in uniform (especially if you were only going to get an hour ‘nap’ before the morning shift started).

Even though we danced til sunrise and drank crazy concoctions like ‘Red Sh*t’ (you know who you are), we did everything as a unit…irrespective of the different companies out there. I had friends from so-called ‘rival companies’ – but there really wasn’t any rivalry. You had the few who were snobbish, maybe a little off-handish I guess, but all in all, we were in this madness together regardless of the uniform we wore. We were a team – a team that was responsible for the well being, safety and security of thousands of holiday makers that arrived into our hotels every week.

Being a rep teaches you a lot about yourself – who you are, what your strengths are, how you truly handle situations you are in, what you want out of the experience and where you see yourself in the future. When placed under extreme stress there are some who totally cave, give up and go home. They realize that they can’t handle being away from home and the home comforts. Some turn from meek and mild and become the most outspoken and vivacious character to ever grace the planet. Some realise their potential to sell just about anything – whether ice to Eskimos or Bob Marley to Jamaicans. Some discover they are dive enthusiasts – and go on to get PADI certified and spend the rest of their days teaching scuba diving in the Mediterranean. Some even move up the ladder within the company and become managers and area managers. For me, I tried my hand at everything – from scuba diving to being a team leader. I learnt about power point and how to use it, the fine art of public speaking, how to write articulate and engaging pitches, how to manage my time effectively, how to train and motivate team members and how to do accounting. Most importantly, I learnt that I am ideally suited to customer facing roles and I am unafraid of any challenge.

My holiday company made it part of their philosophy that there should be team bonding sessions in the form of what we called ‘jollies’. We had mid-season ones. We had end of year ones and we had tons in between. Jollies had many forms, from fully inclusive boat cruises to see dolphins to evenings out watching fabulous shows. Whatever the form, it was a chance for every rep to catch up – because depending on the resort we were placed in, we could guarantee that reps would be located in every corner and crevice of that resort. This meant that when jollies were had, it was a chance to come together, gossip and rekindle the friendship that was established from the first week of training. It was during these jollies that I witnessed romance blossoming between reps. Let’s face it, we are away from home, we weren’t supposed to interact romantically with our guests (yeah right *wink wink*), and we were human after all! The end result was that romance was inevitable – some lasted and some didn’t. But I know first-hand a bunch of reps that are now happily married – and it’s those love stories that make you realise that the gateway to travelling (whichever avenue you decide to explore) can be filled with a few potholes and a number of stumbling blocks, but it sure can lead to that possibility of the ‘happily ever after’.

So if you are currently feeling stagnant, looking for an adventure, hoping to have life changing experiences – all the while feeling secure and comfortable – check out your local travel company and apply to be a holiday rep… I guarantee that it could be the BEST decision you ever made.

Don’t just take my word for it – check out this article I found – http://www.gapyear.com/articles/90421/work-as-a-holiday-rep

What is a ‘holiday rep’ and what does that mean?

holiday rep

Final goodbyes before taking them to the airport

There has always been some misconception with the term ‘holiday rep’ and the type of lifestyle they lead. Thanks to TV shows in the UK, such as ‘Club Reps’ – holiday reps were thought to be drunken disorderly reprobates who worked overseas fueling alcoholism and debauchery among the youths who vacationed in groups during the summer season.

When I first told my friends and family I was going to be a rep their initial reaction was a stifle of laughter and a look of concern. They asked if I was sure I thought it would be a good idea since they didn’t want to see me on TV. Naturally I was a little taken aback, which just proves that the media only highlights what they feel makes for good viewing. I knew from talking to a number of past reps that the job I had signed up for was a FAR cry from what was seen on TV. I knew I was not going to end up on a TV show caught in any compromising situation.

A Holiday Rep is rather boring by comparison to a 18-30’s Club Rep. The club reps are the lively, crazy social butterflies whose only task is to ensure that their guests have the most amazing week or two weeks of their life. The concept behind club reps was to try and separate the boisterous party loving youngsters from the families and older guests who were simply looking for something quieter and more relaxed. Being a club rep involves a LOT of partying, late nights, early mornings and lots of mishaps. To be a club rep it takes a certain kind of mentality and strength to keep nearly 100 young people entertained, yet safe. And as most of us are well aware, once alcohol is involved, then just about anything can happen.

A holiday rep on the other hand, is someone who is responsible for the well-being of everyone else that hasn’t booked a boisterous party filled week away. The holiday rep is the one who has to contend with moaning old people and miserable families who hate their hotel. The holiday rep is the one who has to deal with the most bizarre situations and complaints with a polite smile stuck to their face. The club rep, because they are dealing with only young people, can deal with them just as they would if it was their friends. So for a club rep, even if the days and nights merge into one, and life is a constant party, at least if problems do arise, they don’t have to grit their teeth and bear anything with a smile…they can say exactly what’s on their mind.

Despite having tons of perks, like free food and drink from various businesses that want to be recommended, outings on boats or shows to build team spirit, being treated like a VIP 100% of the time (depending on the country and the resort), a reps life can be tedious. The hours are long and irregular. There is no such thing as public holidays – every day is just one big work day with a day and a half off once a week. Depending on ones position and location in resort, they could be issued with the ‘emergency’ phone – which is on rotation each week. This phone is the bane of anyones’ existence. It is the one implement that will give you night terrors and cold sweats. I’ve convinced myself it is the reason I can’t sleep at night anymore, and why every time the phone rings, I jump out of my sleep as if I was being chased by a herd of wild rhinos.

The ‘emergency’ phone was meant for guests who had a problem in the middle of the night and needed emergency assistance…notice the word ‘emergency’. I wish guests had taken note of what that meant. The amount of phone calls I received which were utter nonsense was ridiculous. There was one night I got a call at about 3am. This couple had just arrived at their hotel (their flight was delayed), and they were not happy with their room, the location and the general look of the hotel. They wanted to be moved immediately! I calmly explained that nothing could have been done at that hour in the morning – the companys reservation centre was obviously closed, and all the hotel reservations departments were closed as well. They would have to wait until morning when the rep on duty would assist them with their issues. I assumed that was the end of that when I hung up. 30mins later the phone rang and I thought that it was going to be a long night if this kept happening. Turns out it was the same couple. I had spoken to the husband first, who was totally fine with my explanation and was quite happy with my response. However…this time it was the wife! She on the other hand, was not so understanding. The blood curdling scream which emitted from the phone was eye watering. The foul language interspersed with crying, screaming and coughing, was more than enough for one person to handle at 3.30am. I hung up the phone mid cough and turned it off until 6am. Wrong I know…I wasn’t supposed to turn it off…but that crazy bitch would have spent the next 3 hours of my precious sleep tormenting me with her devil scream. No thanks! I had put up with enough crap during the day…I needed my rest.

The days, weeks and months all flow into one as a rep. Yes, each day is different, but there is no such thing as a weekend or a holiday. Each day is the same – the only day recognized on any reps calendar is that singularly most precious day – the day off! I shouldn’t be so cruel – we all had siestas every afternoon. We followed the locals with that ritual – every afternoon from about 2pm to 5pm we got to have a little rest. Rest being the operative word – because if we had stuff to do at the office, or got stuck dealing with a complaint with a guest – we could kiss that siesta goodbye. Don’t even mention airport shift day – especially if we were pulling a double shift. By the time we got home late in the night, after being there from 8am, everywhere ached – included our throats, from talking so much.

Reps are hilarious creatures though. When it came time to select the preferred destinations for the next season, everyone looked at the flight plans for the various resorts. If we had a particularly bad summer with airport duty almost every day – or having to face late night flights and/or early morning flights – we definitely didn’t want to endure that again. So I would try to find a destination I liked, I wanted to work, but had the least amount of flight days… This leads me to my next topic…Presentation days.

The day following a flight arrival day is the most crucial day of any reps career. It’s the day that ‘fresh meat’ pass by to say hi. Eager, excitable holidaymakers who might not have been to that destination before, look forward to meeting the person who they will complain to, annoy with ridiculous queries, and ask probing questions  – and if they are feeling up to it, they may consider going on a few trips. Bright and early the morning after a flight arrival, the meeting room is prepared with welcome drinks and information packs highlighting the trips that are on offer are laid out. This is either the worst or best day of any reps life…and for me…it was the WORST! I HATED selling trips. I hated trying to convince people that they had to buy trips otherwise their holiday wouldn’t be the same. I just wasn’t a hard seller, or a persuasive seller. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the trips on our itinerary and I would recommended all of them, but I just couldn’t force anyone if they told me point blank they weren’t interested. I always put myself in their shoes – and I knew that if I was on holiday I wouldn’t want to be harassed about going anywhere if I didn’t want to. I was definitely not considered a top selling rep – but when it came to a crisis, I was definitely up for dealing with the challenge – like the time the little girl ran straight through the glass patio doors (which had no identifying sticker on it). Yeah, that was a great start to their holiday, and a great start to my welcome meeting day.

There may have been downsides to the job; the long hours, the sore feet, incidents and accidents, just to name a couple – but as any rep would tell you – which job doesn’t? One thing for sure though, when we all got together as a team, we would regale each other with the most outrageous antics our guests had got up to, disturbing sights we had faced, and the most stupid questions that were ever directed at us. It was common knowledge that once a holiday maker closed the door to their house, they left every ounce of their brain tucked up in the kitchen cupboard until their return.

On separate occasions, in different countries, there were guests who complained that the holiday brochure lied – it didn’t mention there would be fish in the sea. In Rhodes (a Greek island), a couple accosted me in the dining room of the hotel and demanded to be moved immediately! Why? They had no idea it would have greek people staying in it. One day I was selling a trip in Tenerife (one of the Canary Islands) to go into the mountains to stargaze, and a lady asked me if the island had ever had a full moon. She was curious because she had been there (all of 2 days) she hadn’t seen one. There was a young family in Benidorm (Costa Blanca, on mainland Spain) who had hated the apartment they had stayed in, so right before they departed, they left a huge pile of sh*t in the microwave – yes, yes. You can imagine what happened after they set the microwave for 3mins…that microwave had to be thrown out and the apartment fumigated (for a few days).

It baffled all of us how half of these guests ever made it through the airport and boarded a plane. By the time the arrival doors opened and a sea of pasty white descended upon us, every single one had either the ‘gormless lost’ look, or the ‘haughty know-it-all’ look. Whichever one we were greeted with, the response was always the same:

“Where are you staying?”

“UK”

“Excuse me sir? We don’t have that hotel on our list. Can you repeat?”

“I just landed from the UK”

“No sir. Which hotel are you staying in?”

“Mr. Jones”

…And that was when we would look down at the fabulous little tag on their bag (god bless whoever came up with that lifesaving idea – utter genius)which had their name and the hotel they are staying in. I would sigh in indignation, shake your head and direct them to the coach waiting outside to take them to the resort – all the while hoping and praying they actually make it to the coach and didn’t get lost.

Every guest on holiday has to have their hand held, they have to be spoon fed information and common sense disappears. I am sure it remains at home tucked up beside the brain. There were a number of occasions that a guest would complain that they had their wallet stolen. On further probing, I found out that he had stopped to play a betting game on the side of the promenade…he had to guess which cup was hiding the ball. *Shakes head*. Why oh why oh why?? We tell these people at the start, in the middle and at the end of their holiday – “don’t do what you wouldn’t do at home. Stay away from the street side con artists”. What do they do – ignore every word that is said, get their wallet stolen and then make a formal complaint that the rep was rubbish, she didn’t tell them anything, she didn’t care…blah, blah, blah. As a rep, our skins had to be thick and our backs had to be broad.

Rep life was hard work, but it was full of memories and lots of laughter. The friendships that were cemented are eternal. There is something special about sharing a journey with a set of complete strangers, thrown together in the middle of total chaos. We united as a team, we drank as a team, we partied as a team, and as a team we were an unstoppable force.

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Our mid season outing – my DREAM team

The start of my repping adventures in Halkidiki.

I ended map of halkidikiup sitting next to a sweet old lady on the plane, who was holidaying on her own, and I had told her that it was my first time being a holiday rep and I didn’t know what to expect, and how frightened I was about starting late into the season because everyone would have arrived weeks earlier and they would all be settled and friendships would have been established. I think I literally had verbal diarrhea on this total stranger. I told her everything about my life and why I ended up being a rep and what I was running away from, what I expected to get out of the experience, where I saw myself in the future..blah…blah…blah. Jeez! At the time I was just relieved to have someone to talk to. It was all very nerve wracking. I am a control freak of the highest order, and for once in my life, I had lost total control over my life. I was being carefree and spontaneous. Yeah, whatever! Who was I kidding…I was making a terrible mistake, and I was scared shitless! I wanted to turn back. I wanted to get off. I had made the wrong choice. These were all the thoughts flying though my head as I sat on the plane 32,000 feet above sea level as this metal tube with 219 holidaymakers, plus 1 very frightened holiday rep, made its way to Thessaloniki airport in Greece!

Man, oh man. I was right for having all those initial feelings. Arriving mid-season to a destination especially if you had no clue what to expect…SUCKED!

I was met at the airport by my allocated manager, Tracy, who had on enough make up to make a clown jealous. Her eye liner, eye shadow and mascara were so thickly coated onto and around her eyes; I wasn’t sure how she was even able to see. Sweet girl though– and I say ‘girl’, because she wasn’t that much older than me. We headed off to the area known as Halkidiki – which was compromised of the 3 fingered peninsulas; Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos. I had read about this area prior to arriving, and it was supposed to be a fabulous place to live and work.

My temporary abode was in the centre of a small greek village known as Kalithea, on the peninsula of Kassandra. The balcony overlooked a little road that ran through the centre and I could watch all the goings on from up in my turret. I remember being dropped there, hauling my 2 oversized suitcases up 3 flights of stairs and feeling very overwhelmed as I looked around the place I would call home. I had been given an itinerary of my daily trips, the first of which was the following day at 6am. Tracy told me that she wouldn’t see me again for the rest of the day and I should settle in and explore my surroundings.

I decided to go for a little walk once I had unpacked, just to get my bearings and figure out where I would have to meet the bus for my trips. It soon dawned on me that everyone spoke greek – english was not a language that was universal – despite popular belief. How the hell was I supposed to communicate here? How the hell was I supposed to buy groceries or order food in a restaurant when I had NO IDEA what was written or being said? Just great! This was not what I had imagined, or signed up for. Within the space of a few hours I was pretty much ready to pack up and go back to Smallsville.

On my exploration I had not encountered any perverts or slime balls. To be honest, everyone was so polite and very friendly. Actually, most of them spoke to me in greek – which was surprising considering I looked like I had just stepped fresh off the boat with a pasty looking complexion, and the psychotic deer in headlights gaze plastered to my face. I found out the following year that I looked greek – which was why the locals spoke to me in their language, and why they were taken aback that I didn’t respond in their tongue.

The subsequent days that followed were a total blur. I went on all manner of trips to see various sights, in and around the 3 peninsulas. There were boat rides to see Mount Athos, sunset cruises from Nea Skioni, bus tours around Sithonia, city trips to Thessaloniki, market sights at Nea Moudania , and museums visits at Ouranoupolis. There was the chance to see almost every corner of Halkidiki from land and by sea. I enjoyed every single minute of it – and I even met up with the little old lady from the plane. On a couple tours she and I partnered together walking around and exploring. It was nice seeing her again, and I was even nicer to have someone to talk to and share the experiences with.

Visiting Mt. Athos was probably one of the most unique experiences of my life. It was the largest monastic state in existence and only visible by sea, and considered a world heritage site by UNESCO. Women were not allowed within a certain distance from shore, and Prince Charles (the British monarch) would retreat there. It was on this trip that I learnt that his father was actually born in Corfu – which made Prince Charles Greek orthodox by blood. The entire peninsula was dotted with monasteries’; some of them looked like they had literally been molded out of the rock walls. As the boat steered as close as we were allowed to get, a hush had fallen over the guests on board. We were hanging over the edge with our mouths open in awe, totally captivated by the dramatic scenery, as the guide spoke about the history. I could hear the gentle breeze rustling through the sails, the water as it lapped on the side of the boat and sea birds screeching high above our heads. The odd ‘’ooooh’’ and ‘’aaahh’’ could be heard amid the frantic shutter clicks of almost every camera, as everyone tried to capture the essence of what was before our eyes. We had fallen under a spell of mesmerizing tranquility.

I honestly felt like a tourist during that first week designated for excursions. But the real work was soon to follow in the second week when it was time to shadow the reps and write my sales pitches based on all the excursions I went on. I must admit, writing the sales presentations were not too hard. I enjoyed everything I saw and it was a joy for me to re-account my adventures so that they could be shared with others – even if it was for them to spend their money.  I will admit wholeheartedly that throughout my tenure as a holiday rep, the sales pitch was NOT my forte. I was not the highest seller; I was not a forceful go-getter when it came to pressuring guests to buy trips …or anything for that matter. I did not hit my sales targets…ever. And if I did, that was purely by accident, or I had a particularly active set of guests staying in the hotel that week. The joke was, the real money as a rep, was made by hitting targets and getting commission. So of course every rep was actively involved in this process because they wanted the extra funds. That was great for them, but my philosophy has always been – “I don’t do my job for money. I do it because I love it. And if I love it, then money must follow”. The one thing that I did hit target for on a weekly basis was my customer service. The reviews I received were flawless – and that was probably my only saving grace within the company since I refused to be their sales pusher.

Halkidiki was just stunning. The people were so warm and generous. The men were handsome, if slightly arrogant and the women were stunningly stylish. Life there was very laid back, yet fiercely trendy. The locals at specific times during the summer would frequent the resort in the hundreds, and the bars and restaurants would be filled with tourists and locals alike. Whether tourist of local, everyone would interact like family…and that is huge in the Greek culture. Family for them is important. So important in fact, when the first born daughter gets married, she does not move away from her family home – the father builds on top of the existing structure. There was so much about the culture and their beliefs I grew to love and accept (and still do). I learnt the language so that I could communicate with my hoteliers, staff members, the locals and of course with the bus drivers – since they were the ones who refused point blank to learn english. Many of the reps found the bus drivers cantankerous and unhelpful – but I soon realised that once they saw you trying to learn their language and at least able to communicate at the basic level, they were the sweetest men ever. There was one occasion that a bus driver who didn’t know a word of english spent an entire 2 hour journey from the airport chatting away about his life in greek. I had a basic idea of what he was talking about and could interject with the courteous peel of laughter or odd phrase – but all the guests thought that I was some kind of greek speaking genius. I didn’t let them think otherwise.

Being a holiday rep certainly had the most awesome perks! Every bar owner and restaurateur wanted to be my friend. They wanted me to eat in their restaurant for free. They all wanted to make sure that I had a fabulous time in their establishment. One catch – all this eating and drinking for free meant that they wanted me to recommend their business to my guests, my colleagues’ guests, and any random guests I came across. We weren’t supposed to show favoritism – rules of the company – but hey, some places offered specific things that others didn’t. As long as I was honest and I tailored my recommendations to the needs of the guest, then it was a win win situation.

Greece spoilt me rotten. I never paid for anything in and around the resort I worked. My company was the only holiday company in the area at the time, which meant that the 3 of us working there, had a fabulous time. My first season as a newbie rep may have started out a little scary and lonesome. By the time I was placed in Fourka, a small fishing village on the Kassandra peninsula – the place I would call home for the next 6 months – I soon became very settled into the lifestyle, and forgot about my initial terror.

Halkidiki changed my life forever! There was no turning back now. I was well and truly bitten by the travel bug.

Leaving on a jetplane…

I was finally wpid-fb_img_1429189495126.jpggoing to leave the humdrum small town life behind and head off into the sunset to start my adventures as a holiday rep for Thomson Holidays (now called TUI Travel). I was going to live the dream – a dream that so many people have, yet are afraid to follow through with.

When I told my friends that what I was going to do, they all had that envious look. They all said how lucky I was, and how much they wished they could do it too. When I told them there was nothing stopping them, everyone simply ‘’ummed’’ and ‘’aahhed’’, interspersed with a lot of, ‘’yes, but….’’

I guess travelling is ingrained in my DNA. My Great Uncle Albert (whoever he was) was a British sea captain, and my entire childhood was spent travelling around different cities to different countries. My passport at the age of 7 probably had more immigration stamps than any adult. I know what you are thinking – I was a gypsy (hence my blog name). Sorry to disappoint you all. I was simply born to a family who travelled a lot for work – and relocating was a huge part of our lifestyle.

When I was younger – and even now as an adult – nothing gave me greater pleasure than boarding a plane, buckling my seat belt and waiting anxiously for it to take off. I loved the feeling as the front wheels came off the ground and the nose of the plane was in the air and I was thrown back into my seat as the plane made the ascent. If I was fortunate enough to have a window seat – which I always prefer to have – then I would look at the cars and houses below, as they started to shrink into the distance, looking like miniature versions of the real things.

There is no greater feeling than flying. It’s such a freeing experience. I enjoy every aspect of the plane journey – including the food. Yup! I admit it. I am an airplane food fanatic! I am not quite partial to the bacon or the sausage they serve for breakfast, but the egg and hash browns are nice – and yes, everything else that is served with breakfast goes down a treat too. I would have to say that my favourite meals are lunch and dinner. No matter what I get, it’s always super yummy. It’s so yummy in fact; there have been a few times I have asked for another one. I always thought that everyone else felt the same way about airplane food – until I saw the hostesses cart go past with tons of uneaten meals, followed by quiet murmurings of how terrible the food was, why they didn’t offer better meals, and next time they are going to travel first class because that’s where the good stuff is.

I have been fortunate to travel economy, business and first class with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and Delta – believe me when I say that the food is the SAME! Only difference is how it’s served, what it’s served on, and depending on the airline, you might actually get a menu to choose from. Big whoop! Granted, I would LOVE to fly Emirates Airlines. I hear their service, food, décor and overall layout is by far the most superior to any other airline. One day (very soon), I will get that chance, and I will definitely blog about my experience…hint hint, Emirates – I’m willing to be your mystery shopper! *SMILE*

I am in awe at how people totally pass out on planes. It amazes me every time that the plane will be sitting on the tarmac waiting for boarding to be completed, and there is that one person who manages to fall dead asleep – sitting fully upright. I cannot sleep on a plane for love nor money. I am that annoying passenger who would have the light on because I’m reading or playing a game on my iPad. I make it my mission to watch at least 3 movies – and usually the movie selection is so awesome, because they show movies which only recently came out in the cinema. I don’t go to the cinema (the darkness makes me fall asleep), and I am never sitting still long enough to watch one at my house. So imagine being locked in a metal tube for 9 hours – these suckers have my undivided attention! I only wish airlines provided a never-ending supply of snacks, like popcorn, chocolates and maybe some gummy bears…then the 9 hours would pass even quicker.

Once the movie(s) are over – depending on the length of the flight – there is usually about 45mins before landing, and if you don’t time it right you will never make it to the bathroom to freshen up – why? The entire plane consisting of 200 plus people, have the same idea about 30mins before final descent. Everyone wants to comb their hair, splash water on their face, brush teeth – and I’m convinced some people actually bathe in that small space – how, I don’t have a clue. I kid you not, I have seen women striding down the walkway wearing a different set of clothes and hair looking freshly washed. I know for me, it’s a struggle to even wash my face. Water ends up down the front of my clothes instead of the intended target.

The descent is where the nerves kick in – not because I am scared of crashing – because as I look out of the window and the view comes into sight, and the cars and the houses start to get bigger and bigger – I know that this is it. This is the start of something new. What will happen next is a complete mystery. I have no control and I have no idea what to expect. I just have to hope that whatever happens, I don’t  give up and I can make at least one friend. I just need one friend to make a nerve wracking situation bearable.

Once inside the terminal and I am standing in the line for immigration to scrutinize every nook and cranny of my passport – I get a little tense. I know what is coming next, and this is the part I HATE most about flying! This is the part that can make me or break me. This is the part where grown men can be reduced to blubbering messes, and women can morph in howling banshees. This part is called… *cue the suspenseful music*…The Baggage Carousel!! That’s right folks – this is the only place where feelings can be toyed with, emotions left exposed, and luggage will either turn up…or NOT! Truthfully, that only ever happened once in my lifetime – and it happened to 20 of us – and this was because the Cessna couldn’t carry such a large load from Majorca to Ibiza, so it had to be done in stages.  Luckily the wait wasn’t too long – if my memory serves me correctly. My bag was one of the lucky ones to arrive a couple hours after we had arrived.

Once the bags have been collected (or the report for the missing luggage has been issued), that walk to the arrivals hall is the final emotional feeling – total fear. I always hope that the smile plastered to my face, as the door opens, looks more like a… ‘I’m so excited to be here’… instead of a… ‘I’m a deer trapped in headlights’ psychotic gaze. It’s hard to sum up all the thoughts that pound through my head like a herd of stampeding rhinos at this point. Happy, frightened, relieved, nervous, excited, confused, doubtful, miserable, overwhelmed, and tired – can best describe the barrage of emotions I guess. One thing is certain; this never changes, regardless of the destination.