Sunday, April 10, 2011

Skiing and trying to get an expensive holiday on the cheap

The weather has been glorious since I got back from Las Vegas (see below) so what better time to get ready to go skiing in the Alps thanks to my mother's ability to find excellent last minute cheap holidays?

I've been skiing several times in my life and each time at a similar time of year because, basically, you get a much better deal for your money if you wait until the spring time than in the winter – plus it's usually a good deal warmer too.

Skiing is a bizarre holiday if you think about it – you get up early, put on mostly uncomfortable, unfashionable clothing, carry a bunch of cumbersome equipment to the bottom of a hill, get taken up the hill on chairs on wires that drag you to the top of a mountain over and over again so you can slither back down on six foot pieces of plastic at the risk of injury and embarrassment and you do this for between five and seven days in a row.
Combine this with travel and often alcohol, and you've had a holiday that really requires you to take another break once you're back to help you recover from the exhaustion you've no doubt succumbed to.

Still, at least that gives you an excuse to look for another cheap holiday, and what with two bank holiday weekend coming up, there's no shortage of time in which to do so.

I'll be heading back to Cornwall for the first time since the frozen, snow laden days of Christmas (doesn't that seem a long time ago?) where hopefully now all will be green, light and warm.

And then it's the Royal Wedding, which seems to have come about awfully quickly. I remember everyone moaning we'd be inundated with Royal Wedding stuff until the big day and, while we have, it doesn't seem to have been overkill really, does it?

Still, you can guarantee Wills 'n' Kate won't have to worry about trying to get a cheap flight when they go on their honeymoon, it'll be first class champers and caviar all the way. How the other half live eh?

Back from Vegas to Europe and its history

I spent a few days in Las Vegas again last week, man that's a strange place. They really want you to shrivel into a prune given how cold and continuously they put the air con on for.

I lost $20 on a single spin of roulette (oh, high stakes!) when it landed on 00 which made me realise gambling is for mugs – I put another $20 to try and win back this $20 and lost this too. So I was $40 down, which is what I won last time I was there in October so I quit while I was, even.

I also flew in a private jet, from Cary in North Carolina to Vegas, which was quite something, far better than any normal plane, obviously, with plush leather seats, unlimited food and booze (nice stuff) and masses of leg room – coming back to the UK on a nine hour flight wedged against a window and a bizarre couple with no video on-demand service from Virgin Atlantic was not pleasant by comparison.

Still, I had a nice time and interviewed a man who is worth about $8bn which was enjoyable - he was a nice guy and gave some interesting thoughts on the market in which his company plies it's not insignificant trade.

I also finished reading a book I've had on the go for about a month called In Europe in which the author traveled around Europe in 1999 looking at the history of the continent and the current lifestyle of the place now – via Ireland, Ukraine, Greece, Portugal and everything in the hinterland.

It was an excellent read, full of in-depth personal stories of tragedy and insight set against the grand conflicts of the 20th century in Europe which dominated and shaped its journey through the time.