I just got back from my first trans-Atlantic trip, destination Cyprus (well, OK, technically, I got back last week, but we’re going to consider that “just”).
Where exactly is that, you ask? Why, it’s just a hop, skip, and jump across the Atlantic, over the UK and parts of western Europe, and a quick jaunt over the Mediterranean to its eastern end by Greece but closer to Turkey.
Or, approximately 15-18 hours of flight time and halfway around the world from the eastern US.
Put simply, a really looooong way from home.
So the next question might be “Why Cyprus?” Well, I work for the coolest company ever, Automattic, and part of what we do is travel. Specifically, we work remotely from across the globe and get together in person several times a year to work and play. For this meetup, the team picked Cyprus mostly because it’s warm and convenient for our European folks and not a horrible distance to travel for our US folks.
Fear of Flying
The thing that I was most anxious about on this trip was the flight over the Atlantic. I flew across the Pacific years ago to Hawaii, but this was my first trans-Atlantic flight and the thought of crossing over all of that open water with no place to land – you know, just in case – was slightly scary.
I should mention here that I don’t particularly enjoy flying and for a while, I was actually scared to fly. After 911, the thought of getting on a plane, especially with my kids, was a bit terrifying, which worked out well since we and no money to fly all of us anywhere. So, for years after that, I didn’t fly.
When my previous employer sent me to Washington DC for a conference in 2008, that was the first flight I had taken since late 2000. And I almost couldn’t force myself to board the plane. But I did and I had a great time in DC. The next year, they sent me to Chicago and it was a bit easier to board.
Last summer, we took a family trip to Williamsburg, VA and I was seated next to my niece who had never flown and was scared. It was rather ironic that I was the one who had to reassure her that flying was no big deal and everything would be OK, but it all worked out.
So that brings us to the present. Since September 2013, I’ve flown across the US twice (once to California and once to Nevada), and things are definitely getting easier. I will admit I still say a prayer at take-off and landing, but I’m pleased to note that turbulence no longer terrifies me. Progress!
I viewed this flight somewhat as a personal challenge: if I want to see the world and experience new things, I have to be able to get there, right? Right. And if I want to see Europe, I have to cross the Atlantic, so I figured I might as well get it over with so next time, it won’t be such as big deal.
I was lucky to have a travel buddy for this trip – I sat next to one of my co-workers on all of my flights to Cyprus, which gave me someone to talk to – so we chit chatted throughout the trip. The landing on the quick flight from Tampa to Miami was a bit jarring and I found out later that his first thought on touching down was “We’re gonna die.” This is someone who logs a ridiculous amount of air miles each year. I didn’t think it was that bad, so I took solace in that. Perhaps, I thought, I’m not the only one who has a little flight fear.
Later, I learned that some of my other co-workers who are seasoned travelers and seemingly fearless flyers aren’t quite so fearless. So, I figure if they can travel the world, so can I. And so can you!
Crossing the Pond
While waiting for our second flight out of Miami, we came across another co-worker, so the three of us boarded the big bird for the trans-Atlantic leg. This plane was enormous – it even had an upstairs area for first class. In the main cabin, there were some cool pods in what they called Club World with tons of extras including seats that recline almost fully vertical. Alas, I was seated in Economy, but I still had plenty of room.
Just a quick plug for British Airways here. I found their customer service on the ticketing side to be rather disappointing, but the flights there and back were awesome.
I suppose I’ve gotten used to getting nothing for free on domestic flights, including food, so the BA flight was a nice surprise.
Not only did they provide pillows and blankets – and remember, I was in Economy class – they also provided free headphones and in-flight movies via personal video screens in the seatback in front of you. And food! They even served complimentary wine with the meals. Take that, domestic flights!
Possibly my favorite thing was this:
It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes in feeling human to be able to brush your teeth at night and in the morning on an overnight flight – or any long flight, for that matter. I thought this was a lovely touch. Maybe I’m easy to please, but it might just have been my favorite amenity.
I tried to sleep on this trans-Atlantic leg of the trip, but airplanes and sleep just don’t seem to mix for me. I figured being tired, taking an antihistamine, and the wine I had with dinner would have done the trick quite nicely, but the best I managed was a couple of intermittent hours of shut-eye.
Landing in Larnaca
After a fairly short layover at Heathrow in London (where I met up with several of my co-workers), I boarded my third and final flight to Cyprus. This last leg was a 5 or 6 hour flight and after successfully crossing the Atlantic, I took this one in stride as a no-biggie.
I arrived semi-exhausted at Larnaca International Airport (LCA) around 9:30pm local time (the day after I left home – how weird is that??). The airport was very small but very modern and actually pretty. Since there was virtually no one there, we breezed through customs and I was grateful for the short lines. I had started the trip the day before and thanks to getting up early, layovers, general sleeplessness in-flight, and miles traveled, I had been awake for about 21 hours.
After a quick stop at baggage claim for my co-workers who had checked bags, we met our shuttle driver and started off on the 1 to 1.5 hour trip from the airport to the resort.
The Adventure Continues…
We eventually made it to the resort, which was absolutely stunning. We stayed at the Columbia Beach Resort, and it being off-season, we had the place mostly to ourselves.
I’ll leave you with this picture of the pool area taken from an open upstairs patio area. You can’t see it in the dark, but the Mediterranean is just past the buildings. More pictures coming soon!