vacation

Cruise lines encourage passengers to leave personal items as a way to reserve a spot on the deck

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL- In the midst of crowded decks, fights for lounge chairs and common lack of care, Barnival Cruise line is the first among many to officially approve and encourage passengers to leave their personal items as a way to reserve a spot on the deck.

“There is always a lot of hostility in the air when our guests have to share the decks and the pool areas. The free seating chairs are always crowded and it has truly become a problem,” stated Amanda Rigby, who’s been a deck attendant at Barnival Cruise Line for almost four years. “I’ve seen people get into shouting matches because, for example, German guests always reserve a spot with a newspaper, while Americans like to leave a towel. There is a big cultural clash […] and as a company we must accommodate our guests in the best way possible. Therefore, to solve the issues that have been accumulating for years, we have decided that whoever leaves any personal item(s) first on the chair, no body else can remove it, not even the cruise staff throughout the entire duration of the cruise.”

The recent announcement was accepted with positive reaction.

Anne, a 70-year old retiree, was quite satisfied. “I don’t get much sleep through the night, so I can put my bag or towel on the deck chair at the crack of dawn when everyone is still asleep. It definitely helps me keep my spot as I take my afternoon nap and don’t have to worry about it. I like the new system.”

“Now, I don’t have to call somebody a jerk and make a scene about them taking my towel in front of my kids,” said Michael Schneider, father of three.

Landon, 47, sports junkie stated: “I don’t ever go to the pool areas, but I like to have the option of not having to worry about it and just dump my gym shirt there. Really glad they’re doing this.”

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Inspired by The Onion

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Karma perverts

The gist of karma is people acting good and getting good karma, while the slimy bastards who do bad things get worse things thrown in their face. Something like that, right?

It’s a concept. Fine. But what I am bothered about are karma perverts. I call them perverts because they distort the original concept of karma.

Karma perverts only do good things because they want good karma. Doesn’t that essentially make you a bad person? Isn’t it manipulative to do good things only to benefit from them?

Needless to say, I had a long debate with my friend who often likes to quote the “well, karma will get him” or “oh, I don’t want bad karma so I do good things.” She was quite offended I implied she is a bad person for only doing good things to benefit a more frugal outcome in the future.

Additionally, karma is seen as tool for revenge. People want to have this idea that there is a force out there who will punish all the bad people and make them suffer more.

My point, in the end, is that you shouldn’t do good because you want good karma. You should do good out of the pureness of your heart. Because you believe in it, because you mean it and you do not expect anything in return.

In 2015 (and all the other years prior), my goal is to stay a “good person”- not because I was worried about the consequences of karma, but because I generally believe you should do good and try to make this world better.

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Snow perfect

“I looked out the window and for the first time in my life I saw snowflakes falling from the sky. I wrapped myself in a blanket and jumped to the window. Everywhere I looked, there was a white layer covering the Earth; ground disappeared, snow covered tree branches with a white coat. Cars were covered in a thick layer of white puffiness. For minutes I stared at the snowflakes and watched them twirl in the wind. Then, I put a coat over pajamas, changed slippers for boots and ran outside. Soft, wet snowflakes landed on my face, melting at the touch of my skin. It felt like rain, only softer. I looked straight in the sky; the air was foggy while dancing snowflakes approached the ground.”Jenna Gunner

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Best plane ride of your life (you’re welcome)

Since I am leaving in, oh, 24 hours and 15 minutes to Ireland (because my best friend in the whole world decided to move there because she fell in love (I guess it is reasonable to fall in love with a freckled, red-haired man named Killian and leave Florida for it)), I thought I would share my experience on how to make your next flight the best yet. I’ve used this techniques various times and they brought me nothing but joy when flying.

1.) Forget the drugs

Don’t drug yourself with Dramamine, Melatonin or whatever other “remedy” you could find to sleep during the flight. How often do you fly, huh? Are you a business man who goes on business trips four times a week? I didn’t think so. So enjoy the flight by being alert. Awake. Conscious. I mean, you should be awake and drug-free in case the airplane goes down anyway.

2.) Choose an airline that offers free booze

I know you are trying to save by flying Delta (or some other 3-star American airline), but you are truly doing yourself a disservice. It’s an international flight; you want to fly in style, even if you are crammed in the back of the economy class. So choose an airline that offers free booze; come to the flight hungry and start of your flight with a glass of wine. After you feel buzzed, start ordering stronger alcohol because by the time lunch/dinner comes you will be able to gobble down the mini airline packages of food. They may not seem like a lot, but guess what, you can always ask for seconds (which brings me to the next point)….

3.) Ask for seconds!

Come on, we all know those Barbi meals they serve us never satisfy our food cravings. We are bored, we are on a plane, and we are hungry! Don’t feel shy asking for seconds. The flight attendant may think you are a greedy pig (but, honestly, will you ever see him/her again?? Probably not). So ask! I always order seconds politely, and flight attendants are never mad at me for asking. If they have some food left over, they always bring it to me. I mean, the thought alone of that food being thrown out is so horrendous I prefer to salvage the food and dump it inside my belly.

4.) Bring 3 pillows

They don’t have to be XL pillows. Just bring three. One for your head (that you will eventually lean against anything, trust me), one for your belly section (because you will be leaning that part of your body against something too), and another pillow for your butt (because after hours on the plane any extra seating softness is a blessing).

5.) Bring A4 blank paper and a colorful pen

Start drawing. You liked drawing as a kid, didn’t you? What happened? Did the society tell you that adults don’t draw? Baloney! Pick up a nice green pen and draw a flower. Monkey. Monkey and donkey playing a guitar, I don’t care. Drawing is therapeutic no matter what age you are.

6.) Write a letter to your special someone

I know, it is waaay “pre-internet”, but people still appreciate it. Pour your heart out for the one you love and hand them the letter as a surprise when you make them a lasagna from Costco. The romantic date is bound to be a success (but don’t tell them you wrote it on a plane because they will just think you were extremely bored).

7.) Think of the fact you are flying thousands of feet above the Earth (in a “wow-this-is-pure-magic” kind of way, not the “I’m-sick-to-my-stomach-at-the-thought-of-that” kind of way)

It’s one of the (wo)man’s finest inventions. Flying! You are flying through the sky! You! People before you centuries ago would have killed for the opportunity. People in 2014 would still kill for the opportunity. Enjoy it! Look outside the window. Is the sky filled with clouds? Is the sun just coming up? Can you see the stars? Did you just fly through a cloud? Can you see the beautiful Earth below you?

Unless it’s a night flight and it is obviously pitch black outside, I always stay awake for my flight. There’s a sense of serenity on the plane you just can’t get anywhere else. You’re stuck in a place above the ground for ten (or more/less) hours with people you don’t know. For me, it’s one of the few moments in my life I truly know the meaning of word serenity (or it’s all that red wine I had I don’t know anymore). Either way, enjoy your flight 🙂

P.S: If you have other tips for a great flight, leave a comment!

P.S.2: If you want to read a great book while bored to death on a plane, buy a copy of my book on Amazon.

P.S.3: Thanks for visiting this site and reading my blog! ❤

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The secret lives of the cruise ship staff

You’re not supposed to talk to the staff on a cruise ship and they are not allowed to talk to you. But you see, I’m no Lady Mary material. Despite my status of the guest, I talk to the staff. I feel for the staff. And above all, I like to chat with the staff. Some are terrified when I approach them. They don’t want to be seen talking to the guest about anything else but guest-related topics. But I come back. Maybe when the store is not so busy, or when the buffet is fully stocked. I may be terrible with languages, but I know some basics. I know enough to communicate.

After the initial reluctance, they tell me things. I ask them about how life on a cruise ship really is. Are they happy with the work they chose? Do they ever think of giving up?

“They work us like slaves,” Józsa tells me. She’s a thirty-something Hungarian working as a server. She’s smoking a cigarette like it’s her last. We’re standing at a “staff only” hidden smoking corner. I am not supposed to be there. I am getting ugly stares from the Asian crew. I don’t know Chinese or Tagalog or Siamese to calm them down. They don’t know English and they don’t like my presence.

“Don’t worry about them,” Józsa notices my stare. “They’re good guys. You see Emmanuel?” She points to a short Filipino whose luscious hair is tied in a bun. “He’s dating Jana, a girl from Poland. They met on one of the cruise lines and now they are trying to work on the same ship at least, you know.” “Where is she now?” I ask. “I think she has a year contract for the Western Caribbean that will expire soon. He’s been doing everything he can to get her here. They’re really cute together.” “Oh, do you know her?” I ask. “No,” she responds. “But I’ve seen pictures. Anyway, where was I? Yes, they treat us like slaves. Our rooms are tiny and we have to share shower areas. There’s no privacy at all. We work 12 hours a day minimum. It’s shit.” I watch her frowned face. She looks so unhappy. “Will you return to Hungary?” I ask her. “Maybe you have a better chance there.” She almost giggles. “It’s same shit there. I am just paid less. Here I can at least save some money.”

Next day, sometime after my fourth slice of pizza, I notice a tall, handsome man with a chiseled jaw of Orlando Bloom. He is “Luka from Croatia” his tag tells me. I find out he’s always wanted to work on a ship; he even went to a special maritime school in Dalmatia. “I love this job!” he tells me. “Isn’t it hard work? Don’t they work you hard?” I ask. “It is, and they do,” he says and grins. “But I love it! I’ll tell you a secret, Leah, are you paying attention? The secret to this job is that you must love the sea! If you don’t love the sea, you won’t be happy. I get to see places I have never been, I don’t have to pay for my room and I make more than I would in Croatia. I love it!”

And so I meet the photographers, the waiters, the cleaners etc. I find out the jobs no one wants are taken by Asians; if you speak English at least somewhat decently you get to work at a cruise shop. The captain is (of course) a guy from Western Europe or something like that. It’s a hierarchy of positions based on your country of origin. Less third-world you are, better your chances of making good money. There are people who can’t wait for their contract to be over, and then there are those that want to stay. And those that stay, hope to save enough money to go back to their home country and maybe buy a little tiny place they can call home.

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Taking a semester off

“I took the summer semester off to go on an adventure with Timm. The plan was to spend the next three months together, travelling around the States.”- Jenna Gunner

Taking a semester off is a dangerous matter. Jenna feels like she will get back to the studying rhythm in no time, but it is not always that easy. Once you leave school for a semester and go travelling, it is ridiculously hard to return back to a routine which doesn’t allow you to do whatever you want.

Even if you leave school for a semester to work more or earn more money, the rewarding paycheck coming in every two weeks makes it much more tempting to not go back to school and spend money on overpriced text books and university fees.

I will always support taking a semester off, but make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. Make sure you know how hard it is to integrate in the boring, daily routine again. Because sometimes, people quit school and become wanderers; they don’t want to go back to where they were, but they are not happy with the status quo either. Money eventually runs out or the “good money” you thought you were making with no degree is actually not that good when you realize they are working you for little money but pay someone more because he didn’t quit and finished his/her degree.

Did any of you take a semester off? How did it turn out?

P.S: Thanks to all the visitors of the blog for coming and taking the time to read my stuff!

P.S2: Link to my book on Amazon. Check it out!

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What Germans really love the most

It’s not beer. It’s not wurst with sauerkraut either. Nope, it’s not fancy cars or wearing lederhosen on a Sunday.

I think anyone who’s ever been on a road in Germany will agree that Germans, above all, love STAU. What is Stau, you ask? Stay is a German word for traffic jam. Traffic congestion, if you will. But this is not the rush hour kind. No, this Stau is a result of Germans unanimously going on holidays. Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, they are always on holidays (apparently the minimum is 3 weeks. Minimum!)

I’ve had my share of traffic jams in Orlando and Atlanta, but the Stau in Germany deserves a separate mentioning. They wait in lines for kilometers upon kilometers, not seeming to care. Some read a book while waiting, some walk around and get a smoke (can you ever see that happen in the U.S.?), and some take their kids for a number one in the nearby grass. Some stretch, do a little yoga right on the side of the road or listen to the music like they are already on the beach, relaxing.

It’s simply incredible… and they must love it. Because I have never seen as much Stau as I did in Germany. I have never seen people more relaxed and willing to wait in 20 kilometer lines in their Audis and family vans just to go vacation in Croatia, or Italy. I think they don’t even like vacation, they do it for the traffic jam and the amazing stories they can tell about the Stau they were in.

Did anybody else have the same experience? Like, share and comment, please. Let me hear your thoughts! 🙂 Thanks for reading my blog!
P.S: My book, which talks about an American doing a study abroad in France, is available on Amazon. Check it out! 🙂 🙂 It costs less than a Starbucks coffee and you can enjoy it longer!

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Weekend is the new vacation

“What about you? How have you been? How long are you staying?” “Same as last year, about two weeks,” I answered.-  Jenna Gunner

As Americans, we don’t often get the short end of the stick… but when I look at my vacations days, I can’t help but feel envious. Damn Europeans. As I hope for maybe two weeks (including weekends!), there is an Italian out there with 42 days of vacation, a Frenchman with 37 days and a German with 35 days…. and I get 13 days? When did we allow this to happen?

Do you know what happens in Europe in the summertime? Companies shut down. People are gone for a month and little work gets done in July and August. But guess what? Everybody comes back happy and rested.  Sadly, for Americans a weekend is a vacation these days, and quite frankly that is horrendously bothersome.

How many vacation days do you get? Do you think Europeans have too much time off?

 

P.S: Thanks for reading my blog! 😀 Check out my book on Amazon, and don’t forget to comment, share or like!

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Stats on Vacation Days