Layover is defined briefly as a period of rest and waiting before a further stage in a journey. In air travel, it is a stop or transfer, from one airplane to another, or connection up to a certain maximum allowed time (Wikipedia).
Some or most travelers find layovers stressful. Who tolerates lethargic hours in an airport when a proper sun shines brightly in your paradise destination? Layovers are cheaper than nonstop flights, but people are willing to pay more to avoid extra waiting. Not me in this case. I deliberately chose a flight schedule with enough time for a layover when I booked a trip to the UAE in 2015.
If you googled layovers, results might show people asking advice and specifying the number of hours they would be in a certain place. Some say four. Others six. Yet others eleven.
I had twenty-three hours.
With a 48-hour visa I exited the airport, checked in to a hotel for the night, then toured the city the whole day before returning to the airport in time for the last leg of my journey back to Bangkok.
My tour guide Julia was wonderful. Prior to meeting her I acquainted myself with her native tongue by addressing her Yulia in our chat the way she signed it on email, and started practising spasibo and zdravsvuyte to the cats in the parking lot that I pass by on my way to work.
This kind of layover worked perfectly according to my purpose of maximizing the number of places I can see in one go. Thus, saving money, effort and time.
In a single week I was in two different countries and three major cities: the United Arab Emirates and Russia; Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Moscow.
The only drawback was getting sick after being baked and curdled almost simultaneously between two opposite temperatures. Small sacrifice to fulfilling another sweet little dream.
As a child I was fascinated by Papa’s stories of powerful leaders and historical events (Mama covered the Bible, as well as the routine Snow White, Rapunzel, Brothers Grimm stuff). I would later skim through pages on the Soviet Union in particular – Yuri Gagarin, Stalin, the Romanovs … and while twirling my Barbie’s golden locks, I promised myself this – “when I grow up I would find them all.”
This layover experience was enough for me to not mind having no new international trip for two years after that.
I am planning another trip with, you guess it, a layover again. What do you think of Istanbul (I do like calling it Constantinople), Beijing (which the Thais call Peking you would think of Peking Duck), Cairo, Lisbon or Helsinki? I am eyeing them all.
Let us raise our glasses to more adventures!