The Dummies Guide to Ryanair

Ryanair are great, I love them!

On my 50th low cost flight (sitting on the plane, counting my fingers), I couldn’t help but notice all those little things that if you do NOT know about, flying with Ryanair can be a right disaster.

The way I see it, sometimes in life if you do not have enough money, you have to trade some comfort for pleasure. We watch free TV even though we are bombarded with adverts. Similarly Ryanair is like a cheap cinema ticket to a fantastic show, anywhere in Europe, but before the show begins we need to sit through the ads.

So how do you go through the process with as little anger (and cost) as possible?

Lets start with pre-flight:

  1. Dont search for bargains on their site, use SkyScanner to quickly see when the cheapest fares are in the month you wish to travel.
  2. If you are a frequent flyer it is worth having a Prepaid Mastercard because it saves you (as the Visa Electron used to in the past) £10 per person per return flight. Vaivara and I travel approximately 10-15 times a year, so it saves us almost £300.
  3. Always remember to do your online check-in and take your ticket with you – if you forget to and plan to do it at the airport, those slimy Irish folk at the Ryanair desk will ask you for £40.
  4. Pack some lunch – food and drinks are ludicrously expensive on the flight and you will get hungry.
  5. Take an empty water bottle – (Thanks Tom) Obviously you can’t take a full one past security but an empty one can always be filled once inside, saving you up to £4 each way.
  6. Not all airports do but some Ryanair flights will have your handluggage weighed and if it is 10.1kg and there is nothing more you can take out, you will have to pay for it to be checked in. BANG, another £35.
  7. One hand luggage means, one hand luggage – so don’t even think about hand-bags, laptops, bottles, duty free stuff or anything else really being outside.

Then at the airport:

  1. There’s only one major thing to say here and that is – if you haven’t flow with Ryanair before dont risk taking too much luggage the first time before you know if your bag fits in their size check (which is smaller than that of all other airlines by the way). If it doesn’t you will have to check it in and pay £35.

And finally on the plane:

  1. Try to get on quickly and sit either right at the front or move quickly to the middle because other than at those two sections, you will feel the pain after 2 hours becuause clearly those who put the seats so close together knew they would never have to sit in them.
  2. Don’t forget to clap with the rest of the relieved Eastern Europeans when you hear the cheesy jingle and then roll your eyes when they tell you Ryanair is Europe’s no.1 airline because it is always on time – well of course they are always on time; they schedule a standard 2 hour journey as a 3 hour one (which makes planning a nightmare because you never know exactly how long it will take).

Love ’em or hate ’em though, Ryanair still rock! I have never had any major issues, all the ones above were lessons I either learned lightly or have seen others learn the hard way.

Any more suggestions, please let me know.

Make Your Own Biltong – Recovering from Nostalgia

Three weeks alone, it has been interesting.

At one point I went through a period of nostalgia and nothing fights off homesickness like some biltong.

A lovely cut of silverisde beef, some help from eBay and all the great (and some odd) ingredients made me, after 7 days of waiting, a delicious South Africa snack.

Another World – That of the Rich & Famous

There is another world out there; one we don’t always see as we go about our lives. Its not like its far away or hidden, it just doesn’t need to advertise itself in the same way that the world made for us common folk does.

We know some of the people who live in this world, but there are far more that we have never heard of. They like to keep it that way, I suppose. So last night as I was wondering through the cold Manchester streets, it was no wonder that I passed the “Restaurant Bar & Grill” two times before I finally asked for directions to find it.

Once inside the hostess walked me to the lift and took me upstairs to the private dining room of a really snazzy restaurant; I was clearly under-dressed. Red Carnation Hotels (one of Expotel’s preffered partners) were our hosts and although they do not have a hotel up North, in keeping with the the high expectations and class that people expect of their luxury hotels, we were in for a treat. The barman offered me a martini and while I actually wanted something warm, I felt “007ish” and accepted:

Dirty or normal? Gin or Vodka? Gin please. Dry or Wet? What’s the difference? And he went on to explain that with the one the vermouth is taken out. Dry please. Shaken or stirred? At this point we went on to talk for a good few minutes about martinis, the Dutch origin of gin (and hence the phrase “Dutch courage”), the meaning of “mother’s ruin“, and the finer details of the martini Bond always goes for – called the Vesper martini. Stirred thank you. This dilutes the alcohol, but not as much as when shaken. Olive or lemon peel? Definitely olive. Later I came back to ask for another olive, and Andy (the barman) told me I should have just asked for a “Franklin, President Roosevelt’s famous two-olive variation. I realised I really like martinis and am keen on trying out the different variations, maybe even come up with my own.

I like to have a martini

Then we had dinner; a complete three course culinary treat of freshly baked roles, duck spring roles (with mango and plum sauce), a really tender sirloin and to finish off, what else but a New York cheesecake.

When I was brought an Illy espresso in one of Illy’s stylish and distinctive cups, somehow it was this which cemented what I had suspected… this place is top of the line, or at least one of those places I can not yet afford to go to, but would very much like to.

There were two bouquets of red carnations on the table and Alex offered them as a prize to the two people who could correctly guess the number of flowers in each vase. I managed to come second closest and suddenly had a present for the birthday party I was off to after dinner.

Today, after a fantastic night out, I’m thinking next on ‘the agenda of luxury’ is a trip down to London to stay in one of Red Carnation’s boutique hotels. The Rubens at the Palace have a partnership with Wicked (the musical) and I’m thinking a lovely romantic get-away in January (hopefully at a discounted price).