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Ssshhhh, Quiet Please!

I was on a flight from San Francisco to London last week—that’s a ten-hour flight, may I remind you—and I found myself with a curious problem. In all my years of flying, I’d never seen—well, heard-–anything like it. And so I didn’t know how to deal.

The problem? The people sitting behind me would NOT. STOP. TALKING.

Seriously, they just wouldn’t stop. There were three of them and they were chattering as we sat on the runway. Then they were chattering as we took off. Then they were chattering while drinks were served, then they were chattering while dinner was served, and then they were still chattering while the shades were drawn and the lights were dimmed and everyone else in the cabin took the hint and went to sleep. And they weren’t chattering quietly—or even at a normal level, come to think of it. These people were loud.

Perturbed, I tried giving them a meaningful look. (A tad passive-aggressive, I know, but it’s my tried-and-tested method for dealing with seat-kickers and armrest-stealers, and it usually works like a charm.) Nothing happened: the talking continued. Loudly. I put my earphones on and tried to watch a movie instead.

The kicker? I COULD HEAR THEM TALKING OVER MY MOVIE.

And so I turned around.

How Much Time Do You Need to Do a City Justice?

I’ve got a tough decision to make. Flying back from Singapore to San Francisco in late December, I have a choice of two flights. The first has a layover in Tokyo, but only for 45 minutes. The second has a layover in Tokyo as well—but this time it’s for 10 hours.

Now do I take Option A because it’s easy and quick and I’ll get home sooner? Or do I take Option B because wow, would you look at that, it’s like a free trip to Tokyo built right into a flight I’m already paying for?

If I decide on the latter, you see, I could leave the airport, head into the center of town, and spend the entire day discovering a city and a country I’ve only ever seen from…well, from inside the airport, ironically. Sure, such a fleeting visit would mean I’d pretty much only be exploring the tip of the iceberg—we could call my trip Japan 101, perhaps, or Tokyo For Beginners—but at least I’d be exploring.

What do you think? Is it worth it to take these new travel experiences where we can, even if we have to squeeze them into ten-hour windows? Or are we shortchanging ourselves by having to stick to such a strict itinerary? Should we “save” the cities we want to see for when we can actually do them justice, or should we stick to our guns, follow our wanderlust, and take whatever we can get, wherever we can get it?

Ten hours in Tokyo: worth it or not?

Photograph courtesy of Patrick Sharbaugh

A Game Plan for Hot-Weather Wine Tasting

Last Wednesday, as California’s inland temperatures crawled toward the 100-degree mark, I joined some colleagues on a jaunt to the Napa Valley. Despite dry, smoke-hazed air from all of the state’s wildfires, and despite a sun so big and bright it’d scared away all the clouds, I was not going to let anything like a little heatstroke deter me from doing the number-one thing people come to the Napa Valley to do: savor that exalted wine.

The day turned out to be a total treat and the heat barely registered, thanks to the following tips:

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Sierra.

From Golden State to Rainbow State? Gay Marriage in California

Last Thursday, May 15, a jolt of the non-earthquake variety struck California. In a four-to-three decision, the state Supreme Court struck down its ban on same-sex marriage, essentially upholding San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s controversial decision to allow gay marriages in February 2004.

A second jolt came this Tuesday, when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a longtime opponent of gay marriage, remarked, “I hope that California’s economy is booming because everyone is going to come here and get married.” Arnold is completely behind the decision.

Top Cities for Singles

If you’re still looking for Mr. Right or Ms. Walks-on-Air this February 14th, you might wonder if your chances would be improved by a visit to Valentine, Texas or Valentine, Nebraska. Recently a single friend suggested I write a travel blog called: You Don’t Have to Go to Alaska to Meet the Man of Your Dreams. She wanted me to figure out where the most single men live so that she could vacation accordingly.