Antiparos is a small island that is part of the Cyclades that comprises 220 islands in the Agean Sea. It is very accessible by sea with open deck ferries leaving from Pounta on the island of Paros. The journey takes about 10 minutes. Paros has the dubious title of the party island and tempting though it was to stay on my desire to visit Antiparos was stronger than that of nightlong party.

Arriving on Antiparos I quickly discover there are few mains roads but lots of secondary roads that generally will get you and your hire car to your intended destination on the island, hopefully without getting lost.  They say fortunate favors the brave and my decision to divert from the beaten track to explore each and every beach that was signposted resulted  in a very interesting discover. I inadvertently took a road that led to a dead end with little space to manouevre. What to do? A successfully executed 10-point turn in our ‘shopping trolley’, which masqueraded as a car, finally pointed me in the right direction.   However while reversing I noticed behind some trees a large cement plaque with an English inscription informing me that in 1960 a senior American officer and his son, who were on a Mediterranean cruise, placed a message in a bottle with their contact details. 

A young Greek man who made contact with the American, picked up the bottle. In return the American organised GBP 1,000 of Christmas gifts to be flown to the island.   This was a great example of humanitarianism to what was then a very poor community.  The gentleman in question was Colonel Charles Hostler who later became an US Ambassador to Bahrain. He continued to help the many Greeks who lived on Antiparos and was made an honorary citizen of the Cyclades. Some years later, in another act of humanitarianism, Hostler later gifted sea facing he had purchased to the local community. This act of kindness resulted in the then King, Paul of Greece, awarding the American the “Royal Order of the Phoenix”.  Who would have thought such an act of kindness would result from a message in a bottle.

The American connection with Antiparos continues with Tom Hanks and other American celebrities owning holiday homes on the island. Here they can enjoy the peace and quiet of 9 fabulous beaches; visit five large churches or 100 small domed blue and white places of worship. And if they get bored a trip to the nudist beach might relieve it!

I guess the moral of this story is never be afraid to take the road less travelled, personally, professionally or when travelling. Great things can happened when you take a wrong turn.

My travel partner Darby and I set off at least an hour behind schedule. A bit like the two aging men in the ” odd couple” movie of 1998 where Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon set off on a journey, bundling along as two eccentrics. Same as the movie, its for sure there will be memorable incidents along the way on any trip with Darby.

On my Indian bucket list there are many places I still want to visit but Mysore is at the top. Darby is aware of my tapophile [person who enjoys visiting cemeteries ] tendencies and all things British so we have a few cemeteries lined up to visit along the way to Mysore .

Though the signage was extremely bad, the intrepid Mr Darby finds the Garrison Cemetery about a ten minute walk off the nearest road to the last gate of old Mysore . The guide book says its open every day but the gate is padlocked . It takes our driver less than two minutes to resolve the situation and he just takes the whole gate off its hinges.

The Whinging Pome Random Rule No. 112

Never underestimate the people round you.

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Sixty years after the big siege of Srirangapatna [1799 in Mysore] when the British East India Company won the day and killed the Muslim leader Tipu Sultan, known as the “Tiger of Mysore”, the cemetery was used for the British military and their families . To win that day, the Swiss Meuron Regiment of mercenaries were brought over from Sri Lanka and were sent into the fray first, many were buried at the Garrison Cemetery. Half the plaques are missing on the tombs but you get a sense of life in that era, people died young, and irrespective of rank you all lay in the same field. The cemetery was renovated some years ago by the Meuron family. It sadly needs renovation again.

We do a late lunch at the very regal Lalitha Mahar Palace. We enter like two aging eccentric but loud tourists.

Darby at Mysore
The Whinging Pome at Mysore

The Whinging Pome Random Rule No. 201

Always enter a hotel as though you could own it!

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The building was erected in 1921 and from the outside it looks like St Paul’s in London but the inside is loudly Italian and you can imagine the regal nature whilst you wine and dine at the big blue ball room. Service is quick but we are told that the main Mysore palace closes at six and we need to quickly pay. Inefficiency kicks in and three restaurant staff and a manager, all rush about ,they have only one credit card machine in the whole hotel and its at the reception. Welcome to India!

Rushing to the Mysore Palace we join a rather large queue to deposit our shoes and a bigger queue to walk the palace rooms. Everyone is pushing whilst trying to take selfies with the kings portraits behind them. This heavy weekend crowd takes some of the joy away from the paintings and the experience. The security man with a stick walks up and down screaming at people for not moving along. Welcome to India! I felt like I should grab his stick and throw it away. The palace was built by a British architect, Henry Irwin in 1912 for the then young monarch and his mother her Majesty Maharani Vani Sannidnna, Regent of Mysore.

In fact on the day we visited, It remained open till seven in the evening and is lit up at eight so we shoot off to our accommodation the local golf club. Back to the Mysore palace for the lights…

What a spectacular photo shoot! Then the driver, Rajesh goes AWOL with a dead phone, and life becomes a bit frantic, as cars all slow down in front of the palace to take a look and snap photos. In the end we give up and hailed a cab. I tell the driver to take us to the golf club, he quotes the price, Darby gets in and the price drops by two thirds.

The Whinging Pome Random Rule No. 78

Always assume, in a strange land, taxi drivers will rip you off!

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There was a lot more to see in Mysore though on principle I will not go to a zoos. We drove round the next day and enjoyed the wide streets, monuments and statues of the Colonial time. We didn’t get to the Ritz or the Green Hotel, both recommended to me. Darby though said of the latter “its four bedrooms in the main house and many more in the stables/prison along side, best just to go for a beer”

So the odd couple completed the whirlwind tour of Mysore , I tick off one more item on my Indian Bucket list as we headed for the hills, the coffee and Kroog.

In my book The Whinging Pome To The Point, I noted in the ‘Cheap Women Grey City’ story that Ireland’s most notable exports are People, Guinness, and the Irish pub concept. However, on a recent trip to Dublin, while the above remains true, the best of Ireland is alive and well in Dublin.
 

I flew from London to Dublin with Ryan Air knowing it meant limited luggage and a probable late arrival.  However, the taxi driver more than made up for these negatives with his chatty, cheerful and helpful advice on the ride to Cassidy’s Hotel. Surprisingly, it was so warm the window had to be opened to enable a decent sleep. Well that was the theory, what I had not reckoned on the noise emanating from the air conditioning unit of a nearby pub and the late night revelers spilling out of the pub at 2 o’clock in the morning full of alcoholic joie de vevre.

I have always believed the best way to get an overview of a city is to take the ‘hop on, hop off’ bus. Dublin offers three ‘hop on, hop off’ services – red, blue and green, with slightly different routes. That confuses the hell out of me. My wife and I lasted about one and a half hours on the bus before jumping off so I can satisfy my taphophilian tendencies at the Glasnevin Cemetery and the Glasnevin Cemetery Museum. The cemetery was opened to the public for the first time on 21 February 1832. Prior to this Ireland’s Catholic population had no cemeteries of their own in which to bury their dead. 

James Murray, a Victoria Cross (VC) recipient, was interned in 1942. I was intrigued as to why a Catholic Irishman would be serving in the British army in World War II. Channeling my Sherlock Holmes persona I discovered that he was awarded his VC for fighting in the Boer War in South Africa.  He survived the war, dying of old age many years later.  The Irish adhered to a neutrality policy and did not officially participate in World War II despite 12,000 Irish veterans serving abroad and being ridiculed upon their return with over 3,000 dying in the war. I could have happily spent the day at Glasnevin but my wife informed me she has had enough of ‘dark tourism’ and it was time to indulge in Irish culture, meaning it was time to check out the bars of Dublin.

Walking through Dublin at night is a must do. The city is alive with bars, cafes, music and a cultural melting pot of people. The Brazen Head pub, dating back to 1100 AD is said to be the oldest pub in Dublin. To not have pint of Guinness (or to use local terminology a pint of Gat) here would be sacrilege.  The pub is packed with a mixture of locals and tourists, who all seem to have American accents. The pint of Guinness whets the appetite and the Irish stew did not disappoint!

Three characters arrive wielding six musical instruments on their backs and settle in the corner of a very crammed front room. They kick off with the Scottish, Irish, English song “The Wild Rover” and it does not take long for the crowd to provide vocals for them. Guinness, Irish stew with great live music is Irish culture at its best.

Walking back to our hotel most pubs still have music and drinkers spilling out onto the streets. It takes enormous will power not to join in. However, despite having to work the next day the clock does not master these people. This is a good thing as all clocks on government or religious institutions are set on different times. This, along with Dublin’s red, blue and green, ‘hop on, hop off’ bus routes confuses the hell out of me but will not stop me returning to Dublin.

New York. I want to taste, experience and wake up in this cosmopolitan city that never sleeps. As I arrive, I am no different from any other tourist and have a list of places I want to visit together with experiencing the restaurants, bars and the nightlife. Not to mention that ‘s’ word that my wife is so in love with – shopping.

New York is the largest city in the USA. In 2016 its population reached 8.5 million with the majority residing in the Central Island district of Manhattan. So many people in such little space creates a vibrancy that other cities lack. With more than 60 million tourists visiting a year I thought New Yorkers would be an unfriendly bunch, but I quickly discover this is not the case. They are amazingly helpful, ready to engage, chat and if in the service industries they genuinely want to serve you.

 

 

Cosmopolitan New York is particularly evident when you take a cab, with every cab driver having a story to tell. My first cab ride was with a Russian migrant behind the wheel. He arrived in New York 20 years ago; he owns his cab, is proud to call himself an American and thanks God for his life in the Big Apple every day he goes out in his cab. He is a jazz nut, and to prove it he has music blasting out from his high-tech sound system. I am not surprised when he tells me he is a musician and shows me his trumpet and small guitar and believing you never miss an opportunity for an impromptu performance. So when we pulled over to get out, he offered a five min rendition on his trumpet.

My passion for music was met with a visit to the Birdland Jazz Club, a famous 1940s jazz venue. The music that night was a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and the place was rocking. Café Wha was also a favourite with the band belting out three decades of electrifying music, which was briefly interrupted when the band leader shouted out “where ya yawl from?” I yell “Sri Lanka” and immediately felt hundreds of eyes upon me. Nobody knew where the hell Sri Lanka was.

 

New York City is laid out in a grid system of streets that lends itself to walking endlessly around the city and never being bored. And how could you even utter such a word when you have Park Lane, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, Grand Central Station and Times Square (disappointing) at your feet. Walking also rewarded me with stumbling across Bryant Park, where the signs clearly tell you to ‘keep off the grass.” And people did! The park’s sponsored CHAIRS system fascinated me. If the park is one of your favourite places to sit you can make a donation to sponsor a chair or dedicate a chair in memory of a loved one.

Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind fills my head as I realize that despite only experiencing a microcosm of what New York has to offer, I have fallen in love with this city.

My passion for music was met with a visit to the Birdland Jazz Club, a famous 1940s jazz venue. The music that night was a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and the place was rocking. Café Wha was also a favourite with the band belting out three decades of electrifying music, which was briefly interrupted when the band leader shouted out “where ya yawl from?” I yell “Sri Lanka” and immediately felt hundreds of eyes upon me. Nobody knew where the hell Sri Lanka was.

Avignon, France and the Hotel D’Europe
Arriving at the walled city of Avignon, in Provence France, the gendarme stood in front of the car; making it clear there was no entry into the city. I waived a piece of paper at him but he was still disinterested. So being English I peeped my car horn at him. He approached the car window ready to give me a lecture. He grabs the paper from my hand, reads the name of the hotel we are staying in and smiles and asks me to move through city gates. 
 
Our five star, Hotel is D’Europe, was built in the 1580s. We stroll through the outside courtyard with a delightful set of trees and shaded areas. The lobby is less impressive. If you get five quests in one has to leave, if u get Jezzebel in the lobby with our luggage there is no spare space. However, the hotel has an impressive history. It sits in the northeast side of this nearly circular walled city of Avignon with its Roman and Medieval history. Everything is within easy walking distance. Interestingly when I ask a local person directions to the Palais Des Papes, the top tourist place to visit, they say its quite far. This turns out to be a fifteen-minute walk even with Jezzebel looking at a few shop windows. I’m often staggered at how many people don’t walk much, regularly in a newly visit city I ask for directions and people say its too far to walk.

The Whinging Pome Random Rule No. 93

Avignon, France and the Hotel D’Europe
We hit the town have a great evening in the hustle and bustle of their July annual festival lasting three weeks with over 1000 different shows and contemporary live performances to watch. A big sign says “1000 spectacles a million emotions”.
Back at midnight, we sleep well. Dreams of yesteryear perhaps brought on by the fact  Napoleon may have slept in the same bed. My body fitting in the dip in the mattress, Napoleon and I are of a similar height. The hotel was said to be one of Napoleons favourites though others have stayed in the hotel over the years including but not limited to  Picasso, Hemingway Cezanne, Dali, Picasso, Dylan, and Piaf.
 
We look for a breakfast location in the morning, clearly, this was not included on our 450 euro room charge. The city and the hotel is a must visit however.

In 2015 the remains of Richard the Third, the last Plantagenet of England were buried in Leicester cathedral , five centuries after he died . The ceremony attracted many visitors and hit worldwide TV. So where had he been for all those years? He died [was killed] in 1487 at the battle of Bosworth, defeated as his Stepfather deserted him on the field,they say in the process of looking for his horse. “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”.

With in excess of ten wounds, a major blow to the head was the killer. Some injuries were inflicted on capture and some after his death. His body was said by some to be thrown into a nearby river, but he was buried with no pomp or ceremony in Leicester. He was the last king of England to be killed on a battlefield. Most people would see him as a scheming, bloody, ugly, hunchbacked king, one of his major feats being locking up two princes in the tower of London, who were never seen again.

How do they know its Richard the Third ? Through DNA tests via the direct line to the Duke of Beaufort to a living relative, Michael Ibsen. Whilst Richard’s remains were found in 2013 in true English style there was a dispute [legal battle] as to which city he should be buried and York [he was a son of York] lost out to Leicester. After all they argued his remains were placed centuries ago below Greyfriar’s church Leicester under the choir section. In those days his family motto was “loyalty binds me”.

Sadly my first introduction to Richard was not by reading Shakespeare who wrote of him in 1592. Back in 1983 I saw an early edition of Black Adder, a TV series of four major productions over 24 episodes. Ironically, Peter Cook as Richard wins the battle of Bosworth Field, secures a roaming horse and escapes. Would the history books be rewritten? Sadly not, as Edmund [ Black Adder to be …Rowen Atkinson] sees his stolen horse and slays the unknown rider from behind , it was Richard his Uncle who he served under.

In  2014 I wrote an article for LT Sri Lanka, called The Chinese Are Coming. In the article, I raised the question of potential issues which may arise as a result of heavy Chinese investment in Sri Lanka. Two key concerns were that the Chinese were looking at financial investment as a form of colonization and the potential for conflict with India as Chinese presence in Sri Lanka grows.

Many believe China’s interest in Sri Lanka is recent but a quick search of numerous websites tells me the first Chinese came to Sri Lanka in the 5th century and trade between the two countries has continued since. In the 1950s the Rubber and Rice Pact was enacted enabling Sri Lanka to export rubber and rice to China. But while Sri Lanka is reliant upon China for growth, it is not a country which ranks highest in China’s investment plans.  However, it is a country, which is strategically located due to the “the string of pearls or The belt and road initiative “, that is the maritime access through South Asia for China.

China has not singled Sri Lanka out for special attention. China’s search for minerals and oil has led to massive investments in  Bangladesh, Myanmar, Canada, Africa and Australia. And yes, these investments are paying off handsomely with the Chinese laughing all the way to the bank and investing in other countries, including Sri Lanka, where, not surprisingly, the return on investments may take a bit longer . Let’s face it. The Chinese are everywhere for the long run.

Sri Lanka has a debt of US$65 billion, of which US15 billion is owed to the Chinese. Hey ho! USA has over 20  trillion dollars of debt,  Over One Trillion to China . But who is counting?  Not Mr. Trump.

So three years on what can we make of all this Chinese investment in Sri Lanka? Well, let’s start by giving thanks. We can thank China for giving us what is a blot on the Colombo landscape, the port city.

We can also thank the Chinese for giving us the world’s most under utilised airport. Though clearly that’s a Sri Lankan government location error. It funded the development and building of Hambantota International Airport at an estimated cost in excess of US$200 million. Today it is devoid of both people and planes – a classic example of the white elephant. Maybe turning the airport into an elephant park would be bring more people and a better return on the dollar.

Today, we can thank the Chinese for giving us another blot on the landscape. People strolling along the Galle Face waterfront in Colombo are treated to wonderful, 24-hour displays of four large ships, dredging and pumping sea sand onto an ever increasing beach in preparation for China’s newest development in Sri Lanka – The Port City Project, a project which remains opposed by many and will take a number of years to complete.  Port City will occupy the land from the back of the Kingsbury Hotel to the end of the existing port wall, giving the Chinese a 99 year foothold and potentially unofficial control of the most of the commercial activity which is planned for the space. You have to admire Chinese strategic thought. If a country cannot pay back borrowed money, invest more by swallowing up the land, and renaming the country Chi Lanka!

With such huge debts, built up over the last decade, Sri Lanka cannot survive without foreign investment and with very little interest from other nations willing to invest in Sri Lanka, it is a case of “come on down China.”  D V Chanaka, a Member of Parliament, is quoted as saying, “its been 69 years since we got our freedom. We do not want to be under any other country again.” Well, as Carole King would say, “Well it’s too late baby, it’s too late.”

The question Sri Lankan's should be asking themselves, apart from whether or not they should learn Mandarin, is how will China’s financial investment in Sri Lanka, influence government policies and the business community, which will affect ordinary, everyday Sri Lankan's.

Word on the street is that there are over 300,000 Chinese in Sri Lanka, many of them working on the Chinese funded projects, as China takes a stranglehold on Sri Lanka.  I am sure many of these workers will not return to China. It is almost inevitable some will marry local Sri Lankans, producing Chi Lankan offspring. Taoism and Confucianism, meets Buddhism. There’s a whole new story waiting to be written on the work ethic of these offspring, needless to say, they are likely to increase the productivity of the current Sri Lankan work force.

An amazing sunset and a full moon rise creates the backdrop for the official launch of THE WHINGING POME – TO THE POINT at Bangalore Soma Vineyards on the 31st of March.

An international group of over 70 people from India, Sweden, UK, Australia, Ireland, USA, Canada, Hungary and Sri Lanka toured the vineyard, enjoying excellent wine! (let’s hope the Sauvignon Blanc makes a Parker 95 next year)

The Winging Pome, using his Churchillian accent presented his book while the sun was setting at the vineyard, with the Union Jack flag as the backdrop. Reminiscing somewhat on the theory that the sunset on the British Empire started with their departure from India some sixty odd years ago.

The audience included leading publishers, hospitality specialists, diplomats, wine lovers and expats living in Bangalore. A young female duo called Indoswede added color to the event by entertaining the crowd.

5 months since the launch of the book, sales have well exceeded 600 copies.

Click here to learn more about the Bangalore Soma Vineyards

How many times have you heard someone say they are going to write a book? How many times have you told people, after listening to their ramblings they “should write a book”? After all, hasn’t technology and social media turned us all into authors? But how many actually write that book? Using my personal and professional networks only four people I know – Garth, Frank, Dominic, and Royston – did write a book. Royston’s first published book was a sequence of poems. He became known as the ‘beat poet’ after meeting the young and newly formed music group, The Beetles. He urged them to put the “beat into Beetles” and the rest, as they say, is history. He is also one of the people the song Paperback Writer was based on.

I started writing articles about travel and life five years ago, under the pseudonym of The Whinging Pome. The articles were published in a Sri Lanka lifestyle magazine but this did not prepare me for the learning curve I would face or the personal and financial demands of writing a real book. It was a very humbling process that taught me a lot about what I did not know and about myself! Everyone has an opinion, and they are entitled to their opinion, but the contradictory advice I was given made my head spin and added to the pressure and anxiety I was already feeling, not to mention having valuable time wasted.

Rome was not built in a day and a book certainly cannot be written in a day. There are people who spend decades putting their book concept together, write it and finally have it published. My first ‘book concept’ began about seven years ago. However, Air Babylon and other similar travel books that were published gazumped my concept. I lost my motivation, kept my scribblings and re-discovered my motivation when asked to write for LT Times in Sri Lanka. Times change and today people focus on blogging to get their views to out to others. Perhaps they are the smart ones and have the correct approach. Research suggests only .7% of books ever get to a print run of over 100,000 copies.

The danger in writing and trying to publish a book is that the odds are against you finding a publisher willing to cough up funds for the first book from an unknown author. J. K. Rowling’s took seven years from initial concept to finding an agent willing to publish her first book. As a result, many budding authors have two options – self-publish or publish digitally via companies like Amazon or e-Books. Nowadays over 50% of books are sold online or digitally. The days of holding a paperback book, smelling it, feeling it as you thumb through it are fast disappearing. I cannot help but wonder whether bookshops have a future.

I was fortunate to find a publisher, who recommended a hardback, A5 book was the only way to go. They just forgot to mention this would increase my budget five-fold! It was easy to get caught up in the excitement of publishing, printing, and launching – but the excitement soon evaporates when you find your publisher has no distribution rights outside of Sri Lanka and you have to find your own distribution agent/s to get the book into countries where you believe there is an audience. Your life becomes consumed with emails, phone calls, social media activity, and meetings.

After 17 months of hard work my book “The Whinging Pome To The Point” was launched in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 28 November. It is a factual travel book based on my years of traveling, meeting people both interesting, and not so interesting. Potential readers who enjoy travel, have a sense of humour, don’t take themselves too seriously, enjoy new experiences and like frank observations will enjoy the book and identify with some of my experiences. For those who do not fall into the aforementioned categories, I am hoping the book will enable readers to take a ‘snapshot’ journey through places they have not visited and whet their appetite for doing so.

Whilst 600 copies have been sold and some copies have made their way to Australia, India, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Mongolia, New Zealand and England, it is way too early for me to talk about how successful the book will be. But for those of you contemplating writing your first book, let me share my top tips for writing a successful book

  • Do not write for fame or fortune.
  • Whatever timelines you plan others will extend them.
  • Follow your passion for writing and be passionate about what you are writing.
  • Talk to as many people as possible about what you are writing and listen to their advice. If necessary re-evaluate your writing based on advice given.
  • Don’t believe what anyone tells you about the cost to publish a book. Discuss prices with the publisher, gets quotes and double the quotes.
  • Face the possibility that you may have to self-publish and work the budget accordingly.
  • Never underestimate the personal cost of promoting the book; if possible try to get companies to sponsor you.
  • Try to avoid having a huge print run done of the book – not only will you have storage problems but you don’t want to have copies queuing up at the shredder.

Of course, these points might be extended and amended in a few years, but in conclusion, I can honestly say writing The Whinging Pome To The Point has been one of the most rewarding and challenging things I have ever done. And yes, The Whinging Pome To The Point, Book 2 is already in my head!

The road you travel will remain as your destiny till you change the road.

There are numerous examples of people traveling and for whatever reasons changing their plans, which sometimes leads to avoiding death or going to their deaths. The spate of airplane disasters puts 2014 as the worst year on record in terms of deaths, probably since the last world war. Some changes of travel arrangement, eg people who didn’t fly will continue to raised suspicions, but most are just about fate.A Germanwings flight crashed in France, a Swizz third division football team changed their plans and took a different route to their final destination as it saved time. Whilst 16 pupils and 2 teachers nearly missed the flight, they all perished.Two Indonesian families rushing to catch the ill-fated Air Asia Q28501 having arrived 10 mins late due to their second car not getting to the airport on time, missed the flight, 10 people in the families live to tell the story.Jawait Basuta missed the Pan Am 103 which crashed at Lockerbie, England killing 275 people. He had been drinking in the airport bar and lost track of time and missed the flight.TWA flight 800, a Boeing 747 leaves New York and drops out of the sky, some say they saw the trail of a missile that hit the plane before it crashed into the sea. Was the plane shot down during American Navy exercise? Judith Delouvrier and some others changed their ticket/flight at the last moment and were not on board.A semi-professional cyclist escaped death twice on MH17 and MH370, one plane still not found and one that was blown up by Soviet weapons. Maarten DE Jonge canceled his booking in both cases, he still, after both disasters takes Malaysian flights.On an Air India flight in 1986, the plane blew up as a bomb had been placed on board. Mr. Sing didn’t get on the flight but his luggage did, including the bomb.On the 9/11 the loss of three airplanes in the USA 350 people changed their flight bookings prior, many at the last minute. Mayor Willie Brown canceled his flight as he had a tip-off, many Pentagon officials also changed their flights, 30 millionaires missed/ canceled the flight, as did many TV and press related individuals. Was it fate or more?My fathers Aunt Lilly was to travel from New York to the UK, back in 1915 and changed her mind on which sailing to take. Ultimately she took the Lusitania to Liverpool. On the day of sailing the British Admiralty commandeered the passenger ship Cameronia and the Lusitania had to wait a few hours for the transfer of crew from the Cameronia. This delayed Lusitania by two hours.The ship was sunk by a German u boat [U20] just twenty minutes prior to entering a fog bank where it would not have been spotted by the Germans had it left on time .1198 lives were lost. Alfred Vandbit, who had canceled his booking on Titanic some years early was also on the Lusitania when it sank. The sinking of this Lusitania was a pivotal opinion former for the Americans joining the world war … Ironically the British intelligence agency knew exactly where the U20 was but failed to intervene or alert. The captain of the Lusitania survived but his son was killed 26 years later on another British ship sank by a Nazi U boat.There are some disasters where passengers have managed to survive eg The Kegworth plane crash, East Midlands Airport UK. The plane hit the motorway embankment in 1986 and more than 50 percent of the passengers survived.A magazine called Popular Mechanics reported in 2007 that you are 40 percent more likely to survive a plane crash ( where there are survivors ) if you are seated in the rear of the plane. So much for business class. Look at these statistics from 1991 to 1999: the average annual deaths from plane crashes were 153 a year for fourteen years [ till 2013] whilst deaths on the roads in the world in a single year were over one and a quarter million. Imagine the deaths per mile statistic! flying is still the safest way to travel per mile.So do you still think about the trip with uncertainty or worry? I travel on 60+ flights a year and never consider the negatives, I always sit as far forward as possible and have total trust in some people in the cockpit I’ve never met. If you don’t then best to stay at home.