So here we all are approaching the end of another year and thinking, possibly, of what the new one will have in store. For myself, I’m not looking too far ahead, except for one thing maybe. I’ve decided to put off the work I have planned to renovate and restore my house. The main reason is that the last couple of years have been somewhat traumatic for me, wth my losing most of 2017 because of ill-health and much of 2018 recovering from the effects of the treatment.
I figure that if I go ahead with the work on my house, I’ll probably end up being totally occupied by it for most of 2019 with the effect that I’ll end up effectively losing another one. This will mean that my flying activities and other forms of enjoyment will most likely be curtailed and in particular, I might miss out yet again on being able to fly my Savannah back to the UK.
So with Brexit also hanging over us and with the potential for the £Sterling remaining unstable for at least the first half of the coming year, I’ve made the decision, and that’s that. I’ll continue making my house more comfortable and dealing with any matters requiring closer attention, such as its roof, but the main work that I’ve planned will be deferred until 2020.
So now what? My first thought was how best to get through the coming weeks of this winter. ‘Regular’ readers might recall that in February of this year following the end of my chemo treatment, I went off for a short all-inclusive break in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada in Egypt to get some sun in order to kick-start my recovery. And I throughly enjoyed it. After arriving at the hotel I just wanted to lie in the sun, read a few novels that I’d brought with me, eat, drink and enjoy the hospitality on offer.
So that’s what I did and very pleasurable it was too. I didn’t want to involve myself in any of the available ‘activities’ and wasn’t interested in going off on excursions so once there it cost me very little over and above the costs of the flights and the hotel as everything in the hotel, food, drinks, snacks, refreshments, were free. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I mentioned in a post after my return that I’d think about going again the following year, and that’s what I’ve decided to do, with some very pleasantly surprising results.
I’ve decided to go back to the same hotel in Hurghada, the 5* Hawaii Aqua Park Resort. Last time I booked the whole break with Thomas Cook France and in the post that I mentioned on my return, I said that cursory enquiries on the internet suggested that if I booked myself direct, I could make a saving of around 50€ on the total cost. I didn’t think that this was worth bothering with in view of the extra trouble and effort involved but when I checked a few days ago, I was surprised to find that right now, Thomas Cook has nothing comparable on offer.
So that left me with Hobson’s Choice and I began my search to see what I could put together myself. Last time I went for ‘7 nights’ travelling Turkish Airways in both directions, via Istanbul, so that was my starting point. However, the description was something of a misnomer because I arrived in the early hours of the next day after commencing travelling and left in the early hours of the last day, so I didn’t really enjoy a proper 7-night stay.
But anyway, when I checked Turkish Airlines, although I would still face the same problem of arriving and leaving Hurghada in the early hours, I found that they didn’t have flghts available that would allow me a ‘7-night’ stay. A bit less or a bit more, but not 7 nights, so the obvious solution seemed to me to add a couple of days to my planned stay to fit in with the flights that were on offer.
The next thing was to find a hotel. A few nights ago I came across an amazingly low offer for the dates that I was interested in at a different all-inclusive resort to last time and made a mental note to book it later. However, as the offer included free cancellation up to a day or two beforehand, I thought that it would be silly to miss it and went back the next day. It had gone and the cost had increased by almost 100€, so this was proof yet again that ‘he who hesitates…’
So time then to search and see what was on offer for my original hotel. It had several ‘garden’ apartments at ground level outside the main hotel overlooking the gardens and pools and LastMinute France had an excellent offer available for my dates. It would mean that I’d have to walk the short distance to the main hotel building for meals and refreshments but this didn’t seem to me to be too onerous and I tried to make the booking. About ten times, but every time the web site failed to take my payment due to a system error, so I gave up and began looking elsewhere
I found another web site, Destinia, which is Spanish I think, offering a better price than LastMinute for a room in the hotel’s main building and although it was slightly higher than the price the latter had quoted for a garden apartment, I decided to book it. This time everything went smoothly so that just left me with the task of booking my flights.
The world of cheap airline flights is murky and confusing and I’m not sure that it’s one that anyone understands. Instead we are all in the hands of ‘booking engines’ on web sites which do some mystifying things after they’ve finished searching for the most competitive flights for you, as I indeed found. I knew that I could book Turkish Airlines in any event but thought that it would be interesting to see what else I could find, and I’m glad that I did.
After trying all the usual ones, I came across a web site called Bravofly. When I typed in my planned dates, it came up with some very interesting results, both in terms of timings and prices. In particular, it found me a flight the next day after my planned date of travel that allowed me to arrive in Hurghada in the early afternoon as well as a return flight also leaving at a civilised hour mid-morning. This made me think about bringing my ‘leave-home’ date forward by a day, and sure enough it worked.
To cut a long story short, by leaving home on the Tuesday and taking a flight from Toulouse that afternoon, I could arrive in Hurghada in the early afternoon of the next day, the day my hotel booking commenced. So here’s what I’ve now got planned.
Tuesday – leave home for a mid-morning flight from Toulouse to Brussels by Ryanair. Layover, somewhat extended unfortunately, at Charleroi but so what, I’ll be on holiday!
Wednesday – flight from Charleroi to Hurghada by Tui Air
Friday week – flight from Hurghada to London Stansted by Easyjet. Layover, fairly brief, at Stansted.
Saturday – flight from London Stansted to Toulouse by Ryanair.
And now the best bits. Last time I had a ‘7-night’ break that really wasn’t because I arrived in the early hours of the day after commencing travelling and left in the early hours of the final day. This time I will be able to enjoy a full 9-night stay in the hotel and travel, with some minor inconveniences due to unavoidable lay-overs, at more civilised times.
But the very best bit is that last time my Thomas Cook booking cost just over 627€ including insurance whereas this time, by booking it myself and making a large saving on my flight costs, I will get a longer break for less – just 535€ including insurance. So I think that a little bit of web-surfing was well worth the effort and now I just can’t wait to go 😉
As a footnote, to amuse myself I checked with Bravofly to see if I could save even more money by driving to Brussels and flying from there direct to Hurghada and back. No. The simple return flight on one airline would actually have cost more than my present arrangement involving three different airlines and a leg via London Stansted. So, cheap flights, a murky world or what!
In conclusion, thanks to all those who have commented on My Trike and sent me messages during the past year. They were all greatly appreciated and I hope that we will be able to continue the journey together for a long time to come.
I’ll be making more posts here before I leave for my sunshine break but for now it’s ‘Joyeuse Année’ to all my French-speaking friends and ‘Happy New Year’ to my English-speaking ones. May you all receive what you want the most but may you and those you love especially enjoy a year of peace and good health.