May saw me take a long held travel wish trip – to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.
Why Georgia? Well, if like me you’ve spent time in Russia you’ll know that this small but mighty country in the Caucasus produces some fantastic food and is one of the oldest wine producing countries in the world; wine has been produced in Georgia for an estimated 8,000 years.
I travelled to Georgia without either the twins or Mr D, but instead went to meet an old friend of mine who had just finished a food tour through Armenia and Georgia.
I am writing up a couple of blog posts on the trip to Georgia. It’s a bit off the usual tourist path and it was hard to find much / any information on gluten free food in Georgia. Georgia also does not have any coeliac associations so it was a bit of a challenge to find information.
In advance of the trip, I had a bespoke allergy card made for this trip to explain about coeliac / gluten and my nut allergy. This was well worth the investment so that my needs could be accurately explained in restaurants.
Like an absolute champion in Georgia. Every meal we ate was incredibly tasty, fresh and beautifully presented. Using the allergy card was crucial and helped me eat food safely prepared on this trip. A small selection of dishes we ate:
I also loved the meals I had while flying on Turkish Airlines.
Outward in I flew in Economy. This was not a direct flight so I flew from London to Istanbul and then transferring to fly Istanbul to Tbilisi.
For the return flights, normal service was resumed and I flew in Business where I even got a gluten free menu. This may be a first!
When I received the menu card I thought this was a choice of options. But no! They served all of it…
This lamb was incredibly well cooked and beautifully tender. I received the same meal on both legs of the flight – both equally good as each other.
Although this month was a great one for fulfilling a long held travel wish, it did have a downside.
In the weeks before my trip to Georgia, I was struck by a terrible fear of travelling so severe I thought I might not even get on the plane and go. I’ve spoken to other mums who’ve told me they suddenly developed a fear of flying after they’ve had kids, when they previously had none. To date this has not happened to me and in fact, quite the opposite, I LOVE flying – I genuinely find it exciting.
So when the anxiety arrived out of nowhere, I felt knocked for six.
In the past I’ve flown with family and friends who have a crippling fear of flying. I’ve never truly been able to empathise because it’s just not something I’ve ever felt.
I thought back over the times I’ve seen others gripped by their fear of flying; the time a friend asked a stewardess – in total seriousness and panic – to open the plane door so she could get off, just as we sat waiting for take-off from Moscow. The times I’ve walked with family members to the plane door and thought they looked so terrified I doubted they’d cross the threshold of the plane and go.
I’ve taken many flights which most people would baulk at. I’ve flown on domestic Russian Aeroflot flights in the 1990s when they were blighted by a series of crashes, including once after the pilot let their kid take control of the plane. I’ve flown on decrepit and tiny planes such as the time on an inter-island in Fiji when the check in staff stopped our flight as it was taxiing on the runway – while the pilot argued he wasn’t fuelled for 2 extra passengers and all our luggage. I’ve had 2 significant aborted landings when we were so close to the ground I thought we were actually on the runway. In my rational mind, I knew all of these things would send shivers down the spine of those with a fear of flying but none has bothered me. So it was hard to comprehend where the anxiety came from.
I can only put the horrendous anxiety that I experienced down to the fact I was flying without the kids and it came from a fear of what would happen if something happened to me. I knew that when I got there I’d be fine (I was, I had a wonderful trip!) and I suspected I’d be fine on the flight home (I really was).
Will the travel anxiety come back? I don’t know but I really hope not. I know that a few things helped me, including using some of the techniques I learned from having CBT a couple of years ago and also from reactivating my Headspace subscription.
But I want to give a big thank you to all the people I exchanged messages with privately and who replied with empathy and support. Particular thank to you the person (you know who you are!) who suggested that me flying in economy may have brought on the travel anxiety. An injection of humour (probably based on a degree of truth!) pierced the bubble of my anxiety just at the very moment when I needed it. So here’s to normal service resuming!