Shopping in the cyber age

  

It’s fair to say that starting out on a long distance relationship is not without its problems. In the past my comfort zone would not have allowed me more than an hour’s journey to see that special someone, but now she is 13 hours away, at best.

But all is not lost in these days of communication and technology, in fact, apart from the obvious physical gap, most other problems can be sorted out and in many ways enhanced. We communicate much better than I may have done in other relationships, from the things happening in the day, to trying on new clothes and even watching the TV. It can all be done in this day and age with a little creativity.

To start with I recommend you both have an iPhone with Facetime capability. We tried Skype, we tried other alternatives and in the end Facetime really does give us the quality and reliability we needed. The other advantages soon become apparent. iMessage must have saved us a packet.

How can you go shopping together?
It’s simple. Stop worrying who is watching and take photos, even videos of things you are looking at buying. iMessage them to the eagerly awaiting other party and wait for the reply.

If like me you need glasses to get by with every day life you will know the perils of buying new specs. After all you pay a lot for them and you are stuck with them once purchased for a good year or so. My one big issue when I am looking at new specs is that I can’t see how I look with them on, as I need my glasses on to see, and a second opinion is always handy. I could ask my Mother, or one of my friends but its a lot more fun and has a lot more credibility to seek the advice of the woman you are dating.

So here is what I did. I looked around for the 10 -15 pairs I most liked, or thought I did with my limited vision and took photos of myself with the front facing camera on my iPhone. This may have looked odd to the watchful staff but they let me get on with my little game without question and with less interruptions that if I was simply browsing like others in the store. Once back home we sat on ether end of Facetime and talked over the selections, voting, pointing out the good and the bad until we drew up a short list for both normal glasses and sunglasses. Then all I needed to do was re-visit the opticians and get them ordered.

The same works for clothes, take the phone into the changing room with you (you might want to put the phone on silent for this one) and snap some pics. Then grab a coffee and iMessage the ones you like, spark conversation. Does my butt look big in this and can I pull off those colours. It’s fun and it’s probably what you would be doing if you were physically in the same location. Technology makes the world a much smaller place.

Make technology work for you would-be blondes. All you need is an iPhone and a data connection. The rest is simple.

 

Frankfurt smells like Jude Law in Paris

  

Not so long ago, relationships were about someone ringing at my door or me driving to this pub or restaurant to meet up. 2012 has come, and I have been turned into an almost “frequent traveler”.

One of the first things I have found out in this newly born long distance relationship, is that NOT all flights are direct, and that saving money on plane tickets can lead you to spend some extra time in “transit” in distant and foreign airports with rather little to do to keep yourself busy. My first experience in the matter was in no less than Frankfurt Airport, one of Europe’s 5 largest airports. With some 56 million visitors in 2011 it’s easy to see why it is popular for connecting flights.  I’ll leave you to decide if I am a slow or fast learner, but here is what 4 hours between connecting flights taught me.

Comfort
As I was on connecting flights with Lufthansa, I arrived and left from their terminal, which of course made it a lot easier, and as a not so experienced traveler, gave me a sense of security. After a few minutes walking around and looking through the terminal windows at all the planes tidily parked, and at those leaving and taxiing by, I noticed sets of tables and chairs at almost every gate, placed next to, will you believe it, courtesy tea and coffee facilities. And by tea and coffee facility I mean a BIG machine giving choices of latte, black coffee, fancy cafés, hot water with boxes filled with a rather large variety of tea bags, whichever colour you like. With the free hot drinks, newspapers are readily available, power points for recharging your essentials, my stay wasn’t starting too badly.

Connection
Sat with a cup of coffee, I started aiming my iPhone towards the planes and taking all sorts of photos of multi-coloured planes. As any nerd would do, I decided to check the WiFi connection options only to find out the airport offers a 30 minutes connection if you fill in the access page with your email to receive the connection code. 3 minutes later, I was on FaceTime with the little frog who had already arrived home safely. Said Hi, shared the surroundings and to all intense and purposes we enjoyed our coffee together.

Shopping and Browsing
A good Duty Free shop is like a big department store at Christmas: it has temptation for everyone!

Not being a smoker and undecided about bringing back some gigantic Toblerone for my family members, I remembered my little French woman had bought herself an airport exclusive perfume so I started hunting for my own new smell. And that’s when I saw it!

Have you ever wondered why we want to buy a fragrance just because of an advert? Well I guess I had just become one of those drawn in by all the arty imagery embedded into my brain… I remembered the music and the car. A Dior perfume, one of those unforgettable tracks by Muse, a scene in Paris and, and, and…  It made sense. Jude Law is blonde, I am blonde, he was driving a flashy car in France, I drive a car and I am dating a girl from France. As difficult as it may be to admit, I was becoming a victim of clever marketing, I was trying a fragrance on the main ground that I had liked the advert!!! Luckily for me I just LOVED IT (and now so does she!)

Big airports, the good and the bad
If you are connecting flights, the big airports can be your best and your worst option. Give yourself as much time between flights as you can, minimum of 2 hours. It can take an hour to find your way around a new airport so it only takes a small delay and you will miss any connection. If however you have a very short connection, my advice is avoid the big airports like the plague. If you think you can make it between gates in half and hour then forget it. Be prepared to miss your flight. So for short connections, pick a small airport. Better option, take a 2 hour plus connection and pick a large one. find your gate and then start playing in the shops, looking for WiFi and being creative.

Oh and if you have not seen the Dior advert, well it’s directed by Guy Ritchie of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame as well as various other English films. It’s worth a look if for nothing else for the fabulous views of Paris, and for us men, that awesome car he is driving.