Travel Tip Number 14: Sit back and relax, treat yourself to a "garra fish spa".
So claims the advertisement on a pillar in the departures lounge. We're sitting, pending, awaiting the call for our flight, one of only seven that will depart Edinburgh today. Sitting people-watching, poster-gazing and estimating which south-east Asian terminal we could be marooned in. For the Lanzarote flight has left, taking with it a cargo of Thomson packaged passengers, creating a dilution of the locally-accented, a melting of the blue-skinned that leaves a concentration of gizmo-afflicted aficionados and jet-black haired orientals. It's an apartheid of religion and thrift; for the Buddhists and the Muslims, the Hindus and the skinflint Scots are all happy to accept the offer of a cheaper flight whilst the quasi-Christians are stuffing out on turkey and their annual ingestion of overcooked Brussels Sprouts.
We're usurping the season of overconsumption and mild, grey winter skies for the season of overindulgent and cold grey Atlanta skies. Or so the Weather Channel predicts. The forecasts are similar; the temperatures are identical. The differences, we hope, lie in the prospects. The former is an optimist's climatic high, the latter an aberration. We hope it will get warmer.
We've both squandered our cycling tans, suffocated by long trews and a mediocre Scots summer. Spread the odd inch, gained the odd pound. It is time to sit back and relax, time to hit the trail.
Our flight is called: "Women and Children first, then will load by numbers". Like the last chopper out of Saigon, there's the usual, inevitable general ruck and rush at the departure gate, which is odd as we all have boarding passes and there's no Vietcong down in check-in. I look back as we descend the skybridge; the lounge is deserted, shops are shuttered. We are the last flight out. Yet it is only mid-morning: but it is Christmas Day.
We can relax, our bikes have been spirited from us, no questions asked, no excess baggage paid, hopefully to rematerialise in Atlanta, Georgia. Ready to start a 6-week sojourn through the North American South. I have only one worry. The Navigator, when queried about garra foot spas was able to explain with confidence and knowledge. It would appear that you put your feet into a bowl of water swarming with some cousin of the pirhana; apparently they like to nibble the dead skin off your nether appendages. Now I've seen the Bond movie and I've stood in the Rosa Burn in Brodick bay as baby flounders gnaw at your feet, and I know it's not de-stressful. Forget Travel Tip Number 14. Try my Travel Tip Number 15: escape the winter, hit the trail, ride the Deep South.