One of the pleasures of being a journalist is going on the occasional press trip where a company or organisation will fly you off somewhere in return for some coverage. In the past this has meant trips to Egypt, Jordan, Italy, Denmark, New York, Paris and Turkey to write travel features, to Strasbourg to report on the European Parliament and to Nicaragua to cover the work of the Irish charity Trocaire.
These trips can be challenging, as in my visit to Central America and fairly monotonous as with Strasbourg, but always rewarding.
The press trips to write a travel feature are more fun as journalists tend to be well indulged, taken to all the major sights and the best restaurants so when I was given an opportunity to go to Malaga to research a feature on the Andalucian city's 'cultural tourism' I thought great.
Malaga is a city I've visited often, twice in the last two years. This trip includes visits to the Picassso Museum, Cathedral, castle, gardens and Moorish ruins as well as scheduled stops at tapas bars, top restaurants and winery... yes I'll write that last word again - a winery.
It was an early start this morning, up at 3am, on the road for 3.30 to catch a 6am flight.
By 4.40 I was in the check-in queue and had clocked the two other journos on the trip, by 4.41 I was looking at Sinead's passport in my hands and wondering how the hell I had been so stupid not check that I had lifted the right one.
A quick phone call to Sinead and she was on the road and I was back out of the airport and speeding to a midway point to swap passports and then a mad dash back to Belfast International Airport, back to the carpark, into the terminal building only to be told that the check in had closed and there was no way I was going to catch the flight, even though I was flying at the invitation of the airline.
When I got home I emailed a very grovelling email to the PR company which organised the trip and got a more than sympathetic hearing and and a few hours later confirmation that I have been rebooked to go out tomorrow - although I will be returning late on Saturday.
Anyway as a great philosopher once said 'shit happens'. It will be another early start tomorrow and hanging out in departure lounges and a three-hour flight each way to get there for just over 36 hours in Malaga. But I still regard Spain as a second homeland so hopefully it should be worth it.