YOU'D think being grounded for two years would be sufficient time to plan a first trip abroad. Ah, but life gets in the way, doesn't it?

I had flights booked and a hotel and the rest would come, which was my pre-pandemic travel attitude and lockdown has made me no more prone to research.

So, I landed last Monday evening in Georgia. Not the American one, the former Soviet Union republic one.

I had some Georgian lari and a great desire to go straight to my hotel. Outside the airport was a bus, its display declaring an intention to end up in Station Square. It would do.

I hopped on and presented a lari note to the driver, who shook his head. More head shaking, some finger pointing and hand waving later and neither of us was any further forward.

I checked out the signs but have you ever seen the Georgian alphabet? Wild. (The receptionist at my hotel: "The L looks like a little animal.")

I asked a passenger. She pulled out a credit card sized piece of plastic and neatly tapped it on a machine in the bus, refusing to take any money from me in the process.

The bus, by great coincidence, took me right to the door of my hotel - a 35 minute journey. The lari is divided into 100 tetri. And how much did that 35 minute journey cost? Some 50 tetri, or about 12p.

From my front door to the city centre is one mile and it costs... well, I think it costs £2.40 but the FirstBus website only gives a coy "from £1.70" for a single ticket and the exact fare, in my experience, rests entirely on the whim of the driver. It's certainly more than 12p.

It turns out what I'm looking for is a Metromoney card, a sensible little oblong that allows for travel on the underground, cable car, bus and train. The card is transferable so two people can use the same card - great for tourists travelling together.

Just load up with lari and off you sail.

After a few days in Tbilisi I headed to Istanbul. Here, the card was cardboard and both literally and figuratively even more flexible. The Istanbulkart takes its bearer – are you ready? – on the bus, Metrobus, nostalgic tram, tunnel, metro, tram, funicular, cable car, IDO ferry, City lines ferries, various Bosphorus cruises, the TCDD railways and the airport buses from Sabiha Gokcen Airport and Istanbul New Airport.

There are different cards for residents and tourists with the tourist card being slightly more pricey. Pricey as in, I sailed across the Bosphorus for a slim 24p.

How civilised it was to hop about these beautiful cities barrier-free.

In Tbilisi we shared a Metromoney card on the bus and used it to fly up the hillside in a cable car. We descended into the impossible depths of the subway system with a simple tap and a vertigo-induced prayer. In Instanbul we took the tram, which was marvellous, and travelled by ferry. A quick tap and a quick tap.

A couple of years ago in Sydney I had the same experience, using an Opal card on the bus, the train and the ferry boats. Such a straightforward, simple, cost-efficient and time-saving way to travel.

Of course, I'm not making a new point here but fresh eyes turned on nicer sights always serve to highlight the flaws on your own doorstep.

How embarrassing for tourists to arrive in our modern, metropolitan city – or so it claims to be – and have to pay £9 for a single from the airport to the city centre. It's £14 if you're looking for an open return. If you're a family, or even a couple, you might as well take a taxi.

These prices are an active disincentive to using public transport. If you do choose to travel by bus but have an onward journey then good luck to you. A separate ticket is required, even if you're merely hoping to connect to another bus.

If you are in the city and planning to travel around with an unlimited ticket (unlimited bar the night bus, which you need to pay for separately, a bonkers reward for enjoying yourself on holiday) you have to bring a passport photo for your non-transferable pass.

What an outdated novelty that is.

A recent survey asking how people feel about the introduction of a low emission zone for Glasgow city centre found that only 42 per cent of respondents support the idea.

It's no wonder, when the transport options available are so pitiful compared to what we know can be done elsewhere.

The difference, of course, is state control. I wouldn't for a moment suggest a bus fare should be 12p but in Scotland we pay some of the highest public transport costs in Europe with Glasgow paying higher bus fares than the rest of Scotland and most other large cities in the UK.

Glasgow has been battering on for years about the importance of joined up journeys with easy to use and affordable public transportation cards thanks to a co-ordinated campaign effort from Get Glasgow Moving.

COP26 saw delegates issued with a travel card that allowed them to use different modes of transport so it can be done when necessary. You look at what other cities offer in terms of travel and blush when you see that Glasgow has just the three: bus, train, subway.

The climate summit showed what can be done at a push but now we need a massive shove to make change. Joined up, efficient public transport is vital for public health, equality and the environment. There's no excuse not to prioritise a decent transit system.

Other cities take entirely for granted what we've been campaigning for over years. Come on.

We want an affordable journey across Glasgow, not to reach for the moon. It's public transport, it's not rocket science.