Thursday, February 9, 2017

Chaos and Calm

The chaos
Airports are always chaos but Doha is a special kind of chaos, masses of passengers of every conceivable state of dress all wandering in random directions,  security screening not involving a little plastic bag of liquids, come to think of it there was no request for the bag in Berlin either... one of the security guards managed to tell me " this is not America" and the other was laughing when I asked "Schuhe? " nein  "Jacke? " ya then she asked me in German if I had anything like drinks in my case. Now it's 35 years since I studied German but I was able to pick up enough words to answer.... Triumph!
  Also chaos caused by the car hire company Alamo refusing my rental because I don't carry a credit card, handing my licence back to me and telling me to get a refund through Expedia. Their job done but leaving me with no car....

The Calm
Getting onto the plane the cabin crew greeter gave one of the others a nod and I was escorted to my seat, greeted and offered drinks, cold towel, menu, pajamas,  gift bag. Terribly polite and I felt a bit scruffy suddenly ( I wasn't by the way, I was dressed smartly for a change)


After an hour of chatting to the crazy girl next to me I managed to get some sleep and woke just before landing  having only consumes a modicum of gin!

The next flight was the same, greeted, menu,drink, calm  and a brief snooze before landing in Dubai.




I had intended to have a drive round before going to the hotel but Alamo had other ideas so I queued for a taxi and was directed to the pink taxi service for women.



I'm not a taxi  fan but needs must. 90AED from the airport was nearly a third of the car hire for the whole week but at least I was there and after a brief wait,  the lovely staff let me have my room early and I tried to sleep off the headache.

It was getting late when I woke up and I toddled off to the Mall of the Emirates, I'm not a big fan of expensive and designer shopping but it  was interesting to see the mix of UK,US and other brands, Debenham, Marks and Spencer, Carrefour- that's a French brand supermarket selling normal supermarket  stuff in the midst of all the designer stuff!

In the other direction

 February half term is a dreary break ...add the builders into the mix and the prospect of staying at home and cleaning dust every day for nearly 2 weeks is not a fun one.
 The last 2 Februarys have been cold affairs , somewhere between-10 and -17 C with warnings about not getting frostbite on exposed skin and staying out of the cold, it's time for a break that requires altogether fewer clothes...


Dubai 

OK it's not exactly the wilds of anywhere but there are a few less populated parts,  there's a city, a beach and the miracle gardens but best of all its not cold!
 Now there's going to be a catch or a convoluted route in here so bear with me, why fly direct from London to Dubai when you can take the scenic route and save some money at the same time. Berlin isn't actually the scenery everyone has in mind but that's where the cheapest fare was from on Qatar Airways so that's the reason, stopping off for an hour in Doha won't be a huge hardship , stopping off in Berlin for 4 hours will be more of a hardship but since the Germans pulled a characteristically efficient strike today at about 12 hours notice I am pleased to have some ease time built in for the inevitable delays.

Qatar Airways  has some fascinating routes, who knew that it was a mere 2 flights from London to Kathmandu?  Or indeed Auckland or Zambia?? It's a whole different world from a whole different hub Doha. That's because I am travelling in "The other direction " something I don't make a habit of but with the welcome foreigners are receiving across the pond it wouldn't be a good time to head West.




Saturday, August 20, 2016

Spooky


Deception pass

picturesque isnt it?

Except when we got there we were greeted by an altogether different sight.................










I think it was around this area that Dunc had me scramble up some hill to see a waterfall which turned out to be so shrouded in mist that we could only hear it but not see it.

Whales from Anacortes


 The boat captain was headed North into some pretty horrible weather off Canada when someone spotted this family of Orcas in the sunshine, we spent a couple of hours following them round the islands before heading back.






















Boeing

Well it was a nice trip, not as much contemplating of scenery as I am used to but we kept ourselves amused.
Here are the highlights

A trip to the Boeing factory to see the 777 and 787 being built- no photos, no bags no drinks no toilets for the tour but we made up for it plane spotting from the grass bank afterwards, Dreamlifter, Antonov 124 all the big stuff!













Friday, August 5, 2016

What, No scenery?


Al and I spent a nice time in the lounge eating a full English breakfast and drinking coffee, ambling to the gate we bemoaned the fact that we would be loaded on a bus and driven what feels like halfway round the airport to the plane....... There was a bit of screen peering and mumbling when Al handed over his boarding pass and the lady gave him a new one. Ah.. I thought, he's been moved, I hope they move me as well or there will be limited conversation on the flight over. When it came to my turn I found out that there was indeed going to be limited conversation because we had both been upgraded to First class. This happened to me once about 10 years ago and I have turned down a couple of upgrades so this was the first time for Al and the second time for me!!!



I didnt get to take full advantage because I slept for a good 5 hours of the flight but I remember waking up to see Al had the beef for lunch and waking up to someone laying a quilt over me which was nice. gin count 1 champagne count 1  


The locks
The locks arent like ours where you jump off the boat and wind them open with a handle, a bit of a bigger scale... they even have a fish ladder where the salmon can climb upstream (no not literally) because the dam blocks their way.