Results tagged “Flights” from Europe 2016

Gosh it all seems like so long ago, but it was only a couple of days.

The hotel in Brussels was decent enough. Cool enough room temperature (although still not cool enough to use the doona, so it went), hard bed and really good block out curtains meant a fairly good sleep. Breakfast was relatively small for such a big hotel.

Security outside the terminal was a bit silly. The directed some people through the bag checks but not others. ??? Weird. So got inside and confirmed that Brussels airport is very un user friendly. Because we were a bit early, there was no sign saying where Etihad checkins were, so we went to their little booth up the back to find out. They were on the end, but turns out it was the first day they'd used that section since the attacks a while back, so they were having *issues* - with the printing of boarding passes. So checkin took three quarters of an hour :( Then another half an hour to get through security and passport control.

We had an A330 for the first flight, but had been separated by the travel agent. So we asked at checkin if mum could get a window seat, which she could, which was good. Turns out we both had empty seats next to us. Go figure.

I watched Ratatouille first up which I hadn't seen in ages. Then I watched Rocky, which I'd never actually seen before. There were a few things that annoyed me about it, like how Adrian was clearly uncomfortable being in his house but he pushed on anyway. If it'd had been me I would have been out of there. Same with the fight with his manager. "Oh I hate you, no I really I don't can you be my manager". Whatevs. Didn't have time for a third movie, so watched the first half of Frozen.

At Abu Dhabi we parked way away from the terminal so needed a bus to the terminal. Which went around and around and took ages. By the time we got through security it was basically time to board our next flight. Luckily the gate was near the security end, didn't have to walk alllll the way down the terminal. But. We did need to go to the toilet, so had to walk alllll the way down the terminal. Ok not quite, but it was a long way and we were getting a bit stressed. Not that we should have been stressed, we sat on the plane for like an hour before we started moving.

So our second plane was an A380. And of course our seats were booked by a travel agent. So they were pretty bad - over the wing :( At least it wasn't too bad a flight to be stuck over the wing. Take off to the west at Abu Dhabi, but at night. Then over the Indian Ocean for the night. For the day we were flying over Australia, but there's really not a huge amount to see. Night time by the time we got to Sydney. That's the only time a better seat would have mattered, as we came in from the north and had Sydney on our left so that was nice. Could see it a bit over the top of the engines. The GPS had issues keeping on track. But the A380s are definitely a lot quieter than A330s. Or maybe that's just because we were in front of the engines instead of behind them.

The screens are also huge and bright on the A380s. Which makes them great for watching movies. The problem is you can see everyone else's as well. Which isn't really a problem unless you're trying to sleep and the lights flash in your face (Stu knows how much *that* annoys me). I had restless legs for the whole first half of the flight. Blerf. Watched The Martian first up. I'd been putting off watching this since I'd been hoping to see it on a bigger screen (Stu and EffanC watched it without me on their big screen and I'd been grumpy about it ever since). On the A380 screen it was perfectly adequate. Pretty decent movie too. Next I watched Eddie the Eagle which was just a lovely movie. Then I watched That Sugar Film - a documentary by an Australian guy looking into what effects processed sugar has on people's bodies. Quite interesting. Started to watch Rio 2, but was getting quite tired (it was about 3am Europe time). Finally my legs relaxed and I dozed for an hour or so. But then mum started fussing around and my gps lost its way and mum put on a movie which started flashing in my eyes (even with the eye patches on) so gave up on any more sleep. Finished watching Rio 2. Pretty silly movie.

If I don't get sick from that flight it'll be a miracle. The plane was full of sick people, including one behind and one beside us. Blerf.

Disembarked, picked up all my whiskey, breezed through immigration, and quickly through customs as well. Then trained it back to mum's, got to her place a bit after 8pm Sydney time, midday Europe time. I decided I wanted to go home and see the sweetie. The 7-Eleven at Sutherland was closed, as was a chunk of the M1 so had to use the Old Princes Highway. Got petrol at Sutton Forest, and got some food at The Scottish Restaurant there too, which helped keep me awake. Got home around midnight.

So all in all a pretty good trip. Saw lots of great scenery and had good weather for most of it. The biggest stresses were all the people. Not that I didn't get along with anyone, there were just so many (on the last tour at least) which just makes everything a bit stressful. Looking forward to a bit less stress at home, not really looking forward to going back to the dramas going on at work :)

Sleep and breakfast, rinse and repeat.

After breakfast, around 9am, we headed out. We wandered down to the fortress, expecting to have to pay to go in and possibly you do to go in the buildings, but you can walk all around the grounds for free which was pretty cool. We wandered around for three quarters of an hour and there's some great views of the city.

Then we headed up to the Historical Museum, because our tickets for the viking ship museum covered it. Didn't really spend all that much time there.

Then back to the hotel to sort out our bags and get ourselves ready. We'd done 10000 steps before lunch time!

The hotel was in a super convenient location - right on top of the station. So getting to the trains was super easy. We went and got some tickets for the regular train, not the airport express, because it's like half the price to do it that way. The train got up to 200 km/h for most of the trip and took about the same amount of time as the airport express anyway. And it had free wifi :)

Got to the airport and checked in. Check in and bag drop was all electronic and super easy, didn't have to interact with any humans at all. Oslo airport is generally quite user friendly. There's plenty of shops in the terminal too to look at while waiting. I finished up yesterday's photo sorting then grabbed a slice of pizza for lunch. Then mum and I went through all of her photos that I'd scanned recently and labelled what we could.

Our plane was about half an hour late leaving, I forget the reason why.  Technical difficulties I think. Took off to the south and saw Oslo as we flew over it. Then over the Netherlands - pretty sure I saw Schipol and Rotterdam but really need to see the gps track to be sure. Rain as we arrived in Brussels.

Brussels airport is *not* very user friendly. We wanted to see about our flights tomorrow, but we first had to try and figure out which terminal it would likely go from. After wandering around trying to find anything useful, but failing, we thought we'd just go check in to the hotel and dump our bags then come back and try again. Even trying to get out of the airport to get to the hotel (which is conveniently just across the road from the terminal we came out of) was a drama. I couldn't even see emergency exit signs anywhere. We ended up asking someone how to get out of the damned terminal! Fail fail fail.

So checked into the hotel (it was about 19:40 by this point and we were tired and hungry). Had a look at the restaurant downstairs, but it looked expensive and uninspiring, so we went back to the airport. Because of the bombings a while back, security is pretty intense. There's no car pickups/dropoffs outside the terminal anymore - people have to use the parking garages for that. Not even any taxis.  They must go somewhere, but don't know where. So the road between the terminal and the hotel is pedestrian only, with a security tent setup for access to the terminal, and a *lot* of heavily armed soldiers and police. Apparently from tomorrow the split terminal checkins are merging back into the one. Or something. Also apparently only passengers are allowed into the terminals at the moment - no visitors or people saying goodbye. Not that they actually checked that when we went back in so whatevs.

Anyway, found something to eat (just some pasta), then back to the hotel.

Last night we set the room thermostat to 5C. It barely got cooler than ambient temperature. And couldn't open the window either.

Breakfast had a bigger selection of food, on account of being a much bigger hotel. They had potato and mushrooms which was nice.

Hopped on the 7:36 #635 bus to the terminals (it was super packed :( ).

Got to terminal 2 and there was a Subway (I really felt like Subway for dinner last night but we didn't find it - doh!).

Used the machines to check out suitcases through and that worked pretty well. Went through security, where they got me to turn the camera on and take a photo to make sure it really was a camera. And got a tarmac tour to get to the plane.

The flight was on a CRJ-900 which I've never been on before. Much like a 717. And if I'd known that I would have tried for a seat much further forward in front of the wing. But it was ok because the engines are further back. Except the windows were full of condensation which frosted up and made photographs pretty terrible. No snackages on the plane (unless you buy them) so just had some water. The south of Germany was all cloudy, but it cleared up as we went further north. Flew over the Malmo bridge which was super cool :)

Got to Copenhagen but our bags didn't come up the appointed carousel. And we weren't the only ones missing bags. But they finally finally came up - they must have lost a trolley along the way somewhere. Got some cash out, then waited for our transfer to the hotel from our tour group.

We got a 15th floor room, but sadly facing away from the city. No aircon to speak of either. But the window opens so hopefully it'll cool down overnight.

When we got here I needed to grab something light for lunch. Except I've said before, Copenhagen is *huge*, and it took a full half an hour to walk from our hotel to somewhere with light food options. After walking up and down a pedestrian section near the town hall I gave up and chose the Scottish Restaurant, because you can get small meals there (I just had some fries with mayo).

By the time I got back to the hotel, two hours had passed :(:( So much for a quiet afternoon catching up on blogging, backing up photos etc. Only got an hour before we had to head down for the tour starting meeting and dinner.

Dinner was ok - a bit of a buffet, so could regulate what we ate a bit better. They also included a couple of drinks, which may be the last I have on this trip on account of the price of everything here.

After dinner we headed out again - up to Tivoli Gardens. This was originally on the itinerary for this tour, but in recent week wasn't on the itinerary for the tour on their website. So I was a bit annoyed that we'd paid to go see and wouldn't get to (it's ~20AUD just to get in). So that was pretty good that we did in fact get to go in. Had a lovely wander through the park. Wanted to go on some rides but it was all too complicated with bags and stuff and not really having enough time. Even got some freshly made fairy floss which you can't get in Australia anymore, you can only get packed stuff. So that was all very nice and it was all very pretty as the lights came on.

Except.

We got back to the entrance one minute late (on account of *hoards* of people coming in the gates) and there was *noone* there. So we thought we'd misunderstood the meeting place. Mum stayed there while I went to the other place I thought maybe we should have been meeting. Twice. But no. They'd all fricken gone off without us. So now we're going to have a reputation with the rest of the tour (forty fricken people) as being people to be late and hold everyone up. Completely pissed off about it all.

And it's late.

Saturday morning I mostly finished packing and organising, and headed for Sydney around 10am. I didn't manage to get any music to listen to put onto my phone, so didn't end up listening to anything.

When I got to mum's, we went down for the village trivia afternoon. We did quite well in the three question rounds (actually we won that part of the scoring), but did really badly in the filler round which let us down so we came second.

Then we got ourselves ready and went and caught the five o'clock train from Kirrawee and caught the train out to the airport.

Checked in (the Etihad signage was a bit bad and it was sending economy to the business class checkin.. fail!!), did the automatic machine thingie for immigration then through security. Had a wander through the duty free store and stocked up on some whiskeys. Then went and found something to eat for a light dinner (since dinner on the plane wasn't going to be for a while), and finally found some of the others travelling together with us.

We had an A380 for the first flight. I still think they're ugly and overrated. And this time I couldn't get a strong enough GPS signal. I finally got it by going to an exit door which gets a lot closer to the sky. But it struggled to maintain a lock. Very frustrating.  So missed out on any sort of GPS track for most of the trip.  The planes so have internet and mobile reception though, so was able to SMS the sweetie from over the Indian ocean and over India :)

I had some pasta for dinner, but didn't eat quite all of it. Watched Slumdog Millionaire which was pretty good. At midnight I attempted to doze. In fact attempted to doze for the next seven hours. I don't really know how successful I was. But the time did feel shorter than seven hours, so probably did get a bit of sleep. Then I watched The Heat (pretty silly), while having breakfast, followed by Star Wars The Force Awakens. But unlike Qantas, they don't allow you to play movies right up to the gate, so missed the end. At least, unlike Qantas, Etihad have pretty good quality screens to watch things on.

At Abu Dhabi we wandered through the security check for transfers, then wandered up to the pretty circular terminal to hang out for a couple of hours before the next flight. We looked around the shops, then had some Scottish Restaurant for our next meal (breakfast had been a few hours ago, and it was still a few more hours til our next one).

Our next flight was an Air Berlin A330.

I finished watching Star Wars. Brunch was a choice between chicken rolls and cheese rolls, so I had a cheese one.

Then I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I didn't think I'd seen, but part way through I realised I had. Oops.

I got spun out by all the snow on the mountains of Iran and Turkey (they fastidiously avoided Iraqi and Syrian airspace). Flew over Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, but they were all covered in clouds and couldn't see anything.

I tried watch Maze Runner, but it was too dark to see it (a lot of people had their windows open and it was very bright). So watched The Incredibles instead.

"Dinner", although lunch time Berlin time, was a chicken and veggies thing.

So got to Berlin and parked out on the tarmac and took a bus to the terminal which is always cool. Took ages to get through passport control though - too many people all at once (it was totally deserted after we got through). I suppose most flights there are "domestic" (EU) flights, so they probably don't deal with huge numbers of international flights - they all tend to go to Frankfurt etc I'm guessing.

Met up with the tour guide (Roberto) and our bags were taken to the coach. It was pretty cold, I think they said 6C, but I didn't find it unpleasant. Got driven straight to our hotel.

Hotel is nice enough. Although has the european "all or nothing" setup with the doonas, and we couldn't get the air conditioning to get cold. We dumped our stuff. I had a shower. After forty hours since my last shower, it felt great.  Also reorganised our bags from flying mode to ground mode.

Then we headed out for a wander. Mum wanted to find a Deutsche Bank cause she can withdraw with less fees. We ended up half way to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, so wandered down there to have a look. Last time we couldn't go in and they were repairing the mosaics on the floors. Now you can go in and it's quite beautiful inside.  Because the hotel was so hot I didn't think to take a jumper.  It was pretty cold in the wind and everyone was all rugged up.  I think I was the only crazy person in a tshirt :)  But didn't get very cold.

Came back to the hotel and had some dinner - a delicious soup, some pork and some nice chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce.

Then to bed. Went to bed around 9pm I think and pretty much passed out. Woke up to pee (and all hot and sweaty cause the room was so hot), then back to sleep (with no doona at all) till quarter to seven. Epic win!