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Published: August 5th 2007
My PlaneGetting here
The MD-11 I was on from Hong Kong to Helsinki. Not the best of planes.
So, to start my sojourn into the European landscape I had to sit on some planes for a while...
In the name of getting cheap tickets, frequent flyer miles and a flexible return date my flights involved more stops than I would have liked but in the end it all proved to be an interesting experience.
The first flight was from Sydney to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. It was an overnight flight departing Syd at 10pm and only about one third full. This was great for me since I scored some excellent seating with four seats in a row to myself behind a bulkhead. Combined with a post dinner cognac (one of the better parts of flying) this led to a few good hours of sleep, something which is difficult to come by when you are over 6 feet tall and in economy class. After 9½ hours flight time I then found myself in Hong Kong.
Walking across the sky bridge into the terminal is the moment that you are introduced to Hong Kong in the summer... the oppressive humidity that makes everything feel heavy. Thank God for air conditioning, it makes life in transit much
The welcoming committee
On arrival in Hanburg airport.
From left to right: Kirsten, Elke, Me, Ralf, Evelyn.
more bearable. This time around, transit in hong kong was made slightly more difficult by the peculiarities of airline alliances. During check in at Sydney I was given a boarding pass for the HK-Helsinki flight and then promised that it was quite useless and had to get a new one in hong kong.
Okay... wasn't computerisation meant stop this? It seams that no one told Finnair. I ended up waiting for 1½ hours before the transit desk opened and I got a new boarding pass.
With the new pass in hand I was let into the departure lounge where I had a cappuccino looking over the runway onto the islands in the bay that surrounds the airport.
The second leg of the flight was to Helsinki in an ageing MD-11. Think of air travel 10 years ago and you'll be on the mark. None of this personalised screen business for us! It's the blurry screen at the front and sardine can seats all the way with Finnair, not to mention the lousy service. 10 hours on this flight has reaffirmed Finnair's position as my least favourite of all airlines. The saving grace of this flight was my seat. Somehow
A (North) German Meal
This was the first meal that I had in Germany. It's all a supposedly very North German thing to have. Matjes und Bratkartoffel. I'm also told that Pfifferlinge were involved.
my request for a tall person friendly seat got through and I was put in a row behind a toilet which only covered 2 of the 3 seats. This left my legs dangling pleasantly in the void of the newly widened aisle.
Eventually I arrived in Helsinki and was presented with the first opportunity to use my shiny new EU passport. I skipped line quickly growing at the gate for all nationalities and looking as German as possible approached the very empty EU only gate and was whisked through with a welcome home sir. I'm loving dual citizenship right now. I had a quick wander around the terminal before realising that it's the same as every other terminal in the world... alcohol and cigarettes in duty free shops and overpriced food and drink.
For the final leg, I hopped on a flight to Hamburg, my final destination. At only 2 hours long and ½ full it was a pleasant enough experience. Also, as a result of this flight, it seems to me that I must look somewhat Finnish because the air hostess kept addressing me in Finnish and the guy next to me in English.
Finally I landed in Hamburg and was met by my German relatives with many hugs and champagne. I was taken to a restaurant near where I'll be staying prior to the sailing trip and fed a very
German meal before going to Ralf's house and collapsing in a jet lag induced coma.
You can see the Google maps version of how I got to Europe with Indiana Jones style lines here
At the moment I am staying in a house by an apple orchard near the river Elbe. See where I am in Google maps.
Also, as a side note, did anyone know that german computer keyboards have the 'z' and 'y' keys swapped? You have no idea how many times I've written szdnez!
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