My most recent trip...

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by munitalP, Mar 25, 2007.

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  1. munitalP

    munitalP Suspended

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    I have decided to write about my latest work adventure to Sweden - enjoy, hate whatever, feel free to comment - I will post the last installment once back home - I'm presently at the "fly away bar" in T2 Frankfurt - so I have a few hours of flying ahead of me to get the final installment written...

    Happy landings

    Mr!
     

  2. munitalP

    munitalP Suspended

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    Monday 23 March -1600

    As usual with long haul flights, my wife and the trusty old dog dropped me at Tullamarine with the usual undignified fight for a parking space outside the terminal - I win a number of these battles, probably due to the large bull bar on the front of my 05 patrol and my aggressive manner against people who don’t possess indicators in their cars. It surprises me that even 07 model Commodores have been sold without indicators – I would have thought there was a law against this…

    Saying a quick goodbye, I raced into the terminal and joined the First Class check in behind most of the McLaren race team managers – if I was a F1 nut, I would have been in heaven at this point, however all I was concerned with was the economy class line extending to a vanishing point far on the horizon and thinking to myself there was little chance of a blocked seat next to me. My only hope at this point was that a malnourished jockey would be sitting next to me for the flight to Singapore.

    As I handed over my passport, FF Card and paper ticket, I casually asked the wonderful Qantas lady – “what’s the chance of blocking the seat out next to me?” I did feel a certain level of concern for her at this point, no person could laugh that hard without risking some sort of internal hemorrhage. Forcing back the tears, she managed to string a coherent sentence together – “what do you think?” The joys of flying the day after a major international sporting event in town…

    I wandered through immigration pausing only when the line was held up in front of me by a family of 5 with only 4 passports – Murphy’s law at work as the other lines 6 people deep were streaming through like there was a prize to be had on the other side. At this stage I should point out that at some time, most probably a red eye flight out of Perth, I must have passed out due to excessive water intake (I sometimes wish they would leave the water out of Bourbon and Coke to avoid this problem) and a biometric signaling device was surgically implanted in me. This device sets off a small alarm at the desk of the bomb squad Nazis at airports world wide and I am singled out of the crowd for inspection- this is the only plausible explanation I can find for being checked every time I go through security.

    Funnily enough, the bomb squad Nazis (BSN) found no trace of explosives on me or in my trusty old laptop bag and let me pass. The look on the face of my personal BSN said it all though – “We’ll get youse catched if youse carry explodings on them plane. We nose that if youse goes on them holidays every week likes youse fullas do, youse must been up to no good”. I smiled and headed toward the Qantas club with a quick stop at the Virgin book shop to find a riveting novel to keep me amused on the flight. I chose one about a hijacking and eventual crash of a long haul flight…

    Not wanting a repeat of the hysterics at check in, I asked the lovely Qantas lady if there was a chance of blocking the seat next to me on the Singapore to Frankfurt leg of my journey. This was done without a hitch – I was moved from the bulkhead window to the row behind with no one in the middle seat.
    The Qantas club first class lounge was quiet which truly surprised me – there were F1 race team members in every nook and cranny – McLaren, Honda, Toyota – the one team that stood out not being there was Ferrari – maybe after their win the day before, the short hop up to Asia for the next F1 would be done in a G3 or similar – a red one with a horse painted on the tail…

    I enjoyed a preflight drink or two – ice cold Heineken and enjoyed the ambience of the first class lounge…………………………………………..NOT (Borat joke). I shouldn’t complain, it doesn’t cost me anything except my loyalty to Qantas and it is far better than sitting out in the terminal. As a point of interest, I am presently sitting at a restaurant table opposite gate 3A at Arlanda Airport with a view of the nearly fogged in runway – see pictures – and the area is nice with a good view. There are no One World lounges in this part of the airport. I must research why Qantas went One World instead of Star Alliance and punch the person who made that decision in the nose…

    Finally after a half hour delay (due to the late arrival of the outbound flight crew – yeah right) we boarded the aircraft. Just my luck a couple of young blokes the size of front row rugby players were sitting in the other two seats. Oh well, there was only eight or so hours of this so grin and bear the squish Mr! An uneventful flight, the boys next to me were courteous and quiet (nervous - neither had been out of OZ before and were heading to London to start their big OE). The flight crew managed to catch up twenty five minutes of the thirty minutes lost due to the inconsiderate late flight crew (!) and we landed in Singapore nearly on time.

    A quick trot down the travelators took me to the duty free area at Changi, where I stocked up on my favorite deodorant Aramis. At less than quarter of the price of David Jones, it made for good buying. A word of caution for buyers here – be careful of allowances for carrying into Europe – I had to check the aerosol deodorants as luggage in Frankfurt as I was over the new EU limits. If you are tight between flights, you may not get this luxury and end up binning your duty free.

    Armed with a bag of deodorant, a laptop bag trailing behind me and a boarding pass clenched firmly between my teeth, I headed up the escalator and into the Qantas first class lounge for an hour or so of checking emails and winding down after the flight from OZ. A friend mucked about with the power settings on my laptop a while ago and now my wireless internet seems more powerful than a beam from Captain Kirks Phazer Thanks to a wireless network my computer found and connected to (I think it was Malaysian Airlines lounge), I was quickly surfing the net a blinding speeds at no cost to me. I wonder why Qantas doesn’t go wireless in the lounges…

    Fed, watered and relaxed, my flight was called and I wandered at a leisurely pace to my aircraft and boarded immediately. We pushed off on time and headed towards Frankfurt. For the first time in my life, I took a sleeping pill. It worked – it worked good – I awoke about 8 hours after leaving Singapore only due to my iPod headphones needed untangling from around my neck – these are Sennheiser active noise canceling headphones – I don’t know how they compare to the likes of BOSE for quality but these are light and very comfortable – I can lay on my side with the headphones on and not end up with a crook neck and a dead ear – they are also a $150 or so cheaper than the BOSE.
     
  3. munitalP

    munitalP Suspended

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    Tuesday 24th March

    I finished reading the book that I had purchased at Virgin, this is not a book review so I will only say that it sucked and was left in the seat pocket for some other unassuming victim of poor penmanship. A breakfast of mushroom pasta was served an I have to admit that this was comparable in taste to a bucket of good old WA sand – in fact, with a dash of salt and pepper, the sand would have been considerably more tasty not to mention easier to eat. This was for me a new milestone of how bad airline food can get and if not for the laws governing importing food stuffs, I would have sent a sample to my local lab for a complete spectrum analysis with gas chromography thrown in on the side for good measure to try and pertain the levels of nutritional value in this meal. The coffee was ok though…

    After a second attempt at a landing at Frankfurt – the flaps did not fully extend on the first shot, we touched down so soft that except for the spine jarring impact, the de-acceleration G forces trying to force my small intestine out through my mouth and the book about hijacking and the eventual crashing of a long haul flight sprouting wings and flying forward looking for freedom, you would have not even realized we had landed.

    I had to laugh when warned that items in the overhead locked may have moved…

    Ah… Frankfurt – the smoky airport. My connector to Arlanda was an SAS flight and I had 5 hours to kill at the airport. I shot straight away to the Cathay Pacific lounge, presented my Platinum card and asked to use their showers. Again, a big thanks goes out to Cathay Pacific and the hospitality shown. As a mark of respect, I will fly with you next time to Frankfurt – hmmm – maybe I said that last time as well – I do promise I will fly with you sometime though.

    I trained to the other terminal and entered the maze of Frankfurt airport, past the crowds of smoking youths (I have figured that in Germany and Austria, smoking is a national pastime which is encouraged by the governments who are reluctant to abolish smoking from public places) and to the Lufthansa ticket collection area. I presented my paper ticket and was issued a boarding pass for my SAS flight to Sweden. From here I headed to the restaurant bar and enjoyed a good German pilsner while chatting to four young Australian guys on their way to Croatia to paint the inside of a super yacht which they had been involved with building in Korea and Australia. The world has become truly a global working environment and market place.

    After a few more pilsners, I bid my farewells and passed through immigration control and out to my gate lounge where I had to check my duty free purchased in Singapore as hold luggage. I also sat there quietly fuming (I knew the rules so I couldn’t complain too much) as my 1125 bottle of baileys ended up in the bin along with literally hundreds of other bottles of liquids. I would love the contract to empty them bins – yep – Mr! cheap liquor stores sprouting up at an airport near you!

    Another uneventful flight to Arlanda and we parked at the terminal right on time. Arlanda for those who have never been there is the Changi hub of the Scandinavian countries. Airlines abound that seem to only fly north from there such as Viking and from these airlines I would guess that some of the best pilots in the world would be bred. I have landed at Arlanda in the past where snow ploughs were clearing the runway between every three landings or so, from that I can only imagine what the conditions must be like as you enter the artic circle. I am also constantly surprised at Arlanda, while I was there, the boarding for a KL flight was called (Malaysian Airline) – I will be looking seriously at this next time around for me – cutting out Frankfurt or London has to be a bonus…

    I stood at the luggage carousel slightly worse for wear, cold and jet lagged and developing a hangover from the Frankfurt pilsners but couldn’t help a smile from ear to ear as my Samsonite case arrived there in front of me. The wonders of modern jet travel never cease to amaze me – how did my bag know where I was going – truly a miracle – truly fantastic – oh gods I need some sleep…

    With a hop, skip and a jump – well to be honest a slothy meander to the train station, I boarded the X2000 high speed train for a couple of hours with a change of trains that took me to my final destination Ludvika. Sweden had received a “spring dusting” of snow two days earlier – a good 200mm! Ski fields in OZ can only dream of these types of snow falls but in typical Swedish manor, it was taken in stride and basically ignored. I found it hard to ignore the -5 degree temperatures however in saying that, springtime snow in Sweden is beautiful – see pictures.

    After settling into my hotel – I had been upgraded to a suite – I made a serious dent in the water levels in the local storage facilities by standing under a scolding shower for what seemed like hours. It is extraordinarily difficult to dry yourself when your skin has become part prune – who cares I thought, got dressed and headed out in search if the stable food group – McDonalds. A special thanks must go out to the special Swedish gal who listened to me stumble through the few words of Swedish I know then watched me hand signal and speak in the slooooooow English we all speak when trying to explain something to a foreign speaking person. I finally placed my order, smiled at her and she asked me (with a strong Melbourne accent) what part of Australia I was from. Well, what else could I do, I carried on with my speech impediment pretending that everything was perfectly normal and told her complete lies (incase she ever bumped into me somewhere – I could pass it all off as being my twin brother) and told her I was from Brisbane. I proceeded to leave Mackers as fast as I could and didn’t look back…

    The McDonalds would have been good if eaten warm…

    Ahhh sleep at last – forgot to turn off my phone – darn customers kept me awake nearly all night – turn the phone off – who needs an alarm anyway…. zzzzzzzz
     
  4. munitalP

    munitalP Suspended

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    Wednesday 25th

    Thank you Mr. Samsung! Inventing a phone where the alarm works even when the phone is turned off is awesome! Ok, maybe not that exciting but all the same, I managed to make my first meeting on time and somewhat refreshed albeit that it only lasted an hour or so before the lack of sleep over the last few days started catching up. I spied a coffee machine, called time out and tried in earnest to overdose on caffeine. It worked and I spent a productive day in meetings, at the coffee machine and in the loo.

    Ah, Sweden, a land of Reindeer, Elk, Saab’s and funny pink sauce applied to all dishes.

    I love Sweden, and just quietly, the cold isn’t too bad either – it is refreshing and reminds me how lucky I am to live in a dry arid land with no water, no lakes and very few un-burnt trees… hmmm….?

    A quiet night ahead, the local restaurants amuse me, a Thai restaurant operated by a Chinese couple, a Sushi bar operated by a Thai couple, a Chinese restaurant operated by a Swedish man and McDonalds served by an Aussie Gal… something does not add up however, I will not ponder too long. I eventually decided on a 6 pack of 3.5% Carlsberg and some delights found in the local supermarket for dinner and an early night to bed.

    Phone turned off, I think I was asleep by 2030 hrs.
     
  5. munitalP

    munitalP Suspended

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    Thursday 25th

    3am. OK, going to sleep that early was not a good idea. I spent the next 3 hours catching up with emails and reading the news from home. 6 am I wandered down for a typical Scandinavian breakfast of cold cuts (including horse salami – which I didn’t eat) and boiled eggs and headed off for another day of meetings. I was fortunate that the coffee machine had been restocked overnight and I managed another slightly shorter day than the one before. I got dropped at the train station and caught a train to a town north called Borlange then connected on the X2000 again for another fast trip back to Arlanda.

    The X2000 is a modern marvel. We need these in Australia – in Europe it is known as an I.C.E and it is fast. Because I was traveling first class, I was fed (a good heavy snack- not quite a full meal) and had free wireless broadband access – not to mention a power point to keep trusty COMPAC charged (can’t complain, it weighs 1.7kg and I get 3.5 hours of battery life). When traveling in a train that fast, it takes a while to start focusing quite a distance from the carriage – I can understand why people get ill on these beasts. I cannot speak high enough of the quality of the Swedish rail travel (the ICE from Austria to Frankfurt isn’t too shabby either) and (Connex Australia take note) they are always on time! The only complaint I would have is the cost – on the way it cost me 850SEK, the way back 450SEK – the difference being that the return fare was booked over the internet initially – then the site wouldn’t accept a non Swedish credit card (except Diners which I don’t have) so my Swedish host and I raced to the local station and paid over the counter at the same cost. Local knowledge.
     
  6. munitalP

    munitalP Suspended

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    Friday 26th

    I checked into the Ibis at Arlanda, a small but nice room and proceeded to drink the bar dry of Heineken while talking to a NATO communications technician – interesting guy with some extraordinary stories.

    Up early again, same routine as the previous night only this time I was aghast to read about the carnage in the Burnley tunnel in Melbourne. My heart goes out to the poor souls who lost their lives due to in my opinion out of control truck drivers in this country – I believe they should be banned from all major arterials during peak hours and limited to 80km per hour with a guaranteed lost of license if caught exceeding that. All freeways should be treated the same as the Autobahns in Germany and trucks get 1 lane and 1 lane only – no passing and no speeding.

    I had intended to spend most of the day in Stockholm, but a meeting was canned so I trotted over to the terminal and got on the next flight to Frankfurt. This was a Lufthansa flight and was very pleasant. Germany was experiencing a cold snap as we flew over, the occasional break in the clouds revealed a snow covered land – beautiful. We spent a considerable amount of time just above the cloud cover – as crossing I guess Hanover, I saw a 747 break through the clouds off to the right of our flight path – awesome sight and later on before final descent into Frankfurt, a number of other planes also just above the clouds. Seeing other aircraft is nothing new, and I’m sure there will be a few who read this who think “so what”, but the sun, the cloud and the general feeling of well being made these moments some that I will always remember.

    Immediately on landing we had an A380 on the taxi way next to us which also needed to cross in front of out plane when we were on the taxi way. That is one big plane – that’s all I can say…

    I grabbed a cab at Frankfurt and headed towards the city to my hotel. Smoking cab drivers – I’m glad of our laws in Australia ban this. My hotel, just near the Frankfurt main station was nice – a 4.5 star joint, with a nice bar (it was till it filled up with inconsiderate people blowing smoke into my face) and nice, functional rooms. Germany – you need to catch up with the rest of the world and get non smoking policy in place! My friend from Sydney arrived at the hotel direct off the I.C.E and we immediately headed out to the old town in search of a nice restaurant. A meal, a few drinks, a stroll along the banks of the river Mine, a cab back to the hotel and we bid farewell 11pm (ish), both of us needing a good nights sleep. That was not to be, a bunch of locals decided the area across from the hotel was a good spot to have a party and by 3am, I was checking email again…
     
  7. Keith009

    Keith009 Established Member

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    Thanks, munitalP for the very detailed and amusing trip report!
     
  8. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

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    Nice start.

    The trick to avoiding the explosive test is to be sure not to be passing right when they finish with the previous person (or not the first person through if they have just returned from a break or otherwise unoccupied). Amazing how I usually collect my stuff up in a well practised swoop with barely a pause, while sometimes I find myself stopping and fiddling getting my stuff back together in the right pockets ;)

    That is surprising. The MH lounge at SIN is quite a distance away in the other main terminal.
     
  9. Don't go sitting it on your lap while you use it, then...:shock:
     
  10. BlacKnox

    BlacKnox Active Member

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    Very enjoyable - looking forward to the pictures...
     
  11. munitalP

    munitalP Suspended

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    #11 munitalP, Mar 26, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2007
    Saturday 24th - the final installment

    OK, I’m tired, I fly for home tonight, Qantas have only upgraded my SIN/MEL leg according to the internet and its raining and cold in Frankfurt – what am I going to do…
    My friend from Sydney and I both checked out of the hotel, both complaining about the party goers from the night before and both commenting on the likelihood of snow in Frankfurt. He had an early flight to Vienna, so I decided to leave my luggage at the airport and beat the feet around Frankfurt for the day. After a few Euro and a train initially

    I bought a reindeer skin at Arlanda and I had to sacrifice something (other than the reindeer) for it to fit in my suitcase. I had two jackets with me, an Italian hand made “bluey” type coat vs. a beige coloured rain coat with fox fur around the hood – believe it or not, a hard decision to make concerning which one was being donated to the room cleaners…

    The pros and cons:

    Italian hand made coat – expensive, warm and wife will kill me if donated to the room cleaners

    Beige rain coat with fox fur – expensive, warm and there’s an animal rights protest march in Frankfurt today which this coat is sure to attract some attention…

    Ok, I know the Cro-Magnon man in all of us would have loved to be seen at the march in the beige rain coat, but the thought of the wrath of 1000 crazed animal supports vs. my wife – no contest. I hope my room cleaner appreciates the rain coat and the fox didn’t die in vain…

    My friend was flying business class Lufthansa, so the progression through the 1000’s of people lining up for flights was reasonably fast and painless, the pain didn’t begin until I bought morning tea – a coke, a bottled water and a green tea - €16.30.

    Bidding farewell, I grabbed an all day all transport ticket- approx €8.50 and headed back to main where I tried to map out the rest of my day. Frankfurt – a cocktail of old and new, of slum and ritz, of out of control animal rights activists and some old bloke in a beige rain coat with a fox fur collar… Before someone gets into me about animal rights, I firmly believe in treating animals with respect and kindness however that does not stop me enjoying a 500 gram eye fillet or wearing leather shoes.

    I traveled Frankfurt by foot for hours pausing only to rehydrate, warm up or change lenses on my camera. I finally succumbed to fatigue and the need for a cold beer and by means of a cab and a train, found myself back at the airport by about 6pm, luggage in hand enjoying a meal of Frankfurters and Becks.

    About 8pm, I checked my luggage and again made a Bee line for the Cathay Pacific lounge. Entertaining for the first 30 seconds would be how I would describe the nut at the security check. Signs everywhere explaining the amount of liquid allowed to be taken through security and onto planes – yet he chose to argue. And argue. And argue to a point where while waiting to have my luggage X Rayed, I lost the plot with him – I am normally a docile well reasonably docile person, but this man made me crazy. I shouted at him to hurry up, it was only a bottle of water and get the ^&*% out of the security area and let the others through! He chose to ignore me and still carried on. This guy had balls of steel – in case he hadn’t noticed, the security people were packing 9mm terrorist stoppers and weren’t impressed.

    Finally I managed to get through and find my way into the First Class Area to the left of the CP lounge and relaxed for I guess about 30 seconds. You guessed it – Mr. Water man was in the QP next door telling everyone about the water – whether they wanted to hear it or not.

    This man was a menace, and as I was beginning to stress even further with him, the flight was called and I headed to the aircraft. I was seated 27A – that mongrel was 28C – I’m not joking! During the safety brief, he carried on about the plane crashing and no one would live so what was the point, he carried on about the water and was generally an obnoxious mongrel of a man. If you are reading this Mr. Herbal Doctor – you know exactly who I am – that’s right, I’m the one who offered to go and have a quiet chat with you in the toilet if you weren’t prepared to shut up for the sake of everyone on that flight! (and I recon there were at least 6 other blokes who would have drawn numbers for that privilege)

    There, I’m over it, I’m calm, that’s it, I’m settled…

    Right, Frankfurt / Singapore – I took a pill, slept for 8 or so hours, didn’t watch a movie, read part of a new book I bought and drank the water stocks dry (too many pre flight Becks and sleeping pill combination I would say).

    Singapore, went into the first class lounge, connected to the internet with my extreme III Pazer assisted wireless internet – as a correction from previous, Emirates are the kind suppliers of this service – noted that a certain member of the FF regular contributors is taking a 380 for a fly (i'm not sure if it is the sports pack or not - Mitsibushi make quite nice cars now...)– checked my email, had a quick shower (love the multi heads), more water, a quick stop at the Perfume Connection to pick up Mrs! Order and up to the top deck for my upgraded flight back to Melbourne

    A long week. See some of my pics at http://www.munitalp.bigblog.com.au
     
  12. serfty

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    #12 serfty, Mar 26, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2007
    Nice entertaining report; those dates & days? Did you travel this week as they are getting me confused> IIRC, today is Monday 26th March?

     
  13. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

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    Posts 2, 3 & 4 are from 1998, posts 5 & 6 are from 2005, post 11 from 2006?
     
  14. munitalP

    munitalP Suspended

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    LOL, thanks for that - it should read:

    Mon 19th through to Saturday 24th

    Brain fade on my part - when I first started writing this I had MS Project open and was programming work for the next 12 months - I must have transposed dates - not to worry - yup, it all happened in the last week :oops:
     
  15. simongr

    simongr Enthusiast

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    Great report Muntial - glad I am not the only one with a crazy schedule :)

    You know anyone reading all these trip reports are just going to think that frequent flyers are a bunch of booze hounds.... :) :oops:
     
  16. munitalP

    munitalP Suspended

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    We are arn't we? I thought it was a required condition to have...

    :)
     
  17. straitman

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    Gad, the game is up and the truth is out :!:
     
  18. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

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    Nice trip report munitalP.

    Very amusing and I must have missed reading it when you posted it back in March.
     
  19. munitalP

    munitalP Suspended

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    LOL, thanks - I enjoy seeing the funnier side of life - I've just got back from 2 days in ROK - its been quite funny - I might write another report

    happy landings
     
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