Monday, August 10, 2009

Day2 - 11th July 2009

After going early to bed and not sleeping as expected, I got up on time at 5am and took the bus to Heathrow for my 9am flight to Vienna. I travelled with Austrian Airlines and was impressed with the quality of their service. Delicious food and wine was included in the price. A far cry from the Easyjet and Ryanair flights I’m normally used to. If this was the level of quality of the short flight, I hoped for even better on the long haul as I was continuing my journey with them all the way to Beijing. The flight was uneventful and passed reasonably quickly and soon I was sitting in Vienna airport with another eight hours to kill before the flight to China. I was quickly learning that this journey was going to involve a lot of waiting around and doing very little at times.
Vienna airport was a good size but not big enough to spend eight hours in when not eating and drinking. I had been tempted to take a run into central Vienna for a quick look as my bags had been forwarded through from Heathrow direct to Beijing but I decided against it in case I was held up in traffic and started to panic about getting back to the airport in time. Vienna can wait for another trip. I had a light lunch and walked around the airport. That morning I had pulled a muscle in my neck and shoulder lifting my rucksack and was in agony so couldn’t relax. I walked around and around until I knew every shop and every special offer available. Finally the call came out for the Beijing flight and I made my way to the check in. As this was a long haul flight the waiting area was crammed with passengers. I was surprised by how many European faces were on the flight. China is obviously fast becoming a place to visit.
Once on the plane - the biggest I have ever been on, announcements were given in Chinese, German and English. Each seat had a movie screen and the seating was arranged in a 2-3-2 formation across the plane. I had an aisle seat. I sat beside a Chinese lady whom I heard speaking English to the hostess but she declined to speak to me apart from a hello when pushed. I had decided not to have a drink because I knew I would have to go straight out sightseeing as soon as I arrived and didn’t want to have a bad hangover on top of jetlag. However, when offered a free drink I couldn’t resist and had my usual red wine, followed by another and, over the space of a few hours, finally a third. The third one was sharply curtailed though, by the fact that the lady beside me who wouldn’t talk, was forced to ask me to move so she could go to the toilet. As I shifted my blanket and pillow I spilt the whole of the third glass of wine over the blanket and my declaration cards for entry into China. Oh dear, I hoped that the red stain across the card wouldn‘t cause me any problems with the bureaucrats in customs.
I was impressed by the fact that Austrian airlines had an actual chef on board the flight with white hat et al. We had a choice of hot food and service was very attentive. I decided not to have any more to drink because of my pressing schedule and watched a movie. It was possible to watch different channels on the screen and there was also a channel that let you watch the progress of the plane, the temperature, altitude and distance to go etc. This was great for me as I hate to fly at the best of times so an almost 10 hour flight was sheer purgatory. I spent a lot of time watching that screen and urging the plane onwards. With a tailwind we were doing something like 800km an hour over the ground.

1 comment:

TWC said...

The customs officials shouldn't mind - it was RED wine, after all. What, you didn't read a book or three?