This month I’m doing a research trip to Europe for various reasons.
I’ll be spending about one week in each of Germany, Switzerland and the UK.
Here are some impressions of the journey across the world from Adelaide to Frankfurt (via Dubai) on a Qantas/Emirates codeshare.
On the basis that ‘life is short’, I decided I’d try out the pointy end of the plane and see how the Emirates First Class experience works. Its… pretty nice 🙂
Emirates have a night flight direct from Adelaide to Dubai. So at almost 10pm, I found myself settling into the ‘full bling’ Emirates First Class Suite on a Boeing 777-300ER.
The best thing about the pointy end isn’t the bling, or the fine food, or the equally fine wine. It is far more about having a space to yourself, with doors that close off your suite entirely for both privacy and sound isolation, and with a big comfortable flat bed to sleep in. I got about six hours of relatively good sleep on the 13 hour flight to Dubai.
Landing into Dubai at 5.30am is very much akin to flying into the set of Blade Runner. Desert, desert, desert… other-worldly urban metropolis…desert, desert, desert.
The Dubai Emirates terminal is very impressive. Modern and massive. A definite surprise was the vertical layered flight class segregation in the building. Ground floor for shopping and economy terminal entrances. First floor entirely devoted to First Class, with gate access directly from the lounge areas along the full length of the building. Second floor likewise, for Business class customers.
A couple of hours later and its time to board my onward 777-300ER flight to Frankfurt. As big as the terminal is, its not big enough, and the Frankfurt flight was a 15 minute bus ride away at a remote parking spot. The class segregation continues even here, with separate Economy, Business, and First class busses (!)
One nice ritual on Emirates is Arabic Coffee and Dates, served before takeoff. You need to consume them together to get the right effect – with the sweetness of the date balancing the astringency of the coffee. Yes thanks, I’ll have another.
Plenty of time to watch ‘Enders Game’ on the daytime flight to Frankfurt. I liked it. Ok, it wasn’t as good as the book, but it was still a nice celebration of the book in miniature, and I’ll watch (almost) anything with Harrison Ford in it. Now I want to read Enders Game again.
Arriving into Germany reminds me how painless it is to enter the EU compared to the USA. Much less paranoia, almost no lines, and no paperwork (just show your passport and score a quick stamp on a page… and thats it).
I’m definitely not in Kansas any more. The afternoon is temperate and pretty, with a sky full of clouds and the odd light rain shower. The signs and sounds around me are (of course) all in German. I turn on the TV in my hotel room at the airport and get treated to “The Big Bang Theory” overdubbed in German!
Its not too hard to function in this environment, despite the fact that the other other language I speak with any fluency is Perl. Most people I need to interact with are kind enough to demonstrate just how well they speak English… that being one heck of a lot better than I can manage to speak in German.
Frankfurt airport has a lot of shopping facilities. Time to go out and buy a few things I forgot to bring, starting with European power adaptor plugs, followed by a quite decent Sushi bar meal at an Asian Fusion place in the airport departure hall. It even seemed to be reasonably good value until I remembered to convert the 50 Euro meal tab back into Australian Dollars 🙂
The sun is finally going down here on a very, very long day. Tomorrow the first leg of this trip starts in earnest, with a drive out to the Wasserkuppe region – the birthplace of gliding.
Meantime, here are some images from my (very long) travelling day to get here…