Europe 2012 – First Post

Europe 2012

Sunday 10th June

Sydney
Chinese Laundry was so bad, that I gave up on Chris Liebing after 1.5 hours, and actually managed to get a decent nights’ sleep for once before a flight.

5 minutes after I woke up, I heard a bang coming from the fish tank. Edward the orange fantail goldfish had sucked on a rock way too big for him, and crashed into the side of the tank. I quickly yelled for Dave, who promptly came to the rescue. Thanks to a combination of skill and tweezers, Edward was now able to live for at least a little longer. Thankfully, no dead goldfish on the day I was to leave.

Lots of the usual last minute pre-flight hassles. Continuous repacking, Phillip & Alannah turning up on time when I wasn’t quite ready, friends trying to call me whilst I was getting ready, and an accident (thankfully not us) close to the international terminal.

Check in was simple. Saying bye was hard. Gonna miss everyone, especially Davo. I’ve never gone for two whole months before.

Thanks to Phillip & Alannah for driving us. Was quite a good way of keeping everyone in a good mood, by hassling the sh*t out of me!

Realised when I finished saying goodbye that I wasn’t going to have time to see Cat before her flight to Hong Kong. Which would have been great, but I got to her terminal just in time to see her flight leave!

Customs was fine, getting my tax back was excellent (they are always nice to me in there) and grabbed some Aussie food stuffs for some friends (hope they appreciate the hell of carrying all this!).

Went to Godiva for my Dark Chocolate Raspberry milk drink. They gave me white chocolate instead. ARGH. I asked her why she had made that for me, and she couldn’t believe I wanted a dark one. Seemed there was no point arguing. Tried one sip, and it went in the bin ☹ At least I got a few of my favourite little choccies for the plane.

Flight to Singapore

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ222. A380. One of the ones that doesn’t have any economy in the upper deck. So decided to get a middle row where they only have 3 seats, and I was on the aisle. Nobody in the seat next to me (YAY!) and nice French lady in the other seat.

Asked for a gluten free meal. Got served first (woohoo!!!). Couldn’t sleep as was too excited. Watched:

Breathless (German movie set in Vienna). Great movie about a boy who is coming to terms with the guilt of killing someone at 14, and who seems determined to make his life quite difficult as a result. Was really impressed with it.

This Means War. Please don’t blame me. Only watched it because Tom Hardy is in it. Truly a piece of execrable cinema. So many bad plot lines. Didn’t seem to make any sense at all. Don’t waste your time. Worst acting I’ve ever seen Tom Hardy do.

Untouchable (French film set in Paris). Recommended by lovely French lady near me. Had me laughing and crying at the same time. Really really excellent film about a paralysed man and his assister. Wasn’t keen at first as I didn’t want a miserable film. But it wasn’t miserable at all. Apparently the actor who played the assister won a French film award for it. Not surprised really. Based on a true story too.

So the first flight was only (ONLY) 8 hours long, so this took up most of my time.

Great flight though. No major turbulence. Only one screaming sh1t head child. Most of which was blocked out by my noise cancelling headphones.

Singapore

Arrived at Terminal 3 to find out my plane to Frankfurt had been delayed. Which really made me regret not getting some sleep on the plane. By the time we left Singapore, it was past 3.30am Sydney time.

Took me a while to realize that I was suffering from a bit of sleep deprivation. Wandered aimlessly around the airport for ages. Had trouble finding anything.

The typical yum cha place I like seemed to have disappeared. I asked at information, but they seemed to think it was in Terminal 2. But I eventually found the area I was looking for in Terminal 2, and the place had changed. No more cranky older Singaporean lady. All new place, and lots less choice. Had some dumplings and some glutinous rice, but it wasn’t really satisfying.

Found my way to the transit lounge. $35 Singapore Dollars to stay there for 5 hours and use most of the facilities. It was and extra $20 Singapore Dollars to be able to nap there! Had a shower and started feeling more human again, as the humidity was getting to me, even inside the terminal. I think that airport is always tropical! Sat in the lounge and charged up the laptop and phone, and chatted a bit with Davo on Facebook. The free food wasn’t worth it, so I didn’t bother. Bloody hungry by the time I arrived at the plane.

Got distracted again and went the wrong way when going to my gate. Note to Seb: I did look for that spread that you wanted but couldn’t see it anywhere. This wasn’t helped by me being possibly late!

I like Singapore Airport mostly for it’s quiet and ease of transferring. But I don’t like having to go through a gate where there are no opportunities to buy water before boarding. Nearly every time I get a flight from Singapore, I get dehydrated by the time I arrive at my next destination. Unfortunately, I got one of those gates this time.

Flight to Frankfurt

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ26. A380. Upper deck exit row seat near the window this time. Yay! Lady next to me doesn’t say boo the whole flight.

I’ve worked out not to get the seat 71A next time as it’s very close to the flight attendant button. Works out you can get woken up every few minutes. And there’s no chance of getting a spare seat to lie across, as everyone wants exit row.

Used my brain and decided to not open up the entertainment system, and see if I could get some rest. I tend to have a terrible time sleeping on planes, most of the time waking suddenly and wondering where the f*&k I am. But I was ok this time. Managed to sleep for almost 8 hours, only waking up when the attendant button went off, and mostly going straight back to sleep.

At about 5.30am Frankfurt time, I couldn’t sleep anymore.

Watched “Wish You Were Here” (Australian Movie set in Sydney and Vietnam). I’ve been wanting to watch this for ages, and couldn’t convince a single person to see it with me. Glad I saw it now. Was much better than I expected for most of the movie. The ending seemed really rushed, so that was a bit of a let down. I’d recommend it to anyone though. Didn’t seem to be a typical Aussie movie storyline.

Another great flight with little turbulence. Very attentive staff, who seemed weirded out when I wanted to go for a stretch. Actually, I was more weirded out by not seeing anyone stretch in economy for that flight. It WAS 12.5 hours!!!

Frankfurt

Landed at 7.37am to a crisp 13 degrees celcius (hello German summer!!!). 10 minutes of taxi-ing to the gate.

Usually when I arrive at Frankfurt, there’s about 2 people who don’t have EU passports, so I get through very quickly, with the customs staff barely saying a word.

This time, there were enormous queues. Most planes I get to Frankfurt arrive at around 6am, so our late arrival meant a lot more people around than usual. But it got quite strange. At one point, the immigration stopped processing people. Wasn’t just in my queue. Didn’t know what the reason was – computer error, maybe? So I stood in the queue for at least 20 minutes. Still wasn’t as bad as Sydney or Heathrow, but I was concerned that Iris waiting for me.

And then the immigration staff decided to have a bit of a chat with me! Never seen this happen before. They both seemed to be in quite a good mood. They commented to each other in German on me being Australian, and I concurred. Then they asked me where I was going – Berlin! And then they wanted to know how long I was staying in Europe – 2 months. That had them laughing and complaining. He couldn’t believe I had 2 months holiday. Then he asked if I was a pensioner!!!!!! Lol. Then he looked again and said, no, too young. Continued to complain about the length of my holiday, and stamped my passport.

Considering I’ve never heard one of the immigration guys in Frankfurt say barely “boo” before, this was entertaining.

My lovely new – and now scratched – Cosmolite bag was waiting for me, and then it was out to see Iris.

Iris was patiently waiting for me outside the gates. It was so lovely to see her. We took the S bahn to Frankfurt Main Hauptbahnhof, got my Eurail pass stamped, and then had morning tea together.

Morning tea yeah! Mint tea and a chocolate croissant. Always a great way to greet Frankfurt. We had a great chat (I talked way too much as usual). Was excellent of her to meet me and take me to my train too. I rarely get greeted at airports by friends or family anymore. It’s a nice change!

On the way from Flughafen to Hauptbahnhof, Iris pointed out a new massive building under construction. It seems that it will be of an unusual construction.

Hauptbahnhof is still pretty much the same, although I hadn’t seen the place we ate in before. Damn, I forgot to grab some fruit on the way out. Will have to wait until Berlin.

Iris saw me off at the platform. Thanks Iris. Greetings again to Dirk. Tschuss ☺

Train to Berlin

I’m now sitting on the 10.13 am ICE ???? to Berlin Ostbahnhof, in a first class compartment, across from a lady and 4 free seats. The lady speaks English, but I’m having a really hard time figuring out where she is from.

So far, all I’ve done is type this. It’s taken me about an hour to type all this as I’m slow and wordy. Starting to feel a little jetlagged. The journey time is about 4 hours, so I will try and sleep for a little while, then go find the food wagon. Maybe I’ll figure out what I’m going to do in Berlin and Madrid. Then I might nap some more.

Looking forward to settling into my apartment in Berlin. A real shower and a real bed. Yeah ☺

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joanne

I like lots of things, passionately. Apart from my friends and family, travel, music, art, books, movies and food, are what I'm most passionate about. Those who know me will probably think "Berlin, Berlin, Berlin, Surgeon, Regis, Duran Duran, Renoir, Monet, Jeffrey Smart, Jane Austen, Bernard Schlink, Chuck Palahniuk, The Bourne Trilogy, Garden State, Atonement, Chocolate, Frangelico, Sashimi, and more chocolate".