30 December 2008

The Lure of a Nap

All night flights are the bane of everyones existence, yet a necessary evil for all. Passengers take them to get where they need to go and arrive at the start of the business day, we as crew generally fly one per 'trip' if we fly international routes.  Trying to stay awake during the 'red eye' portion of your trip can be challenging indeed.

Being based in Europe, often my work day for the flight home starts anywhere between 11 pm and 4 am on my body clock time. The ride to the airport is usually the time your head is starting to get heavy and your eyes a bit sore. A quick catnap on the crew bus and/or a coffee at the ubiquitous airport Starbucks will usually perk a crew member up for a few hours. The rush of the dinner service will keep you awake, as you have to be quick as the passengers want to get a few hours of sleep in. 

When the service is done, you turn the lights down, sometimes warm the cabin a bit to aid the passengers sleep, and see them snuggle off as best they can. The only light in the cabin is a random reading light or the glow of a laptop or two.  Window shades are down to keep out the impending sunrise and the crew speaks in hushed voices in the cabin. Most of know how difficult it is to get some sleep (particularly in economy) and try not to wake you too often.

What makes for a sleep inducing cabin for passengers starts to make life hell for a crew member trying to stay awake. Breaks are not given on all flights, some carriers give none , the one I work for , breaks are dependant on flight time and how full the cabin is.  My flight last night was one of no break. I had landed in Washington at 445 am in the morning, and was due to work that evening to London. The rest of the crew had arrived the evening before. 

Flights with no break mean certain behaviors will kick in. Magazines, puzzles and paperbacks will be dug our of our bags, and shared liberally. it is not uncommon for a magazine to be passed among an entire dozen member crew during the 'between' hours. Coffee and/or tea will be drunk continuously. Seats will be created in galleys, the jumpseats near doors usually have a strong draft near them, and passengers usually linger chatting or waiting for the toilets near the others. Galley containers are pulled down and made into seats, if we can scrounge up a spare blanket it will be perched on top. Some have perfected a way to flip the container so that it opens near the floor heaters and they in effect have a heated seat.  Scarves and suit jackets come out to fight off the chill of sleepiness. Some will lean against turned on ovens to warm up, others make hot water bottles out of empty Evian size bottles to warm up.

Brave crew will sneak into empty passenger seats to read a magazine in comfort, or visit the cockpit where it is bright and the pilots are starved for conversation to keep them awake and alleviate boredom. After the initial comfort of our 'nests' wear off, the lure of a nap beckons. Some will pull a pillow and blanket into the lavs and get a minute or two of shut eye, some have crawled into the closets to close their eyes for a moment. Others get a nap in spite of themselves. I have seen people fall off galley containers and have their heads hit an oven as they keel over. Some I have heard snoring with a book in their laps. That is when the next pot of tea or coffee is made. Watches will be checked incessantly, eagerly awaiting the breakfast service service, in order to have something to do. Hair styles will be made over, relationships critiqued and layover purchases analyzed all while fighting the naps lure.

Soon enough ( not really) we will feed the passengers breakfast while wiping the sleep out of our eyes. More coffee and tea is drank, we will land  and make our way home.  We will all shower and crawl into bead as everyone else starts their day.....and finally give in to the lure of the nap.


29 December 2008

What Is That Smell?

I should be in London right now, sleeping after a flight from Chicago to London Heathrow. Instead I write from a hotel room in suburban Chantilly, Virginia, near Dulles airport. Why is that? Where to begin...

Our flight was on the dreaded plane we knew had diverted a few weeks ago to Montreal, Canada, due to an engine problem. We were briefed before the flight that the crew on the inbound flight had smelled an electrical acrid odor and the galley power in economy was shut off. The mechanics do take things like this VERY seriously and were up in the crawl space, looking for sources of burning, worn wire, etc when it was in Chicago. They tore everything apart but found nothing. So lucky crew that we were, got the plane for our flight to London. A few hours into the flight, the burning smell came back. Cockpit took it VERY seriously, memories of Swissair in their minds. So were were supposed to divert to Boston. Then it was changed to Dulles, then back to Boston. Then...finally Dulles.

So there was several hours of flying with no lights (except the assorted emergency ones), no films, no electric seat recline and most importantly for a sleepy crew, no coffee. Putting every business and first class seat into bed mode manually and back again before landing wrecked our knees! 

At long last, or 445 am, we landed in DC. Thankfully the ground staff had scheduled a new aircraft and crew to take the passengers onwards , while we headed to the hotel. The Krispy Kreme doughnuts were most appreciated Holiday Inn!! 

Now back to work, flying home tonight....By the way 34D, not cool to call the lady sitting  in front of you a lard ass, have a little class please!!

28 December 2008

Dear 33B

I do appreciate good hygiene as much as the next person, but brushing your teeth WHILE sitting in your seat, with a stranger sitting next to you, is NEVER appropriate. The toilets were vacant, and no cart was blocking your access. BAD MANNERS!!

26 December 2008


We have all been waiting at the baggage carousel after a flight, waiting for our black rollaboard bag to pop into view. Suddenly it appears in the distance, you get ready for it to come to you when BAM, some traveller with poor eyesight starts to take your bag off the carousel. You have to race over and claim it as your own, usually as their bag comes into view, and is always a different color or vastly different size than the one they tried to take.

You can buy large brightly colored bag tags, but those can come off. Bin Hog has solved that problem by creating tags that wrap around the handle. Hopefully it will slow down the blind bag grabbers that try to take your luggage as theirs. At under $10, they seem a cheap way to keep others mitts off your bags. If you have any Navy or marines in your life, those tags are on sale as I write!! The company is run by a flight attendant, and if that isn't enough, she donates a portion of all sales to TAPS, which is the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which is a support group for those grieving the death of a loved one that was killed while serving in the armed forces.

22 December 2008

Overheard in Economy

Purser: Sir, the economy toilets are located behind you, these toilets are for business class.
Passenger: People have been coming up here the whole flight and using them!! Why didn't you say anything to them?
Purser:Sir, do you ever go fishing?
Purser:Do you catch all the fish?

05 December 2008

Computer Says No

Sorry for the total lack of postings. My laptop is being repaired yet again. if it were human it would have a Do Not Resuscitate order on it. As soon as it is up and running, I will be back with photos and posts. I am realizing being without a laptop how very addicted to email I have become!!

06 November 2008

Dear 32AB


If I could smack your collective heads together, I would.... Where to begin.....32A, we found you an alternative seat on a completely full flight because you were so crappy about being sat near a sick child. Getting someone to move closer to a vomiting tyke is no small feat, I assure you. This is akin to correcting the financial crisis that is unfolding in its impressiveness. You were ballsy enough to complain, somewhat forcefully, yet when the man in the aisle seat told you that he would NOT move to let you go to the toilet, you sat there. Why is it you can bark at a female crew member yet let a small man cower you into staying in your seat when you had to pee??

32B, you are not the border control to the aisle. If someone asks to get out of their seat, they are really politely TELLING you they are getting out. No is not really an acceptable answer. You are LUCKY I did not know this was going down. You are already being punished, being married to mother of the aforementioned barfing child, all she does is stare and make her sister clean up your child ( yes it was fun for me too, cleaning up when he also became incontinent, while the mother still stared). But seriously, MOVE when people need to go to the toilet for God's sake.

03 November 2008

The Most Senior of Them All

At our airline, we are all on a seniority list, arranged by how long we have been flying, and choose our flights based on how far up the list we are. We have over 10,000 flight crew, and those in the top 999 are called 'area codes', those in the top 99 often called 'country codes' (not always affectionately).

Recently I flew with the number one flight attendant in out company. Ron Akana began flying in 1949. Yes, you read that correctly. nearly 60 years of flying and I have to say he works circles around most crew that were born after 1949. He is a total old school steward,I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to have flown with him. Ron kindly allowed me to ask him some questions about his career, he mailed me 4 pages of longhand answers to my questions. Here is Rons story in a tiny nutshell, the more I learn, the more I want him to write a book!!

How did you begin your career at our airline and what were you doing prior to flying?

In 1949 I was in my third year at the University of Hawaii,the president of XXX airlines, Pat Patterson had just bought 8 Boeing Stratocruisers. These were 4 propellor enging double deckers that seated 55 passengers on day flights, 52 at night. 4 berths were made up forward of the rest rooms.

A spiral staircase took you to a very plush lounge downstairs that held 14 passengers.

We were still 10 years before the jet age and coach fares were years away. Every seat was first class ( no movies).

Our president Pat Patterson had been born and raised in Hawaii and wanted 8 Hawaiian stewards to represent each of the eight main islands.

An ad was put in the papers and I along with 400 applicants applied for the 8 positions. To have been born and raised there, 2500 miles from any continent, would make you realize the great opportunity this job presented. It was exciting.

What has been your favorite aircraft to work and why?

The aircraft most pleasant to work and exciting to fly was and still is the Boeing 747. The first 747 had 3 lounges, 1 upstairs above first class that sat 6 with a table and a bar. The 2nd lounge was for first class and took up what is now business class. The 3rd lounge was a huge one for economy class between doors 3 and 4.

Movies were just being introduced in 1972.

What was your training like?

Our training consisted of 1 week inflight service all in the new Boeing Stratocruisers in HNL (Honolulu). Our instructor Lynn didn't know anything about the facilities onboard. She was a great gal and we all learned it together.

Our second week of training was emergency training at the Coast Guard station at the San Francisco, California airport.

By January 1st we were assigned to start the innagural HNL-SFO and SFO-HNL flights. 3 flight attendants on each, a first stewardess, a second stewardess who had to be a nurse and a steward.

The fun thing about training was that none of us knew anything about the plane. Our instructor was an expert in inflight services. The flight was 9 hours and 15 minutes. No movies. There was a hot meal service, then a beautiful seafood/cold cut/cheese/fruit and salad second meal service.

What were your layovers like then?

Our layovers were at the Ben Franklin Hotel in San Mateo, California for 4 days. We had club hose passes at two race tracks ( horses) and the use of a car. Great socializing on layovers in the peninsula.

What are some of your more memorable flights? Any celebs onboard?

The greatest celebrity trip was the cast of From Here to Eternity. Burt lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Montgomery Clift and Deborah Kerr.

Other celebrities were Bing Crosby and a planeload of top PGA golfers. Red Skelton, Sammy Davis, Susan Hayward, Ray Millan, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and Elvis.

Is there anything special you always pack in your crew bag?

I always packed a suit sports coat and dress shoes besides casualy. Going out was always coat and tie dress.

This has been a great and wonderful life. My wife and I were the first flight attendants married ( 45 years now) and my daughter the first flight attendant born from flight attendants ( she is based 19 years now in denver).I put my son and daughter thru mainland colleges, and I have 5 grandchildren who have travelled extensively.

22 October 2008

More Evenings With Celebs

After reading the 40 questions answered, an anonymous poster asked for more celeb stories. I was going to have to scratch my brain when on my flight from London to Los Angeles there sat Zac Effron and Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical (in First class of course). They were in London for the premiere of HSM3. I haven't seen HSM or HSM2, but read enough gossip mags to know who these 2 were. Sweet as pie and honest to goodness in lone. I had read that she was a 'beard' for him, but their body language indicated otherwise. What was sad was seeing the WALL of paparazzi meeting them in LA. They hung around in customs until their limo was there, put on hats, glasses and dashed out but still there were screams and recognition. Sort of sad to have to live like that.

Anonymous, here are 2 more older stories for you.

Cher- I had her on flights from LAX to London and back a day later. When she got on the return flight and recognized some of us she whispered to one girl "I am so embarrassed I have on the same outfit you saw me in the other day!" to which the crew member replies, "Don't worry, so do we!" A really class act able to laugh at herself, she adores the concierges that work for the airlines that take care of her, they think the world of her.

Elaine Krakowski and Camryn Mannheim- back when they had newly popular shows several years ago (the Practice and Ally McBeal) they treated themselves to First Class seats on a trip to Paris. They could not have been more appreciative and down to earth. It is always nice to see someones first time in the 'big seats' even more so when you sort of recognize them.

28 September 2008

A Small Observation

People (lets be honest...men) that walk around the city of London in jesters hats are rarely if ever sober. Boys, its not Mardi Gras, you are not travelling minstrels, but damn are you all drunk. Why???

25 September 2008

The 40 Questions Answered

Recently a few bloggers like Melissa and Traytable have posted answers to 40 of the most common questions non airline people ask about our job. In the spirit of sharing, here are my answers.

1.Which airline is lucky enough to employ you? The one that loves George Gershwin. If you are clever, you can scroll down and see a photo of one of our planes.

2.What city(ies) are you based in? London baby. Specifically I fly out of Heathrow.

3.If you could choose any city, what would be your dream base? Tough to narrow down. For living in I would choose Paris, Cape Town or Auckland. Wait, add Tokyo to that list, and Hong Kong.

4.How long would you like to be based there? One year at a minimum. Maybe forever...

5.Have you ever done the nasty with a passenger you met on a plane? I plead the fifth on that one. I am not one to self incriminate!

6.Have you ever wanted to? Of course!

7.What is your favorite city thus far to layover in? Tokyo, Rome, Rio and New York.

8.Have you had famous people as passengers? Yes, you can read about the 10 celebrities I have spent the night with .

9.If so, who was your favorite? Gary Oldman.

10.Who was your least favorite? George Michael, great music but a true a&%hole.

11.Who would you love to have on your flight? Gary Oldman, or former president Jimmy Carter, for entirely different reasons.

12.Are you a language speaker for your airline? My current base does not have language trips, but I speak German and French. If or when I transfer back to the States, flying those trips is the only way to currently guarantee international flying.

13.What is your least favorite flight to work? One that has suffered a bad mechanical or weather delay, especially if it involves an aircraft change.

14.Do you have a flight you actually enjoy working? Truly, I do not mind any flight but i will say that those passengers that fly to Denver are kinder and gentler passengers and a little less precious than those flying to Los Angeles.

15.Have you ever done the nasty with a crew member? Only one I was dating at the time. Or something like that.

16.What do you watch on TV when you are getting ready for work on a layover? Law and order ALWAYS seems to be on TV when I am doing the 90 minutes of preflight prep work. The 'dunk dunk' sound is very comforting. If not that then Bravo or Discovery channel.

17.Have you ever dropped a passenger meal and served it? Only while it was still in its foil container, meaning, no part of it touched anything. I would not serve what I would not eat.

18.Do you prefer working coach, business class or first class? If I could pick who I am working with then first class . If it is a random crew, I will work where non lazy crew are working.

19.What is your favorite airplane to work? I know the 777 like the back of my hand so I will say that. Anything with 2 aisles is preferred, except the slave ship (747). Cruel to passengers and crew alike.

20.Do you know what crop-dusting inflight is? I do not care for any type of dusting, but sometimes you have to do it.

21.Do you prefer working early flights or late ones? My body clock prefers late flights, I have having to use an alarm clock. Early flights do have the benefit of everyone's day being fresh i.e. not much has gone wrong with their day yet so they are gentler passengers.

22.Do you like the uniform your airline gives you? Not particularly in comparison to European carriers uniforms. If worn as it should ( pressed, clean, and with pride) it is alright. I really hate when I see crew members looking like they have been pulled behind a train, rumpled too small uniforms, hair down, runs in tights, etc.

23.Do you take your laptop on a layover? Sometimes. This is dependant on whether or not Internet access is free and if I have no plans for the layover. I take it more often in winter than summer.

24.What is your LEAST favorite part of every flight? If it is a full flight then boarding.

25.What is the BEST hotel you have ever had a layover at? In Seoul the Swisshotel was pretty swish. The Steigenbergerhof in Frankfurt was also lovely.

26.Where did you interview for your job? At a hotel in Washington DC. I am still surprised they hired me and often thought of going to an open house to see if they would hire me again. The selection process seemed so arbitrary.

27.What other cities have you been based in? Washington DC, Chicago and Miami.

28.Favorite base? The city of Chicago is pretty fab, but the flying was CRAP. The flying in Miami was great, but the city only soso. London at the moment, it might be Washington in a year or two.

29.Why did you become a flight attendant? My mom was one in the glam days of flying. She sold me a bill of goods!! Seriously the "I love people and love to travel" did and does still apply.

30.Did you apply at other airlines that didn't want you? I applied at Delta but failed the eyesight portion of their physical. So , really, they only didn't want my eyes.

31.Do you like the airline you work for? I do not care for managements current style of leadership. I do have pride in my job and care for my coworkers . Is that PC enough?

32.Have you ever had the CEO of your airline onboard as a passenger? No I haven't.

33.Have you ever dated a passenger you met? Sort of.

34.Have you ever gotten into a disagreement with a fellow crew member? Of course. Working in such close quarters can make tempers flare from time to time. I make conscious choices to work in different cabins than those I cannot bear to work with. Clearly I avoid conflict!

35.Has a pilot ever hit on you? Hasn't everyone had a coworker hit on them? Pilots are like everyone else, some are jerks, some charmers, most are average Joes.

36.Do you dislike passengers or pilots more? I expect to like everyone until I hit some flack. Some crew are pilot haters, I am not.

37.Passengers ask annoying questions when they see you in uniform. What is your least favorite question? The old woman that asked me what branch of the military I was in got me to stop ever wearing trousers, now it is only the skirt! I do not mind the inevitable questions when I am on my way to work, but do not WAKE me from a nap on the tube to ask me what terminal your airline leaves from when there is a frickin sign that tells you in every train car!!!

38.What is the stupidest request a passenger has made of you? Can you move me up to first class? Yeah, that'll happen...

39.Is being a hostess with the mostess your only job? I do occasionally top up my income with catering jobs ( off the books), and I do mystery dining for a company which means free meals.

40.Have you ever gotten any long lasting relationships out of your job? The best friends I could ever wish to have, and several long term romantic ones as well. No complaints from me!!

24 September 2008

Sadness Is

Losing the cord that allows you to download the photos from your digital camera to your computer..... back to tearing apart the room. If any Americans living overseas are reading this blog, please make sure to register to vote. Vote from Abroad can sort you out in no time. AFL_CIO is paying to send me to the states to man the phones reminding people to get out and vote. I will be travelling to either New Hampshire or one of the Carolinas. Could be , no, will be interesting! This gig is at the end of October.

19 September 2008

Who Needs Runways???

We now have seaplanes!!! Think of the money saved on landing fees, and the glamorous destinations we can fly to.....

16 September 2008

6 times 2= Tired

Welcome to my world. 12 glamorous fun filled trans-Atlantic crossings in 18 days. The most I can pack in, what with the overnight flights, and not get on the FAAs bad side. The above photos have been my world for the past 18 days. Now I have time off and can do things like sleep, laundry and update my beloved blog. And long for the man in 3F on my last flight who is now posted to a job in Islamabad.....

16 August 2008

Gold Medal Olympic Geek

I am a gold medal worthy Olympic geek. I love everything about the games , probably since I was a child watching them at my grandmothers house, eating a bowl of ice cream .

I caught the opening ceremonies on a layover, while eating a Whole Foods salad and drinking a white wine. Happiness on a Tempurpedic mattress...

Other than the fact that Bob Costas really needs to work on the pronunciation of some countries names, the commentary was good, far less sarcastic than the Athens coverage.

I am such a sucker for the stories of each athelete. The Iraqi runner who trains on a battle scarred track at an abandoned school, the Palestinian who trains in a 'country' with no Olympic size pool and the US flag carrier that was a refugee from Africa all mesmerize me.

The US team had a decent team outfit this year, but those white hats really need to go. So does their gum chewing. Too many people looked like cows entering the stadium. Lose the gum atheletes...

Finally, the little boy who entered with Yao Ming, the earthquake survivor, I want to put him in my pocket. So cute....

Back in England the coverage is, rightly, on British atheletes. This means I am watching more badminton, 'eventing' , field hockey and synchronized diving than I ever imagined. A note to BBC programmers, you might want to put a little Olympics on when everyone is home, you know ,in the evening.....

Now back to windsurfing....

14 August 2008

Sport Your Favorite City Code

If there is a city that brings back fond memories, or a trip to one you are planning on, you might want to take a peek at airwear designs. This clever company has received press in Lufthansa onboard magazine as well as CNN Traveller magazine. At the very least, a T shirt bearing the code SIN could be a conversation piece!

07 August 2008

The Stewardess Monologues

This little monologue was written by a fellow stew several years ago. An ex PanAm-er, William Schrul works for the same carrier as I do, but he is sooo much funnier.

Flight Attendants are all the same. We deal with the same shit, just in a different uniform. We point to the same exits, we say the same things. Well, except for the occasional DELTA f/a who refers to the hot towels as "would you like a hot warsh rag fer yer face?"

Passengers: they're so sweet and innocent, like children. And sometimes you just wanna spank the shit out of them, but you don't for legal reasons. "All my friends who fly on AMERICAN get to hold their oversized luggage on their laps." Listen mister. As long as you're under my fuselage, you're gonna follow my rules. And I don't care what flight attendants let your friends do!
But sometimes they're completely unassuming, like first time flyers. You know the ones ... you're coming down the aisle with your beverage cart and they want to pay you a dollar for their coke, and you just have to say to them, "I can't take that dollar from you. It's two-fifty."

Let's talk about the seat belt sign for a minute, shall we? This mother-fucking thing! The minute it goes on they all jump out of their seats. I wish I could invent a p.a. system that could direct my announcements to any one seat or lavatory. Could you imagine? I would never leave my jumpseat! Let's say you have someone who goes into the bathroom after you've told them that the seat belt sign is on. Just go over to yourjumpseat panel and type in aft lavatory 3L, and make your desired announcement. "Attention! This is the toilet speaking! Get your fat ass off of me and get back to your seat! The seat belt sign is on! And I KNEW you dyed your hair!"

What about our more senior work force, these women who have been around since the flying boat. God love 'em. They'll never retire. And I've come up with an invention so that they'll never have to. It's called FLIGHT ATTENDS. No m! ore lagg ing services because senior Betty is in the can again. No more jumpseat accidents. Can you imagine that peeing-in-the-pool look on their faces when you ask them to pass you a 7UP?

Pregnant flight attendants: what a brilliant fucking idea! I tell you, if I were a woman I'd buy a maternity dress and have it with me at all times. As soon as I was on the plane I would slip it on and stuff myself so I would look about 8.5 months pregnant. I bet no one fucks with you! "Sir, we're out of the chicken, but I have the lasagna." He would go to open his mouth to say something, as they always do, and I would just start moaning andgrabbing my stomach, "oh, I think my water just broke." You'd be invincible, they'd all be in the palm of your hands, because believe me, nobody wants to be responsible for killing your baby. I'm so jealous.

I just love it when passengers get on the plane and they all look in the cockpit. Wouldn't it be great if the pilots were sitting in there, one reading a book titled "SO YOU WANT TO FLY?", and the other holding a broken switch in his hand with a look of confusion on his face? And they always have something stupid to say. "Hope they're not tired." "Hope they find the way to Miami." Oh, fuck you! And then there's the parents who wanna thrust their children on up there. "Oh honey look. Look at the Captain. Look atall those switches. Go say hi. Go say hello, Ashley. Go on." Notice how they could give a fuck about us, never asking us to take their picture in the galley while they pose next to the coffee maker? And it's the same thing when they're leaving. "Thanks, great flight!" they say to the pilots, who did nothing but make annoying announcements the whole time. We're the ones who supplied them with peanuts and carbonated beverages which give them rancid gas, bad enough to bring the masks down. I swear, sometimes Iget so frustrated I point to the wrong exits just out of spite.

And now there's free movies on the flights. It's so unfair. There's a group of us! that have had to file bankruptcy. Oh, don't act so shocked! Did you actually think that any of that money was actually turned in to the company? Those movies and drinks have always been free in economy! The flight attendants all got together in one of our annual meetings and decided, "they're in economy, no one will ever know the difference-- let's charge them and keep the money."

And speaking of our meetings, we're always coming up with something new. Last time we were all there to honor the flight attendant who came up with the seat backs and tray tables "up for landing" idea. Brilliant! And it serves no purpose! We just got together and thought it would be funny. We're just control freaks who like to impose made up rules! And taxiing into the gate. Why is it that everybody has to get their bags out into the aisle and get into that half-seated, half-in-the-sprinting position like they're gonna run a race? We're moving and some people even start to get up ... excuse me, we're not even at the gate yet! Where are you gonna go to? It's times like these that I wish I had an emergency brake located by my jumpseat. The kind like they have on the subway. I would pull that mother fucker and we would screech to such a stop, I swear to God, people would be flying out the cockpit window. But the unfortunate thing is that Boeing and Airbus don't ask for flight attendant input.

Frequent Fliers: why can everything be justified by how many miles they have? "Sir, you simply cannot be smacking around a flight attendant like that. You can't. Oh? Super Gold status? Yes, well ... that IS a lot of miles. You certainly can slap a flight attendant, sir. Yes, you can. Here, let me get you another one, you can slap two of them with that kind of mileage." I think that if you cut their frequent flyer card in half it would be more devastating to them than if the plane went down.

I just love it when you come down the aisle and they all have their headphones on. I don't even talk anymore, I just! move my lips. Why waste my breath when they don't even take them off to hear what I'm saying? Okay, I'm standing in front of you with a beverage cart, what the fuck do you think I'm asking you? "Would you like your pap smear before or after dinner ma'am?" And then they scream really loudly, "What?!? What?!?" So to get back at people, I now wear my Walkman while on the cart. I get to their row and I just scream, "What would you like to drink?!? What?!? What?!? I can't hear you!!!"

We're always in the media. "Flight Attendant confessions on the next Maury," "Flight Attendants who point to the exits with their middle fingers," "Flight Attendants admit doing the safety demo wrong on purpose, on the next Sally." Oprah's newest book club selection: "When Bad Passengers Happen to Good Flight Attendants." The new Learning Annex seminar: "Flight Attendants are from Mars, Passengers are from Hell."

I just love it when passengers think they're gonna get me fired. "I want your name. I WANT YOUR NAME!" I just point to my serving jacket and say, "Sir, my parents were also in the service industry, and FUCK YOU ASSHOLE is my name."

Family: every year at Thanksgiving it's the same thing. "So, you're still with the airlines?" No. I just thought I'd quit one day and work nine-to-five, five days a week in some office! Like this is a hobby or something! And what's with this "the airlines" shit? I work for ONEAIRLINE, not ALL of them! "Well, I am usually with UNITED, but last week Air France called me, and you know the French, I just couldn't say no. Next thing I know, I'm on the Concord to Paris!" And God forbid there's an accident. My mother will get so many calls. "Oh my God, I hope he's okay." That was a Russian Airline. He works for United. "Well, we know he's with THE AIRLINES, so we weren't sure. Are you sure he wasn't on it?"

Written by William Schrul, copyright 2000

30 July 2008

Overheard in Passport Control aka when even immigration officials pity you

Immigration official: (while looking at my declaration) So, You're staying at the XXX Inn, that just doesn't sound good. I see your crew write that every week and it looks depressing. Is it any good?

Me: (sighs) No, not so much.

Its a sad day when even the immigration people scoff at your crew accommodations. Maybe I should have told him about the free reading material I always find there.

29 July 2008

Free Postcards From the Edge

Postcards. They are often the bane of my existence while travelling. Either they are too ugly, old or expensive, or they are nowhere to be found at times you would really love to send them, like last years La Tomatina.

Even if I find the right postcard, have the right currency, there is the address book to dig up, the stamp to buy and the post box to find. Such a palaver!! Thanks to kirtsy, I have found a website that will send 2 free postcards for you for FREE per day. You can even upload your own photos to make sure the postcard is the perfect shot.

Two catches for this, hippopost will only send postcards to Canada or the United States, and they will insert a small ad on the back of your card. (Hey, someone has to pay for this). If you are feeling frugal and have friends in North America, why not give it a try?

25 July 2008

Words fail, and jetways too!!

Just imagine- you finish your layover , take the hotel bus to the airport and board your flight. You preform your safety checks , count the meals, set up your galley, board the passengers and are all ready to go. Suddenly the jetway slowly lowers itself. Lowers itself so far that the canopy of the jetway takes the frickin boarding door off the aircraft. Completely. Door is on the tarmac. Talk about a bad start ( and finish) to your day as a crew or a passenger. This happened this week to a Lufthansa flight headed from Denver to Munich on the 20th. The plane was still there, minus the door when I arrived there a few days later.

When you add in the pilots strike there (Lufthansa) and their cabin crew as well as ground staff voting on a strike, Lufthansa is having a bad month.

20 July 2008


I did not fully understand the dread term "terminal illness" until I saw Heathrow for myself.- Dennis Potter 1978

Dennis, It is 30 years later and still not any better. Quote borrowed from QuoteGarden.

18 July 2008

This Gives New Meaning to Red and Blue States

I recently stumbled across this map on If We ran It. Look before you Leap, Ladies If We Ran It. If you are single, it may help you plan your holiday travel accordingly. It also proves that I am not imagining things when I think Colorado is full of men. Who knew Dallas and Minneapolis were also chock full o'men??

Posted using ShareThis

17 July 2008

A Long Evening With the D-Listers

Just got home from Denver...a mere 3 hours late. Board the plane, seat the passengers, take meal orders, develop a mechanical problem which involved no air con. A group summer ensued. Change aircraft repeat above steps.

Suffering along with were Captain Mark Phillips and Corbin Bernsen. Phillips is the ex of Princess Anne. We seen to be the airline of choice for ex royals and lesser royals. Maybe BA revokes their flying privileges when the marriage dissolves? Bernsen played a shiny blond lawyer on LA Law in the 80s. No more hair, shiny or otherwise. Both very nice to have onboard, I am glad to see Capt. Phillips has lost his wink he used to give whenever you spoke to him. About anything. Or...maybe I am now to old to merit the wink. I am fine with either option.

14 July 2008

The 10 Best Museums and Galleries

I have a little confession to make. I am addicted to any books about travel. Travel narratives, travel guidebooks, glossy coffee table books about places I may never travel to. I will buy them or, better yet, receive them as gifts. The latest gift was a book titled The 10 Best of Everything, an ultimate guide for travelers (Nathanial Lande and Andrew Lande). This is a fat National Geographic book filled with lists of everything from the 10 greatest tea houses to the 10 best polo clubs ( no I wont be needing that list either). While I do disagree with some of their ratings (Peets coffee the best in the world.....seriously???) I do think their top 10 museum and gallery list is pretty comprehensive, and also one of the only lists where I have been to all of them. Below is their comments on the museums and galleries along with my usual 10 cents on their 10 best.

1.The Smithsonian Institution- The Smithsonian is the worlds largest research and museum complex, with 16 museums and galleries, the national Zoological Park, and various research stations. More than 142 million objects detailing America's history are housed here, so you'd better prepare for a long week of walking. There's so much to see that,if you spent one minute day and night looking at each object, in 10 years you would only see 10 percent of the whole. Therefore, head out with a plan. Focus on only 1 or 2 exhibits at 2 or 3 museums.

My take- this museum , or museums, are free and amazing. They are all scattered along the Mall and there is truly one for every taste and interest. Send the children and culture-phobics to the Air and Space Museum and buy them a little space ice cream. Avoid summer visits like the plague, in winter you can have the exhibitions nearly to yourself. If you tire of being outdoors, walk over to the Sculpture garden of the National Gallery , get a non-space ice cream and wait for the others. Don't let the smaller museums of DC get overlooked, the Phillips Collection is one that is nearly always worth a look.

2. The Louvre- The Louvre was a medieval fortress and the palace of the kings of France before becoming a museum 2 centuries ago. The addition of I.M. Pei's pyramid shocked many when it was unveiled in 1989 as the new main entrance, yet it somehow works, integrating the palace's disparate elements. The museum's collections, which range from antiquity to the first half of the 19th century, are among the most important in the world. A good place to start is the Sully Wing, at the foundations of Philippe-Auguste's medieval keep- its the heart of the Louvre, kids love it, and it leads to the Egyptian rooms.

My take- A must. Watch out for being run over by the hordes of Japanese making their way through at breakneck speed. learn that the Mona Lisa is really...small. Fans of the Dan Brown books can keep themselves occupied with the Vitruvian Man . The seemingly jarring contrast of the Pyramid and the Louvre really do work far better than a modern interpretation of old. Hit this museum but by all means also stop by the Musee d'Orsay.

3.Egyptian Museum -Though many western museums contain impressive collections of ancient Egyptian antiquities, none begins to rival the riches on display at Cairo's Egyptian Museum. Devoted entirely to the legacy of the pharaohs,the museum has over 120,000 items of antiquity on display, ranging from the delicately crafted jewelery to towering granite colossi of kings.

My take- This museum breaks my heart. It is so spoiled for choice that things are literally lying against the walls, waiting to find a home and description. It is an example of the sadness of a country that does not allot many funds to the arts. I am sure museum curators from places like the Louvre would love to get their hands on the wealth of items that make up the Egyptian Museum. Tut travels...a lot. Make sure he is home when you plan to go. If you are a female, watch out for the locals trying to pinch and/or befriend you. That is the time to use your guidebook to HIT them. Hard. The Lonely Planet makes an excellent man swatter.

4. State Hermitage - Russia may be isolated from the artistic centers of Paris, Rome, and London, but the Hermitage has managed to acquire a spectacular collection of World art- more than 3 million items - spanning the years from the Stone Age to the early 20 the century. The museum occupies 6 buildings along the Neva river, the leading structure being the confection-like Winter Palace . This gloriously baroque, blue and white structure was finished in 1764 and over the next several centuries was the main residence of the czars. Catherine the Great founded the museum that same year when she purchased 255 paintings from berlin. The museum's focal point is Western Europe art-120 rooms in 4 buildings ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day. Rembrandt, Rubens, Tiepolo, Titian, da Vinci, Picasso, Gauguin, van Gogh, and Goya are all represented here.

My take-If you have ever read Russian history, or just seem Dr. Zhivago the museums housing will entrance you as much as the exhibits. I keep picturing turn of the century pre- revolutionary Russia every time I am lucky enough to come here. Bring a guidebook. If you do not speak Russian or read Cyrillic, you are really limited to only titles and artists for each work, only the main pieces merit a description in anything other than Russian. See the painting that a mad student tried to attack. Remember when you see mostly non- Russian art that Russian religion prohibited 3 dimensional images of people- Russian artists have no tradition of non religious art until the late 1800s which is why nearly all the art is foreign.

5. The British Museum - Britain's largest museum looks after the national collection of archaeology and ethnography- more than 4 million objects ranging from prehistoric bones to chinks of Athens' Parthenon, from whole Assyrian palace rooms to exquisite gold jewels.

My take- Make the obligatory stop at the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. Marvel at the light and spaciousness of Norman Fosters addition the the museum, seen above. This is a place best done in chunks to prevent sensory overload. If art , rather than objects is your interest, go to the Courthauld or the National Gallery. Most must see exhibits at the British Museum ( like the Terracotta Soldiers) have an allotment of same day tickets, get there early, bring a paperback ( or a guidebook) to while away the time waiting for a ticket.

6. The Prado- The spanish royal family is responsible for the prado's bounty of classical masterpieces. Over centuries, kings and queens collected and comissioned art with passion and good taste. In addition to stars of Spanish painting such as Velazquez, Goya, Ribera, and Zubaran, the prado has big collections of Italian and Flemish artists. Fernando VII opened the collection to the public in 1819, in the same neoclassic building it is housed in today, designed by Juan de Villanueva.

My take- This museum is filled with 'heavy' art. My eyes can only take the dark, sombre colors of Goya and the like for so long. When I reach my fill I head over to the Thyssen- Bornemisza Museum . This museum, owned by the family, contains much more approachable art. By all means go to the Prado, then down some sangria and see the Thyssen. Its light and space will refresh you after the Spanish masters. When seeing the art at the Thyssen, remember that this art was in this families homes.

7.The Metropolitan Museum of Art - The Met is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere. Its collection, some 142 million items, is not only broad- the entire world, from antiquity to the present- but deep, with holdings so large in a number of areas that some collections might be considered museums unto themselves. Its European paintings are stunning : works by Botticelli, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, Rodin...The Egyptian collection houses the tomb of Perneb and the exquisite Temple of Dendur. The American Wing contains American arts and crafts, including a room from a franl Lloyd Wright Prairie House. And the list goes on and on.

My take- This museum is New York, Something for everyone. I can't help but remembering the book I read as a child, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler- where childrem lived in the museum researching a statue. That book, and the museum, made my childhood self think all things were possible. Whenever I enter I try to imagine where I would sleep there, like the children in the book did. You will never get a handle on this museum, just dive in and enjoy.

8. The Vatican Museum - Twenty-two separate collections comprise the Musei Vatacani, each one more spectacular than the next. The most famous are probably the the Museo Pio- Clementino, with its splendid classical sculpture; the raphael Rooms, entire rooms painted by Raphael; the Pinacoteca ( picture gallery), which contains the cream of the Vatican's collection of medieval and renaissance paintings; and, of course, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. But there's also ancient Egyptian exhibits of the Museo Gregoriano Egizio and the Etruscan offerings of the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco. And thats just a start.

My take- Rome is, in my eyes, a living museum so it is very hard to pry yourself away from the rest of the city to devote much time here. See the Sistine Chapel (crowded....really crowded...) your neck will be sore but so worth it. Consider binoculars to appreciate it fully. The art is worth it but so much else is in Rome it is really hard to budget your time wisely here!

9. The Uffizi Gallery- "Great"is an overworked adjective in Italy, where so many of the country's monuments and works of art command the highest praise. In the case of the Galleria degli Uffizi, it barely does justice to a gallery that holds the world's finest collection of Renaissance paintings. All the famous names of Italian art are here, not only the ranaissance masters, but also painters from the early medieval, baroque and Mannerist heyday.

My take- The bomb. No words can top what is painted. Make sure to pop over to the galleria dell'Academia to see David ( get tickets in advance) see modern artists studying the past , them make your way to the Uffizi. Wear comfortable yet stylish shoes, this being Italy.

10- the Rijksmuseum - Nearly 1 million objects fill the Rijksmuseum, the largest collection of art and history in the Netherlands. Is it most famous for its paintings by 17th century Dutch masters, including van Ruysdael, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, and 20 works by Rembrandt van Rijn. Established in 1800 to exhibit the collections of Dutch stadtholders, the museum also displays are from the Middle Ages.

My take- Vermeer defined light in paintings. He brought light to the dark work of the Dutch. If you have seen ( or hopefully read) the Girl With the Pearl Earring, come and see what the artists made. Then pop over to the van Gogh Museum to marvel at his sunflowers, fields and chairs.

09 July 2008

A Guilty Pleasure

Take a moment to check out fanny pack antics. This website will make you laugh, cry and hopefully remove any fanny packs from your wardrobe. (British readers, STOP laughing, it is not that type of fanny!!)

I am sure that everyone has, at one time or another worn outfits on holiday that would net a photo on this site. Photos of me travelling in Laos wearing the Thai fishermans pants would definitely get me an entry. They were donated to Oxfam before I even unpacked when I got home.

06 July 2008

I Can't Drive 55

Nothing says 'I Love America' like getting a speeding ticket on Independence Day.......I had rented a car to visit my brother on my Washington DC layover and saw loads of card being pulled over for speeding on I270. I thought to myself that it must really suck to get a speeding ticket on a holiday, them saw the flashing lights in my rear view mirror.....

At least the policeman told me I was the most polite person he had ever issued a ticket to. How the heck can you deny speeding when clocked going 84 in a 55mph zone? All I could do was laugh.

02 July 2008

It's NOT All About You

In spite of pay cuts, work rule changes and the general malaise amongst airline employees lately, I still really enjoy my job. One of the parts I enjoy most is the social observations I get during flights, I get to be a secret pop psychologist. I am the first to agree that it is probably human nature to think it is 'all about me' , I am as guilty of this as the next person. In the confines of an aircraft, this lack of thought of others really needs to stop. Maybe a PSA ( public service announcement) played in the airports before flights? Just a few thoughts of how your actions will affect others would eliminate so much anger and hostility on the plane.

Seat backs- Please do not SLAM your seat back quickly. The person behind you might be bent down , getting something from underneath their seat, or have their legs crossed. A quick peek back before SLOWLY moving your seat back would stop alot of ill will between passengers. Secondly, if you are eating, bring your seat UPRIGHT. Next time you are on a flight where a meal is served, look at how many seats are reclined and people have to lean forward to eat. Nearly all. The seat reclined in front of you pisses you off as it is difficult to get to your food, likewise your reclined seat is angering the person BEHIND you. As a sidebar to this, please remember that is ultimately the persons right to recline their seat. I will happily ask someone to put their seat upright if they are awake during the meal service, but not any other time.

Window shades- Please remember that sleep on an aircraft is a precious commodity, so difficult to happen for so many. Sleep in the economy cabin is like a house of cards, so many motions and actions can make someones sleep end. Opening a window shade as the sun has come up is one of those actions. If we are still flying at cruise ( over 30,000 feet in the air) and a meal is not being served, I can pretty much guarantee there is nothing to see out the window but clouds. Nothing worth the anger that will be directed at you by people you have woken for nothing. If you want to read, use a reading light, each seat has one. If we are serving the meal before arrival, feel free to open shades, heck, the other passengers really need to get up and brush their teeth at this point, you are really doing them a favor waking them up. Like the seat back, as thoughtless as it may be, it is also their right to open the window shade. If you are a light sleeper, consider packing an eye mask. You will thank me later.

Loud Children- Parents, I know you like to instill rules and keep your behavior consistent with children, not placating them if they whine, not rewarding bad behavior, etc. This school of thought, while great at home, needs to be tossed out the window on the communal environment of the plane. You need to do ALL you can to stop crying and whining quickly and effectively. Behavior that you might ignore at home, letting them cry it out, needs to be stopped on the plane. Coddle, cuddle and muzzle. We do need to all understand that children sometimes will cry and fuss no matter what and be a little understanding if the parent is attempting to remedy the situation. Along with the eye mask, maybe toss in some ear plugs, you will thank me when little Johnny starts to cry.

Loud Adults- This is more disturbing than loud children. Yes you are excited about your holiday, class trip, meeting the guy you met online, but chatting at top volume either in your seats or near the toilets and galleys is rude. Everyone with a seat in one of these areas will vouch for the fact that sound travels. They are not quite so excited as you about your plans and really do not want to hear them. Indoor voices people.....Please........

Toilet behavior- Please leave the toilet in a state that will not make the next person entering it gasp, as it might be me. FLUSH the toilet ( men, it is not a urinal, it is not whooshed away automatically), drain the sink of your toothpaste water, throw any paper towels, Kleenex in the trash receptacle. Do not stuff it in other areas or leave things on the floor. If the toilet is out of paper towels and/or toilet paper, tell the crew, we have more. Please keep prelanding visits brief. As anxious as you were to use the toilet, so are the 50 people hopping up and down on one foot behind you. Not the time to bring in a magazine , try a new hairstyle, or give yourself a facial.

These are a few off the top of my head. Next time we can cover sharing overhead bin space and swapping seats . I can also comment on any other rude passenger to passenger behavior you suggest. Until next time!!

30 June 2008

Maybe He Really Is Everywhere

Chinatown in San Francisco, California is a fascinating place. You could probably fill a blog or book with the sights and sounds of this relatively small neighborhood and not run out of material. The food, the people and the architecture could all make for interesting viewing, but today I am focusing on things you find in those sort of odd stores you only find in tourist areas. The large shops, usually multiple levels that are really five and dime shops of things that you neither need or really see anywhere else, but clearly there is a market for as these shops are always busy.

The one I entered ( hey, it was raining !) was filled with bobble head dolls, chop sticks , fuzzy dice , green tea, Buddhas small and large, woks, 'risque' novelty items and all things Jesus. Seriously, ALL things.

Why not use Jesus to erase your mistakes? I am not actually certain if he is an eraser as well as a pencil topper, maybe that is sacrilegious to use Jesus's head in that manner?
This little pink Jesus ( designed for a female audience presumably) seems to be a modified magic 8 ball. Just think of the decisions this guy could make for you. Should I shave my legs before this date? Do I go out with the crew on this layover or 'slam click'? Which trip should I bid for next month? He could really make my life easier. I notice that the Buddha next to him is on sale, maybe his advice is too mystical?
This product is frankly a little creepy. I did not care for Lincoln's eyes following me at the Lincoln Memorial, I will certainly not pay to have the same effect at home. it seems like his eyes might be day-glo.
How thoughtful of the shop to sell totes that enhance my holiness. I can put all my things Jesus in the bag and go!

27 June 2008

To Couch Or Not To Couch

I was flipping through the latest issue of Wanderlust magazine , the 'special issue' with articles on how to stretch your travel budget. In the current economy most of us could use a little budget stretching, so I eagerly flipped through the magazine and came across an article on couch surfing.

Most die -hard travelers, and certainly any airline employee are familiar with the concept of crashing in a friends spare room/couch. I will freely admit that I am not alone in planning holidays based on where I know people, as Hollene in Sweden and Monique in Switzerland can attest ( and hopefully Bob in Ticino....soon!). The twist of that is couch surfing at complete strangers homes. Hmmmmm.

I looked online at the two sites recommended by the article , couch surfing and hospitality club and checked out what they had to offer. Couch surfing let you browse users profiles, who had 'vetted' them by staying at their place or hosting them, and the profiles gave you a pretty good indication of their personality. Hospitality Club had a bit drier profiles, but you would in every case email the host/guest before so you could get a feel for each other. Photos were with each profile as well. Both groups had members in places as diverse as Iran, South Africa and Minnesota, USA.

Could I stay with a complete stranger? Hard to say, I don't think for an entire holiday, but in places where getting a feel for the country in impossible without a local, like Iran, for example, it might be worth a try. Most of the hosts seemed genuinely proud of where they lived and at the very least , many indicated they would be happy to meet for a coffee /beer and share local tips with you. I think for the moment that is where my comfort level is. If yours is further out than mine, give one of them a try and report back!

26 June 2008

Its All About The Accessories

Skydoll, a fab blogger ( whose name is also Heather, how can I not love her blog?) recently wrote a great post about the collectibles that go along with the profession and the insatiable need to own them. Take a moment, go read her post and come back, I will put on a pot of coffee.Another Flight Attendant Writing About Flying (and other stuff): FLYING CRAP

What she writes rings true with someone that owns the 70s United Airlines Barbie friendship, countless vintage 'stewardess 'ads, junior stewardess wings and other assorted crap, nearly all bought on ebay.

I recently picked up a set of magnets from Last Kiss Comics and they are on the fridge right next to the Dean Morris ones.

Just please don't imagine I live in a house of aviation crap! Most of the stuff is in a box in my dads basement, what with apartments in London being the size of rabbit hutches!!

25 June 2008

My Sentiments Exactly

This would be a party where I charge for drinks, my guests are sometimes crabby and impolite, I am criticized for not considering their dietary restrictions , sometimes I hate my 'co-hosts' and three people that want all the credit for the party stay behind a locked door .....yet everyone thanks them for the great party when they leave!!

24 June 2008

Celebrities, Strange Reading Material and Bad Hearts

I just returned home from Denver, my new home away from home. What a very strange trip it was. On the way to Denver we had Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame in first class. While he is missing the sweatband around his head and the 80s attire I picture him in ( circa Money for Nothing) he was so damned nice I almost wanted to be a groupie. Yes, he was a bit jowly and nearly hairless, but he was so damned nice even before I knew who he was I was digging him. An old man......Boy am I getting old. Especially when some of the crew had no idea who the Dire Straits were. I am sure my singing their songs only hurt their chances of recognition.

When at the layover hotel, my bedside lamps would not work. After changing the bulbs and realizing that was not the problem, I decided to move the night table to make certain they were plugged in. BIG mistake. I looked down at the floor area and there was a friggin mountain of porn there. Literally 2 inches tall of "Club" magazine, apparently stuffed with pages from other magazines. Gross. Years ago when we stayed in an all crew hotel in San Francisco,our pilots usually got the corner rooms. There was ALWAYS porn in the dressers, they would apparently leave it for the next lonely,sad pilot. There are 2 airlines that layover in our Denver hotel, Which airline pilots are the guilty porn hoarders?? I had visions of a pilot checking in after me and getting angry that room 1063 was not vacant.

On the flight home a man told the crew 10 minutes before landing he thought he was having a heart attack. Indeed he was. Luckily all airports have emergency staff at the ready, we were met by paramedics who likely saved the mans life. I am sending good thoughts his way.

Working for an airline, low pay and sometimes low morale but never boring!

17 June 2008

I've Got A Crush On.....Denver

I never saw this coming. It hit me out of the blue. I am really loving flying to Denver. No I do not have a fever! The Denver from my domestic flying days was filled with 12 hour layovers at hotels you could see Stapleton airport from. Room service and a shuttle bus to the airport were the highlights of the trip. The plane was filled with people in flannel shirts and cowboy boots with too much facial hair and they only spoke in grunts. "Coors" , "trash" and "coffee" were the only words I heard from them.

When the heck did things change? Laying over downtown is affording me a chance to explore a new city. Yummy food at Cuba Cuba, browsing the fabulous independent bookstore the Tattered Cover and going on the rides at Elitch Gardens is filling my layovers. The locals also seem to have small town friendliness, which is a bit shocking as I am so used to the big city big hurry ways of London and San Francisco.

In spite of all the good, Denver seems to have its share of quirks as well. The photo below, advertises a certain type of business. Any guesses???

14 June 2008

Partenkirchen, The Little Sister

Everyone knows families that have two sisters in them. Invariably one is prettier and more popular, you have to be reminded of the other ones name. Before I travelled there, that was the case with Partenkirchen. Hell, I speak German and always mumbled the city as Garmisch-somethingsomething. But no more. It is Garmisch-Partenkirchen .

Getting there was supposed to be so easy. A quick flight from Zurich, using a standby ticket on Swiss International. Heck, I even got a seat when I checked in, which if you travel standby means the Gods are smiling upon you. Hah!! Boarding card in hand I waited for my gate to be announced, noticing that MANY flights were cancelling that day. Then the words of terror appeared on the departure monitor 'annuliert'. Cancelled . Crap!!! The weather meant that nothing was getting to Munich that day by air, flights were being sent to Frankfurt .After a quick retrieval of my luggage ( thank the Swiss for their efficiency in returning my luggage, my carrier would have laughed or snarled if I requested this as a standby) I headed down to the bahnhof in the airports basement.

Train ticket in hand, and one hundred Euros lighter, I waited for my train to Munich. The train which broke down just over the border of Germany. 2 hours at one station while they repaired some engine part ( my German does not know mechanical words). Thank God for the paperback and iPod! At 9 pm, 12 hours after I arrived at the airport in Zurich and 2 train rides later, I was in Partenkirchen. Home for a week of snowboarding and airline employee partying and mingling.

Until 1936, Garmisch and Partenkirchen were merely towns that were side by side. Friendly neighbors perhaps but minding their own business. The 1936 Olympics required that towns that hosted events have a certain number of hotel rooms, Garmisch did not have enough.What to do? With the waive of his hand , Hitler put the towns together as the mouthful we know today, Garmisch- Partenkirchen. (Okay I took a little artistic license with the hand waiving, but he did put them together, Hitler seems like a hand waiver to me, in addition to a desk pounder).

Partenkirchen is definitely not the party nexus of the ski resort area, and that is fine with me. It is the quieter part, where you can walk down the middle of most streets,there are stores devoted to the selling of dirndl skirts ( closed for the winter in little Partenkirchen, but big sister keeps hers open), Marzipan shops and many a foot doctor. Germans are obsessed with foot health...Dr. Scholls, Birkenstocks,etc.

The pension we stayed in was the lovely Gasthof Fraundorfer, run by the inimitable Barbara. She is a lady that wears her dirndl while conversing in about half a dozen languages , all making her guests at home. The food here is I swear to God so good that I wanted to eat every meal there. Never have I felt this way about hotel food before. I am not the only one as the restaurant is JAMMED at dinner, even guests need to make reservations. The accordion and oompahpah dancing and singing really set the mood.The Gasthof is on the photo below, I heard a tour group stopping in front one morning and the guide explained that the hotel/restaurant was a place where newlyweds stopped off after their marriage and the art on the front of the building was in the plaster, put there while it was wet, so it does not chip or fade. So many of the buildings in the area had artwork, mostly of a religious nature, you can still see the staunch Catholicism here.

Below is a view from the hotel balcony. You cannot beat waking up to see the snowy Alps at your feet....and a telephoto lens.
The snow in these photos reveal that, yes, this holiday was in March.....
The little flag waiver below was above our room. The pilot staying above us hung one of our airlines baseball caps on him for much of the week.

Political correctness has not yet made its way to Southern Germany. The hairdressers shop with the limp wristed mascot, surprisingly employed no limp wristed men.....

The little Arabesque Sambo below advertised......ice cream.....Not sure how he effectively does that, but he does.
In spite of the cringe worthy advertising, the town is a real jewel. Walkable, delicious food wherever you go ( fast food lovers head to Garmisch for McDs and Pizza Hut) , friendly people including old timers that still wear the traditional dress and lots of snow!!
Coming up- the Zugspitze . Before next month I swear......

05 June 2008

I'm Back

Sorry to be so very neglectful of you, my little blog. After spending time at my father's ( dial up, need i say more?) coupled with a punishing 12 days straight of flying and the current 'aviation woes' my heart has not been with you.

But now I am back and will update you on travels of months past. We will go back in time to march, when fuel was cheaper, there was no typhoon in Burma and earthquake in China. We will laugh about my trip to Garmisch. Then we can reminisce about the family obligation tour and the pow wow I attended ( no I am not Indian). We can also ooh and aah at the flowers in bloom in the English gardens, little blog.

The times we will have, starting tomorrow. I swear.....The first post after a time away is always the hardest...

17 May 2008

A Bowl Full of Crazy

I just landed this morning in London, back from my family obligation tour 2008. The most memorable part of the three week holiday was sitting behind the second craziest individual I have encountered on a plane. Well, maybe the third, the girl that literally thought she was a rabbit mid flight was far crazier but in a gentler way. (Clearly a blog entry about the really crazy passengers needs to be forthcoming)!

I was lucky enough to score a seat in First Class for my flight home, with a fabulous crew working the flight. I get on the plane and a loud woman is in my assigned seat. As she seems settled in, I agree to take her assigned seat to minimize hassle. This woman was really really loud on her mobile phone during boarding, and seemed really young and scruffy to sit in First class. Clearly she had family money as neither her looks pr personality had earned her the income to pay that much for a ticket, and she was too shabbily dressed to be a non- rev( airline employee).

I happily settled into (her) my new seat, which was actually better than the original one , but tragically behind Miss One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. The crew should have known something was up when she said she wanted vodka for dinner. The next hint that the elevator did not go up to the top would have been RIGHT after takeoff when she started dancing in front of her seat, the kind of dancing you can only see Jay Kay doing in a Jamiroquai video circa 1998, or at a rave after ingesting large amounts of party drugs.

She drank a few drinks before dinner, then started calling the steward a fucking poof. Nice. She was also shrieking at the female crew member, calling her Mrs. She couldn't figure out how to get out of her seat without throwing all of her linens and plates on the floor, not could she figure out where the toilet was, ever. When she was cut off ( discretely, only my Bionic Woman hearing overheard this) the hell began.

Talking to herself about the crew in language that would make a sailor blush, throwing things, and intermittent dancing ensued,. When she was given her meal she tossed it into the galley as she could not wash it down with vodka. Mid flight she put her jacket on and seriously expected to be let off. I am sure were we on a 727 with air stairs they would have lowered them a la D.B. Cooper and let her off.

Finally she passed out in exhaustion, the crew were all honestly afraid to see what would happen when she woke up. Luckily not too much, other than bitching that she lost her iPod ( karma!) and snapped at the crew when they suggested she turn on her light to look for it.

We got an encore of her dancing stylings while we waited for a gate. While we waited at baggage claim,one of the other passengers witness to her antics asked me if she was a celebrity, but he thought not as she had a face like a smacked ass ( I love those British sayings!). We decided we got a little dinner theatre with the price of our tickets!

06 May 2008

A Very Unphotogenic Holiday

I am in the middle of three weeks off. No glam travel destinations, frothy drink in hand, dipping my toe in a pool. No... I am at my brothers house on the first leg of the 'Family Obligation Tour 2008'. The brother that has twin babies and 2 dogs. Thrilling times, cleaning up dog poop, baby poop, walking dogs and feeding babies who would rather wear the food than eat it. I would not miss spending time with them for the world but there is not much to snap photos of here in suburbia, the only culture is a civil war battle site up the road. (Monocacy if you are curious).

At least my brother lives in the year 2008. My father lives in a town that has not changed since the Waltons and I can prove that with a photo of the school crossing sign where the children are wearing knee length shorts ( knickers?)

So the blog is a little quiet, not due to lack of interest but due to lack of excitement. When the flying returns, so will I!!!

23 April 2008

The Worry Is Over

Each year, every flight attendant that works for a US carrier is required to go to emergency training. This is around 14 hours of computer, book work and hands on activity, in addition to testing our knowledge and proficiency in MANY areas. And I bet you though we just served coffee and tea and read magazines.....

Various facts are read and memorized, to be pulled out when you confront medical emergencies, fire on the aircraft, a decompression, a drunken passenger, etc. An INSANE amount of information is crammed into our heads , swimming around and hopefully accessed when the need arises.

Current facts running through my head are:

-the difference between moderate turbulence and moderate chop (chop is less than turbulence, but both will have rapid bumps or jolts).

-Fireworks are unacceptable as carry-on baggage. This would seem common sense but there is always one.....

-In an explosive decompression there will be dense fog in the cabin and your bodily gas will expand....

-There are 3 types of fire, flammable solid material, flammable liquid and electrical.

-If you are not breathing I will give you 2 rescue breaths followed by 30 chest compressions.

The test day itself is quite stressful, evacuating mock aircraft while shouting at top volume for passengers to release their seat belts and get out while inflating a life vest and checking if there is fire outside my exit door. We also have to perform CPR on a dummy and administer AED.But I did pass, so the worry is over until next April. Yay for me.