Thursday, April 26, 2012

When In Rome

Not much walking been done for the past few days, except around airports (you can pack a few kilometres in that way - in fact you have little choice).

We flew from Christchurch to Bangkok, a 12-hour flight. What we didn't know is that we were going to Syndney on the way, which made it a 14 hour flight, arriving in Bangkok at about 0130. Our overnight hotel was fine, but it was in the middle of an industrial area. We took a taxi (amazingly cheap, unlike the hotel) to a shopping mall in or near the city and spent a few hours there to pass the time and to get out of the very hot and humid day and away from the appalling traffic and pollution. Then back to the hotel, where we had paid to keep the room until 1800. We were due to leave for the airport at 2200 so we sank a couple of margheritas and had a pleasant meal.

Bangkok is awful.

Our plane to Dubai was one of the huge A380s. This is capable of carrying almost 1,000 passengers but Emirates fortunately limit it to about 500. The first thing you see when entering the fuselage is a wide staircase leading upstairs. This is for the nobs, of course. I believe first class passengers have a private shower. I can confirm that first and business class probably get all the extra room available on this plane because there is no discernable advantage in Economy.

Where there is an advantage to travelling on A380 is the speed with which one can board and debark, because there are so many doors, on both decks. I find it a bit alarming on, for instance, our other flights which were 777s. It takes an age to board, most of which is spent in the airbridge or queuing inside the plane for people to get out of the way. It seems inconceivable that the whole passenger complement could be evacuated quickly "in the unlikely event" of an emergency.

It was while debarking in Dubai that I realised my favourite jacket was probably still inside the x-ray machine in Bangkok, or adorning the back of some lucky x-ray machine operator.

That flight was 6 hours. The next one, after a 4-hour wait in Dubai airport at its busiest time, was 5 and a half. We arrived in Rome at about 1330, where Nicola and Alessandro had come to meet us. This day would have been my mother's 100th birthday if she had survived another 9 years.

Yesterday was one of the many public holidays in Iddly. Alessandro's school has chosen to remain closed for the rest of the week, despite having just reopened after the Easter break. Nicola has her monthly publication meeting with the Italian cycling magazine for which she is the translator for the English edition. So we are Alessandro-sitting for the day. We have just walked him down the big hill into Formello, breakfasted (why does this cost half the price in Italian cafes compared with French cafes?) "done" the small market and then marched up the hill again. May as well get the lad trained to replace his granddad in the big walking stakes. It is quite warm.

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