Posts Tagged ‘Enroute’

The Delta Experience Begins

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Loose dust particles are whipped into a frenzy as the Cessna Caravan’s constant speed propellor increases its speed. The small turbo prop plane accelerates quickly down the dirt strip and, before long, the young pilot flies the plane into the warm Botswana skies.

Powering Up

As the noise from the Wilderness Air plane reduces we become aware of the sounds of wildlife around us. We have arrived in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.
Willie, our guide for the next three days, introduces himself and welcomes us to this beautiful aquatic African paradise. Willie produces some cold drinks then he outlines the program he has in store for us – morning safaris, sundowner safaris, lots of eating and drinking and plenty of photography. Perfect.
Before we set course for Banoka Camp we take in the sight of elephants grazing nearby. The first of many sightings of these huge mammals.
The scene is set. Let the adventure begin.

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Good Morning Africa

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Mineral rich landscapes stretch to the distant horizon below the wing of our Boeing 777 aircraft as the crew command the plane to start its descent into Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo’s International airport.  The sun has not long started its daily trek across the skies of the vast continent – a signal to millions of Africans that another day has dawned.

On Descent

A morning sunbeam lights up the roof of a shanty town hut and grabs our attention.  As our eyes focus on the brightly lit structure we realise that it is just one of thousands.  Scan just left of the township and the contrast is significant – a modern suburb laid out in an orderly fashion with streetlights casting their glow over freshly paved roads and sidewalks.

The dichotomy of South Africa reaches us at 8000 feet – our journey has begun.

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Borneo Bound

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
Our excited yet reluctant bodies rose at 0400 to ready ourselves for the 0545 pick up by one of the internal taxi vans in Discovery Bay. We had packed most of our things over the weekend so we only needed to shower and have a light breakfast – mainly to wake ourselves up at this unusual hour.
The Van arrived close to the time we had booked and the trip down to the plaza didn’t take too long at this hour of the morning. Fortunately the Uncle Russ coffee shop was open so I was able to get my first “brew” for the day. There is something about a fresh, hot coffee first thing in the morning – particularly when one is normally still in bed at the hour I was ordering this one.
The airport bus from Discovery Bay leaves every half hour and the trip down to Chep Lap Kok airport takes around 20 minutes. Despite today being a public holiday the bus was quite full and this meant a slower trip out of DB (Discovery Bay) because we needed to pick up at each internal stop.
We arrived at airport at 0630 and made our way to the Dragonair check-in area. The airport was very busy so we had to negotiate our way through the crowds before we arrived at the Dragonair counter.
Dragonair (Cathay’s sister airline) flies directly to Kota Kinabalu every day and our staff travel benefits allow us to fly business class with KA (the code for Dragonair). The KA check-in staff were very helpful and had us on our way to the gate in no time. The flight was “wide open” (plenty of seats) so getting a seat in business was not a problem.
There was no one to say goodbye to us at the airport so we made our way through screening and immigration and found some water and the nearest Travelex money exchange – it’s always handy to have a few ringgits in hand when arriving in Malaysia.
We passed some time by browsing the few shops that were open then made our way down to the departure gate area. The gate (524) was located in the “bowels” of the airport and this meant that the aircraft was parked on a stand (not at a gate). We followed the rest of the “sheep” onto the bus and crammed in like happy little sardines. The Princess enjoyed being down on the tarmac area and liked being able to look up at the variety of aircraft makes and models from below – always unique for passengers that are used to loading via a ramp.
The bus had quite bad brakes and despite the driver taking it nice a slowly the standing passengers became aquainted a few times when the brakes almost locked on and we all went “A over T” a couple of times.
When we arrived at the aircraft we met the crew -friends of mine that I had trained when I was a part of Dragonair. We took our seats in business and settled into “holiday” mode shortly thereafter. We departed on time from Hong Kong and before long we were “tucking in” to a sumptuous breakfast as we winged our way south toward Borneo.
Despite the trip being only 2.5 hours I managed to get a sleep in after breakfast – waking shortly before top of descent.

Arriving In KK

Brian, the captain of the A321, made a smooth approach and landing into Kota Kinabalu and taxied the short distance to the modern terminal. Unfortunately there was a mix up with our parking position so we ended up waiting for close to 15 minutes while the ground staff arranged a new gate for us. The delay allowed us to finish reading some interesting articles in the Dragonair magazine – always a reason for these sorts of things. Besides, it allowed us to slip into “malay” time!
Customs clearance and baggage delivery was quite efficient and we exited into the arrival area and were greeted by the driver we had arranged for the trip to the Sutera Harbour Resort.
Sutera Harbour is located close to the airport and the city so it took less than 10 minutes to get to the hotel.
Check in was very efficient however we didn’t realise that we were staying at the VIP section of the Magellan Resort complex so it meant a short walk around to the reception area for the Magellan Club.
The first room we were checked into was not suitable because the blinds did not close properly but it wasn’t a problem getting the room changed. The second room, over looking the pool complex, was perfect in every sense and we settled in quickly.
The Princess had a short sleep in the huge King size bed while I unpacked and prepared for an afternoon by the pool. When The Princess woke up she donned her bikini, lathered herself in sunblock and found her book.
Despite our best efforts to find a poolside lounge chair we discovered that they were all taken so we made the most of some shade under a group of palm trees. We spent the afernoon around the pool – reading, relaxing, swimming and talking to some of the staff and other guests. A perfect start to the 6 day break in Borneo.
We had a late lunch by the pool then headed back to the room for an LLD (little lie down) before freshening up for happy hour. When we checked in we were told that the Magellan Club was inclusive of free happy hour drinks and delightful plates of local food – a nice touch indeed.
We took up residence outside on the balcony of the club and watched the beautiful sunset and the changing colours of the sky – perfect. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of white wine and spent time talking with Colin (one of the staff) – a lovely man that shared his knowledge of the local area and some of the sights that we might like to see.

Sundowners With A Sun Down

The only downside to sitting outside were the Mozzies – they were ferocious and The Princess was obviously a tasty meal for them because they devoured her. Her legs ended up looking like a war zone after the first night of sitting outside. Mental note – use the insect spray we carted all the way from Hong Kong!
After happy hour and our long chat with Colin we took a walk around the Magellan resort area before stopping off at the lobby lounge for an iced tea. The evening’s entertainment (a trio of local performers) provided some wonderful background music as we lay on the day bed together and settled into Malay time. The ambience was superb. What a wonderful way of finishing off the day.
Both of us were quite tired after our 0400 start this morning so we returned to the room, readied for bed then sank into the luxurious King size bed. It was an unusually early night for us (2200) however we felt as though we had been on holidays for about a week.
If this is what the first day of our holidays is like we are going to have an awesome break in Borneo!

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Leaving On A Jet Plane

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Kelsterbach, Frankfurt Airport, Hong Kong

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Today marks the end of our 2011 holiday to Europe.  6 countries, several thousand kilometers of road travel, trains, boats, planes, a lot of wining and dining and thousands of photographs and hours of video  What a wonderful trip!

We both enjoyed a very comfortable sleep last night at the Mercure and we woke refreshed after our long day of driving yesterday.  It was a stunning morning in Frankfurt – sunny with clear, crisp air.

We enjoyed our final European breakfast – the remainder of the food we bought yesterday in Baden-Baden before finalising our packing then we headed down to the lobby and checked out.

The shuttle bus for the airport left at 10.35am and we had a short walk to the shuttle bus stop so we made our way down the short road with a luggage trolley – a little strange but it worked out.

The shuttle bus arrived on time and the friendly staff helped us to load the rather full (and heavy) suitcases into the luggage area before we boarded the bus.  The short trip across to the airport took around 10 minutes.

We arrived at Terminal 1 with plenty of time to spare (around 3 hours before the flight departed) so we found the Starbucks outlet and sat down to our second Starbucks experience for the trip.

Cathay Pacific’s check in counters and departure area are located in Terminal 2 and this meant a lengthy walk to the Sky Line (small unmanned train) station then a 5 minute ride to Terminal 2.  We were happy to walk some more (given the food we had eaten on the trip) and enjoyed negotiating some of the foot traffic and “learning” more about Frankfurt airport.

We found our way to the Cathay check-in desk and we were served by one of the lovely Frankfurt staff.  The loads back to Hong Kong were looking rather full for business class so we were issued a couple of economy tickets to get us on our way through customs.  However, we both enjoyed two very comfortable business class seats back to Hong Kong because when we arrived at the gate Iris, the duty supervisor, had two business class tickets waiting for us.  Excellent service from the Frankfurt staff!

We boarded around 1.30pm and settled into our seats for the 10 hour 30 minute trip back to Hong Kong.  The flight departed on time and it wasn’t long before we were enjoying an excellent lunch, some Australian red wine and a couple of great movies.

The very smooth trip back to Hong Kong allowed us both to get some sleep on the lie flat beds – about 4 hours for me and around 2 hours for The Princess.

The Boeing 747 touched down in Hong Kong a little ahead of schedule (around 6.30am) and we parked at a “inner gate” at the Hong Kong terminal.  The short walk and efficient customs process meant we were at the baggage carousel before the bags arrived from the plane.

After recovering our baggage we proceeded to the Starbucks outlet in the arrival hall and had an early morning (very early for our European body clocks) “brew” before making our way to the Discovery Bay bus stop.

Walking out of the air conditioned airport and into the Hong Kong summer humidity got our attention and it wasn’t long before we were both sweating and feeling rather warm.

We arrived home around 8.00am and after turning the air conditioning on and cooling the apartment we climbed into bed and slept for around 4 hours – a nice way to ease back into Hong Kong’s heat!

Now it is time for blog updates, uploading of photos and videos and preparation for our next trip!!  Keep tuned for the updates to the European adventure in the coming weeks and standby for the African adventure in September!

Ciao, Gut Morgen, Gut Nacht and Arrivederci!!

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Mexican In Hong Kong, Italian In Cernobbio and Walking Lake Como

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Pre-Departure – Hong Kong

Hong Kong, Hong Kong International Airport

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Saturday 28th

Tomorrow night, The Princess and I will be winging our way to Milan on a Cathay Pacific jet.

The flight leaves Hong Kong early on the morning of the 30th but technically we start the trip on the 29th.

We are packed (not so lightly) and ready for our three week adventure of touring.

Sunday 29th

Well, we are about to walk out the door for the airport. The bags came in a little heavier than both of us expected. You would think we would have got this right by now!

We just enjoyed a lovely feed of Mexican at one of the local restaurants here in Discovery Bay so we don’t anticipate eating much on the plane – particularly at 0200 HK time.

I had best get dressed for the trip and finalize the bag packing before walking out the door.

At The Airport

We are checked in at the airport and ready to board.

It’s 0030 so we are both ready for a sleep! I don’t think it will be long before we are

“zoned out” and looking at the inside of our eyelids.

Ciao!

Day 3 – M Day – Minsk, Malpensa, Milan, Miralago

Malpensa, Cernobbio

Monday, 30 May 2011

Enroute to Milan

I am writing this over the interior of Belarus – approaching the city of Minsk. We have been airborne for around 9 hours. From Minsk we will fly over Warsaw down through the Czech Republic, over Austria and into Milan.

The Princess is attempting to get some shuteye in the last three hours of this 12 hour flight. Neither of us has had much luck sleeping so we will definitely be resting this afternoon in the hotel.

The flight has been wonderfully smooth however, the very loud two year old in front of us and the quite cool cabin (read icy) temperature has made sleeping a bit of a challenge.

Malpensa Airport

Well we have arrived back in Europe. It’s 0730 and we arrived to a beautiful morning here in Milan – 14 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

I used my new EU passport to enter Italy – a seamless effort! The guy took about 3 seconds to process me. I’m not sure if he even opened the passport.

Our bags were on the belt when we arrived so we went in search of the Hertz rental counter in quick time.

With a few Buon Giorno’s floating around we were offered a German plated car for the hire – a substantial saving for the one way rental. It means waiting for 30 minutes but at this time of the morning we are not too phased.

So, with some time to spare The Princess and I have found a place to sit and enjoy an espresso, a nibbly and some vanilla tea in the sky lounge in the airport.

Apparently there is a Starbucks here but we didn’t find it. Probably not a bad thing.

Driving to Cernobbio

Well, we ended up with a fantastic new Ford Focus for the hire car and after checking it over we hooked up our trusty Nokia phone GPS and headed off for Cernobbio.

The drive went without a hitch – our surfer dude talking GPS negotiated the streets with precision and after about 40 minutes of driving we arrived in the beautiful little lakeside town of Cernobbio.

Walking Cernobbio

We had pre booked Hotel Miralago before we left Hong Kong . We use a variety of websites to book our travel and we are never disappointed with the results of our bookings – Hotel Miralago is no exception.

The staff were wonderfully helpful and changed our room so that we could check in early so, before long, The Princess and I were walking into the most delightful room overlooking the Piazza and onto the shores of Lake Como. Wow!

The sun was glistening and reflecting off the water and the sound of the piazza’s fountain was gentle and soothing.

We spent little time unpacking and changing into some clothing that matched the temperature – warm and with very little humidity. Perfect.

I went and parked the car and picked up some brochures and The Princess sorted out what we wanted to take with us on a walk around the streets.

We were both quite hungry so it didn’t take too long to sniff out an eatery – Cafe Posta. We liked the look of the outdoor dining area and the choice was perfect on so many levels. The staff were friendly and willing to help us with our Italian the food was “to die for”. Or, in Italian (as we learned) – Buonissimo!

Our main host, Sissi (short for Alessandra), is a sweet girl that spoke some Chinese and was keen to learn about Australia, Hong Kong and Canada. She recommended some delightful food – a veal dish with tuna sauce and an incredible paninni full of Parma ham, cheese and rocket. The side serving of fresh bread and local olive oil was almost a meal in itself and made us realise that if you are going to eat bread it had better be with lashings of virgin olive oil!

Eating food here is an experience and not just something you do to fill a need.

Another server, Elisa, was very patient as we asked her questions about Italian wine. In the end she poured us some delightful white from the Balisicata region and it was the perfect compliment to the amazing food. So much so that we had two glasses each.

What a wonderful way to start our time in Italy.

We’a are’a quickly’a learning’a that most Italian words end with an ‘a so we figure’a that if we throw a lot of ‘a’s at the end’a of our words’a then we will’a be

Understood’a.

We bid Sissi and the staff at Cafe Posta arrivederci and took a walk around the quaint backstreets of Cerenobbio before heading back to the hotel. We poked our heads inside two beautiful churches and took some video and photo’s and also soaked up some of the streetscape in this lovely little town.

We opted for an afternoon nap back at the hotel – pretty much following the lead of the locals.

A perfect way to let lunch and a couple of beautiful glasses of wine go down!

Walking The Lake

After a quick shower and wake up we were on our way for a walk along the lake front toward Como.

The walk would take around 50 minutes if you didn’t stop but we were not in a hurry and our aim was to take lots of photos and video.

The temperature for the walk was perfect – about 25 degrees. The sun is not setting until around 9.30 at this time of the year so we had plenty of time to take in the spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

The walk took us past some ancient Villas (Villa Del Grumello, Villa Olmo, and some great lakeside restaurants.

We watched the Lake Como Aeroclub floatplanes take off and land and the ferries come and go as we dodged runners and cyclists that shared the sometimes narrow pathway.

We arrived in the city fringe around 8.30 and found a place to sit and eat dinner – appropriately named Tourist Cafe. The setting was great and the wine and food were excellent. Another top meal here in Italy.

Despite it being summer, the ferries and buses to Cernobbio had stopped running so, short of walking, it was a cab ride back to the hotel. Mental note – it would have been cheaper to hire a car than to take a cab!

A wonderful first day here in Como and we look forward to three more days of hiking, boating and driving this picture perfect area of Italy.

View From Hotel Window
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Lake Como From Front Of Hotel
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Classic Italian
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Cafe Posta Delight
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iPad Updating
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Double Shot Delight
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Alps Under Wing
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Europe Bound

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

24 hours to go before we return to the air and start winging our way to Milan for the beginning of our Euro’venture – 2011.

The bags are packed and the cameras are ready.  3 weeks of traveling through Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

Europe – what a fantastic place to spend 3 weeks!

Take a look at where we are staying by clicking on the following link.

Cernobbio, Lake Como, Italy

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