Friday, January 25, 2008


The trip across Asia was pretty easy and went quickly, belying the fact that it was a bit over 11 hours. Lufthansa is a pretty impressive airline, and the more foreign based carriers I fly, the more I am coming to realize what a cheap job the big US outfits do. The contrast is stark.

After leaving Shanghai and doing a weird zigzag over central China due to some traffic restrictions, we took a westerly course over Mongolia. We were chasing the dusk line, traveling a bit slower than the sun, so I was able to see a shocking red sunset over the frozen expanse of Siberia. Tall snow capped peaks glittered on the arc of the earth. Ulan Bator, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinberg - names from the deep history of the Silk Road and Russia.
From there it was a glide down into Europe crossing Moscow, Minsk, Warsaw and Berlin.
Before deplaning, the showed a nice little instructional video about how to do your transfer in the terminal, including video showing all the routes and counters. This was nice for me, as it put my anxiety to rest.

Too bad the reality was nothing like the movie.

I got off the plane and started to make my way into the terminal, missing a couple of turns before finding the correct escalator. I arrived at the transfer station only to be told I was in the wrong terminal. A kind agent sent me down the hall. I had 60 minutes on the clock.

A couple of turns and another missed escalator and I arrived at the Skyline, sort of a small, slow speed version of the train I started the day on. A short crossing of the space between the buildings and I was in Terminal 2.

The board listed the flight but not the gate and there were multiple entries to the gates. Through security. With no boarding pass. I asked an officer what to do and he told me that this was the practice here. Still having no gate, I walked the whole length of the E concourse before the gate finally showed up on the board. 40 minutes left. Went through security and made my way to the gate - no agent. I saw some guys screwing around down the way so I asked about a boarding pass. I was told "I can only be in 1 place at a time." Nice.

But he did walk down and check me in. Last row on the plane. 20 minutes left.

Sat around for a second or two and decided to hit the rest room while I had time. One of the automated urinals was shooting water across the room, it being in a state of perpetual flush,

They called us to board and since we were leaving via bus out to the plane, we had to go down 2 flights of stairs. The escalators were broken. On the bus, out to the plane and up the stairs. Being in the last row there was no overhead storage so I had to swim upstream a bit. We took off and beverage service came along. I asked for a coke and she asked for 2 euro. I have 10 USD and she gave me a handful of coins, thus so low has our dollar sunk. A rough landing due to winds, a friendly immigration agent and here I stand waiting to see if my bag has made it, and trying to make sense of the day.

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