A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about air travel

homeward bound

about to board the plane for toronto

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We're in Brussels and about to start the very last leg of our journey. I have several more blog entries about India but I'll have to post them from home unfortunately -- not enough time to upload the photos.

Thanks for traveling with me -- stay tuned for the last few posts ...

Posted by a_broad 00:04 Archived in Belgium Tagged air_travel Comments (2)

The Gods of transportation really don't like us

more problems ...

overcast 20 °C

The Gods of Transportation really don’t like us
more problems …

It seems that getting from A to B without incident is just not in the cards for us. First it was the bus. We finally put all that nonsense behind us. You won’t believe this …

We get up at 4 a.m. The hotel opens the restaurant early for us. We’re to leave at 5:30 in the morning. The boat is ready. They take all our luggage and leave. We get into our boat and they are so sweet – they cover us with blankets because at that hour of the morning (in the pitch black, by the way) a boat trip – even just across the lake – will be really cold.

We are right on schedule.

We’re in the middle of the lake now, wistfully looking back at the hotel, wishing we were still there. Suddenly the boat stops dead. We groan. We worry we’ll miss our flight. We look around in the dark to see if there’s another boat in the vicinity. Suddenly we see a couple of fishermen.

What’s happened? A huge fishing net has gotten all tied up in our motor. The fishermen untangle it. Our “driver” starts the engine. We get virtually nowhere and it happens again. And again. A second boat from the hotel tries to come to our rescue. The net gets tangled in his motor.

The boat that took our luggage comes now comes to get us. In the pitch dark we gingerly step from one boat to the other. We make it in one piece. Nobody ends up in the drink. We quickly get into our bus and speed to the airport.

We get there in plenty of time. We make it through security. Our flight is delayed. And delayed. And delayed. And finally cancelled.

Fog.

It is now 11 am. Everything here is cancelled. What a mess! Rashmi has been sitting with the airline people for hours trying to figure out what we’ll do. We were on our way to Khajuraho – via Delhi.

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We will not be able to go to Khajuraho now at all – so if I really want to learn the Kamasutra I will have to get a private tutor. We will not be seeing the Kamasutra Temple – at least not on this trip.

We’ll be going to Delhi for the night – if the fog ever lifts here (finally took off at 4 pm – 10 hours in the airport). And then – with luck there won’t be fog in Delhi tomorrow – and we’ll make our flight to Varanasi.

What can you do??

You learn patience here …

Posted by a_broad 08:31 Archived in India Tagged air_travel Comments (2)

hello, my name is ...

time for the semi official meet and greet

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You've heard me talking about them for months -- my fellow travelers. Well most of them anyway -- this is the Canadian contingent. The Wrays, from Australia, are meeting us in Delhi.

So here we all are, in The Maple Leaf Lounge. We've checked ourselves and our luggage in and we're chilling with a drink or two before boarding our Jet Air flight to Delhi -- via Brussels.

Rashmi is our fearless leader -- the travel agent who put this terrific trip together and will now have to put up with us for a month.
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"Us" included Cynthia who has unfortunately lost her room mate -- her cousin Teri -- who has pneumonia and can't come ... Marnie -- a very well-traveled bridge player ... and Haidee, who's a professional photographer -- we're the ones planning to collaborate on a book.
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What I wasn't prepared for was how fabulous Jet Air is. After years of flying Air Canada and being confronted with dirty planes, torn upholstery, seats that are falling apart, messy bathrooms, aging flight attendants, bad uniforms, frequent bad service and food that is beyond appalling that, unfortunately, is what I got used to.

Well ...

Brace yourselves. This is a privately-owned airline. The equipment is new. The bathroom in our cabin had a full length mirror, hot towels, shaving cream, mouthwash, lotion, and a touchless faucet. The flight attendants are young, beautiful girls and very handsome boys, exquisitely groomed, fun, charming and wearing lovely uniforms -- that actually fit them like a glove.
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It was Haidee's birthday on the 27th and we were in the air. When she woke up there was a happy birthday message on her flat screen TV (yes we each had our own) wishing her a Happy Birthday from the entire crew -- including the Captain. The next thing we knew the entire cabin crew were making their way down the aisle. They sang Happy Birthday and had with them a bottle of Dom Perignon -- which they opened. We all got champagne and then they gave her a card -- the menu signed by all of them -- and the Captain.

When was the last time that happened to you on a plane?

OK, we were in Business Class. But I've been there before, too.

As for the food you could have been in a great restaurant. I had the Indian selections but you could have your choice of Italian, Continental, you name it. Between Toronto and Delhi we had 4 meals. Dinner, then breakfast and then from Brussels to Delhi we got lunch and a snack again.

White linen ... beautiful china ... real salt and pepper shakers ... and seasoning and quality you just don't associate with being 37,000-odd miles up in the air. We started with soup -- sweet potato and apple, garnished with fresh chives, seasoned with a whisper of curry. My palek gosht (lamb cooked in a garlic and green chilly tempered baby spinach puree) came with paneer, dal, green pea pulao, raita and pickles.
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Other choices included a vegetarian curry, jumbo prawns cooked Oriental style or ravioli.

I could have just stayed on the plane.

Even though I could lay absolutely flat (we had pods) I didn't sleep between Toronto and Brussels -- even though I'd downloaded a relaxation tape on my iPod. I just wasn't tired. But I slept like a baby from Brussels to Delhi. Rashmi said I was in a very deep sleep.

I wonder if that's polite for "you were snoring so loudly nobody else could sleep."

Because we had pods are seats became completely flat. Then they put a duvet on it to make it softer -- it is a bit
hard. A pillow and a nice warm blanket and I was out like a light.
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Amazingly the flight didn't seem long and boring. Of course they never stopped serving us -- hot towels, drinks, snacks, meals, hot towels, drinks, snacks, meals, hot towels ... and I got off the plane in Delhi relaxed, refreshed and full of energy.

Then they opened the door to the aircraft. I immediately started to cough. And as Cynthia later said, it smelled like the day after a fire. It's the pollution. You can actually see it, it's so dense.

After waiting forever -- a piece of Rashmi's luggage (she had 6 bags full of gifts for the villagers we'll be seeing) and a piece of mine were thought to be lost but they eventually showed up. Oh you'll never know how happy that made me. Mine housed the infirmary I brought along with me. Don't ask. I now have enough medical supplies to treat everything from sore feet to minor surgery. The best news is that Marney was a nurse. Between the two of us we can open a clinic here.

Finally (after one in the morning), luggage in hand ... and on many, many carts we go through the doors into the terminal. And what waited for us there was something I could never have imagined!
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And in that throng of people there to pick weary travelers up do you think we could find our driver?

Eventually Rashmi had to make other arrangements and we were herded into 2 jeeps and taken to our hotel. It turns out our scheduled driver thought we were flying Air Canada -- on a flight arriving at about 12:30 a.m. so he was on his way to the airport when we were on our way to the hotel.

The Imperial Hotel is everything that, as a kid, I imagined India to be. British colonial. Stately. Elegant. Mahogany. Twenty-foot ceilings. Pictures of Queen Victoria everywhere (this hotel has museum quality art and artifacts on every wall and in every nook and cranny). Seriously. They give tours here. Marble floors everywhere -- even the rooms.

It is beyond anything you could imagine.

Right in the centre of the lobby there were hundreds of gorgeous red balls suspended from the ceiling -- Christmas decorations.
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And tell me if, after a more than 24-hour journey, this looked inviting ...
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I cannot wait to explore this magnificent hotel, but it will have to wait until I've had some sleep. The bed is calling ...

Posted by a_broad 10:49 Archived in India Tagged air_travel Comments (3)

We're Here!!!!!!!!!!

pinch me, I don't believe it

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After wanting to come to India for years and years and years ... after planning this trip for months and months ... here I am in the most gorgeous room you can imagine at the fabulous Imperial Hotel in Delhi!

OMG!!!

Tomorrow (make that later today because it is now 2:15 a.m.) I will upload some photos -- of our little group at the Maple Leaf Lounge, on the plane and THIS ROOM! I will also go into detail about the trip here. I honestly need to get some sleep but knew you'd all be wondering how I was and where I was.

But until then ...

Jet Air is the most amazing airline I have ever flown and I have flown on several Canadian, American and International airlines.

The smog here can kill you -- the instant the opened the door of the plane I started to cough and I haven't stopped yet. No wonder my doctor gave me antibiotics in case I get a respiratory infection. It is so dense it sticks to your skin and your clothes and you actually walk into it -- like walking through a curtain -- even inside the airport.

The honking of horns is relentless and deafening -- even at 1 in the morning when we finally walked out of the airport.

No matter what anybody tells you about how they drive here trust me you are unprepared for it. I closed my eyes and kept them shut and that's what I intend to do for the rest of the trip. A prayer here and there wouldn't hurt either, let me tell you.

What I was thinking when I said I wanted to come here by myself I do not know. We thought a piece of my luggage didn't make it -- we waited the better part of an hour. The airport was chaos -- who I would have ever found to report it to I do not know. When you finally get out of the customs area the sight that awaits you is unbelieveable -- I took pictures which I will upload tomorrow -- but they don't do it justice. The doors open and you see hundreds of people -- literally ringing the hall -- all 3 sides -- and they are about 6 or 8 deep. And they all have signs -- they are here to pick up tourists -- from hotels, from tour companies, from travel agents, from family and friends.

You cannot imagine. And they are so tightly packed in -- think sardines in a can -- it is impossible to figure out who is who, what is what and where your driver is.

Our pre-arranged bus didn't show up. If you're thinking taxi stand forget it. If you're thinking limo stand forget it. If you're thinking just ask someone in a uniform forget it. If you're thinking just call someone forget it.

We had Rashmi; and thankfully she organized 2 jeep-type vehicles for us. How I don't know. All I know is that after travelling for the better part of 24 hours and being hot, dusty, thirsty and tired in a place unlike anything I've ever experienced before I am certainly happy that I was not alone.

I am very happy I am here with our little group and with Rashmi -- we all talked about it while we were waiting for her to solve the transportation problem and we all agreed.

Come with a group!

I am going to sleep now ...

Posted by a_broad 12:50 Archived in India Tagged air_travel Comments (5)

On Our Way

hello from the Maple Leaf Lounge

overcast -3 °C

Okay ... so you're not going to be surprised. I've only been here since 2:30 in the afternoon. Don't ask me why. You know why. Ask my parents.

It's not that bad -- we were supposed to be here at 3:30. That's what Rashmi told us to do. She arrived at 4. It doesn't matter. We've checked in and been through security; and now we're sitting in the Maple Leaf Lounge waiting to board our flight.

Yes, I am having a glass of wine. I think I've earned it!

So we've lost a tour member. Teri has pneumonia. But everyone else is here: Marney (retired nurse) ... Cynthia (retired teacher), Haidee (professional photographer and she and I are collaborating on a book of this trip), Rashmi (our fearless leader.) We met Rashmi's brother and her husband today. They are so nice and both very handsome -- her husband looks like a rock star -- she's been holding out on us.

Allright I'm going to love you and leave you now -- I think I'm going to get another glass of wine. And take pictures of everyone to post on my next entry.

Talk to you soon ...

Posted by a_broad 13:55 Archived in India Tagged air_travel Comments (3)

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