An Overcast Vienna

The University Vienna school of Economics and Business Administration

I had forgotten how green is Vienna with cycle paths like this

There was a black and white Hitchcock movie was there not that involved just such a Ferris wheel ?

Doubling Down in Dubai

The B777-300ER ( for Extended Range) was brand spanking new. I decided it was an absolute necessity to take my favourite sweat stained and somewhat smelly feather down pillow in the interests of maximising the chance of several hours sleep. It is so soft although sadly not so fluffy since 3 hours in the washing machine set on “industrial dirty “ with equal parts Napisan and chlorine bleach solution. Pummelled appropriately, normally I sleep on my stomach head and neck effectively horizontal. This sets the scene for what follows:

It was moderately successful – (carrying on my personal pillow) Emirates boast their business class beds as “flat”, which is false advertising as there is an heads up incline of about 15 degrees. Pedantic and obtuse – indeed the bed was in the triangular sense and so am I guilty as charged of both accusations.

I awoke around 5:30 am Adelaide time and as I had slept from about 11pm, this was as good as it gets. But then the fun began as the motorised mechanism that allows one to adjust this very expensive aeronautical “Jason Recliner”, refused to budge. One could hear whirring noises but no movement. Whilst I am not one to complain, the prospect of eating a freshly cooked omelette at an altitude of 39000ft and an attitude of 10 degrees from the horizontal was not appealing. Should this posture happen in our public hospital system, a dictatorial speech therapist would mandate that I should be placed on a strict “nil by mouth” regimen. I meandered to the aft of this spanking new Boeing and apologetically explained that my BC “Flat bed,” was indeed permanently flat and I needed help to be upright. The flight attendant naturally assumed I was either incompetent or had dropped some sort of electronic gadget into the mechanism. In fact neither was the case and having spent several minutes on all fours without success, he left to reboot the power supply to my seat – 10F – in case you were wondering – this took another 25 minutes and was not successful. He muttered apologetically that he may be forced to find me a seat in First class, but he went away one last time, possibly to discuss the issue with ground engineers or to read the manual. I was resigned to moving into 1st class, but he returned and getting down on all fours again, he managed to find some sort of knob which slowly screwed the seat to “un-recline”. I was to remain as upright and rigid as Peter Dutton, for the rest of the flight. By this time of course, the whole of Business class had stirred from slumber to gaze in the subdued blue light at the sight of an handsome Moroccan flight attendant down in all fours with me standing astride.

In the past I have described my propensity to lose personal belongings on trips as well as the strange indeed unique anatomy of my external ear lobes, which despite Apple’s claim to the contrary, are incapable of maintaining the Apple EarPods in place. Even sleeping, most unnaturally for me on my back, as still as an Egyptian Mummy, is pointless. Ahh I hear you say, so you did stuff up Seat 10F by dropping an Apple EarPod into the mechanism! I deny this emphatically. Anyway in an attempt to make my ear buds immutable , I took along my Icebreaker merino neck warmer and placed it strategically around my neck and over the ears. The perfect solution. But sometime between the saga of the recalcitrant recliner and breakfast, I discovered that the neck warmer was not around my neck. Mysteriously and totally unfathomably, it had stretched itself up and over my head and it was nowhere to be found, not only not around my neck but not around any other possible part of my anatomy. Rather sheepishly and with significant self consciousness, as the minutest movement or groan from seat 10F, instantly drew the whole of Business Class to fix eyes on the depraved passenger, I crept to the galley and asked the Moroccan flight attendant if by chance he had unexpectedly discovered a merino wool neck warmer on his body? No he said with a knowing wink, your secret is safe with me.

Dubai international airport is doubling exponentially and in the year since I last passed through, despite an extra runway and terminal, we were informed that our B777 would be forced to arrive away from the terminal and passengers would be transported by bus. Sounds OK in theory, but the plane was situated so far from the terminal, that during the bus journey we were served breakfast then a light lunch before arriving and I was able to watch via the bus video a rerun of The Sound is Music and the first opera of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

Vienna is wet today.

The Danube river along which I rode some 1000km in 2013