The Princess of Boeing

The day of The New Roster has arrived. The most anticipated day of each month that brings so much, sometimes even too much. I had my secret hopes up for more China, especially Shanghai and its amazing shopping, but alas not in May.

The next Roster is taking me to India and back on almost weekly basis, but not only that. After more than 6 years I’m finally gonna make my big Italian comeback and return to the eternal city of love and tramezzinis -Rome. I’m also lucky enough to get the chance to explore a bit more of the old continent of Africa specifically Tanzania and Morocco.

I’m going to be trotting up and down the aisles of Boeing for second month running since my crush- the heart throb Airbus A380- is playing hard to get. Well- you know what they say- all them good things are worth waiting for!

I have a couple of stories up my sleeves and almost ready for you my dear readers and I’m sure there will be many more to come … but you will have to wait until I get back from London, which is where I’m headed tonight !

Have a great weekend wherever you are and whatever you do!

Lots of love

x

G.

That's all I have been seeing of the A380 lately

That’s all I have been seeing of the A380 lately

The very precious blue (and green) Mauritius

The first thing you notice about Mauritius is how green the green is. So soothing to the tired eye of somebody who is used to the endless sandy haze of Dubai. The second thing you notice is how colourful everything else is too. They seem to love their blues and reds and yellows them Mauritians. Never have I felt so outta place as when I landed there in my beige uniform pale-faced after a long turbulent flight.

We boarded the crew bus and headed to our hotel in Port Louis. The drive was quite a long one and I battled falling asleep with all my might. I tried to stay awake for as long as I physically could to see as much of the island as possible but even blasting David Guetta in my headphones couldn’t stop my eyelids from closing.

I woke up just as the bus pulled into the hotel car park totally confused and disoriented. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out where I was as I felt to embarrassed to ask anyone. I have to admit at this point I didn’t care one bit about being in Mauritius all I wanted was a comfy bed and at least two days of sleep.

See- the departure of our flight was one of the early morning ones (3 a.m)which is normally not a problem. I usually tend to get up real early, avoid my morning coffee or even a cup of tea, go to the gym for a couple of hours and then up to the pool to properly tire myself out sunbathing. Then around 3pm I dim my room and go to sleep for a few hours before waking up at night and getting ready for work. It has worked every single time so far. What my plan doesn’t involve count with is any external distraction such as broken air-condition in the entire building. Which is exactly what happened before my Mauritius flight. When I got back from my hour long cardio session that afternoon I was more than ready to crash out and it was more than unpleasant to find my entire flat steaming hot.For those not familiar with Dubai weather- we are now starting our long summer journey at abouts 36′ degrees. I live on the 21st floor and my appartment is east- oriented. Meaning by 1pm it would have been in the direct sun for good 6-7 hours. It was pretty much unbearable especially in my tired state of mind. I knew I needed to sleep and I couldn’t. I spent the afternoon tossing and turning in my bed, sweating, jumping under cold shower and repeating the process all over again.

Hence my disregard of the beautiful Mauritius. I dragged my heavy duty bag thru the hotel completely oblivious to how gorgeous it was with only one thing in mind – sleep. And then I got to my room :

IMG_1415

Something in me finally got a grip! I realised that although sleeping was the only thing my heart longed for at that moment it would also be the most stupid thing to do. Instead I put on my bikini and went to the pool. And I’m so glad I did. Have I not I’d have missed out on one of the most random adventures of my life- which I like to call

 The Snail Trail trekking to the Mount of Mauritius

I made it into a photo-story because some tales just cannot be described with words however long you try…

Migo, Abbie, Sam and I

Migo, Abbie, Sam and I aka the Fellowship of the Trekk

As days go by…

Coming back from the fantastic island of Mauritius I found myself sunburnt, beyond tired and enriched with a few more amazing people I can now call friends. The beauty of friendships making is that it always brings something new and exiting into one’s life. Be it a restaurant recommendation, a beautiful song you have never heard of or a very random and unplanned day out go karting and wake boarding.

When Abbie, my mauritian partner in crime, mentioned her wake boarding hobby and suggested I should come along next time she goes to her favourite Abu Dhabi resort that’s full of fun things to do and has got plenty of bars and cabanas one can chill out at when tired of all the activities the only thing I heard was “bars and cabanas” so of course I was like “sure thing ma dear – count me in” without fully realising what I have just committed myself to.

She called me couple of hours later , which coincidentally was the next morning but that mattered very little since I spend the entire night up trying to get over my jetlag (how strange getting a jetlag from a layover that’s within the same time zone?!) and told me to get ready as we are leaving for Abu Dhabi in the next 20 mins. Which we did.

I love having friends. I love having friends who have cars even more. But the most – the most I love having friends who have Audis and drive them like it’s their last day on Earth!

Due to not having adhered to the speed limit between Dubai and Abu Dhabi even for a minute we got to the Al Forsan resort way to early. We still had a couple of hours to kill before the water sports area opened. There really is a sack of crazy things one can get up to in Al Forsan. We opted for go karting as shooting was too extreme for me and horseback riding way too lame for Abbie. I never go karted in my life but I kinda always knew that when I eventually do I’d love it. And I was right. When I got flagged to pull back into the pitstop as my time on the track was up I was buzzing and totally high on adrenalin!558095_10200384060456409_334360_n

And then it was time for the main purpose of our journey – the wake boarding. Never heard of it I hear you say? Well – it involves water, a board and a very quick cable that pulls you around a lake full of buoys, slides and jumps. All clear now? Before you all start thinking of me as a very cool and extremely talented sports addict let me tell you that I was NOT able to actually get up on the wake board. I started off with something called a “knee-board” which is exactly what is says on the tin – a board you kneel on. I was having a blast speeding over the lake, screaming my head off and splashing the on-looking flock of geese. After about 15 mins the cable guys decided I should be pushed onto the next level, took away my knee-board and put me on a pair of water skis. That’s when everybody but me started having fun watching my epic face plants and hopeless attempts to last for more than 15 seconds. When I eventually did manage it the cable guys weren’t ready to give up their source of entertainment just yet and made me switch again. To the “easy” wake board as they called it. I don’t know why. There was nothing easy about it. If I thought the water skies were difficult this was purely insane. It didn’t help much that Abbie was cruising around on her board making it look so damn effortless whilst I was sweating my butt off swimming back to the shore with my “easy” board under my arms most of the time. After about an hour and a half of falling, swimming back, getting up, falling, swimming back, getting up and falling again my arms gave up. I could no longer lift them past my belly button and looking any other direction than straight ahead was also no longer possible as all the pulling gave me a slight whiplash.

I looked at the cable guys rubbing their stomach that were doubtlessly hurting from all the laughing and asked :

“Is everybody so hopeless their first time?”

“Sometimes. But not really.” was the brutally honest answer.

I’m not giving up tho. I never do. I will be back Al Forsan this time with my head raised and not painfully slouching and limping!

Still Standing and Smiling

Still Standing and Smiling

Did I mention nobody else but us was there?

Did I mention nobody else but us was there?

Now just Sitting and Smiling

Now just Sitting and Smiling

Racing back to Dubai I resuscitated my IPhone and got the news. Good one and a bad one as they always tend to come. Bad one : I seemed to have missed the earthquake in Dubai which was a very rare occasion. Good one: My Karachi turn around scheduled for today has changed to a day off which as I’m told is an occasion even rarer!

I have only realised the full extend of my luck today when I woke up and couldn’t move any part of my upper body. Just the thought of having to close and open the hatracks and pulling the carts up and down the aisle is painful. This extra day off has been sent to me by the Gods of Wake boarding Newbies and I’m so thankful for it.

Lots of love

x

G.

 

 

The Other Bangkok

There is no arguing that flying around the globe and getting paid for it is a pretty sweet gig. I have already spent way too much time on this blog listing reasons why I love what I do for living and I won’t bore you with that again. Let me -just for a while I promise- dwell on a topic I have so far not mentioned. My fellow crew members. Colleagues. The crazy people that make each flight and layover either go up or come down. Quite literally.

The moment a new roster comes out just after you check all the cool destinations you are being sent to the very next thing you do is evaluate your crew. You either get very excited about flying with somebody you know or start scrutinising the pictures of faces you have never seen before and deliberate whether or not you are gonna get on with any of them. And honestly – you can spend hours and days doing that but it won’t matter a bit. The moment you step into the pre-flight briefing room and have a look around you know you are bound to find at least one friend among those people. We are ultimately all the same. The same type of people I mean. We have gone thru the same stressful interview process, thru the same training, we have all moved far away from everything we have been used to and we all do the same job. The paths that have brought us all here to this one quiet pre-briefing room and the reasons that make us wake up at 1am every other day may be different but ultimately there is no fooling each other. Inside we were all crazy enough to turn our lives around and start this mad roller coaster of a lifestyle.

And now there we are – twenty or so people from twenty or so different countries speaking twice as many languages as there are hats on the table. Bound to work together as a team for the next XX hours and then spend a couple of days together on the other side of the planet. This feeling never fails to give me the chills. I love it!

A decade ago, when I was a not-so-rebelious teenager with a mouthful of braces spending every waking minute of my life babysitting my baby brothers I most definitely did not expect my life to turn so exciting. To end up hanging out with people from countries I have never heard of before on daily basis all around the world. To make international bonds that even the UN would be proud of. To get rid of the last piece of prejudice I had left in my body. And to find my long-lost Chinese twin sister. Yes- I couldn’t believe it either when on my recent Bangkok flight I walked into the briefing to find there a girl with the exact hair colour. Cecilia from Honk Kong. Quite naturally I sat right next to her. The rest of the crew found it so hilarious they nicknamed us ” The Twins”. And that name stuck with us for the rest of the 4-day-trip.

CC and I

CC and I

The only reason I was looking forward to going Bangkok was to get my well-deserved full body massage. I have been to Bangkok before and wasn’t too impressed by the sex-tourism culture I have encountered there. As it turns out tho I just hung out in the wrong places the first time around. There is a whole Other Bangkok that I have been introduced to this time around. The Bangkok that belongs to the locals not to the tourists. I know – I should have known better especially after having lived in Prague for so long but there you go I was once again being overly judgemental too early.

As soon as we checked into the hotel and collected our generous allowance I made my way to the nearest massage/beauty salon. Seeing the massive discount crew was getting at that place I went completely overboard. Full body massage, mani, pedi, foot massage, nails. The Full Monty! After about four hours of being pampered by a tiny Thai girl I was so besotted I proposed to her.

“Marry me. You can move to Dubai with me and I’ll take care of everything. All you will ever have to do is give me a massage every day” I said.

She just laughed it off. As for me I have never been more serious about marriage as at that moment. For the first time in my life marriage made complete sense. But alas it wasn’t meant to be for this girl and I.

In case you had an indecent proposal in mind...

In case you had an indecent proposal in mind…

I went back to the hotel broken hearted, met up with some of my fellow crew and we set off in a quest of finding the best green Thai curry in town. Which to be honest with you is no quest at all. Food in Thailand could be my sole purpose of living if I ever needed one. We sat in the street eating , sweating and people watching surrounded by thousands of tuck-tucks and locals. No tourists in sight.

We decided to go with the flow of the night and instructed one of the tuck-tuck drivers to take us to a place where the locals hang out. And that’s how we ended up in Asiatique.

Asiatique

Asiatique

It was truly magical. Just a boat-ride away from the hectic centre of Bangkok lies this Haven full of quirky little butiques, jazz bars, ice cream parlours, amusement corners and- believe it or not- shisha caffes. We walked around, shopped,sat and smoked for hours until none of us could stay up for any longer.

The next day I went back to the salon to try my luck with my little Thai masseuse but again she wasn’t having any of it. So I just had another massage instead. Then it was time for our quick Hong Kong turn-around (as you do:) which included delicious dinner at the business lounge in HKG airport and a two-hour sleep in a business seat on the A380. When we got back to Bangkok around midnight I decided not to give in to the devil in me and go out but stay in the hotel and be reasonable for once. Which paid off because unlike some of my colleagues I was actually able to venture out and explore a bit more of Bangkok the day after.  IMG_1269

I’m hoping to get this pairing again soon – for the amount of work I’m required to do we do get quite a lot of rest plus both of the destinations are in my top 10! Well – fingers crossed 🙂 Anyway – I better start getting ready, it’s almost time to take the bus to the HQ to start yet another adventure – this time to Mauritius – and I haven’t even started packing yet!

Speak soon

x

G

Riding with the Americans in Viet Nam

I’m not the one to normally take part in political debates. Whenever I find myself being pulled into one I incline to not to stay silent and not to voice my opinion. That’s not because I don’t have one. C’mon I think you know me better by now ! I have an opinion about absolutely everything! It’s just that discussions about politics tend to get very heated and controversial. Both of which I try to avoid. As per my experience one can spend days and nights trying to argue their case and yet never manage to persuade the opposition of their own version of the truth. That’s -in short- why I stay out of politics.

You can therefore imagine my great surprise when I found myself in the middle of the most politically charged “happening” of my life :

“Riding bikes with the Americans in Saigon. Viet Nam.” as I like to call it. Yes. And here is how it happened :

The layover in Ho Chi Minh City is scheduled for only 24 hours. As the arrival and departure are both quite late in the evening the wisest thing to do is to go straight to bed , get some proper sleep , wake up nice and early the next day, go explore, come back, get ready for the flight back and fly home. And that’s what I decided to do too. The lucky thing was that most of the crew flew to Ho Chi Minh for the first time just like myself and everyone was keen to venture outside of the hotel and see what the local life is all about. I had to two choices :

a) follow most of the girls I made friends with on the flight and book a bus tour to the tunnels outside of the city with a proper guide, time schedule and brochures.

b) step way out of my comfort zone and rent a scooter with our pilots and cruise around town aimlessly.

Do you wanna take a guess which one I went for?

Yes- you are quite right I went for option A… Originally. However as I was enjoying my free Saigon Bia (local beer) -a complimentary drink is included in the overnight stay of our crew hotel- in the hotel lobby I stumbled across Dave, our First Officer, and Grace, a girl working in the Premium Cabin. They were both very excited about the plans they’ve just made which was to get down with the local mayhem of a traffic the next day. They asked me to come with them and create a little convoy of tourists on bikes (which at that time we thought was a thing but it turned out not to be after all !). I was damn tired at that point, having been on my feet for more than 20 hours straight and a half of that very light beer was already working its magic on me.

“No guys- sorry I have already booked a tour.” is what I should have said.

“What the heck -why not!? That sounds like helluva fun!” is what I said.

I went straight to the receptionist and cancelled my tour. I woke up the next day wondering if this was going to be the day I die in a road accident. As we proceeded to the bike rental shop, choose our bikes and left a 15-year-old Vietnamese boy in charge of our passports I felt like this was the right moment to mention to the FO that I have never ridden a bike/scooter before. As a driver.

He looked at me and said:

“You will be just fine.”

The Red Scooter - is anybody surprised by that?

The Red Scooter – is anybody surprised by that?

I decided to believe him- after all he is the second one in the chain-of -command on board so I was in no position to question him. As it turned out he was right. I did just fine. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out how to drive that damn thing. It took me even less to figure out the traffic rules of Saigon. To put it simply : there are none. You see a free spot you take it, one-way streets mean nothing, round abouts or crossroads are pretty much the same thing – which is total chaos. Beep your horn if you are about to crash into somebody in front of you, they are gonna do the same thing. Watch the traffic ahead of you not behind you. Try to avoid pedestrians. That’s pretty much it.

Moi

Moi

Grace and Dave

Grace and Dave

We cruised around for hours never really getting lost (I suppose that’s the advantage of hanging out with the pilots, they somehow always know where they are), taking pictures and videos, joining the “gangs” as we called them which were the humongous masses of bikes at every traffic light and following them around, stopping for local street food and having an amazing time. I have always wanted to ride a scooter. And now I did. In Saigon of all places. I felt like if that day was the day I was to die in a road accident I’d die totally happy with a massive grin on my face!

IMG_1368

IMG_1384

IMG_1385

IMG_1378

As I said 24-hour layover is not much -but I feel like I made the most out of mine. I have truly experienced Viet Nam as much as one can in a day.

x

G.

And Here is a Soppy One…

A few decades ago on this day a little baby girl was born. She was a very clever and stubborn child who grew up to be an even more clever and stubborn woman. Eventually she crossed paths with a young handsome man, they fell in love, got married and had a baby. Me.

I love you mum- you are one of the brightest stars in my sky. You have always been so supportive and inspiring I couldn’t have asked for a better role model! I hope you are as proud to be my mother as I am to be your daughter !

Thank you for everything you have ever done for me, thank you for always being there for me, thank you for letting me make my own mistakes in life and never telling me “I told you so”. Thank you for being the best mum in the world not only to me but also to my beloved brothers. None of our lives would be the same without you. Please don’t ever change !

Happy Birthday !

mamka

The Day That Has Happened Already

I got back from Bangkok today convinced it was Monday when in fact it was a bright early Sunday morning. I just couldn’t get my head around it. I went back and forth,counted and re-counted all I did in the last seven days and still… it just wouldn’t add up. It should have been Monday but it wasn’t. It was Sunday.

Apparently this is quite a common thing to happen to crew. Weekdays and their importance don’t mean anything anymore. Alongside words such as”daytime” or “breakfast” or “afternoon nap” -they will simply fade away in your memory and become an empty name of something you have no real use for.

It no longer feels strange to eat a big meal at what other people may call “odd” hours e.g 3am because your body is probably just adjusted to a time zone that requires you to have your dinner right now right there. Also “sleeping in” is anything at any time that consist of more than 5 hour of uninterrupted sleep.”You look tired” is the new “How are you” between me and my friends. It is also normal to get three different answers to “what time is it” if you ask more than one person at a time.

Such are the joys of my new life!

But anyway that’s not what I was getting at. As I was saying I got all worked up over having gained one extra day without even knowing. My Groundhog Day.

“Awesome” I thought ” How many times in my life have I thought I have lost days/hours/minutes of my life doing something completely pointless! Now it’s payback time! I finally got my lost time back and can do with this day whatever I want to! ”

My intensions were to sit down, list the happiest moments of my life and try to re-live  them for a bit to make myself feel extremely happy and lucky to be here (even more than I usually do:). However it seems that the word “intentions” has lost its meaning as well. Life has its funny way to look over my shoulder to check out my “to do” list, then tap me on that very shoulder and say ” Look you can just forget about that. I have planned something different for you!”

So as I landed, got excited about my extra day, made my plans and headed home I also realised I have lost my wallet. And once a wallet is lost it’s gone forever. I have a good old habit of not keeping much cash on me ever but also a very annoying old habit of putting my tiny keepsakes and lucky charms into my wallet (not a very lucky charm this was I guess). Therefore I wasn’t too bothered about the few couple of dirhams I have lost -my trick is to imagine somebody in a great need finding them and saving their lives from starvation in this way- but I nearly cried over losing all of my little memorabilia some of which dated back as long as 8 years.

Whilst deciding between feeling sorry for myself or being angry with myself (you know that hopeless feeling when you have nobody else to blame but yourself?) I was going thru the necessary motions of having to block my bank cards, replacing IDs, driving licence and so on. One of them was also to get some cash to live of and has turned out to be the most difficult one. I have heard a lot about the arabic way of banking. The bad news is it’s all true.

There I was -tired beyond my wildest imagination, jetlagged, hungry and craving my daily caffeine fix- being whisked around my local branch just to get my account number for almost an hour when all I wanted was to tug myself into my brand new IKEA clad bed. I was ready to punch a baby as they say. “Not the best way to spend a Groundhog day really” was I thinking when finally leaving the bank after almost hour and a half. I decided to walk off my disappointment of having experienced the worst customer service of my life rather than take a taxi back home (we all know that’s not the best way to calm yourself down over here:). And that’s when I found it. The single most beautiful place I have been missing so badly in the Middle East. A park! A park with real grass, singing birds, water and blooming flowers and palm trees.

I took my shoes off, sat down in a shade of a massive tree, closed my eyes and listened to the humming birds. It was a very happy moment. And suddenly I knew. I knew that if there was a reason for me having lost my wallet it was this one. Have I not have done it I would have never have to come all this way just for some money and I would have probably never come across this park. And that would most certainly be a shame!

Al Safa

Al Safa

I walked around the grassy green paradiso until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. I promised myself to come back here as soon as I can and then finally took a taxi home and went straight to bed – 15 hours later than originally intended. All together today was a great day. Especially considering it was a day that has supposedly happened already…

 

x

 

G.