Hakuna Matata

This whole adventure started sometime last summer or so when I flew somewhere to Africa over the Kenyan and Tanzanian border. I sneakily snapped a picture from the aircraft window of the highest African mountain – the Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru Peak and later posted it with the caption “See you next year”. I don’t really remember what I meant by that. I possibly had this vague idea of one day trying to climb that Big Mamma. To my surprise Dad was the first one to comment saying ” A life- long dream of mine.” I was like ” Hang on – WHAT?”

IMG_1928

And that’s when we started talking. And my vague idea suddenly became very real. In 2015 we would fly to Africa and attempt to summit the Mount Kilimanjaro 5895 m. Getting my dad involved was the best choice I ever made. If this was just me I would be still talking about planning the whole thing. However my dad sat down, googled “Kili”, read everything there was ever written and to be read about “Kili”, made informed decisions, booked what was there to be booked and sent me the invoice. All I had to do was search for flights and get my gear. Which basically meant go online and go shopping. My two favourite activities!

With every piece of equipment I bought I was getting more and more excited about this trip that was taking me way beyond me comfort zone. And as the pile of clothes and various tools was growing in the corner of my room I realised I was missing the most vital part – my best friend Holly. And so I just flat-out told her ” I think you should come”. And she -and that’s why I love her – said “Ok cool.”IMG_6986

And so there we were- my father The Kiliboss as he would have liked us to call him or rather The Lizard as he later became to be known to the Kili population. My wife Holly-my tent mate-who has become famous for having consumed the largest amount of various liquids (tea, water, soup etc) and climbing the mountain purely on that diet. And then my humble self perhaps the only person to ever read three entire books whilst climbing. However I don’t have that fact verified. But what can I say Jo Nesbo really got me hooked.

February 2015 rolled over faster than any of us expected. Or perhaps that was just me. It caught me completely by surprise. The last few months prior to the trip I have spent getting used the new cabin I’m currently working in, travelling between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on my days off and spinning (indoor cycling) at Flywheel. And before you ask – yes that was the only training I have focused on. Unlike the Lizard that has purchased a backpack filled it with stones and hiked pretty much the whole of Czech Rep up and down. Dedication at its finest.

And so before I knew it was the 14th Feb and the three of us were sipping a glass of Moet et Chandon at the Terminal 3 in Dubai waiting for our gate to Dar Es Salaam to open. That glass of champagne was the last bit of luxury we treated ourselves to. Or so we thought. See we were preparing ourselves for 8 days of no hot water, no running water, no beds, no toilets, no heating , no proper food. Most of which we were right about. Apart from the food. Somehow – and honest to God I still don’t know how – our guides managed to treat us to a hot 3-course african cusine three times a day. Yes that’s right. We were freezing our butts off in tents considering long drops a rarity among the more usual bushes but we were stuffing our faces with pancakes and all kinds of plantain stews and soups and marinated meats everyday. Even at 5000m altitude. Gordon Ramsay eat your heart out.

liquid diet

liquid diet

waiting for a meal course number 51.. popcorn. soup, prime, second, carne, pizza done... bring on the dole

waiting for a meal course number 51.. popcorn. soup, primi, secondi, carne, pizza done… bring on the dole

Lizard and Simba

Lizard and Simba

Climbing a mountain is an experience such as no other. And climbing it with people I care about made it that much more special. The three of us were accompanied by a group of local porters and guides that have become our little family for that week. Before the trip has started I couldn’t quite imagine what is it gonna feel like having my bags carried up by someone else. And having seen it the first day – the intimidating pile of stuff tied together that these guys pick up like a shopping bag, place it on their heads and shoot up the hill I mostly felt ashamed. I felt like the privileged white girl visiting Africa for “the experience of a life time” that quite frankly I was. However as the week progressed and we got to know our guys a bit better (I’m not even gonna attempt to spell their names) I came to realise that they are happier than most of the people I have ever met. They are proud of what they do (as they should be), they are grateful for us tourist coming a hiring their strong arms so they can go back home to their home towns and families and enjoy the reputation and respect and hard cash that being a Kilimanjaro porter and consequently a guide brings. I have been humbled by their pure joy of life. Those guys woke up and greeted every single day with a wide bright smile and genuine laughter.Sometimes even a song. They are so happy just to be alive, warm.dry, fed and among friends. They have so little and yet so much more than most of us. I have said it before and I’m saying it again. Africa and its people have a very special place in my heart.

Gideon and Safi ... our guides

Gideon and Safi … our guides

so this is like their version of an "open space" office

so this is like their version of an “open space” office

getting our pre-meal briefing (Lil Primi is explaining what he's gonna cook for us next, got me salivating every single time, his pancakes were unreal!)

getting our pre-meal briefing (Lil Primi is explaining what he’s gonna cook for us next, got me salivating every single time, his pancakes were unreal!)

Chillen like a villain with ma homies

Chillen like a villain with ma homies

Lizard trynna see if he could, he says he could but I don't think so :)

Lizard trynna see if he could, he says he could but I don’t think so 🙂

Da crew

Da crew

Last selfie. Spot the Lizard

Last selfie. Spot the Lizard

Our Optimus Prime what a legend !

Our Optimus Prime what a legend !

I already said I let the Lizard pick and decide everything regarding the climb. Including the route. Ok -I feel like now it’s perhaps a good time to explain the nickname. Needless to say my dad isn’t too keen on it. Ever since we started the chain conversation over WhatsApp he would regard himself as Kiliboss. That never really caught on. However the moment we hit the mountain and I noticed my dad changing his upper layers (each of a different shiny colour) with pretty much every passing cloud I noted aloud that he was “like a chameleon or an overgrown lizard” and boom a nickname was created. My dad tried to convince the guys to call him “Simba” instead which is “also of the animal kingdom” and means “lion” in Swahili. But once a Lizard always a Lizard. And so the only “Simba” that came with us was a jar of jam that the Lizard confiscated upon the first taste and only let us smell it for the rest of the trip.

The Lizard being like "Whateves...there is a mountain in the backdrop no biggie" .. he cool

The Lizard being like “Whateves…there is a mountain in the backdrop no biggie” .. he cool

Simba

Simba

So as I was saying the Lizard picked the route. Which meant that without knowing it we gave up all the luxuries of the modern day climbing such as huts, bunk beds, tiled toilets and benches to sit on. Not that we had an idea until the last day anyway. We tackled the mountain from the North using the Rongai route. It may be a little less comfortable and little longer however in exchange for that we had Kilimanjaro to ourself for the majority of the trip. There were days when we literally met none else but our lil group. Plus it’s apparently the “cool’ route to pick which we also didn’t know until we arrived back to the bottom of the mountain and were exchanging stories with other climbers that were left impressed that two young girls and one Lizard took on “The Rongai”.IMG_7280

Rongai start in a rain forrest which is inhabited by loads of monkeys and one human family trying to sell us Mars bars and cans of Coke. We declined and days later kicked ourselves for that decision because in our careful planning and list crossing we somehow collectively forgot to bring any chocolates or general sweets. We didn’t get to see the monkeys apart from one bushy tail however they most definitely saw us and let everyone else know by frantic wild screams. For a moment there I imagined that monkey scene from Hunger Games and considered turning back. But soon enough we left the rainforest behind as we climbed up and up to the first camp in moorlands. And in the beautiful moorland we stayed for a couple of days. I must say that was probably my favourite part of the mountain. The views are not yet as majestic as a bit higher up but they are still great mostly overlooking the vast Kenyan territory. There is loads of peculiar flowers and bushes to admire and cheeky little gerbils and field mice running around and stealing your lunch when you are not looking. There is plenty of streams and tiny lagoons that allow a bit of a daytime wash that’s not really plausible in the evening as the temperature drops rapidly once the sun is gone (ever since day 2 we were pretty much at 3000m and above so regardless of being right on the Equator it gets COLD). Once we got up to 4300m we camped at the same spot for two night to acclimatise. At this altitude you get to experience what it’s like to be a 90-year-old. Tasks such as getting up from a chair, walking, talking or generally breathing are rather difficult and so you try to avoid them as much as you can. We spent most of our time resting in tents, slowly moving around, peeing (yes even at this altitude I have to go every 30mins plus I was enjoying the rare luxury of long drops instead of the more usual bush or a large stone), reading books and eating Simba jam. Well some of us did anyway. The second morning we got up, packed the camp and set off for the longest part of the whole journey – the day leading up to the summit attempt.

Who run this mutha' ?!

Who run this mutha’ ?!

Cool as parachichi

Cool as parachichi

IMG_7089_2 IMG_7075_2 IMG_7092_2IMG_6837_2 IMG_6825_2 IMG_6876 IMG_6817_2

First part was to cross the lunar desert between the Mawenzi Peak at the bottom of which we camped and the Uhuru peak. The crossing itself isn’t long or challenging but our bodies were already tired and the altitude really started taking its tool. But the time we got to the Kibo Hut, the highest camp on the mountain at 4700m above sea level we were exhausted and ready to sleep. Which we needed to since that night we had to get up at 10pm and start climbing to the summit. The only thing that got me out of my warm sleeping bed was the thought of a chocolate biscuits we were promised. I couldn’t care less for some Uhuru peak. However when I saw my cup of tea and the much anticipated biscuit my stomach turned and I declined. That was kind of my first clue that tonight wasn’t gonna go as smooth as I hoped.

We set off. I’m trying to remember how exactly I felt and what was going thru my head but it’s very hard. I wasn’t well. My body wasn’t reacting well to the altitude and sleep didn’t help either. I wanted back to bed, I wanted to crawl into my favourite fetal position and sleep forever. I most certainly didn’t want to climb 1000 vertical meters for the next 12 hours. My head felt heavy my legs wasn’t listening to my commands. I was slowing down the group and so we bid our “byes” and “see you at the tops” and parted. I felt a little better for not having the pressure of the whole group upon me but as my guide and I progressed I could feel every meter hammering my head and adding weight on my shoulders. I felt let down by my body. I was ready for feeling nauseous and headaches. I wasn’t ready for this. What was “this”? “This” was like standing at an empty platform and trains passing me very quickly . The trains being my thoughts. I literally couldn’t think. My legs weren’t mine. Or at least they didn’t act like it. I said “Let’s go” and they stood still. I said “left” and they went right. It was at about 5100m that my knees gave in and I just simply fell to the ground like a bag of potatoes. And I felt like that will do and I can just stay there and sleep. It was there that my guide said ” I think it maybe time for you to ask yourself the question.” “What question?” I said. “If it’s really worth it going on.” he replied.

But I just couldn’t imagine giving up. So I pulled thru. After about an hour I was at 5200. Yes I walked 100 vertical meters and took me an hour. And it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Or so I thought. I didn’t know the hardest thing was yet to come. I needed a break every ten meters or so at this point. To catch my breath, to stop my head from spinning to make my legs listen to me. My guide looked me in the eyes and said ” Gabby, you have to turn. This mountain is not worth your health.” I knew he was right so I didn’t say anything. I just sat down on rock and cried for a little bit. It was a very silent very composed cry. Looking back I think it was mostly a relieved cry rather than a defeated one. I looked up at the sky full of stars it must have been about 2 am at this point and I still remember thinking that this was the most beautiful sky I have ever seen in my life. Then I looked up the steep hill and saw the procession of lights and tried to guess which one of them was my dad and which one was Holly. I then tried to look even further beyond the lights and tried to catch a glimpse of the peak that I was to never see with my own eyes. But it was still too dark. Then I took a deep breath and said “Ok, let’s go sleep.” And every step I took down the hill I could feel my wits returning, my lungs filling with more air, my head clearing and my legs feeling lighter. It felt like waking up from a very deep dreamless sleep.

Did I feel disappointed? No. I never reached the peak but I still climbed the mountain. I walked, ran, slept ,  ate, laughed and cried on that mountain for over a week. I zigzagged it from North to South. I woke up a few times and saw the world from above. I was on top of the clouds and for once I got there myself on my own two legs and not on an aircraft. So in my head I accomplished what I came to do. The Lizard and Holly both summited successfully and I was there to give them a hug and take off their bags and help them recover when they returned to Kibo. We were there for each other to exchange the full stories (dad and Holly had to also split up at a later stage), to cry a little and laugh a lot. It was a happy day. And it wasn’t over yet.IMG_6775_2 IMG_6776_2 IMG_6765_2 IMG_6736_2 IMG_6727 IMG_6726_2 IMG_6692_2 IMG_6684_2 IMG_6670_2 IMG_7076_2

We still had  to cross over to our last camp of the trip. That was a long one. And a dusty one. I have never been so happy to see a camp let alone such a hight tech one with things like sinks with running waters and mirrors. That night we ate dinner in silence and very quickly and went to bed before the sun set. The next morning was our last one on the mountain and we had the longest part ahead of us however it was all downhill and in a very low altitude so it basically felt as if we were flying. Which we were. We raced to “the finish line” aka the last gate of the park but right in front of it we stopped and like right sportsmen and Kilimates we crossed it together. And that was it. The adventures has come to an end and now it was time to enjoy the Kilimanjaro beer and the Kilimanjaro song that our guides had ready for us. Hakuna Matata indeed !IMG_6868_2 IMG_6885_2 IMG_7062_2

 

Poa!

G.

 

The September Issue II.

…After the obligatory quick suitcase repacking in Dubai I was off again – this time with my red hat and the red lipstick on. It was Sydney o’clock. Crazy crazy Sydney o’clock. I hope to never ever have a layover like this again. Let’s just leave it at that. When I landed back home three days later I promised myself and the rest of the crew that what happens in Sydney stays in Sydney. So I may have to try and never return to Sydney again. I stayed in Dubai for only as long as it took to attend a few spinning classes that I fell in love with recently and immediately after boarded a flight to Sri Lanka. Jana – my lovely friend I told you about who graduated a few months ago – was one of my fellow crew and since her parents were visiting her in Dubai she decided to bring them on the flight with us. I have known her parents for nearly as long as I know her so they are pretty much an extension of my own family. And so my Colombo layover became a bit of a mini family vacation. We did EVERYTHING there is to do in 24 hours in Sri Lanka- visited a tea factory where we sampled some of the best tea I have ever drank, went to an elephant orphanage where we watched, fed and rode a few of the them, took a tour around a botanical garden and spent a fortune on magical love potions and anti-ageing creams.IMG_3453 IMG_3355 IMG_3454 IMG_3451

As soon as I landed back from Sri Lanka I shook off my uniform and headed back to the airport – this time I was Prague bound. I had a few important appointments to attend.. The first one the the very same evening in a tattoo parlour :p) The next one the evening after… with Pharrel Williams- which was one of the best live concerts I have seen up to date. I met with cherished friends, ate my favourite food, drank my favourite beer. And before I knew it – it was once again time to pack my bag and leave the indian summer in Prague behind and go to Seattle.IMG_3492 IMG_3643 IMG_3634 IMG_3629 IMG_3584

A brand new destination to tick off my bucket list. I have been particularly excited about this since I’m a die-hard Frasier fan. And Seattle has not let me down. The city is quite frankly stunning. Surrounded by mountains and lakes, bathing in lovely late summer sunshine, full of greenery and friendly smiling people. I was in love instantly. I already know that whenever I fly so far out West the jet lag hits me hard and right in the face. So I learned to plan my layovers accordingly. I can only commit to anything that happens between 3am and 2 pm. Whatever is on offer for later than that – I’m quite literally out (in limbo). Thankfully jet lag is not something I have an exclusive claim on – we all know it, we all suffer the same way. And so it’s not very hard to convince my colleagues to start off our days out in the West bright an early. But not before I managed to stuff my face with as much bacon as I physically can. Simply because bacon makes me happy. As soon as I started to feel slightly guilty and mostly sick from all the crunchy goodness in my tummy me and my crew set off to explore the fantastic place that Seattle proved itself to be. We have managed it all – the bespoke Space Needle, the Public Market, the Chewing gum Wall even the First Stone – the first ever Starbucks shop. IMG_3674 IMG_3725 IMG_3765 IMG_3766 IMG_3769

And that still isn’t all. It is still not the end of my mad September travels. There was yet another trip I was feeling quite particular about. Moscow. I have heard my fair share of horror stories about the flight and I have heard my fair share of all kinds of stories about the destination. I felt torn flying to Russia – I was curious and excited yet didn’t want to admit it to myself either of those two. So ( decided to opt for a very casual and carefree approach. And it somehow seemed to work. I have to say – even tho the flight was packed both way- Moscow has been one of the most pleasant flying experiences of my work life. I was also assigned the duty free position and made an absolute bomb in commission! The Russians just love their duty free watches and perfumes!

Moscow was harshly beautiful. It was sunny and crispy cold and full of fur clad stunning Russians. It was vibrant and buzzing with life everywhere.  It smelled of pirogy and autumn. It was painfully close to my heart in many ways. I tried to resist its charm but I simply couldn’t. Moscow had me falling…IMG_3938 IMG_3943 IMG_3940 IMG_3939 IMG_3929

 

And that was it. That was the epic journey of September that has taken me over two months to describe. I’m really sorry my lovely readers. By now you must have given up on me… I don’t quite know how to apologise anymore. This autumn had been one of the busiest times of my life. I have had a lot to deal with on my plate and even tho I WANTED to blog badly I need quite got around to doing it. Maybe I have commitment issues. Because whenever I committed to writing sleep would have sounded like a much better option…

So long y’all

Love

x

G.

 

 

 

 

 

The September Issue I.

Hello y’all!

… and somehow without me knowing November happened to me. I have not managed to log into “Journey” since my last post on the 4th October. Shocking! I have had my busiest roster yet and the little sleep and a lot of excitement over everything has taken its tool on me and I have spent the last few days in bed feeling ill and oh-so-sorry for myself.

But here it finally comes – the long promised post about September 2014 :

 

It’s that time of the year again. All restaurants, clubs and cafes in Dubai have opened their outside areas to the public. It has slowly become bareable to walk, run and generally live out in the open again after a long and sizzling summer. We have our lives back. At last.

And so the reasonable thing to do would be to stay and enjoy this freedom and the beauty of the great middle eastern outdoors, right? But since when am I ever reasonable? I have been born with an infection I refer to as the travel bug. It can be dormant for months, years even but once it gets out of control it takes over my life and overrules everything. I could feel its power rising within me all summer. My job – of course- helps a lot to keep this little devil in check but there just hasn’t been enough excitement to keep him happy. Day by day I grew more and more restless and by the time September rolled in I had my suitcase packed and was ready to go with no real plan, just a faint idea of being anywhere else but in Dubai. And somehow I succeeded to entertain this tiny monster- I can safely say that the amount of times I slept in my own bed in the last four weeks could be counted on one hand solely.

I started the month off stylishly in Bangkok with my gorgeous wifey Holly. It was one of those multi sector flights and she missed so much she couldn’t take it any longer, jumped on the first available flight and stayed with me for the rest of the trip. I was ecstatic of course. Thai massages, facials and exotic fruit shopping just never are the same without her. I couldn’t imagine having to part from her and so in return of her favour I decided to come as a passenger on her upcoming flight to Dublin. It wasn’t much of a sacrifice since I have never been to Ireland and had always wanted to go. I literally landed from Bangkok, took off my uniform, repacked my suitcase and checked in for Dublin. My travel bug couldn’t be happier. Seven long hours and three tear jerker films later I landed in sunny Ireland. Yes – it was sunny and as I was assured by Holly it wasn’t expected or normal. But it was fabulous. The best way to be introduced to a new city and a new culture is by someone who is familiar with it. And so I let Holly to play her part of the perfect tour guide which she did with flying colours. Only a few hours into my stay I was already buzzing on my second Irish coffee happily chatting nonsense and counting fellow redheads (of which I have seen many) in the famous Bewley’s Cafe. I have heard of a Leprechaun museum (because out of everything Ireland has to offer leprechauns seemed the most interesting after so many irish coffees) and made my only request to see it and so we set of. Somehow tho we got lost in the tempting streets of the Temple Bar area and never made it across the river. It was only in the very early morning hours- and after many drinks I just HAD to drink in order to blend with the Irish culture when we found ourselves wandering aimlessly and enjoying the nightlife – that I remembered. We gave it a second shot in the morning of yet another bright looking day. But by the time we found a place to restore our strength and consume delicious bacon for breakfast, got lost, got found and finally stood outside the museum it was already too late for the entire tour. Visiting the Leprechaun museum just wasn’t meant to happen this time around. I took it as a sign of having to come back again which I would have done anyway. I loved every second of my 24 hours in Ireland. I’m now a strong believer that only every whisky but also every coffee and every man should be Irish. Just because.

IMG_3291 IMG_3280 IMG_3248 IMG_3288 IMG_3273

 

Comebacks and Second Chances

Would you like to know what is The Number One Question I get asked all the time? It is not “What’s this- water ?” (ok this was a crew joke and unless you’ve ever done a round of drinks you are not likely to understand it.) And strangely it is not “Where are you from?” (oh – how much has my life changed in just two years!). The one thing people always seem to want to know is how long am I “in it for and what’s next?”. How long am I gonna stay in Dubai and have I considered what I wanna do next? As if it is quite impossible to believe that I would want to stay in Dubai forever and fly until I can’t lift my cabin bag no more. 

Dubai is so conveniently located which is one of the reasons why the Airline I work for became so successful. It connects the East and the West, it makes travelling to and from Down Under so much more bearable and brings Asia to everybody’s doorstep. You can now take a flight that’s shorter than 6 hours from pretty much anywhere in Europe, spend a layover in the glorified Sandpit and travel on refreshed a couple of days later. Which is what everyone seems to be doing. The popular opinion is that none in Dubai is here for the long run. All of us expats have come for a more or less a layover that can sometimes last years – to have our fun, earn some tax-free cash, travel as much as we can whilst we have the rest of the world within our reach… and then eventually return back and start living the responsible life. Nobody moves to Dubai to establish themselves. Or do they? Having read back my latest post it occurred to me I could have left you feeling like I don’t particularly like living over here. Which would have been a very wrong impression. I love Dubai and my life here. I don’t love it all day every day. But I love it enough every day to consider it my home and staying here for as long as they would have me.  Not to mention the fact that -unlike many others- I don’t really have anywhere to go back to. See – I don’t do comebacks. When I left Czech all those years ago I always knew that was it. I was never to come back and live there. I do adore my country and I would proudly ramble on about its wonders to everyone who is or isn’t willing to listen. But it’s just not for me. Ever since I could remember I never saw myself actually spending my life in Czech – it was never even an option to consider. So I lived there for as long as I could take it or for as long as it was necessary to come up with a plan and then took off. I never looked back. I never doubted the decision to leave a respectable job in a respectable company where I was earning twice as much as anyone else my age that I knew (I was 22 then). My heart just wasn’t in it. My heart was in the hands of a guy I thought I loved then. So much I would have followed him anywhere in the world. Oh wait – I actually did that! Many years later this romantic affair has ended in a disaster but despite that or maybe just because of that I decided not to run back “home” and heal my wounds but to stay right where I was and make this new life work for me. And so somehow I found myself living in the UK and liking it. But me and the English don’t seem to agree with one another. My relationship with the country has followed the same pattern as the relationship with the guy – after being initially smitten with each other we started to see each other’s flaws in the everyday life’s light and slowly but surely we have come to a point where none of us could take it anymore. I was allergic to pretty much anything the country has laid my way and in return it seemed to have rejected me. I was ready to move on. The only issue was – I was much older than when I so carelessly thrown a great job opportunity away and followed my heart. I was worried. My life wasn’t going the direction I had wanted it to but I felt I was too scared to change it completely. And so I waited. And waited. And waited, For what I did not know. I think I was waiting for the brave 22 yo old girl to wake up in me and take charge of our live again. And as the time passed me by I started to realise that wasn’t going to happen. I was going to have to (wo)man up. And so I did and moved to the Middle East. When I told my family I didn’t get a single “Oh but..” not a single eyebrow was raised not even a little bit. They all knew just like myself that that’s the kinda person I am. The kinda person that takes “moving on” literally. And then up a notch. How was I feeling leaving the UK for Dubai? Relieved most of all. I have come to the end of the road and for all I knew I could never see myself coming back to live there. Because as I told you – I do not do comebacks. Ever. To anywhere. Or anyone.

And that’s where my job comes in. After more than 18 months of flying – it turns out not only do I do comebacks. I also give second chances. Who knew? I most certainly did not. August 2014 saw me give a lot of second chances. It had me coming back to many places I have visited and left behind before too. August 2014 has been one big learning curve, one big journey into the depth of my own self and mind you – it is still not over yet..

 

Exploring new places and flying to new destinations can be exciting… as much as it is tiring. Sometimes all I want from my roster is for it to be easy, short and familiar. And as Asian as possible. And my late summer roster has turned me into the Queen of Asia. Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai, Hong Kong on top of Rome and Frankfurt. I could not have been happier or more familiar with any of them having visited all of these places at least 3 times before. Sometimes it is just so nice to know what to pack, where to go, what to eat and how to behave. It’s also nice to give another chance to a place I wasn’t too sure about. Like Singapore. It’s a great place no doubts about that. It’s just not the kinda place I thought I would ever want to visit again once I’ve seen it. Singapore is quite spectacular with its clean green and luscious streets, friendly people, big expensive cars and delicious food. It’s also a little too high maintenance for my liking. I feel like I should try hard and harder… like I can’t really let go and be myself in a place that has literally made it to the top of world’s capitols. I always feel a little lost when in Singapore. And as I was wondering and wandering in the SinCity I suddenly found the one spot I needed to calm my slightly agitated senses. I little beach bar on the Sentosa Island. A piece of heaven. A sanctuary. The Bikini Bar. Where they played good music, served mean frozen Margaritas and I could read my book undisturbed. And just like that Singapore and I became friends for life. Because as it turns out I don’t need that much to be friendly. Just a little time and space to be myself…

 

The Bikini Bar

                       The Bikini Bar

 

As for the other comebacks I have mentioned – well not much new has gone down in Bangkok and even less so in Shanghai. And I’m not about to bore you to death talking about my massages . I guess one very successful return I should tell you about was to the Friday Brunch at the Atlantis hotel – the crime scene of my mad birthday bash back in January which I have still not been able to blog about… Some stories should remain untold. There was no particular occasion to celebrate this time apart from Salma coming back to Dubai and with the pressure off we simply let go and enjoyed ourselves to the fullest. And Saffron has not disappointed us.

Brunch in Jan

           Brunch in Jan

Brunch in Aug.. same same

Brunch in Aug.. same same

IMG_7239 IMG_2782IMG_7274 IMG_2828

OK- this post could go on for hours. Yes I indeed have so much on my chest about second chances and comebacks. But I’m gonna spare you this time since I also want to tell you about a few first times I have gone thru in the past month or so… Y’all just wait :)!

Lots of love 

G. 

Living the Reserved Life

I always knew it was gonna happen. I mean I would be foolishly kidding myself hoping it wasn’t. I managed to escape it for so long but no matter how hard I tried it was always something beyond my control. It is something that absolutely has to happen to all of us at one point or another. And avoiding it for much longer would have only made the anticipation that much harder.

I’m of course talking about the reserve month. That dreadful thing crew so hate to see on their rosters. I was told of all the stress it entails and zero social interaction it brings. The terribly horrible flights people get pulled out for. The irregular sleep I was to look forward to. For those of you not familiar with the term “reserve month” – it’s basically a full four weeks on standby without a fixed roster. We get to check our schedule for the next day every evening and it can be pretty much anything from a day off to a 9-day trip.

It is now the 27th – meaning have served most of my reserve already (note- ok it is already August, but at least you can see I have been writing just not publishing:) . And I can honestly tell you – I have never had an easier month. I have not slept so well, regular and much since I started this job. I never got to see so many of my friends and so often. And as for the flights… well in June I have flown exactly  FOUR TIMES. Yes. Four times times. The rest has been a very generous dose of days off and one very easy and uneventful Home Standby that I spent quietly in my bed watching TV.

So what did I do with all this free time of mine? Well I decided to restore what once I used to called my social life but what has recently been limited to mostly Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook and Skype. Oh yeah – that’s how much fun I have been.  I made the effort to see friends I haven’t seen in ages, I even went way out of my way to go and see them (meaning past the borders of the Sheik Zayed Road:). I went out a few times. Yes – as in out out – to places with music and drinks and other people having fun ! Sounds crazy I know :)! I went to see my friend’s graduation ceremony (but more on that later) and saw a few new blockbusters that are out at the moment. As in I actually went to the cinema instead of streaming them at home. Simply put I have been living la vida loca!!!

The Flights 

Reserve month is a bit of a lucky dip where flights are involved. I know people that claim their best rosters were created by reserve and I know people who would rather walk the Sahara Desert and back just to avoid having another month like that. I’m somewhere in the middle. With only three flights in three weeks I can’t really call myself overly busy. Compared to May which had me flying up and down every couple of days I feel like I’m on holiday already. There is a downside to all that of course – every time I do get pulled out for a flight I feel very inconvenienced and rather disturbed. But I don’t wanna fly! I wanna stay right here in my warm bed, eat more chocolate and watch even more films ! Don’t make me work please! Luckily the destinations have so far been attractive enough to get me out of my hibernating mode, don my uniform and show up at the airport. Number one was a very surprising Luanda, which is the capitol of Angola (in case you-just like myself- didn’t know:) . It is a former Portuguese colony and portuguese is still the official language.The latino influence is so strong I felt like I have landed in the Caribbean rather than The Old Continent. And as usual as it happens every single time I get to fly to Africa I fell deeper and deeper in love with Her. Ghana, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Nigeria and now Angola. I loved all of them. Equally and unconditionally. What is it that Africa has that everywhere else seems to lack? Is it the friendly people or the fantastic food or the absolutely stunning landscape I so adore to watch from the cockpit? Is it the music or the local art ? The weather perhaps? I can’t quite put my finger on it. It is just so imperfectly perfect in its own way…

Another first time of June has seen me to Adelaide, Australia. I did not really have time to prepare myself let alone get excited about Down Under again since I was pulled out of the standby lounge with the speed of light. I have literally signed in, took the jacket off and sat down to eat my sandwich and the agent on duty was already calling my name. I sadly wrapped the prawn sandwich again and asked where am I off to secretly praying for something short. Well not this time… 13 hours later I landed in cold and rainy Adelaide wondering how the heck am I going to recover from the massive jet lag that was knocking on my door. Well I didn’t. My lazy body clock so used to the regular afternoon naps here in Dubai refused to adjust to the Aussie time for measly 24 hours and let me down. I tossed and turned in the hotel bed praying for some sleep that eventually came in the early morning hours (that would have been late night in Dubs) and woke up just in time to get my regular dose of Boost and get ready for the flight back home. All I managed to do in Adelaide was to get soaking wet when purchasing some local wine that’s supposed to be the best one in Australia.

I wasn’t too bothered tho. Layovers like that happen every now and then. Plus just a few days earlier I have spent some quality time chilling by the Mediterreanan sea in Malta. That layover I enjoyed to the fullest. You may remember this wasn’t my first time to Malta and since I managed most of the sightseeing last year I just walked around the beach, ate a lot lot of seafood and soaked in all the fresh breezy air I’m going to be deprived of for the next three months or so here in the Middle Between the Sun and the Earth. It was a mini holiday from my reserve holiday.IMG_1584 IMG_1579 IMG_1566 IMG_1526

I’m on yet another night standby tonight. But since I promised myself I would not be flying more than once a week during my reserve I’m focusing on sending a very positive “no flight” vibes out. Fingers crossed. If I don’t get called out that will be a very sweet end to a very sweet month. See you again in half a year !

The Social life

I have been meaning to post about my hermit style of living for a while now but that post never seemed to have come together. So to cut a long story short since my crazy birthday bash in January that took its heavy tool on me I have decided to stop that crazy lifestyle I was leading and give my body a much needed break. I stopped drinking I stopped going out and I started to take care of my health. The chance I saw was so radical and enjoyable it even came to a point where I began to think I may never party again. But old habits die hard. I still don’t drink … well now at least only very rarely and very little. Would it sound really weird from a Czech to say I don’t like the taste of alcohol anymore? But nowadays I don’t turn invites down and I have come to realise waking up with sore legs after a night out spent dancing is much nicer than waking up with a sore head after having had too much to drink.

So I took June as an opportunity to re-introduce myself to the Dubai nightlife (and day life)  and boy did I have Fun! Yes- Fun with a capital F.  I made sure to spend plenty of quality time with my girls.. and my boys … all over the town!IMG_1725 IMG_1686 IMG_1494

Dubai is a crowd pleaser. It caters to a very wide audience with its mainstream music and it’s not easy to find something that would stand out. But it’s not completely hopeless. There are a few places I always like to go back to since they are bound to be memorable night outs. Like The Act for instance. The idea of The Act came from the States (or so I was told by its director) and has thankfully successfully established itself over here. The club is just fabulous – the DJs never ever let me down , the shows that come on every hours or so are always shocking, sexy and just generally fantastic. The drinks are strong and fun and there is an actual space for dancing which strangely enough is the one thing most Dubai clubs seem to lack. If you ever feel like you are in need of a very good Thu or Sun night out give The Act a go. You will not regret it. 

Then there is BMI which I have already “reviewed” a few months back. I’m still besotted and still trying to return. Haven’t succeeded yet but it is bound to happen sooner or later! 

But the one club that has stolen my heart completely the moment I stepped inside (or rather outside) is The White. The White is located on the rooftop of the Meydan hotel and gives the most stunning views of the Dubai skyline by night. It is also an open air club that is absolutely vast and ABSOLUTELY amazing. I got the opportunity to get in (which is unfortunately not the easiest task) for the closing night before Ramadan. I couldn’t have imagined bidding a better farewell to my freedom I was about to lose for a month. If there is anyone out there willing to gimme a free seasonal pass to The White I will be forever obliged ! Thank you in advance 🙂 

But it wasn’t all about going out clubbing in June. It was mostly about spending a lotta quality time with people that matter. Like Jana for example. I met Jana about a decade ago. She was or still is my uni-mate turned friend turned flatmate turned best friend turned colleague. Life is just so funny from time to time. We used to sit in cafes and bars all around Prague discussing school, boys and the general meaning of existence. That was ten years ago. Now we do exactly the same – we talk endlessly about work, men and the lightness of being and we are still no closer to any kind of conclusion than we were back then. But we still love doing it nonetheless. Jana has joined me in Dubai about a year after I moved over here. And so her graduation from the Airline College came at about the same time of the year as mine did the previous one. I remember how much that day actually meant to me regardless of how much I tried to hide it. And so I made damn sure I was there for the big day of one the biggest people in my life ( I mean that figuratively not literally). I missed Jana’s first and The Graduation from uni a couple of years back because I was otherwise occupied in a different corner of the world. So I wasn’t gonna miss out on my second chance this time around.  And I’m so glad I didn’t !! 10462455_10203108313921043_841110545423129778_n

I was also trying to enjoy as much of my little baby boo Salma. The same day I officially welcomed Jana into our vast crew family I found out I’m gonna have to let go of her since she has decided to follow her heart back to the Land of Oz… As sad as I am to see her go I couldn’t be happier for her. And for myself for having met her. You could put all seven seas between us but I know that some friendships will never drown in them ! Such as ours. IMG_1613 IMG_1426

And so she has left… after a very successful goodbye party. And because one farewell bash just wasn’t enough she came back for more earlier this month. And left again. So now we are Salmaless but we are doing our best to keep her legacy going. Because if we didn’t at least try -without Salma here the Dubai nightlife would just slowly die off. 

And so that was it. My Not-so-Reserved Life in June. I’m sure you know appreciate how busy I was keeping myself with other stuff and blogging are slowly forgiving me for the long long long silence.

So much love and happiness 

x

G.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My May Loving

May 2014 was or still is my Top bid. Which in crew speak means that I get the chance to ask the Roster Gods to give me exactly what I want from them. And if they are in a particularly good mood I may also get it. And in May 2014 the Roster Gods were very happy with me. So happy I’d call May not only my Top Bid but also my Top Month so far.

I have started off the May loving in the most fantastic fashion – in Shanghai out of all places! You guys all know how special Shanghai has always been to me. It was after all my first ever flight as an air hostess. Coming back after more than a year full of travelling, full of irreplaceable memories, full of experiences I still felt as starstruck as I did when I first laid my eyes upon that vast city. I thought that enough shopping has been done the first time around and so this I have opted for some sightseeing. Couple of other girls and I decided to take a river tour and since we were in China where none has never needed or will ever need to speak English there was no English tour to choose. s=So we wet for the Chinese one. Ehm… The view was very nice. I’m not quite sure what I got to see but it all looked lovely. After that we stopped in a botanical garden for some tea and played around with a couple of Chinese toddlers that found us all as interesting as we found them.

Melon on a Chopstick

Melon on a Chopstick

IMG_0548

River tour

River tour

Not even two days after I left my Chinese home away from home I was already enjoying the first rays of spring sunshine in my “real” home – Prague. It was the 8th of May, which is a bank holiday in Czech and so I didn’t have to waste time waiting around for my sister to finish work. By the time our crew bus reached the hotel she was already patiently waiting in the lobby. Since the weather was as glorious as it gets this early in May we just casually strolled around chatting, stopping for food, enjoying each other’s company and just generally having a great time. We discovered a few new hangouts – one of them cooking some real mean czech cuisine and another one that’s so cool you gotta bring a woolly jumper to stand it ! If you ever find yourself in Prague go and have a milkshake in the James Dean bar just off the Old Town Square. It’s a little pricier than what one would expect from a Czech bar but totally worth it. The ambience is fantastic and you get a service with an attitude included in your tip 🙂 I wasn’t overly sad having to leave Prague since I knew I had another two coming up later in May.IMG_0626 IMG_0682 IMG_1131

hashtag selfie square

hashtag selfie square

But not before what I like to call My Milan New York Fussing Week. Yes, yes. It’s that 6-day trip that all crew are dying for. The timings, the destinations, the length of the flights, the customers…. It’s a crew dream in a box. With a cherry on top. And luckily I got to try it before it disappears from the Airline’s schedule.  I have to admit that all I did the first day in Milan was listening to music and eating a lot of pizza. It was just one of those days where I felt too lazy to even comb my hair. So when it was time to meet the crew for some dinner I just pulled it back into a ponytail. Over tea we met the crew that just came back from New York and it turned out I knew a few of them from my previous flights so we sat down for some more drinks and laughter until early morning hours. And then it was time to fly back to my own personal paradiso – New York, New York ! In a few year’s time when I’m happily married to a very rich handsome man I’ll casually ask him if he “could be a total darling a buy me a little pad in NYC so I could have a place on my own for little getaways from the kids once in a while”. Preferably somewhere down the 5th Av. facing the Central Park. You know – to keep the spark 🙂 !

I spent way to much in NYC. Energy, wooing and money. But I have no regrets. There is just something about that place that makes one wanna enjoy all of it to the fullest! You may remember that last time I set my foot in Manhattan was for NYE. It was bitterly cold and raining back then. Well… it wasn’t too cold this time. But it did rain a lot. But honestly – I couldn’t care less. I got up so early I had to wait an hour for the breakfast buffet to open. The last meal I had was back in Italy so I must have looked real graceful wolfing down my strawberry pancakes. What a lady! When I consumed enough food to feed a family of four I borrowed a massive black umbrella that I was bound to forget in the first shop and headed to the Central Park. My original plan was to go jogging there but Dubai got me too spoiled. I don’t jog in the rain anymore. It’s bad for… the knees …:) To shut up my guilty conscious I decided to at least walk quickly. After  a few hour that I got lost and found again in the Central Park I noticed shops were starting to open so I headed back to the 5th Avenue. There – as predicted – I managed to lose the umbrella and spent an unforgivable amount of money. I’m truly hopeless when it comes to New York shopping 🙂IMG_1050 IMG_0860IMG_0862 IMG_0859 IMG_0812 IMG_0861 IMG_0852

Back in Milan the jet lag was starting to kick in. In combination with my annual hay fever that got even worse in the States I was one tired snotty mess. But I wasn’t gonna let that put me down. The weather outside was so sunny and bright I just had to make the most of it. So I boarded one of my least favourite means of transport – an Italian train – and headed direction Lake Como. The hotel is about 5k away as the crow flies… yet it took us hour and a half to get there. Well- such is life. I could see that the girls I dragged out with me were just about to start b*tching when we got there. And suddenly all the sorrows, all the tiredness, everything was forgotten. Lake Como is stunningly beautiful. It’s everything you want an Italian lake to be- and then some more ! We sat down for some food, some wine and a lot of attention from male Italian by-passers …. and we thoroughly enjoyed all of it. I made a mental note that when I mention to my future rich handsome husband my appartement on the 5th I mustn’t forget about a holiday house at Como too. For the family you know !:) IMG_0870 IMG_0986 IMG_0969 IMG_0985

Coming to Dubai I had a week of back to back turn arounds to “look forward to”. Thankfully to ease to pain I was kidnapped to Abu Dhabi for an overnight stay in … well heaven:). I have to say it made the next couple of days of little sleep and a lot of flying much more bearable.IMG_1034

AD

AD

Beach time

Beach time

After the four flights that turned out to be much less painful than expected I was bound for Prague once again. Particularly excited this time around as my Mum, that hates any kind of travelling was meeting me there. Everybody kept asking whether she was elder my sister which says a lot about her night cream … or very little about mine. I wanted to make her stay special since I missed her b-day last month so I took her to all the nicest places I could think of. We ended the day in a spectacular fashion – in an Opera House. I have been going to opera since I was about 12-yo. It’s a passion my Nanna passed onto me. My Mum however has never been. I saw it as a sign then when I noticed that my favourite Verdi’s masterpiece ever was on that night- La Traviata. I have seen it about 8 times already. And for the 9th time – it was as amazing as ever!IMG_1102

One quick flight over to Dubai, one day by the beach, one night out with my gurls, one night dog sitting and I was checking in at the Prague hotel again. The receptions asked why I haven’t left my suitcase in the room at the beginning of the month and made it easier for myself… She was right:) It was Mummy’s time two days earlier and now it was all about Daddy. Not only because he is the best Daddy. But also because it was his birthday! I missed Papi’s big day last year so this time we made sure to celebrate in style. Him and my stepmum have only recently joined the world of smart phones and social media and so all of our moves and mischiefs have been documented, posted and checked in. So cute! They are growing up so fast ! Next thing you know they will be tweeting!IMG_1275 IMG_1297 IMG_1279

I have just woken up from the longest and much needed sleep of this month. May has been amazing but very hectic and fantastically busy. I couldn’t have asked for a better and sweeter month of love! I’m now -more than ever- ready for my reserve month which I have been scheduled for June. It can bring me anything and so I’m -as always- hoping for the best.

Please Love ME

Please Love ME

Sleepy time

Sleepy time

I laughed so frigging hard

I laughed so frigging hard

 

Love and hugs

x

G.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh-man

Back in March when things between Sven and I were still peachy we decided on a short getaway to Oman. I have heard so much about the country , I have seen pictures and I have wanted to go ever since I moved to the Middle East. Mountains, sea, dolphins and beaches … sounded exactly like my kinda place!

And since Sven was – or as I’d like to believe- still is the type of guy that will do anything to keep one’s eyes sparkle with joy we finally made that trip that I was planning for over a year happen.

There is a lot one can do in Oman. There is also a lot of places to go and stay at to choose from. I had my mind set on camping. Frankly speaking I get enough of hotels at work and it stopped feeling special a while back. Getting woken up by the sound of crashing waves on a beach sounded like a much better option… And so that’s what we did.

I spend the day before the weekend in Oman in Prague with Rudi and Nela. Normally I wouldn’t want to leave even if you paid me (wait ..but I DO get paid… nevermind then:) but this time around I couldn’t wait to land the plane back in Dubai. I was particularly looking forward to the road trip and I wasn’t disappointed. The coastal drive is truly something – even tho we crossed the borders at night and all I could see was that little bit within the reach of the beamers – I still loved it. We woke up the sailor that was supposed to take us to the remote beach where our camp was set. He didn’t look too impressed at that ungodly hour but I bribed him with a few Sudanis – don’t worry that’s just the Arabic word for peanuts- and off we sailed. Well- speed boated.

The camp… well how to best describe the breathtaking view I was treated to when I woke up the next morning and opened up the tent? I guess pictures will have to do all the talking instead:IMG_9066IMG_9292

The day started off with a brisk hike up the cliffs surrounding the beach, after that a breakfast consisting mostly of flies that just wouldn’t leave a single bite of food untouched and then it was slowly time for the main event of the day : the Dhow tour. What’s a dhow?  A dhow is a traditional fishing boat that looks more like somebody’s living room rather than a fishing boat. I guess since most of the people use it as an actual living room it only makes sense:) It’s covered in carpets and cushions , catered with figs, arabic coffee and overly sweetened tea. It’s perfect. I felt like a Cleopatra sailing down the Nile, nodding off to the slow rocking of the boat. But that was just the calm before the storm. And by the storm I mean the arrival of the dolphins ! Yes – real wild dolphins !!! The closest I ever got to a dolphin before was watching Flipper on a Saturday morning at my Dad’s. So you can imagine how super excited I got. I was running around the boat like crazy – managed to stay on board only by a pure miracle. I was quite ready to call it the best day of my life already but I was in for a treat. Later that day after a tasty lunch served on the dhow and an amazing scenic sail around the cliffs and mountains we stopped the boat for an afternoon dip. Everybody was feeling lazy and so I was one of the very few that decided to go into the crystal clear water. I swam quietly away from the others and that’s when I noticed something big and graceful swooping around me. It was the most beautiful dolphin that was probably as curious about me as I was about him. Now – he was probably about 10 meters away but just for the sake of the story let’s go with “within an arm reach” ok? I froze for a moment and then tried to alert everybody else without alarming the that wonderful creature next to me. Big mistake. Obviously everybody WANTS to swim with a dolphin at least once in their lives. Nevermind a wild one! And so the entire crew jumped into the sea and once and that pretty much scared the shit out of the dolphin and that’s the very anticlimactic end to my wonderful story .IMG_9138 IMG_9172 IMG_9154 IMG_9149

However much everyone tried to discredit my experience (jealousy is a b*tch:) nothing could ever take it away from me! I – and only I – have swam with a dolphin ! I sat quietly for the rest of the day watching the coast, watching the little black sharks (yes there are Great Whites and then there are Little Blacks) , watching the waves swallowing the sun with a warm furry ball of happiness inside of me. I capture some of the most fantastic moments of my life here on my blog, some of them thru the my camera lens… and some of them I capture with my soul. Forever there and never fading. This is one of those.

It seemed that whatever was about to happen the day after couldn’t possibly stand up to The Dolphin moment. But once again I stood corrected. We packed up and got picked up by our grumpy speed boat driver again. He took us to yet another driver – but this one was manning a questionably powerful 4×4 and took us on what was called a “Mountain Safari’. Don’t be fooled by the name – no animals were involved. Instead we were treated to an amazing tour around the Omani mountains. I felt like travelling back in time – especially when we stopped at about 1000 m and saw the remains of fish fossils scattered around. We stood so high up looking down at the world beneath and yet we were walking on something that once was the bottom of a sea. An incredible feeling of time passed thru me. One of my favourite writers Eckhart Tolle says that we are all one and that time as such does not exist. We create it within ourselves. And I guess it wasn’t till then that I fully understood when he means by that. IMG_9326 IMG_9323 IMG_9237IMG_9293

The end of our Omani weekend came way too early but before we had to go back to the Dubai reality of our lives we still managed to visit the best restaurant in Khasab. Oh – excuse me – the only restaurant or shall I say eatery in Khasab. I was hoping for something local but it was a Yemeni establishment. Delicious nonetheless. Also I ate the food of the floor. Sorry Mum – I know how you feel about that:)

Oman is a magical place. One of those you absolutely have to visit and experience before you die !

Take care everybody

Love

x

G.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucky Number 215

I generally consider myself a very lucky person. I live for free in a place that is for many the ultimate dream holiday spot. My job is essentially as heavenly as a job can get. I spend my free time either sleeping, eating, chatting to one of the precious people I can proudly call my friends or the combination of all of the above.

Life Is What You Make It

Life Is What You Make It

Sometimes I get so caught up in the bliss of my everyday life that I tend to forget to appreciate it fully. So from time to time I get to experience moments that leave me speechless and beyond grateful . Like last month in LA . Oh – yeah I forgot to mention. I flew to LA. And it was great. Amazing. Fantastic. Fabulous. So much better than I have ever imagined it. So good that as my wake up call was approaching all I wished for was the chance to stay longer and enjoy more of it. And that’s when my good omen kicked in.

I woke up expecting to put on my uniform, shut my suitcase close and take off direction Dubai. But instead the hopeful red light was flashing on the room phone and when I pressed it I heard the most amazing voice mail of my life :

“Your wake up call has been postponed for at least another local night .”

Thanks to the foggy weather in Dubai that delayed some of my flying friends by hours and hours and stranded the others in more of less desirable places across the globe I got to spend three happiest days in L.A. All expenses paid. With a cherry on top :).

First time seeing the Pacific

First time seeing the Pacific

Most of the crew flying with me have -just like myself- never been to California before. So the first day most of us agreed to book a tour and see all the local attractions people are always after. The Hollywood sign. The Avenue of Stars. Beverly Hills. Rodeo Drive. Santa Monica. The New Port Beach. The enjoyed all of it. I was living my Californian dream to the fullest with the sun shining bright and high and everybody flashing their broad american smiles. I was in awe of New York when I first got there. But I BELONGED to L.A the moment I laid my eyes upon it. It felt like finding a long-lost home honestly.

Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive

Stars

Stars

one day...

one day…

902 10

902 10

Chuck and I

Chuck and I

IMG_7628

HappyHolly In Hollywood

HappyHolly In Hollywood

Especially when I took out the roller blades that I brought with me all the way from Dubai and headed for the beach. Some of my new friends came with me, rented bikes and we cruised up and down for miles and miles passing all the other bikers, runners, walkers and holiday makers. Then we purchased cold beverages and hot dogs, sat on the beach and just chilled watching these weird tiny little birds running into and away from the tide. They kept us entertained for hours! IMG_7732 IMG_7828 IMG_7804

My absolutely favourite place in L.A. must have been this outdoor farmer’s market called The Groove. It was crammed with people craving all the yummy food you could get there – everything from a fresh fish chowder to an organic chocolate covered beans. Whoever says that the Americans have no culture where food is involved has evidently never been to The Groove. It was most definitely one of the top ten taste bud enticing spot I have ever been to. I wished I was a cow and had three stomachs just so I could fit in more food… Not the first time that has happened to me either… 🙂 IMG_7649 IMG_7680IMG_7645 IMG_7682

I also went shopping because that’s an absolute must when in the States. Have you ever seen the prices of clothes and sportswear out there? My jaw literally dropped when the cashier announced the final price.

“Are you from Europe?” he asked

“Yup” I said

“Thought so. We usually get this reaction from you Europeans.” he replied wisely.

My bank card got a good work out that day but I came back to the hotel with a brand new skiing outfit that I’m absolutely IN LOVE with (and got to use immediately after the L.A. trip and you can read about it here) , entire running outfit and much much more. So much more I had to ask one of my colleagues to lend me some space in her suitcase since I just couldn’t fit it all in. Yes. I have a problem. I know.

I HAD to buy it

I HAD to buy it

That unexpected turn of events ate into my annual leave but to be completely honest I couldn’t care less. That one extra day in Cali already felt like a wonderful holiday !

x

G.

Ab und zu Musik (und Wifi Pausen)

Have I ever mentioned I studied at a German high school? Well if I haven’t yet I have now. It was nothing fancy really – I went thru the same shitty adolescent traumas and had the very same complexes as any of you had. Only I did all of it in a foreign language.

It really explains a lot. For example why I struggle so much with geography – capitals in particular. I know most of them in German and many of them in English. However when it comes to having to name them in Czech I’m lost. The same goes for history. I can have a fairly long conversation about all kinds of religious bans of the 16th century but do not recognise any single treaty in my native language. Not that it has ever stopped me from enjoying my life but I’m just saying that my 15-year-old brother could be a better history teacher than I would ever be. And don’t even get me started on literature. I doubt you could have found a teenager who was better informed about Reiner Maria Rilke’s life than myself. I also knew “Die Loreley” by heart. In German. I don’t even think the native Germans know that…

I was pretty decent at speaking German. Never really reached the top of my class tho. That spot was occupied by one person only. Rudi. The guy we all hated because speaking German came so naturally to him. No wonder since he grew up in Germany… Where we (well me particularly) struggled with articles, syntax and cases he excelled and very humbly so. As I said – we all(me particularly) hated him. But high schools tend to last forever – especially the ones where you are not very popular. Mine lasted for about a decade. His for about a week. And in that decade the guy I hated so much, mainly because he was so popular and clever and annoyingly nice and modest about all of it,  became my best friend. Now 13 years,5 countries, one marriage on his side and countless more or less successful relationships on my side later – we still talk every day like nothing has changed. IMG_8370

Couple of weeks back during one of our discussions about the unbearable lightness of being out of the blue we decided to go skiing together. One of the best decisions I have made this year! It was all “planned” so quickly we didn’t really know where or for how long to go but we decided to just wing it. After all – the main point was to spend some time together !

So I got onto the first flight out of Dubai and flew right into my lovely sister’s warm embrace. She really is the best sis anyone could ever ask for! We never argue . Like NEVER ever. And even tho she is just 12 months and 2 weeks younger she always admires and praises everything I do and that gives me this amazing feeling of being old and wise and experienced and shit … and my ego just loves that! So I spent a few days in the best place on Earth= among my beloved ones and then packed my spanking new backpack (yes it took me whole 28 years but I now own a backpack!) and headed to the second best place on Earth – Moravia. If you don’t know where or what Moravia is then look it up. It’s the place where we brew the best beer, cook the best food and grow the best people with the widest smiles and biggest hearts. Full stop.

Nelly my beautiful soul-mate

Nelly my beautiful soul-mate

I boarded Rudi’s brand new Seat Ibiza and we embarked on what shall be remembered by generations to come as “The Most Musically Charged Road Trip Ever”. Like honestly. See for yourself(it would take me another day to change the format of all the vids -which I will eventually do but I just wanna publish this post now so if you wanna see all the crazy singalongs we got up to then visit my Instagram page). The only time we wouldn’t sing would be when we ate. Or talked. Which we did A LOT of. We haven’t seen each other for only a month but a) sometimes A LOT can happen within a month and b) I was under very strong painkillers last time we spoke and didn’t remember A LOT of what has been said back then. And so we headed south past Brno, past Vienna direction Salzburg and even further…

Backpack selfie

Backpack selfie

this pretty much set the mood of the entire trip

this pretty much set the mood of the entire trip

standard ...

standard …

when I said music I meant digital love...

when I said music I meant digital love…

There were only a few occasions when we didn’t sing, talk or eat. We called those occasions “WiFi Pause”. There seems to be free WiFi everywhere nowadays in Austria (well everywhere but in the apartment we had rented but let me get to that). And I need WiFi like I need the breathing air. Because I’m a cabin crew and WiFi is my only stable connection with everyone I want to stay connected with. Get over it. And spare me the ” social media addiction” talk. I know about that. C’mon let’s face it – we all have it. Even Rudi does . We didn’t need to tell each other about the WiFi availability. If one of us fell silent for more than it takes to take a breath the other one would know. And connect as well. Then eventually once we resurfaced from the depths of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp we would continue our journey. Until the next “WiFi Pause”.

The only time we stopped for other reason than WiFi was in Salzburg. The birthplace of Mozart. I have been once before ages ago with my dad and remembered it to be quite the beautiful place. And it still was. We walked down the ancient streets, stopping in the weirdest souvenir shops, taking heaps of pictures and eventually finding a small cafe that had it all – decaf coffee, Sacher Torte, WiFi and accessible electric plugs (my iPhone battery ran flat by then).

I love your duck(face)

I love your duck(face)

Salzburg

Salzburg

The world is your oys... egg

The world is your oys… egg

IMG_8069 IMG_8076

Next morning – as a courtesy of my US jetlag- I was up at such an indecent morning hour I felt ashamed of myself. I let Rudi sleep for exactly as long as it took me to braid my hair but then I was much too hungry and excited to be quiet any longer. We enjoyed our first and obviously amazing Austrian breakfast (I love Austria for many many MANY reasons but its food is always gonna be number one) and set off direction Kaprun and its glacier – Kitzsteinhorn! Everything went so smoothly we were up at the very top before 11 am. The weather conditions weren’t so great that day. It was cloudy, foggy and cold but I haven’t skied on a real snow for over 2 years and couldn’t care less. Towards the end of the afternoon the fog has lifted a bit and we finally saw a part of the glacier in all its might and glory. And what a view it was !IMG_8160 IMG_8252 IMG_8171 IMG_8179 IMG_8164 IMG_8190 IMG_8251 IMG_8208 IMG_8204

I insisted to stay till the very end and as we took the last lift up to the top we managed to be the first ones following a group of snow groomers. What a spectacular end to our day ! As we made our way back to the valley I was itching for some WiFi and couldn’t wait to share my feelings online tugged from the comfort of my bed. What a nasty surprise it was when I found out the only place I could connect (and very poorly so) was in the hall leaning against the front door. To make it even harder for me to swallow Rudi could – of course- connect from everywhere including the toilet. It was a dark place I found myself in believe me!

yes... I text a Lot... I geddit !

yes… I text a Lot… I geddit !

That's my WiFi Ecke !!

That’s my WiFi Ecke !!

I took my revenge on him when I woke him up at 6am the next day *insert evil laughter here*. We indulged in more Brotchen mit Nutella and made it to the pistes before 8.40. It was as if the Alps decided to make up for the previous day and reward us for our early start. If you ever wondered what “Das Kaiserwetter auf der Piste” looks like well have a look :IMG_8273 IMG_8281 IMG_8289 IMG_8321 IMG_8339 IMG_8357 IMG_8334 IMG_8294

Knackered but happy

Knackered but happy

Knackered but happy

Knackered but happy

ginger beard

ginger beard

Frozen

Frozen

IMG_8365

It was Rudi’s first time in the Alps and we couldn’t have asked for a better way to experience it. We had it all- bad weather, great weather, food, drinks, music, fun, apres ski… and WiFi.

I’m now back in Dubai, having flown in from Vienna last night. I still have a few days off before I start off my next roster by my first few turn arounds in ages. But better not think about those. I’m concentrating on the rest of the month which is about to be pretty awesome – I’m off to Bangkok next week, I will be visiting Canada for the first time and crossing off yet another one of my childhood dreams – seeing the Niagara Falls- from my list. That’s not all tho – The Gods of Rostering have been very generous indeed and very casually scheduled me a Prague flight later in March. And to wrap it all up I have a long and wonderful Oz and Nz trip right at the end. Life is a bliss if you ask me !

Love to all

x

G.

Viva La Barca !

I started February in a pretty spectacular way. Flew the very first A380 ever to one of the cultural capitols of Europe – Barcelona. As a passenger. This is pretty much how it happened. I had few days off the start of the month. The weather was what us Dubaians call “sh*t” – meaning the temperature wouldn’t rise above 22 degrees and it overcast most of the time… And I was bored off my head being buried in books whilst studying for my annual recurrent tests in order to renew  my flying licence. So when one of my very good friends suggested I accompany him on his flight to Barcelona I jumped at the opportunity like it was freshly baked chocolate cake with cream on top. I have been once before about a century ago with my mum and all I could remember was how beautiful Barca seemed to me back then. IMG_7550

The first A380 crew to Barcelona... and I was there to document it! Talking about proud moments of my career !

The first A380 crew to Barcelona… and I was there to document it! Talking about proud moments of my career !

And I wasn’t disappointed this time around. I spent the flight over on my Mac reading the manuals over and over. One of the many perks of flying standby and having a friend working in a premium class is getting spoiled rotten with sweets and endless cups of delicious tea and coffee. I couldn’t have asked for a better, more serene and comfortable place to study. In those mere 7 hours I was able to drill in more than in the past few days I spent trying to concentrate on reading in Dubai collectively.

Not the worst of study rooms... :)

Not the worst of study rooms… 🙂

We landed in Barcelona on a lovely crisp winter morning and it felt damn good not to be absolutely exhausted for once. I was ready to venture out and explore. The Captain was nice enough to let me ride the crew bus with the rest of the operating crew to the hotel . After only a year of flying I was surprised how many of the my colleagues I have either met or flown with before. Seems like the flying community of 17 odd thousands crew is a very small one after all.

My friend and I dropped the suitcases and headed to the city centre. The hotel is right by the beach which also sounded very tempting however it was still the 1st of February and despite the sun shining we were both freezing our butts off. Barcelona is extremely easy to navigate in. It took us about half a minute to figure the metro system out and even less to get to where everything happens – to Las Ramblas aka the main street of Barca. I asked my Catalonian friend who operated the flight as well what is The Thing to do when in Barcelona. She said “Eat as much jamon as you can”. So we did. We ate delicious seafood paella, jamon, drank wine – well my friend did and I watched – we strolled the wonderful streets, ate some more, shopped for useless and overpriced keepsakes and generally had a great time. Then it got way too cold and we wen back to the hotel.. Well – what can I say after a year of living in the desert I’m simply not used to bitterly cold winter evenings anymore. IMG_7512 IMG_7521 IMG_7524 IMG_7517 IMG_7530 IMG_7518

I got up extra early the morning enjoying the fact I don’t need to rest before the flight. Met up with my friend and we ventured out for a morning walk. Just in time to find a small cosy caffè opening its doors to all the early morning birds craving a cuppa coffee. We indulged ourselves in even more delicious food – this time a steaming cup of hot chocolate as thick as soup and a basket of fresh croissants to dip in (so here goes the reason why I outgrew most of my jeans recently:). It must have been to sweetest breakfast I have ever had. After having walked for a bit more my friend headed back to bed to rest and I decided to work off some of the consumed calories – got changed and went for a run on the beach.

OMG! Ok – I have had my chance to run literally around the world. I go running on most of my layovers and the settings are usually pretty decent… then there are a few that are spectacular. And then there is Barca. Quite possibly the most amazing jogging “facility” I have ever had the pleasure of using. The promenade keeps on going for miles and miles following a beautifully kept white sand beach. Every half a mile there is a work-out station targeting a different part of your body. There are water fountains all over to quench your thirst. There is the omnipresent sun shining. And most of all there are crowds of sports enthusiasts jogging, walking, playing football, practising yoga and generally exercising all along. The overall atmosphere is just so amazing – it really pushes you to keep on going that little further. IMG_7546 IMG_7537IMG_7542

I got back to the hotel completely besotted by my experience. By the time I reached my room I came up with about 5 different plans how to marry a Spaniard and end up staying in Barcelona forever. It was with a heavy heart that I left this amazing city to go back to Dubai to study and “Jump and slide” once again. One day Barca – I promise we shall be reunited !

Love and hugs

x

Gabs