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

Lost But Not Forgotten Vol II. -German F-Laying

So it’s official. I must be on the top of my Airline’s list of German speakers. At least one would think so by looking at my summer flying diary. Frankfurt. Zurich. Dusseldorf. Hamburg. And Frankfurt again… I know all of my German announcements backwards by now. As reserved and unimpressed as I was by frequent visits to Pretzel& Beerland to start with I have learned to really like them. I have started seeing them as my monthly grocery shopping trips. Honestly – living in the middle of a desert really teaches you to appreciate the beauty and taste of fresh produce and quality meat. Not to mention anything organic.

I don’t believe I have mentioned my first visit to Frankfurt yet – probably because there wasn’t much to talk about. The highlight of my layover there was (beside a 20-odd-hour sleep) making a friend behind the lobby bar in our crew hotel. I impressed him with my language skills and he impressed me with his knowledge of a good beer. And also with his cutting of my final bills to a ridiculous 10 %. We bid our farewells after an evening well spent chatting about life and love and I promised to look him up next time I was visiting. Little did I know that would happen in less than a month.

My second time around in FRA was much more exciting. Flight-wise, crew-wise, layover-wise. I was assigned a much better-timed flight which brought me to Germany fresh and ready to have some FUN. Yes- with a capital F and U and N. I happened to have flown with a few of the people in my crew before and knew them to NOT be the ones to skip on a party and even the rest has turned out to be just the right kind of people you wanna have around when you feel like a couple of bruskies. To my surprise my friend behind the lobby bar was working that night too! What a great reunion ! I decided on the spot to leave my sensible self locked in the heavy duty suitcase and let my party self loose. To cut a long story short – I ended up closing the bar that night. And boy what a night that was ! It wouldn’t be far from the truth saying that the only people flying to Dubai without a hangover the next day were the passengers.

Couple of weeks later I found myself Germany-bound once again. This time to Hamburg. I was just in the middle of my no-drinking no-junk-food-eating working-out-a-lot phase and Hamburg has turned out to be just the place! The hotel was situated right next to a beautiful lake surrounded by a park that just invites you for a run. And I never turn down an invitation this tempting. It was a brisk late summer morning and I and half of the Hamburg population decided to go jogging. Honestly I must have met about 200 people running my usual 5k. But I didn’t mind. The lake park (as I like to call it) was obviously designed with sport enthusiasts in mind. Or by one. Or both. It even had little workout stops where one could stretch and do work on the rock-hard (hahaha) abs:

Don't Twerk- Work out !

Don’t Twerk- Work out !
IMG_3680

Hamburg in general strikes me as a very health-concious place. They have massive stores with organic products, organic cafes on every corner and plenty of fair trade shops. I have enjoyed my time there so much that upon leaving I couldn’t remember for the hell of it – WHY exactly did I NOT want to come ? I’m definitely gonna try and go back – this time to have a proper browse in all the cool little boutiques I have only managed to see from the outside so far…