Wednesday Feb 20, 2008

Dinner

Dinner with some of the team at "L'Isola d'Ora", fantastic fish restaurant, huge starters and good company.

The journey back to the hotel was very 'dolce vita', small, narrow cobbled streets, full of parked cars and we swung past the Colosseum before heading out to the outskirts where I had been advised to book in.

See also my google map of Rome....

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Tuesday Feb 12, 2008

Don't be so clever!

What am I doing trying to translate the menu here, its Italy, "You choose!" should be good enough.

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Avanti Encora

Once again Schengen proves its worth. No passport control at Fiumicino, straight out to the taxis and the joys of an italian taxi ride.

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Easy peasy

Fantastic! Changing flights at Munich between my Stockholm and Rome flights was incredibly easy! All three countries are Schengen Treaty countries and the gates were 7 minutes apart. Munich Terminal 2 is new and just so easy to use. I shall try and use this next time, although I wonder how far one has to walk to get to a flight to the UK.

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Avanti

Despite being told, that it had not snowed all winter, as I left the Hotel, it was trying to. I caught the Arlanda Express out to the airport and checked in to Rome via Munich. My last experience of changing flights to make a connection had not been good, and I wasn't looking forward to it, as I needed to change flights at Munich.

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Monday Feb 11, 2008

... and in the evening.

Dinner at the Radisson Skybar, and while the view doesn't really rival some of those in other cities I have visited, it's impressive enough.

Sadly, these flying visits give one little time to see the sites, I was driven to my hotel by a colleague who showed me a few of the sites from the car. I really must come back and make some time for myself to explore Stockholm properly, and bring the Rough Guide to Sweden with me.

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Sunday Feb 10, 2008

Its cold in the morning..

To Heathrow for a seven o'clock to Stockholm. With a need to get there early and cross the airport to the terminal in time for check in, its a jolly early start. Interestingly google lets me down about finding the times that the parking express buses run to the terminals. I put them on my wiki, on a London Heathrow page, but google hasn't found it yet.

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Cafe Mauresque

Down to Kent to visit the Cafe Mauresque, possibly for the last time, great food, influenced from Barcelona to Tripoli, but we've still not visited the Cathedral.

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Thursday Feb 07, 2008

Midnight at the Oasis

Or early morning at least.

It seems that Dubai's airports busy time of day is three in the morning. My return home is scheduled to take off at 3:45 this morning. I have just arrived; the traffic jam is horrendous and its heavingly busy. I have kept to my Rule No 2, and am flying out on Emirates. While I would have loved the miles and tier points with Virgin, they wanted £1000 more.

I reflect on the last few days, and its hard to avoid the clichés. It is a building site, the people are fabulously friendly and honest. The number of foreigners (and hence non citizen/subjects) present is huge. I avoided the obvious locations of ostentatious wealth, except for the hotel. I don't feel comfortable in those places; very few people in the west should. The oil-rich are just that, rich. Youn can tell be the number of super cars in the Hotel car park.

I look around and remember the journey in to the airport and its obvious that today is the start of half-term for many in the UK; a huge number of Brits have been arriving over the last couple of days.

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Tuesday Feb 05, 2008

Out in the Desert

Went for 'Safari' in the desert, dune bashing in 4x4's and returning in dune buggies. The latter reminded me why I spend
money on power steering. Great Fun, when not being scared. Important safety tips included, don't overtake and avoid the camels. One memorable view, which since I was driving a buggy at the time, I was unable to record was as we ascended a dune, a camel was standing at the top silouetted on the horizon, against a deepening blue sky.

 

Dune Bashing

 

Obviously, this picture, has no camel. I have posted the few pictures worth seeing into a set on flickr.

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Monday Feb 04, 2008

Luxury

Just checked in to the Kempinski. Now I really can't complain about this. You may have seen the bookmarks I tagged last week.

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Off again

I am off to Dubai, for an EMEA Global Systems Engineering, and while the midday take off is very civilised, it arrives late at three o'clock in the morning.

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Thursday Jan 31, 2008

About: my december visits to Bruxelles

Most of the articles about my trips to Bruxelles in December were written much later but backdated to about the time of they occurred. The other pictures I took can be viewed at my Brussels set at flickr.com.

When writing about Bruxelles, I have mainly used the french language place names because I speak it better than I speak Flemish, which isn't hard. I am aware that linguistic politics is very sensitive in Belgium and that Brussel/Bruxelles is a designated bilingual city. I hope that an Englishman's efforts to recognise any foreign language will be acceptable. (Interestingly Google maps uses the flemish street names, or at nay rate, I havn't worked out how to use their French language ones.)



View Larger Map

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Saturday Jan 26, 2008

A flying visit to Europe

I have just been on a flying visit to Luxembourg and Austria, and stayed over night in Krems Am Donau, where I was due to talk at a meeting of Sun's Partners. This was the view from my room in the morning.

 

Rooftops in Krems, Austria

 

I took this with the panoramic shot option from the phone. I am not sure how bad this is, or if in fact the light of the Danube makes it look poorly joined, its hard to say, but I think this is an area that Sony-Ericsson need to work on. I find using the panoramic join feature almost unusable.

Since my route had involved flying from London  to Luxembourg and on to Vienna, my journey home seemed quite simple although I was told by my travel agent that the last direct flight left too early for me to use, so I made the mistake of agreeing to change at Frankfurt. This meant my journey required four separate carriers and a paper ticket. While at Luxembourg, I noticed that they had two wings to the terminal building, with one of them reserved for Schengen Treaty destinations. (This is the EU treaty on common borders which allows people to enter Schengen countries from another without passport inspection.)  In Luxembourg, the distance between the Schengen gates and the rest of the terminal building is less than 100 metres.  The UK is not a full signatory to Schengen, but I didn't take this as a warning.

So I took off from Vienna late. I was flying with Adria (Air Slovenia). I didn't know Slovenia had a national airline and while the dinner was rather nice, when we reached Frankfurt they'd lost their landing slot and had to wait to land, delaying us further. We then had to wait for everyone to recovery their luggage before the bus could drive us to the terminal building, which was the Schengen entry building. The journey to the BA gates took over 30 minutes, with two luggage inspections, I missed the plane by  a couple of minutes and then had to travel back to the other terminal to get my flight rebooked. However, there are worse places to stay overnight than Frankfurt airport and the flight home on Saturday was very comfortable However I have renewed my determination to keep to simple rules when doing this sort of rush trip.

  • Don't rely on the last flight home, its often delayed
  • Try and leave an airport on the airport's dominant carrier, they're less likely to be pissed about
  • If you have to execute a change, leave enough time, and ensure you can check in for both legs at once
  • Use an E-Ticket

I don't see how I can avoid the Schengen problem i.e. I will always be in the wrong part of the airport, until the UK signs up. I'm just going to have to make sure that I have the time, and that my travel agents don't book something bloody stupid.

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Friday Dec 21, 2007

About Tin Tin

After a high minded day yesterday, we walked across the lower town to the belgian comic museum CXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. This has one gallery on belgium's most comic famous export, Tin Tin. I know there are some that believe that Tin Tin comes from Teeside, but that's not the case. The museum shop seemed to have every single Tin Tin book ever, including the first which is in black & white and called Tin Tin in the land of the soviets. The museum had a number of other exhibits beyond Tin Tin, as it seems that Belgian comic authors have been prolific over the years and the building is worth visiting itself as an example of Victor Horta's architecture; lots of iron and glass. The picture below is actually outside the Tin Tin shop elsewhere in Brussels, but I thought you'd like to see it.

 

The Tin Tin shop

 

That's me that is.

We caught the train out to the airport and found ourselves in the tender care of Flybe. Our flight was cancelled and while we were put up in a 5\* hotel, the airline pays a 2\* rate. The room was great but they really jerk you around once your in this fix.

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