Saturday, June 27, 2009

-- The Duracell Rabbit in Switzerland --

Just landed from Zurich and must say that Switzerland is a lot like you see in the magazines when you are browsing through the destinations you'd like to go someday but you don't have enough money to go ( I know because I used to do that the whole time ).

You might be wandering about the title's meaning in this post, the reason lies in the particular moods that I've been through the past days and how much my stamina was tested during the past duties.

It all started with crazy Male where I had something like five hours of sleep before my flight back to Doha. Flight was really nice as I said before but after arriving ( maybe because of the heat ) I felt really tired and with a huge headache so I spent the whole afternoon sleeping ( and getting some massages ) and then put on my uniform again and went for my trip to Zurich.
The load for this flight: 26 passengers! this number is tricky because in one hand you know you can easily handle 26 , specially if it's an overnight flight and all of them are sleeping but you also know that those are gonna be the longest six hours of your life.

So I got my first galley and it was pretty cool because as the load was so light , I got to learn a lot of things step by step and find my way into procedures and the galley itself. Some explanations were hard to understand because sometimes I felt like was gonna pass out and my eyes were pretty much shutting themselves so I decided to have not one, but two cups of coffee to beat the feeling and so I did.
Landed safely into Zurich where the weather was lovely and even though my body wanted rest my mind didn't, so I decided to sleep for one hour and then head out to the city. Two crew from Thailand joined me so the three of us took the train from the hotel to Downtown Zurich.

The city is really nice , full of really victorian european architecture as you can't really see tall buildings. All streets are very organized and clean and even the advertising is very neat. The river's waters are cristaline clean with a light tone of blue which heads to one of the city's highlights: The Zurich lake which is surrounded by very mild and green hills with victorian white houses and some high mountains at the back.
We also took the tram sometimes ( as we had the one-day ticket for every transport ) and got to some interesting landmarks of the city.

Time for a quick lunch and we had some apple strudel ( I know that's austrian ), wurst mit brot and sweet mustard and some bretzels. In addition , no swiss food could be complete without some chocolates for dessert.

Zurich is nice but we explored all the 'touristic stuff ' through the morning so as the girls wanted to go to IKEA, I decided to explore by myself, saw on my map the name Luzern and asked how far was it...only 50 minutes by train? Must go there!
So there I was , running through the station to catch the train that was leaving in only 2 min.

When they say 'swiss watch precision' they mean it! had to run really fast to catch it but I did, as I headed away from Zurich, crossed some small swiss towns, green valleys with glacier rivers, three different lakes, pine and eucaliptus tree woods and then finally after 48 exact minutes the announcement : 'Wilkommen auf Luzern' on the speakers.
Luzern is really nice, the lake is beautiful and you can see the Alps everywhere, headed straight to one of Switzerland's icons: the Kapellbrucke built in the mid 1300's as part of the city's fortifications. After a long photo shoot featuring the bridge in all of its angles, went for some walking through the beatiful city centre and then to another bridge in the back of the city.

Quick break for a snack at Burger King ( was feeling like eating crap and cheap ) and then again to the hills for some walking to the city's walls.
Now started to feel really tired so time to go 'home' was being considered, luckily got to the Main Station and my train was just waiting for me so I boarded it and one hour later was arriving to the hotel, I was about to sleep on the train when two men boarded in one of the stations and started to speak 'loud and clear' german so you can imagine how quiet was the chat between the two of them, sleeping time? yeah right!

Did you think my day ended there? The weather was so nice and sunny so as the hotel had bikes for free I just took one and there I was , biking around the swiss woods, along the creeks and little towns around Zurich until , don't know how, got to the end of the Airport's runway.
Just sat there in the grass and watched the planes landing over and over and over again. Must say that the sound of the tires braking and the reverse throtles being activated is really nice from outside the aircraft.

My body was not like a common battery , the Duracell batteries last longer of course but this was the end for mines, felt really tired and went back to the hotel ( some like 7 kms ) and just bought some dinner and slept really early.
Woke up this morning with BBC News broadcasting the death of Michael Jackson , let him rest in peace as his work will always be good and will remain with us for many more generations.

Flight back home was full but I enjoyed myself as I got really nice passengers who kept chatting to me ( got three compliment letters ) and the hours just flew by.
Now I'm home and have one day-off before a turnaround to beautiful Dammam ( I think I didn't use that word properly ) ,then some minimum rest and going chinese again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

-- July Roster is out, and I saw it in the Maldives! --

Like you might have heard a lot of times: " I've got two things to say , one good and one bad" I must say something that won't be precisely like that, it could be something like " something really funny and something not that funny".

Gonna start with the 'not that funny' thing, which is my JULY ROSTER! I was really looking forward to see what Mr. Roster prepared for me this month , as June was simply awesome and I knew the lighting could hit the same spot twice.
Now here I am , looking at that paper full of IATA airport codes and mixed hours so gonna do my best to explain it like I did with the 'first ever roster':

- July starts away from home ( both Doha and Latin America) since I'm off to Beijing again and be back only the first days of the month. This time will try to go to the Olympic Village and take some quick snaps there.

- Some minimum rest hours after my early morning arrival from China and I'm going to Kathmandu in beautiful and exotic Nepal where I'll have a quick layover.

- Always wanted to go to Japan ( as I'm half-japanese) so this month my prayers were heard and I've got not one , BUT TWO Osaka's, with the Seoul-Incheon leg as well, meaning that everytime I go there, I stay away from Doha for like 5 days!

- After my two back-to-back Japanese experiences, gonna have some Stand-by days on which I hope I get called for something nice ( remember Beijing and Milan?).

-Later my month starts to get...wouldn't say shitty, but starts to get hard because I only got turnarounds to Hyderabad, Athens and Cairo followed by another Kathmandu where I'll be finishing my month.

NOW THE REALLY FUNNY STUFF: Just arrived from my 'extra-short-but-lovely' Maldives experience. The flight was pretty short and the crew was very nice. Most of the passengers were honeymooners from Portugal, Spain and Russia so it was really cool the help them in languages I actually speak ( Portuguese and Spanish ).
As we were descending into Malé International we got to see the amazing colours that are created by the Indian Ocean waters and the coral and sandy reefs of the Maldivian atolones. They are spreaded all over the place making Maldives look kind of big in some maps.

Landing was amazing as you could only see that light emerald blue water around you , inviting to jump inside right from the plane in your cabin crew uniform.
Anyway, we got to the hotel and even though I was so tired because I haven't been sleeping properly,I decided that I would make the most of my time in the Maldives ( in the end , I was being payed to go there) so I headed to the hotel beach and pool and wandered around there for a bit.

Then I thought about exploring the Maldives a little and not just limit my experience to the Hotel Island so I took a boat ride to the capital city Malé.

Nothing really interesting to see there as a city but I was really curious about seeing the locals and try to figure out a little about their lifestyle as we don't get to know too many Maldivians in the world to compare with.
They look a lot like the Srilankans , dark skin colour with light features, they have their own writing ( which reminds something like a mix of arab and srilankan) and it's a Muslim country, so the main Mosque is right across the street from the Port.

Anyway , as it was pretty much the end of the afternoon , just took a lot of pictures of some of the beaches and landmarks and took the boat back to my island.
Later on , the crew decided to have dinner, so for the first time of my life (not that I have a long career as a cabin crew) I saw all of them including the pilots going out together ,which made the going out really pleasant as we were talking about everything not as crew members but as regular people.
Ate some maldivian dish which was made with noodles and seafood and some tropical mix juice, everything for only 12 USD!
By the end of the dinner I was pretty much sleeping in the table and when I turned my head around saw that most of the people there were in the same position so we decided to leave. The bad thing is that it was heavily raining at that point but tell me, what would be nicer than walking under the summer rain in the Maldives?

So there you see , around sixteen crazy foreigners running around Malé streets laughing and screaming to the Port where we took the boat.
Later in the hotel , saw my friends update on Facebook with their new rosters so I checked mine ( as you can see in the first part of this post ).

This morning I woke up, got dressed and took the flight back to Doha. Again really nice and quiet flight with no highlights as the passengers were sleeping. Now I'm here where I have my first ever 'minimum rest period' and back on the plane at midnight for some cheese and chocolates in beautiful Zurich.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

-- Andiamo ! --

My trip to Milan started way before the flight itself.
After a long ( and I mean really long) flight from Beijing , arrived into Doha really tired and thinking about how much time I would need to get my body clock into its right pace again but also looking forward for the 'next leg of the month'.

So after a quick siesta, a friend of mine wanted to go to the swimming pool and as the weather was incredible hot as usual , we headed there. As it was my first time trying the place , it was really good. Really nice to swim a little ( really miss swimming ) and the best part was a really inviting and warm jacuzzi with no queue and lots of bubbles! so hopped in until every part of my skin got wrinkled, finishing the day with a lovely 'whole grilled chicken and shishah' combination at Doha's Souq Wakif.

Next day woke up, delivered some things for laundry and got ready for Italy. Hot weather clothes, some comfy shoes and of course the uniform.
Pick-up was pretty funny this time because I had the entire crew bus just for me but my happiness got affected when the driver, inspired by something else ( or someone else ) played his mixed tape of songs of Vengaboys and Aqua! definitely one of the longest 10 minutes of my life.

Anyway, met the crew, boarded the aircraft that was not completely full loaded for a change, so I had more time to get my job done and learn, because I am still learning a lot of things. I even got a positive 'Tell Us' from a passenger who said : ' You are a nice gentleman, you smile a lot'.
After six hours we landed into Milan Malpensa International , really hot by that time. It was really nice to get back to Europe with all that architecture and the hot sunny summer weather.

The hotel had small bedrooms, although I must say that I might be getting a little spoiled by other hotels that I've been to, but it was pretty much near everything so, as we were really hungry , decided to grab something to eat.
Went to this street with a lot of restaurants where we sat and had pasta (of course) with seafood and lemon soda.

Next morning, after a good night of sleep, headed to the Stazione Centrale with another two crew members and took the Metropolitana ( subway) to Piaza dei Duomo.
Amazing place, the architecture is really interesting and the Duomo ,which is the main Milan's cathedral has an impressive size and carved details carefully crafted everywhere.
The Galleria Emanuele , right in front has also an amazing architecture and charm. Inside you can find lots of boutiques like Prada, a really traditional library and of course: Mc Donalds!

As the temperature was reaching 30 degrees, had a quick walk to Castello Sforzesco with its orange bricks and peculiar architecture and after going through it, at opposite door you will find the Parco Sempione which is the biggest park in Milan.

Now time to rest before the pick-up for the flight , but as I was not sleepy so decided to take another walk this time with my good old friend iPod and got to see the Porta de Venezia, San Babila church and Via Montenapoleone.
Actually I couldn't care less about fashion, but my mom is really into that (she's a fashion designer) so I had to go to that 'Montenapoleone thingie' to see what all the fuss was about.
All the famous, chic and expensive brands are there together ( e.g. Louis Vuitton, Dior, Bulgari, Armani , etc etc). Sometimes I felt like I was gonna be charged just to be walking there and wasting their street tiles with my humble flip-flops.

Anyway, went back to the hotel, then changed and then to the airport for the flight back home, when this time I was assigned a new position on the plane and since the loads were really light and most of the time sleeping, I had the oportunity to learn a lot.

So , welcome back to Doha where the local time is 7:55 and the temperature is 37 degrees. Next adventure: Male, Maldives.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

-- Beijing, China and Loving Rostering Part 2 --

Couldn't really update my blog from China, don't know why and don't really want to speculate anything , so I just thought I would do it as soon as I get home ( By the way , been flying for 9 and a half hours already, got home , uploaded the pics to Facebook and then updated my Blog ).

Beijing is amazing: incredibly big , lot of interesting buildings and architecture, a interesting blend of western and far east culture mixed in a contrast of tall skyscrapers and milenar temples and gardens in the same squares. You can even see people fishing in the rivers around the city.
Anyway, after arrival we headed to our Hotel in the centre and even though I was incredibly tired from the flight , I decided to fight the jet-lag and have a long walk.
Grabbed my map and explored the neighborhood, at first I was feeling really lost because it's still hard to get some 'decent' help in english from the people there.

After an one-hour walk I reached Tiananmen Square, the place is amazing and enormous where you can actually see how big the Chinese Government and Dinasties were. Picture time: in places like the Mao Tse Tzung Memorial, The Government House, The Forbidden City entrance, etc.

Long walk alone , got back to the hotel and got a really nice sleep, after all it was an 8 hour flight.
Next morning at 7:30 am, time for breakfast and then took a hired taxi to The Great Wall with two other crew members, one from Sri Lanka and one from the Philipines.
We headed to the countryside through an excelent highway and then across some little villages and rice farms to finally reach the cable car station that leads to the Wall itself.

Once up there, you lose your breath ,the place is awesome ,the Great Wall is really a wonder as where you look , it goes up and down like a dragon sliding through the Northern China mountains. Some parts are impossible to reach nowadays and the Great Wall's length is over 6000 kms.

Explored for some time and then went down the hill where we took the cable car and headed for the taxi who got us through a heavy rain safe in hour hotel in Beijing.

Lots of rest after a lot of rock climbing and hiking and then it was time to get all set for the night flight back to Doha. Again the excellent crew made things better, easier and comfortable. The flight was longer ( as we were flying west ) but easy as most passengers were sleeping so we had more time to sit. Also got two compliment letters which is very nice considering that it was my second flight.

Coming back to Doha remembered of the two days of Standby I was gonna face the next days (as I was pulled out of from both Dhaka and Casablanca) so I just checked out and came home as I was incredibly tired.
Turned on my mobile and received an SMS saying to check my roster...what do I have there?

Again those Rostering people: they pulled me out of standby and gave me a nice Milan-Malpensa ( Italy ) layover tomorrow! Could I be happier with my roster? Yeah Rostering rules!
Anyway , off to sleep now and relax the whole day for my morning flight to Europe again, Ciao!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

-- Loving Rostering Department --

So , my life has turned into a dramatic and hyper-dynamic twister of events and destinations.

It all started on Sunday night when I properly said good-bye to my friends in Doha after a light dinner, then went home , shaved, took a shower , packed my suitcase with a lot of hot weather clothes and specially lots of courage and willing to operate my Dhaka flight (read some sarcarsm and some true in between the lines ) and went to the airport.

The thing is that the whole roster for the same crew goes like : Doha-Dhaka-Doha-Tripoli-Casablanca-Doha which takes something like 5 days to be completed. Lots of cabin crew complain about this huge hollow space of insatisfaction in their montly rosters and many of them would just make fun of me when I showed them that I was the lucky one.

Back on Sunday, sitted on the Briefing Room for the Dhaka flight when suddenly Rostering Deparment comes and say that someone was gonna be pulled-out of the flight because there were not enough seats for all the crew. Suddenly my number and name was called and a huge smile really hard to hide from the other crew that were actually going to stick and operate the flight was painted in my face. Next thing: Airport Standby.
So there I was in uniform and suitcase looking at all the flights wandering, waiting and wishing to get into a good one when the people from Rostering came saying: 'Oh , you are going to Beijing tonight'.

Happy? Do you think? Amazed! just grabbed everything , went back home to get my jacket and hopped on the briefing for my new flight. Crew were really nice and they made me feel welcome really fast.
Flight left on-time and with no highlights, it was the shortest night of my life ( as we were flying towards east) and after flying over the Himalaias, serving a lot of food in a fully-loaded flight and having stomach cramps , finally got into Beijing Capital International Airport.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

-- This is not a must know, is a need to know --

Okay people , just had three days-off in a row , as part of the terrible plot that rostering prepared for me this month, so from today onwards, every hour in Doha will be for sleeping and eating purposes, since my time here will be very limited. ( can't really complain , love being out of station, specially when it's reaching temperatures above 45 degrees now daily).

I promised myself that I'd go to the swimming pool , but I didn't! can not really say that these days were really crappy, indeed there were not too many interesting things to do here , specially because going out to the streets in the midday and afternoon hours is like asking to die slowly, but here's an important detail: It does feel like home.

Remember the feeling when I was arriving from my Stockholm flight, it was good to know that I'd be home soon , in my own bedroom , with all my precious high-tech gadgets and specially my new friends , the ones that welcome you with a big ' how was your trip? tell me everything' and make you feel better about yourself. Those are the friends you think about when you are in the souvenir store trying to buy cheap but meaningful presents.

Must say that these days I've been feeling a little homesick specially because it has been 6 months since I left home and lots of things happened to me since then. I love what I do and I can't really complain of anything. Having so much positive feedback from my beloved ones ( friends , family and people who are just curious about my new lifestyle ) had me thinking about them and how much I miss them.

Anyway, maybe my friends and family will read this , so I can only say 'Thank You'...Lots!
Tomorrow I'm heading for Bangladesh, never been there in my life , heard lots of stories about the flight itself and about the city but I am not really into the 'stay in the hotel sleeping the whole day' thing, so I might hire a guided tour or something, will keep you posted!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

-- Midnight Sunset + Beautiful Women = Stockholm --

Hej! Svenka? Just arrived from my first ever layover trip and there was no better place to start my Cabin Crew life than with a nice stay in Sweden's capital: Stockholm.
Flight time between Doha and Stockholm is something around six and half hours, so it was also my first 'long' flight ( as I only had gotten short turnarounds before ).

So there I was again again , feeling all ' cabin crewish' in my uniform , this time for a day flight to Scandinavia. We departed from Doha with some steamy forty-one degrees and the flight was with a medium load. Most of them coming from holidays in the Indian Subcontinent and Thailand.
Flight just went without any problems ( just some ladies who were having some intestinal gas problems, so the air spray was a very requested item ).

We arrived into Stockholm sometime between eight in the night and it was really sunny , looked like it was three in the afternoon in any other part of the world , then the ground staff told us that since we are heading towards the summer , the sunset was at 23:00!
The hotel was amazing and very well located in the City Centre , in front of the Old Town , so the next day , after a huge breakfast ( including pancakes and bavarian sausage ) we headed for some sightseeing with another two crewmembers.

Must say that I really enjoyed the city, Stockholm was founded over many islands, so there are a lot of bridges , some of them really modern and some others really classic with the 'imperial style'.
It was great to be back in Europe, some trees and feel the cold air in the face for a change so I enjoyed myself while we were taking photos of pretty much everything , including the main points such as the Royal Palace ( where we were just in time to see the change of guards ) , Riksdasthuset and the impressive VasaMuseet , where there's an original viking ship who sank back in the 1700's that was recovered and refloated pretty much intact.
Note for myself: Women in Sweden are beautiful ! simple as that. Whoever that has been there can agree with me in this.

Nothing better to rest the legs and end the afternoon than a boat trip through the channels to see the whole city from the water point of view. At one point the trip got so quiet that we started to feel sleepy.

According to the watches, the afternoon was indeed I was asking to myself, 'when will that sunset gonna come?', as I saw that people were actually saying the truth , just took my camera and decided to go for a last walkaround before going to sleep and I even got to take pictures of the city's watches when it was around midnight and there was still sunlight!

Later a nice night of sleep in the hotel and then ' wake up call' for getting ready and operate the flight back to Doha, which was full so we worked a lot.
Crew members were really nice and helped me a lot, taught me a lot of things as well and gave me some pointers to make my life easier.

Now I'm here again, where the temperature is again 41 degrees and now gonna enjoy some days-off before starting with the hectic roster I have ahead of me.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

-- Flying without wings ( and swimming in freezing waters ) --

Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing the new Qatar Airways Cabin Crew member...ME!

That's right , Thursday got my graduation days or as we call it here , I've got my 'wings' with my name on it and now I'm officially able to go flying around the world by myself , also meaning that I'm fully responsible for my behaviour inside and outside the aircraft.
We got our diplomas ( now I've got two 'degrees' in my life, as my mom would say) and a really good chocolate cake.
Of course some words from the staff members that stuck with my batch for the last 8 weeks and then some celebration.

It feels good, now I'm sure that there will be no routine in my life anymore and that will finally see the world I always wanted to.
Also feeling a little worried to know that I'm not protected anymore and that I need to get used to pretty much everything as soon as posible, specially because my roster for this month is so hectic ( again, I love it ).
On the other hand , I am really gonna miss my batchmates, we were like brothers for the past weeks , learned a lot about them, helped them, they helped me and since we were from 16 different nationalities, I felt able to see and open my mind to new cultures, to deal with that and to learn about their countries ( and how to swear in 16 different languages ).

Yesterday we woke up early and took the morning flight to Dubai, United Arab Emirates where we headed straight to the EK Aviation College for evacuation and ditching training.
Dubai seems really interesting, I will definitely go there on my days-off to explore it a little , even though it really looks like the credit crunch affected them , as the airport was incredible empty and the city as well ( maybe because it was Friday ).
Training was really nice , we had a lot of fun and we swam in the freezing water of the indoor pool with the life-jackets around our necks, damn how I miss swimming!

On our way back to Doha we said our good-byes, even taped a video with everyone's nicknames and we got home.
Now I have two days-off and flying out on my first flight as a official Cabin Crew, destination: Stockholm, Sweden!

See ya in the skies! ( and 426 Rules! )

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

-- You can call me ' Tran'--

Waking up from a quick nap now, thinking that I must sleep every time I can from now on ( or every time I feel extremely tired as I want to do some sightseeing while on layovers ).

Just finished my 'observer flights' which I would like to call as 'internship flying hours', and now finally finished with every training issue in Doha.

The first one was a short-haul flight to Dammam, Saudi Arabia where we had a night stop , meaning that we had to wait INSIDE THE AIRCRAFT for three hours due to KSA regulations, time between disembarkation of the passengers in Dammam and embark of the passengers on the returning sector to DOH.
It started around midnight , when well-groomed and prepared, headed to the 'crew terminal' and got to my first ever briefing.
Quick grooming briefing then some SEP questions and finally First Aid, somehow managed to answer everything they asked me and then it was time to board the aircraft.
Good A320 with a low load of passengers which quickly boarded as we finished our security checks and warmed some of the meals that we were gonna serve.

Passengers entering the aircraft and I was at the forward of the economy class, so I had to greet them and help them find their way inside the cabin.
Normal take-off and then running to put on the Dining Jackets and start our service for this night flight : a warm sandwich and juice.
Boy how we ran !, we were handing everything so fast ( we were about to pretty much chew the passengers food so they could finish faster) and then clearance as the plane was approaching into the airport.
Landing , disembark and the beginning of the long waiting until we got back to Doha. Nothing really interesting to do , so we watched some movies and ate a lot of things.
As the morning came , passengers boarded ( and then again I was at the forward) but the load this time was lower so I supposed the ' delivering food service' was gonna be easier, WRONG! when I did it , I even forgot to serve a row , which I quickly solved and apologized for like 8 times.

Arrived in the early morning and got home, slept for like 8 hours and then ran some errands.

Five in the morning today , woke up, groomed and went to the airport for the second flight: Dubai. Again a quick briefing with some quick questions (and quick answers) and then boarded the aircraft: an A330.
Low load of passengers again, this time I was in the middle of the economy class and the flight service started. Sweets there, freshnets there and we took off.
Again , running against time to give the meals , this time I didn't forget any rows and felt way faster than yesterday ( even for a wide-body aircraft ). Landed in Dubai and stayed there for an hour , enough time for the passengers to disembark , eat something , go to the toilet, open and arm the doors , learn some things and then passengers embark again.
Nice flight back to Doha , smiling passengers ( of course, smiling cabin crew) and a short and bumpy flight.

So , got home as usual and tomorrow I'm getting my 'wings' , meaning that I am graduating after a long and hard training...ok , not that hard.
I operated these two flights with the ' Trainee ' badge , so crew members on the last flight were calling me just 'Tran' , from tomorrow I'm using the ones with my name written on it.

Then coming back to Dubai on Friday for ditching training in the Emirates Aviation College , so as the roster says , I might be there for the entire day.
Anyway , nice experiences, kind of liking my new lifestyle, hope it lasts for a long time.

Still feeling a little sad about the AF 447 flight as somehow I do feel connected with things that happen in Brazil and I've been in Galeão Airport and took the same route once. God keep their souls in peace.