Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Angelico Austrian Adventure - flying out

Welcome, one and all, to Clippy's Log! Having chronicled all Midga's overseas trips as a single bloke, how can I not do the same for his honeymoon? After all, I announced his attachment to Asha, which is almost as good has having brought them together.

So here goes. The humans woke up this morning at a totally un-Saturdayish hour, and proceeded to do most of their packing. Rosuav is looking after my British plug adaptor, which is a shocking oversight on Midga's part, but Asha is a seasoned traveller and has plenty of electronic gear. I was already packed of course, but my case had been lightened by removing everything not required for an overseas trip.

They then took a casual stroll across the road to the centre of the universe, Southern Cross Station. Actually they went to the off-centre, not the centre - the bus terminal where Skybus lives. Just as they approached a 14.5m three axle rigid departed, but we weren't worried - Skybus runs every ten minutes, rain, hail or shine. And the next bus in line was an artic!

They bought tickets and boarded, selecting seats just past the articulation for best effect. The bus filled quite comfortably - most of the seats were occupied. There's no doubt that good frequency draws more patronage than $30 return fares drive away.

We went out past the Dudley Street carriage yards, looking closely at the H cars to see if they had rusted into the ground yet. Apparently not. There was also a three-car V/Locity in the original purple livery, which is becoming a rare sight. According to Vicsig one's already come out in PTV spots (come out in spots, like a disease, geddit?) and I guess the last purple cars will be the first ones to get stickered.

In Dudley Street itself we were held up by traffic. It initially looked like a semi-trailer was trying to back into a very narrow alley, but by the look of a slightly shop-soiled car and broken glass all over the road I suspect some idiot got under the truck's heels and the truck jack-knifed trying to stop too fast. And it was right over both eastbound lanes too... Our bus driver seemed to have no trouble at all threading a needle with a bendy bus though - thank goodness it happened at a spot where the traffic island was only a painted one.

So we got to the airport in 22 minutes. I completely fail to see how an airport rail line can offer better service than Skybus does.

At the airport the humans realised they'd forgotten to do the online check-in, but the line was moving quite fast anyway and they had enough time. The process of getting through the airport is one I'm getting used to - x-rays don't hurt all that much any more. As we approached the gate we saw the shapely yellow tail of our ride for today. It's a 787.

Now just in case there are any new Log listeners today, I have to tell you about Midga's thoughts on the 787. To put it mildly, he adores them. They saved Boeing Commercial Airplanes from the chopping block, they employ all sorts of amazingly geeky technology, and they're built with the customer in mind, not the shareholder. So when he found out he was flying on one, he was slightly excited.

We got on board and the interior looked quite familiar. I guess all international-configured widebody aircraft have the same basic layout. The luggage bins seem a bit better in the capacity department, the interior lighting gives an impression of space, and the windows are huge. We're sitting in the middle section but we can still see out without much trouble. And the electronic dimming thing is so cool! I don't know how well it'll keep out light when we want to sleep but for softening the glare off the cloud layer without blocking the view it's amazing. Quite possibly the 787 is going to join that exclusive club of Items That Were Hyped Big And Then Lived Up To Or Exceeded The Hype. There aren't many members of that club, in all modesty. In point of fact I am the only member so far.

The humans have eaten (they seem to do a lot of that), and Midga has finished watching Need For Speed. It wasn't the one with the bus jump the Mythbusters tested, which is disappointing, and the "hero" spent a lot of time on the wrong side of the law. Still, he rescued his enemy from a burning car, so it's not all bad. The main value of the film is in picking holes in the science - but that can be said of most action movies.

The only other thing worth watching on the in-flight entertainment is a documentary about the invention of mobile phones, which includes the way a Hollywood actress came up with the idea of frequency hopping to avoid interception and an electronics geek who invented the camera phone by connecting an early digital camera to an early mobile phone with speaker wire while his wife was in labour, because he wanted to be able to email around the photos of his daughter without waiting til he got home. Ah, geeks.

The staff here are fairly constantly bringing around drinks, so it's hard to tell if the extra humidity they can put into a carbon fibre plane has made a difference. But the pressurisation certainly has - the water bottle trick isn't nearly as violent as it is in a 777.

Right now my battery is running low because Midga forgot to charge me last night. And there's no power in the seats for some reason. Ah well, we're already past Darwin so we'll be landing in Brunei in a few hours. Hopefully there's WiFi as well as power. Midga is snoozing, maybe he has low battery too?


Chris Angelico said...

Thanks for keeping us up-to-date, Clippy! I enjoy reading your reports, even of trips that I was on myself, so hearing about your adventures around the Eurozone will be most welcome!

Michael Angelico said...

Sure - WiFi permitting. Our hotel WiFi costs EUR1 per hour which isn't something I want to encourage. And there isn't a place selling 3G SIM cards in the whole valley. I'm speaking to you now from a servo somewhere in either Belgium or Holland. We have 20 more minutes before the bus leaves for the Channel.