Some thoughts from Hart on his solo trip from Sydney to Hamburg to pick up the TriStar. at nearly 77 years of age with English not his first language, Hart's observations are worth including in the blog for posterity!!! It certainly had me laughing.
"First flight leg, Sydney to Hong Kong flying Premium ! What a revelation ! At last more space to stretch the legs, have some space, computer coming out of the armrest, comfort seats, and no people next to me ! What a bonus ! Later I find that being placed in the very last row of the service section my meal choices are very limited to what is left over. The attendant is not much help either as despite her best intentions any communication is difficult as her knowledge of the English language is rather limited . My request to have the entertainment panel be looked at is pretty much ignored, so in the end, after two more attempts to have that part of the deal fixed, I decided to forget about it and go without it. Funny really how little one needs that thing, as one can watch a whole movie on the one in front of you although without sound of course, but
with the benefit of being in charge of the outcome of the story! Another disturbance was the footrest which is a comfortable item appearing under ones weary legs for rest and comfort. Well, again, it didn't live up to what it is supposed to do, it comes out some 15cms and is stuck there, much restricting the legs and freedom of movement. Only the combined power of the little cabin lady and my remaining strength convinces the structure to hide its ugly head under the seat again ! Room for improvement for you here QANTAS.
Finally Hong Kong . We had requested assistance for my well being of not getting lost and so I am met by a very good looking very young and spritely girl who is supposed to accompany me to the Lufthansa counter. My excitement is quickly squashed however as I am in company of two elderly NZ people of which one has to be pushed in a wheel chair ... And I end up carrying his hand luggage. Crawling along for a few hundred metres the girl senses my discomfort and says to me "just follow the signs of W1 and look out for the Lufthansa counter", with a tiny wink of her left eye she's adding, "it's a walk of about 800 m , you'll be alright"...Walking on and dreaming how nice it could have been to have a coffee with her, I find my way to Lufthansa. The local behind the counter attendant has adopted the German way of a straight forward, efficient, un-personal way of dealing with cabin fill. That's what today's travellers are, cabin fillers. Except if they travel first or business as that keeps the airlines in business really.
From the counter I march on to the gate. The gate change was announced several times on the flight already and that in a few different languages with the exception of Russian ... makes me wonder...here at the gate I'm forced to count the minutes before it opens, all 184 of them. At present we seem to be 5 souls waiting eagerly for some staff to show up to give some life to the otherwise dead scenery. The time waiting passes very slowly, thinking that I could have watered those most recently planted trees and shrubs makes me a tiny bit sad. So I rather watch the little girl worker walking an electric hand piece on wheels which pulls all those abandoned trolleys, her trolley worm is now some 15m long and getting longer as her worker/runner partner is collecting more and more and adding them to the worm. By the end of their shift how many have they collected ? The mind boggles... The only reliable fact in today's travel is time...it passes without fail or complaint, so here too, finally some people in uniforms to be respected, show up and the circus starts. Holding on to my boarding pass I don't have to stand in line at the counter but wait, a girl holding a quickly made up sign with my name appears in front of me... I can detect her excitement that one of the 5 names on the sign has responded . She frequently turns her head to assure herself that her kill is following her to the counter. My boarding pass is requested ...reluctantly I'm passing it on, it flashes through my mind...I'm getting off-loaded here because of over booking... but no, a new pass is issued and a pen is pointing to words on it. Business Class !! Can't believe it.
And never for a minute do you underestimate the pleasure that check-in is separated from the fillers. The joy of entering the big 747 at the front entry is overwhelming, the joy of being guided up the stairs to the upper deck is lifting the spirits. Seat 88 C is even more special as my "room company" for the night is a lovely, again, young lady, Asian, who lived, worked, for two years in Hamburg, knows Bergedorf and is on her way to work in Basel. Together we work out how to use, open, the fold up tables, the electric chairs cum beds, and the TV screens . A real bonus that all equipment works as intended by the designers of the aircraft Finally on our way to Frankfurt my partner, don't know her name, has fallen asleep. For this to happen the lounge chairs flatten out into a makeshift bed. Due to the physical constrains of our 4m2 "room" contact with your partner is almost a given, the feet are separated by a 14mm board.... The noise level on the upper deck is very low, almost not audible and the earphones are quality ones, like Sennheiser, so falling asleep is really easy. Taking long hours to leave the darkness of the night behind us, the first signs of a new beginning are showing up through the little windows. Busy feet rushing down the aisles dishing out the usual. For me it's water, up til now I had opted for one coffee which resembled more or less hot water mixed with brown paint pigment.
Landing at Frankfurt is smooth like silk or is it because we are so far away from noise like engines or wheels etc ? Disembarking is quick and easy and without any Special Assistance, a few stairs up and down later, I find myself at the Hamburg check in. On this flight , a short 60 mins, I am part of the "fill" in the cabin ...no seasoned traveller this time...Finally disembarking at Hamburg. A very long wait for my suitcase but it arrives as planned and I expect to be filzt again by quarantine and customs, but wait , none of this happens. I stand outside of the circus, in reality, waving to my friend Harald, who is waiting patiently for me. It's a very long haul and again I question my sanity of getting involved with such a complicated nightmare of a journey. Talking with Harald pushes aside my worries about getting my TriStar out of the custom area. Another huge milestone will have to be dealt with...
Off to the docks in Harald's little Smart. The GPS is outdated, so much has changed, but somehow we manage to find the destination. Exchange the passport (after all I have a second one) for the safety gear and we are allowed into the inners of the toll free section of the port. Lots of walking and heaps of asking, we find the people who handle our cars. Herr Fischer is quick and efficient, also mentioned that the car has created quite a stir amongst the dockers, so they stored both of them inside a wire cage. As the cars were pushed out of their box, I'm aware that mine possibly would not start, but guess what happened, inserting the key turning the key and the engine is purring away !!!! What a relief !! Off to customs, about 10 truckies in front of us but for some reason all gets done rather quickly. A quick check of the VIN and we are off. The drive is exciting. Following the Smart almost with bumper contact not allowing any car or truck to cut in between us. The traffic is brisk and very fast.
A short hour later we are back at Harald's house outside of Hamburg, phew, not a scratch on the car.
It really seems to be very happy here....very strange....it looks so special and it seems to know that it is. How can that be ?"