And so to Wenice
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking, we’re about to land in Wenice.
That’s not a typo, that’s how he pronounced it. La Serenissima shall forever be Wenice to me.
Departing Auckland was just plain weird.
A terminal with just Emirates open. The South African Proteas cricket team – none of them looked under six feet tall – checked in with huge, bulky bags. Possibly why the check-in person insisted on weighing my carry-on.
Her: Can you take something out to reduce the weight? It’s nearly 11 kilos and the limit is seven.
Me: I could take out my laptop and iPad.
She nods, tags my bag as 8 kilos, and I return the laptop and iPad once I’m upstairs….in yet another deserted area of the terminal. Nothing is open – not even a café selling cardboard muffins.
Through security, where they confiscate two bottles of Al Brown’s Habanero mustard because they’re over 100mls each, and we know that this is the magic figure when it comes to suspicious liquids. Sorry, Bill.
There is one café open, selling the usual hideous airport offerings. One duty-free store with those short piranha women who appear without warning from behind the stands. It was like some post-apocalyptic scene from a movie. The innocent traveller checks in only to discover [cue disturbing theme music] she’s the only passenger…..!
The departure lounge has those rows of four seats with one taped off so you can’t sit there. Distance, you know. The idea was good but the execution was left wanting; the rows were facing each other and so close that if you leaned forward, you’d be nose-to-nose with the person opposite. It was then I realised that Covid-19 only spreads sideways. This made me feel a bit better after Kuala Lumpur, but I’ll come back to that.
I’d chosen seat 21A. Window. Close enough to the pointy end of the plane that I wouldn’t be involved in the chaotic mess of disembarkation in the really big cabin. A nice crew member offered me a three-seater space all to myself and I moved into it with great speed.
Dinner was an edible chicken/rice affair. Nothing to write home about, so I won’t.
At Kuala Lumpur (those who travel a lot refer to it as “KL” and I will follow their lead). At KL, a goodly number of people exited sardine class. Could be up for another row to myse….ah, no. Good grief, WTF happened to social distancing? We’re packed in like sardines. The stoutish woman to my right has something going on in her thighs; they pulsate against me for most of the flight. Her elbows are like wings; she sits, she eats, she sleeps with them fully extended. And she’s hogging the armrest.
Turbulence. No hot beverages (why don’t they just say tea and coffee). Three tiny bumps later and it’s over. No tea or coffee.
Two hours out from Dubai, the pilot again warns of turbulence ahead. Four tiny bumps later and it’s over. Perhaps he’s had a hard week and just wants some fun.
Dear lord, another warning about turbulence. We had beans with our breakfast; was that the problem?
Dubai Airport was rather quiet and sad. Breakfast, a glass of champers, re-set date/time on phone, wandered around.
N95 masks are uncomfortable when worn continuously for 27+ hours. Just so you know.
We’re waiting for the all-clear to rush the plane for the final leg. Agitated dude who wants to board now turns out to have a baby pink carry-on suitcase. Biggish chap with a belly is wearing a black hoodie emblazoned with the Versace gold icon across his massive frontage. Young girl to my right is pouting into her phone camera. Older man and woman walk straight past us all and onto the air bridge. He was returned by ground crew.
Man: But the door was open!
If you’ve flown Emirates, you’ll know their tinkly taxiing music. This trip, we got the last 10-15 seconds of it followed each time by the dulcet tones of Charlie Rich crooning that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. Very appropriate for a plane trip.
The aircrew speak multiple languages and the young lady giving the announcements in Italian set a new world record for the most words delivered in the shortest possible time.
Dubai is fringed with grey and then brown smog; we are one of just three planes on the taxiway; there are 18 jets parked outside Execujets.
The post-take-off snack is a Danish pastry that is neither Danish nor a pastry. In fact, it resembles damp carboard with chemicals and 50 percent of my daily recommended salt intake. I knew just looking at it that it would be inedible. The young Italian man to my right consumed it in three mouthfuls, but then he was doing something very complex with Excel involving many formulae and sheets, so he may have mistaken it for food.
What is it with Emirates and the turbulence warnings? One small bump and the seatbelt sign goes on. A minute or so later, I notice we’re flying over Baghdad. Was that wise? Oh, even better, our heading is 339 degrees and that puts us on a course for Russia/Ukraine. Pilots flips the left indicator and we turn across Croatia and the top of the Adriatic.
I’m sitting on the wrong side of the plane to see Wenice, but I do get a great look at the other bits of the lagoon for the first time. If you’d like to know about Wenice’s sewage plant, do ask.
There’s the usual chaos on landing. Experts have recommended ways to embark/disembark a plane but the airlines won’t have a bar of it. Why?
Immigration and Customs don’t want to know me. As usual, there are three men in the booth; one of them stamps my passport and continues chatting with his friends. I drag my overly-heavy suitcases across textured concrete to the ferry building. It’s a new building, very efficient…why couldn’t they fix the concrete outside?
The ferry is an Alilaguna one and the windows are small and high up so you can’t look out. Why? You’re crossing one of the most beautiful pieces of water in the world and they don’t want you to see it. Opposite are four women of a certain age who’ve come off the EasyJet flight from Manchester for the weekend and they’re talking fit to burst about what they’re going to do over the weekend; the young people are on their phones.
Welcome to Wenice.