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Planes, Trains… June 9, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Up and Away.
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PLANES

Depreciation. On my flight to Europe, I noticed a plaque in the cabin that indicated the vessel’s name: “The City of Calgary”. It never occurred to me that the planes of commmercial airliners would have individual names, given the size of their fleets. It also never occurred to me how old many of these planes must be: apart from the name, the plaque also indicated that the plane was christened in 1989, nearly twenty years ago! I suppose it can’t be helped given the cost of the investment, but the fact that cars break down (sometimes fatally) in a fraction of that time doesn’t inspire much confidence. (Then again, on my flight back from Europe, I ended up on what seemed to be a brand spanking new 777. So I guess the law of averages can work in one’s favor.)

Airplane food. Seated in the row behind me on the flight were three women from the same family. It was easy to tell they were related: not only did grandmother, woman and daughter look alike, but they were shaped alike as well: all of them were, shall we say, quite healthy. When the flight attendant came by to serve the token meal, one of the women asked what food was available. The flight attendant replied that it was a choice between some vegetarian pasta or a chicken dish. True to form, the three women replied emphatically in unison: “Chicken!”

Pit Crew. My flight back to Manila included an hour-long technical stop at Vancouver airport, during which time ongoing passengers had to remain onboard due to security reasons. While waiting, ground staff boarded to service the plane. As I marveled at the speed and efficiency with which they went about their task, it dawned on me that each and every one of those servicing my section of the cabin was Filipino. How about that?

TRAINS

Honesty. There’s one thing in common with the tram system in Zurich, the train system in Amsterdam, and the subway system in Vienna: each seems to operate according to an honesty system. True, tickets are sold and theoretically need to be validated, but from the look of things nothing prevents a commuter from riding on the cheap. Our tickets were never checked each time we rode, and I for one never spied any of the locals with tickets in hand at the station. True, we might have just missed spot checks (if any), and it’s possible that the locals had passes that needn’t be validated before every trip, but it does make me wonder just how many people actually get away with free rides, considering how everything in Europe is quite expensive.

AUTOMOBILES

Country Roads. The tour we signed up on was called Country roads of Switzerland, Bavaria and Austria. While we thoroughly enjoyed the trip, little did we realize getting into it that by “coutry roads” the tour operator meant exactly that: perhaps exactly half our time on tour was spent on a bus travelling from one place to another. It was a matter of breadth versus depth: visiting many places and seeing a bit of each instead of holing up in one location and exploring all it has to offer. As a consequence, not only did we see the sights, but we really did see a lot of the country road, and quite literally at that.

Ready, Set, Snooze…. Addendum to the above: we saw enough country roads while we were awake. One side-effect of being bused from location to location like sheep was falling asleep on cue anytime the drive would get underway. I’m beginning to think it’s a genetic trait, because it appears the four of us would sleep and wake up with amazing synchronicity.

BOATS, TOO!

Canals. It’s inevitable to go around Amsterdam via one of the many boat taxis or tours through the city’s canals. After spending two weeks around glacial waters, it’s pretty obvious that the murky waters are quite dirty. In spite of this, it’s remarkable that the waters do not smell.

Beep! Beep! There’re lots of bicycles in Amsterdam, both on land and in the water. Tourists can also rent pedal boats called Canal Bikes to navigate the canals at their leisure. Apparently, this can cause similar traffic problems as on the road: While on one of the canal boats, there were two women on a canal bike perhaps 150 meters ahead that began to veer slowly into our path as we approached, further slowing us down. How to get out of this situation? Typical: blow a loud horn! That’s exactly what our boat captain did, which got the said bike out of our way.

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Comments»

1. 25hjk - June 9, 2007

Interesting observations. Please read my bloog titled: Free Voices.


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