Friday, 6 June 2014

At Dusseldorf Flughafen...

I think I prefer ‘flughafen’ to ‘airport’. Here I am at Dusseldorf Flughafen awaiting the 1320hrs British Airways flight to London City Airport. It’s a 70-minute flight and there won’t be much in the way of food once on board so I’m considering getting a bite to eat on the ground before boarding the plane.

Watching the planes at Dusseldorf flughafen, Friday 6th June 2014
The problem is there appears to be something missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it; I’ve been in and out of this place on many occasions and I swear there was more in the way of food and drink outlets. Perhaps I’m mistaken.

An organised start to the day
I arrived here early, having taken breakfast at the hotel around 0800hrs, checking in online from the hotel 'business centre' and then walking from the Mercure Hotel Hagen to the hauptbahnhof (far better than ‘station’ don’t you think?). It took about 25 minutes to walk through the centre of Hagen, pulling a suitcase on wheels, and I’m going to take back what I said on the blog yesterday about Hagen being a bit like Croydon. It’s not. In fact, it’s much better. Let’s just say that parts of the centre of town bear some resemblance to Croydon, but having now walked from the hotel to the station, I’ve discovered it’s far bigger than Croydon and a little better too.

Minutes after take-off, saying goodbye to Dusseldorf...
The journey from Hagen to the flughafen was just over 13 Euros and the ride was pretty smooth, taking roughly an hour, possibly a little less. At Wuppertal a girl sat next to me; she whiffed of cigarettes and then started doing what most women seem to do on trains: she put her make-up on. Once again I found myself fantasising about getting my own make-up kit out and slowly transforming myself into a circus clown, adding the red nose at the last minute prior to disembarking.

I’m so glad that I’m flying into London City airport and not Heathrow. London City is right in the centre of town and all I’ll need to do is get a tube and an overground train and I’ll be home.

As always, I’ve enjoyed being in Germany. Berlin was fantastic and so, I hasten to add, is Dusseldorf although, on this occasion, I’m just passing through.

On the approach to London City airport – in the Southend/Clacton area
Eating too much in Hagen
Last night I ate in an Italian restaurant in the centre of Hagen, recommended by the hotel receptionist. It was fine in the sense that the food was top quality, but it annoyed the hell out of me. First, they took their time with everything, even getting a menu to me. I had a beer while I waited for the menu, can you believe that?

And they gave me miles too much time to decide what I wanted to eat. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, when I ordered what I thought would be an average-sized meal, it turned out – much, much later, I hasten to add – to be a huge meal fit for two people, not just one. The problem here was that most people tend to eat out in twos, but when you’re travelling, you invariably eat alone, unless you're entertaining somebody. So I ordered parma ham with salad as a starter and then, for mains, a pasta dish and a side salad. Simple, you would have thought, nothing out of the ordinary, but no. First I get the ham: a whole plate piled high with the stuff, almost an entire pig. Then, when the main course arrived, the salad was equally huge: about three tomatoes, sliced and arranged around a tennis-ball-sized piece of Buffalo mozzarella. One tomato, sliced, with a couple of slices of Mozzarella would have been sufficient. The main course was fine, give or take, although the langoustine that accompanied the dish was virtually impossible to open up and didn’t look that appetising anyway – so I left it on the plate, on its back, in the sauce.

Battersea Power Station and the River Thames from the air
"Can I have the bill, please?"
Once the meal was over, the next task was getting the bill. The first bit – getting the waiter’s attention – took long enough and then I had to wait for him to get his machine and do what waiters do when they want you to pay up. It’s always at this point that I find myself getting shirty (inwardly) not because I begrudge paying, but because of the time it takes to get their attention. And yet, if I made a move for the door they’d be there straight away, asking where the hell did I think I was going without paying them?

I ate all the ham, most of the main course too (except that langoustine) but I left half of the ‘side salad’. It was too much. So I felt a bit miffed with the restaurant as I headed back to the Mercure, a good 15-minute walk away, possibly a bit longer. As you can imagine, no tip was given.

Back in the hotel I watched a bit of Question Time on BBC World. One of the guests was that bloke from The Call Centre, a reality TV programme about – yes, you’ve guessed it – a call centre. It was so boring that I fell asleep and when I woke up, I switched off the TV, turned off the light, drew the curtains and fell asleep again.

I’m obviously not the only one who’s finding Dusseldorf airport a bit boring today. I’ve decided that rather than spend money on a cup of tea and risk the temptation of a cake in the process – one thing the Germans do very well is bakery items – I’d make my way down to Gate B38 and start writing something – and here I am doing just that. Except that there’s no WiFi so I’m using Microsoft Word instead. God! Isn't this the most boring stuff you've ever read? Me going on about no WiFi and how I'm using a word processing package instead?

About to hit the tarmac at London City, Friday 6th June 2014.
I’m very tired for some reason. I nodded off on the train earlier and now I’m doing it again. All I have to do is close my eyes and that’s it, I'm asleep. A glass of wine on the plane should mean I’ll get 40 winks, who knows? Either way, I’m knackered and this might affect whether I ride out or not in the morning, although I hear some big storms are on the agenda tomorrow. I’m feeling heavy-lidded right now so I might get a cup of tea otherwise there’s a risk that my lap top might slide off my lap if I nod off again. Mind you, you're probably beginning to wish my lap top would fall off my lap – anything so you don't have to read any more of this crapola.

Fiddling with iphones – a global problem
A man is sitting opposite me. He has picked up his iphone and is scanning his emails, just like a girl to my left. More people have turned up, including a girl in white trousers with a small bottle of mineral that she is now knocking back. She looks in her purse and pulls out a white iphone. In fact, everybody around me has an iphone in their hands except for me – although I have an Apple Macbook on my lap. A Japanese woman and another woman in a purple top are sitting to my right. The girl in the white trousers and the man have now gone somewhere – through passport control, no doubt, where I must be heading soon. The woman next to me is eating a sandwich.

Back home in the UK
The flight home was very pleasant: clear skies all the way, but not much in the way of food, just a cereal bar and some red wine. I asked for two of those little bottles and two cereal bars because I was hungry and of course they obliged.

The weather was still clear as we crossed the Channel and descended over Clacton and Southend on our approach into London City. I was amazed at the size of the sandbanks just off the coast and it was great looking out at familiar landmarks, like Southend's one mile long pier and then, shortly before we landed, Battersea Power Station and (yawn!) the ExCeL exhibition centre.

Once on the ground I had 'lunch' in the shape of a pastrami and cheese roll, which cost me a staggering £6.50 (for a roll!). I washed it down with a cup of tea and then jumped on the DLR to Canning Town, changed on to the Jubilee Line and then took the Horsham train from London Bridge to East Croydon where I jumped into a cab. I reached home around 3.30pm and have spent the rest of the afternoon chilling.

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