Monday, 16 November 2015

Ramblings from Dusseldorf airport...

Thursday 12 November: As I write this I am sitting in a cafeteria – there's a counter and trays so it's definitely not a café – enjoying a cup of black tea (as they say in Germany). I can't ask for a cup of 'builder's tea' as they wouldn't understand  me. There's no milk either, just creamer, which always reminds me of the days of my childhood when, for some reason, we sometimes had to endure our tea with Carnation evaporated milk. I can only assume that mum simply ran out of milk on some occasions. In Europe, largely, when you order a cup of tea you'll get it black and without milk and with a sachet containing a teabag, and then you'll be directed to the creamer. Awful.

It's around 1650hrs and it's getting dark outside. I'm through passport control and I'm killing time writing as I left Mark Beaumont's The Man Who Cycled the World (which I've almost finished) in my suitcase, when I checked in.
The Rhine from the Schellenberg's breakfast room

As always when I stay in a hotel, I didn't get much in the way of sleep. I'd hit the sack around midnight last night and I woke up at 0700hrs so I reset the alarm for 0730hrs and tried to chill a little before getting up, taking a shower and heading down for breakfast. Although it wasn't 'down' it was up and over and, of course, it involved going outside into the fresh air (see previous posts for details). Not a big issue because the weather was mild, but it could have been much worse. Imagine getting drenched by heavy rain before reaching the breakfast room!

When I reached the breakfast room (the restaurant from last night) I was able to take full advantage of the Schellenberg's riverside location. It was, as I mentioned in the previous post, right on the banks of the Rhine. I sat there, having collected everything I thought I'd need – cereal, fresh fruit, a pastry, some scrambled egg and a pot of tea – and watched as huge barges passed by; they were passenger barges, designed for river cruises, and they were very long. Some had rooms with patio doors so I'm guessing there are overnight river cruises along the Rhine too; now that's something I'd like to do.

Viking River Cruises was one of the operators and there was another barge moored up on the bank below the hotel. At first I thought it was part of the hotel: extra rooms, perhaps; but soon the engines started the churn up the water and the barge disappeared up river.

Room 27, Schellenberg Hotel, Dusseldorf
On the opposite side of the river there were what looked like gently sloping 'sandy' banks that were almost beaches. It was probably mud, not sand, but it didn't look very muddy and I'm guessing that in the summer people might enjoy lying there, taking in some rays, but it was mid-November and the 'beaches' were deserted, despite the mild weather.

Breakfast was pleasant enough and so was dinner last night (I had cod with polenta followed by raspberry mousse, a glass of wine and a bottle of still mineral water). The entire bill was just 189 Euros.

I checked out and left my suitcase with the concierge while I nipped over the road to the convention centre until around 2pm when I met a colleague and his client for lunch at the hotel (potato and leek soup followed by salmon and a couple of glasses of Malbec). We talked shop and then I was driven to the airport (an incredibly short drive). Now I am sitting here having drank my tea. It's 1703hrs and soon I'll have to make my way to the gate for the return flight home. I've been reliably informed that the plane is another turbo prop, but unfortunately I've got an aisle seat. Not that it matters as it'll be dark when we take off and besides, it's only 55 minutes so I'll have to amuse myself in some other way. I have a notepad and a pen so perhaps I'll be inspired to write something, who knows?

Once again I forgot to buy myself some Ronnefeldt tea.  I know they've got some decent flavours because I've tried them and it's available throughout this fine land. It's always a shame to leave Dusseldorf, but I'm sure I'll be back. I seem to visit this great German city three or four times during the year.
View from room 27, Schellenberg Hotel...

I wandered to the gate (Gate 91) and then, as I waited to board, I added up the numbers of the flight, hoping that the total wouldn't be 13. It wasn't and I was relieved as I hate it when the numbers stack up against me, although they rarely do.

Next to the free bottles of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon that I always enjoy on any British Airways flight I take, the next best thing is John Simpson's regular column in High Life magazine. This month it was about the cities of Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (previously Zaire). They're chalk and cheese according to Mr Simpson and his preferred capital is Brazzaville, although it never used to be. "I remember landing at the airport here in the 1990s with mortars and artillery fire thumping down...", he wrote in his column. I've said it before, but High Life should devote more space to Simpson's writing.

Annoying passengers
What never fails to annoy me on planes is when instructions from the cabin crew are ignored, especially when those instructions are designed to make things safer. We were told to switch off all electrical devices during take-off and landing and, of course, I did as I was told. But there were others close to me who simply ignored the request and continued texting and watching fucking Cumberbatch on their tablet. I felt like intervening, but decided to keep my powder dry for fear of starting some kind of international incident.

The flight was good and, being a turbo prop, a little more exciting than a jet. Turbo props, a bit like helicopters, 'chug' through the air and while the flight is a little rockier than that experienced in a jet, I think I prefer it.

We landed at London City Airport and after retrieving my suitcase from the reclaim I headed for the Docklands Light Railway to catch a train to Bank and then onwards to London Bridge where I picked up an overground train to East Croydon and then to Sanderstead.

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