Thursday, 27 April 2017

In Dusseldorf, day four

I had a strange dream, somewhere between 0500hrs and 0800hrs. The dream involved Donald Trump and my old green sofa, which, for some reason, was no longer mine but Trump's and he was using it for some kind of television appearance, an acting role of some sort. The problem was it needed to be painted yellow (I'm guessing the colour of his hair, but I can't be sure). So, with a tin of paint and a brush I set about the task and the end result was piss poor, not that Trump seemed too bothered about it. At roughly this point in the dream my alarm went off and I remember feeling relieved that it was a dream and nothing more. It was vivid and realistic and when I initially regained consciousness, a few minutes elapsed before I realised I had been dreaming. There were other sofas in the dream, one a kind of floral pattern, but they were not to be painted, I was told. And then I woke up, as the saying goes. Very odd.

I had breakfast (this time I added a cake and an extra cup of tea) and then I checked out, much earlier than necessary, but I figured there was little I could do in the surrounding area so I pulled my suitcase towards Dusseldorf HBF, purchased a ticket for the Flughafen and then spent some time in the station bookshop. I eventually bought a novel, Hotels of North America by Rick Moody, and boarded the 1123hrs train to where I am now, at the flughafen. I've just enjoyed a chicken stew and rice with a glass of red wine, not bad, but a little slow on the service front. It was one of those mildly stressful situations where I needed to put my cases down to secure a table before I could deal with the self-service scenario that had presented itself, but I was aware that 'leaving my bags unattended' (in an airport) could result in them being blown up for being a security risk! I might be branded a terrorist in the process and slammed in the cells to await trial. So while I was waiting for what seemed like ages to be served, I kept looking over in the direction of where I had left my bags, on the look-out for 'uniformed officers' or 'armed police' and while dealing with a member of the cafeteria's staff who was uncertain what I meant by Merlot. I didn't see any police – always a little worrying – and my bags seemed fine. Soon I was clasping my tray in both hands as I weaved my way towards the table I had chosen earlier. Bistrot Airport was where all this was taking place. The food was fine and during the shortish time I was there I called my taxi company in the UK to arrange a pick-up at T5.

They can't even spell 'bistro' properly...
Right now I'm sitting at gate B35 awaiting the moment when I can board the flight. I'm glad I've eaten already because I resent paying BA any money to eat food. It's normally free, but they're cashing in and I don't like that. Fine for easyJet and other 'budget carriers', that's what they do, but not BA. Why should they join the dark side? Well, they have and it changes things, believe me, although I'll be flying with them again, long haul, next Saturday, not this coming Saturday but next week, to Chicago O'Hare, and I know that on long haul flights passengers get their food for free, just like it should be. And listen here, I love airline food. Seriously! If I had my way there would be restaurants shaped like aircraft fuselages and seating inside laid out just like on commercial airliners. Instead of waiters and waitresses there would be cabin crew serving the 'passengers' and yes, airline food would make up the entire menu, right down to those 187ml bottles of red wine I love so much. I doubt it will ever happen, but where's the harm in dreaming?

As somebody who reviews a lot of hotels for Trip Advisor – yes I know, I'm terribly sad – I'm really pleased that I found Moody's aforementioned book. I made a start on it once we were in the air. I've got an exit seat (10a) but that's not always as good as it seems. First, if there's a problem in the air I'm the guy who has to save everybody. Me! And just because I wanted a seat with a view! Sod that! While there's a little bit more legroom, there's often no window in the exit row, defeating the object of the initial request, but on this flight there was a full window so I was happy and fortunately there was no need for me to rescue anybody.

The flight home from Dusseldorf to T5 was just 55 minutes and we arrived 'ahead of schedule'. While I said I wouldn't buy anything on board, I weakened and bought a small bottle of red wine and a couple of biscuits. I could have done without them, of course, but I can be a serious pig when the occasion demands it. I'd barely finished my feast when the plane landed and then, after going through immigration and customs, I emerged at arrivals, found my taxi driver and headed off around the M25 towards home.

I reached the house around 1600hrs and then realised I'd be heading for Nashville Saturday week. In the USA they take their food seriously, or rather they take something that is relatively healthy, let's say fish, chicken and vegetables, and add a few gooey sauces or some batter, or both, and transform them into something worth avoiding. The only time I ever ate anything a little minimalist and decent in the USA was in Irvine, California, at the Hyatt Regency. Everywhere else it's veered towards unnaturally large portions accompanied by copious amounts of French fries and cheese and, strangely, the word 'chipotle'. But enough already! Time to forget about planes and hotel rooms, time to chill and sleep in my own bed at last. But first, chilli con carne with rice and (ahem) a small glass of Rioja.

I write a lot of hotel and restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor, which can be read by clicking here.

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