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London and Germany for work with a week in Austria - May and June 2016 - Page 1

Day 1 - Sunday, 22 May 2016

First of many meals

I am travelling back in time, but during this reverse time travel I still get fed meals as if its normal time.
This starts with a pre dinner dinner in the Emirates lounge here in Melbourne airport, a place I have not been to before.
It is significantly better than the Qantas business lounge but not as good as the Qantas first lounge, main reasons being, no sit down restaurant service with silver service and a menu, and no free spa treatments - both things I need a lot of.

My ticket involves a free limo transfer from my home to the airport, which insisted on being 3 hours before the flight and then turned up 30 minutes early. It turned out to be a Mercedes work van painted black with bench seating, but it was 'free'.
Melbourne airport is currently being renovated entirely, and there are no flights leaving at the same time as mine, so the place was completely deserted. Customs had no line at all.

Apparently I get internet on the plane between here and Dubai, I predict that will be frustration as the internet in the Emirates lounge is port 80 only which means I have to hot spot my phone to do anything on the internet as opposed to just browse web pages about Kim Kardashians big ass breaking the internet.

Now full of dinner, I might go for a walk and check out the building sites where shops and restaurants used to be.

This is the view from my apartment at dawn this morning.
My flight is leaving at 2130 in the evening, but I took this photo to remind me where I live whenever I wrote this.

The inside of my limo, no sky roof to stand out of and yell at people.

My tickets and all important express customs pass thing. I thought it was important but since there is no one here, it was not important at all.

No need to fight for a seat in here.

Part 1 of meal 1 is fillet steak and vegetables. Delicious.

Part 2 of meal 1 is just some fruit despite the plethora of chocolates, and of course dates on offer. People from the middle east love dates, camels and holding a grudge.

Internet in the sky

For the first time ever, I have used wifi in the sky. I have used 3G/4G in the sky before illegally over Australia but this is different.
Emirates provide a satellite service so it works out in the middle of the Indian Ocean, or over the Great Australian Bight/Bite/Byte so you can tweet your own demise.
It worked great at first, but it got slower as the flight went on as more people decided to give it a try, until it basically didnt work as we were on approach to Dubai.

I have been severely over fed, and continuously turned away food, and much to the confusion of every single hostess on board, I did not want wine or champagne or any other kind of drink every 4 minutes (yes less than 5).
The plane also features a cocktail lounge, and showers, I wasnt entitled to use the showers which is a shame because that would be fun, NUDE IN SPACE, or something, and I only ever got water from the cocktail lounge.

The seat was comfortable enough, quite small though, even for me, yes it does lay flat but they give you a mini bar area in your seat for no good reason as there are un refrigerated drinks in it.
It wasnt full either, not that it matters as much when you have your own accommodation pod, perhaps the best thing was the mattress topper that made the leather seats a lot more comfortable as a bed.

Unfortunately I dont have anything funny to say about the flight, perhaps the next leg to Manchester will provide some more entertainment in the form of people I cant understand due to their speaking of the queens own English.

My seat in all its glory.

Large size screen and foot well, I enjoyed all 3 Kung Fu Panda films.

The useless mini bar area that takes up most of the room of your pod, I guess you can store things on it, but the drinks are hot.

Pretty good amenity kit, I used the toothbrush and hair brush and of course the bvlgari body spray. No pyjamas on Emirates though! I saw some seasoned Qantas Business flyers in their grey pyjamas, looking proud.

You can watch the live feed from multiple cameras which is fun for a few minutes, then just blackness, which is also fun, I stared into the black for an hour or so.

For whatever reason you get this wireless tablet thing to attempt to control the screen with, it is useless, the main screen is also a touch screen and there is also a wired remote, which works about 1000 times better than the wireless touch screen thing.

Part 1 of meal 2 - I tried to choose the lighter options

Part 2 of meal 2 - the lamb was actually delicious. No I dont want wine, no wine, I dont drink, please stop offering me wine, for the last time I dont want wine.

Meal 3 - there were about 8 breakfast options, I chose the light express option due to there being so many meals already and presumably a heap more to come on the leg to Manchester.

David on 2016-05-24 said:
Its salad dressing.

Adriana on 2016-05-24 said:
Nice business class ( me one day?) What is the little brown bottle on some of your meal trays? Looks like an essential oil bottle.

Nino on 2016-05-23 said:
Awesome, a new trip! Looking forward to following it. Thanks for sharing!

Day 2 - Monday, 23 May 2016

Dubai airport is quite large

I have never been to Dubai airport before, now I have been. It should be called Emirates airport as the pictures will show.
I was not actually in the airport for long, only 2 hours between flights, but this was enough time to see that it looks a lot like other airports.

The big exception is the Emirates lounge, which is the entire upper level of the airport, with hardly any people in it.

Before very long at all, it was time to board a different A380 to Manchester, a mere 7 hour flight in daylight which flew by....
I think the human brain learns acceptance quickly, I notice it when jogging, the first 5 minutes are hard then you accept you are jogging, on a long flight the first 10 hours are hard, then you accept you are sitting still watching movies.

Having said that, I spent a lot of time at the bar, looking out the windows. The bar is excellent, a big open space, with strangely no customers. The flight was quite empty but the people in their trying to make me cocktails I said I didnt want and did not drink told me its never this empty.

I was not left wondering if there would be scary northerners on the flight, I saw some horrific smiles, and everyone was walking with a limp due to a life of sitting, drinking and gambling.
Its now been many many hours since I left and I am making no sense so I better finish here.

Theres some slightly dated looking shopping areas, and a train to move you between them.

It has a lot of waterfalls - I thought the train had returned me to the start point as the waterfall and lifts are identical on each end of the train line.

The top 2 floors are the Emirates lounge, with the shopping down below. Its stupidly large for an airline lounge.

Heres a few A380's in a row, they have well over 100 of them by now, as many as every other airline combined I think?

This is my one that will take me to Manchester - I enjoyed the 7 hour day flight much more than the 14 hour night flight, despite existing on minimal sleep.

I cant even remember what meal this is, but it was one of too many.

I was very excited to be flying over Iran, so I went to the bar to look out the window.

The barman was very well rehearsed in posing for photos, this looks like it came off the Emirates website, but I took it.

Iran has many mountains. I plan to go there on my next holiday and run to the top of each.

Luckily, they were also serving a high tea in the cocktail bar, and as I was their only customer I felt bad and ate the lot.

Before having to return to my seat to eat my next meal, starting with the middle eastern soup like they serve at the wonderful Lezzies Persian Restaurant in Adelaide.

And my final photographed food for the flight is a great beef rib eye something steak. I still had dessert after this, and some warmed nuts. Yes really.

Manchester airport is quite small

The flight was great, the arrival was smooth, getting to a hire car was interesting.
Now just to hire a car and make the 20 minute drive to my hotel in Warrington.
This should be easy enough despite tiredness, but hiring the car took forever, I had to initial 15 times each on 2 copies and sign. It was taking Avis 20 minutes a person to hire a car.
The modern model of English inefficiency was on display right here in Manchester.

Then it was time to drive in another country, a first for me? I think? I cant remember. So I had GPS to tell me where to go but it was struggling to get going, so I got lost twice, got beeped, went right around a roundabout, drove back into the airport and then eventually rolled into Warrington and found my hotel.
I have a great car, a diesel golf, but it has sonar cruise control and lane departure warnings, so I spent my journey at 70mph fiddling with it all whilst half asleep. This may have contributed to my wrong turns.

I still want to stay awake for a few hours to adjust to the timezone. Tomorrow is a full work day, so there may be nothing new here!

This is the great view of Manchester airport, which looks like a school and or hospital.

A new one to me, you have to catch a bus to the hire car places, the bus goes in a big loop almost back to where I got on it.

And finally, and I am really tiring just typing this, my hotel room in Warrington. Its a travelodge, its super cheap, but its fine.

Jenny on 2016-05-24 said:
day flight looks great with land to look at practically all the way. definitely need to fly business class just for the high tea. Hope you got some sleep in Warrington and are now aclimatised.

Day 3 - Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The cold light of day and night

It gets light here before 5am. It is still light here now at 9:30pm. I assume there is actually a night at some point, it has been getting dark very slowly for 3 hours already.
It is also cold, in a weeks time it will be summer, but on a clear night like tonight its no more than 5 degrees. The locals are getting around in t-shirts and flip flops thought.
Thats when I see a local, the next zombie movie should be filmed in Warrington, I am staying in the centre of town and there are just no people ever. The bus station and train station are open, but empty.
The local Asda (British Walmart) stays open until 10, and only has a few staff in it looking annoyed that I might walk around the place.
Apparently the large multi storey shopping complex next door to my hotel has all the big stores like Debenhams, M&S and a multi screen cinema complex, but I am yet to see any evidence it actually opens.

Before all that, I had to make a 90 minute drive south, and then north again at the end of the day. This was quite confusing as there are no posted speed limits on the motorway, my GPS unit kept telling me I was in an average speed detection zone for 50MPH, everyone else was going 90, and I sat on 70 in the second lane of 4 from the left and angry people were flashing their lights at me.
Next up was a series of roundabouts, The English have next level roundabouts, the Adelaide 'peanut' makes sense now. Many roundabouts around these parts have 6 turn offs, traffic lights, multiple lanes that end half way round, people that just stop in the middle lane and wait to head left, and idiots who go through them at 90mph without looking.

Despite all this, I completed my journey largely without incident. Then I had to pay for parking using a call and then sms service, it took 30 minutes to complete, the call dropped out twice and I dont know if my SMS has been sent. Perhaps the car will be towed.

I was up before 5am so went for a walk, first stop was the local park attached to the law courts. Looks ok here but there were empty beer bottles everywhere.

Local building, the town hall I think.

Some overly intricate gates that serve no purpose.

The town of Warrington has fallen on hard times, most businesses are $1 shops, pawnbrokers, or ambulance chasing lawyers. After welfare the main source of income is personal injury settlements.

A random street, nothing at all open, no people, many abandoned shops.

More random shops.

This area is a bit more developed, the cafes arent open even at 7am. I think its part of the mall as its all branded chain stores, and the street furniture has fresh paint.

Many hours later, time for a late dinner, I decided to eat fishfingers and various types of sausage.
Only one update today, get used to it until the weekends.

adriana on 2016-05-24 said:
Nice piccies. Looks like a pretty place even if there are no people. I see you are eating pommy food - fish fingers and sausages. At least there is a nice salad to go with it.

Day 4 - Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Cold and damp

It is now cold and damp, no warmer than 10 degrees today, and then it started raining, just enough to keep everything permanently damp. This is England 90% of the time.
I again woke up before 5 and went for a walk, this is my only time to take photos and whatever, because my work days are very long with long commutes.
Todays commute wasnt supposed to be as long, but I got lost once due to the useless Garmin GPS, and then on the way home I spent over an hour in queues waiting to get on or off motorways. The best part is when you are stuck on a roundabout in no mans land and need to cross 4 lanes of roundabout.
Apparently roundabouts are an engineering miracle that result in no traffic congestion.

I did however get to see a few different towns today, including Widnes, St Helens, Wigan and Bury, from this I have gathered that Warrington where I am staying is no better or worse than anywhere else, everything looks pretty much the same, the centre of each town has the same 3 or 4 mega supermarkets, and a heap of stores for poor people.
Tomorrow I am thankfully working closer to where I am staying, so possibly more photos of actual things then.

I went for a 5AM walk into a junk yard full of scary retired parade floats. I retreated fast when I saw a few caravans that looked like people lived in them dotted around the junkyard.

In hindsight, wandering down here at 5 in the morning was not that wise.

The Warrington central station was shut.

Tescos however was open, so I walked around for 30 minutes and bought a banana.

Is this like the British KKK?

Not a lot to photograph except signs.

Or perhaps stickers that have no business being a thing, who the hell would stick his on their loungeroom wall?

At 7AM I found a proper cafe that would open, finally I could have a coffee! It was actually quite good too.

This evening when returning home I turned on BBC1. The state of British entertainment is hilariously bad.
Here we have a woman dancing with her dog with a broom to the Benny Hill theme.
Every channel has something similar. Or they have a voice over telling you what happened on what you just saw and what might happen after the ads. Someone really commentates repeates of sitcoms and encourages you to tweet in what you think about a characters hair do or outfit, then they read the tweets out live between ads and the show being back on.
Your other option is interviewing a family about the issue of the day, generally the exit from the European Union currently. Why the particular familiy is chosen is a mystery, but then you get the hosts of BBC news debating what a random family said about the impact of Polish people on the NHS (Medicare) for the entire rest of the day.

Adriana on 2016-05-25 said:
Think I'll stay here. Australian TV not yet quite that appalling.

Day 5 - Thursday, 26 May 2016

A real city

Finally I managed to get to a real city. Manchester, which is Englands second biggest city, for those of you who have no geography skills at all.
This visit was made possible by a lack of a long commute at the end of the work day, finishing on time, and managing to sprint directly onto an express train to take me there in under 30 minutes from Warrington.

Before we get to Manchester, at work today, lunch was provided, I was amused when in addition to very plain sandwiches, little bags of chips (crisps whilst you are here) were provided.
I declared to the room full of people that this was a very English thing to do, a few of them looked puzzled at this statement, and then one guy said 'I dont think I have ever eaten a sandwich in my life that wasnt consumed with crisps'.

Onto Manchester, the journey there was much quicker than I thought, which gave me heaps of time to wander around and look at stuff. The city seems to have almost completed its redevelopment, with the central train station having been removed and replaced with convention centres, and replaced by a very modern tram system through the city centre, which has no cars allowed.
This made it appealling to me, there were lots of shops and things to see in the centre of town including a huge modern shopping centre, but also many very large impressive old buildings. I feel as though they are larger than those that are in London on average.

Tomorrow I am going to London, assuming I manage to return my hire car and make it onto the train in time, which requires coordination because my meetings are 90 minutes away from the car drop off point and are due to finish with just enough time for me to make the train!

Up early again, and I found that Warrington has another train station. Also nothing to get excited about.

Due to my local work location today, I was able to walk through the local shops after the cleaners unlocked the door. This proves they do actually at some point open for business. No one here now though.

This has been my hotel for the week. At this stage I was wondering what I might take photos of later.

And this has been my chariot for the week. I enjoyed its sonar cruise control. I hate its stop start diesel engine. I also hate British roundabouts.

Later in the day now, and this is on the Warrington train platform. Its a bike repair station with tools.
They let you park your bikes on the platform outside the fat controllers window, so he can be entertained as drunken idiots kick the crap out of them.
Then they provide you with tools to fix your bike with.

Redundant photo of Warrington central train platform.

Now I have arrived at Manchester Oxford Street station, nothing to be impressed about.
Would you think its wise to build a train platform in England without shelter from rain?

But the buildings surrounding the station were great. It was often like being in hogwarts or whatever thats called.

Another old building with a new tram line under construction.

The old contrasted with new, the shopping centre is called Arndale. I feel it was genuinely very large, but despite Thursday being late night shopping night, most things were shut.

Tram and a modern building. The English Football museum. You can go here if you want to get into a drunken fight to add to the cities proud history.

Me.

I think this is the inside of an old printing press, which has been converted into pubs and restaurants for civilized folks. A few streets away were real pubs with bald headed guys in track suits.

Manchester also has open sewers.

Finally I felt at home.

Like any good Chinatown, the main streets were clean and lit up, the alleys were dark and filthy.
Manchester Chinatown is 100% Canntonese, and the food on offer was terrible, most places were doing banquets. I avoided.

This is the town hall, with some guys in orange hazardous chemical protection suits.

I got excited when I found a food court, I got more excited when it had a spud bar, all hopes were dashed when I saw what Mancheterianites put on their spuds. I fled in terror.

Redundant shot of the inside of the shopping centre.

Eventually I decided on pho. Its the most I have ever paid for pho. It had lots of nice herbs and things, but the beef was not raw, there was basically none, and the broth was almost flavourless.
Thankfully they had a few kinds of chilli to add.

There is a page 2, I put the next page thing at the top and bottom to help!

Contents

Latest Update

Day 1 - Sunday, 22 May 2016
  First of many meals
  Internet in the sky
Day 2 - Monday, 23 May 2016
  Dubai airport is quite large
  Manchester airport is quite old
Day 3 - Tuesday, 24 May 2016
  The cold light of day and night
Day 4 - Wednesday, 25 May 2016
  Cold and damp
Day 5 - Thursday, 26 May 2016
  A real city
Day 6 - Friday, 27 May 2016
  Trafficus horribilus
  London is quite familiar
Day 7 - Saturday, 28 May 2016
  Washing and walking
  Olympic food court
Day 8 - Sunday, 29 May 2016
  Victory lap
  British queues of madness
  Now in Germany
Day 9 - Monday, 30 May 2016
  Raining and busy
Day 10 - Tuesday, 31 May 2016
  I finally got to see where I am
Day 11 - Wednesday, 1 June 2016
  Beer
Day 12 - Thursday, 2 June 2016
  Clocks and accordians
Day 13 - Friday, 3 June 2016
  Scene comparison
  Strawberry salad
Day 14 - Saturday, 4 June 2016
  Gargamel-Patentkitchen
  Kartoffel
Day 15 - Sunday, 5 June 2016
  I made it in 9 hours
  Shut
Day 16 - Monday, 6 June 2016
  Now in Austria
  Time for shorts
Day 17 - Tuesday, 7 June 2016
  Thousands of flying creatures
  I promise no mountain photos
Day 18 - Wednesday, 8 June 2016
  Smallest hotel room ever
  Cliffs
Day 19 - Thursday, 9 June 2016
  Record saturation
  Supermarket is the only healthy option
Day 20 - Friday, 10 June 2016
  Dog piss department store
  Please buy us beer
Day 21 - Saturday, 11 June 2016
  The museum is overrrated
  Dinner time
Day 22 - Sunday, 12 June 2016
  The short flight