Sunday, December 31, 2006

Half a Christmas is better than none at all!

One of the less desirable aspects about being a flight attendant would have to be missing out on celebrating birthdays, Christmas, New Years and Kylie concerts (not necessarily in that order). This year I think I was given a compromise for the festive season. I saw Christmas in with 14 great crew on a 5 day Melbourne/Auckland trip. I quite enjoy longer flights like these as it gives the crew a chance to get to know each other a little better and more opportunities to explore a city together!

On Christmas eve we were in Auckland, six of us girls and our Italian pilot totted off to a highly recommended Argentinian restaurant (as one does in New Zealand of course!). We drank some lovely local wine and sat at our table while the (very handsome) waiters kept bringing us plates of food and skewers of meat which they sliced up in front of us, on demand. The pork was especially delicious with a salivating apple sauce which I suspect was enhanced by a generous portion of maple syrup, it was gorgeously sweet on top of the salty crackling...

Our friendly (read: hot) waiter

After a few bottles of wine, and fastening up the top button of our pants, we made our way to a crowded Irish pub across the road to sing some pub renditions of Christmas tunes. At this point one of the girls suggested we should all head to one of the local churches for midnight mass. We staggered into a cab and arrived at the biggest and most beautiful church in Auckland (well according to the taxi driver, but it's possible he was more concerned with squeezing a few more mileage bucks out of us). What ever the case it was a pretty nice church!

Christmas day didn't get off to a great start. An hour and a half after taking off from Auckland one of the passengers collapsed in the aisle, creating a bit of unrest for the crew and passengers. Thankfully it wasn't too serious but our rest in Melbourne was very well deserved that evening.

As soon as we arrived in Melbourne that night I raced up to my hotel room and changed out of my uniform faster than you could say "roast dinner". My friend Phoebe who lives in Melbourne had made a lovely Christmas dinner for the two of us, complete with a beautiful bon-bon decorated table setting. Phoebe used to live with Lauren and I when she worked for the same airline and she is now setting the pace with the Virgin Blue crew! As fate would have it all three of us (Phoebe, Lauren and I) were in Melbourne on Boxing Day, so we had a very yummy-honey breakfast at our hotel's buffet (see pic below), before putting on our strongest fighting armour for the boxing day sales in the city.

Now THAT'S a buffet!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

London couture and cheer

This morning I arrived back in Dubai after a trip to London and tomorrow morning I am back in the jump seat this time heading to Johannesburg. I somehow managed to sleep too long today and didn't emerge until very late this afternoon so my body clock is quite a bit out of whack. I think this is the first time in a year I've really felt jet lagged which isn't too bad.

London is always a big treat for me. I have a few friends who live there but also my big sister Melanie lives there too! It's so nice to be able to explore a city with a local by your side - something which is even more treasured in a place like London! For my birthday earlier this year Melanie took me to see a play at the Apollo theatre where I spied on Rose Byrne in the audience picking her nose under the cover of darkness (or so she thought). This visit however I had an objective. To find a pretty dress to wear to my friend's wedding in January. What a trooper my sister was. It took close to 4 hours of pounding the pavement along crazy-town Oxford St, looking through the plethora of clothes stores until we found a suitable ensemble. A flowy sky blue chiffon number, with halter neck straps.

When we checked out of our hotel later that evening the foyer was positively buzzing with Christmas cheer. There were two big festive work functions being held in function rooms there so the foyer was full of women in beautiful dresses running about with purpose while a man playing a piano in the corner filled the air with elegant notes. It made me wish I had on my new blue dress holding a glass of champagne, rather than the beige potato sack and red hat ready for work!

The hotel foyer was framed by little Christmas trees in the front glass wall and one big one in the entrance.

I worked up in First Class this trip which was a nice treat. The treat being that you are allowed to devour all the left over food once the service is over. Well, I scoffed down that little tin of caviar like a baby bird being fed by its mother. The other food was nice as well, but how many jobs let you chow down on caviar in your quiet moments?

It's usually so easy to get a smile out of our ground staff in Dubai, except when they're in front of the camera! Here I am with a couple of the many men that give our aircrafts some much needed TLC after a flight.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A sleep over at the Burj Al Arab

I think that last night I was possibly one of Dubai's luckiest girls - well myself and three other girlfriends.

We had all finished our annual exams which can be quite stressful. Our assessments take place through exams and practical assessment, covering everything from initiating evacuations on the aircraft simulator (which rolls you from left to right with life-like gut churning accuracy) through to delivering babies and jumping down big slides from the aircraft. So yes, it can also be a little bit of fun too!

Here we were, out on the town celebrating one more year until we hit the books again. The four of us were on a nightclub roof top (which is almost a club in in itself, in that it has two bars, a dance floor and pillow packed lounges all around) sipping on our cocktails when luck shone down on us in the guise of two extremely humorous men from America (something which I wasn't sure existed). After giving them the once over, which even the CIA would have been proud, we were able to establish that their intentions were honest and it was only our company which they sought. We were treated to bubbles and cocktails for the rest of the evening which were bought to us at their table. My first taste of VIP treatment and it didn't taste too bad!

At the end of the evening one of the men announced that we were all very welcome to come back to their hotel to continue the celebrations. Images of a dank, rundown Motor Inn with a vibrating bed filled my head. As we all begin feigning yawns and mumblings of an "early night" the yanks quickly informed us their place of residence for the next three nights was at room 301 in the Burj Al Arab (, and their Rolls Royce was waiting to take us from from the club to the hotel. "Sure sure" we said, "we're Australian girls and you cant pull the wool over OUR eyes, but just to make sure we'd better check this car out".

Sure enough the Rolls was there, and so too was the room at the Burj. It was outrageous. More gold than even Mr T could handle and it was certainly the first time I'd been in a hotel room which had a spiral staircase (hell, I could even slide down it! See picture).

They were true gentlemen, offering us the pullout lounges for sleeping arrangements and in the morning kept insisting we order breakfast (but with our morning-after panda eyes we declined and did a very brisk walk of shame out of the hotel).

The whole experience was like a Pretty Woman-esque, fish out of water, dream sequence where the humble girl/s meet filthy rich slightly older but handsome man/men (minus the prostitution element).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Meet the parents

My parents leave tomorrow after having spent a week here in Dubai visiting me and checking out the sites and sand of this fair city.

We had a yummy Lebanese meal one evening outside by the water, at one of my favourite places The Blue Barjeel. The food is so tasty and cheap as chips! My mouth waters thinking about it. Hmmm.....

Mum and dad also had their first taste of sheesha (the water pipe) before we all jumped on an Abra (a traditional, although now motorised, wooden boat which takes you from one side of the creek to the other) leading us to the Spice and Gold Souks.

It's mind blowing to think that all the gold jewellery hanging in the windows twinkling under the lights is real. There were no purchases made on this occasion (much to one man's delight!) but it's still fun to go in and try on all the different types of bling and ask for more ostentatious examples of their wares.

Yesterday we drove out to the Hatta pools which was a first time for me as well. Only an hour out of Dubai and we were surrounded by rocky mountainous terrain and flowing water! I'm not always a believer that the journey can be as interesting as the destination but this time was a little different. During our drive we spotted in front of us a herd of camels making a brisk beeline from the desert onto the highway. Luckily the police were nearby and used their siren and flashing lights to heard the adventurous camels back into the safe surrounds of their sandy home.

If only these 'ships of the desert' were aware of how often their mates are accidentally hit by cars (especially at night). I met a guy recently who ended up in hospital with injuries and had to write off his car after a camel ran onto the highway and straight into his path late one evening.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Groove Armada in the sand

20 minutes on the bus from our apartment and we were out in the desert arriving at our destination, the Groove Armada concert under the stars. It was a very well organised event (unusual for Dubai) and the weather couldn't have been more perfect which is making for a welcome change!

The highlight of the evening - paying an extra DH100 for a "VIP" ticket which included the added "luxury" of access to a wooden viewing platform two steps up from the ground. How stupid was I to even consider that it might include a couple of free drinks. A small detail which was clarified for me after waltzing up to the bar and waving my super special uber-exclusive VIP wrist band demanding my free drinks.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Horsing around

A couple of nights ago a few of the girls and I helped my housemate, and friend, Lauren celebrate her birthday.

We bought her some horse riding lessons. Lauren used to do professional show jumping so I don't think we will be offering her any tips if we also go along for the ride.

I wasn't sure how we could best present this gift to her, until I found a little boxed Lego scene of a horse, it's owner and his accessories (complete with not one but TWO whips!?).

The plastic horse and its rider were presented over dumplings and noodles, all went down a treat.