I’m on vacation this week, so my next couple of posts will be travelogues. At the moment I’m on a river cruise boat, docked outside Vienna, on the way, eventually to Amsterdam. Unless you’re a criminal who wants to rob my house, in which case I’m there, with firearms and large dogs (seriously though, I have a housesitter so don’t try it).
My trip started in Seattle where I waited on standby to board a flight to Amsterdam. Flying for free as an airline employee is pretty spiffy, but I’m learning that low expectations are the best expectations to have when flying as a low-seniority standby passenger. To whit: as late as the morning of my travel day it was looking like I would get a nice seat, and that there would be a few empty seats on the plane.
By the time I got to the airport there had been a snafu with an earlier flight to another city in Western Europe, which caused my flight to be stuffed to the gills and for my seat to be not so great. But, hey, free. So, I stuffed my earlier expectations back where they came from and decided to be happy with seat 18c, which, to its credit came with an aisle next to it and unlimited free movies.
Another exciting aspect of standby travel is that you never know when, exactly, you’re going to get where you’re going. I needed to purchase my fare from AMS to Budapest, but couldn’t do so until I was on the flight to AMS. Thank goodness for in-flight wifi. I wound up having to route through Zurich (have NEVER seen so many rich people in one place than in the Zurich airport). Both flights were on this little plane – an Avro RJ100, which I had never heard of before, but which turned out to be a really neat little plane. Anhedral wings, 4 tiny turbofan engines, surprisingly quiet and swift.
I arrived in Budapest with a day to spare before it was time to embark on the cruise boat. I saw a flyer at my hotel for a chairlift on the west outskirts of the Buda side of the city. I rented a bike and after a few wrong turns and a soaking from a rainstorm that I knew, but refused to believe, was coming, I got there. It was a little chairlift used by locals for sightseeing and to get up to some hiking trails at the top of the hill (from what I could tell). I saw several chairs pass with one adult and several kids stuffed onto the 2 seats, which you would never see in the States because of liability concerns.
I was amused that one of the listed rules of conduct was that if you want to bring your pet the pet needs to be in a container. It seems like it would be simpler to leave the pet at home, but who knows – maybe Budapestians really love their pets and want to take them everywhere.
To be continued…