0. Hannover – Frankfurt – Doha

Thursday, February 9: Hannover – cold & cloudy
Frankfurt – a bit sunnier

I was up at 7:00 just before the alarm & had everything that was left in the fridge. The vegemite seemed to have lasted the whole distance and there was a bit of orange juice & milk to be finished off. Washed the dishes and eventually dried them, but first the final list had to be worked through.

Managed to get one or two more items into the case, although closing it was becoming more & more difficult. The backpack will weigh almost exactly 7.0 kg if I hide the camera & hard disk in my jacket pockets. Checked the net briefly and confirmed that I had not been dreaming about an email from Claudia last night. In the end I had forgotten the plastic bags, but that is no great loss.

Had scratched my right ring finger & decided it needed a band aid; and they were in demand later at the airport when the bleeding started again.

Had a few minutes to spare for the bus and was at the local station on time where I could have (& should have) taken the earlier train just arriving. The one I had scheduled was a good five minutes late which meant going directly to the platform in town & not standing in a queue for a bread roll. Was not really feeling any hunger but I was glad that I had my soft drink with me. My companions on the train were little critters under the age of one in various stages on whingeing, sleeping or playing. The sun came out just after Kassel, but the lakes were all frozen.

Out at the airport (13:17), it was 20 minutes from train to being checked in. Looked to see if there was a way to get from the station to the check-in area on the level, i.e. instead of having to go two floors down through the basement and back up again. There was if you headed in the direction of check-in hall A. However, this won’t be much help on the return journey because I will arrive on the ground level anyway, and then it’s toss up whether to go to the basement or the first floor.

Left the check-in at 14:00 and now it was a good 30 minutes to the gate. The remains of rei had to be left behind (container > 100 mL) and my portable electronics were swabbed for explosive remains. Managed to sort out the portable vanity bag which should now have everything I need in it. Am glad that I have the crocs with me & have taken off the hiking boots & put them in the pack, since I didn’t count on having my hand luggage weighed at the gate. One couple with a small child, however, were apparently forced to junk a load of food (chocolate, frankfurters) because their hand luggage was too heavy, although some other passengers tried to smuggle some of the junked stuff onto the plane for the couple – thought I might have to unpack my boots & wear them onto the plane, but no one else seemed to be being asked to weigh their stuff. Writing the diary while boarding starts.

Dinner was chicken biryani with white wine and there was a snack later. Flight was very full, so my strategy of taking a middle seat and hoping that one of the aisle seats was free hasn’t yet paid off.

The entertainment system was on steroids – at least, compared with those of yesteryear. The planes now have three cameras which can be watched, although because of cloud the fun was over soon after take off. I took in Birdman with a disturbingly asymmetrical Michael Keaton, one episode each of The Big Bang Theory and Bones. Started on The Right Stuff and will no doubt be able to continue if in a wakeful hour or two on the further journey.

A bit early into Doha and watched the landing on the forward directed lower camera. Once on the ground had a minor headache (what with the bleeding finger & blood nose on the plane made the one aspirin I took look positively dangerous). Got some water from a fountain (but otherwise very few of such about) and walked around the airport for quite a bit before starting the diary. Managed to check that the flight yesterday had been more than 30 minutes early and that Air New Zealand are still selling tickets for the early flights to Invercargill on Saturday.

Friday, February 10: Doha – some clouds that had to be passed though on landing, moderately warm

Otherwise there was not much to do at the airport except wait. The flight was definitely going to be fuller that anticipated and loading the plane via buses on the tarmac was not expedited by some bloke checking all of the passports & boarding passes ahead of the official check by QR. At least there was no additional security required at this point. When I had finally been let through, a woman with a small baby stumbled & fell due to the poor lighting & ground markings. Finally on board, nearly every seat was occupied, which precluded extensive sleeping bouts.

This dreamliner was obviously older than the airbus we had previously been on. The touch screen worked only sporadically and there were no on board cameras. Managed to get The Right Stuff to run from approximately the correct position to the very end, with a break for dinner (chicken) and the handing out of a snack box and water bottles for the short night. Apart from that there was only a chicken (what else) sandwich late on Friday before a more substantial breakfast of omelette, sausage (the ubiquitous chicken) & hash browns before landing.

Entertainment continued with The Martian which was quite fun sans Hollywood, then there was a sleep break for a couple of hours. As it was unlikely that I would follow anything but a simple story line from now on, I took up Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride which was fun especially because of the Hollywood, followed by another hour or so of sleep. At about this point we reached south Western Australia and flew with the jet stream right up our alleyway, increasing the ground speed by up to 270 km/h. Now more than half the distance of this flight had been overcome, and, of course, more than half of the time.