Kandy to Colombo

5 04 2008

Woke up very early again to get to Colombo. The train left at 6:15 so I wanted to leave the hotel by 5:30.

All the lights were out, I woke up the front desk clerk from a nap – he was very apologetic. I told him not to worry, I would rather be sleeping myself! They called a tuk for me – no negotiations this morning on fare, as he knew where he had me.

A quick cool ride to the train station before the sun rises, so cool in fact that the windows are not even open in our coach. All baggage is searched as we enter the station. I board my coach, noticing the only real difference between 1st and 2nd class is that the seats are a bit closer together, and do not recline. On the other hand, the seats are wing back, which makes napping easier. This activity is what most everyone on my coach does, after eating a takeaway breakfast.

I am luckly sitting on the other side of the train this time, so I can see a different view – even if for most of the ride my view is the side of a mountain.

We go down the hill to the plains, it is a 1:44 slope, not that great, but I do notice what looks like two run away tracks at stations. They arch off the main and go up quickly against the grade.

By 8:50 I am in Colombo – entering the station at full commuter push. The air is still cool-ish (maybe 30) so I walk to the hotel. It is only 3 blocks and 15 tuk ride offers away! I enter again the coolness of the Hilton and ask for an early check in. Given the 35% occupancy rate, it is given. Plus, I am upgraded to an executive floor. Score.

For a couple of hours I sit, relaxing, going through photos, looking at the very active port, taking photos I shouldn’t 😉

I decide to have a walk in the old city. Not much to see there really, as it is pretty much security checkpoints, so I head to the Galle Face Green. It is a nice walk up along the Indian Ocean, watching the ships on the horizon. I chat with some kids off school for lunch, who are playing in the ocean, showing them some photos I took. It was really nice to talk to some people who just wanted to chat and practice english, and who did not want anything else.

Had lunch in the new commerical district south of downtown, and then walked back to my hotel. I am pretty sure I looked like some kind of steamed meat – i know I felt like it!

That evening I took drinks and dinner in the lounge – as it is all free – and watched the sunset from the 19th floor. Had after dinner drinks with a couple of technical people from Singapore until late in the evening, forgetting that I had an early flight out.

Up early the next morning, already checked out. One hour hotel car ride to the airport (fun to be in) and I am checked in. The flights and my tickets work!!!!





So it begins…

25 03 2008

With a nice sunrise shining off the towers outside my building.

Out of the door by 8, I make my way to the free rental car I booked — 2008 Cadillac STS.  Nice ride to go to YYZ.

 

Traffic is surprisingly busy, but nonetheless I am at the check-in counter in 45 minutes.  Nice friendly conversation with the check-in agent — she is surprised how much my luggage can hold.  30 seconds (and an iris scan later) I am in the USA, and at security.  2 minutes later, I am in the MLL, on the phone with Aeroplan rebooking her flight to YCG.  It only took an hour, but she is booked.  Initially the agent was not in the best of moods, but by the end was friendly — helps I am in a good mood I think!

Had a quick continental breakfast, and off to the gate.  No opportunity to take a photo of the airplane I am on because of the configuration of gates, but it is an E-175.

Departing 24R, we had a bit bumpy take off, but then nice, clear, and smooth above the clouds. 

 

It clears up rather nicely when I get over upstate NY.  Instead of the normal loop down the Hudson for an eventual Expressway Visual approach, we land to the south.

 

Quick run to the gate (bag is 3rd off!) I make my way to the M60 bus and over to Columbia to meet Sal — who is putting out fires left, right, and centre.

Sunny and crisp in NYC as we eat lunch in front of Alma Matter.

 

I let Sal get back to work, and make my way slowly to JFK.  I decide to take the A train all the way to JFK — longer, but I have time.

Mostly underground, we come above just before the airport.  We pass over an abandoned graveyard — the most striking thing I have seen an a long while.  If only I had the guts to use my camera more on the Train.

Check in was suitably chaotic – but eventually I got my bag checked, along with being put on the waitlist for Crown Class.

One last pic, of our plane waiting for service:

 

 

Tomorrow, Amman!

-Brian





Next trips

20 01 2008

In March-April: YYZ – LGA/JFK – AMM – DOH – CMB – SIN – AKL > CHC > ZQN – AKL > BKK > FRA > VCE/ROM – VCE – JFK > IAD > YYZ

Whew!





In the Red Carpet Club – SFO

11 11 2007

I am comfortably ensconced in the United Airlines Red Carpet Club lounge at SFO. My flight is not for a few hours, but it is raining, and I have to charge my new headphones, so I decided to do it here. Comfortable enough. Because I am in Business, I get a couple of drink chits. Hard to believe that this is a perk 😉


SFO Red Carpet Club

Had an OK day in SFO. My hotel, the fabulously mediocre Hilton Garden Inn – South San Francisco (The Industry City), did me well enough for a 6 hour sleep, and it was a nice morning to walk the mile or so to Hertz to pick up my ride for the day.

I find myself in a tan Hyundai Elantra — this is actually a good car. Would not buy one, but would not turn one down if given. Only radio station programed in was the Gay all dance music station — that was easy! They were flogging a very interesting flight

It started to rain as I made my way up the coast to see the sights (and buy my Bose headphones). Rained harder and harder, got foggier and foggier, and I drove back to the City. I had to stop by the Macy’s to return a sweater. That done, it is 3:30 pm, it is pouring rain, and I don’t want to buy allot of stuff, so I go to Oyster Point to watch the European heavies take off whilst eating my In-N-Out Burger.

I had an appointment at the Apple Store in Burlingame to get new headphones for my iPhone. Went window shopping — found the rain jacket I have been looking for for ages, too bad it was only in small. 😦

With that done, I decided to just check in, get into the lounge, and relax before my flight, and here I am.

A rather boring day in the Bay, but given the rain and my tiredness, OK. I got done what needed to be done, and I should sleep well on the plane.

Here is one photo from yesterday that I liked — it is of some public art at YYZ:

Gate 155

One last thing: Sal, I will not forget my passport this time!





Waiting for the upgrade

7 11 2007

2.5 days more of work, then I am off on my vacation to NZ. I think I should be more excited about it, but I am not. Well, yes, I am looking forward to it, but I am not excited.

Maybe tomorrow.

Until then I wait for my upgrade to Sydney clear, and plan my next trip, around the world via CMB 🙂