Saturday, August 12, 2006

Made it...

I'm now at my hotel in Dubai, where it is about 12:30 in the morning local time. The trip was long and exhausting, but it wasn't horrible by any means. The added security measures in the United States meant that lines at the ticket counters were longer (because everybody was checking items they used to be able to carry on such as make-up and toothpaste) but the security screening lines were shorter (because there were fewer carry-on items to be scanned).

My flight from Houston to Amsterdam was on time and relatively free of turbulence. It’s gotten to the point that, even though I can’t sleep on these trans-Atlantic flights, I can at least put on my headphones and “zone out” such that I lose track of time and the trip seems shorter than it actually is.

Because I had a good six hours to kill between flights in Amsterdam, I decided to do a little bit of sightseeing. I left the terminal, purchased a train ticket at the NS counter at the front of the airport, and traveled to Haarlem, where I walked around, took pictures and sat at a café on the edge of Haarlem's market plaza, sipping a soft drink and taking in the delightful Dutch street activity and architecture. I really like the Netherlands. It’s a lovely country in its scale and composition and the people are friendly.

After a couple of hours in Haarlem, I made my way back to Schiphol Airport, grabbed a bite to eat, and waited for my flight to Dubai to depart. Since the last time I flew here, KLM was upgraded their equipment on the AMS-DXB route and now uses modern and spacious (relatively speaking, of course; they still try to cram as many seats as they can into the aircraft) Boeing 777s. The nice thing about the 777 is that every seat has its own TV monitor and you can watch what you want when you want. Once again, the flight was on time and the trip was smooth. Once again, I had no luck getting any sleep but was successful in "zoning out" such that the time passed quickly.

No hassles once I landed in Dubai; I went through passport control, collected my bags, strolled through customs and found a driver from my hotel waiting for me. This hotel is right down the street from the airport terminal and is rather nice with the exception that this internet connection I'm using isn't free; needless to say, I'll probably not be using it too often. My room has a view that overlooks the interchange of Airport Road and Al Garhoud Road; I also have a perfect view of DXB's runway so I can watch planes take off and land. I don't think this is serendipitious; I think the office manager here in Dubai remembered that I am a commercial aviation geek and specifically requested this room for me!

Anyway, it's time to get some sleep. I do need to make it into the office at a reasonable time tomorrow morning (although I doubt they expect to see me at 8 am sharp, given my late arrival), it's going to be a busy day.

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