and a happy new year

Dec 31, 2010

I realize that I've been slacking when it comes to posting lately, but in my defense I still have no laptop. Not only that, but my phone has stopped working and I'm feeling quite cut off from the world lately. I'm on reserve/standby for the entire month of January. Please cross your fingers that a Toronto or New York flight is in my future, so that I can pick up a brand new shiny computer!
Not much has happened lately. Christmas came and went, a bit uneventfully. I binge ate more chocolate than the average person eats in an entire year, but I felt that my homesickness over the holidays gave me a valid excuse. I had a great layover in Bangkok, which I'll blog about later... perhaps the best crew that I've ever worked with.
It's now 4:00 am on January 1, 2011. 2010 is a thing of the past and I'm not sure how to feel about the situation. I have so much to look forward to this year... from traveling to returning home to planning a wedding, it's sure to be a great 12 months.
That said, 2010 was certainly a life changing year.
In 2008 I was so upset to enter a new year. I'd spent the majority of my year backpacking Australia, and as far as I was concerned, no year would ever top it. 2009 showed up and did just that. I fell in love with the most amazing person in the world (sure, I may be biased, but he's pretty awesome) and got handed my dream job. And then there was this year. I've experience more in the past 12 months than most are privledged to experience in their entire lifetime. I've had the opportunity to visit 31 countries and the entire world has become my home.
There were so many amazing moments, far too many to list... but I'll highlight a few of my favorites.
In January, after a month of living in Dubai, my amazing boyfriend flew to visit me. We ventured to the top of the tallest building in the world and floated in a hot air balloon over the desert sunrise.
In February I boarded a plane for the first time as a cabin crew member. I sat in awe in the cockpit as we took off and landed, it was all so surreal and at that moment I became fully aware of the fact that my dream had come true.
In March I ate pizza, pasta, and gelato in Italy. I fell in love with the country and everything about it.
In April and May I soaked up the fresh air in Germany, discovering what Spring is like in other corners of the world... unlike Alberta where it snows until June.
In June, I graduated! Ryan returned to Dubai and we sipped cocktails in the world's only 7 star hotel. I turned 24 and celebrated by the pool in the 40 degree heat.
In July, I went home for the very first time. Surrounded by my closest friends and family, life felt complete.
In August I began training to be crew on the Airbus A380... my dream plane. In September, I worked on it for the very first time, feeling pretty darn special.
In October I went to PARIS! I stood in awe in front of the Eiffel Tower, mesmorized by the iconic structure.
November brought me to Canada twice! The first time, for a flight to Toronto where I spent the weekend with some of my family. 2 weeks later, I went home to Red Deer for holidays. I celebrated Christmas early with Ryan and his family. We flew to Mexico at the end of the month, and on December 2 he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
It's been a year of ups and downs, but when I stop and think about it, it's been the year that all of my dreams came true.
Happy 2011 everyone, be safe and have fun.
I hope that your year is as amazing as I'm certain mine will be!

Snow Day

Dec 22, 2010

I'd only been back in Dubai for a day, but it was time to jet off once again, to London!
I couldn't wait, as this time I'd be meeting up with my friend Jesse from Canada who happened to be visiting! With only a few hours of sleep I headed off on what was a great flight with awesome crew. I'd been feeling homesick since my return to Dubai, and this trip was exactly what I'd needed to boost my spirits. I was hoping to surround myself by all things festive in hopes of regaining my usual excitement for Christmas.
After landing in London, we headed to the hotel to check in. Much to my delight, large snowflakes began falling from the sky. What great timing! A few of the crew members made a mad dash for the door, beaming as they announced that it was the first time that they'd seen snow in their lives. As a Canadian, it's simply unfathomable to think that some people have never experienced winter. They were beaming with happiness as I took their photos and a few for myself. There is something so magical about a fresh snowfall, if you can look past the bitter cold and terrible road conditions that follow.
Realizing that I had to be in the city to meet Jesse, I quickly went to my hotel room to change and catch a bus. I snacked on a chocolate bar to pass time during the long train ride until I'd finally reached Picadilly Circus. I was still a bit early, so I wandered to the giant souvenir shop where I was to meet Jesse and browsed the tacky displays of plastic phone booths and double decker buses. (In saying that, I plan to purchase a phone booth before I resign...)
As I was passing time, I spotted him!! It had been well over a year since we'd seen eachother, but there was Jesse, in London!! We excitedly hugged and chatted (okay, that part was mostly me) about our lives and what was new and exciting. I showed off my beautiful engagement ring, which happens to be one of my favorite things to do these days. We headed back into the cold. By Canadian standards, it was quite mild. The snow had melted and the sun was shining. I was absolutely freezing, of course.
We wandered the streets aimlessly with no plan or destination. It was nice to actually have company for once. Jesse had traveled all the way to London without a camera, which was a crime in my eyes. I forced him to stand in front of phone booths and pose in Trafalgar Square. We came across an art museum, which he happily rushed into upon discovery of a "Free Entry" sign. He's a bit of an artsy nerd boy, but that's what I love so much about having gay friends. We wandered the massive museum, him admiring the art as I made fun of the poses and hairstyles of the people depicted. After awhile we'd worked up an appetite, so we set out in search of a delicious meal. We stumbled across a cute little Italian place, full of more character than any restaurant in the city where we'd both grown up. That's one of the great things about London. We dined on pizza and pasta. He sipped a glass of wine while I stuck to my sparkling apple juice.
After a delicious (and inexpensive!) meal, we headed back out. Next stop... Starbucks! Jesse has been a loyal employee of my favorite coffee shop for years. Some of my earliest memories of him are ordering caramel macchiatos from his smiling face. We grabbed toasty warm drinks to keep us warm as the sun set over the city.
He was staying with a friend while visiting London, so it was time for us to go meet up with said friend. We hopped on the Tube and navigated flawlessly. Once we'd emerged at the station,we waited. And we waited. Eventually we recieved a message from Jesse's friend Ben, saying that he'd be late and to meet at a sushi restaurant across the street. We found the place and took a seat inside, and waited some more. I didn't mind, because it was extremely warm and I was happy to thaw my frozen self. We waited for what felt like forever, until Ben finally rushed in, apologetic. His parents were in town, on their way home to Canada after a 6 month stay in Syria. How random that we were all in London at the very same time. They were waiting for us at a restaurant, so we set off in search of it. Trusting Ben with navigating was perhaps the poorest decision we made that evening, as we found ourselves miles from where we needed to be, trekking through the cold in search of a tiny restaurant that I was beginning to believe was non-existent. After much confusion and even more backtracking, we eventually found our way to the fish and chip restaurant where Ben's parents were still sitting, despite having already enjoyed their meals. They were very sweet people, and we chatted about life in the Middle East versus Canada. They even paid for our meals, despite my objection. Time had flown by and it was getting late, so we all headed to the train station where we hugged and went our separate ways. It was a long journey back to the hotel, and I was so tired I felt that I was falling in and out of consciousness standing up on the train. Once I'd finally reached my room, I plopped into bed and called it a night.
The next morning I woke up shortly before my wakeup call and proceeded to get ready for the flight back to Dubai. As I entered the lobby I looked outside to find that it was snowing yet again, so much so that we were all pretty sure that we'd be delayed. Our thoughts were confirmed as we bused to the aircraft and watched the news reports that the Heathrow runways were closed. Despite this, we still rode the bus to the aircraft, where we discovered that the crew and all of the passengers were still onboard, since no gate had been available. We waited for a great deal of time, watching the news that reported the airport would not reopen for 3 hours. It was going to be a long day. Eventually, stairs were brought to the plane and passengers slowly disembarked, taken by buses to the terminal building. It was a long process, and after 3 hours on the bus we were finally allowed to board the aircraft as the other crew finally were taken to the hotel. The runways were still not open, so we passed the time by watching movies and gathering in the lounge where we'd set up our very own buffet. I know it sounds fun, but in reality it wasn't. I grew tired of airplane food months ago, and the entertainment system kept being restarted, starting the movies over from the beginning. An hour passed, and then another, and then even more. Nobody knew what was going on, not even the ground staff or the captain. A few of us decided to make the most of the time and headed outside to build a snowman. It was dark outside by this point, and freezing cold. We went back inside to warm up, and continue waiting. After 7 hours on the plane, we were restless and demotivated. We finally recieved word that we'd be returning to the hotel, which was a great relief after such a long day. For reasons that none of us understood, the crew meant to depart on the evening flight were brought to the aircraft. After being informed that the aiport would not reopen until morning, they were brought back to the hotel and we had to continue waiting for the bus to return to pick us up. By this point we were frusturated and dreaming of bed, so you can imagine our reaction when we learnt that the hotel was full and we'd be forced to share rooms. We thought it was a joke, until we unwillingly were told to choose our roommates for the night. I didn't know any of the crew very well, and ended up bunking with Connie, an American girl who just happened to be on her very first flight. What a great first impression. Luckily, she was very cool and I didn't mind sharing a room despite my desire to talk on the phone to Ryan for hours. She is also in a long distance relationship, so I had to be fair.
We woke up early the next day to find that we were on standby. Nobody knew when the airport would reopen, so we were stuck at the hotel until further notice. We spent the day flicking through TV channels, most of them broadcasting the airport closure that we were all well aware of. We briefly escaped the hotel to walk to a supermarket, where no good food was to be found. Trying to save our money as we'd yet to recieve our full meal allowance, we opted for a dinner of McDonald's. It was the first time I'd had it in 6 months and I thouroughly enjoyed every single guilty bite.
At around 8 pm we were informed that we'd be flying out that evening... wake up call was at 12:45 am. The entire crew was shocked and not impressed by this news, seeing as how none of us were well rested after a day of waiting for updates. We got in as much sleep as we could before dragging ourselves out of bed and downstairs to check out.
Much to our surprise, the flight departed on time and we were finally on our way back to Dubai after 3 days. The passengers were grateful they were finally on their way. Some of them told us stories about sleeping on the airport floors and missing out on days of their long awaited holidays. As crew, it had been extremely difficult, but we really couldn't complain in comparison to some of their stories. We finally landed in Dubai where we happily rushed out into the warmth. Home, sweet home. Or something like that. After spending my whole life in Canada dreaming of school or work cancellations, I'd finally had my first snow day.


Earlier today, a friend sent me a link to a Facebook profile. When I clicked on it, I was shocked to discover that this girl not only had a photo of me and my cat Becker as her profile photo, but an entire album of MY photos, entitled "Around the World". She didn't even have the creativity to change the descriptions.
I obviously reported her right away, but I've found that she also has a blog, likely entirely written by me. While I'm a bit honoured that my life is so interesting that somebody else would want to copy it word for word, I'm also upset that somebody would try to pass off the products of my jet lag as their very own. I've spent a lot of time writing these blogs and taking those photos. So if you stumble across another blog that looks strikingly similar to mine, or a profile page with what appears to be my twin, I assure you, THIS blog is the only flight attendant blog that I write. Any others with the same entries are copied by people who clearly need more interesting lives.
On another note, I'm having computer issues lately. My lovely roomie Kim has allowed me to use her laptop to get my internet fix, but blog posts may be more seldom until the issue is resolved. I promise I'll try my best to keep up!
Oh, and on a final note.... Merry Christmas, everyone!

Laziest London Layover

Dec 15, 2010

In some jobs, employees brag to one another about promotions. In others, they brag about great sales and big commissions. So what do cabin crew brag about??
If you hang around the lobby of a hotel while crew are checking out, you may hear conversation along the likes of, "I slept 10 hours last night!".... "Yeah, well I slept 14!"
On some particular layovers, our crew hotel is far from any of the action of the city, leaving us with 2 options: We can either fight our fatigue and make the long journey on trains and buses, or we can stay in, be lazy, and sleep. On my latest London flight, I chose the latter.
Generally, staying in the hotel goes against my beliefs, as one of the huge reasons that my job is so awesome is because of the travel perks. I'll typically tough it out no matter how tired I am for the sake of exploration.
This time, however, it was just not going to happen. Fresh back from an amazing vacation I was physically and emotionally drained, jet lagged and homesick with the festive season upon us. Upon arrival at the hotel, the only place I wanted to be was dreaming. I changed out of my uniform and crawled up into the plushy soft bed and knew that there was no hope of getting out until some time the next day. It was around 8:30 pm when I called it a night, waking up again some time around 5 am. Despite having had a decent sleep, I looked at the clock and wondered what the heck I was supposed to do at 5 in the morning and decided to go back to sleep. I awoke to the phone ringing at 7 am... it was Ryan! Thanks to a lack of internet to feed my addiction, I go a bit crazy when I'm in London, so it was nice to be able to talk to him. We chatted for awhile before he had to go to sleep, and once again I did the same. I woke up briefly from time to time, but until 12 pm I was curled up in bed, redefining lazy.
I finally decided that I needed to drag my lazy butt out of bed, so I bundled up in my warm clothing and ventured outdoors.... all the way to Starbucks at the hotel next door. Did I need coffee after over 16 hours of sleep? No, probably not... but nothing spreads Christmas cheer like a Gingerbread Latte! I picked up a few snacks to feed my starving body, and returned to the isolation of my hotel room. Flipping through the TV channels, I wondered how some crew managed to do this nearly every layover. Sure, it was nice being extremely lazy, but if I did this more than a few times I'd start to go stir crazy. I watched a few episodes of a wedding show and vowed to never become a crazy Bridezilla like the woman who insisted on holding her reception on a boat despite her future husband's severe seasickness. As I prepared for the flight back to Dubai, I watched a countdown of the best Christmas music videos of all time. I was festive and cheerful, and boy would I need it for the flight back and it's bundle of medical cases. Fortunately the pregnant woman who was experiencing contraction like pains did NOT deliver her baby on board. I want to have children one day, and assisting in delivery probably would have changed my mind in a matter of minutes. We landed in Dubai... and guess what I did? You bet! Back to bed for me. It's not surprising that time passes so quickly in this job given the fact that I sleep through entire days!
In other news... I've got a new roommate! Her name is Kim, she's from Australia and she is pretty awesome. I think I've talked to her more in the past few days than I talked to my old roomie in 10 months of living together.

The Perfect Vacation

Dec 10, 2010

I've returned to Dubai once again after an absolutely incredible vacation. I've had several people ask when I'd finally blog about my trip, but there was just so much to tell that the task seemed incredibly daunting. I'd scrawled notes on hotel paper from my resort in Mexico, planning to remember every single detail, but that would be the world's longest blog entry and you'd all stop reading past day 1. I've decided to stick with the highlights for the sake of all of us.

After my quick trip to Seoul, Korea, I hopped on a plane bound for San Francisco. I wandered the airport for 5 hours before catching another flight to Calgary, Canada, where I was met by my boyfriend who kissed me and handed me flowers. There is nothing like the feeling of coming home. As we were leaving the airport (and making the mandatory Tim Horton's stop), my friend Carley popped out of nowhere, surprising me. We happily headed out into the absolutely freezing weather and began the drive to Red Deer. At home I hugged my mommy, cuddled the 2nd most important boy in my world (my puppy, Titan) and crawled into my very own bed. The next day I woke up early in a desperate attempt to beat jet lag, got ready, and met up with some of my family for an early Christmas lunch. My grandma and her husband head to Arizona for the winter, so it was the only chance of us seeing each other before they go off to their own sandpit. Together with my cousins, aunt, and Ryan, we ate delicious greasy Chinese food, far better than any I've tasted in China. The next couple of days were a blur of visiting, eating, and freezing my bum off... I hadn't seen snow in a year, and the ground was covered in a thick layer of it.
On Friday after Ryan was finished at work, we drove to the tree lot to pick out our very own Christmas tree. I watched and took photos as Ryan tied it to the top of his car, and then we took it to his house to let it thaw out for the night. We pulled out a mattress from his basement and spent the night cuddling under our very first tree. The next morning was Christmas! At least for us. Ryan's family was kind enough to have an early celebration since I'll be spending the actual holiday in Dubai. Ryan and I decorated our tree with all sorts of awesome little airplane decorations that his mom had bought for him over the years... are we a perfect match, or what?
We drove to my house where I got ready before returning to his house for Christmas lunch... TURKEY! I was so excited, as I'd missed out on Thanksgiving and longed for turkey ever since. After an amazing meal, it was time to exchange gifts! The room was a mess of wrapping paper as we happily tore open presents. Oh how I love Christmas!
The next morning was the day we'd been waiting for. Our suitcases were packed and Ryan and I were bound for beautiful Mexico. It was a nice change boarding a plane with him by side. 6 hours later we'd landed in paradise. We were greeted at our resort by champagne and I was more than ready to switch into vacation mode. By the way, if any of you are planning on traveling to the Mayan Riviera and are looking for an awesome romantic resort, we'd both highly recommend El Dorado Maroma near Playa del Carmen... absolutely amazing! We headed for dinner at the Asian restaurant, indulging in amazing food and sipping delicious drinks. I'd waited months for a pina colada.
The next morning we woke up early, just in time for sunrise. Since we arrived late, it had already been dark and we'd yet to see the beach. It was stunningly beautiful, with clear blue water and soft white sand. We spent the day the way we'd spend most days for the next week... After a delicious buffet breakfast (and plates full of bacon!) we took a long walk down the beach. We returned to order delicious cocktails at the swim up bar and lie in lounge chairs placed in the pool. After a buffet lunch (which had a different theme each day... Skewers, Mexican, Tacos, Fish.... oh my!) we were exhausted and napped. The location of our nap varied according to the day... sometimes in the comfort of our hotel room, other times on the beds on the beach or in hammocks. What a tough life we were living. We spent the afternoon lazing around by the beach or pool, occasionally finding the energy to go swimming, snorkeling, or kayaking. Given the fact that both of us tote our large cameras around the world, we didn't take many photos during the week. Instead, we focused on relaxing and vacationing, using only my small camera and having fun with the instant camera. We drank many amazing fruity and creamy drinks, and as many times as Ryan tried, we could never get a perfect Long Island Iced Tea. It was always a combination of 90% alcohol, 5% ice, and 5% pepsi. Mudslides were definitely my favorite.
At dinner we'd go to one of the restaurants, depending on our mood of the night. The food was all gourmet and served in tiny portions, which suited us perfectly as it meant we could try everything without getting too full. On a typical night we'd order 2-3 appetizers, soup, 2 meals, and of course, dessert. Afterwards we'd go back to our room, determined to stay up late enough to see the evening entertainment. 5/7 nights we failed, falling asleep immediately after dinner and waking up early the next morning.
The majority of our trip was spent in the resort, as we had no motivation or desire to leave. On Wednesday, however, we took advantage of a free shuttle to Playa del Carmen to do some shopping. It was Ryan's first time in Mexico and we saw it as an opportunity of him to see a little bit of the culture outside of our 5 star resort. After a morning kayak to the reef, we waited for the bus. Arriving in Playa del Carmen, we walked the busy tourist lined streets, strolled down the beach, and found an incredible restaurant off the main tourist area where we enjoyed the most amazing seafood meal at a ridiculously low price. As for shopping, we didn't do much aside from buying the essential fridge magnet to stick on my fridge in Dubai, and a cute little Christmas ornament of Santa wearing a sombrero to stick on our tree. Despite the fact that we hadn't napped that day, we managed to stay up late enough to make it to the circus show, where I laughed as Ryan was pulled onto the stage to assist.
Thursday was quite an exciting day, so I'll go through it in detail since it's one I want to remember. As usual, we woke up at sunrise. No matter how late we'd stay up the night before, we couldn't sleep later than 7 am. We went for breakfast followed by our longest of long walks down the beach yet. We went a good distance, to where the beach was full of waves and other resorts. Ryan swam in the warm water, but I just dipped my feet, afraid of getting swept out to sea since there were red flags indicating it was unsafe to swim. Once we returned to the resort we ordered drinks, sampling a variety of colorful and delicious concoctions. Along with a few other couples, we participated in Spanish lessons by the pool, affectionately confessing our love with "Te amo". We made the rest of the couples jealous as we ordered room service and brought our food to eat by the pool. Still hungry, we headed to the lunch buffet were we dined on fresh grilled fish. Yummy! We had dinner plans that night so we decided to nap to be able to stay up and enjoy them. Upon waking up from a nap we agreed to go for a walk down the beach as it was sunset and we wanted to take some good photos. Holding hands and cameras, we walked towards the beach, watching as a newly married couple emerged from the chapel. "What a beautiful place to get married", I thought. We continued walking until we found a nice stretch of beach, set up the tripod, and began talking photos. Ryan was acting a bit strange as we posed, but I went along with it. He is a bit goofy. For those of you who have any interest in photography, you probably know what light painting is. For the rest of you, it's when you use a light to draw in the air and a long exposure on the camera to make your drawing appear in the photo. We drew hearts and cutesy things. On one particular photo, he wrote something and we ran back to the camera to see how it had turned out. In his messy handwriting I really didn't know what to make of it, but I said "Oooh, that's pretty!" and kissed him. The mosquitoes were running rampant and I was ready to go back to the resort, but we decided to take a few more photos. As the timer counted down I waited to lean in for a posed kiss, but instead found myself watching Ryan get down on one knee. What the heck was going on? "Will you marry me?" he asked. My heart was racing a million miles and hour as I stared at him, stunned. "Really?!" I asked. It was only a few months ago since he'd held out a ring box containing a chocolate, so it was only natural for me to ensure that he was serious. While most girls would have jumped up shouting "Yes!", in typical ruin the moment Krysta fashion I asked "Is it from Walmart?" (A few days earlier he'd joked about buying a cheap $5 ring from Walmart to trick our families... I refused, of course.) He pulled out an amazing Tacori diamond ring, which was most definitely not from Walmart. I held him close and kissed him, answered "Yes, of course!" and stared at the beautiful ring that was proudly shining on my finger. I was in complete disbelief, but I'd never been happier. We went back to the camera to flip through the photos, happy to see that he had captured the exact moment of being down on one knee with the beautiful beach at sunset for a backdrop. As he went back through the photos, I realized what the light painting photo was meant to say. I could vaguely make out the words "Will you marry me?". He changed his plan and did it the traditional way when I couldn't read his handwriting. We were blissfully happy, filled with love, and ENGAGED. Yeah, that's right.. I'm engaged!!! It's still so surreal. We were now covered in bug bites, so we returned to our room and got dressed and ready for a romantic dinner that we'd booked earlier in the week. We were led out to the beach where a table was set up, lit by candlelight, just for us. A few other tables were scattered along the beach, but for some reason we were the chosen couple who had the privilege of eating in the hut over the water. It was very romantic, and the food was amazing... a 5 course meal, with everything except for dessert containing lobster. As the main course was delivered, fireworks went off down the beach. They might not have been intended for us, but it was the cherry on top of the best night of our life. The food was so unbelievably good and after we'd finished we were too full to move. It was straight to bed. Despite having just got engaged, we didn't spend the night cuddling. Instead we slipped into a food coma until the next morning. It was the perfect end to a perfect day... it all seemed like a dream. I woke up and looked at my hand just to make sure it hadn't been.
The next 2 days were a flurry of eating, drinking, sunbaking, and of course... photoshoots of my beautiful ring. We spent a great deal of time taking photos of it shining in all of it's glory. If there was one negative thing about the entire trip, it was a large wedding group that was occupying the majority of the resort. They were loud party people who were very inconsiderate about the fact that it was a small resort intended for romance and couples. It didn't bother us too much, as we were still enjoying ourselves, but I'm sure many of the people who were kept awake until 5 in the morning were not very impressed.
The week had went by far too fast, and before we knew it it was Sunday, and time to go home. We made the most of our final hours, drinking, eating, and enjoying the last bits of tropical paradise. We went kayaking to the reef one last time with Kary, the amazing activities coordinator. Ryan convinced her that we should go wave surfing and she agreed, despite having never done it before. It was fun at first, until one particular wave when I realized that the kayak was about to tip. "No Ryan nooooooooooo!" I cried, as we flipped upside down and I landed on a jagged reef edge. I felt bad about the damage I had probably caused the coral, but in my defense my knee was bleeding and it hadn't been too kind to me either. Kary was immensely concerned, but I was fine. We paddled back to the shore, laughing it off.
The rest of the afternoon was spent by the pools, enjoying cocktails and exchanging Facebook information with some of the awesome resort staff. As Kary looked through our photos she discovered that we had just got engaged and hit Ryan on the shoulder for not telling her. She happily told us about her very own engagement and ran to get her ring and a photo of her fiance to show us. The week had been a dream come true, but it was time to return to the real world. We bid farewell to our amazing resort as we caught the bus to the airport and flew back to snowy Canada.
The next day, we slowly broke the news to our friends and family, starting with our parents... who were all overjoyed. The general reaction among everyone was "Finally!". Apparently it didn't come as too much of a surprise to anyone besides me.
It was karaoke night at my favorite lounge, so I celebrated, sang, and reunited with some of my best friends who all admired my pretty ring and congratulated me throughout the night.
On Tuesday I had one last dinner with Ryan's family before heading home for my last night in Canada. It's always so difficult leaving, and this time Ryan wouldn't be able to drive me to the airport since he'd already had so much time off of work. I couldn't bear the sadness of goodbye, so I kissed him quickly and shed only a few tears as I pushed him out the door, before I became a complete emotional breakdown. Sadness lingered in the air, as it will for awhile. Coming back to Dubai is never easy when I remember how amazing the people in my life back home are. I took comfort by staring at my ring, a sign of hope that this distance is not a permanent thing. Once I'm finished traveling the world, I'll go home and be able to spend forever with Ryan.
It was a long journey back, involving hours spent at London Gatwick airport unable to get on a flight back to Dubai as they were all full. I spent the entire day on standby, lucking out as a family was offloaded on the last flight of the day. I'm back to Dubai and back to reality, but there is still no breaking my good mood. I had the best vacation, EVER.

PS... On a bit of a random note, Ryan made me awesome cards with a link to my blog! They are so cute, and so very me! He's pretty great.

Seoul Searching

Nov 22, 2010

Clever title, I know. In my current state of fatigue I was quite proud of thinking that one up, despite the fact that I wasn't actually searching for anything while in Seoul. I apologize in advance for any spelling/grammar errors because I'm typing this all in Notepad and haven't slept much in the past 48 hours.
I'm currently somewhere 40,000 feet above the world, firmly planted on the seat that I've been occupying for the past 11 hours, oh... and I still have 4 more to go. Not to mention a connecting flight. None of this matters though; because when all is said and done I'll be landing in Calgary, Alberta and running into the arms of the boy that I love.
Anyways, back to the intended topic of this blog. Rewind 2 days and I was bound for Seoul, South Korea. I was a bit antsy with the anticipation of vacation immediately following my trip, but still looking forward to it. We landed into Seoul and quickly established plans to go out for Korean BBQ. A few crew members joined and we ventured into the cold winter air on a mission to feast on delicious food. It was just as yummy as I'd remembered, though I skipped the Soju wine this time around. We ate until we could no longer consume any more food, paid, and ventured into the night. A few of the crew made their way to a nightclub while the rest of us headed to 7-11 to stock up on snacks for the duration of the layover. The air outside was brisk and I'd complained about how cold I was for the entire walk, but it wasn't enough to stop me from buying some green tea ice cream. Dessert is mandatory. I was satisfied as we headed back to the hotel. I debated going to the gym, but in the end sleep won me over and I called it an early night.
The next morning I had a short lived date with the treadmill, suddenly remembering the fact that I'll be sporting a bikini in Mexico next week. After I'd showered and bundled up in warm clothing, it was time to wander the streets. Unlike last time I'd visited Seoul, it was a clear sunny day, perfect for a walk! I set out with no particular destination in mind. I spotted a store called "Daiso" which my friend Greta had told me about and recommended that I visit. I decided to check it out and spent the next hour trying to talk myself out of buying absolutely everything. Everything in Korea is so cute!! I bought a few items, among them a couple of cups with little bears and terrible English spelling mistakes. I'm not really sure what inclined me to make that purchase, but I couldn't put them back on the shelf. Heading back outside I continued walking, browsing random stores and trying to make purchases with absolutely no knowledge of the Korean language. By the time I move home to Canada I'll be so used to one word sentences and communicating by pointing and body language. I'll be the charades master. After grabbing some lunch I decided to slowly make my way back to the hotel. I hadn't planned to do much of anything on my layover, saving my energy for my long journey back home.
After a nice long nap in my room, it was time to start getting ready for my flight. I flicked on the TV for some background noise and found myself watching the breaking news updates of North Korea's attack on South Korea. I nearly had a heart attack when a reporter talked of "unconfimed reports of Incheon Airport being closed...". It could NOT be closed. I was flying out of that very airport in a few hours, and being the risk taker than I am, I'd booked a flight home that was scheduled to depart only 4 hours after arriving in Dubai. I went into panic mode, checking the internet until I was confident that the reports were false. Normally I'd get excited at the prospect of an extended layover, but this was the first time that I absolutely needed to go back to Dubai as soon as possible. The security at the airport was heightened, but we were still able to depart, much to my relief. At 9 1/2 hours, the flight to Dubai was longer than I'd anticipated. I'd be extremely rushed to make my next flight. We landed, I grabbed my suitcase, and ran for the taxi stand. "Big hurry, fast please!" I emphasized to the driver. I reached my apartment, changed out of my uniform, wiped off my lipstick and swapped suitcases before running back downstairs to catch another taxi. A great sense of relief flowed over me as I realized that I had plenty of time to spare. I was flying standby, so I was stil a bit anxious that I might not be able to get on the flight. Fortunately, I was given a boarding pass and sent on my way. Everything was working out and I could finally start getting excited about HOME.
So here I sit, waiting to land in San Francisco and catch yet another plane home. I'm on a Boeing 777-300 for the first time since making the switch to A380, and I must say that I don't regret my decision one bit. Not that there is anything wrong with Boeing, in fact it's far more crew-friendly... I suppose I've just grown rather fond of the double decker.
It's time to watch my 5th movie of the flight and perhaps catch a little bit of shut eye before landing.
I'm officially on vacation, so there probably won't be any posts from me for the next couple of weeks! I'm sure I'll have loads of exciting stories to entertain you with when I return!

Just a quick little gush

Oh my goodness!! I'm going home tomorrow!!
I haven't seen my mommy or my family or my boyfriend or my puppy in 4 months.
I'm a great big ball of excitement at the moment.
I love my job, but I do need the break to just relax and remember what it's like to have a regular life.
I'm the happiest girl in the world, and life is pretty darn amazing.

shopping and touristing in beijing

Nov 19, 2010

As my long awaited vacation approaches, my motivation to go to work is dwindling. Normally I'm thrilled to escape Dubai for fun overseas adventures, but time has come to a grinding halt the past couple of weeks.
I was less enthusiastic than usual as I got ready for my flight to Beijing. I wanted to pack my suitcase and fly to Canada. I wanted to be one of the 400 passengers rather than be the one serving them. It took awhile, but I finally accepted that I had to go. I coated my lips with my hideous red lipstick and headed for the airport.
Let me give you a little picture of what a flight to China is like. 90% of the passengers are Chinese, and of them, 99% speak little to no English. For the entire duration of the flight we struggle with great communication barriers, suddenly realizing the importance of body language. Perhaps it's a cultural thing, but on this particular flight, it seems that every single person takes their shoes off. When you think about it, it's kind of cute. They make themselves at home and place their feet on the floor on a mat made of the plastic packaging that their blankets came wrapped in. The novelty wears off fast as the cabin fills with the odour of 400 pairs of smelly feet. Gasping for air, the crew subtly spray air freshener through the aisles as they walk through. At the end of the flight, it takes extra long to disembark as I suddenly become a model, posing for photos with every 2nd person to walk past. I wish they'd do this at the beginning of the flight, when my hair was still neatly done up and my makeup hadn't melted off of my face. Regardless, I suppose I should take it as a compliment.
On this particular day we landed into Beijing and I quickly gave up on my tiny hope of visiting the Great Wall of China. A thick layer of smog filled the air, limiting visibility of nearby buildings. It's really quite sad to see the level of pollution. My eyes were burning after only a few hours, and I could only imagine the impact on the health of the people who live there.
It was early evening and I wasn't ready to call it a night. Some of the crew discussed going to the Silk Market for some cheap shopping. I opted for Newmarket instead, remembering the aggressive sales people at the Silk Market. I managed to convince 2 crew members to join me... both males who said that they were just going for something to do. I was the one in need of shopping, they were just keeping me company. 2 hours later I left with one purchase as they both hauled tons of purchases that had cost them their entire allowance. Good thing I'd saved enough for a taxi back to the hotel! Back to my purchase... I grabbed an awesome pair of fake Ugg boots that look real and feel just as cozy as the real ones I'd splurged on in Australia. I need to point out that I bargained for a good price, all by myself! Normally my guilty conscience gets the best of me, but my extreme fatigue and desire to own those boots took over, and I bargained until the frustrated sales lady finally accepted my lowest price. I probably could have paid even less, but at $20 Canadian I wasn't about to complain. I'm now set to visit Canada, with warm toes! We went back to the hotel, dropped off our bags and walked over to the grocery store. I didn't need anything, but I'm always amused by random findings in the Chinese supermarket. We wandered through the seafood department, saddened at the sight of a tank full of turtles. I imagined a family sitting around the table feasting on the poor little reptiles. It was getting late and I'd been awake for close to 24 hours, so I paid for my jasmine tea and went back to my hotel room where I slept like a baby until early the next morning.
I went downstairs to meet a gay Lebanese guy who was so much like my friend Jake from Canada that it scared me. They share the same inability to stop talking and the same love for their own reflection. I knew I was in store for an exhausting day, but I was prepared for it. We'd agreed to visit the Summer Palace, and I was in tourist mode when he said "I think it's too far for today, let's go to the market again and we can go visit this temple that is nearby". I stared at him, trying to plan my words so as not to lose my temper. Too often I'm a pushover when it comes to my layovers, settling for what others want to do. Take for example my last trip to Beijing, when the girl who'd agreed to go to the Great Wall with me bailed at the last minute. I was not going to back down this time. "I'm not going back to the market, and I've been to the Lama Temple. So either we go to the Summer Palace, or I'm going back to bed" I announced. I immediately wished that I could take the words back for fear of upsetting him, but to my surprise he replied "Oh okay, I don't mind going, that's what we said we'd do so let's do it." Shocked with my victory, I smiled as we walked to the metro station. Forget taxis, we were feeling adventurous! It's a good thing that my fellow adventurer was confident in his ability to navigate, because I was admittedly quite intimidated by the map of the Beijing Metro lines, written entirely in Chinese. We caught the train and to my relief, emerged at the gate of the Summer Palace. We paid for our tickets and stepped inside, instantly switching to photographer mode. It seemed that for every photo I took, I took 2 more of my self-absorbed travel partner. He had to be in every single one of his photos, and I explained to him that I'd take photos of the beautiful landscape first, and photos of him on his camera phone second. I hated to seem rude, but I wanted to take my photos and he'd pose all day if I'd let him. The place was beautiful, even with the pollution creating a grey haze throughout the air. There were gardens, lakes, temples, and trees! We walked for hours, up steep hills and through beautiful buildings. Eventually we grew tired and decided to head back to the hotel.
I packed my suitcase and crawled into bed for a pre-flight nap. It's hard work being a tourist in such a short time frame! Back to Dubai we flew, on a dramatic flight filled with arguments and general unhappiness amongst many of the crew members. Meanwhile, I was back to my usual perky self. Just another day in the crazy life of crazy me.

Roadtrip to Oman!

Nov 12, 2010

I spend the majority of my days off in Dubai doing little more than lazing around my apartment and watching multiple episodes of TV series and chick flicks. On days when I'm feeling more ambitious, I'll venture to the shopping mall with my friends to wander aimlessly discussing our crazy life in this crazy desert.
When I received an email inviting me to go on a trip Oman for a day, I jumped at the opportunity. I was joined by my friend and blog buddy, Greta. I'd arrived back from Toronto the night before, and I was exhausted as I took a taxi to the city at 6 in the morning. Despite this, I was excited for an adventurous day as I boarded the bus.
Growing up in Canada it seemed hard to believe that in many parts of the world you can drive a couple of hours and be in another country. Yet, after 2 hours on the road we'd reached the border. We waited forever as our passports were stamped before we were finally on our way again.
The scenery was a drastic change from the flat endless desert of the U.A.E. Tall, rocky mountains soared into the sky as we drove alongside the beautiful turquoise waters of the sea. We winded around curvy roads until we finally reached the marina. 5 traditional dhow boats awaited us, and we eagerly climbed onboard. The sides were lined with comfy cushions and we picked a sunny spot to plop down on. We had a lovely crew of 2 Omani men who served us tea, coffee and fruit as soon as we'd made ourselves comfortable. We set sail, cruising between steep cliffs, taking in the incredible views. Everyone snapped photos in every direction. After a nice relaxing cruise, we reached Telegraph Island where we anchored and had the opportunity to go swimming. The water near the island was beautiful and clear, but where the boat sat it was dark and far too deep for my comfort. I was content on staying and sunbaking, but Greta persuaded me to swim to the island. I'm not a great swimmer and I was a little bit self conscious about being the only person wearing a bright orange life jacket. When 2 other girls donned them as well, I agreed to join them. We jumped (okay slowly and hesitantly climbed) into the warm water. As people on the boat made cruel jokes about sharks in the water, we grew a bit nervous. Greta, who was the only one not wearing a life jacket, stuck close by in case she needed to grab hold of me for flotation. As we got closer to the island the water became more clear and shallow. I could see coral below me and I briefly panicked, remembering how I'd been told that it's often sharp and painful if you touch it. I'm pathetic, I know, but in my defense I've lived far inland for the majority of my life and I'm still adjusting to the great big sea. Slowly but surely, we made it onto the island and walked the stairs to the top despite the painful small rocks that we stepped on with bare feet. Success! We'd made it! Glancing back, the boat didn't seem so far away. We stood at the top and posed for photos, since I'd brought my waterproof camera along for the swim. Some people snorkeled around the island as we swam back to the boat. Great timing! Lunch was being served up, and we were treated to a feast of yummy foods including curry, hummus, and fish that the captain had barbequed for us. I loaded up my plate, feeling a bit gluttonous but satisfied.
After a huge meal we were tired, and we relaxed as we continued cruising the waters. I was drifting in and out of sleep when I heard a whistle and somebody shout "Dolphin!" I bolted up with my camera in hand to catch a glimpse of a dolphin in the distance. I was giddy, having only seen them a few times in my life. The rest of the boats quickly caught up and we all looked around eagerly, but the dolphin was nowhere to be seen. All of a sudden everyone rushed to the front of the boat, having seen more dolphins. I tried to see but was blocked by a wall of people. They disappeared again and I retreated to my seat, sad that I'd missed out. Then, right in front of me I saw something in the water!! I took photos and happily stared in amazement as two dolphins swam beside the boat, jumping in the wake! We spent awhile speeding through the waters as they showed off in front of us. After they finally left, we all stood with grins on our faces as we flipped through our photos. What an awesome experience!!
We slowly made our way back as the sun began to set over the water. It had been a great day, but I was sleepy and ready to return to Dubai. I would have loved to have watched the sunset in the mountains, but I quickly fell asleep and woke up once we were at the border. As all things are in the Middle East, it was a slow process as we got our passports re-stamped and waited to be allowed back into the U.A.E. Eventually, we were on our way again.
I don't know if it was my extreme fatigue or if in fact the driver was going incredibly slow, but it seemed to take forever to get back to Dubai. I tried to sleep and listen to music, but I was bored and uncomfortable in my cramped seat. We finally made it back to headquarters, where I had to wait another 20 minutes before the bus to my building arrived. I could barely stay conscious, but I'd had a fun day and I was happy to have finally done something more productive with a day off!

My First Canadian Layover

Nov 11, 2010

I've been working in the skies for nearly a year now, and in that time my job has brought me to nearly 30 countries. I'd circled the globe and yet somehow, until last week, completely missed the one place that I'd been dying to visit. I was thrilled when I checked my roster and discovered that I'd finally scored a layover in Toronto. After months of bidding and attempting to swap flights, I was finally going back to Canada!
The flight to Toronto is notorious for being one of the worst, but I wasn't going to let that affect my mood. It was a long and often challenging 14 hour flight, but I stayed optimistic. I can honestly say that I probably drove both the crew and passengers to insanity as I chattered on about how excited I was to go to Canada and see my family and drink Tim Horton's coffee.
I landed with a huge smile on my face, not even phased when the Captain announced that it was only 3 degrees outside. On the way to the hotel I stared out the windows, getting excited at the sight of Canadian flags and familiar brand names. I was still over 1,000 miles from home, but I felt as if I was almost there. We arrived at our hotel, which happened to be super nice and in the heart of the city. One of the advantages to our airline being relatively unknown in North America is that we get to stay in great locations to serve as walking billboards. As the crew made plans for the weekend, I shouted "See you on Monday!" and retreated to my room. I wasted no time, quickly changing and heading downstairs. I was exhausted but there was no way I was going to waste my first night in Toronto by sleeping through it! I headed to the concierge and asked where I could find the nearest Tim Horton's. She laughed, realizing that I was just a homesick Canadian happy to be back in my country. In typical Canada fashion, there was a Timmy's right around the corner. In fact, there were probably at least 10 in the 5 block radius. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the Tim Horton's phenomenon, let me try to enlighten you. Affectionately known as "Timmy's", it is a coffee shop known and loved by 99% of Canadians for reasons that even I can't explain. Personally I think Starbucks tastes better, but there is something so satisfying about Timmy's coffee. Perhaps they add some addictive substance. Maybe the fact that I'm overly patriotic makes me love it more, or maybe it reminds me of my boyfriend... after all, our first meeting was at a Tim Horton's in Red Deer. Whatever the case, I was ecstatic as I ordered a French Vanilla cappuccino and a turkey bacon club... with real bacon! I was picking up a wireless signal, so I stayed awhile, talking to Ryan. I'd really been hoping that he could make it to spend my layover with me, but the cost of flights combined with getting time off work made it a bit unrealistic. I was extremely sleep deprived and the caffeine hadn't hit me one bit. Throwing my healthy eating plan out the window for the weekend, I crossed the street and went to Starbucks to satisfy yet another craving that only North America can fix... Pumpkin spice latte! The cafe was in full Christmas mode and I sat blissfully sipping my festive latte.
Buzzed and happy, I headed back to my hotel room, where I spent a long time on the phone with Ryan... hooray for cheap phone calls! I'd finally reached the point of fighting to keep my eyes open, so I gave in and called it a night. I had a big day ahead of me and I needed to be well rested. My body missed the memo, and I woke up at 4 am even though I was still exhausted. Thanks, jet lag. After a couple hours of struggling to fall back asleep, I gave up. I showered, got ready, and headed out to grab another pumpkin spice latte to give me a much needed caffeine boost. I was meeting up with some of my family and I couldn't wait. My grandparents called to let me know that they were almost at the hotel, so I headed downstairs to meet them. Once they arrived I rushed to hug my grandma, who I hadn't seen since last December when she dropped me off at the airport to go to Dubai for the first time. She took photos and told me how great it was to see me, handing me a rose. I knew right away that it was from my sneaky boyfriend, and my suspicions were confirmed as I read the note attached. He'd asked my grandma to bring it to me. I was feeling like a pretty lucky girl as we drove off towards Hamilton.
I dropped off my bag in the familiar bedroom at my grandma's house and we hit the highway. We drove to Niagara, where we met up with some more family members... my uncle, his long-term love (they really should just get married, I like weddings!), and my younger cousin, Colton. We set out hiking down the beautiful trails at the Niagara gorge, down to the river. It was a beautiful autumn day and the sometimes steep climb back up kept me nice and warm despite the cool breeze. I took dozens of photos, commanding that my family stop and gather as I propped my camera on tree stumps and rocks for photos.
Once we'd made it back up, we got back into the car and drove into the city. I've been to Niagara Falls many times, but it doesn't make each visit any less exciting than the first. I could hear the rush of the falls as we walked towards massive crowds of tourists. I joined in, snapping my own photos. We stood for awhile, just standing at the amazing power of the rushing water. Once we were finally content that we'd taken enough photos, we headed inside to warm up, with yet another Tim Horton's coffee. Yes, I have an addiction and I'm not afraid to admit it. Our next stop was an outlet mall that I'd shopped at with my mom a few years back. I spent my meal allowance money on cozy sweaters and a super soft scarf that I just couldn't put down.
It had been a long day and we were all feeling quite hungry as we headed to a restaurant called "The Lake House", where we had reservations. It was a nice place right on the lake, and the food was amazing. I opted for grilled salmon... fresh, delicious, Canadian salmon! After we'd stuffed ourselves full, it was time for dessert! I could barely move, but that didn't stop me from sharing a bowl of gelato with my grandma.
After dinner we stopped at my uncle's house, to meet the baby of their family... Stella, an adorably playful boxer/bulldog cross. Lately I've had extreme puppy fever, wanting few things more than to have my very own cuddly fuzzy friend... this visit did not help. We stayed there for awhile chatting and catching up, until it was time to go back to my grandparent's house for the night. Jet lag combined with the fact that I'd been awake since 4 am made for one very tired Krysta. I said goodnight and quickly fell asleep, content with a great day.
The next morning I slept in, finally crawling out of bed and dragging myself to shower. I slowly got ready for the day, even doing my hair to look nice... a very rare event these days. I spent the afternoon visiting with my family, including my great-grandma, who hadn't made it to Niagara Falls the day prior. It was great to see her and to relax with everyone until it was time for dinner. My grandma had made a delicious roast and I could hardly wait for my first home cooked meal in months. I loaded up my plate, enjoying every bite. I nearly died of happiness when my grandma brought out dessert. Homemade pumpkin pie!!! Anyone who spoke to me last month probably was well aware of how upset I was about missing my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. I indulged in a delicious slice, and although I was full, I wanted more. I stopped myself until Colton went for seconds, which automatically justified that I should do the same. It was amazing, and for awhile I thought that perhaps they'd have to carry me back to my hotel room in Toronto. The evening was coming to an end as I said my goodbyes. It was back to the hotel for me, as I had to fly out the next day. I knew that I'd be back again in the not-so-distant future and that thought kept me from getting too upset.
I relaxed in my hotel room, chatting to Ryan before settling in for a nice, long sleep.
The next morning I woke up bright and early on a mission to shop. I headed towards Eaton Centre, realizing halfway there that it probably would be at least an hour until it was open. I killed time by grabbing a coffee and a muffin, patiently waiting for the shops to open. When they finally did, I frantically rushed from store to store, not even sure what I was looking for. Some stores played Christmas music, much to my delight. I spent a large chunk of cash at Bath & Body Works, loading up on yummy smelling soaps and multiple bottles of hand sanitizers in every scent imaginable. They come in handy with my job. I bought a few other essential Canadian amenities before returning to my hotel to catch a few hours of sleep before the long torturous trip back to Dubai.
I was feeling pretty miserable as I got ready for my flight. I contemplated faking sickness, or conveniently forgetting that the departure was that day. The thing about going home, is that you never want to leave. Fortunately, I had the thought of vacation only 2 weeks later to keep me optimistic.
I flew back to Dubai, sad to leave, but happy to have had such a great weekend. Perhaps my opinion is biased, but I think that I'm from one pretty darn amazing country!!

Running Errands in Dubai (The Most Frusturating of All Tasks)

Nov 2, 2010

Do you ever have one of those days where it feels like you can't seem to accomplish anything??
It seems to be the story of my life. Welcome to Dubai, where nobody ever seems to know what is going on and the vibrant multicultural mix of people leads to terrible communication barriers.
In the past couple of weeks I've been going about my usual business, trying to take care of errands on my increasingly rare days off in Dubai. In typical Dubai fashion, it seemed that every step forward brings me two steps back.
Take for example, moving. After 3 years here, my flatmate finally called it quits and headed back to her home country of South Africa. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to move into her much larger bedroom. One step ahead, I went to the accommodation department fully prepared, only to be told that I couldn't apply until she had handed in her keys. Fast forward a week, and she has moved out. My days off have all been weekends, thus I haven't had the chance to visit accommodations. Today I find out that the room has already been allocated to a new staff member. After 11 months of waiting, I'm out of luck despite my attempts to get ahead by applying early.
The departure of my flatmate led to another issue... the internet. It was under her name and we were assured that it would be simple to transfer the account over to my name. So I handed her over the fee and off she went. She returned to inform me that I had to be present. The next time that we both had a day off, we headed back, only to be told that we could not transfer the account, and that it would have to be cancelled and I'd have to apply for my own. This of course, cost a great deal more than what we'd originally been told, but when we complained the employee shrugged his shoulder and smiled. I wanted to hit him in the face for his stupid smirk, but I resisted knowing that it would solve nothing, and that I'm not strong enough to punch anybody. So we cancelled the internet, and I was forced to reapply... this of course, after I went to HR to obtain a letter from my company stating that they approved the installation, which of course took 2 working days to receive. After 3 torturous days of no internet (yes, I have a terrible addiction) a man finally showed up to install my very own account. Much to my shock (massive use of sarcasm) the modem that my flatmate and I had split the cost of only a few months prior was no longer working, and I had to pay for a new one. The old one was covered under warranty, but it was now void since we'd cancelled the account. I argued and expressed my great frustration with the company and their money stealing ways, but it was no use. Like the man at the store, he shrugged his shoulders and grinned. "Okay ma'am, no problem. I give you new modem, I will charge to your account!" I sighed, feeling defeated.
Finally back online, I took the opportunity to book my flights home for later on this month. I was so excited and it seemed all too easy. You guessed it... it was. A few days later I received an email informing me that my request had been rejected. Apparently for past year my first name has been listed as both my first and middle name, which explains why pursers often call "Krysta Marie" when going through the crew list. Until it is changed on the database, I can not book my flights. I have sent an email, we'll see how long it takes before somebody finds the energy to reply.
Brushing this minor setback aside, I met up with a friend to head to the uniform store to collect a winter jacket, as the temperatures are dropping in the majority of the places that I fly to.
After an hour and a half in the queue clutching my number, it was finally my turn. I happily proceeded to the counter where I informed the employee of my need for a jacket and he directed me to the fitting area to find the appropriate size. The man working by the fitting area seemed happy to help until I told him that I needed a jacket. "No, we don't have in your size" he answered, turning away to assist another customer. "Are you sure? Can I try one on?" I demanded, but he simply told me to go back to the counter and ask when I could expect more sizes to be in. Now feeling extremely irritated, I returned to the counter, explaining that I'd been waiting for nearly 2 hours and that I'd appreciate if he could tell me when to return. What did he do? Take a guess. Yes, you are absolutely correct. He shrugged his shoulders, and smiled. "Maybe come back next month ma'am. It's okay, just wear a cardigan!" to which I replied "No offense, but if you've ever been to Canada, which is where my next flight happens to be, you'd understand why I need a winter jacket. But thank you, for all of your help." "You're welcome!" he answered cheerfully, clearly not detecting the sarcasm in my statement. I returned home with nothing to show for my wasted afternoon.
This is all just a typical week in this lovely place that I call home. Eventually, everything gets done despite taking far longer and costing far more than originally anticipated. I promise, when I return to Canada I'll make the greatest effort to never complain about the speed of service when it takes 2 hours to apply for a passport, or 10 minutes to stand in line at the grocery store. When my Dubai days are long over, I'll remember those unfortunate souls still living in the city where every simple task is the equivalent to running a marathon.

Grant & Krysta's Adventures in Man-chesta

It was another early morning and I was off to Manchester yet again. It seems to be my most frequented destination lately, lowering my bank account balance and increasing the profits of Primark with each visit.
This time around I was flying with my good friend and batchmate, Grant. We spend a great deal of our days off in Dubai together, wandering aimlessly around massive shopping centers, talking about our flights, and going for lunch at Subway. Out of our entire batch, Grant and myself are the only 2 who have made the leap over to the A380. While we would have preferred a slightly more exciting destination, we were still happy to fly together and enjoy the company of a friend during the layover. It was business as usual onboard. We served up non-stop gin & tonics to a cabin full of thirsty passengers, landed, and went to the hotel.
Grant and I agreed to get changed and meet up to head to the city. A few others were waiting for the bus as well, so we agreed to all go together. Upon stepping outside into the bone chilling air, I wondered how on Earth I'll ever be capable of moving back to Canada. It was 8 degrees in rainy Manchester... about 40 degrees warmer than I could expect around December back home. The bus was warm, fortunately. We arrived at the train station, where I assured the others that we were in fact getting on the right train. They seemed to doubt my confidence, but in the end, I was right and we arrived in the city. Grant and I headed in our own direction while the rest made a beeline for Primark.
I'd spent the entire flight insisting that we go to Starbucks, so we headed to the first one and grabbed some hot chocolate to warm us up. We didn't really have a plan, so we did what we do best... browsed random shops and left most empty handed.
Grant practically had to drag me away from the beautiful Christmas displays in some shops, convincing me that I could not fit a 6 foot tall tree in my suitcase. Way to kill my festive spirit!
It was Halloween and contrary to Canada, there were few reminders aside from the odd intoxicated person in costume, a banana being my personal favorite. I longed for trick-or-treating and haunted houses.
In typical Sunday fashion, the shops began to close early in the evening, giving us few options aside from returning to the hotel. We were both practically sleepwalking and quite content with calling it an early night. After grabbing Subway (because why change a good thing?) and stocking up on more raspberries at the supermarket, we slowly made our way back to the train station and dragged ourselves wearily to our hotel rooms.
It had been an uneventful layover, but once in awhile those are necessary to catch up on sleep lost during the busy exciting layovers. I slept nearly 12 hours before getting up, getting ready, and returning to the sandpit.
Just another shift!

(On another note, I'd like to welcome Selina from Switzerland to Dubai!
She has just moved here to begin training to become a crazy cabin crew member like me. Welcome to the desert, and good luck with training!)

paris. economy class. international.

Oct 28, 2010

Ever since I can remember, I've dreamed of visiting Paris. I could fly to every other city in the world, and spend half of my life hanging out 40,000 feet above the Earth... but in my mind I'd never be a REAL flight attendant until I flew to Paris.
As I packed my suitcase for my trip I made an attempt to pack my most stylish clothing, but I soon remembered that I lack anything of style and settled for warm attire instead. I was off to Paris!!
With the strikes and chaos going on in France I was a bit concerned that I may be destined to spend my layover stuck in my hotel daydreaming about the Eiffel Tower.
Shortly after entering the briefing room I met the lovely Vanja. To date, she is the only crew member I've met who shares my ridiculously extreme levels of excitement when it comes to exploring beautiful new places. I'd previously flown with a friend of hers who had noticed that we were on the trip together and had told her all sorts of nice things about me (aww!). It was the first time in Paris for both of us and we were instantly bonded in our enthusiasm. It's a sad but true fact that a lot of crew have negative views on everything related to the job, so it was refreshing to meet somebody so optimistic and happy in general.
The flight over was a breeze. The passengers were friendly and cheerful despite a nearly 2 hour delay, and the crew was great. We hung out in the back galley getting passengers to join us in singing and dancing and all in all it was one of the best flights that I've had so far on the 380. I realized how terrible I've become at speaking the French language, but attempted anyways.
Vanja was sitting at the door across from me and as we touched down at Charles de Gaulle we looked over at each other with huge grins and tried to contain our happiness... we were in Paris!! Once the last passenger had disembarked we were much more vocal about our excitement, annoying the rest of the crew with giddy chatter about how we'd soon be at the Eiffel Tower.
We arrived at our airport hotel, miles from the city. A group of us agreed to meet 30 minutes later to share a taxi. As the rest headed off to shop and meet up with friends, Vanja and I made our way to the metro station and successfully found our way to the Trocadero station. As we emerged to the street we looked at one another blankly. Umm, where was the Eiffel Tower? We were momentarily lost, but we soon spotted tour buses and knew that we must be close. A few moments later we caught a glimpse of the giant famous tower, standing in all of it's beautiful glory. I don't care what anyone says, I was blown away. Far from overrated. After a few moments of high pitched squealing "OH MY GOD, PARIS!!!", we hugged each other and then proceeded to take many, many photos. The area was crowded with men selling miniature towers and we insisted on having one. We even scored a free keychain out of the deal, for being "sexy"... which Vanja misunderstood as them saying "Merci" and replied "De rien!" (You're welcome!) It had been some time since we'd landed and we were starting to feel a bit peckish. Earlier in the day we'd established that we'd feast on crepes, but we decided it was best to save them for dessert. We wandered away from the tower to find a small pattiserie where Vanja grabbed a sandwich and I, trying to be cultural, had a croissant. Once we were satisfied, we made a beeline for the crepes stand, where we both ordered chocolate and banana crepes. We continued walking closer to the tower as chocolate dripped down our hands.
It was getting dark and with every passing minute the tower looked more spectacular. Every 2 metres we stopped to take more photos. Soon we were standing right in front of the Eiffel Tower, still on a natural high. Suddenly, it because to sparkle! Lights flickered all over the entire tower, and I secretly hoped that nobody around was prone to seizures. Vanja and I stood speechless, just staring in amazement for several minutes. Who ever thought that a pointy metal tower could be so breathtaking? Couples kissed and I longed to be there with my own love, but I knew that I was fortunate to be there with somebody else who was as happy as I was in that very moment. I could feel goosebumps forming and as lame as may sound, a dream of mine came true right then.
We'd come all the way to Paris, and we had every intention of making the most of it. As night fell over the city, we forked over 3.5 Euros to climb to the first viewing level. The rest of the tourists stood in the ridiculous long line for the elevators, so the stairs were empty and we took our time walking up, constantly reminding one another that we were IN the Eiffel Tower... just in case it had slipped our mind. Once we made it to the top we gazed out at the endless lights of the city and the beautiful old buildings that we knew must have historical significance. We spent awhile just trying to soak it all in before walking back down. Some how time and flew by and it was already quite late. Although we were too distracted to realize it, we knew that we were both exhausted, having been up since 3 am. We decided to return to the hotel, but not before we had more crepes. We went to a different stand, in case the employees recognized us and thought that we were gluttonous tourists - which of course, we were, but they didn't need to know that. The men making our crepes were charming French men, telling us how beautiful we were and confessing their love for us. Vanja swooned as I giggled at their silly attempts.
Once we had our second round of crepes in hand, we sat on a bench and stared at the beautiful flickering tower, well aware of how lucky we were to have such an amazing job that rewards us with such amazing experiences.
The fun didn't stop once we caught a taxi. Our driver Mohamed was an Egyptian who had been living in Paris for 27 years and spoke very limited English. I struggled to communicate in French while he attempted to speak English, but we somehow managed to hear his life story and learn that he had only been driving a taxi for 2 months since his former job wasn't doing enough to support his family in tough economic times. He pointed out the Arc de Triomphe and Champs d'Elysees as we drove past, and told us random facts about the city.
After a long day, we were finally back at the hotel. I quickly checked the internet, hoping to find my November roster, but was disappointed to find that it was late. Returning to my room I soaked in a super relaxing bubble bath and then fell into a deep, happy sleep.
I woke up the next morning and returned to the crew lounge to use the internet. Vanja was there as well, and we nervously clicked the email to view our schedule for the next month. I shrieked and felt as though I'd won the lottery when I spotted YYZ. I didn't care about the rest of my flights... I was going to Toronto! CANADA! Tim Horton's! Family!! Vanja was equally thrilled to find her very first Sydney flight (she's from Australia) and together we hugged and jumped up and down thinking that this was the greatest way to end an already amazing layover.
After a delicious buffet breakfast I went back to my room to pack up, so high on life that I sat for a good 5 minutes just watching bunnies jump across the rabbit infested field outside my window. I was in the best mood that I'd been in for quite some time, and I had Paris to thank!
I probably had a smile on my face until after we'd landed in Dubai.
I love my job, my life, the people in it, and PARIS!

I'll Never Get Tired of London!

Oct 25, 2010

Since joining the A380 fleet I've had more than my fair share of flights to London Heathrow. That said, the novelty has yet to wear off. I make the most of every layover, hopping on the train and making the 45 minute journey from my airport hotel to the heart of the city. My most recent trip was no exception. I was in my hotel room for no more than 10 minutes... just enough to drop off my suitcase, change, and wipe off the remnants of my red lipstick.
Like a seasoned pro, I caught the busy train and rode it to the Piccadilly Circus station. I didn't have a plan, I just wanted to soak up the vibrant big city atmosphere that Dubai severely lacks. I wandered towards Trafalgar Square, stopping to admire and patriotically take photos of Canada House with its giant Canadian flag blowing in the wind.
It was a Saturday afternoon and locals and tourists alike crowded the streets. Who could blame them? It was a cool, sunny autumn day, perfect for spending outdoors. I happily window shopped, thinking about how I must be the luckiest girl on the whole planet to have such a super cool job.
Hunger had began to set in, and I searched desperately for a healthier alternative than the typical fast food chains. I'm going on a beach vacation next month, so I've made it my mission to eat healthier and maybe even incorporate exercise into my life once again. I found a great little place called "Itsu - Health & Happiness" and made up my mind that it was exactly what I wanted. I ordered a delicious vegetable dumpling miso soup, the perfect meal to satisfy my hunger and warm me up. Once I'd finished eating it was back outside to continue my aimless wandering.
I was about to discover something that would put me in an over-the-top good mood. I glanced inside a shop that appeared to sell gourmet chocolates. Upon entering, I discovered a massive store transformed into a Christmas shopping paradise. 5 floors of chocolate, gifts, and decor awaited me, and I knew that there was no escape any time soon. I'm admittedly a Christmas fanatic. I realize that it's only October, but I'm that girl that has my tree up the day after Halloween. I'm okay with forking over an extra chunk of cash for the electricity bill that comes with having beautiful lights lit around my home. I love Christmas, and last year I was stuck in the desert where you'd forget it was even happening if it weren't for one massive tree in the center of the Dubai Mall. So I set off, giddily admiring the beautiful displays and forcing myself to refrain from putting every tree ornament in my basket. I spent a ridiculous amount of time in that shop, remembering how great the festive season truly is. The price tags were high above my budget, but I wasn't really there to make purchases. I left with a box of pretty Christmas cards and dreams of decorating my home once I finally flee the sandpit and settle back into Canada.
It was raining as I stepped out into the street, reminding me that I was in London. I was in no hurry, so I found a cozy cafe and indulged in a mint hot chocolate topped with a thick layer of whipped cream. I'd ate healthy the entire day and spent hour walking, I deserved it. I was pleased to find free wifi and I spent awhile catching up with Ryan, muttering on about Christmas and love. Somehow, time had flown by and it was already dark outside. I decided that I should probably begin to make my way to the hotel, as I had quite a long way to go. On the way I stopped in for my mandatory grocery store fix, stocking up on amazingly fresh berries as usual. I stood in Piccadilly for awhile longer before finally heading to the Tube station and catching the train back to the hotel.
The usual London trips have suddenly become so much more exciting with my realization that soon the city will be full of Christmas markets, lights, ice rinks and all thinks happy and festive.
'Tis (almost) the season!

Good Times in Thailand

Oct 19, 2010

I was still recovering from jet lag from my flight back from Sydney as I headed to the briefing for my next trip. I was headed to Bangkok and despite my extreme lack of energy and therefore motivation, I was looking forward to a few days of fun in Thailand.
We met many interesting people on our flight over. It all began during boarding with the drunk man who asked me on a date as he hiccuped and spent 10 minutes in search of his bag that had been sitting on his seat the entire time. Once he began shouting and insulting the passengers sitting next to him, we offloaded him. There was a total of 1 male crew member on the lower deck, the last thing we needed was an aggressive drunk man to deal with at 40,000 feet. Then there was the man who insisted that the airline should pay for damages to his iPhone... apparently it had been sitting on the tray table and when the passenger in front reclined his seat which in turn sent the phone flying and cracked the screen. There were many, many more strange individuals. I wondered how some people are even capable of getting as far as boarding an aircraft, given the thought that must go into booking flights, checking in, and getting all the way through security to the gates. It remains a mystery to me, all that I do know is that it was a mentally draining flight and we were exhausted by the time that we finally landed in Bangkok.
The rest of the crew headed to their rooms for the mandatory post-flight nap. I opted for caffeine and sat sipping a green tea latte at a coffee shop across the street from the hotel. I browsed the supermarket, picking up some fresh fruit to eat while waiting for the rest of the crew to wake up. A couple of hours later I met up with 3 others, including one crew member on his supy flight. A380 crew are so lucky. My first supy flight was a miserable messy turnaround to Cochin, India... not a nice layover in Thailand. We were starving and set out in search of dinner. I was adamant that we eat Thai food, and slightly disappointment when the others were ready to settle for a less than appealing Italian restaurant. Fortunately I was able to persuade them to continue walking for a bit, and after 5 minutes of walking down a dimly lit side street we came across a cute little restaurant serving Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. I was thrilled as I ordered Pad Thai and Vietnamese salad rolls. 2 of the others were new to the world of Thai food, and I raved on and on about how great it was until they finally sampled my meal and thoroughly agreed that Pad Thai is simply amazing. After a nice dinner and plenty of funny moments, we headed back out in search of dessert. We found it at a small convenience store, where we bought delicious ice cream and happily wandered into the street. We split up as 2 headed back to the hotel and myself and another girl headed for the spa. I'm not typically one to indulge in spa pampering, but I decided to give it a try. After browsing the spa menu we both decided to have facials and were led up to the "Romantic Room", much to our amusement. It was super relaxing and I definitely dozed off a few times as I was pampered. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and I fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning I woke up early to grab some breakfast before my flight. I was quite proud of myself as it seemed I'd finally mastered the art of dodging traffic to cross the street. I grabbed some yummy fresh fruit and headed back to get ready. We were off to Hong Kong for the day, to return to Bangkok later that evening. It was a quick and easy flight and once we'd arrived we were given the option of staying on the aircraft or enjoying the airport lounge. I chose the latter and sat in the airport enjoying complimentary snacks (dim sum!), coffee, and wifi. 4 hours later it was time to head back, and by this time I was feeling quite sleepy. During the flight we had to take our seats for about 15 minutes due to turbulence, and I thought the gentle bumps were going to rock me to sleep. I was relieved to land in Bangkok and convinced that I'd head straight to bed. Once we arrived, however, we discovered a huge celebration in the streets... apparently a significant holiday in the Hindu religion. I met up with 2 other girls interested in seeing what was going on, and we went out into the street that was lit up by thousands of candles and filled with people. The scent of fragrant flowers filled the air, and everyone around seemed very happy. Spotting us as clear outsiders, one man kindly handed us each a fruit, smiling as he greeted us in Thai. We walked for awhile and took in the atmosphere before turning back to finally catch some much needed sleep.
I'd agreed to meet a few girls and the supy guy the next morning to head to the infamous MBK in search of anything and everything that you could ever want to shop for. I headed to the lobby a few minutes early to find supy guy waiting patiently, but nobody else was anywhere to be found. We waited... and waited.. and nobody showed up. Finally too impatient to wait any longer, we hopped in a taxi and chose to go it alone. We arrived at the massive mall and we instantly overwhelmed. Before we could shop, we needed to eat. We found a busy food court and I grabbed some... you guessed it... Pad Thai... for 1/10th of the price that the hotel offered (and that is even with our crew discounted rate). After lunch we spotted a DVD shop and I selected numerous cheap chick flicks to keep me entertained during my days off in Dubai. I was in search of one thing this trip, and I set out on a mission to find it. For months now I've wanted an instant camera. I finally found the one that I wanted and I (okay fine, Supy) negotiated a better price and left the store happy with my new purchase. We wandered the mall with no particular plan, stopping at a Thai-ish shop where he picked up an elephant decoration as a souvenir of his first trip, and I bought a fridge magnet to add to my collection. I also got a few pretty cushion covers since my flatmate is moving out this week and the apartment is looking quite bare since she's packed up her belongings. We searched the busy shops trying to find gifts for our significant others (I've been Christmas shopping for months and so far have absolutely nothing, nor ideas) before leaving empty handed and catching a taxi back to the hotel.
I wasn't quite ready to nap, so I headed back into the streets for a quick walk, stopping to buy some snacks to eat before the flight. I'd had a great couple of days and I didn't particularly want to return to Dubai. I reluctantly packed up and napped before the flight, sad to leave but ready for a few days off to do nothing but sleep.
In the airport I was heartbroken when the crew member in front of me purchased the very last mango sticky rice (my newest Thai obsession) in the shop. I'd been so kind and let others jump in front of me in the passport line, but perhaps next time I'll be a bit more aggressive. I'd been craving it the entire day. I was happy when I found another place selling it, but in a much smaller portion. We flew back to Dubai on a quiet overnight flight, and I headed to bed to sleep for an entire day.
I'm already looking forward to my next trip to Thailand!

Sydney & Auckland, we meet again!

Oct 14, 2010

After a brief illness last month that resulted in me calling in sick for my flight to Sydney, I was excited to finally be returning to the land down under. Nothing was going to stop me this time!
After much procrastination I packed my suitcase, set for 6 whole days far from the Middle East.
As I met the crew, I was pleased to meet another Canadian. As we got to talking, she had a sudden realization. "Are you from Red Deer?" she asked. "Do you write a blog?" I laughed at the randomness of the situation, as she explained that her mom frequently reads my posts... so hello to Kimberly from Vancouver's Mom, thanks for reading! I've tried to convince your daughter to start up her very own blog to keep you updated! There is a strange sudden bond when 2 Canadians meet on the other side of the world. Even more exciting, is when we discover that we are both from Western Canada, unlike most of the others who hail from Toronto. We knew that we'd get along great.
I was in high spirits as we boarded the big bird, and boy would I need them. We were in store for 13 hours of nonstop call bells and passengers that were bottomless pits of hunger. Aside from my mandatory (but far too short) crew rest, I spent the entire flight on my feet. It was 6 am when we landed in Sydney and I felt as if I was sleepwalking through airport customs.
You all know me well enough to know that I wasn't going to let a bit of extreme fatigue stop me from enjoying my day! As the rest of the crew slept, I changed into some comfy clothes and my favorite pair of flip flops and set out for the day. I made a beeline for Gloria Jean's in need of a quick caffeine fix. Realizing that I was hungry and that it was breakfast time, I made my way to McDonald's. I absolutely love McD's breakfast in Australia. For just $3 I grabbed some delicious pancakes and sat down to take advantage of the free wifi to let Ryan know that I'd arrived safely. Of course he already knew, as he has the nerdy habit of tracking my flights... but after a full day in the sky it was nice to talk to him. My caffeine buzz was short lived, so I grabbed another latte for the road and set out for a big day of aimless wandering. I set out towards Kings Cross, taking a photo of the sketchy hostel called "Asylum" where I'd stayed with my friend Jake a few years back. Continuing on, I made my way towards Oxford Street, where I was slightly shocked by the obvious public displays of homosexuality... not because I have a problem with it, but because I live in Dubai, where such things are not tolerated. I react the same way when I see heterosexual couples showing any form of affection beyond hand holding. Life in the Middle East has that affect on a person. It was a bit refreshing to see such an abundance of freedom, and I spent a few minutes reminiscing, missing my oh-so-gay and oh-so-awesome friends back home in Canada. I browsed quirky artsy shops and the Saturday markets as I soaked up the thrills of a westernized society. As I headed back towards the city, I grabbed some sushi and savored every bite.
I happily wandered through the Botanical Gardens, "Awww"-ing at the many weddings taking place. I stopped to smell the roses and take in the views. I sat for awhile watching the world go by around me. Families sat together enjoying picnics and couples strolled hand in hand. I felt a bit envious as I continued walking all by my lonesome. It was Thanksgiving back at home and I knew that most of my friends and family would be enjoying the day surrounded by the people closest to them. I continued walking to forget about my moment of loneliness. Despite my increasing levels of fatigue, I somehow found the energy to decide to trek across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Let me tell you, it's longer than it looks. I snapped far too many photos of the city and the Opera House as I stood high up on the bridge thinking that my life was pretty great.
As I walked back I made my way to Darling Harbour, one of my favorite places in Sydney. In celebration of Thanksgiving, I ordered a turkey sub from Subway. It wasn't the traditional dinner I'd hoped for, but it was turkey and I felt a bit more content. By the time I'd finished eating I was struggling to stay awake, so I decided to return to the hotel. I fell asleep and didn't wake up until early the next morning, when it was time to do it all over again.
I got ready for the next flight... this time to Auckland! I was so excited to be back in chilly New Zealand. I'm not really sure what I love so much about the city. It's typically cool and rainy when I visit, and there isn't a lot that I can do in the short period of time I'm given. For whatever reason, Auckland has won my heart and I spent the evening eating sushi and Subway (I stick to what I know and love) as I walked around the pretty streets. I came across a beautiful park full of old trees, fountains, and cherry blossoms! I took some photos and enjoyed the fresh air and abundance of real live nature. I decided it was time to head back to the hotel. It was early to bed for me, as I knew my body was still trying to recuperate from the lack of sleep the day prior. I slept an amazing 12 hours before waking up feeling great. I even found the motivation to go to the gym! The treadmills had TV's built in and I ran and laughed as I watched "Whose Line is it Anyways?". It had been raining all morning but it had appeared to die down. I grabbed my umbrella and put on some warm clothes as I headed outside. I walked into the city, browsing the shops that had closed the night before. As the rain began pouring down once again, I ran to seek refuge inside a cafe where I ordered the best Chai latte that I've ever drank and tried to warm up. Sadly, my time in Auckland was fast coming to an end and I had to return to the hotel to get ready for my flight back to Sydney.
Back in Australia I went for Subway, yet again. I tried my best to stay awake, knowing that the next day had a long night flight in store for me, but I couldn't do it. I went back to my hotel room and called it a night. I woke up bright and early the next day ready to enjoy the last few hours of my layover. I had been contemplating an early morning walk at Bondi Beach, but I quickly changed my mind when I opened the curtains to discover a rainy day. I took it as a sign to relax as I went for a short walk to Circular Quay for one last look at the Harbour. I ate McDonald's pancakes again and wasted the morning wandering before heading back to my room to sleep before the flight.
14 hours later, I was back in Dubai, dazed and jet lagged. These long trips take a toll on my poor body, but they are worth it!