A New Chapter.

Sep 7, 2010

August seemed like the month that would never end. After a couple of weeks at the Training College followed by a week of downtime, I was looking forward to a new month on a new aircraft. After 3 weeks on ground it was finally time for me to take to the skies once again.
The night before my trip to London, I sat awake in bed, unable to fall asleep. I was excited for a new chapter of my flight attendant career. The A380 is the newest and the most advanced aircraft in existence, and I was about to become one of the very few privileged enough to call it my office. In equal proportion to my excitement was my nervousness. While over 10,000 crew work on the main fleet, only 1,500 work on the A380. There are crew that I have flown with that I'll likely never see again in my entire life, but on this new fleet, everyone knows everyone, and nobody knows me. Would they accept me into their close-knit "family"? I felt like a child on the first day of school in a small town.
With only 4 hours of sleep I reluctantly left my apartment at 5 in the morning. Upon arriving in the briefing room, I was overwhelmed as the crew excitedly chatted and enthusiastically greeted one another. Once I'd announced that it was my very first flight, I was cheerfully welcomed to the team. As we stepped onboard I knew I'd made the right decision. Everyone was so helpful and friendly when it came to my many questions. When it came to the service, it was no different than the main fleet, my only struggle was locating items in the galley. The aircraft is beautiful, and passengers continuously asked questions about the capacity and the much talked about shower spas. For the first time in awhile I felt very proud to have my job.
We landed in London and I was looking forward to getting to my hotel and grabbing a much needed cup of coffee. The rest of the crew appeared to be just as exhausted, and we all groaned in frustration when we were informed that we had been selected for a baggage check. Each and every one of us stood in line as customs officials opened and searched our handbags, cabin bags, and suitcases. For 26 crew, it was no quick task. We were finally sent on our way, much later than anticipated.
From what I'd heard, the majority of the crew had planned to stay in the hotel and spend their layover sleeping. Of course, this was simply not acceptable for me. I washed off my makeup, changed into a pair of jeans and set out with my camera in hand. At the concierge desk I bumped into two other crew members who were also planning on heading to the city. I was a bit relieved and decided to take the train with them, as the London Tube system is not the easiest to navigate. While we waited for a bus, we ran into some of the others who were headed out for dinner. Among them was Mohamed from Egypt, who reconsidered his plans after hearing that we were headed into the city. In 5 years of flying he'd yet to see it. He decided to tag along with us, and we headed off to the station. Heathrow Airport is a fair distance from the city. We fought to keep our eyes open on the long train ride. I didn't really have a plan, aside from finding the nearest Starbucks and taking photos. I'd been to the tourist sights, so I had planned on separating from the others as they went to do the mandatory sightseeing. However, my fatigue and lack of ambition convinced me to stick with them instead of worrying about getting lost trying to make it back to the hotel later on. Knowing that I'd be returning to London at the end of the month, I decided to play tour guide this trip. We got off the train at the station near the Tower Bridge. I remembered my first trip to London and the excitement I'd had seeing the touristy landmark, but this time it was outweighed by my joy in seeing the green umbrellas of a Starbucks down the street. I'd made it very clear that as soon as I spotted it, I was running for a caffeine fix, so the others followed along as I happily stood in line. Satisfied and caffeinated, we walked to get the best view of the bridge.
Tragedy struck when Lin realized that she had forgotten a memory card for her camera. It was her very first layover, and such an event really puts a damper on the excitement. Despite ensuring her that I'd send her all of the photos and forcing her to pose in front of double decker buses and inside telephone booths, she was still upset and the girls decided to set out in search of a store that would sell a card. I found myself alone with Mohamed, who was up for going anywhere. Knowing full well that he'd likely never venture this far from the hotel again, I felt it my mission to show him as much of London as I could in the short period of time.
We hopped back on the Tube and I expertly navigated the way to Big Ben. Clearly impressed, he posed in front of the giant clock tower as I took his photo. He didn't have a camera with him... something unimaginable for me. I rarely leave the house without at least my small camera. We walked alongside the River Thames, passing by the London Eye and flocks of tourists. By this point we were absolutely starving, so we set off in search of dinner. We stopped at the first place we found that looked appealing.. a cute little place called "Enough to Feed an Elephant!". The name seemed appropriate for my level of hunger. I chose a giant jacket potato (that's baked potato to us Canadian folk), loaded with cheese and broccoli. Accustomed to Ramadan in Dubai, I felt so free being able to eat in public in broad daylight.
My lack of sleep was catching up to me, and we both decided that we'd begin to make our way back to the hotel for an early night. On the way to the station I stopped several times for more photos of Big Ben, despite having photographed the exact same thing many times before. With every few feet, I saw it from a different angle, and I couldn't possibly just keep walking!
The train was packed, and I was a bit intimidated by the fact that Mohamed had put all of his trust in me to find our way back to the hotel. Fortunately, I'd jumped on the right train and we safely made it back just as the sun was setting.
I relaxed in a hot bubble bath and then crawled into bed. It was only 8 pm, but I couldn't possibly stay awake any longer. I dozed off, and slept until 8 the next morning!
I felt great, and my body was thanking me for the much needed rest. I packed up my suitcase to return to Dubai. Normally I hate leaving, but I'd had such a great flight on the way that I was looking forward to boarding the big bird once again!
And so I flew back to the desert after a great mini-getaway. It's good to be back!


dianna said...

Once again excellant blob. Love reading about all your exciting trips. Keep writing!!! Love Gram

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