Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012 – Venice, Italy – Cloudy, Rainy - 50sF

Distance from Koper to Venice, Italy: 88 Nautical Miles

Beat the wakeup call set for 6 AM by about an hour and cancelled it to give our neighbors a few minutes more of sleep.  We are on an 8:00 AM Airport Shuttle so we need to get ourselves ready to go.

Breakfast in the Oceanview Cafe – as was the case last time – is relatively light.  Some cold cereal – my new favorite since yesterday – a plain waffle and breakfast is done.

At 7:55 AM we went to the Opus Dining room to wait for our shuttle.  As we show up at the door, our group is already leaving –6 5 minutes before the assembly time. 

Disembark in Venice (Small)

Disembarking the Reflection

We ran down to the luggage claim area and find only one of our suitcases – the other one is in the orphan area – somehow the hard to rip off tag was gone.  The ride to Marco Polo is about 30 minutes so when we arrive we have about an hour before we can check in (three hours before departure).  All in all, about four hours of waiting in a place known for its wall to wall waiting people.

 Chaos at Marco Polo Airport (Small) 

While waiting for our departure, I noticed a sleek silver Aeroflot aircraft – the Russians have augmented their “fleet” of jets with the latest model of Airbus or Boeing (below).

Aeroflot gets modern (Small)

BA597 – an Airbus A319 painted a strange orange color and designated “Firefly” – boards on time and departs on time. 

 BA579 Firefly (Small)

The two hour flight is pretty smooth even over the Italian Alps.  The holding pattern involves only 10 minutes and three circuits in the parking lot in the sky and we are in Terminal 5.  We have to take the transit to Terminal 5 B Gates for our connecting flight but the train ride is quick and easy.

Our flight to Chicago – BA297 – is due to depart at 6:15 Local time so we are now at Gate 45 catching up on the travel blog (real time).

 BA297 Ready to Go (Small)

Our 777-200 is ready to go

Best of all, Heathrow has installed “European” plugs on its charging station, which are rare and dispersed throughout the terminals.  This is the first time I have been able to charge anything at Heathrow. 

The flights takes off on time and the best thing is there no one sitting in the middle seat in either my group or Ellen’s.  They are the only unoccupied middle seats in coach.  Amazing.  Our meals were very good - “Shepherd’s Pie (ground beef covered with mashed potatoes” for Lunch and Egg Salad sandwiches for Dinner.  BA has the best meals.  I also had some white wine (complimentary on BA – are you listening, US Carriers?). 

The flight was relatively smooth except for some serious chop over the Atlantic – the pilot actually had to climb to 38,000 feet to find some smooth air. 

When the fellow in the window seat got up, I was able to shoot some pictures out of the window.  We were flying in constant sunset with a neat blue glow on the horizon.  The first picture is midway across the Atlantic and the second is nearing the coast of North America.

Over the midAtlantic (Small) Neraring North American Coast (Small)

I watched two movies - “Total Recall” (great) and “Iron Man 2” (silly) and started to watch “American Reunion”. 

Once on this side of the pond, the flight was smooth all the way into Chicago.  We landed on time, spent a long time in Passport Control, found our luggage right away, and our cab was prompt in picking us up.

Bottom Line:  A lot of rain in the first cruise but the good weather on the second cruise and fine dinner service and entertainment made for nice cruises overall.

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