A taste of Africa and a 747 virgin

July 14, 2008 4 Comments A+ a-

Delayed a few hours by the maintenance issue, our Frankfurt-bound passengers boarded and settled in quickly. This is no small feat when you consider that this plane, which was full, had 14 Flight Attendants and 347 people! Once we pushed back from the gate and started taxiing out to the runway, our Captain made an announcement that while were #2 for departure behind an Aer Lingus flight, we would have to sit and wait: the computers that handle air traffic in Canada had gone down. Flights to Europe use Canadian airspace as they navigate the Great Circle Route. We probably waited an additional 45 minutes with THAT issue! Thankfully, the flight itself was uneventful.

Uneventful is good...but it was a big learning experience for me. Having never flown on a 747, I was a bit in awe of the size of this behemoth! Having never been to Frankfurt, I was excited. And, I flew with four of my classmates from training, so it was like "old home week" with them!

I worked the "Galley Assist" position both ways--the Galley is where I really like to be. The Aft Purser was Jason, and I know him from training as well--he was one of our Instructors. Besides being a cool guy, Jason was very helpful in showing me the ropes as we worked together.

Since we were several hours delayed in our departure, Jason decided to forego the first beverage service and simply get everyone fed, since they were probably starving at this point. Working the Galley to feed 260 people in the economy section (aka "The Village") is something to behold. We had to get everyone fed their "chicken or beef" or their special order meals, in a short amount of time--as well as sending out separate beverage carts. It was poetry in motion with Jason's direction.

Cleaning up this number of meal trays and managing the trash that accompanies all this on an airplane with limited space is a science. We stuff cans here, flatten bottles there--every cart on the aircraft ends up stuffed to the gills with trash by the time we land. (I wonder if I can add "Trash Management" as a skill set on my resume?)

Despite the departure delays, our passengers left happy. (A shout out to Carina's Mom and Dad from LA, who kept me laughing on the trip!)

We arrived at our hotel, which is in the downtown area--it is a really nice hotel and they treated us very well there. My room was really modern: low, sleek bed; funky chairs and--you can't see it in the pictures--but there are little blue lights that outline the top of the closet door--very cool decor. (It's not a Holiday Inn, okaaayyy??)




























Shawn, Imed and I walked over to a grocery store a few blocks away and picked up some snacks and adult beverages. Smart people, those Germans--they charge for each grocery bag you use. Most people bring their own bags--I saw a big canvas duffel bag and a roll-a-board suitcase being stuffed with groceries. We had to cough up the .20 Euro for a bag to carry our stuff back in.

This is the area near the grocery store...that is a big train station on the left.

We had a short "debrief" in one of the Flight Attendant's rooms--a couple of glasses of wine and I was ready to go to bed! I woke up a few hours later when Kim, one of the senior mamas, called me and was ready to go on the hunt for dinner. A quick shower and we met in the hotel bar to decide where we were going. Shawn joined us there, and we met another Flight Attendant, Javier, who had brought in the later flight from Washington. We decided we wanted German food for dinner.

The German restaurant the crews like to go to is across the street from the hotel. Unfortunately for us, the couple that runs it was on a cruise, and it was closed. (Fortunate for them, though!!) So, when in Germany, when one can't get the authentic German food one wants, one automatically thinks of...what else? African food!

We ran into a couple of people from our crew that were just coming back from dinner--and they highly recommended Im Herzen Afrikas. So, off we went, about four blocks from the hotel, to this place.

Through one of the doors, when you enter, the floor is covered in sand. Where we entered, it was not. The decor is very African-chic--and very comfortable. Seating areas are around tables with big pillows--very easy for conversations. There was a bed-like loft/table for two near us. Add a DJ playing cool background music and a bongo-drum player--it was fabulous!

We ordered the all-you-can-eat combo for 10 Euros each. This dish arrived looking like something I had never seen: a huge platter, covered with a sombrero type cover. The waitress took the cover off and the platter had 6-7 smaller bowls surrounding a small green salad. She showed us that we needed to dump all the bowls onto the platter. The bowls had seasoned beef, a couple of different kinds of lentils, spinach, lamb--I'm not sure what everything was. She also brought out tortilla-like bread (but much softer, sweeter, and pliable.) We then used the bread to dip, bundle, pinch, or roll up the food. (I think this was Ethiopian style food, by the way.) All four of us loved every bit of the dinner. It was fun to eat, and the entire setting lent itself for conversation and fun and friendship.






Here's the dish as Kim was taking a bite.





Me, Javier, and Kim



Shawn, Kim, and Javier



Shawn and Javier











We had a lovely, lovely time and finished up with after dinner drinks outside. It was definitely a night I won't forget--we had so much fun! It was a nice mix of people with a great restaurant!

The next morning, we loaded up and headed back to the airport. We picked up an "extra stew" from our Frankfurt base, since we were flying on the newly reconfigured 747 for the return. This plane holds 374 people-with 310 back in the village.

Feeding a hot meal and a cold drink in a short amount of time to 310 people on an airplane is not simply a procedure--it is an operation! Jason and I kept the same positions we had on the first leg, and we did even better in the galley, now that we both knew how we worked together. We had a great time getting it done...but, an extra 50 people makes a huge, huge difference in how it all plays out. And, omigawd! The rows of people never seem to end! (Nor do the lines for the lavatories!) Anyway, we all knocked out both services and had fun while doing it.

Towards the end of the flight, there was a little incident with a tray of sodas. I'm going to try and explain this so it makes sense.

This is a tray of sodas. Notice the three cans on the left laying on their sides. This is how the trays are given to us from the caterers. I never understood why they did this--why not just stand up the cans and fill it up with a couple of extra sodas???








This is a carrier box. It is about 18 inches wide and 30 inches tall. It holds four trays of sodas. See these little metal tray-holder-rung-thingees in the carrier box? You slide the trays onto each one of them.

Being Miss Smarty-Pants, I decided to turn the three soda cans laying on their sides up, and add a couple more soda cans to the tray--to use my space wisely, of course.

(Okay, Flight Attendant readers--quit laughing. I know that you know what's coming next!)



So, I am loading a tray of sodas into the bottom of the empty carrier box. Let me just mention that if I shove the tray into the bottom of the carrier box with all my might and the cans have no place to go, the next higher rung will puncture or slice a few of the sodas in the filled-up-too-tightly-tray. And, the punctured cans will spew forth a great amount of sugary syrup with additional force because the plane is pressurized to 8,000 feet. And the aforementioned spew will end up all over the face, hair and uniform of the tray-shover. Moi. I was a mess! Lesson learned, I promise!!

Now I am home, after crawling in bed at 9 p.m. last night. Anyone that knows me knows how unusual that is--I am so much a night owl! Anyway, I was wide awake at 3 this morning, and forced myself to stay in bed until just before Norm had to get up at 6:30. The Crew Desk can't work me until late this afternoon, and my bet is that they won't be calling me today--there aren't many trips today, and I am at the bottom of the list of 50 Flight Attendants. But, I am "good" for the next couple of days, so, I guess I need to wash my uniform!

Update:

The Crew Desk just called. (Why didn't you tell me to quit thinking I was going to have the day off???) They are sending me to Sacramento tonight, layover for 15 hours, and work back to Washington through Chicago tomorrow. I get back to Washington at 1 o'clock in the morning on Wednesday.
Blondie

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DUNCAN
AUTHOR
July 14, 2008 at 12:00 PM delete

We just had one of your f/a's non-reving on us the other day. She was real nice and we put her up front and took car of her. But she said your crew desk is in India, is that true?....If so how can they run the operation from another country during adverse conditions such as a weather problem somewhere?

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Blondie
AUTHOR
July 14, 2008 at 12:06 PM delete

She was full of crap--our Crew Desk is in ORD. I was just there two months ago right before we left training. We have a Flight Attendant Service Center that is in the Phillipines. They take care of stuff that can be handled on a phone call--sick leave, benefits, password/computer issues.

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Heather
AUTHOR
July 14, 2008 at 6:55 PM delete

So.... you had little Jason as an instructor?? I met him when he was a wet behind the ears 19 year old. Ask him about diamond backs and sidewinders. he will have you crying!!

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Tracy
AUTHOR
July 23, 2008 at 11:24 PM delete

LOL! Your soda "incident" is hilarious! I can just see you! LMAO!

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