Final approach to Ushuaia

Ushuaia: The Final Approach to the End of the World

Final approach to Ushuaia

If you were looking for some quick video footage illustrating what it’s like to land at the end of the world, you’re welcome. :)

Ushuaia, Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego, is at 54°48′S latitude the southernmost city in the world. Nestled between the Beagle Channel to the south and the Andes’ Martial range to the north, it’s also a beautiful place to land. Enjoy.

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I was playing with the low light photo settings on my video camera earlier this evening, mainly to see if I could get a somewhat adequate shot of the brilliantly colored rings around the moon. All those attempts failed miserably but I did like this shot when an airplane decided to whiz by.


Ljubljana, 10-Oct-2011

Following the Grimsvotn ash cloud

I have quite a few flights scheduled over the next 10 days so am trying to watch the Grimsvotn ash cloud closely.

Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, is doing a pretty good job with updates via twitter. Check it out.

500 flights have been cancelled today, primarily in UK and northern Germany. To give that number some context, about 29,000 flights operate in Europe on an average day.

The Haunting by Robert Longo, originally uploaded by pirano.

Four hours to kill at Vienna Airport?

There’s only one reasonable option, the delightfully Austrian-sounding Wine & More.

wines & more - but the wine is enough

It’s a comfortable and snazzy wine, cheese and specialty food shop/café with a decent sized offering of wines by the glass. I tried three but only took notes on two cuvees:

Reinisch Reserve 2007 – A cabernet sauvignon/merlot blend from the Johanneshof Reinisch Estate, located just 30 km south of Vienna in the village of Tattendorf. It’s a beautiful shade of ruby, with blackberry on the nose and delightfully chocolaty on the finish. Well-balanced and slightly edgy tannins give it some backbone to store well for the next few years. That’s what I convinced myself when I decided to take a bottle home. Reinisch is particularly known as one this area’s best red wine producers. Their website is here.

Gesselman Opus Eximium 2007 Cuvee No. 20 – This was certainly more ‘Austrian’ in style, given its composition: 60% blaufrankisch, 20% St. Laurent and 20% zweigelt. These aren’t reds you see everyday – unless you’re regularly passing through eastern Slovenia, western Hungary or southeastern Austria. But they do work together exceptionally well. More on Gesselman is here.

Oh, and there’s also a little smoking booth inside, a clean one, where you can enjoy your over-priced Monte Cristo.

In transit, Riyadh

Lufthansa 0620 from Frankfurt to Doha stops in Riyadh in late evening. It’s when most of the passengers end their journey.

The last drink service is about an hour before landing. Some thirty minutes after that flight attendants roll their carts down the aisles to collect all alcoholic beverages, whether the passenger nursing the drink is deplaning or not. We’re reminded that booze is strictly forbidden in the Saudi Kingdom. Even on planes that sit on runways for about forty minutes.

A few rows ahead of me, a woman dressed in jeans and a Gap sweatshirt gets up to go to the restroom after surrendering her half-finished glass of red wine. She returns a few minutes later wearing a dark, long, flowing abaya with an equally stylish shayla wrapped around and fully concealing her long black hair.

On the return midnight flight, I was already dozing as we approached the Saudi capital, just thirty minutes after leaving Doha. An attendant nudged me gently and pointed to the seatback pocket in front of me.

“Are there any pictures of women in lingerie or bathing suits in there?”

I had no idea what she was talking about and don’t recall ever being asked such a question.

She pointed again, but this time poked a finger at my mangled copy of the Herald Tribune. Those too, she told me, are forbidden in the Kingdom. Even in transit.

I honestly can’t answer. “I don’t think so, but I don’t really know.”

She took the newspaper and stowed in the overhead compartment.

“Just in case,” she said. “You can read it later.”

redhead 03, originally uploaded by pirano.

Germanwings coffee

Isn’t really all that good. But how important are onboard purchase to these low budget carriers’ bottom lines? According to a story in its in-flight magazine glorifying its bistro selection, GW sells, on average, 400,000 to 450,000 cups per year at €2.60 a pop, totaling €1,040,000 to 1,170,000 ($1,458,420 to 1,640,723).

Ometepe, originally uploaded by pirano.