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.

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.

LJ Pic of the Day (or, Ljubljana airport shuttle)

So I stuck my head out the kitchen window yesterday afternoon and saw some guy in the building across the street masturbating. His first floor window was wide open, curtains fluttering in the breeze, and he spanking his monkey in front of his computer screen, for all those above him across the street to see. My building has 10 stories.

But that’s not why I’m writing.

Today’s Ljubljana Pic of the day is the Adria Girl, the poster girl for Slovenia’s national airline. It was taken at the Transport Markun airport shuttle stop, located just a stone’s throw westward from the main train/bus station. Rides are just 5 EUR each way, not much more expensive than the bus, which runs much less frequently. For an extra 4 EUR, they’ll pick you up/drop you off wherever you want to go. As a point of reference, taxi fare from Ljubljana’s center to the airport can range from 30 to 50 EUR.

The current departure schedule from the center (travel time 25-30 min):
5:20, 6:15, 9:00, 10:25, 12:15, 14:00, 15:30, 17:00, 18:00 and 22:30. The timetable is also online with a listing of departures from Ljubljana’s Pucnik (formerly Brnik) airport.

I’ve never had any major problems, but there are occasions where the vans fill up quickly at the airport, so you can reserve a spot in advance.

And yes, all women in Slovenia look just like her. Just ask my neighbor across the street.

adria_girl, originally uploaded by pirano.

Ta-ta Ryanair, ciao Wizz

Well, that was fast.

Just six months after beginning service from Maribor, Slovenia’s second city, to London Stansted, it looks as though Ryanair is abandoning the route. Bookings can still be made through 27-March.

It’s not a total loss. Ryanair is one of the Europe’s least loved budget airlines, is notorious for its hidden costs, fleeces customers with its own unique brand of currency conversion, and apparently lists ‘surly’ as a requirement for their cabin crews. [Check out Ryanair Campaign for plenty of testimonials and this tidbit about Ryanair’s surcharge for passengers traveling with excess ‘emotional baggage’.]

Meanwhile, Wizz Air, the Hungary-based airline, flew it’s last Brussels-Charleroi flight out of Ljubljana on the 14th. There’s no word on whether service will be resumed. Slovenian dailies Delo and Vecer both reported last week that Wizz Air is looking into filling the void in Maribor.

Did I do something wrong?

About an hour after an interesting discussion Sunday afternoon about the charges brought against Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk –more about what the Nobel prize winner called a “freedom of expression issue” here– I tried to log on to this blog at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport and this is what I saw:

2007-08-19_190153-pirancafeatataturkairport-500.jpg

No, the locals aren’t just picking on me. Apparently all wordpress sites have been blocked in Turkey. Anyone know exactly what set this off?

Updated: This was a quite recent development. No time to expand, but the reason is provided here [http://wordpress.com/blog/2007/08/19/why-were-blocked-in-turkey/], along with a lengthy debate.