Sunday, February 24, 2013

Travel: Denver, Colorado to Pune, Maharashtra, India

As I write this blog post I am approximately 7332 miles from home in the Indian city of Pune.   I am only 600 miles away from being on the exact opposite side of the earth from Denver!  (The equitorial diameter of the Earth - distance from one side of the Earth to the other at the equator - is about 7,926 miles.  Of course neither Denver or Pune is at the equator so that calculation is a little bit off.)

It has been a whirlwind of a day getting from Denver to Pune.  I departed the house around 12:00PM Friday afternoon.  The first stop was at Zack's school as he had left some very important homework at home that was due for the last class of the day, so I was determined to drop that off at his school.  After that I headed over to Lisa's house as her youngest son would drive me to the airport so that I won't have to leave my car at the airport for the entire time that I was gone.

Picking up Lisa's son we headed out on E470 and made a quick trip to the airport.  Nothing amazing about that drive, but I really have to say that I am pleased at how quickly they are building the Denver to DIA railroad.  It seems like the work on the rail line began just yesterday but I guess it started well over a year ago.  It is just remarkable to see it taking shape and realize that in the not too distance future (2015) we will finally have a rail link to the airport! 

Arriving at the airport the real commute to India began.  My itinerary for this trip would take me on Lufthansa to Frankfurt and then from Frankfurt directly into Pune.  There was no line at the Lufthansa counter and the check-in process was quick and efficient.  Given my desire to travel lightly, I had only carry-on luggage so there was no need for me check anything.  I was pleasantly surprised to find my seat, though not great was not as bad as was indicated on my itinerary.  According to my itinerary my seat was assigned as 59B which is the absolute last row of a 747.  Instead I ended up with seat 28B, which was a bulkhead seat.  This was a much better seat than 59B!  With travel documents printed I was on my way across the bridge to concourse A.

The security checkpoint was a bit backed up but even still it only took me 10 minutes to clear security.  This gave me enough time to grab some food.  Nothing too healthy mind you, as I grabbed a McDonald's cheeseburger and a Coke.  It was the first food I had eaten all day so I was a tab bit hungry.  To make my trip easier I started the meal off with a half a sleeping pill so that I would sleep as soon as I got on the airplane.  The sleeping pill was very effective as I started to feel sleepy and groggy even before the airplane boarded!

Once on board the flight I was pleasantly surprised to find that the seat to my left, the window seat was empty.  Given the empty seat as soon as boarding was complete I moved over and took the window seat.  Even though I was flying coach having that extra space would make the difference between an annoying and a comfortable flight!

I really don't remember much of the flight to Frankfurt as I slept almost the whole time.  I woke for the serving of the first meal and I ate that.  After the meal I promptly went back to sleep and slept for the majority of the flight.  All the commotion of the flight attendants getting the cabin ready for landing woke me up as we approached Frankfurt.  Though it was almost 9:00AM in Frankfurt the skies were grey and sullen - it looked to be a foul day.  Despite the gray skies the landing was smooth.  The plane taxied around for a very long time before finally coming to a stop at a remote parking site.  Moveable stairs were brought up and we deplaned to the tarmac and waiting buses.

The bus ride to the terminal was interesting!  It seemed that the driver took us on a scenic tour of the whole airport.  The most interesting aspect of the drive is what I called "Big Airplane Row".  At one point we drove past a row of at least 8 Lufthansa jumbo jets.  The first 2 airplanes in the row were Airbus A380s the double deck behemoth of the airplane world.  The next 3 airplanes were 747's and the remaining 3 were 777's.  I don't know that I have ever seen such a gathering of jumbo jets all in a row before.  It was an amazing sight!

Once we finally got deposited at the terminal it was time to find someplace to hang out for the next several hours.  I contemplated going out through customs and leaving the airport, but based upon the extent of the crappy weather I decided against it.  Instead I went through the security that you must go through to get to the rest of the airport and found a place to get some food.  I ended up at a McDonald's that overlooks the main part of the Frankfurt International Terminal.  I got a sandwich and then settled down to read my book - "Kim" by Ruyard Kipling.  The wait in Frankfurt seemed pretty long but in fact it was only about 5 hours hours when you added it all up.  

The flight out of Frankfurt to Pune was going to be unusual as it was the first time I had ever flown a 737 on such a long flight.  The flight is a Lufthansa flight but it is operated by a much smaller airline that specializes in business jets, called PrivatAir.

Upon boarding the airplane it was quick to see why a company such as PrivatAir was operating the flight.  The 737 was configured with over half the airplane being business class seating.  The first 14 rows of the aircraft were all much larger seats and only 2 seats on each side of the aisle.  There were only 10 rows of "normal" 737 seating of 3 x 3 seats.  Of course I was in one of those 10 rows - in fact I was in the middle seat of the very last row.

Overall it was not a bad flight at all.  As soon as I sat down on the flight I took another Ambien and after a very short time I was sound asleep.  Due to the snow it was necessary for the aircraft to go through the deicing processing.  I remember the start of the deicing but then I was sound asleep until the flight attendants were coming around to hand out dinner.  Since I was in the last row we didn't get a choice of meals and I ended up with an Indian vegetarian meal.  It wasn't too bad at all!

The flight was a little bumpy but it was so nice to sleep through the vast majority of it.  Landing in Pune was a breeze due to the size of the airport.  It is small and as soon as we landed we were at the gate.  The customs and immigration were quite easy as ours was the only flight at the airport and before you knew it I was out on the street looking for my driver.   Once again due to the small size of the airport, I quickly found my driver and was on the way to the hotel.

The hotel is great!  It is nice, comfortable and very clean.  Last time I was in Pune I stayed in another hotel but for my next trip I won't consider any other place than this hotel - The Hyatt Regency Pune.

Though I am posting this blog on Sunday night Denver time, it is already Monday morning for me and I am just about to go into the office.  Sunday was a total and complete wastoid day for me as I slept a ton and just kept to myself.  I met with my boss and one of my colleagues for dinner but that was the only thing of significance I did all day.

If I have more time I will provide some more updates while I am here in India.  Hopefully, I'll get a chance to take a few pictures and post them here to the blog.

Hope you all have a great week a head.  And for those of you in Denver - stay warm and out of the snow!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.


Mony said...

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