As it turned out, my flight to IAD left at the same pier A as my arriving flight from VCE. But this is no consolation: gate A56 is upstairs in the long distance area, whilst gate A28 is downstairs in the Schengen area. The escalator connecting the two is cordoned off for “security reasons”, so this means a long trudge to the head of the pier, up a flight of stairs , through pasport control and a long trudge back again!!! Germanic efficiency is losing its famed touch!

Security is relatively relaxed, I meet my colleague Andrea who has come in from a Milan flight. Again, the flight to Washington is full – evidently the airline cuts have resulted in a higher passenger load.

Usual high LH standards aboard – a prime reason why I choose this airline over another. After take off we are served lunch – I choose the Gravlax with Coriander Ginger Mayo and smoked trout tartare as a starter, the Gravlax is fine, but I would much rather have a Hovmästersäs with dill instead of the mayo as a side. As a wine, I select the 2001 Riesling Schossgut Diel – a fine wine with appley flavour, but I would really have preferred something drier with the salmon.

As a main course, I select an excellent lamb medaillon with herb crust accompanied by ratatouille and potato dumplings (= gnocchi in Italian!). The lamb is very tender and tasty, but the wine, the wine – a superb 2000 Stellenzicht Stellenbosch really gets the ticket! Michelin would say “it’s worth a journey”. Let me quote the blurb accompanying the wine: “the deep red ruby colour of this Cabernet Sauvignon and its exotic bouquet with predominant aroma of blackcurrants and mulberries make it a very pleasurable wine. The elegant oak tones and a long finish complete the picture”.

What really completes the picture for me is the Taylors Port to accompany the Gingerbread Mousse Basel-style and Fig compote, followed by a delectable Kirsch……..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Somewhere over Chicoutimi, Québec, I get prodded awake – it’s mealtime again! Jeez, I was sleeping soundly! With an admirable spirit of self-abnegation, I decline the meal, and settle for a glass of mineral water!

Flight time FRA-IAD: 8h35min. I arrive in Washington at 15:55 = 21:55 CET. A cloudy autumn day, 14C. No sign of Bush’s pad out of the window. Lots of United jets on the tarmac, must be one of their hubs. An hour or so to rush for the Vegas flight. Let’s hope we make it through customs and immigration in time!

AAARGH! The immigration queue was *miles* long! No amount of entreaties could convince the guys that we were in a hurry to get a connection. Final result – our bags make the flight to LAS, but we have a gate door slammed in front of our very eyes!

UA rebooks us to Vegas via Denver. It ends up that we should arrive in Vegas two hours later than we expected. It’s now 00:00 CET, I’m still on the East coast, I have a nose bleed, there are no biz class seats and I’m pissed off!

A lunch box is served aboard. I peruse the contents: a bag of tortilla chips (“perfect for dipping” – but no dip!), a bread roll with “honey roasted turkey and American cheese” (dry as a bone), a sachet of mayonnaise (presumably to relieve the dryness), a tub of vanilla pudding.

Flight time IAD-DEN 3h10min. Arrival at 19:40 local = 03:40 CET. My eyelids are drooping…..

DEN is at 1,650 mt. above sealevel -we’re now on the Eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains (sadly invisible in the darkness). Supposedly one of the world’s largest airports by area. Curious terminal building with a roof like a circus tent. Not that I care much – at this point I’d rather have a bed!!

On to my fourth flight of the day: DEN-LAS is 1h50min. Travel in so-called “First Class” – all you get is a couple of cans of Heineken and a sachet of peanuts! And then the airlines wonder why people aren’t travelling any more…

Finally get in to Vegas at 21:30 = 6:30 CET. Just about time for you folks back home in Europe to get up!! The airport halls and baggage claim areas are alive to the sound of the slot machines, welcoming the first punters. Quick drive by shuttle bus to Bally’s Hotel and I’m now ready to straight to my king-size bed!


Looooong day flying today – a trip to the USA beckons! I set off through the usual morning traffic to Venice airport – a full hour and a half is required – I’m always disconcerted when about 10 minutes after take-off I see my town and house below on the right. Think of the time wasted! I could use a company ‘copter instead!

Disorienting arrival at VCE. They inaugurated a new terminal last July and this is my first time here. The car park remains next to the old terminal, so I have to hike a while before I get to check-in. The new terminal is supposedly modelled on old Venetian warehouses. Lots of glass, a zigzag roof.

The LH A320 is full! A cold collation is served over Innsbruck: asparagus, smoked chicken breast, sausage, jumbo shrimp, a Kartoffelsalat, mustard mayo. Two Lindt chocs. A Gerolsteiner Sprudel and a nice Chilean white wine. Didn’t see the label, but quite possibly a Chardonnay! Flight time to Frankfurt – 1h05, we are slightly late on departure, I’ll probably have to rush for the connecting flight to Washington – most likely on the furthest possible pier with the longest security queue…..


Another grey and wet day. I have the flight out at 16:00, but there’s a few meetings before that! We quickly meet a guy in a hotel just off the Dublin ring road, then we’re off to the countryside! Destination: Drumshanbo, co. Leitrim. I have difficulty locating it on a map, it’s way out in the sticks, almost by Sligo/Sligeach on the west coast. About 200 km. from Dublin. In weird Irish fashion, distances are shown in km, but speed limits are in miles! Confusion reigns.

We drive past flat countryside, much like rural England: green fields, hedgerows, grazing sheep and cattle. Several lakes (locally known as loughs) dot the scenery. Many road improvement projects financed by the EU regional development fund. No wonder many Irish are against EU expansion (and there will be a referendum on the Nice treaty in a couple of weeks) – they would lose out to the countries east!

I am told that the best scenery in Ireland is to be had in the South West – wild coastline, country pubs, friendly locals. But the cost per person for a B&B is now around EUR 40! Will hence give Ireland a miss for holidaying unless I travel in a motorhome or something.

Meeting with customer in Drumshanbo, then back down to Dublin just in time to catch Ryanair to Standsted and then to Treviso!


A grey drizzly day. Ok, the Emerald Isle must get rain to stay green I suppose….

My MII’s family problems have caused disarray in the trip. Ivan (despite the Russian name, he is a genuine Irishman) tries to reorganise visits and make sense of the intended schedule. We visit a few accounts dispersed around Dublin in dreary industrial estates. There is no big deal to be done on this visit: this is a “distributor support” trip – a chance to talk shop, discuss possible new business areas, and a chance for the distributor to wheel me in to a few people to show what a fine company he is representing. They supposedly like this kind of treatment!

At one point we pass through Phoenix Park – a vast green area in Dublin. The presidential palace is located there, with the American ambassador’s residence just in front. A large cross nearby marks the spot of a Papal Mass a few years ago.

I am fascinated by the bilingual English/Irish road signs: Dublin/Baile Atha Cliath – Cork/Corcaigh. The roots of the Irish language are way unfamiliar tro me!

I have to arrange my own evening meal as Ivan has another meeting. It is raining. I am tired. I elect to dine at the hotel bar: steak and chips and a couple of pints of Guinness. Nothing worth writing home about…


Ryanair gets me to Dublin in a B737 decidedly older than the Treviso-Stansted leg, with a far narrower seat pitch. But the flight is only one hour, so no big deal. DUB is a 1970’s concrete style airport in need of extensive renovation: this is in fact taking place, hanging ceiling fixtures and missing floor panels testify to this, but certainly do not give a good impression to the first-time visitor.

I exit the customs area; my Man In Ireland is not there – after a while, I spot his boss, named Ivan. He bears bad news: apparently MIIs father in law is gravely ill, so he cannot meet me. The visit plan has to be rescheduled and Ivan will now take care of me. No matter: Ivan is an urbane 35 year old, he drives me to my hotel in an industrial area outside Dublin, a standard British style establishment with thick red carpet and a tea-making apparatus in the room. On the way, I remark on the M25 style traffic jam on the Dublin ring road (the M50) and the fact that the Irish drive on the wrong side of the road.

I glance at the name tag of the hotel receptionist: he is called Iqbal. His colleague is Siobhan. The global village has arrived in Ireland too!

We start the evening well: a couple of pints of Guinness in the hotel bar. We then get a taxi to the town centre about 20 minutes down the road. No great sights: apparently Dublin has no cathedral as expected in a Catholic capital city. The town center regretfully resembles that of Birmingham: a few Georgian style civic buildings left over from the colonial past and a dilapidated, now being renovated city centre area known as Temple Bar. Apparently there are green squares further on, but I don’t see them.

We dine at a modern restaurant, designer lighting, designer furniture and matching designer prices. But the food is excellent: I choose a Guinness organic beef stew with root vegetables and expect a Shepherd’s Pie sort of thing, but no! I am served a delicious bowl of tasty, tender meat chunks in a beer jus, with a side of potato purée and a golden brown croûte. A good Spanish merlot to drink and a lime and chocolate cheesecake to finish. Ivan generously takes care of the designer bill.

Some typical Irish entertainment follows: we go to Fitzsimmons pub, featuring a Man U vs. Everton match showing at a wide screen video at one end and an Irish folk group at the other end playing on the tin whistle, fiddle, guitar and banjo, with a foursome of tap-dancing girls. A crowd of Italians (!) and Americans look on. Seems touristy stuff, but Ivan assures me that similar entertainment is common throughout Ireland – OK, but maybe not all over on Monday nights. We partake of a pint of Kilkenny’s and a pint of Guinness – then a taxi back to the hotel!


Another departure lounge. The flight from Treviso was uneventful, smooth baggage pickup at Stansted, where my Woman in UK was waiting for me. Went with her to eat and talk shop. Located a self-service café-restaurant in the terminal and helped ourselves to two sandwiches (dry bread), one salad, one small beer, one orange juice. I spluttered when the till rang – total cost GBP 19.00!!! How do these locals survive????

Flight to Dublin seems full up – must be full of refugees escaping British prices!

The Emerald Isle

Short hop this week over tio Ireland. Hey, I’m curious, I’ve never been to the place before! I’m flying Ryanair, so no Chardonnay, no lounges, indeed, no service at all. Not even any seat allocation. You are handed your boarding card stub, and you then race to get to a seat. First come, first served. But hey, what do you expect for an EUR 75 flight to Stansted and then a GBP 8 (yes, eight…) flight to Dublin!

Treviso airport is basically a one terminal, one runway ex-military airfield, served daily by three Ryanair flights to Stansted, and one to Charleroi and also a mysterious Carpatair service to assorted Romanian destinations. It’s actually closer to my house than the “proper” airport at Venice. My fellow passengers are an assortment of Great Unwashed and besuited biz people. Still, the plane is completely full, there is an empty seat next to me and a grand view of the Alpine snow from my window.

Lunch at Stansted with my UK agent before onward flight to Dublin.

Three Pigs

After 10 days of hard fair work in Düsseldorf, I barely had time to drive back, dump the papers and have a meeting that I’m off again. I now write to you from the fair city of Lyon.

I am still this morning attempting to digest last evening’s meal. We met a pal of my colleague, and all went to a restaurant recommended by him. A _bouchon_ called *Les Trois Cochons*, nearby Place Bellecour. Decoration based on three piglets. Many plastic, glass and ceramic pigs on the walls. Menu features all kind of porky stuff, that even German cooks cannot devise. Nothing remotely approaching _nouvelle cuisine_ to be had. Pork scratchings were served with the apéritif. As starters I had sliced pigs ears with salad. The meaty bits were tender and garlicky, but ears are mostly chewy cartilage!! For seconds I had _andouillette au gratin_, which are pig intestines in a creamy sauce, also very tasty and tender, but so heavy I was unable to finish the plate – a rare event for me, I assure you! Colleague and friend had a _Double Gras_, which is just as fatty as the name implies, consisting of tripe and other innards. House Côte du Rhône, coffee. NOT a restaurant to go to if you are prone to indigestion. We both skipped breakfast this morning!