Day 90 Tuesday 14 December - “Barcelona to Singapore”
We got up, somewhat bleary eyed, at 3:30 am. Neither of us had been able to sleep through, worrying I guess that we wouldn't wake up in time. As promised the taxi was there right on 4 am and whisked us out to Barcelona airport Terminal 1. Swiss Air check-in was open for business and our luggage managed to stay within the 20 Kg limit.
Through the security check – again !! Getting better at these, 'practice makes perfect'. Not much open in the way of shops but Jenny manages to track down a McDonald's for some egg and bacon muffins. Healthy start to the day.
The flight to Zurich is less than 50% occupied and was generally uneventful. Jenny became somewhat exited when we flew over the French Alps and she saw the snow below. Just after that we didn't see much of anything as we flew over or through clouds. Then there was an 'Oh my gosh' from the window seat. We had broken through the clouds and were low over the Swiss landscape and it was all WHITE.
We landed with a significant amount of snow falling and the airport was lightly dusted with the stuff. We find our way to the shuttle train to take us to Terminal E. Through security and we find the general area for our departure. We had about 25 € left and Jenny set off to spend as much of it as she could. The final small change was donated to the Red Cross. With an hour or so to kill, we sat and admired the snow falling.
Our flight to Singapore was displayed on the departure board with two gate numbers. This somewhat confused me but we headed in the general direction. The two gates were on two different levels. The aircraft is an A380 and has a lower 'economy' entrance and an upper 'higher class' entrance. There don't appear to be all that many people around for such a big aircraft.
We board and are amazed at the size of this thing. Down here in economy there are 10 seats across, a set of three either side and four in the centre. We're in row 34, right over the wings which were covered with a significant layer of the white stuff. Jenny is certainly quite excited. She keeps saying 'I can't get over all this snow!'.
There are lots of 'features' on this aircraft that I can't remember, things like individual TV screen with dozens of movies, games and even educational presentations. The seats are quite comfortable which is just as well as we'll be there for 11 hours. The cabin staff are very efficient and the ladies look every bit as good as they do in the advertisement. There's ample storage in the overhead bins and in our row of 10 there are only four seats occupied. The same generally applies throughout this part of the aircraft.
Another bit of excitement for Jenny. We push off, somewhat late and line up to be 'de-iced'. Four truck mounted sprays hose down every flat surface of the aircraft to remove the snow. With a monster the size of the A380 this takes at least 10 minutes. We're almost an hour late when we finally become airborne.
Hot towels are distributed as soon as the seat-belt sign is switched off, followed by repeated servings of drinks and lunch and more drinks. We fly Eastward away from the setting sun over Austria, Hungary Romania and a long list of 'stans' including Afghanistan and Pakistan. We cross over India just South of the Himalayas and start to head more Southerly. The clock is pushed forward by seven hours. Jenny and I doze off a bit, some of our fellow passengers stretch out and actually catch some sleep.
Breakfast is served and by 6:30 we're landing in Singapore. We've flown 10,600 Km in just over 11 hours and it is almost midnight back in Barcelona, we've been 'awake' for close to 21 hours.
Day 91 Wednesday 15 December - “Singapore”
What a slick looking airport, everything clean and efficient, even the toilets are being continually cleaned. The place is vast and we clear Immigration and collect our baggage – yes it was there but looking a bit travel worn. Nothing to declare and we walk out onto the general concourse.
Changed some of our US 'green' for Singapore dollars and try to work out our best transport option. There's a shuttle bus, a train, the local bus service or taxi. We decide on a taxi and we head off to the Copthorne Orchid Hotel. We're impressed by the lush greenery and the general tidiness of the place. Many high-rise apartment buildings, but they all look clean and cared for.
We arrive at the hotel and are not surprised that there are no rooms ready. We're told it could be up to three hours before we can be accommodated. Decided to just sit around the lobby and wait as do quite a number of other travellers. One man checking in was not a bit happy and got quite heated. I don't think he did himself any favours.
He was still waiting when after less than an hour we're told that a room is ready and we find our way to room 3204 in the Plymouth Wing. King sized bed, big flat screen TV, lounge chairs, desk and Air Conditioning. We've gone from sub-zero and snow in Zurich to high humidity and temperature approaching 30. Buffet breakfast is included but no Internet. We dump our gear and crash out for about 5 hours.
The hotel provides a shuttle to Orchard Rd, we go in at 5 pm and return on the 8 pm leg. In between we wander around like a pair of country cousins gawking at the wealth of retail enticements and Christmas decorations. I'm not sure if Singapore is a particularly Christian country but they sure know how to use the season to sell !! Up to 80% off, but only 10% off this particular item.
We selected a meal each from the first Food Court we came across, meals were under Sing$ 5 each, and with drinks we feasted for under Sing$ 20 and the food was great – bonus !!
We only managed to look at some of the levels on the four corners of Orchard Rd and Paterson/Scott's Rd. There are also subway malls connecting all of them with up to three levels of basement and 6 or more levels above. This is just a regular week day and the crowds are reminiscent of Hong Kong and the bargains equally plentiful. I can see why Australian Tourists go to Singapore to shop. We haven't even hit China Town or Little India.
I've lashed out and bought 90 minutes of Internet connection but I have to go to the foyer to use it, so that's the last thing I'll do tonight.