January 15-17, 2002
I know! It feels like you were just reading my Bangkok journal, and now here I am again already with another one.
Ten days ago I left Bangkok and flew nine time zones east to Seattle. Tomorrow, after a short stay at home, I will continue my eastward journey by flying another nine time zones east to Zurich. This will mean a combined time change of 18 hours ... 75% of the way around the world in this still-fresh year. Since Alf and Watcharee opted for the 'westward' route from Bangkok to Zurich (without the Washington stopover), they will be covering a mere 25% and resetting their clocks by only six hours.
Annie will be on my flights, doing the same nine-hour time shift. In Atlanta, Cindy will join us for the second leg (so she'll be doing the "lite" six-hour shift). Our planes from Atlanta and Bangkok will converge in Zurich early Thursday morning, and we'll spend the day there.
Friday, Sian will make her one-hour forward shift from Bristol ... and my co-journalist Pauline won't have to reset her clock at all! That's Pauline, by the way, in the photo on the left. She'll be coming into focus a bit more in the days ahead.
Once we're all together in Zurich, we will head to our little village in the Alps. We're all looking forward to another stay at the Ermitage in Château d'Oex: It's a place that feels almost like home. This Saturday morning, weather permitting, several dozen balloons will inflate across the street, and we'll have our first of several flights during the International Hot Air Ballooning Week.
"Why Château d'Oex?" you ask. Château d'Oex responds:
Château-d'Oex is first and foremost a mecca for hot-air ballooning. Its exceptional microclimate creates such ideal flight conditions that people flock to this part of Switzerland from all over the world. Every year, in the last week of January, CChâteau-d'Oex hosts the world's premier Mountain Hot-Air Ballooning event, with over 80 balloons participating from 15 different countries. A veritable spectacle of soaring colours and shapes. During the whole week, more than 60,000 spectators come to Château-d'Oex and about 150 journalists from the world cover the event.
The event coverage of those 150 journalists will be nothing compared to that provided here at corkscrew-balloon.com, however. Pauline and I will be keeping you informed of all developments with words. And as for pictures ... well, we are up to our necks in cameras! Quick digital images will be provided by my Coolpix, Pauline's Finepix, and Alf's Elph. Later, when the processing has been done, there will also be images from that old-fashioned medium: film.
Join us for the remainder of January as we share the festival with you!
FLASH! THIS JUST IN FROM PAULINE:
Tuesday afternoon in Oslo. A quarter past four. Just gazing out my window. It's really foggy outside. The snow has all melted away, and that means a lot to a girl like me. Always late for the bus ... Try running for it through 30 cm of snow!
I'm at the office as usual ... Tons of paperwork ... My phone is turning red and my third pen goes incontinent on me! Usually, I'd be swearing and cursing, but not this time. I think to myself: "I'm almost there ... almost there." I can almost smell the fresh air of Switzerland!
Fire up those balloons! - Cause here I come!!!!!!!!
"Who moved my Park 'n' Fly?" No, this is not a sequel to that book about cheese moving that was a recent bestseller. Instead, it's the follow-up question to "Why am I not on my Delta flight?" Oh well, it's my own fault. I had parked there once before, a couple of months ago, and I thought I knew where it was. In the time that I spent locating it this morning, however, the final minutes of permitted baggage check-in ticked past. If only I had checked the map on the flyer that was sitting right next to me, all would have been different.1
All should be OK, however. The friendly Delta ticket agent said that these things always happen for a special reason. Although I now have to travel alone, and I will miss the joys of the Atlanta airport, I now get to visit Cincinnati and Frankfurt on my way to Zurich! In all, I'll be delayed about five hours in my journey. But I do get to visit an extra country in the process! And perhaps my solo arrival in Zurich will make for a more dramatic entrance at the Baur au Lac Hotel?
Getting through security took an especially long time, too. Of course, I always travel with lots of weird stuff, and now there's this whole "shoe fetish" thing that's taken over. Anyway, this was the most thorough inspection I've had trying to leave the country. Granted, it was a lot less rigorous than the inspection I had eleven days ago trying to enter the country ...
Hey, why do they keep singling me out? Do I fit some profile that John Ashcroft drew up on one of his loonier days? (Actually, I'm not sure his loonimeter ever drops below the red line.) Perhaps I need to change my look ...2
In today's International Herald Tribune:
Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania - Troops will be deployed in this small Pennsylvania community in February to guard a groundhog named Punxsatawney Phil, which each year attracts huge crowds of people who believe the animal can forecast the weather.
A team of state police, bomb-sniffing dogs and guardsmen will be on duty Feb 2 to guard against problems at the Groundhog Day festivities. If the groundhog can see his own shadow on that day, winter will last another six weeks. - Reuters
1 I note that other people have been having trouble with time issues, too: An item in today's news reports a problem the U.S. Capitol Historical Society discovered after printing 650,000 copies of its 'We, the People' 2002 Calendar: The November page runs all the way to Nov. 31. As a result, December begins on a Monday (instead of the generally recognized Sunday), and the entire month of December is off by a day.
2 Actually, after these comments, I'll probably just have my passport flagged, so the 'profiling' issue will be moot.
An update from Frankfurt (almost to Switzerland!):
The flight to Cincinnati went well. The flight to Frankfurt went well. If you ever go to the Lufthansa Lounge here, prepare to face The Ultimate Challenge in getting connected to the Internet! An entire international team of us spent about an hour comparing notes and trying various different methods until we ultimately succeeded. Ha, nothing can stop this journal!!
By the way, on the CVG-FRA flight, the movie Serendipity was one of the offerings, and I watched it. I found it quite enjoyable, and I'm thinking that its theme might have some particular relevance to this trip. Indeed, this is a concept that the Delta agent in Seattle had already suggested.
Since I'll be leaving here for Zurich in a few minutes, my next report will be from there. At that point, it will be time for the actual journal to start ... so I guess this ends the pre-journal. Well ... maybe. We'll see.
... and it's official! I arrived at the Baur au Lac at precisely 3:00 this afternoon! It's beautiful here, as it was the last time I was in Zurich. Alf, Watcharee, Annie, and Cindy are all here, and we'll be getting together for dinner soon. YOU will be kept abreast of all the exciting details!
Next: Château d'Oex 2002!