I spot a white cigar shape moving quickly in the opposite direction. I stare at it for a while to confirm it is indeed an aircraft. Suddenly I spot another one flying in a third direction. It occurs to me these aircraft are also full of people flying to their destination. I think of the five aircraft I saw lined up waiting to use the runway we'd finally got to use. The world is full of people travelling to get where they want to be.
The food is coming around now so I need to put this away for a moment.
The aircraft now have 7" LCD screens built into the headrests of the chairs in front. My neighbour abdool-Sattar (slave of the Concealer of faults - referring to God - Allah, in his case) informs me that the screens are pretty much stanadard nowadays. It's been a while since I've been on a plane.
abdool has just brought the view of the mountain range at the north of Italy (the Piranese?) to my attention out of the window. They truly are a magnificent sight to behold - glorious white sharp scathes of rock cutting through the soft fluffy clouds.
And now it looks like we're travelling over marshmallow country. Bland white featureless smooth clouds as far as the eye can see. A clean line at the horizon where the light blue sky comes down to meet the clouds.
abdool has been talking to me about the Muslim religion, and how some of the Muslim ways can benefit through openness and honesty. I opened up the discussion by introducing polyamoury and the way kissycat1000, ev1ldonut and I practise it. abdool was keen to emphasise the benefit of multiple marriages in terms of dignity. He has suggested I get an English version of the Koran to read and digest.
Well, goodness. I'm now on the flight back. I just haven't had any time in Greece to sit down and finish typing this entry. I also forgot to mention Anna the Greek girl who talked to me before we got on the flight to Greece. Oh, and the rather horrible turbulence as we flew down the back of Italy. I wasn't very well after 45 minutes of worse-than-rollercoaster dives, thumps and climbs.
Then when I got to Greece the taxi driver took me for a ride. Literally. He told me it was 50 euros (about 40 quid) for the 44km (28 mile) taxi ride to the hotel. I'd only exchanged 40 euros so he actually stopped outside an ATM and waited for me while I got more money out (of my own account as I didn't have a PIN for the company card!). At least he didn't drive off with my luggage. He told me there was a taxi strike the next day (true) and was very keen to arrange for his mate to pick me up in a plain car and take me to the airport again for the same fare. The driving in Greece has to be seen to be believed. Indicators are for the weak. Lane markings serve as a vague guide. Traffic lights are further backed up by traffic police - I actually think there'd be grid-lock as all the Greeks simply ignored the lights. I haven't even mentioned the motorbikes and scooters. They seem to weave in and out of the traffic, holding on to rather than wearing their helmets (it's law to wear them in Greece). I saw one larger scooter bump up over the traffic island, bump down the other side and ride off to skip the lights. I laughed in amazement. The taxi driver simply said "Welcome to Greece!". Very friendly, I thought, especially when he dropped me off around the corner "because of the construction work", and I found out from my colleagues that it should have cost just 25 euros for the journey.
Anyway, I met up fine with the people from my company and we went out for a fish meal. A meal of fish. Me. Going out, for a fish meal. Okay. Anyway, of course the fish was pretty good as it was freshly caught and prepared and I enjoyed most of it. The fresh salad with jalapenos and olive oil was great. We all went back to the hotel afterwards and was fed more alcohol in the form of cocktails. My colleagues suggested I have a "Suffering Bastard", so I did. Ouch. Bastards. Now I know who gets to suffer *sigh*. One more Pina Colada and it was a brief stagger upstairs and an amusing phone call to an equally bemused kissycat1000. It was 2am when I finally got to sleep. I had to get up at 7:45am to grab a shower, breakfast and then check out, which was done in relative good grace. Hangover not too apparent; more the lack of sleep and grogginess.
My colleagues had hired a car for the day of the taxi strike. Luckily the driver has been out here many times before and knew his way around Athens. The meeting had about 10 greek people plus the four of us. I was a bit nervous as we walked into the building and started talking to business people but of course after I launched into the presentation (I was first up) I was fine. Some questions were asked and it looks like this could develop into something quite fun. They've decided to go for the whole hog option of the three I presented, so when I get back there'll be a good bit of work to do catching up the work I've already done from the bare minimum solution to the full hog solution. At least now I know who the requirements are coming from and hopefully things will start to slot into place. I also took the time to explain to the Programme Manager the situation with work being shifted out to Bangalor; he was keen to see the work be done in Bristol for reasons of time constraints if nothing else. Fingers crossed.
I stayed in the meetings for the rest of the day as they were about Backup - very closely aligned with the work I'll be doing. Again more opportunities there, to be followed up at a later date with colleagues in Bristol.
The rest of the afternoon before the flight has been mulching around with my colleagues and trying to stay awake or fall asleep as appropriate.
Finally they are bringing some drinks around so I will wrap up by saying that I'll thankfully be getting a lift back to the offices (and meeting up with a pre-booked taxi to take me to my house) with one of my colleagues who parked at Heathrow.