Thursday, 2 July 2009

Opatija Dusk

I've just spent a couple of days working in the port of Rijeka in Croatia.

Luckily, Northern Croatia was a little bit cooler than the UK has been this week.

Last night, with the work finished, I thought I'd go to the seaside resort of Opatija for an ice cream in front of one of the old Edwardian hotels.

So, dusk saw me taking some photo's and eating a double helping of Rum Punch ice cream.

I like Opatija - it has class.

In the evening, people dress up to stroll the promenade, amidst Italian-style cafe society.

The absence of any meaningful tide means that Opatija has little sea water swimming pools, that are nothing more than diving boards and steps perched on the rock shore.

I returned home today using the Ryanair service from Pula.

I don't usually fly Ryanair and regular bloggites following "Revelations" will know that I usually fly with EasyJet.

Ryanair has made a few changes since the last time I used them, namely the introduction of passengers printing their own boarding card.

Initially, I thought this might be a good thing.

You log on to their website, answering all those tiresome questions about whether you packed your own bag, are you carrying drugs for anybody else and so on.

Then, hey presto, you print your own boarding card.

Great, I thought - smooth sailing.

Except, when you get to the airport, you still have to queue up, so the baggage drop-off girl (the very same girl who used to be the check-in girl) can check your passport and tag your luggage.

In actual fact, this only seems to save them the time and tedium of printing your boarding pass for you.

Another example of Ryanair getting you to do more, so they can make more money.

Anyway, I boarded the flight at Pula and found myself sitting next to an Irish mother and daughter combo.

As we started taxying out, I had one of those surreal moments that seem to occur with regular frequency in my life.

The eastern european trolley dollies were going through their safety drills in heavy accented Czech-English.

Why do they say, "if there is a loss in cabin pressure, the oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. Pull them towards you to start the flow of Oxygen, place them over your face and breathe normally" ?

If the cabin depressurises, the plane driver will push the stick forward and lose as much height as possible, in as shortest time as possible.

The last thing anybody will be doing is breathing normally.

Their heart will be hammering in their ears and their breath will be coming in some very deep panicky gasps I would imagine !!!

It's like saying "don't panic - normal service will be resumed shortly" which means you should really start worrying now as we are patronising you.

Anyway, as usual, I digress.

As we taxied out, we passed some very overgrown, disused, concrete military aircraft shelters.

I realised that Pula must have been a military base, many years ago.

The numerous, gaping black mouths of hardened shelters hidden behind mounds of earth gave the sunny holiday airport, a very sinister feel.

Apparently, I have now discovered that Pula was controlled by the Yugoslav Army from 1954 to 1967.

Shades of communist tyranny and Marshall Tito seemed even more poignant, when the two Irish ladies next to me, crossed themselves nervously, lips moving in silent prayer,  as our 21st century Boeing accelerated down a runway formerly used by eastern bloc Migs. 

Happy days.

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