Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Hotel theme lift off

You've got to admire their dedication to a theme.

Some hoteliers simply name their establishments after something that has no absolutely no connection to their hotel whatsover.   Like a "Paris Hotel" in the Brisbane CBD, or an "Outback Hotel" in the heart of London.

Airways Hotel in Port Moresby can't be accused of the same sloppy work.

They've taken a theme and run with it.

Not only does the hotel overlook Port Moresby's Jacksons International Airport (Get it?  Airways Hotel.  Airport.  Subtle.), but they've also plonked an old plane right in the middle of the hotel's grounds.

It's an old Air Niugini DC3 plane that has its wheels down as though it's about to land on the airport's runway just a few hundred metres away.

The runway of Port Moresby's Jacksons International Airport from Airways Hotel

The DC3 with the airport in the distance
But this plane is never going to land.  It's reached its final destination and is now, believe it or not, part of the hotel's business facilities.  

There's a walkway from the hotel to the plane, now refurbished in timber and operating as an internet cafe. 

The DC3 in the middle of the hotel and overlooked by the restaurant

Hanging over the resort

But having a plane literally hanging over the hotel doesn't appear to have been enough.

Pushing the theme just a little further is a range of aircraft-theme embellishments, furniture and artwork around the hotel.

A reception stool, possibly fashioned from an aircraft hull
The reception desk itself seems to be an aircraft wing, hopefully from a plane no longer in service.

Looking down on the aircraft wing reception desk, underneath the plane fragment art installation
Above it, a shiny, silver metal fragment art installation reminds me of what an exploded plane must look like.   To be fair, this may not have been the effect the artist was looking for.  It is also not the most comforting thought as you check out and head for the airport to catch your flight.

Fragments of silver metal hanging over the aircraft wing reception desk

Sunday, 23 February 2014

15 ways you know you're missing the snow

1. You keep yelling out "heads" every time you sit down and reach for the non-existent ski lift bar



2. You wonder why you can still feel your toes and fingers at the end of the day



3. You feel nude going out in less than five layers of clothing



4. Walking and running seem incredibly slow and boring



5. Everything seems way too flat - where are the mountains?




6. You miss your nose constantly running



7. You hate the fact that you now get change when you buy a can of coke with a $5 note



8. Days seem way too long now the sun gets up before 7.30am and sunset is after 5pm



9. You wonder if your street would be classed a beginner, intermediate or difficult piste



10. When someone cuts you off in traffic you instinctively mutter: "bloody snowboarders!"



11. Towards the end of the day you ask passers-by: "when do the lifts close around here?"



12. You try to swipe you ski lift pass every time you go through a door or gate




13. There's no apr├Ęs ski vibe on the train home



14. The first thing you do in the morning is pull back the curtains and wonder if there was any snow overnight




15. You constantly feel as though you've forgotten something when you leave the house.  Where's my helmet, goggles, gloves, glove liners, hand warmers, neck warmers and piste map?


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Taking the stairs

I figured it was a case of now or possibly never.

It struck me that I had been to Paris a few times now, but had never actually climbed the Eiffel Tower. (Yes it's a tourist cliche, but sometimes these things just have to be done.)

The rarely photographed Eiffel Tower

Previously, I had been put off by the massive queues underneath its iconic arches, even in poor weather.  

I had also questioned what the view would be like given Paris is pretty flat and mostly low-rise buildings.  After all, when you stand atop other Paris viewpoints, such as Montmartre, Notre Dame's bell tower, or the Arc d'Triumphe, the most interesting thing to look at is the Eiffel Tower.  Is it better to look at the tower, rather than from the tower?

Still, it was a sunny Sunday afternoon (albeit in winter, windy and about five degrees Celsius) and the crowds looked manageable.

Standing underneath: lift or stairs?
It was underneath the tower that I was faced with a choice: take the elevator (but suffer a sizeable queue) or take the stairs (for which there was no queue whatsoever).

Figuring I'd had enough of people for one day, I chose the stairs.  For the record, that's 704 stairs.
Moving on up... using the stairs

It's actually not as bad as you might think, though it probably helped that it was winter and not a hot summer's day.  

There's plenty of space and you tend to be distracted by the view.  Along the way, there are places to stop and information boards telling you about the tower, its designer and its construction.
Information boards to distract you from the stairs

Before I knew it I was on the first stage.  This stage was under renovation when I was there and only housed a collection of port-a-loos.

I was at the first stage before I knew it
Onwards and upwards, I headed for the second stage.  Strangely, this part seems to take a little longer.  

Perhaps it was because you are really entering the bowels of the structure and so the view is less prominent.
Paris peek-a-boo

It's here that you start to pass people who've regretted taking the stairs option.  They're looking longingly at the elevator as it whizzes past.
If you take the stairs, this is as close to the elevator as you'll get

Standing at 115 metres above ground, the second stage actually has two levels. 
Champ de Mars
Surprisingly, it also has a cafeteria and another queue; this time for the elevator to the very top.   Given this line and the gathering wind, I passed.
The queue within the Eiffel Tower itself for the elevator the very top
Straight up from the second stage

With sunset rapidly approaching, suddenly I was engulfed by waves of couples who had specifically made the trek up here to stare lovingly into each others' eyes at dusk.
Sunset approaching... cue couples

Monmartre in the distance
This is "selfie central".  Singles, couples and families (and myself) are all extending their arms and grinning into their camera or smartphone.

The Seine
So how was the view?  

Even with the wind and the cold, it's pretty impressive.   There's a rewarding view from every point of the compass, from Monmartre and the Trocadero, to the Seine and the green lawns of the Champ de Mars.
The Seine... again

And if you ever wanted to know what it would be like to peer out from the inside a giant Meccano creation, this is your best bet.   

Inside the giant Meccano creation

Having made it down and out


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Skiing's life lessons


Lesson 1:  If you want snow, you've got to put up with the storm



Lesson 2:  As you head on your way, there's always a chance you could hit a few bumps, rocks or icy patches



Lesson 3:  You can't do the expert runs without first doing the beginner and intermediate ones



Lesson 4:  Heed the warning signs



Lesson 5:  There's always something new to discover



Lesson 6:  When you fall, you've got to get back up again



Lesson 7:  Sometimes it helps to get a different perspective



Lesson 8:  Sometimes you have to make do with what you have



Lesson 9: Predictions of stormy weather may not come true



Lesson 10:  There's always help around if you need it



Lesson 11: Sometimes there's more than one way to your destination



Lesson 12: Things can change... quickly



Lesson 13:  Beware of falling snow and ice



Lesson 14:  There's always tomorrow



Lesson 15:  You'll be rewarded for your patience and practice



Lesson 16:  When you're in a whiteout and can't see where you're going, stick to your track and you'll end up where you want to be



Lesson 17:  There can be little sunny spots, even when you think it's all dark and cloudy



Lesson 18: Challenge yourself, but understand your limits



Lesson 19: Stop and admire the view every now and then



Lesson 20:  Have fun!