Day 16: Saturday, September 26

Time to go home!

We got up at our usual time – about 7:30 – showered, had breakfast then finished the last of the packing. We basically just sat around chatting and reminiscing about the trip until it was time to go downstairs to meet the cab to the airport.

Christian Rank, the Manager of the Appartements Ferchergasse, had arranged a cab from the Guse (pronounced “Gooza” in German) cab company to pick us up at 10:30AM this morning (I couldn’t find a business link on the Internet for Guse, so perhaps they’ve changed names or gone out of business). This was the same company which picked us up upon our arrival at Vienna International Airport. We are flying home with a connecting flight: first we board Lufthansa flight LH 2329 (departing at 1:05PM) from Vienna to Munich, then change planes in Munich to Air Canada flight AC 847 (departing at 3:30PM) to Toronto.

At about 10:15 we lugged the (very) heavy suitcases down the killer spiral staircase (4 flights), turned in our apartment keys, and said goodbye to Christian Rank who was working in his office. The cab was a little late but came at roughly 10:35 or so. A stern, but pleasant, Austrian man drove us down the now-familiar streets of Vienna and out to the airport (€32.00 for the ride out). We made very good time to the airport once we hit the freeway outside of Vienna, and arrived at the terminal at about 11:00AM.

Vienna International Airport

After a bit of initial confusion, we found the Lufthansa check-in (under the Austrian Airlines counter). A very nice woman (dressed completely in red as per the corporate colours) from Austrian Airlines helped us check in and print boarding passes via the automated kiosk there. We then proceeded to the bag drop and checked in the big suitcases (note to self: very pleasant and efficient staff here at Austrian Airlines).

We found the security gate and did the usual security walk-through: no problems whatsoever (which is always a relief). It was not overly busy at the Vienna airport at this time. By the way, Vienna International Airport is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Lots of high-end shops and quite fancy – how Viennese:

Locating our boarding gate, we waited for the flight to be called; the boarding call came at 12:35PM. Down the ramp and some stairs to the tarmac we went, and boarded a large shuttle bus which drove us out to our waiting Lufthansa jet. We boarded without incident and departed right on time at 1:05PM.

At Vienna International Airport: waiting for our flight to Munich

From Vienna To Munich

It was a smooth, uneventful flight from Vienna to Munich, Germany. It took about an hour from gate to gate (we were actually in the air for only about 40 minutes). We were not able to see much Vienna ground scenery upon takeoff as it’s a cloudy, slightly drizzly morning with very poor ground visibility. Annoyingly, the dude sitting in the window seat beside me kept repeatedly putting his head full-on in the window, so we could hardly see a thing.

We arrived at Munich International Airport and deplaned. Again we had to walk down portable steps to the tarmac and board a shuttle bus to the terminal. The shuttle bus dropped us at the Munich terminal without incident.

We found our boarding gate number for our connecting flight from the information display terminal and proceeded to the “H28” boarding area. As we rounded the corner we found we had to join a MASSIVE queue for passport control. It was quite a surprise to us but we had to go through passport control here before we could get to the boarding gates for the connecting flight. It took quite a while (and we were getting nervous about possibly being late for our connecting flight) but we got though the passport check without incident

Making our way to Gate H28, we waited for the boarding call. There wasn’t really a boarding call, just a huge cluster of people milling around the gate (strange – same thing happened leaving Toronto at the start of the trip). We then had to have another brief passport check and stamp before we could board.

We boarded via the Air Canada Priority Check-in area at about 2:50PM and made our way down the ramp. Thankfully there was a direct bridge to the plane this time, no more shuttle bus out to the tarmac. How civilized.

We took our seats in the LOVELY Air Canada Premium Economy section and settled in while the rest of the plane boarded. The flight was finally ready to go, and the plane pushed back about a half hour late (was 4:00PM by this time). I couldn’t see too much of Munich upon takeoff as it was a very cloudy day. All that was visible were a few bright red rooftops and a small bit of lovely green, rolling Bavarian countryside.

The Dinner Debacle

About an hour out of Munich, the main meal was served. We both had wanted the Thai Chicken dish, as the alternate dish was an asparagus ravioli (with asparagus on top!) with a pumpkin sauce (YUCK!!). By the time the flight attendant came to take our order, they had run out of the chicken dish and we were forced to choose the asparagus ravioli or nothing at all (the same thing happened in this Premium Economy flight from Toronto to Munich but at least the alternate dish was acceptable to us). Vince was upset and refused all food (he hates all manner of pumpkin), and I relented to the meal even though I refuse to eat asparagus (one of the very few foods I simply cannot stand to eat > gross!). The meal came and I ate the small salad and the cheesecake but could not stomach the asparagus ravioli (BLAH!!). When the flight attendant came to retrieve my mostly-full plate, she questioned it. Vince and I explained that pumpkin and asparagus are simply two things we cannot – and will not – eat. Much to our surprise, this AMAZING flight attendant (whose name was Karen), suddenly appeared with two piping hot steak meals with vegetables, gravy, bread, salad, cheesecake, etc. She was very sneaky about it and loudly said something about our “food allergies” when she set the dishes down. It turns out she had smuggled them in from Business Class (atta girl!). Karen was assisted by the Flight Director whose name was Scott. Karen said she and Scott have been good, long-term friends, going way back to the early 80s. Together these two went way over and above with keeping us happy by supplying these meals. They were so friendly and talked to us for a long time and came by during the flight several times to see how we were doing. Amazing customer service here from Air Canada. It really was the high point of the day; originally we were going to complain to Air Canada’s head office about this meal we initially did not receive. What a fantastic and memorable addition to the trip home. We thanked them extensively and they said they were really impressed with the way we, as customers, handled the situation. I guess you catch more flies with honey. Situations like this are one of the reasons I remain loyal to Air Canada.

Air Canada Dreamliner

After the meal the flight continued without incident. This new Air Canada Dreamliner is a beautiful plane in every way: it’s beautifully smooth, comfortable and luxurious inside, especially Premium Economy where we were sitting. Scott, the Flight Director, said this particular plane has only been in service for about two weeks. The Premium Economy class is a bit of test for Air Canada and he is trying hard to make this new service class work well for Air Canada.

Homeward Bound

It was a very smooth, uneventful and pleasant flight. About an hour out of Toronto the hot towels came around, then we were served our choice of hot wraps (Sweet Chili Chicken or Spinach & Feta Cheese), beverages, etc. Scott (the Flight Director) came and chatted with us for some time. Very nice man. He told us all about Air Canada’s challenges with this new Premium Economy service. A bit later the boarding/customs cards were distributed prior to landing and we completed ours.

We landed smoothly in Toronto about 6:00PM. While we were deplaning, Karen (the flight attendant who had been so kind) pulled us both aside and gave each of us a big hug and we said our goodbyes to her. What a wonderful person. Again, positive experiences like this are one of the reasons I’ve always been loyal to Air Canada, and will remain so.

We passed through the automated Customs kiosks without a hitch. It scanned our passports and took the original boarding card, then provided us with a copy. We walked the loooooooong stretch to the baggage claim area and picked up our suitcases after a short wait for them to drop down. On the way out we had to give the copy of the boarding card to a Customs officer, then proceeded outside to find a limo home. For some reason I had not pre-booked a limo home for this trip, so we took the first car in the queue –  it was fine, and there was a good, respectful and careful driver piloting us home. The trip home was $60.00 flat rate plus a $10.00 tip.

Home, Sweet, Home

We arrived home at about 8:15PM. Everything appeared fine and in order; the condo was remarkably dust-free but very stuffy. All plants, indoor and outdoor, were doing fine. David had left all our collected mail on the kitchen counter.

We put a couple of Dr. Oetker pizzas in the oven and had a late dinner, as we were both starving by this point. We were trying our best to stay up until at least 10:00PM due to the time zone changes, so we did some partial unpacking and sorting out of things from the trip.

Vince sent a text to Robert regarding Sophie’s return home, and Rob replied saying he’d drop her by tonight. He arrived with Sophie at about 9:00PM and she came bounding in, very happy to see us. Rob also brought his new puppy with him – a German Short-haired Pointer – who was 9 weeks old – named Kiera. Very cute and full of mischief! She liked to chew and was in to everything! Rob left after about 15 minutes.

We simply could not stay awake any longer after Robert left, so I walked Sophie and then the whole household went to bed at about 9:30PM. Exhausted… what a day it had been!! Tomorrow (Sunday) we will go down to the Animal Clinic between 10:00-11:00AM to pick up Miss Bug. Then, everyone will be home!

That’s it for the Vienna 2015 trip! We both had an awesome time and it was definitely a learning experience in a number of ways.

Until next time, Auf Wiedersehen!!

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