Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shirley's Here!

There is much to report. The trips of 25 Feb and 1-2 March went smoothly, Lufthansa (comfortable) over and United (cramped) back. Munich is the best transfer point for Cluj, because the connections are perfectly timed, and the airport well-designed. The highlight of this transatlantic flight, for me, was seeing the southern tip and islands off Greenland, and then flying all across the frozen mountains and valleys of Labrador, true wilderness devoid of any visible signs of Man for hundreds of miles. I may have flown so northerly a route before, but if so, clouds had blocked the spectacular views.

On the way back after the ACBSP board meetings, I flew to DC in the company of "LTC Jen", a delightful career Army logistics officer and Iraq veteran on her way from Ft. Leavenworth to Richmond, Va. We talked for the whole trip, finding many mutual interests, such as parenthood, logistics, and history. Shirl was waiting to meet our flight when it arrived at Dulles, so I was able to introduce those two young mothers. Jen has since e-mailed that upon her arrival in Richmond, she found the city "paralyzed" by eight inches of snow, and Ft. Lee closed, giving her a "snow day."

Shirl and I had a light supper between flights in DC, then boarded UA 902, n0n-stop to Munich. Checking boarding passes, I discovered that our pre-requested (through Travelocity) adjacent seats had not come through, and we were assigned seats across the wide-bodied Boeing 777 from each other. Shirl and I wanted to sit together, so the gate agent reassigned us to a center-section pair, with Shirl in the center. The plane took off on time. By an hour later, we perceived UA's pricing strategy: make steerage truly uncomfortable so experienced passengers will pay the premium for "Economy-Plus" seating. These Economy seats were so tightly arranged that one could harldy move. Fortunately, Both Shirl and I had interesting seat-mates. (And no, that is not self-congratulatory.) I was sitting with Ms. Judith B., an MBA from The Darden School at UVA, and CEO of a marketing firm presently operating in Istanbul. She was brilliant. We had a good chat, sharing stories of our mutual acquaintances in the U.S. business school community, and of our respective careers. Shortly after our in-flight dinner, all four passengers on Shirl's right and left fell asleep, effectively trapping her in a cushioned corral. God love her, she sat there quietly, and let us all sleep.

We got into Munich a bit early, because one passenger's medical emergency caused our flight to be cleared into the airport without any circling in queue. We never learned, back in steerage, the nature of the problem, but the paramedics came aboard and offloaded the troubled passenger while the rest of us waited in our seats.

About an hour later we boarded a STOL four-jet AVRO commuter airliner flown by Lufthansa's Inter-City subsidiary for the short hop east to CLJ, which was only a 90-minute flight across Bavaria, Austria and Hungary. Going out on the 25th I had enjoyed some views of the Austrian Alps, but Shirl missed seeing them, as on our eastbound flight the clouds obscured the mountains.

Shirl has been here about two days now, and has already met Monica Z. and Lucian B., two of my teaching assistants. She seems to like the apartment, and has taken to Romania as quickly as did I. We're looking forward to planned dinners with Mihaela and Mr. Lutas, Victoria and Florin Moldovan, and Melinda and Monica with their respective beaus.

We are now off to lunch, and an afternoon in the country, as it is a sunny afternoon. I will prepare for Friday's class on Thursday. (What else is new?)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Duncan and Shirl,
So glad you made it there safely and are already enjoying this amazing country...I hope you weren't influenced by the Amazing Race's depiction! warmest regards from Nancy, Pat and Evan...