Friday, December 03, 2010


Those suckers don't know there's a back entrance to this E95.

After another hour of delay, we're finally in the air and I can't believe the Alps are beneath us! Amazing. Incredible. The snow-covered caps are majestic looking and I'm mezmerized.

I was able to commandeer a row to myself in the back of the Embraer 195 aircraft where I've positioned myself in a window seat against my normal preference. Usually, I opt for an aisle seat for quick departing when landing (normal or otherwise). But with an empty, two-seat row and the windows at just the right height, I'm encouraged to watch the world go by.

The view from the back in the penultimate row.

I don't really get this chance to watch the world from above and mainly because seats on planes are too cramped and a window seat usually has me bending sideways to fit into the curvature of the side panel. Not fun. Both Boeing and Airbus place their windows too low to peer out comfortably as well. You have to bend over to see out and it's just uncomfortable. Boeing says they're fixing this on the new 787 Dreamliner and the mockup I've sat in seems to address the issue, but we'll see.

The Embraer 195 has windows that are large and at the right height for viewing, so it's comfortable, and with the row to myself, I can sit as I desire.

A little ham sandwich with cream cheese and chives.

As we fly high over Europe, I start noticing that the ground is getting closer. And more snow-covered. Soon I'm giddy with excitement when I realize that we are flying over the Alps. They're picturesque and amazing. Much different than the Rocky Mountains in the United States. These are harsher and grander and covered in a lot of snow. I strain my eyes looking for a St. Bernard running to save hapless mountaineers with a barrel of whiskey strapped around its neck.

Storm fronts surround us, making for very dramatic cloud formations. One is impossibly high and we're going through it. Flying towards it reminded me of the final battle scene in the movie ID:4 where the fighters were racing towards the alien battleship that was just too massive to imagine. It was like that.

Once inside the front, it started off smooth then suddenly we're jarred up and down as air pockets and turbulence rock the little plane up and down and side to side. It's pretty hairy for a moment.

Holy Crap! That's the Alps!!!!

Typically, I don't worry about turbulence, comforting myself in the thought that there's about five miles between us and then ground. Then I remember that the alps are at least 10,000 feet - meaning that we've lost about two miles of safety. Oh, we could be in trouble.

I imagine ourselves falling out of the sky (especially since, from my view, the wings look like they could be icing over) and crash landing in the Alps. Would we survive? Would we be rescued? Or would we be forced to eat our fellow passengers for sustenance? I bet these suckers don't even have salt on board for seasoning. A terrible experience that would be indeed!

Flying into a front.

In the end, we clear all the storms and the white covered ground of Europe makes way for the greenery of Tuscan. I'm reassured that the weather here is a balmy 9C - over the minus 7C we just left in Western Europe. I can't wait.

A break in the clouds.

Coming out of the front.

Landing in Florence.

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