Aug 222011

We made it to the airport in Erbil in plenty of time, and soon were through the several layers of security and in the check-in area.  There was a vehicle-check, an x-ray in a building a couple hundred metres from the terminal, and then finally another layer before getting into the terminal.  Oh, not to mention another layer before getting into the “gate” area.

Check-in was completely uneventful, but unfortunately Austrian didn’t have any sort of lounge here for business passengers.  I’m not sure if this is the first time I’ve been on an inter-continental flight in business class without a lounge, but it was what it was.  Managed to get a couple of Diet Cokes and a can of Pringles in the small cafe in the gate area, and soon we were boarding the flight to Vienna.

Flight Austrian 830
Erbil, Iraq to Vienna, Austria
Airbus A320, Registration OE-LBR, Manufactured 1999
Depart 16:50, Arrive 19:00, 2 hour time change
Seat 3A

The load was pretty light today, about 8 people in business and maybe another 50 or so in economy. On the inbound flight, we had noticed someone who seemed to be an Austrian employee sitting in business and speculated he was some sort of security. On this flight, the same person got off the plane, and processed passports and checked visas at the gate. I’m guessing Austrian ships in on each flight their own handling agent to make sure things happen “their way” without having to have someone on-the-ground living in Erbil.

The flight was quite uneventful, and similar to the flight over. Decent Do&Co meal, and nothing really to write home about. We had a very tight 30 minute connection booked in Vienna, but had no immigration to clear so were pretty hopeful that things would be altogether uneventful. Arrived in Vienna nearly 20 minutes early, so plenty of time…and even managed to stop by the Austrian business lounge for a few minutes to grab some water and WiFi.

Our bus gate was right around the corner so soon we were on the bus, and ready to board:

Flight Croatia 443
Vienna, Austria to Zagreb, Croatia
Dehavilland Dash-8 Q400, Registration 9A-CQB, Manufactured 2008
Depart 19:30, Arrive 20:25
Seat 1A

This was a short hope, but one which I also suspect was about to get me into lots and lots of trouble. In retrospect I wasn’t hungry, but decided anyways to nibble on the small snack provided by Croatian, partly due to the novelty of being a new airline.

Landed on time in Zagreb, and soon were on the airport bus and off to the Westin, Zagreb.  Was a decent enough hotel, no real complains, although the communication skills and overall friendliness of the staff left quite a bit to be desired.  Can’t complain too much, however.  Got a good upgrade to a small suite, room was clean and quiet so overall met all of our needs.

Woke up in the morning feeling a bit run-down, but didn’t think too much about it but we were anxious to get up and do a bit of exploring before our 14:40 flight to London.  Wandered for nearly an hour trying to find a cafe to find something to eat, but struck out at several in a row.  Finally, we gave into the symbol of international reliability…and somewhere we never eat at home, McDonalds.  Managed to put down a diet coke and a cheeseburger, but it was rapidly becoming clear that something wasn’t right.  I was starting to feel a bit dizzy and out of it, but we did manage to explore for another 30 minutes before heading to the hotel to pack up.

By the time we got back to the hotel, things were clearly heading south fast.  Was getting markedly dizzier, felt weak, nauseous, and was breaking out in random sweats.  Plus, was losing fluids at a remarkable rate.  Still managed to make it back to the hotel bus, and to the airport, and got checked in with no problems.  Soon we were in the Croatian lounge where thanks to a couple of bottles of apple juice I was able to stay mildly functional until boarding time.

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