Saturday, June 18

STILL On our way to India!

OK, so Frankfurt Airport is not much of a destination in itself.  The airport is kind of dingy, the restrooms are tiny and few, and the many international travelers have somewhat different olfactory impact.  But since we're business-class kind of travelers this trip, we took advantage of the business class lounge for a cup of Kaffe Schwartz and some cookies.  Plus the restrooms were clean.
Lufthansa Business Class Holding pen

At the gate, they take your ticket in line before herding you into a holding pen, so there's no taking tickets when the door to the ramp opens up.  We waited about 15 minutes before boarding, got a shot of the A340 to Hyderabad.  No problems were experienced. 
Airbus A340

When the ramp did open, a swarm of humanity lunged at the door, but interestingly they all waited patiently for the families with small children to get through before going down the stairs themselves.  And when the German gate staff closed a little waist-high gate everyone waited patiently until he opened it again.  Order within disorder?   Portents of future observations...

Here's some shots of take off from Frankfurt, and some of the land a little East/Southeast of that locale:
Frankfurt  Frankfurt2
Frankfurt  Frankfurt
5 minutes east of FRA

About 45 minutes later, according to the map, we're somewhere northwest of Budapest.  I tried to get a few snaps of this area - they didn't come out great but I hope you'll get the idea.  It was cloudy for the next half hour.
North of Budapest  Budapest

Our flight path now took us somewhat Southeast over the Black Sea.  We heard from the Captain that our flight would take us over Bulgaria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and then into India.  I had been interested in what our flight path would be - would they skirt around some of the "hot spots" of the world and go over relatively calm Saudi Arabia?  Apparently not.  And since I'm writing this there were no issues, but I was not the only one on the plane who had concerns...

So here's the sight just getting over the Black Sea, and where we came back over land. I'll locate this spot when I return to the states.  And yes, I know you can see me taking the picture of the computer screen. 
black Sea  Black Sea
Back over land

So now things start getting interesting, because once we're on this side of the Black Sea we're now in Turkey.  Here's the cross-over point, near a city called Trabzon.  
Turkey Map  Trabzon?

Continuing our southeast path we get over some pretty high mountains.  The clouds also start to come in.
Trabzon?  Turkish Mountain

more turkey please?

The map shows clearly we're headed for Iraq and Iran:
Getting there  Into the lion's den

Here's some shots of over that area between Mosul and Kirkuk:
Iraq  More

Came across a pretty good sized lake with a pretty good sized city on its edge.  I later checked a map and see that it is Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey.
More  Closer


As we got over Iran, the clouds started coming in.   Where there were no clouds, most of the land looks like the 2nd picture.  I had hoped we were going to pass near Tehran so I could get a shot of that, but we were too far south and there was 80% cloud cover, so the only shot I have of Iran is the one here.  Later the clouds probably cleared but it got dark, so we caught some Zs.
A storm a'coming  Iran

I woke up over Karachi, Pakistan after about 2.5 hours.  Then Lufthansa fed us again, around Mumbai (Bombay):
Over Karachi Pakistan  Over India

We started seeing lights outside (it's about 1:00 AM here).  This is one of the first glimpses of Hyderabad we had.  As we were flying in, I noticed large blocks of lights, probably a couple of miles across, going out, then coming back on about 30 seconds later.  We were later to find out that this is one way they save electricity - turning off sections periodically to "share the pain." 
First glimpse of Hyderabad

Customs was in a medium sized room with 6 officials, and we were through in 10 minutes.  It was the least formal customs I've been through, just standing in line - no ropes, no walkways. Just everyone waiting patiently in line.  We had to put our bags and selves through a metal detector, and although it went off with my watch, they didn't care.  What were they checking for?  Don't know.

Our bags came off pretty early, thanks to the "Priority" tag Lufthansa put on them, then we handed the little slip from our entrance form to the customs official and we were outside, where the masses gathered to greet their famillies.  We were very pleased to see a young man holding a sign with Rachel's name on it, and they collected our bags and put them in a Toyota van, then the police moved the other cars that were blocking us in and we were on our way to the ITC Kakatiya Sheraton.  The 5 minute drive at 2:30 am still showed a lot of traffic, with vehicles that you'll see in pictures on tomorrow's page. 

We checked in and were treated like royalty.  The rooms are incredible - probably the nicest I've ever stayed in.  Large, nice view, each of ours has its own amenities, and we think we are on floors for different genders.  Mine has a butler station, while Rachel's room accommodates feminine needs.  Rachel's is on the left, mine is on the right.
Rachel's Room  Alex's Room

At that point it's time for sleep because we're getting picked up at 2:00 PM for a half day of sightseeing in Hyderabad.  Night!
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