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I am afraid to fly. There, I said it. Good thing I picked a profession that would keep me constantly on the ground. Whoops. If you are an aerophob like myself, allow me to let you in on a little secret. Two words: Business Class.
I arrived in Dusseldorf, Germany for this long-awaited press trip last Thursday, July 22, and, man, after a seven-hour flight in Lufthansa’s business class, I could see anyone becoming an airplane junky. Even me.
After two glasses of Coppola Shiraz and a plate of charcuterie in the Business Class Lounge at Newark Liberty International Airport, the knots in my stomach seemed to loosen just a smidge. A seamless boarding followed by a very chilled glass of bubbly was enough to almost bring a smile to my panic-stricken face. Even as we sat on the runway for an hour and a half due to air traffic (oh the joys of flying, right?) the flight attendants were sure to come by with cold glasses of sparkling water and orange juice.
Now for the kicker. As the dinner hour rolled around someone came by and asked if she may set my table. She was kind enough not to laugh at my perplexed look and instead proceeded to place a white linen tablecloth over my tray table. As for menu options I opted for the Tanqueray cured salmon served with orange, pumpernickel and mustard-dill dressing to start. For a main course I tucked into some of the most tender beef short ribs I’ve had in a while. Seriously, this is airplane food? Flight attendants rolled beverage carts by what seemed like every few minutes to top off my glass of red wine.
Feeling sleepy from a full belly (and maybe from that Tylenol PM I popped) I was delighted to find that my chair reclined to an almost 180-degree angle. Pillows propped up just right and TV tilted so that glare would be minimal, I hunkered down to watch “Date Night,” – that Steve Carell and Tina Fey movie with a star-studded cast (think Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Ray Liotta, Mila Kunis…). Turns out I probably didn’t need to take that Tylenol PM – that movie was a snore all on its own. Note: There are dozens of movie and television options to choose from. I also watched an episode of Entourage and 30 Rock – to which I owe my sanity after suffering through Date Night.
When I awoke breakfast had long been over but I found a nice to-go bag by my seat with a sandwich, yogurt and some fresh fruit. Well rested, satiated and safe I was ready to take on Dusseldorf. Aerophobia cured…or at least until I’m back flying coach.
Any aspiring travel writer dreams of that first press trip. Bali, Argentina, Australia, perhaps. But I, always the pessimist, assumed that my first official press trip would be to the brilliantly lit conference centers of Philadelphia, or to the gorgeous coast of Queens, New York. Well, my friends, I’m on the eve of this very first press trip and I’m off to Dusseldorf….Germany, and I could not be more excited.
Don’t ask me what’s in Dusseldorf. I have no idea, but I suppose that is half the fun. Right now I’m more focused on the VIP service at the airport, or the business class flight on Lufthansa, or the five-star luxury hotel in prime downtown Dusseldorf (whatever that means). I hope you will join me on this little adventure over the next few days, but for now I am officially Dorf-bound.
Just to make this post the slightest bit educational, here are five fun facts on Dusseldorf:
1. Dusseldorf is home to the largest festival on the Rhine river, attracting over 4.5 million visitors each July. (And yes, yours truly will be attending. Can you say Oktober in July? Apparently the festival is a giant beer fest on the Rhine. I’m already hooked.)
2. Dusseldorf has the largest Japanese community in Germany. (Beer AND sushi?? This place is sounding more and more like my happy place.)
3. The local beer is called Altbier, which translates to “old style beer.”
4. The traditional Dusseldorf meal is Rheinischer Sauerbraten, a roast beef marinated in vinegar and spices. (Mmm? Yeah, I’ll give it a shot. When in Dusseldorf…)
5. The city’s most popular band is called Kraftwerk, known for avant-garde electronic music. (I threw this one in because to be honest, nothing else looked really that interesting.)