During my six months based in Stuttgart, Germany, I had the chance to visit Cologne, a much better looking city that I was really happy to explore.
Life of a cabin crew is not exactly how people imagine. I believe most believe we have a very glamorous life in which we serve some tea and coffee on the plane and that allows us to travel to beautiufl destinations all over the world. Well, not really! This post shares a more realistic picture of the job.
It was four in the morning when my phone rang. It was my day off and my company was calling me in the middle of the night. I decided to pick up the phone because I was scared I got confused with my schedule and maybe I was not off and I was late for a flight. I wasn’t confused. I was off but the company needed a favor. They asked if I could perform a flight. To be honest I really wanted to rest and I didn’t want the flight, but I was already awake and it was some extra money so I said yes. I asked what time was the pick up from the hotel to meet the crew. The guy told me my crew was already on the plane and I neededo to hurry up and meet them there. This was the beginning of a very messy day!
I rushed to get ready, went downstairs, caught the shuttle to the airport, passed security, went into the briefing room to request a car to take me to the plane. While I was running up the stairs to the plane, I was hyperventilating. My senior was at the door. She noticed how stressed I was with this ridiculous situation, grab my shoulders, told me to take a deep breath, gave me a hug and told me I would be working in the back of the plane. You cannot imagine the shock once I saw all passengers were already on their seats on the plane. I was extremely embarassed as all of them were giving me a mean look as I walked down the aisle to reach the back galley. I’m sure all of them thought the plane was late because I had fallen asleep or something like. In this moment I wished I had ignored the phone call and just kept sleeping. Passengers blaming the delay on me when in fact I was there to save the day because if I didn’t accept the flight, on my day off, fifty of those passengers would have to be offloaded and wouldn’t go on their precious vacation.
At least it was a short day. Just 1h30 one way and then back. Easy! Once we arrived back at the base I was ready to go back to my bed since I didn’t really sleep more than two or three hours. This was the plan, but it didn’t happen. As I reached the door of my room my key wasn’t working and I had to go back down to the reception. Once I inform them I cannot enter my room they tell me the company called them a few hours ago to check a few of us out of the hotel and we have to leave.
‘What do you mean leave? I just came back from the flight, I want to go to my room!” – I told her in shock and getting angry. At this moment my friend comes running and yelling I need to hurry up because we are going to Cologne and I have thirty minutes to pack my things and be downstairs for us to get the taxi to catch the train. I was extremely tired and angry but I had no other choice but to run upstairs, throw all my things inside the bag as fast as possible and check out. So, I accept to fly on my day off and what I get in return is being checked out of the hotel while I’m flying and then not even being able to take a shower and having to pack to be kicked off to another city in Germany. Amazing!
TAKING THE TRAIN FROM STUTTGART TO COLOGNE
Since we couldn’t figure out if we had assined seats or not, when the train arrived we just entered the train from the first compartment. The seats were impressive and very comfortable and there was even a guy serving coffee and tea to the passengers. We told each other this was a really fancy train and it didn’t take long to realize why. A man came to check the tickets and told us our tickets were for second class and we were currently sitting in first class, and he kicked us out of there. We then moved to second class. All seats were occupied so we did the only thing we could think of – we sat on the floor of the moving train, having to stand up every time the train stopped because we were right next to the door and on the way of those who wanted to enter and exit the train.
When we arrived in Cologne I was exhausted and still couldn’t believe the day I was having after I answered the phone call that woke me up on this day off. The initial plan was to sleep, wake up for breakfast and relax at the hotel and until now I had to wake up at 4am, rush to get ready and run to the plane, get all the mean looks for every passenger on the plane, go from Germany to Palma de Mallorca and back, get checked out of my room while flying, had to pack all my things in thirty minutes, get a taxi and hop on a train, get kicked out of first class and ended up on the floor of a train for three hours and I was now in a different city of Germany. Still think the cabin crew life is glamorous? I’m sure by now you understood the reality of the job.
FINDING THE PERFECT RESTAURANT IN COLOGNE, GERMANY
Compared to Stuttgart, Cologne is a beautiful city. Lucky enough our hotel was right in the city center, a miracle on every level, and that allowed us to explore the entire city on foot and enjoy a beautiful sunny day off in a new city.
The best part of this day was finding a Portuguese restaurant in Cologne. We had been in Germany for a month and were obviosuly missing home. If you know any Portuguese than you know how much we love our country. Finding an authentic portuguese restaurant was a way for us to feel closer to home. I remember we saw the sign of the restaurant and we couldn’t believe our eyes. Once we saw the menu writen in Portuguese we had high hopes it was the real deal. We went to talk to the guy at the door and once we heard him speak Portuguese we knew we had found our lunch place and it was the real deal, 100% portuguese. Everybody knows in order to be the real thing they had to be portuguese. If it was a portuguse restaurant but they didn’t speak the language it wouldn’t be the same.
We walked around the area and didn’t go far from the restaurant because as soon as it opened for lunch we wanted to be there and that’s exactly what we did. At 13h shart we were at the door ready to eat our portuguse meal.
Everyone who worked at the restaurant was portuguese and we even had Fado music playing on the background. We felt right at home. I remember when they brought the food I couldn’t believe it. I asked for a typical Bitoque and a Sagres beer. Couldn’t get more portuguese than that. The food smelled like home and once I took the first bite I swear I almost started crying. For the past month I had been living on schnitzel, sausages and cabbage and all sorts of weird food and eating real and yummy food was just what I needed. There’s nothing like Portuguese food to lift your spirit up!
After an amazing meal, ending with a chocolate mousse and a perfect portuguese expresso – first real, decent coffee in a month -, we ended our day of exploring because we were super full and I was still pretty tired from the day before.
EXPLORING COLOGNE, GERMANY
On the second and final day in Cologne, we went out to explore the city again, this time actually walking all the way to the city center and checking out the main sites of the city. We saw the beautiful Cologne Cathedral, a Unesco World Heritage site, and a must see during any visit to this german city. We walked around beautiful streets full of colorful buildings and with a lot of character that I loved. We stopped to eat a chocolate & strawberry crepe and we ended the afternoon by grabbing an ice cream.
We then returned to the hotel to pick up another colleague and we went back to the Portuguese restaurant for another beautifully yummy meal. Being in a restaurant owned by portuguese people, with two portuguese friends, eating portuguese food, made me feel at home. It was only the second time at this restaurant but the workers and owners of the restaurant almost felt like our temporary family. And surrounded by these amazing people, I said my goodbyes to Cologne. I have to admit at first this entire situation of having to leave Stuttgart to another city for two nights, just because our hotel was overbooked, left me pissed off, but ended up being a perfect getaway that I needed to clear my head.
FROM COLOGNE BACK TO STUTTGART
The next day I returned to Stuttgart alone as my colleagues stayed an extra night. Just another three hours on the floor of the train. In fact, it was a bit of a mess since half way through the train stopped and there was an announcement in Germany. Everyone seemed stressed out and I just couldn’t understand what was happening. I had to ask a guy if he could translate the announcement. He told me the train was no longer going to Stuttgart and if that was our destination we had to get off the train and wait for the next one. WHAT? Why can’t I just have a normal day for a change? With no other choice I got out of the train and waited for the next one. Once I entered I knew I wasn’t on a fast train anymore. It was one of those regional slow trains that stopped everywhere. Plus, the entire compartment was reserved to store bycicles and there was no place to sit, but this train was so full that I couldn’t sit on the floor like before and I had to stand for more than one hour. There was too many people, every time the train stopped it was a mess because people were exiting with their stupid bycicles and others were entering and we were all smashed against each other. To top it all, this train was extremely noisy and my ears were in extreme pain whenever the train entered a tunnel.
STAYING AT ‘PORNERO’ HOTEL
By the time I arrived in Stuttgart I was relief to be back. This place was already my home away from home and I missed my friends even after only three days. Unfortunately my company didn’t end their bad decisions there and decided to change my hotel and I was split