The following forms the first half of a two part blog post on my recent trip to Geneva.
The Journey Begins
We sit across from a Boeing 777, an impressive sight even in the dim light of morning. I am aboard an Airbus A320, destination Geneva. The cabin interior has been recently refurbished and I am grateful for its warmth on such a cold day. The cabin is warm, although I choose to keep my blazer loosely around my shoulders for the duration of our early morning flight. The flight completes boarding in a few short minutes and I find myself alone on my row as the flight is only two thirds full. Skyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker is stowed into the seat pocket in front of me. The book has acted as an inspiration for this blog post as the author eloquently describes his experiences as an airline pilot. It is a fascinating read and offers an insightful take on some of the worlds most well known, and least known, countries and landmarks.
Taking Off Before Dawn
I requested a window seat for the outbound journey. Although I have flown many times, I am used to sitting in the window seat as I love watching the world roll by below. Ironically, I have a fear of heights, exacerbated by the experience of take-off, yet I love air travel. I know flying is the safest mode of transport there is. Yet, although I am fully aware that I am strapped into my seat yet takeoff is still the least comfortable part of the flight. Once airborne, I am more than happy to look out of the window on any interesting landmarks that can be made out from 37,000 feet.
An array of lights guide the aeroplane down the taxiway to the end of runway 05L. It is here that we will be commencing our journey in earnest. The lighting effect is exaggerated as the skies above us are still as black as they were some three hours ago when I set off from home. Although most of the fog has lifted since the early hours, a thin veil remains shrouding the airport and its surroundings making it difficult to see out of the window. Once we reach the end of 05L, the aircraft pauses momentarily. In a matter of seconds the pilot teases power from the engines, slowly increasing the power until the engines roar. We speed down the runway and the aircraft rotates, leaving the ground and ascending, smoothly yet swiftly.
Settling back for the journey
The flight time of 1 hour and 40 minutes is perfect for me to sink into my book. I gaze out of the window occasionally during the flight, taking in the scenery where I can. The darkness stretches as far as I can see out of the window for at least the first hour of flight. It seems the perfect location to read more of Mark Vanhoenacker’s Skyfaring; indeed, it is at these heights that the experiences described in much of his book took place.
In the last half hour of our flight, I start to notice more out of the window as the darkness loses its grasp on this part of the world. We take a left turn twenty before landing as we pass over the lush green Parc naturel du Haut Jura close to the France-Switzerland border. This is the place where our descent really begins. The landscape becomes noticeably more rugged as we close in on our final destination. Low hanging cloud covers the tops of the hills to our right, dipping into the low lying areas between the peaks.
Landing in Geneva
We turn again, this time to the left to line up for our final approach to Geneva airport. We cross the France-Switzerland border shortly after. Mont Blanc towers away to our right. The mountain is topped with snow like icing sugar atop a cake, it is picture perfect if only I had my camera to hand. We land on Geneva’s own runway 05.
My short journey by air finishes as the aircraft attaches to an airbridge, it is now time to explore this beautiful country on foot.
Check back to see part 2 of my adventure to Geneva next week!