Thursday, December 22, 2005

Arr! and I recently enjoyed a lovely jaunt down to Venice, Italy. I'll let Arr! give you all the details of the trip, but for myself, it consisted mostly of trying to figure out where we were and pointing out to my brother all the places I used to buy stuff. Fascinating stuff for him, I'm sure. Actually, it was a great trip and we even made it all the way out to Torcello, which is an island in the lagoon that has the oldest Venetian church and a really beautiful wall mosaic of the last judgement. Torcello also has a tower, so you can climb up and see practically the whole lagoon. We were really lucky--it was so sunny we could see the Dolomites, so the view was amazing. He'll post photos, I'm sure.

Perhaps just as good as visiting Venice, though, was finally getting to experience first-hand the wonders of Ryanair!! When I first arrived, just about everyone I met told me about Ryanair (which I originally thought was spelled Rhineair, since Mainz is along the Rhine River) and the Frankfurt Hahn airport. Ryanair is probably the cheapest European airline--it is the EU's equivalent of Southwest, only even more budgety. The Frankfurt Hahn airport is a.) not anywhere close to Frankfurt, b.) not close to anything, in fact, and c.) tiny. But, it is also Ryanair's major hub, so you can take a flight for basically nothing to practically anywhere. Our flights to Venice cost a grand total of .01 Euro cent. This came to about 40 Euro, after taxes. The flights back were 29.99 Euro each.

There's a good reason for the cheap rates, though. This is an airline where you have to bring your own vomit bag. Actually, I bet they would give you one, but you would have to ask for it because there isn't even a pocket on the back of the seat where they could put one even if they wanted to. This means, unfortunately, no Sky Mall magazine either. That's right--you can't shop at 37,000 feet in the sky for those great fake yard rocks that you've always wanted. But, even better, Ryanaire brings around a cart full of goodies after the beverages and snacks have been served (yep, you have to pay for those, too). They'll sell you a purse, teddy bear, perfume or aftershave and you don't even have to wait 6 weeks for delivery, like Sky Mall! If you don't have room in your carry-on for some eau de toilette, though, you can always participate in Ryanair's on-board gambling. 2 Euro will get you a scratch ticket with a chance to win an Audi TT or flight vouchers. The worst part about this is that once you've bought one, they've hooked you for the flight back since you've already invested money in it. Arr! and I didn't win, but when we entered our super secret codes at, we got a $45 credit for PokerParty. All we had to do was give them our bank info . . .

One more thing I really enjoyed about Ryanair--their fabulous safety record. No crashes in 18 years, which is pretty good. I think they must be doing so well because flyers are so well informed about the plane's safety features. Having no seat pockets, they've decided the best place to put the escape route drawings are right on the back of the seat, above the tray table. Exactly at eye-level, I might add. This means that no matter where you stare in the plane, you are bound to be looking at the safety guide. Walking down the aisle, you are confronted with about 120 safety guides staring back at you. So reassuring.

We were only one plane away from an Audi TT!!


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