George Pick Aerotours
in association with
George Pick Aerotours Weekend visit to Milan September 2006
Here is Alan Lord's report of our weekend of madness around Milan in September 2006.
"A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what is expected a man should see." Dr. Johnson 1763
The Grand Tour -a slight abridged version.
The advice had been to take stepladders, and so what looked like a one-man window cleaner's outing arrived at Manchester airport, to find his assistant had been forced to abandon his ladders in favour of hand luggage. Our first time flight on an Embraer 170 courtesy of Alitalia was delayed, and after taking libations in a "down at heel hostelry" in Terminal 2, the flight finally departed ninety minutes late, only just managing to take the window cleaners with it. Ever dedicated to in flight training, both intrepid flyers were soon able to educate the youngest flight attendant into a regime, which satisfied their needs on a regular basis (one red one white, every 20 minutes).
On arrival at Malpensa, Guido, as ever proved to be an excellent host, having probably incurred the wrath of Mrs Guido by waiting the extra 90 minutes, but soon we pulled up at the hotel, which was already providing a steady drinks service to those members of the tour party who had already arrived by a variety of airlines.
After a generous nights sleep, the sound of early morning departures filled the cold autumn air, and the need for breakfast became a priority. However there seemed to be distinct shortages of food and drink on display, and with no ham, little cheese, zero croissants, and very little orange juice, ones initial impressions were that the standard of service was sadly lacking. These impressions were to change as the day wore on, but for now it's time to load the party, and a selection of ladders into the vehicles and head for Bergamo.
Those occupying the mini bus has slightly less leg room than that offered by First Choice, but were soon relieved when we arrived at the touchdown point of Orio al Serio airport at Bergamo. Party members with notebooks who required a little number "crunching" were ferried to the terminal, whilst the "clickers" stared into the gloomy morning. It has to be said that not only were the weather conditions rather unkind, but the passing traffic was a little mundane with that well known Irish airline providing a large proportion of the traffic. By lunchtime it was time to give Mr T a chance to restock his system, and so after a brief pit stop on the autostrada we arrived at the line up point at Milan Linate. By now the sun was beginning to break through, and those who wanted registrations had a date with the terminal, and to make a pickup of a new arrival. It is at this point that the lack of breakfast is solved as Mr Warburton and Mr Bloor begin to spend the afternoon eating their home -made sandwiches. The only consolation in all this is that David Warburton becomes so full, he spends the period between aircraft slumped over his ladders. Those who remained soon set up ladders at the fence near the line-up point, and the "game" commenced. It should however be pointed out that whilst most of us were reasonably camouflaged, Mr T had insisted in wearing his Finnish "winter camouflage gear". First was a young Italian gentleman who was persuaded that we would be moving as soon as out transport arrived back, second were some more official gentlemen, who after checking some passports also went on their way, but the third duo of Italy's finest insisted on a little more complex check which involved their radio, but soon we received their seal of approval (just as the party was swelled by the rest of the group returning from the terminal). As each arrival or departure presented itself heads popped above the fence, and quickly went back down.
In between the party indulged in speculation on the crop the farmer was currently trying to grown in that field, and was rapidly succumbing to those intent on trampling it, or making their mark on the landscape by producing their own form of crop circles. Saturday night is spent dining under the stars, with excellent food and drink (except for the slice of orange in the lager) and the sound of a far off Antonov taxiing.
Sunday morning dawns with much brighter weather, and an early start to breakfast reveals a little more food. Then we get down to the serious "clipper day business", and after a short registration, and a look at a model airport, we and a large party of other enthusiasts drawn from all over Europe are transported to a position alongside runway 35R where we enjoy some excellent arrivals and departures, although some people do object to their lens caps being used as an ashtray. After an excellent lunch in the staff canteen of Terminal 2 we given a brief tour of the main ramp before being transported to a position just near the cargo ramp, which allows excellent photographic opportunities as Alitalia's retro liveried fleet pass by for departure. It is interesting to notice some Italian photographers, who although now in the world of digital insist on still taking 27 shots of everything - strange! Too soon it is over, and we are returned to the terminal, a happy bunch of lads (and a few lasses). Now it is time to contribute to Italy's economy by spending excessive euros in beer consumption before departing for our respective flights.
Alitalia's current motto - "visto che a un maggior numero di ore volate corrisponderebbero maggiori perdite" which can be freely translated as: "the more we fly, the more we loose" was obviously uppermost in the crew's minds, as on our return to trip to Manchester, when the fasten seat belts sign remained firmly on for the first forty five minutes of the journey. After the regulation "bun in a box" a short drinks service was offered to the first five rows, before the seat belt sign reappears, and service is abandoned for the rest of the flight, thereby saving Alitalia a fortune on red and white wine.
Next year again - of course !!!!