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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Long layover in Beijing (My sky-high life)

In this SWISS Blog report, flight attendant Kristina Roder recounts her impression of Beijing during a night-stop rotation on which she was accompanied by her father.

by Kristina Roder 

I’m always excited when the timetable changes in the spring and autumn. Although the route network generally remains the same, schedule adjustments on specific routes sometimes mean longer layovers for crews, which is great news for a keen traveller like me. During this past winter, we were able to take advantage of a particularly long stay in Beijing.

For flights departing Switzerland on Sunday we had a four-night layover at the centrally located Swissôtel, near the Forbidden City, various parks and numerous markets. The minute I looked at the timetable I wanted to try for a night-stop rotation. This was something I had always wished for and this time my wish was granted. Because my father had long wanted to fly with me to China, this was the perfect opportunity. He obtained a visa while I arranged a ticket for him.

This was my first ever night-stop in China, too. I had never flown to either Beijing or Shanghai before. The culture of Hong Kong is rather different from these two mainland cities, so I was naturally very excited about the imminent night-stop, and a little bit nervous too, based on some of the negative things I had heard in Switzerland about life in the Chinese capital. Fortunately, I can say that nothing of that kind was confirmed. For a tourist at least, a visit to Beijing is a pleasure regardless of the language barrier. The people are easy-going and pleasant. And they do their best to be helpful and take pleasure in the sight of a relatively rare face from the western world. The city’s attractions are visited primarily by Chinese. In fact, tourists are a rarity in China. Business travellers from the West are generally too busy to have time to see much of land or its people.

Beijing, a city with a thousand years of history, impressed us on various levels, from the Great Wall to the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. The buildings are hallmarked by the attention given to detail. They are also colourfully illuminated and truly unique.

The food in Beijing is particularly good, too. Delicious vegetables, fried meat and shared and enjoyed. Chinese-style green beans are one of the best delicacies of all. It might sound incredible but it’s true. Local beer and rice brandy are ideal beverages and combine with the food to make for a perfect evening on the other side of the world.

Please find more details and photos about my journey on my personal blog: A cocktail a day

With the summer timetable now in effect, I’m hoping for night-stop assignments for Chicago or Dubai.

Best regards, Kristina

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