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A Panda to Tuscany++

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Jacques Vert

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Back in 2006 I was sitting in the QF lounge (on a paid membership) and surfing on the computer to fill in time before my flight when I came across a life changing experience: I discovered AFF!

Before that I occasionally made Silver status. After discovering AFF I progressed to Gold, then Platinum for three years, status matches, bonus points etc., etc.

Back to Gold now after a job change and starting my second RTW/Award trip in J. I wanted to say thanks to all the moderators and members for sharing their knowledge and experiences which has made this all possible and decided the best way was to post a trip report (apologies for not doing one last trip).

I can't hope to emulate the wonderful detail in those TRs by RooFlyer but hopefully some of the information +1 and I gain along the way will be of assistance to other members.

JV
 

Ansett

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Back in 2006 I was sitting in the QF lounge (on a paid membership) and surfing on the computer to fill in time before my flight when I came across a life changing experience: I discovered AFF!

Before that I occasionally made Silver status. After discovering AFF I progressed to Gold, then Platinum for three years, status matches, bonus points etc., etc.

Back to Gold now after a job change and starting my second RTW/Award trip in J. I wanted to say thanks to all the moderators and members for sharing their knowledge and experiences which has made this all possible and decided the best way was to post a trip report (apologies for not doing one last trip).

I can't hope to emulate the wonderful detail in those TRs by RooFlyer but hopefully some of the information +1 and I gain along the way will be of assistance to other members.

JV
Don't forget to have a great time :)
 

Jacques Vert

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Well those computer bugs on public networks have caused me a challenge or two since post #1, but OK again for now. We originally booked this trip last December with the following itinerary: CFS-SYD-HKG-MXP (STOP 1) -VIE (STOP 2) -FCO (STOP 3) -DXB (STOP 4) -MEL-SYD-CFS. The retiming of DXB-MEL allowed us to go direct from DXB to SYD but then I realised that not only had we not used all our allowed stopovers but we had only used ~22,000 miles. So began the quest to find an extra stopover and throw in some more miles.
 

Jacques Vert

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So with the help of that wonderful thread by anat0l I joined the BA Executive Club and using the BA, QF, Great Circle Mapper and Expert Flyer websites, I came up with an itinerary that was exactly 35,000 miles. Of course One World distances are a little longer in some instances so this one didn’t work.

In the end we managed to make all our changes during the one telephone call and this is the final itinerary:

CFS-SYD-HKG-MXP (STOP 1 – by car and train through northern Italy to Rome, with a small detour to the Cote d'Azur);

FCO-DOH-SIN (STOP 2). We then return home on a purchased discount economy return ticket;

Then starting again in May 15, we take the return flight to Singapore and resume the Award trip:

SIN-BKK (STOP 3)

BKK-AMM-VIE (STOP 4 – then overland to PRG)

PRG-HEL (STOP 5 - train/ferry to LED & return?)

HEL-BKK-SYD-CFS.

Thus, by buying a return from SIN we get a second trip to Europe off the one award ticket. The changes cost 3.5k points and $326-50 each, plus the return flight from SIN at approx. $750 each.

Quite happy with that as it works out a lot cheaper than a second RTW ticket.

Total miles (according to Great Circle Mapper) is 34,866! The QF agent had it at 34,900+, and we get to use all 5 stopovers.

JV
 
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Jacques Vert

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Day 0: CFS-SYD

Our first flight is from Coffs to Sydney on the Q400 followed by a 23 hour transit in Sydney staying at the Rydges Sydney .Airport. We took their courtesy bus to the hotel, checked in and met up with some friends.

After lunch at Rydges we headed into the city to do some personal business before heading to the Opera House to see Lisa Mc and Teddy TR in the King & I – excellent.

As a Platinum member with Rydges I got a room with a view of the airport and two free drinks with lunch. I find the Rydges at the airport suits me: the courtesy bus between terminals, 50% discount on food and drinks, a room upgrade and just a short stroll across the road to the check in desks.

JV
 

ellen10

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Sounds like a wonderful trip and excellent planning.
I will be following your trip report.
Great start.
 
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Jacques Vert

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Day 1: SYD-HKG

One problem with having a room with a room of the airport is when you look out the window to see your flight take off without you!

Well yes it was a CX flight and it was 8-00am but that was check-in time not take off time! Or was it? I have to admit I did check our ticket and was able to confirm it wasn’t our flight, but rather the earlier flight. Phew.

So walk across the road to check-in, handed a priority pass for immigration and off to the QF Business lounge for breakfast. Actually breakfast was quite good and washed down with a glass of champagne.

We boarded on time and set off a little after 10-00.

JV
 

Jacques Vert

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CX162: SYD-HKG

A330
Captain: John Jolly (or should that be Jolly John?)
CSM: Cassandra

There were only 10 in business class on this flight; in fact the whole plane was nearly empty. CSM Cassandra told us that the riots in HKG plus Tony Abbott’s comments on avoiding travel to HKG at present meant that very few were heading that way. Consequently, the normal CX service was exceptional.

A glass or two of the Deutz Brut Classic (quite nice but a little dry for my taste), plus warm nuts after take-off. Happiness is Champagne and warm nuts!

Then the menu/wine list was handed out and they were having a Portuguese Wine Promotion to celebrate something or other so I had the Cabriz Reserva Dao DOC 2010 with the Prawn entrée and Chicken main, followed by cheese with a lovely Port, then the cheesecake. After a little sleep, more food! This time the fruit, pie and ice cream.

The Menu:


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The Portuguese Wine Promotion:

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Jacques Vert

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We had a 7 hour transit in HKG so what to do?

CSM Cassandra suggested that we indulge in that ancient Chinese tradition SHO PING. So we went through immigration, put the carry-on bags in a locker (HKD72) and caught the S1 bus (HKD3-50 per person) to Tung Chung City Gate Shopping Centre/Factory Outlet, about 20 minutes on the bus.

Then back to the J lounge (Wing) to await the next flight.
 

equus

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If you arrived on CX in J you could have saved the HKD72 - you can leave your carry on in The Arrivals lounge for free (they will store it and give you a check ticket).
 

Jacques Vert

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If you arrived on CX in J you could have saved the HKD72 - you can leave your carry on in The Arrivals lounge for free (they will store it and give you a check ticket).
Bugger! Maybe I had too much of that Portuguese red!



But seriously; thanks for the info equus; it is the sharing of such information that makes AFF such a great site. I will certainly make use of this next time. Do CX offer this facility anywhere else?
 

Jacques Vert

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Day 2: HKG-MXP (0100-0830)

B773ER
Captain: Jamie
CSM: Kerrie

This flight was quite full with only a few seats left in the largish J cabin so the service was not expected to be as instantaneous as the previous flight. However, the lovely Ay Yen was outstanding and I thoroughly enjoyed the flight, the food and the wine; plus a little sleep.

We arrived a little early and after passing the formalities we headed straight to the hire car office and after approx. a half hour wait we were introduced to the Panda:

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Not only is it black, it is registered to a company in Sicily. Very Italian.

The steering on the Panda is even more direct than the Suzuki Swift I used to own so keeping it going in a straight line took a lot of concentration for the first few days. I have no idea how you could steer this thing with a case of the DT’s after a big night (not that I would do such a thing, of course).

So off down the A4 to our first stop: Torino. After EUR13 in tolls and a few wrong turns we managed to find our digs at the Holiday Inn Torino City Centre. This hotel was not up to the normal HI standard but OK. The bathroom had been recently refurbished but the bedroom was a little tired and the carpet in the hallway was due to be replaced about ten years ago.

Not quite in the city centre but about 100m from the railway station Porta Nuova and even less to the nearest tram line. So we walked to the tourism office opposite the station and bought a two day Piedmont/Torino pass; we got the Gold pass which for an additional 4.50 included unlimited access to trams, buses, subway and the river cruise. (Total EUR 32.50pp). Of course it also includes free access to almost all the museums and a discount at the other 1 or 2. We got our money’s worth out of it.

I liked Torino; buildings with colonnades so you con't get wet walking around, lots of open space, not expensive.

Photos by +1...

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Jacques Vert

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After all that history Aperitivo called. First stop was a Pizza shop in the old quarter where a glass of bianco and rossa cost 1.50 each. Turned out to be seriously overpriced even at that!

So we then went up market and paid EUR4 at the next stop before our first dinner in Italy.


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Then headed back to the room.

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JV
 

Jacques Vert

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Day 3: TORINO

This morning we went for the river cruise that was included in our Piedmont Card. We caught the tram to the Parco del Valentino and walked through to the riverbank to catch the boat:

Photos by +1:

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During the boat commentary we discovered that Torino was capital of Italy from 1861 to 1864 which may partly explain the grandeur:

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JV
 
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Jacques Vert

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After the cruise, a walk around more of the sights followed by a visit to the Museo of Cinema, which we both found quite boring; except for the lift up the tower which goes up the centre of the dome and affords excellent views of the city:

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The lift going up through the dome:


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The tower:

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Then Aperitivo:

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Thank you for sharing you trip with us JV.
Look forward to some more reading...... enjoy your trip.
 

Jacques Vert

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Day 4: TORINO to CANNES

Before leaving Torino we visited two more hilltop churches.
First, a short visit to the Monte Dei Cappuccini, just across the river:

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Then, we drove up to the Basilica di Superga, which was built between 1717 and 1731, and which houses the remains of around 70 of the Savoy kings and their families in the crypt. You can also reach the Basilica by catching the number 15 tram (or bus) to Sassi and taking the funicular tram up the hill to just below the Basilica (cost included in the Piedmont Gold Card). If fact we caught the tram the previous day but missed the funicular by 5 minutes so decided to return the following day. The funicular currently leaves Sassi on the hour and Superga on the half hour.


So we parked the Panda at the top and caught the tram down the hill and straight back to check out the views. Unfortunately the views are obscured by trees, etc. most of the way so it was disappointing from that point of view. Doesn’t compare with the funiculars in HKG, Penang or our favourite “La Rhune” on the border between France and Spain adjacent to the Bay of Biscay.

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However, the tram is still an excellent way to get to the Basilica if you don't have a car.
 
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