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BNE - BNE, Hotels B&B's Car Hire

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by QF WP, Sep 18, 2003.

  1. QF WP

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    Characters: Groom = Lindsay (QF WP in FT-land), Bride = Victoria (Vicky). Chief Bridesmaid (CB) = Caroline, Best Man = Andrew, Best Friend SIN = Peter, FT Friend LHR = Dave Noble + other assorted bit players, Ed (Editor) - sometimes Vicky, sometimes Lindsay.

    Photographs of all meals on flights are available, but Lindsay does not have web site to host (nor does AFF). Pictures and story will also be sent to Matthew Clement's mileagerunner.com once completed.

    THIS IS A REAL LIFE STORY. THE NAMES HAVE NOT BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT. NOBODY'S INNOCENT....

    INTRODUCTION: The story begins on 27 December 2002. Lindsay takes Victoria on week-long holiday to Bangkok (flying QF of course!!) (well, we ended up in Phuket - Sheraton Laguna Grande). Many beautiful days are spent lazing by the beach, swimming, walking hand-in-hand at sundown (Ed - I think they get the picture! :wink: ). First and only mistake - prepaid rate :? (aagghhh, all those SPG points gone, no stay credit, bloody idiot I think to myself) [Note to self: NEVER prepay hotel stays using travel agent again].

    Plenty of options available for Lindsay to propose, but each time he thinks this is the moment, something happens to dash his hopes (usually beyond his control). Eventually he proposes at the end of the holiday (on a QF flight actually) on their 6 month anniversary. Needless to say, as Lindsay only bets on certainties, Victoria says YES :D.

    CHAPTER 1

    A number of telephone calls ensue, including one to Vicky's best friend Caroline in London, who (after a bout of abrupt squeals) agrees to being the Chief Bridesmaid (well, when you've known one another 30 years and you get a free airfare to Australia, would you say no??). Job is now up to Lindsay to pay for said airfare - and no "cheapie" mind you, as she'll be the Bridesmaid - no, nothing less than World Traveller Plus (WT+) to match the Bride and Groom. She is also coming out 2 weeks before the wedding to help Vicky prepare for the big day and being escorted back home by Groom/Bride as they start travelling to DUB for their honeymoon.

    Soon after, Lindsay finds very helpful FlyerTalk pal called Dave Noble. After looking at every permutation and commutation of WT+ and J airfares together with AA's Platinum Challenge (with many hours on ICQ late at night and early morning between Brisbane and London), they have organised Carolines's ticket and enrolled her in Plat Challenge. Quickly, ticket is booked in W class (before Lindsay can change his mind about paying), ticket is paid (thanks Amex!), issued then International Air Expressed to Caroline in London.

    Whilst the wedding plans are going along swimmingly, time is dragging it's feet. Finally, with less than 3 weeks to go, hurried telephone calls, emails and SMS'es fly between Brisbane and London. Dave has also pointed out the benefits of On Line Check In (OLCI) with BA, so all paxs are joined up. After looking at the ITN web site the morning of the flight, Dave and Liindsay agree that normal check-in would be a disaster at LHR (as available seats are showing 0's across all classes), so OLCI is undertaken for Caroline (who's not a FF prior to this story). SMS's fly between Lindsay and Caroline, indicating that check-in has already been done (greeted with a bemused comment) and she should proceed to the Fast Bag Drop at Heathrow and forgo the queues. Caroline readily agrees (like what else could she do, somebody else is in control here - Ed)

    (Excerpt from checkmytrip.com)

    British Airways BA 17 Saturday, August 16, 2003
    Depart: London / Heathrow (LHR) Terminal: 4, London United Kingdom 9:15 PM

    Stop: Singapore / Changi (SIN), Singapore Singapore (Transit)

    To: Melbourne / Tullamarine (MEL), Melbourne, Victoria Australia 4:20 AM
    (Monday, August 18 )

    Status Confirmed
    Cabin Coach
    Aircraft Boeing 747-400
    Flight duration 22:05
    Mileage 10307 miles
    Stop(s) 1
    Meal, Meal
    Seat(s) 21D - Non-smoking

    (then connect to)

    Qantas Airways QF 600 Monday, August 18, 2003
    From: Melbourne / Tullamarine (MEL), Melbourne, Victoria Australia 6:05 AM

    To: Brisbane / Brisbane Airport (BNE), Brisbane, Queensland Australia 8:10 AM

    Status Confirmed
    Cabin Coach
    Aircraft Boeing 767-200/200ER
    Flight duration 2:05
    Mileage 851 miles
    Stop(s) 0
    Meal Breakfast

    After an SMS from Singapore (to tell us that she had arrived safely), Vicky and Lindsay race to BNE airport (QF Dom Terminal) on Monday morning to pick up Caroline. Due to traffic snarls (yes, even when we live 4kms from the airport), we are late but Caroline rings. Lindsay drops Vicky who races into the Baggage Collection area while Lindsay is forced to do the lap by the lovely :x "Traffic Police". He returns to find them giggling on the kerbside....AA's newest Platinum member is looking brilliant, considering the direct LHR/MEL flight...and the atrocious arrival time in MEL and connection to BNE. Soon, however, she slides into deep slumber when presented with a shower, soft pillows and a bed...
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    ..........END - CHAPTER 1.........

    (In the next episode, Best Man arrives from MEL, boys are ensconced in Hilton BNE, Lindsay and Vicky marry on a perfect Spring day...)
     
  2. QF WP

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    Jun 20, 2002
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    Chapter 2...

    ...CHAPTER 2....

    Now we were only missing the last ingredient in the wedding party...the BEST MAN!! He had work commitments that only allowed him to fly up a week before the wedding:

    QANTAS AIRWAYS QF0612 ECONOMY CLASS (O)
    DEPART 22AUG03 MELBOURNE 10.05AM
    ARRIVE 22AUG03 BRISBANE 12.10PM

    Whilst I was lucky to have the afternoon off work, I raced home to pick up Vicky and Caroline (sorry Bella - our labrador/staffy cross dog - you can't come to the airport this time!), then raced to the airport. We went straight to Gate 24. Whilst the plane landed and docked, the girls headed for the Travelex Booth to exchange some currency (for Caroline) and pick ours up (that we had ordered on-line). Even better, 1736 FF points were credited to Vicky's FF balance. Andrew arrived and I brought Andrew over to meet his "partner" for the next week. They look great together (Vicky harbours some hopes still) - both roughly the same height, dark hair, blue eyes, good looking...our wedding photo's will just be the best!

    To give Andrew and Caroline some idea of the reception venue and for the four of us to spend some time together, we took them to the Qld Cricketers Club (at the Gabba) for dinner. Supervisor Barbara and waitperson Joanne (whom I both know well) served us that night and a bit of red wine was inbibed. One of the few disappointing things was that Joanne advised she wouldn't be there on the wedding night - a real blow, she was excellent.

    The next 7 days were uneventful until Friday 29th dawned. Another day I had off, so Vicky and I did the final preparations (collecting flowers, delivering items to the reception venue, dropping Vicky back home and colllecting my overnight bag). I then drove off into the sunset...for my 2 night sojourn at the Brisbane Hilton.

    Andrew had problems in the previous 3 days with accomodation I had organised for him - Wednesday night he wanted to stay at the Sheraton and then 3 nights at the Hilton starting Thursday. As this was our wedding present to him (paying for the accom), I had booked and pre-paid the Sheraton and booked the Hilton stay.

    Well, Sheraton couldn't find the payment (but lucky I had given the payment advice to Andrew), so they eventually matched it up. Then problems at the Hilton, I had extended the stay from 2 night to 3 (to include Thursday - using Hilton Worldwide Reservations to make the change), but no extension to Thursday showed in the reservation when he checkd in. They eventually sorted it out (after first saying that there were no Executive Floor Rooms available, I stood my ground as that was what I had booked) and puut him in 2520. His room was nice when I saw it - king size bed, facing Carlton Crest, King George Square and Roma Street.

    I turned up in my car, gave the keys to the Head Concierge, tipped him $20 (yes, I always believe in tipping well at the beginning) after advising him I was here for my wedding on Saturday. I took the lift up to the Atrium Level and walked to the Reception Desk. The $$ tip were to pay off handsomely later in the stay...

    This lobby is spectacular (with it's lifts looking directly onto the Atrium Cafe and going up 25 levels) rivalling the Sheraton's (admittedly it's are on outide, looking over Brisbane CBD). If you have problems with heights, don't plaster your face to the glass of the lits as it ascends or decends...but back to the storyline. I checked in (Hilton Gold) and was allocated Room 2512 on the Executive Floor (right next to the lifts). What I didn't know until getting into the Room, was there were 2 single beds :? (although my profile and reservation confirmation both specifically ask for King Beds). I went back down with my bags and patiently explained that whilst tonight that wouldn't be a problem, on my Wedding Night I was NOT sleeping in a single bed :eek: :wink: . After having the Supervisor intercede, I was then allocated 2520 (at the furthest end of the corridor, so less traffic noise). This was much better - King Size Bed, Room overlooking CBD and Brisbane River and over to the Wedding Venue (Anglican Church Grammar School, East Brisbane - better known as "Churchie") and the Reception. Normal room layout - Business Desk, TV, King Size Bed, etc.

    Andrew and I went out for a quick Chinese meal (David's on Elizabeth Street, across the road and up from the Hilton) and then back to the Hotel. I knew I needed a good sleep the night before the wedding...but with an AFL match on the TV and my brain racing, I worked on my speech instead. At 12.30am, sleep finally beckoned...
     


  3. QF WP

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    ...CHAPTER 3...

    Woke up on the day of my wedding at 8am to a slightly cloudy sky and smiled. Not much to do beforehand, but I wanted to make sure that I was on time or early at all times, to allow for the unexpected.

    Rang my Best Man, made sure he was up and met him for a full breakfast at the Executive Club Lounge (Level 24) at 8.30am. Cup of Twinings English Breakfast woke me up. The Exec Lounge has great views (same side as his room) with doors for entry to the Lounge off Level 23 and 25 (thus avoiding use of the lifts to travel only one floor).

    I'd thought that if the bridal party can go to the hairdresser (albeit with a bottle of non alcoholic wine), so can I. So off to my favourite hairdresser, Anna Dunne, owner of Obsidian Hair Design (Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley - a 5 min cab drive). I took them a bottle of Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne (I'd also scored a 187ml bottle free, so I drank that!).

    In the cab and then outside my hairdresser, I got 2 phone calls from invited guests saying they were ill - a couple who'd picked up the flu from their children and a female friend who'd had Day Surgery the day before and was still too tender and in pain to attend. Thinking quickly, I rang my fiancee and we put the "alternate guest" plan into place (my reserve list, if you will). Within minutes, I had another couple lined up to come (they were already coming to the ceremony, so easy to get them to stay for the reception).

    Sat down to get my head massage (15 mins of bliss from a young stylist with awesome finger strength) and relax. My hair cut had been done the week before, so just some "product", style, finish the champagne, then hop another cab back to the Hilton, arriving around 11.15am.

    Time enough to sit down for a quick meal, so to kill some time we wandered into the Queen Street Mall and down to my favourite Japanese takeaway - Sumo, downstairs in the Food Court of Broadway on the Mall. Had a mixed sushi and sashimi meal and a Miso Soup, delicious. Time to go back and get ready...it was 12.30pm.

    Andrew and I had collected out hire shirt (Ivory) and vests (gold for me, black for Andrew) before dinner last night and had already tried them on to make sure they fitted. In addition, I had purchased a new Ermenegildo Zegna Dinner Suit, which had been altered in the preceeding weeks and needed only to be picked up. Now we had to make sure the total package geled.

    When we both had trouble with getting the Fat Boys sitting/tied correctly (thought we'd be different by wearing them, rather than bow ties), we went back up to Calabro Hire (in the Wintergarden) to have John fit them properly. Don't let ameteurs near one...although we got quite a number of stares from people walking back to the Hotel.

    After finishing getting dressed and in the mniddle of rehearsing my speech, the Maid Service came to change my Room. Got some extra towels (as I knew my wife would need them the next morning) and had a lively discussion with the Maid about marriage.

    We were waiting at the life well and the lift arrived, opening up to reveal a bride, 3 bridesmaids, a flower girl and photographer having problems getting to Level 20. Andrew assisted whilst we quiped they were short of some important members of the party...

    Off to the Church we went, using my booked Executive Taxi (thanks John for the safe trip). Arrived at 2.45pm (45 mins before), so we used the time to SMS the bridal party with a "Groom has arrived at Church, Bride missing" which was her queue to start the drive from our home. Photo's ensued in the School grounds and then went to greet and mingle with the arriving guests. The wedding before was still in progress, so we had to be a little quiet. In fact, it was still in progress when I spotted my fathers and uncle's car coming up the street, so they were directed to do a long lap whilst I dived off to make sure that I didn't see the Bride.

    The wedding went off without a hitch at 3.30pm (only 2 hymns - my School hymn "The Head That Once Was Crowned With Thorns" and Vicky's choice - "All Creatures Great and Small") and barely 45 mins later, we were Mrs & Mrs Wilson. Now the fun started...group photo's, wedding party photo's and the short trip from East Brisbane to Woolloongabba and the reception at the Qld Cricketers Club.

    Because there were a number of functions on in the corporate function rooms around the ground, the internal lights were on. We had picked a weekend when the Brisbane Lions were playing in Melbourne and the Brisbane Riverfire (a fireworks spectacular on the Brisbane CBD reach of the River, using the Story Bridge as the focal point). True to our planning, just as my father-in-law was walking to give his speech, the F1-11's roared almost overhead (thankfully, our guests had been forewarned), down the river and lit their afterburners. Unfortunately, our view of the event were blocked, but we heard it. Just after he finished (almost as if on cue), they rored back overhead on their way back to Amberley Air Base, just west of Ipswich. My speech was near perfect, apart from the unwise choice of words when describing a friends unit as "party central, were we were well serviced"..instead of "served"...you can guess the reaction of the guests :D :D

    Much drinking and raucous behaviour followed and before we knew it, 10.30pm had arrived and we had to leave. Unfortunately, our Executive Taxi wasn't late (so much so, when we found out that he was in Chermside near where we live), we cancelled him. Instead, good friends from the Gold Coast who were getting married 2 weeks later acted as our taxi and dropped us as the Hilton. They couldn't stay as were driving back to the Gold Coast (100kms).

    Now, we had planned to drop our gear and head off to a favourite bar, Bravo (where I'd finished my Bucks Day), in Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley again (helps knowing the management and bar staff). Problem being is that everybody in Brisbane was looking for a cab after Riverfire. After a fruitless 45 min wait (even the Concierge couldn't help us, as much as I know they wanted to), I gave up and drove - I was sober after all (on my wedding day :eek: ). The wedding party turned up and partying continued...we took over the bar. My wife and I left at 1.30am, taking with us Andrew and Caroline. We left them to their own devices on level 24 (Caroline had been allocated a Room there as well) as our lift took us to Level 25. To this day, we still don't know what time they retired...or whose Room ;) (see below...)

    (Certain details deleted - Ed) and we woke up the next morning to another fine but cloudy day. We had arranged with the Exec Floor Lounge to book the private Room (on Level 23) for a wedding party long breakfast. We arrived at 9am (after havine some trouble locating both of our wedding party, where we looked at one another and celebrated with OJ's, tea and a monster cooked breakfast. Surprising how hungry one gets after not eating a lot the night before.

    Check out was at 11.30am (a little later than we had advised Reception), but no problems. I arranged to transfer the Room charges on the other two rooms to my Bill, then paid all at once. $1,133 later (for 6 room nights), we packed up, having said goodbye to Andrew (who was spending the day with friends in Brisbane, before flying back to MEL).

    QANTAS AIRWAYS QF0631 ECONOMY CLASS (O)
    DEPART 31AUG03 BRISBANE 1650
    ARRIVE 31AUG03 MELBOURNE 1910

    We arrived back home, sat down briefly over a cuppa, then began the unpacking and re-packing for our honeymoon beginning tomorrow.

    (Coming up next...first flight as a married couple, taking photo's on board and Caroline's suprise)
     
  4. QF WP

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    Chapter 4

    ...CHAPTER 4...

    Monday, Sept 1 had finally arrived...my birthday the day before now pushed into the past (although the feeling of waking up next to my wife was an experience), we now had to organise ourselves for 2 flights today.

    I immediately got onto my computer and using the BA OLCI, checked in and confirmed our seats for our International sector this afternoon - pity that we couldn't do this for QF domestic as well.

    My parents decided to drive over from Fig Tree Pocket to our house at Chermside (25-30 mins) just to take us to the airport. Dad's car had been one of the wedding cars (he and his twin brother have matching E320 Mercedes), he and Mum wanted to come and see us safely off.

    Day: Monday Date: 1 September
    Airline: QF Flight Number: QF617
    Rego: VH OGA (767/338)
    STD: 11.50am ATD: 11.50am


    Check-in was different - normally I'm by myself and it's just domestic travel. Today with with two beautiful women, I lined up in the empty Business line. Jill (CSA) took our tickets, my Plat, Vicky's Gold and Carolines's AA FF cards plus passports - Vicky's and my Australian and Caroline's UK. Within 7 minutes we had both BP's for the day and our 3 bags (all under min weight) were tagged to SIN. Interestingly, Jill used a PDA to find out how to correctly insert Caroline's AA FF number into her booking. Very resourceful and friendly, she was excited for us..our first flight together as a married couple (although Vicky was still using her maiden name). I had been allocated seat 28B, Vicky 28A, Caroline 28C (sequence 91 to 93).

    As Caroline was a brand new AA member on the flights on the way over, she hadn't been able to access any lounges. She was now in for her first experience - BNE QC, which I told her she could now access without me. But given she didn't have her AA Plat card and was a newbie to all this, I gave the CSA at the Recepton Desk our 3 BP's and flashed my Plat Card and Vicky's Gold.

    I took them in and seated them on the RHS, towards the tarmac where they could see the activity. We hadn't had the chance for a lot of breakfast this morning, so the girls wandered over to the servery (as I call it). The lounge was moderately full for a Monday. I went up to the Services Desk and politely enquired whether there was any chance that there were 3 on-departure upgrade seats available, not thinking that the answer would be anything but no - one is always possible, 2 rarely, 3 I'd never tried before. I just about jumped over the counter to embrace the CSA when I was told there were! The upgrade Gods were smiling on our trip already. I said YES before I could think twice and the CSA was busy taking 15K FF points from my account.

    Although I had a LFML and Caroline had ordered a VEGE meal, I found that they weren't able to be transferred up to J. Wasn't sure whether this was going to be a problem for Caroline, but I crossed my fingers. Went back to the girls (who were eating fruit and drinking tea) with a frown on my face and told them I had good and bad news. Good news - we're now ALL sitting in J, the bad - I couldn't guarantee Caroline would get access to vegetarian food. This was Caroline's surprise - she just smiled sweetly at me and commented that she was sure there would be something to eat (even if we had to cannabalise our trays to give her food).

    Our flight was called, so on the way through, called back to the CS Desk to thank the CSA. A friend who is a CSA had just started his shift was sitting there as well, so I made introductions all round. As usual, excellent service. We picked up our new BP's on the way out - Vicky and I in 5J&K, Caroline in 5E.

    We walked to Gate 24 (in the main concourse, with the closest Gate to QC being 22) and whilst in the line, I was spotted by another friend (an ex-workmate) so I introduced her to the girls. She wanted to know what seat I was in (trying to help me with an op up), but when I showed her my BP, she smiled knowing there was nothing she could do for us and wished us well on our honeymoon.

    We boarded near the end of general boarding and were met by CSD Paul Williams at the door and directed to our seats. We momentarily said goodbye to Caroline (as she was on the near aisle, we were on the far aisle), stowed my FF bag under the seat ahead and both settled down with an OJ. Luckily, nobody sat next to Caroline (on our side), but she didn't change seats to be closer to us. J config was 1x2x2.

    Captain Whittaker announced he would be piloting the plane along with First Officer Peter Garratt (not the singer!). The J FA's were Yves and Helen. Flight time was expected to be 1 hour 56 min, with arrival expected on time. Weather was OK for MEL. We pushed back on time and after a 7 min taxi, took off at 11.57am.

    Meal service on this flight was lunch - Yves served up a poached salmon salad with mustard vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, snowpeas, some dried apricots and a bread roll. Drinks service: white wine was Andrew Hardy's 2002 Reserve Chardonnay '02, red was Brown Brothers 2001 Shiraz, champagne was Edward & Caffrey Section 353 1998 Pinor Noir Chardonnay (poor by tinkybelle's standard). Regardless, we felt it was sacriligious not to open a bottle in honour of our first flight together as a married couple, so we filled up.

    At this point, I pulled out my trusty camera and proceeded to photograph my full tray. Vicky couldn't understand why I'd want to, Caroline saw the flash go off (as did another pax in 5A), but I couldn't have cared. The girls ended up giggling about it (Ed - I think the champagne helped there :D).

    Our trays were taken at 1.10pm and I was left with the Brown Brothers red and a water to finish, which I sat over for 10 minutes. Nothing was making me hurry today. I browsed the Qantas In-flight magazine and mentally prepared myself for our Domestic to International connection.

    Touchdown was at 1.52pm and at 2pm, we docked at Gate 8. We said goodbye to Yves who had looked after us magnificently and started the short trek beetween terminals.

    (Coming up - Duty Free shopping and MEL QF/BA First Lounge)
     
  5. QF WP

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    ...CHAPTER 5...

    After traversing our way across from the domestic Terminal with only our hand luggage, we located the correct check-in area and Row 79 (F Check-in line). We were the 3rd group in line (both in front had luggage), so it took 15 mins to get to the front.

    Day: Monday Date: 1 September
    Airline: BA Flight Number: BA18
    Rego: G-BNLB (747/400) Chatham Historic Dockyard
    STD: 4.15pm ATD: 4.15pm


    CSA Steven Hill was there to take our OLCI statements, Passports, and tickets. After explaining that we already had our seats allocated through OLCI, he took no time at all to issue our BP's - 17J&K. He took our baggage tag numbers and loaded them into the system.

    We then sat down to complete our Passenger Statements and then walked through to the Immigration queue. From recollection, we all got through relatively unscathed in the process and then headed into the Duty Free area.

    We had researched digital video cameras (thanks mainly to an insert in The Australian newspaper a week or so before) and found Downtown Duty Free having a special on the one we wanted - a Sony. We collected an extra 64MG stick and 3 video tapes.

    At the same time, Caroline went to change some AUD back into GBP (pity, I should have told her to do this prior to Immigration as there was a Travelex we could have got some more QFF points).

    I looked at the GST line but decided it wasn't worth waiting - I had to try out the QF First Lounge instead. Found the escalator on the RHS and down we went to the Lounge. We were greeted by Barbara, who as soon as she saw my Plat Card, ushered off to the First opaque glass door (on the LHS of the Reception Desk).

    Lounge: QF First, MEL Intl

    It's slightly smaller than its counterpart in SYD and only 1 desktop computer and a different seating arrangement - booth like seating and the majority are 2x2 facing seats. Food was a selection of cheeses, olives (black and green), hot plate with mini quiches, ham & chicken slices, buscuits etc. Small fridge with drinks onthe LHS of hot plate area. We sat in one of the booths while Caroline went to check her emails.

    Vicky unpacked the video, discarded the packaging and started to read the Operating Instructions; while I settled back with Lonely Planet's "Ireland" to do more research for our honeymoon.

    Boarding was called on time (3.45pm) and knowing about the security check still ahead of us, we took the escalators back up to Gate 11. The security line was probably 40 persons long and all hand luggage was opened and searched, then we were wanded. There were 8 security personnel, so the line took about 20 mins. Having survived that ordeal, we welcomed getting on board.

    Upon boarding, we were welcomed by CSD Peter Greenham and directed to our seats. Senior Purser was Susan (in F), Purser Tom Bamford (in J), with Kim, Jonathan and Vicky in WT+ cabin.

    We pushed back and take off was at 4.27pm and after an uneventful climb to cruising altitute, Capt Carl Jervis announced it was a 7hr 10 min flight so we settled back. At 4.50pm drinks and snacks were served. I am growing to love Pfeiffers spicy tomato breadsticks (washed down with a Jim Beam and Tonic). At 5.45pm, dinner was served, with a choice of:

    Honey and Coriander Chicken, Salad with French Dressing finished by Cherry Almond Slice atop custard; or

    Sweet & Sour Fish wiht Penne Pasta, Salad with French Dressing, Cherry Almond Slice.

    I chose the Fish (see photo when available) and found it beautiful. There was a drinks cart, but after the drinks consumed in the First Lounge and with a sleep ahead of me, I thought it best to not partake. Dinner was cleared at 6.15pm and I settled back to alternatively talking to my wife or reading Lonely Planet.

    The FA's came around at 10.30pm (Aus time) with another snack service - my sandwich was lettuce, swiss cheese, tomato and ham finished by a mini chocolate Twirl. That helped me go to sleep.

    My comments about WT+ - extra leg room was welcome and view over the wing, but pillows are FLAT. I would definitely fly this premium Y seat over any Y seat, even taking into account the extra $.

    Before I knew it, we were touching down at 11.30 (SIN time) on Runway W9/02L and taxied to Gate C25. We de-planed after thanking all the FA's for the service and walked a mile (the strech out was nice) to Immigration (nice and quick as usual, no queues!) and to Belt 18. As we arrived, our bags were making the circuit, so we picked them up and out in SIN airport we gladly strode.

    After quickly working out that a Limo was probably going to be easier (and about the same cost) for 3 pax with bags; we approached the Limo Desk and found Steve Seetoh with his Mercedes C320 (I think it was) (mobile +65 9738 9058). He does a great service - Arrival Meet & Greet, Sightseeing around the Island, Airport transfers and speaks good English!

    (Next...quick 25 hours in SIN)
     


  6. QF WP

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    Chapter 6

    ...CHAPTER 6...

    Arriving in SIN at 10pm (midnight according to our bodies), we were keen to get to the hotel for the night - I had chosen the Singapore Hilton.

    Hotel - Hilton Singapore

    Upon arrival, our car was stopped at the barrier and a security guard viewed the underside of our car with an extended mirror. What I had not told the girls was that Peter (my friend in SIN) had rung me to advise there had been a bomb scare on the Hilton a couple of days prior. I considered this infomation with trying to get different suitable accom with just days left and chose not to tell the girls - I had been to SIN before when the crackdowns were on and felt sure that the security would hold. Others may not agree with my risk assessment...

    Usin one of my Hilton Diamond Club vouchers, got Caroline's room for USD$85 (totalled SDL$177.78 including all taxes). Our was $323.23 incl. taxes - both were booked through the Hilton web site and requested Deluxe Floor, King Bed.

    We ended up on the same floor - Caroline in Room 1308 and us in 1322. We said goodnight to Caroline and told her we would meet for breakfast in the morning at 9am. We were greeted by the standard Hilton room - our view was to the back of the hotel grounds and a roadway (but too dark to really see too much). We were in our Rooms by 11pm, but it still took us an hour to do the obligatory things - open bags, unpack toiletries etc.

    The next day at 8.30am, my mobile (cell phone) woke us up - time enough to hop in a brief shower and pick up Caroline on the way down to breakfast (located on the Ground Floor, beyond the Reception and Business Centre). Great breakfast spread comparable to other Hilton's and we ate for 6 (as breakfast was in room rate, or if it was they didn't charge us). When then all left to walk down Orchard Road - the girls to do some shopping and me to meet one of my best friends who lives in SIN.

    Whilst the girls wandered Orchard, we sat around chatting about the wedding (Peter was unable to attend due to study commitments), our travels and his work. I made my way back to the Hilton around 2pm as we needed to check out at 3pm (latest I could arrange). I went to the Business Centre and used BA's On Line Check In (OLCI) to confirm our seats on the flight tonight (as it was still oversold in all classes) and check up on what was happening on FT (well, the QF board to be precise) - SIN $29.12 for 1 hour seemed very rich, but the joys of travel expenses :roll: (Ed - it was well worth it, read on...)

    I had called Steve Seetoh again to arrange a limo pick-up, so after checking out at 3.20pm (and collecting both bills onto my CC, along with the HHonor points + stay credit), he was waiting and we made the journey back to Changi Airport for the next flight.

    Day: Tuesday Date: 2 September
    Airline: BA Flight Number: BA18
    Rego: G-CIVX (747/400)
    STD: 11.35pm ATD: 11.40pm (push back), 11.56pm (take off)


    After going through the security x-ray outside Row 5, we proceeded past the empty Y check-in counters to the SATS Premier Lounge Check-In. I hadn't checked in there previously, so thought we should give it a try. Entry was via displaying our ticket and my QF Plat Card. The ladies sat down in the cosy chairs whilst I handled the check-in, having loaded up with their tickets, cards and passports.

    Special meals were confirmed and seats 20FGH allocated, whilst bags were correctly tagged to destinations (ours to DUB, Caroline's to LHR). We exited the lounge through the rear sliding door to the Customs areas. SIN customs has never failed to be a breeze, so it was barely a couple of minutes before we cleared, turned left and heded up the steps.

    Lounge accessed - BA First

    I love this lounge! After entering the glass doors, the Reception Desk is one your RHS and usually staffed by a QF and BA CSA. Tonight we met Tan (BA) and she had no trouble allowing us to enter after viewing my QF Plat card and our BP's. Either turn left to the showers (see specific report below) or right to the main seating area. After turning right, there is a luggage rack (but strangely out of use at present), magazine rack and bar fridges with round display table loaded with delicious food - tonight was no exception with mini pies (delicious meat, no gristle), sauteed spicy lamb (I think it was) in pastry shells, cheeses, olives, crackers and soup.

    The Lounge looks out over the main inbound Customs hall on the LHS. The water feature running 2/3rds the length of the lounge is the standout attraction - very relaxing as well as the visual pleasure. There is also one cascading down the back wall. The chair colours are a bit passe and drab [brown (platinum perhaps?) and mostly in sets of 4 - 2x2 facing one another, while 1x1 along the glass wall].

    In the back half of the lounge on the LHS is a self-service bar, with open bottles of champagne, white and red wine and exotic juice mixes. Tonight it featured Joseph Perrier Brut Champagne Cuvee Royale (great to start the night), Goundrey 2002 Unwooded Chardonnay, Goundrey 2001 Cabernet Merlot (did it justice by us drinking most of the bottle between us), Cranberry & Grapefruit Quencher (very refreshing) and Lemon and Kalamansi Delight (Vicky enjoyed this one). Rooms on the RHS of the Lounge are almost hidden, 5 of them have a couch/bed + chair and telephone.

    Sideline Report - The Showers

    Turning right after the Reception Desk, you enter what appears to be a round frosted glass room with a water feature (black marble ball with cascading water). Closer inspection will reveal doors numbered 1 to 9 on a stainless steel vertical panel plus a "shower lady" sitting in a cubicle. Pushing on the panel (I chose 7, the girls chose others), upon entry it reminded me of a day spa room. Floor to ceiling mirror on the RHS, wall-mounted hair dryer (set into the wall), and another feature (mini cactus in mine) also set into the wall alongside the black marble wash basin with Molton Brown Fine Liquid Hand Wash in a wall-mounted bracket. A plastic-wrapped pack was sitting on a square wooden stool - containing white towel, bath mat and face washer + Molton Brown AB+C Bath & Shower Gel. It (the stool - being very plain) almost looked out of place with the surroundings.

    Shower at the end of the cubicle with 2 taps and 3 nozzles (directed at head, chest and legs). One point of consternation - with it being an open shower (no door or shower curtain), it was hard to stop water inundating the bath mat.

    Regardless, anybody who has the time, should stop by for a pre-flight shower. Relaxing, invigorating, refreshing - just what you need after a day in the humidity of SIN.

    (back to the Main Report now)...

    Boarding was called at 11.10pm , so we headed for Gate C1 - not a long walk thankfully. We passed through security x-ray and wanding, then handed our BP's to the Gate staff.

    Many here will know the next feeling well - my BP "beeped" as it passed through the reader. My first impression is always trepidation - "what went wrong?". A thousand thoughts went screaming through when Vicky's also troubled the machine, but by then I had an inkling of what was to happen. Strangely (and in hindsight, sadly), Caroline's did not "beep".

    Staff: "Oh, Mr Wilson and Miss Whitehead, you've been upgraded on tonight's flight"...YES!! an op-up, by jingo, by crickey - and a long haul one at that!

    I could have danced a jig, until I quickly realised that we would be separated from Caroline (still in WT+). We both pouted good naturedly with Caroline and hugged her, but you could tell she was happy for us but at the same time disappointed that she couldn't share it with us. It seemed a little unfair, but only two seat had become available... they weren't together (13F for me, 14D for Vicky) and very little chance to play seat swapping on board. at least I realised when we boarded that I could still see Vicky (even it I was looking back at her).

    We were met by CSD Geoff Hall as we boarded, we hugged Caroline and told her we'd visit during the flight and settled into the BA J main cabin. CSD in J was Pam Woodley, who served us with Thierry. I noticed Vicky sitting next to a lady who had a child, so I knew my chances of finding a swap was miniscule.

    Capt Neil Meade and F/O Phil Nichols took us to London. It was a very long taxi, then we were third in queue for take-off. Finally, were lumbered up into the midnight sky (it always seems so slowly). Drinks were offered at 12.25pm then the meals:

    Entree

    Choice of either:

    Tomato & Mozarella Bocconcini, or

    Crab Salad

    (I had the Bocconcini, see the photo's when I've got them available)

    Dinner - served 12.45pm SIN time

    Didn't get the choices written down properly, but were:

    Chicken Caesar Salad
    Snapper (my choice, see photo)
    + 2 others

    The Snapper came with mushrooms, bok choy, celery and rice. I washed it down with a Shiraz (it was very poorly offered by the FA's, just "Shiraz or Chianti with your meal" and being so dark, couldn't see the labels). By that stage, I was too tired to go back to the Galley to ascertain all the information.

    Plates cleared at 1.45am (SIN time), water bottles were offered and I soon drifted off to sleep...next thing I remember was 7.5 hours later, waking up as they came around with juice or water. The BA J almost-flat beds were beautiful, maybe a little tight for me (6'2" or 184cms tall) but certainly helped me arrive comfortable and surprisingly, no major jet lag.

    Breakfast was served at 4.20am (London time - 2 hours prior to landing):

    Toni Premium Yougurt

    Medley of Fruit [mango, kiwifruit, watermelon, paw paw (papaya to some), strawberry, grapes]

    Choice of Hot Breakfasts:

    English - scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato and mushrooms (my choice - see photo)

    French Toast

    Breakfast Pizza

    Pastries from the Basket

    (Ed - Vicky had the French Toast and wished she hadn't - it wasn't very appetising at all).

    Touchdown was at 6.05am, arriving at the Gate by 6.18am. London weather was 15C, slightly cloudy. We all cleared Customs through the EU channel in 30 seconds as there was no line-up.

    (coming up...saying goodbye is never easy :cry: , Terraces Lounge and DUB flight).
     
  7. QF WP

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    Prelude to Chapter 7

    Excellent, was going through some boxes with Mrs LW and voila..out pops my missing TR for my honeymoon. Now just what it was doing in the box with all her photo's, I don't know... :roll:
     
  8. QF WP

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    Chapter 7

    Now where was I before I was rudely interrupted by the missing Trip Report notes...ah yes, just landed in the UK - saying goodbye is never easy, Terraces Lounge and DUB flight.

    Well, we cleared Customs & Immigration in a flash, the befefit of being 3 pax with EU passports. There waiting for us was Caroline's mum, who had made the trip up from Hurst Green (a town south of London). Mrs QF WP (aka Mrs LW) hadn't seen her in 4 years, so we were soon knee deep in tears and group hugs. At this stage, I felt a little bit out of place, standing to one side until the waterworks finished. I was then introduced to CB's mum and we decided that we needed an early cuppa to settle the state of excitement.

    We found some lifts at the side of the Terminal and caught one up to an English Pub that strangely was still open for business, complete with a drunk and a couple of bouncers/bar staff cautiously watching him lurch around talking to anybody he saw (and I'm sure he was seeing people who weren't there :? ).

    We had an impending deadline, as our departure for Irelend was at 9.05am, so we finished up and caught the lift back down. We hugged all round and watched CB+Mum disappear out the door to drive home...and we were finally alone, on our honeymoon...

    OK, time to snap out of the reverie, back to the real game. Attention switched to the need to change Terminals and catch our EI flight (codeshared with BA). We walked through the maze of tunnels to T1 and after exiting the lifts, looked around for where we needed to go. I caught sight of the "BA UK Departure" signs and lined up at one of the ticket counters. Of course, we were told by the Check-in staff that although our flight was a BA codeshare, we needed to check-in at the EI desks - that's the difference of not flying often in London. Thankfully we hadn't wasted too much time with this diversion and weren't about to miss the flight, so we wandered around the corner to the correct desk and it didn't take long for the CSA to enter our bag tag numbers into the computer and issue BP's for the flight - sequence number 116. It was 8am by this stage, so time to find the Lounge.

    Lounge Report - Terraces Lounge T1.

    I didn't get the name of the Reception Desk CSA's - they weren't wearing nametags that were visable. Front desk was manned by 4 CSA's who checked our BP's and we walked up the short, straight flight of steps to the Lounge., breakfast bar and seating in a number of areas as well as a smoking room (I think it was). We noticed a lift that accessed another floor, but didn't take it.

    As we had been advised it was a fair walk to the Gate, we didn't have long here - enough time to freshen up, grab a snack and send some SMS's advising family we'd arrived safely in London - plus the odd one or two to FT'er Dave Noble.

    Gate 86 was couldn't have been any further away had it tried. We made it to the EI Gates and they were teeming with early morning pax and as we quickly found out, delays. Seemed that the flight at the next Gate had gone u/s due to a "technical" hitch so EI were trying to re-ticket pax onto our flight. It was going to be crowded this morning...so I decided to do some plane spotting while we waited. EI-CVD was at Gate 82 and EI-CPD was at Gate 84 (didn't get which one went u/s :( ). A BMI Midland G-MIDM was at Gate 81 and EI-CPG at Gate 88.

    Wednesday, 3 September
    Airline: EI Flight Number: EI1153
    Rego: EI-CPC (Airbus A321)
    Seat: 25D
    STD: 9.05am ATD: 9.32am (push back), 9.48am (take off on 27R)


    We boarded as soon as we could and found our seats in the middle of the plane, realising that we weren't sitting together but rather across the aisle from one another. Still, better than different row!

    Captain was Robbie Conran, F/O Alan Dyke, Crew Supervisor Pauline Brennan, Senior Crew Noel Bulger and FA's Alison Corcoran, Catriona Sheerin, Geraldine and Lorraine.

    Capt advised that it was a 50 min flight at 32K feet, landing on the South runway, with the weather in DUB 16C/51F. He came back on a couple of minutes later to advise that a pax re-booked from the other flight hadn't boarded and couldn't be found, thus theirs bags needed to be off-loaded. The guy in 25E was :evil: about this delay, fidgeting and looking at his watch every time an announcement was made, but there was sweet FA he could do about the delay from where he sat.

    As we stopped at 27R, G-MIDS passed in front of us. There were 2 jets ahead of us in the queue - AF, LH's D-AMPS and BA's G-EVVN, while BMI's G-MIDM was behind us. Wasn't long before it was our turn and down the runway we rumbled...

    Tea and coffee service was quickly handed out at 10.05am and collected at 10.25am. This flight was as most short flight are, uneventful with touchdown at 10.37am and arrival at the Gate at 10.40am. We parked next to EI-DUB and N177DN. Passport control took all of 10 seconds and by the time we were at Belt 2, it was disgorging the bags and we spotted ours already on the other side - so I sprinted around to pick them up and told my wife to meet me near the doors with our carry-on.

    Time to now find the Hertz bus and check-out our hire car for the first real part of our honeymoon....
     
  9. QF WP

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    Chapter 8

    Seeing the Hertz courtesy bus stop, we walked over to it and waited for the bus. It didn't take long to arrive and picked us up along with 2 or 3 other hirers. We drove out of the airport precinct and to Hertz yard, where I was happy to see a large selection of cars. I walked in to arrange the car, while Mrs QF WP organised our bags - we just wanted to get on the road, as we were hapy to see the back of an aircraft for 10 days.I'd spent much of my waking hours on the flights reading Lonely Planet's Ireland to check where we'd be going and what there was to see.

    We had organised a prepaid reservation over the Internet (AUD$741 for 7 days for a standard car, auto with unlimited miles, Theft Protection, CDW, VLF & Tax). This was my first rental car for 2 years, so I was a bit green about all the rigmarole that went with the booking. The staff were busy and quickly found the booking (after i handed over the prepaid voucher and my CC). We were given an Almera 1.8 with only 2,603 miles on the speedo, so we were happy.

    After fixing up the mirrors, seats and putting the luggage in the boot (sorry, that's Aussie for trunk), we set off to find our way towards the N3...we were heading to Navan, Kells, Virginia (for lunch) and Cavan with our final stop Clones for the night. I had some initial problems with which way I was going on the N3, but finally headed in the right direction.

    Part of the reason we chose Ireland for our honeymoon is my heritage - my father was born in Dublin and my grandmother (we believe) in Clones, Co. Monaghan - birth records weren't that good in 1892 and were mostly done by the Churches of the time. Being a Protestant in Southern Ireland also didn't help my earlier geneology trips to try and find those elusive Church records. I have always had a pull towards Ireland, particularly after I read th family history compiled by my grandmother before her death. Thus the reason for dual passports I suppose - to continue that link into the future.

    Sorry, I digress. We stopped at one of the pubs on the Main Street in Virginia (where my great grandparents' family owned shops) for a truly Irish fare...a pint of Guiness and fish from the nearby Lough Ramor. That holds one of my grandmother's bracelets, dropped when she and her sister were being rowed around it in the early years of the century...I had to stop the car and get out to stand at the edge and tell my (now deceased) grandmother that I had visited again...I think my wife understood my need to do this as I had shared the story with her previously.

    We had just purchased a Sony Digital Handicam DCR-TRV22E duty-free, so we were trying it out on the drive up the N3...always focusing on the sign-posts for where we were heading. We turned up the N54 just north of Cavan and headed for Clones. I won't bore you all with what we did in Clones, however we found a lovely B&B - Clonkeen Cottage (Anne & Liam Rooney) (tel: 047 51268 or email clonkeencottage@hotmail.com). The rooms had ensuite with TV, electric blankets and hairdryers, complimentary refreshment on arrival, off street car parking, central heating and a breakfast menu.

    Day 2 (Thursday): Clones-Monaghan-Armagh-Portadown-Belfast

    We slept in to 8.30am, getting up to a full breakfast and started the day driving through Smithborough (another town with family history) and those listed above. I had never been north of Clones, so this was an eye-opener for me - Northern Ireland, somewhere I'd always wanted to visit.

    Accomodation - Hilton Belfast

    I had booked a night through the HH web site - King Deluxe Room for £118. We got there and after we had worked out the self-parking in the attached parking station (£9 p/n), made our way to the Reception with our luggage. Luckily, we were upgraded to a Club level room (thanks to being Gold HH) - Room 1209, looking out over the River Lagan and the Harland and Wolfe Shipyard (where the Titanic was built). It was heaven on a stick - we quickly ajourned to the Club Lounge for a refreshment to take in the view over the CBD then decided to walk a round the Hotel vicinity.

    Looking in the tour brochures at the concierge desk on our return, we decided to organise a Black Cab Historical Tour for 9.30am the next morning (www.belfastcityblacktaxitours.com, tel 0771 267 3178 or 028 9030 1832).

    Day 3 (Friday): Belfast Tour-Larne-Giants Causeway-Bushmills

    This tour piqued our interest in that it was going to show us both sides - the street murals on the Falls and Shankill Roads, the Peaceline, Sinn Fein Headquarters and be told of the situation from a neutral observer. Our cabbie was brilliant...definitely a disturbing tour but one well worth taking.

    We'd eaten an enormous breakfast in the Club Room before the tour, but we made a visit after out tour for a final soft-drink and to stock our car with nibbles. We checked out and started the drive up the A8...after such a thought-provoking tour, we wanted to have the calm of a coastal road to settle us down. By the time we got to Giants Causeway, we were ready to stretch our legs and we certainly got that...quite a solid walk down and then back up the cliffs to the strangest yet awe-inspiring naturally produced volcanic structures...and this is when Mrs QF WP started to really suffer from the start of a post-wedding flu. We took it easy and had a late afternoon snack in the cafe overlooking the bluff.

    We decided that it was time to stop and let Mrs QF WP get some rest. We drove through to Bushmills, but had trouble finding a B&B with a spare room. Ended up driving to a quiet coastal town on the outskirts and found one - Valley View Country House, 6a Ballyclough Road. Proprietor - Mrs Valerie McFall (www.valleyviewbushmills.com; email valerie.mcfall@btinternet.com, Tel: 028 2074 1608, Fax 028 2074 2739). All rooms had en suite with TV, hairdryer, tea/coffee making facilities, tea on arrival, NITB approved, non-smoking). [Directions from Bushmills: Follow B17 towards Coleraine, past Maxol service station, first road on left, 3 miles on right. From Ballymoney: Follow B6 towards Portrush, at Ballybogey turn right onto B67 towards Ballycastle, second road on right.]

    We had a cuppa and then changed for the short walk to the nearby town to see what restaurants/pubs were open. We walked up and down the "strip" and decided on the best looking pub - and we weren't disappointed. Through the bar area was a downstairs restauarant and because it was a quiet night, we were the first there. The service was easy and unobtrusive in the Irish maner, the meal was the best one we had on the trip. Didn't write down the name of the pub or what we had, but we would go back there in a heartbeat.

    Day 4 (Saturday): Bushmills-Coleraine-Londonderry-Strabane-Donegal-Sligo-Boyle

    Well, we almost didn't leave Bushmills, as when we awoke, Mrs QF WP was feeling extremely sick and didn't even make it for breakfast. I took her back some yogurt an we debated whether to stay another night, but I suggested she have a sleep and we'd look at it later. I read more of Lonely Planet Ireland whilst I had another post-breakfast cuppa. About 2 hours later, Mrs QF WP woke up feeling well enough to travel, so we bade farewell to Bushmills and slowly made our way to Derry. By this stage, I knew I was up for most of the driving for the next few days.

    We drove around Derry but didn't do much walking around (something we will go back to do someday) as Mrs QF WP was not up to energetic exploits today. I picked up some lunch from a cafe and we sat by the river looking back over the majestic walled city. Onto Strabane and south-west to Donegal on the N15, along the coast road to Sligo. By this point, Mrs QF WP was fading, so I chose to head down the N4 to Boyle. She had decided by this stage which of the B&B's she wanted to stay the night, so we were particularly fortunate when we turned up at Hillside House that although the main farmhouse was full, a second farmhouse on the property has a room vacant. We turned back into town to find The Stone House Cafe open. Needless to say, we both fell into a deep slumber soon after our return to the B&B, I remember thinking that I wanted to wake up without having caught the flu overnight...

    Day 5 (Sunday): Boyle-Longford-Roscommon-Ballinasloe-Athlone

    I remember this day well, another day of me driving and it was pelting rain so didn't auger well for sightseeing. Hit Roscommon around lunchtime and I was hoping to see Roscommon Castle, but the weather wasn't very inviting, so I walked around it instead (leaving Mrs QF WP safely in the warm car, rather than inflicting the elements on her delicate condition). Ballinasloe's name reminded me of the town in Australia where my mum's parents had lived in retirement (Ballina, New South Wales), so we had leisurely lunch here in a pub on the main street. We had decided to head to Athlone to base ourselves for the next couple of days (as it is called the central city of Ireland). Coming up off the N6 t Exit 5, we literally drove straight into our B&B (Bushfield House, Proprietors - Jim & Eucharia King, Blyry, Cornamaddy. Tel: 0902 75979, email euchariaking@ireland.com ; website www.dragnet-systems.ie/dira/bushfield ). [Directions - from the Dublin-Athlone Road at the Kilmartins Road Roundabout, head up the Galway-Cavan Road, turn left into Exit 5 slip road to the Blyry Industrial Estate and opposite Dan's Tavern].

    That night we drove into Athlone and had decided to treat ourselves to a decent meal, so we searched the streets for a restaurant. We came cross Di Bella Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, High Street, Athlone (Tel: 090 64 44830 ) obviously run by a family, where the service was excellent and the prices reasonable. Mrs QF WP fed her cold with a pasta, I had a pizza and we shared a bottle of red wine we picked up around the corner. No trouble with the local constabulary on the way home...

    Day 6 (Monday): Athlone-Cavan-Bailieborough-Mullingar-Athlone

    I wanted to do some up-to-date geneology on my ancestors, so we headed back to Cavan after a full breakfast. I had found the graves of my relatives in Bailieborough two years previously and taken pictures, but I wanted some digital ones to be able to email around to my relatives. I remembered the Church (at the end of the main street on the top of a hill), so it was relatively easy to find.

    Standing at a family plot, reading the headstone depicting the life and death of your relatives (including 3 children who died under 5 in the late 1890's) is an emotional experience and this time was no exception. Again, my wife hugged me while I stood there contemplating what life would have been like back then...

    Back on the road, it was a little more somber mood on the drive back through Virginia and onto Mullingar (somewhat famous for it's James Joyce connection). We cruised through this large market-town, onto the N52 and turned right onto the N6, back to Althlone.

    Day 7 (Tuesday): Athlone-Dublin

    Our last day in the Irish countryside was a leisurely trip back to Dublin - for our last night in Ireland I had arranged a booking at the Dublin Hilton. No hurrying his day, so we hit the outskirts of the city at about 3pm. Turning to the print-out of the booking confirmation and the "Directions to Hotel" I had downloaded from the Hilton website, we started around St Stephens Green but do you think that the map bore any resemblance to the actual streets - no such luck. After 15 to 20 minutes to being unable to find Charlemont Place, I used my global-roaming mobile phone to ring and ask for better directions. We had hoped to book in and then be able to walk down the Grand Canal to find a restaurant for dinner.

    Accomodation - Hilton Dublin

    I spoke to June (Reception), John (Concierge) and finally I got onto Eoin Little (Operations Manager). With his help, we eventually found our way to the correct streets (a lot of one way streets that had confused us). We parked our car in the underground carpark and walked to the lifts which took us to the lobby level. There we checked in and Eoin Little was there to introduce himself (a very nice gesture). I showed him the map that we had printed from the Hilton webite (last updated 29 May 2002) and asked him whether he thught it truly depicted the cluster of nearby streets - indeed, he had to agree with me. Given that we had wasted our afternoon in the car rather than at the Hotel and on the Grand Canal, and seeing that I was a Gold HH, he changed our rate from EU196 to EU150 and advised us that he would arrange a bottle of red to be sent to our room. He also advised that he would instruct David Webster (the GM) of the poor map reference and get it changed.

    We had been allocated Room 309, into which we collapsed and within minutes the promised bottle of red wine appeared with the compliments of the GM - impresseively it was a Baron Phillipe de Rothschild vin de Pays D'oc 2001 Merlot. So we settled back, cracked the bottle open and ordered dinner from room service. We drank..and waited...drank more...and still no food after 50 minute (and little wine left), so we rang up to enquire where it was from Room Service. 15 minutes later it showed up, so we tipped the harried server and after I had eaten, I sat down to compose a letter to give the next morning at check-out a cronology of our experiences, together with the feedback form. I also advised them I wished to invoke the 30 minute guarantee on the in-room dining.
     
  10. QF WP

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    Chapter 9

    Day 8 (Wednesday): Dublin-Airport

    An early start included breakfast at the downstairs restaurant, where we had free breakfast as Gold members (due to no Club level); we checked-out at 9.35am and handed over the letter an comment form. The dinner bill was removed from our Bill, so we were very impressed with the management of this Hotel and would definitely return (I had also written a separate letter to the GM, advising the excellent service from the three earlier named staff).

    I went to Concierge and asked for directions from the Hotel to the Airport. He handed over a photocopied map and kindly highlighted the correct route to take. Much easier than the website map ;)

    We had to drop the Hire Car back, so on the Dublin Port Road we spied a pterol station so we filled the petrol. Dropping it off at the Airport Hertz station was easy and we headed back to the Airport.

    Finding the Premier Line was easy, only 1 pax ahead of us and we were booked in within 10 minutes. The CSA, Linsey Byrne, noticed our similar names when she checked our passports and printed out our DUB/LHR and LHR/SIN BP's, inserted the coupons and indicated were the departure area and EI's Gold Circle Club were situated. The initial Customs official just glanced at our BP's and then we were through Security and into the Duty Free area and Gate access.

    Up in the GCC, there are three sections in the upstairs Lounge (access via stairs or lift once inthe B Concourse). We snacke on Pfeiffers Pretzel nugets (sea salt and cider vinegar), lemonade and water. The lounge has an open view to the tarmac and some Gates, great place to watch the aircraft movements. Modern bar facilities (tea/coffee, spirits - only JW Red though!).

    By this stage, our 12.10pm flight was already delayed (not that this was a problem, as our connecting flight in LHR wasn't until 9.15pm). Although there are no announcements, probably the hardest thing to remember is that they indicate on the monitors the time the flight is due to depart only, so one must remember to get there 15 minutes earlier.

    We walked down to Gate B28 and boarded at 1.05pm.

    Wednesday, 10 September
    Airline: EI Flight Number: EI164
    Rego: EI-BXD (Boeing 737-400)
    Seat: 12C
    STD: 12.10pm ATD: 2.00pm (push back), 2.10pm (take-off on E1)


    Captain (eventally) was Colin Watts, Helen (Senior Crew) and FA Keith D'Arcy.

    At 1.15pm, dispatcher advised that the original crew were late off an inbound flight so we had to wait until they arrrived. So we sat...and sat...now I was rueing the decision not to check onto EI162 that had left earlier (and we had arrived in time for check-in). F/O announced at 1.45pm that she and a new Captain had been drafted onto this flight from other flights..now just waiting fo him to arrive and do final checks. 45 minutes flying time and ETA was 3pm now. Curtains to J (which was only half full) were closed before departure. I hadtaken the time to do some plane spotting - at Gate 29, a Swiss HB-IJL left before us, while EI-CLH EI-CLG and EI-BXI were sitting on the tarmac. EI-CPL sat at Gate 34.

    Drinks trolley served water, OJ, beer and wines at 2.30pm and cleared at 2.50pm. Bit of turbulence on approach to LHR as the FA's brought forward to the J cabin a number of pax who now had tight connections. Touchdown was at 2.58pm on (I think) 09L/27R and after sitting on the apron waiting for a Gate to become available, at 3.15pm we docked. I'd spotted an EI 737 taking off, a BA 747-400 and an Virgin Atlantic 747.

    Upon disembarkation, we had to make our way to an FT meet that I had arranged at Shakespeares Inn (opposite Victoria Station), so we had purchased Heathrow Express return tickets before leaving Australia (GBP 22.50). Down we went to the HEx station and into London we sped....alerting those at the meet that we were running late. At least we only had our hand luggage.
     
  11. QF WP

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    Jun 20, 2002
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    continuation of Chapter 9

    [Inserted from here down on 16 October 2004 - I will finish this Trip Report, as others are piling up to be constructed]

    Finally, we got to meet Dave Noble, a FT'er based in London who I had befriended through many hours of him helping us construct Caroline's BA WT+ flight and our own - the man responsible for bringing another AA Platinum member into this worlf (via the AA Plat Challenge).

    After many pints and introducing Dave to my London-based friends, we realised that we had better hot-foot it hack to HEx, otherwise we might miss our flight back to Australia. Dave made sure we got to the right platform and said goodbye. We left Victoria Station at 7.15pm and arrived at Heathrow smack on 8pm.

    As we had already checked-in for the flight, we went straight through Immigration and headed for the BA First Lounge. Whilst we didn't have long in the Lounge (opposite Gate 14 and down in the lift), we had enough time for Maggie (the Lounge CSA) to check (as the flight had closed) the loads in WT+ and J but alas the op-up Gods weren't smiling on us tonight. She genuinely wanted to see whether we could be bumped to J (I think the OW Emerald status helped there plus we had been really friendly :wink: ).

    She let us in to grab a quick sandwich (to assist me in soaking up the copious qantity of beer that I had inbibed), check out the England v Lichtenstein match (half-time 0-0) and a drink. We both changed shirts and then took the long walk to Gate 19. There we took advantage of Fast Track Boarding, passing 30 to 40 pax. Alas, we had a flight of stairs to contend with as well as a bus trip to the plane.

    Wednesday, 10 September
    Airline: BA Flight Number: BA17
    Rego: G-CIVN (Boeing 747-400)
    Seat: 20A&B
    STD: 9.15pm ATD: 9.45pm (push back), 9.58pm (take-off on 27R)


    Tonights crew were Captain Brumby, CSD Paul Ashcroft, FA's in J - Baz, Julie; FA in WT+ Sukinder. Next to us on the tarmac was BA's G-ZZZC (I think a 744).

    We were advised that the flght time to SIN was 12hrs 15 mins and expected to be fairly smooth. After take-off, we were served drinks and dinner options were Braised Beef or Thai Chicken Curry. My special meal failed to materialise so I chose the Thai Chicken Curry (with rice, garlic and herb crutons). Accompaning the meal was a tuna salad with cheese, tomato and caesar dressing. Finally, profiteroles witha Kit-Kat and breadroll.

    Surinder was extremely happy and helpful, even disappearing to snaffle a 187ml bottle of Piper Heidsieck Brut from J stores (medicinal purposes to help me sleep, I'm sure you understand :lol: ).

    After a fairly restful sleep, breakfast was served 1 hr 45 mins from landing (around 3.15pm Thursday SIN time). Options were either an Egg Roll (with Hash Browns and Mushrooms] or Mixed Grill (Scrambled Egg, Tomato, Bacon]. Rest of the tray was Muller Corner Fruit Mini's (Yogurt & Frit), Bread Roll, Muffin and Frank Coopers Strawberry Conserve.

    Arrival into SIN was at 5pm (15 mins ahead of schedule) on Runway 02L 20R and the only plane that I took an interest in as we came up to our stand was a Xiamen Airlines flight at Gate C11 (as I hadn't seen one before) - registration was B-2991.

    Now it was time to spend 5 hours in SIN, awaiting our connecting flight home - but we had to tough it out in the BA F lounge. My wife by this stage set her beacon for it, impressively bypassing all the Duty Free on the walk there. I had created a Lounge monster :shock: (well, really she only had eyes for the showers by this stage).....
     
  12. QF WP

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    Jun 20, 2002
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    Chapter 10

    Thursday, 11 September

    We walked directly to the sanctuary of the BA/QF F lounge and showed our BP's to Raja (the QF CSA) at Reception. We had been issued 11JK but after SMS consultation with my FT all-things-flying guru, Dave Noble, Raja was able to change to 5EF. (The joy of using points to upgrade to J).

    My belief that this is the best BA/QF lounge in Asia is undiminished. We both had refreshingly looooong showers to sooth away the stresses of the long haul flight behind us and the one still to undergo. We exited the Lounge to undergo some retail therapy (I had to accompany her to make sure that our CC didn't melt :oops: ). Soo Fong (BA CSA) welcomed us back and I had a chat with them during a lull in pax movements.

    Before too long it was time to board at Gate C1.

    Thursday, 11 September 2003
    Airline: QF Flight Number: QF52
    Rego: VH-EBU (Nalanji Dreaming)
    Seat: 5EF
    STD: 10.20pm ATD: 10.15pm (push back), 10.36pm (take-off on 20L 02R)


    Crew tonight was Captain Voysey, CSD Steve Bennett, FA's in J were Sean and Ross Montague. We rolled past a Vietnam Airways jet, a Chine Eastern B2318, a couple of Thai and China Airways and finally an SQ Jubilee 9V SRJ. We were second in the take-off sequence with a Korean jet ahead.

    I like 5EF on QF's 743 (2 class), as the "seat" storage under the island can be used without having to go up into the overhead bins; as well as having lots of legroom an nearer the exit behind Seat 5 (Door 1). Detractions are the lack of storage for small items (no seatback infront to put them in) and the "openness", the feeling that everybody in J is watching you.

    Pre-dinner drink after take-off was Baileys on Ice for us both. Dinner was served at 11.20pm adn this flight, my LFSML turned up. Startners were half cooked egg-whites filled with Tuna and main meal was chicken strips with a black peppercorn glaze, rice, tomatoes and asparagus tips. For everybody else in J the menu read:

    Singapore to Brisbane - Supper

    Champagne/Wines

    Champagne - Charles Heidseick Mis En Cave 1997
    Red Wine - Capel Vale 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon
    White Wine - Grosset 2002 Riesling, Yarra Ridge 2001 Chardonnay

    Main Courses

    Chicken Tikka Masala with Masmati Rice and Kachumber
    Fillet of Australian Beef with New Potatoes and Mushroom Sauce
    Salad of Smoked Salmon, Rocket and Asparagus with Herb Vinaigrette

    Green leaf salad with Olives and Cherry Tomatoes

    Dessert

    Pineapple and Frangipane Tart with Cream
    Fresh Fruit

    As a lover of pineapple, I will admit to eating two desserts (thanks to Ross). Needlessto say, with this being our last flight, we did help QF reduce their Champagne stocks by one and try as I might, I just missed clearing a Capel Vale by myself.

    After an excuse for a nap, we were served a Continental breakfast at around 5.50am (BNE time) - a selection of Fruit Juices, Berry Energiser Drink, a fruit salad with Honey Yogurt and a choice of warm bakery items.

    Before too long, we were on final approach and landed at 7.25am. We taxied to Gate 77 past a JAL 744 JA-8187, cleared C&I and our bags were already on Belt 3 courtesy of the Priority Luggage Tags.

    It ws sad to think that our honeymoon was over and it was back to planning our next holiday together...
     
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