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Melbourne to Vienna (via South Africa, Namibia & India)

Mattg

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Earlier in the year, I wrote about the first half of my Oneworld Award which started in Europe. After a long stopover in Australia, I completed the second half of the trip in November. The final stop of this trip was Vienna, where I am now living for the next year.

This is what the itinerary looked like:

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Most of these flights were booked as part of the Oneworld Award in business class. The Johannesburg-Cape Town and Cape Town-Windhoek legs were booked separately, as was the internal travel within India.

I travelled separately from Melbourne to Canberra, so I will start this trip report in Canberra, where I picked up the Oneworld Award. The first leg was to Johannesburg, with an overnight stop in Sydney along the way.
 

Mattg

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QF1520 Canberra 17:15 - Sydney 18:10
Boeing 717
Business Class


Most of the flights between Canberra and Sydney are on Economy-only Dash 8s. But there are also a few Boeing 717s used at peak times which offer Business class. Normally I would consider Business class a waste of money on such a short flight, but in this case it didn't cost me any extra as it was booked as part of the 280k Oneworld Award.

The Qantas Business Lounge at Canberra Airport was nice as always, with hot food available and even a staff member walking around offering ice cream.

I was in 1A for this flight. The business class seats on the Boeing 717 are comfortable enough with reasonable legroom.

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Entertainment is via Q-streaming to your own device; there were no iPads supplied.

This is an extremely short flight, so the meal was served as soon as the seat belt signs were switched off. The choices were a Waldorf salad or a small cheese box. The salad was nice; quite small but what more do you need for a 30-minute flight?

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It was a lovely evening in Sydney - a far cry from the scenes of the past few weeks.

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Mattg

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QF63 Sydney 11:35 - Johannesburg 16:35
Boeing 747-400ER
Business Class


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The next morning I was back at SYD for my flight to South Africa. I was seated in 3A, a window seat in the last row of the "nose" on the 747. This was a nice seat, although it did have a bit of the infamous droop when reclined that some of those older SkyBed seats seem to have.

We took off on time and flew almost directly south, flying over the eastern coast of Tasmania.

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Unfortunately, we wouldn't end up flying far enough south to see the icebergs on today's flight. (Last time I took this flight, we had some spectacular views of Antarctica.)

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The crew on this flight was good. The flight attendant looking after my section was really friendly and the crew were constantly walking around the cabin to check if anyone needed something and to clear away rubbish.

For lunch, I had the prawn & corn fritters for the starter:

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Followed by Neil Perry's chicken schnitzel sandwich for the main course, which was tasty.

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Mattg

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Fruit and a cheese plate were served for dessert.

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After lunch, the lights were switched off and everyone was asked to close the window shades - which I personally find annoying as this was a day flight. I settled in and watched a few movies.

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Mid-way through the flight, I asked for a snack and was presented with a roasted vegetable tart with tomato relish:

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Dinner was served 4 before landing. I chose the barramundi with tamarind and coconut sauce, eggplant and noodles:

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Followed by lemon and rosemary polenta cake for dessert:

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Finally, around an hour before landing, a small box with a mini sausage roll and a mini spinach & feta roll was served.

This was a long but pleasant flight, although the aircraft was certainly starting to show its age and IMHO was overdue for a good dusting!
 

Mattg

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I only had one full day in Johannesburg, and was using this as my "jetlag recovery day". With a time difference of 9 hours between Australia and South Africa, that flight does knock you around a bit! I was wide awake at 3am the next morning.

I stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Rosebank, which was fine. As it happens, this also seemed to be where the Qantas crew stay in JNB. Getting from the airport to Rosebank was easy enough with the Gautrain, which now even lets you tap on with credit cards - although my Australian card didn't work, so I still had to buy a ticket.

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I joined one of the city sightseeing bus tours, which departs from Rosebank, and got off at the Apartheid Museum to spend a few hours there. It was well worth a visit.

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Mattg

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SA313 Johannesburg 08:50 - Cape Town 10:55
Airbus A320
Economy Class


This sector was not part of the Oneworld Award, so I just paid for an Economy ticket. Thanks to Star Alliance status, I was able to check in at the premium area which had no queue and use the South African Airways lounge in JNB, which was really nice. There was hot buffet food, barista coffee and bar service, showers, clean toilets, lots of seats and great runway views by the window. Unfortunately the wifi was very slow, but that's really my only complaint.

On this flight I was seated towards the back of the A320, by a window.

We departed on time and a surprisingly good hot breakfast was served after take-off. This was followed by drinks, which came well after I'd finished eating (!).

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The only in-flight entertainment was a movie playing on the drop-down overhead TV screens.

SAA seems to be having some problems at the moment, but this wasn't noticeable. It was a completely full flight, and most of the passengers seemed to be connecting from long-haul flights. The crew were smiling and the service was pretty good all-round.

We had some great views of Cape Town as we approached the airport.

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Mattg

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SW708 Cape Town 18:35 - Windhoek 20:45
Airbus A319
Business Class


For the next flight, I booked an Economy ticket and then upgraded via OptionTown for the princely sum of $32! I thought that was a pretty good deal :cool:

The Air Namibia business class service wasn't polished at all, and the plane wasn't in tip-top shape, but there was plenty of legroom and the food was good.

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Mattg

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I must say that I really enjoyed Windhoek. It's a long way from the airport, but compact and easy to get around by foot or taxi once you get there.

Here are a few photos from around the city...

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Parliament house:

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Christuskirche (Christ church)

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It’s not everyday you see a road named after this bloke...

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This building, which is the national museum, was donated by North Korea.

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There's a bar at the top of that building with this view:

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There were a few people selling these keychains to tourists. They cost the equivalent of $4 and they can engrave your name into it (impressively quickly and accurately, too!). They’re hand-made from makalani palm nuts.

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Mattg

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I ate one evening at Joe's beer house, which seems to be the "go-to" place for tourists in Windhoek. A very cool location and there was lots to choose from on the menu. I tried the "mixed game" kebab, which had chicken, kudu, oryx, zebra and springbok.

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I also found a great biltong shop - yum!

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In Windhoek I stayed at Chameleon Backpackers, which would have to be one of the best hostels I've ever stayed at. It was more like a resort than a hostel! There was a great bar area and swimming pool, and the property was very secure.

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I booked a game drive through Chameleon. On that particular day, the trip that was available was to Dürstenbrook, about a 1-hour drive from Windhoek. Our guide Petrus was great, and we saw lots of animals!

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jase05

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Fantastic so far and keen to follow this trip through. Have certainly engaged the cogs in my head
 

JohnM

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In Windhoek I stayed at Chameleon Backpackers, which would have to be one of the best hostels I've ever stayed at. It was more like a resort than a hostel! There was a great bar area and swimming pool, and the property was very secure.

View attachment 202734
Have to agree with that! I stayed there a few years ago. Is the Australian woman still running it?

If I'd know you were going there, I would have asked you to collect the South African power adapter I accidentally left behind. ;):p
 

Mattg

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Have to agree with that! I stayed there a few years ago. Is the Australian woman still running it?

If I'd know you were going there, I would have asked you to collect the South African power adapter I accidentally left behind. ;):p
Yes, she is still running it.
 

Mattg

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The next leg was to Delhi via Doha with Qatar Airways. I intentionally booked a ~21 hour layover in Doha along the way to break up the trip. But as I was technically only transiting through Doha, the check-in staff in Windhoek were either unwilling or unable (possibly both) to tag my checked luggage only to DOH. I had to do some last minute re-packing at check-in as my bag was getting tagged to DEL whether I liked it or not!

There's only one lounge at WDH, the Amushe Lounge. It was nice enough for what it is, but I had to microwave the "hot" food and the internet was totally unserviceable. I had a call to make so had to leave and head over to a café in the departure hall.

QR1374 Windhoek 12:55 - Doha 23:20
Boeing 787-8
Business Class


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I was in 3K for this flight. Business class on the Qatar Airways 787-8 felt very spacious, as there are no overhead bins in the centre section. And it's a 1-2-1 layout with reverse herringbone seating so everyone has direct aisle access. My seat was very comfortable with plenty of storage space and a large, HD TV screen. It also converted into a comfortable, fully lie-flat bed. I have no complaints at all about the seat, it was fantastic!

Some pics of the seat/cabin:

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Leaving Windhoek:

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Overflying Dar es Salaam...

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The service was also excellent. There were only 11 passengers in business class and 3 flight attendants to look after us, so obviously we all got plenty of attention. I particularly liked the purser, Stanley, who was so friendly and great at anticipating the needs of his passengers. At several points during the cruise he came to my seat and asked "What can I get you to drink?" - not because I'd pressed the call bell, but just because he thought I might be thirsty. He also personally thanked everyone in business class at the end of the flight. Seriously, he was brilliant and I provided feedback to Qatar Airways to tell them so.

The meal service was "dine on demand", so we were free to choose anything from the menu at any time throughout the flight. Given the timing of the flight, it suited me to have lunch at the start of the flight and supper before arrival (as is standard) - but I appreciated being given the option!

Speaking of the food, it was delicious! This was the main course served for lunch:

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As you can see, I was very happy with QR J. The service was excellent and I had a wonderful flight!
 
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Mattg

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I stayed at the Mercure Grand Doha for 1 night, which was fine. There is a metro station very close to the hotel, but as of the time of my visit the Metro has not yet been extended to the airport so I used Uber to get from the airport to my hotel.

The hotel was a short walk from Souq Waqif, which I found interesting to spend a few hours at.

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While I was there, I had a delicious lunch at the Parisa Persian restaurant, which has quite possibly the most spectacular interior of any restaurant I've seen anywhere.

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Before long, I was back at the airport for the next flight to Delhi. As I already had my boarding pass and my bag was checked through, I just headed straight through the premium immigration facility and onto the Al Mourjan Lounge.

Wow - the Al Mourjan Lounge sure is impressive! It's huge with two restaurant areas, an opulent water feature, a games room and tons of seating. I had some work to do, so headed over to the business centre and was the only person in there for around 2 hours. It's a shame that access is not given to Oneworld Sapphire or Emerald members flying economy class - although, then again, I'm not sure it would be so peaceful and/or QR would invest so much into the lounge if access was available to more people.
 

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