Trip Report: Canberra to Berlin - with a few stops along the way! | Australian Frequent Flyer
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Trip Report: Canberra to Berlin - with a few stops along the way!

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Mattg

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As some of you may remember, I recently spent four months travelling around the world. After a few more months working back home in Canberra I've decided to go back to Germany, my favourite country from my last trip. But this time, I'm not just going for a holiday; I'm going there to live and work for the rest of the year.

As an Australian between the ages of 18 and 30, I was able to obtain a working holiday visa which allows me to live and work in Germany for up to one year. As I'm not starting university in Australia until next February, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to experience life in a country which has fascinated me for some time. I have also been learning German for nearly six years, so while I currently speak a reasonable level, this should give me a chance to perfect my German once and for all.

So, on Tuesday I began the journey to Berlin, my favourite city in the world. At this stage I do not yet have a job or even a permanent place to live in Berlin, but I hope to sort that out quickly once I arrive. My dream job is to be a tour guide in Berlin, but failing that I would be happy with just about any job I could get over there.

The trip will take two weeks and involves 12 cities... Why, you might ask? (You wouldn't be the first!) Well, I decided to take advantage of some Qantas Frequent Flyer points I've been accumulating and book a oneworld award. This effectively means that I am doing another round-the-world trip on points, as I am flying via Asia on the way to Europe and via North and South America on the way back to Australia next year. As all the flights will be in economy, this cost me 140,000 points + around $1300 in "taxes, fees and carrier charges". Considering the number of places I'll get to go, I was pretty happy with that.

I had a number of cities in mind that I wanted to stopover in, both on the way to and back from Berlin. However, I only booked a month ago so a lot of the flights I actually wanted were not available. Despite having spent 4 hours on the phone with a very helpful (and patient!) Qantas rep, the result is that I'm flying a particularly indirect routing and also flying to a couple of places (and on a couple of airlines) I had actually never intended to go to/fly on. Nonetheless, I'm very excited about this trip and it should be an interesting experience!
 
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moa999

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Mattg, look forward to the report.
What is the routing?
Enjoy taking advantage of your lounge access, and good luck getting settled in Berlin quickly
 

JMFK

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Good on you for taking the plunge. I always admire and envy people able to do so. Keep us up to date with how it all goes. Best of luck.
 

rmckay01

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Try Fat tire bike tours - they hire native English speakers (Aussies/Americans/Canadians/Brits) as guides for tours done by bicycle. I did their Berlin tour a few years ago and loved it. Our Canadian guide Alex was fantastic! Office is right under the TV Tower in Alexanderplatz.
 

Mattg

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Enjoy!

+1 - what's the timings / routing?
I thought I might keep the routing a bit of a surprise this time to keep things interesting, or do you think I should just tell everyone where I'm going to upfront?

What I will say though is that the journey involves 12 cities in 6 different countries and will take 13 days. Two of those cities will be Beijing and Paris, and I'll finish the trip in Berlin on the 7th of July. You'll have to wait and see about the rest. :)

(But if you're desperate to find out, send me a PM and I'd be happy to tell you.. ;))
 

Mattg

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I left Canberra yesterday on a freezing cold, rainy and windy Tuesday morning and started out with the first, and possibly the least exciting leg - by Greyhound bus to Sydney Airport. It was great to leave that horrible Canberra weather, knowing I wouldn't have to deal with it again this winter!

The reason I started the Qantas booking in Sydney, rather than Canberra was simply that I had run out of miles - the maximum number of miles you can fly on a oneworld award is 35,000 and on this booking I had already used up 34,981 miles...

I am a frequent traveller between Canberra and Sydney and have tried most of the different methods of getting between the two cities previously. Usually I just use a combination of schedule and price to pick the best option of the day. In this case the Greyhound bus was the best choice with a schedule that worked for me and at just $27.

I travelled on one of Greyhound's premium/platinum/whatever they call it nowadays coaches and it was actually quite nice - better than Murrays, anyway. The coach was only 1/4 full and there was free wifi, good legroom, toilets and drinking water available.

We arrived at the International Terminal but after a quick train trip across to the domestic terminal I was checking in for my first flight of the trip - a Qantas flight to Brisbane. I've done this flight a few times before, but this will be the only flight of the trip which I have actually flown previously.

I checked in about two hours before my flight using the self-serve kiosk and to my surprise the machine offered to change me to an earlier flight. Although I stuck with my original flight, I thought that was a nice gesture, even if it was automated.

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Sydney T3 Check-in area

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The check-in machine offers me an earlier flight


It was then time for a relaxing long lunch in the Qantas Club, complete with beer and wine.

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Lunch in the Qantas Club

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Watching the pilot of this Qantas 737 cleaning the outside of the cockpit windows.

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QF11 takes off for LAX
 

Mattg

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Flight: QF532 Sydney - Brisbane
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800 | VH-VYK
Departure time: 15:05 (Actual: 15:05)
Arrival time: 16:35 (Actual: 16:40)


By the time I reached gate 1 boarding had almost finished. I think I was the only person in the first six or seven rows of the plane who wasn't a businessman wearing a suit, so I felt a bit like the odd one out in row 5 wearing a T-shirt. We left the gate on time but spent ages taxiing out to runway 34R. The first officer made a joke about it as we taxied... and taxied out.


Those of you who were in Sydney on Tuesday may remember that it was a pretty windy day so there were quite a few bumps for the first ten minutes or so. But we did get some excellent views of Sydney's harbour and CBD after take-off. Unfortunately I don't think the camera on my iPhone does it justice with the glare.


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Goodbye Sydney. See you next February!


A "refreshment" was served during the flight. Those who weren't interested in the snack box (and there were a few) were offered an apple.

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The refreshment



The crew on this flight were friendly and did a good job. I don't really have anything else to add - it was pretty much as you would expect from Qantas domestically.


The first flight of my trip was a pleasant and uneventful one. Let's hope it stays that way for the rest of the flights!

After two days in Brisbane I'll be off tomorrow on the next leg...
 

boomy

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Sounds like an exciting trip Mattg, looking forward to the TR!
P.S. Let me know if you need help with accommodation in Berlin, I have some friends in real estate there.
 
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Major

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An exciting time ahead for you. Enjoy
 

sydstar

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This should be a great TR!

Can you give some hints as to whether this TR will just feature the 'big guns' of OW (CX,BA etc), or will some of the smaller players be getting a run?
 

Mattg

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This should be a great TR!

Can you give some hints as to whether this TR will just feature the 'big guns' of OW (CX,BA etc), or will some of the smaller players be getting a run?
I'd say that it's a few of the "smaller" players (well, depending on your definition of small!) to start off with, but the return trip from Berlin (next year) will involve some more well-known airlines. Having said that, as every flight is with oneworld, all of the airlines I'm flying with are quite established and well-known.
 

Mattg

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After a nice couple of days with family in Brisbane I was back at the airport on Thursday morning for my next leg to Kuala Lumpur, via... Adelaide, of all places! I'm not really sure why I went to Adelaide - when I rang to book the oneworld award, the lady on the phone was struggling to find a working combination of flights to Asia out of Brisbane, even connecting through SYD or MEL, so I half-sarcastically suggested to try something a bit left field, like Adelaide or Cairns. She finally managed to find a flight out of Adelaide on Malaysian Airlines, and with little other choice I accepted it.

My first flight of the day was a morning Qantas flight to Adelaide.

QF661 Brisbane - Adelaide
Boeing 737-800 | VH-VYJ
Departure time: 08:25 (Actual: 08:25)
Arrival time: 10:45 (Actual: 10:40)

I was seated in a spacious exit row for this very pleasant flight on another one of Qantas's older Boeing 737s.

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The plane after arriving in ADL

Departure was on-time and a breakfast in a box was served shortly after take-off, along with a full selection of drinks.

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Brekky - a bag of apple slices and a bowl of yoghurt with rhubarb.

For a short while I could see the Gold Coast out the window.

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The Gold Coast in the distance

Once again, the flight was pleasant and uneventful and the flight attendants were excellent.

It was very cloudy as we approached Adelaide but we did get a glimpse of the city before touchdown.

This was actually the first time I've been to Adelaide... It's not that I don't think it would be a nice place, I've just never had a reason to go there! I would have liked to stay longer but I had to catch a connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur on Malaysian Airlines in a few hours. Little did I know, that first flight was just a warm-up. ;)

I had another nice long lunch in the Qantas Club while waiting for MH138 to be called (well, and arguing with my telco and insurance company over the phone, but that's another story for another time)...

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Lunch in the Qantas Club - in ADL today
 

Mattg

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At around 1:30pm I made my way through the international security checkpoint and immigration at Adelaide Airport. By the time I got through, gate 18 was packed. I was asked by one of the ground staff to go to the desk to get my Qantas-issued boarding pass changed to a Malaysia Airlines one.

The lady pulled me to the side, away from other passengers to give me my new pass - it was my lucky day! She told me that they had upgraded me to business class because I was a oneworld sapphire and the flight was completely full! She also asked me not to discuss this with other passengers on the plane, which I agreed not to do.


With my new boarding pass in hand, I boarded the aircraft feeling even more excited than I had been five minutes earlier! This was my first ever op-up and I was, and still am, extremely grateful for it! :D

I haven't had time to write a trip report on this flight yet, but I'll post it sometime soon.
 

Timba-Jet

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Look forward to the next chapter Matt. What a great way to start your RTW trip with an op-up! The scenic route via ADL has paid dividends.
 

marki

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Amazing stuff reading with great anticipation
Enjoy
Marki a soon to become resident of Berlin.


Sent from my iPhone using AustFreqFly
 

Mattg

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MH138 Adelaide - Kuala Lumpur
Airbus A330-300 | 9M-MTN
Departure time: 14:30 (14:25)
Arrival time: 20:45 (20:25)

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The A330 waiting at the gate in Adelaide

As I settled into my seat in the last row of business class (7K) one of the flight attendants who would be looking after me introduced themselves and offered a drink.

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The business class cabin

Someone official-looking came over to my seat for a chat and made a comment about it being a long day for me coming from Brisbane and she seemed curious as to why I'd done that. I explained the Qantas points booking situation and she seemed to understand. However I'm still not sure who that lady was as she left the plane before the doors were closed. She seemed to know an awful lot about me though, whoever it was...

We pushed back a few minutes early and as we taxied out we were offered the first of many hot towels. I think hot towels must have been cheap this week as we were offered probably half a dozen on the flight.

Not long after take-off, one of the flight attendants came around with a drinks trolley, which had an impressive variety of not only international wines and beers, but also a few wines produced in South Australia, especially for the Adelaide flight. I thought that was a nice touch, although I couldn't resist the French champagne. Over the next few hours the same flight attendant kept coming around to offer more champagne and it didn't take long before she didn't even need to ask whether or not I wanted more!

The meal service was excellent, beginning with a serving of delicious, hot satay skewers, followed by a second entree and a choice of four mains. The lady next to me informed me that she had gone online a few days before the flight and selected from 25 different meals. Obviously I wasn't able to do that, but it sounded like a good idea. By the time I was asked which main I would like there were only two choices still available, but luckily one of those was the one I wanted.

Starter: Satay skewers with peanut sauce and traditional accompaniments

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Entree: A prawn and avocado "timbale" with smoked salmon and dill

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Main course: Grilled chicken with risoni pasta in cream cheese sauce, broccoli I and barbecue sauce

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Mattg

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This was followed by dessert, a choice of a flour-less orange cake or a Weiss ice cream bar. I chose the cake and wasn't disappointed:

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There was a large screen on the back of the seat in front, and the in-flight entertainment contained a wide variety of movies, TV shows, music, games etc.

The flight path took us over Ayers Rock, Denpasar and Singapore.

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Somewhere over WA

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Sunset

The seat was wide and there was heaps of legroom - much of it in the space underneath the seat in front. Later in the flight I decided to get some rest and reclined the seat as much as it would go. It didn't recline quite enough to get to a fully-flat position, so there was a bit of a slope, which could be a bit annoying if you were trying to sleep. Having said that, it was still way, way better than economy!

There was a cover to put over the seat while reclined, but it wasn't thick enough that I would call it a mattress. Naturally pillows and blankets were also available.

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The seat/bed, fully reclined.

I had to gradually accept that the flight was going to come to an end eventually, and that it would be back to reality soon enough. There was a bit of staring at the clock on my part, although unlike usual I was wishing there would be more flying time remaining, rather than less.

Two hours before touchdown a pie, bowl of fruit and yet more drinks were served.

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Supper

The flight attendants were great and the ones looking after me always referred to me by name, even if I wasn't in my seat. They never referred to the lady sitting next to me by name though - and neither of us were sure why.

I got a good glimpse of the Petronas Towers and the rest of KL as we approached the airport ahead of schedule.

Although we parked at the satellite terminal at KLIA, the whole process of getting out of the airport and into the city was quick and painless, and I had already made my way to the airport train station by the time we were scheduled to land in KL.

As you've probably noticed by now, I very much enjoyed this flight. Unfortunately I don't get to travel in business class regularly, and the last time I flew business class on Qantas internationally, I was a child, so I don't really have anything to compare it to. Those who've flown on other carriers recently may be in a better position to make a judgement. Either way, I really felt like Malaysian Airlines got me to Kuala Lumpur in comfort and style, and I was reminded just how grateful I was for the upgrade when I found out afterwards how many thousands of dollars a business class seat usually costs on this flight!
 

JessicaTam

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I am looking forward to the next leg on your journey northwards. A great start with the op-up. Oh, please keep the flights/airlines/routes a surprise until you take them.
 
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