Saturday, July 6, 2013

Not there.....yet!

Italy still awaits, we have still to make a stopover in London.

We hit the ground running at Heathrow...literally! The plane was late from Dubai. We ran to the bus, trying to follow purple arrows, fighting all the way about the correct colour of arrows that we had to follow.  I KNEW they were purple, somebody else thought they should be green. Got on the bus, ran off the bus, ran through terminal five, screaming at each other about the directions we were taking. I tell you it was bedlam! Ran to the express queue, (remember we are royalty) were told we had to go to another counter, ran to another express counter, where the man asked us, "Why are you here, you should have gone straight through." He then informed us that we had missed our connecting flight.

I tell you, the stress! Then we had to navigate customs, where of course a lady officer took me aside and  patted me down. After that we walked about a kilometre through THOUSANDS of people to the British Airways Galleries First Lounge. I had to stay alert as I was fully aware of the threat of pick pockets and roaming bands of gypsies. I wasn't going to be a statistic!

After a bit of argy-bargy at the counter of the Lounge, we gained admittance. We then had to contact the car service in Rome to tell them that we were going to be late. As we  had no international sim for phones or ipads, this was quite difficult, and the British Airways staff were quite indifferent to our pleas for help. After experiencing exceptional service with Qantas, being on a whole, fawned over by Emirates, it was a bit of a shock to the system.

Saying that, the lounge would have been quite an oasis if other matters hadn't been so pressing. In hindsight, I should have knocked back a few champas's and just chilled...even though it was breakfast time. Maybe gone to the spa for a 15 minute massage. (Yes, you can to that!)

It was very big, with a cafe/club/upmarket pub kind of feel. (British Airways describe it as boutique hotel.) Nice decor with pops of colour in the furnishings and the artworks, but still very tasteful and soothing. Great timber floors. Good selection of food. It just wasn't the Qantas First lounge.

After getting our affairs in order, and having digested a plate of kippers, we attempted to think positively and proceeded to our changed British Airways flight to Rome, and I can tell you, it was a doozy! Seated in the worst seats in the back, I think we were on the oldest plane in the fleet. The plane was delayed as they had to change a light bulb. Oh dear! Imagine Fawlty Towers, but with ageing Italian flight attendants. We thought we were in a Jaques Tati film.

And that my friends is the glamour of a long haul flight. I shudder to think what we would have experienced if we hadn't had the opportunity of the lounges.

Here's a little song that kind of reminds me of that drizzly morning. (For some reason it isn't coming up on iPads, but is OK on my laptop)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Dubai experience

As my travels are now geared to the airport lounge experience, I am afraid I am going to bore all and sundry with the minutiae of those hallowed halls. The adage, "when you have seen one you have seen them all" does NOT apply to these places. Needless to say, I think that I am becoming an airline nerd.

Sometimes pictures don't do justice to real life. The sheer size of Concourse A in Dubai is mind boggling. It sits like an enormous blue caterpillar on the landscape. In the early morning with its lights glowing from within, it was like a futuristic mother ship pod for UFO's. Just remember, looking at the scale of this structure that most of those planes are the Airbus A380, the biggest plane on the planet.

We were able to enjoy the brand spanking new, First Class lounge in Dubai during our short stop-over. It was cavernous but didn't nave the pizazz of Sydney. Don't get me was nice, just a bit formal, and dare I say it...a bit like an very upmarket RSL club.

Customer support was polarised, ranging from sullen and rude staff in the customs area, to embarrassingly helpful and servile in the restaurant. On getting my tucker for brekky, I wasn't allowed to hold my own plate at the self service area. Instead, I had to point at the food that appealed to me, whilst my attendant staff member (dare I say, servant!) picked the pieces and delicately placed them on plates. I was pretty stressed at being treated like the princess (that I know I really am), so ended up pointing at anything! I don't mind being waited on, and do expect good service when I go out, but it felt kind of like slavery.

Walking to my table, I made a crazy attempt to seat myself without too much fuss, after all, I am a 21st century princess! I was however thwarted by my nimble helper who managed to race me to the table, deposit the three plates that she was carrying, and scoot around to pull the chair out for me. Once seated, I sat and contemplated my weird breakfast consisting of hummus, baklava, eggplant, and pseudo Italian/Scandinavian concoctions.

Next to me, I noticed six men stand imperiously around a large coffee table. They were directing a female staff member to place seats around it. She was five foot tall, with little stick arms and little stick legs. Made of heavy wood, the chairs  were cumbersome to move. However, not one of those men lifted a finger to help her, except for indicating with an imperious move of the hand, that a chair had to be adjusted by a few inches. Even in airport lounges you experience the culture of the country.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Country mouse in the big smoke

The big trip overseas...
So here I am beginning at the end. So to start, the Qantas International First Lounge at Sydney airport.  Now, some may think this is a ridiculous inclusion to a romantic holiday in Tuscany, but, like Kath and Kel, I could have spent my whole holiday here! We were lucky enough to be able to access these hallowed halls, designed my Marc Newson,  because Sparky works in the mines and has accrued a lotta points.
In a nutshell, it was if I had died and gone to heaven! I am afraid we may have acted a bit uncool, a bit like wide eyed yokels, but if that be the case, so be it. As Oprah says "When you know better you do better." Next time we will be so cool, that we will be refrigerators.
When we arrived to the restaurant area, the waiter asked if I would like some champas. Now, I had been warned of the risks of dehydration due to excessive drinking which may lead to deep vein thrombosis and eventually DEATH, but, what the hey, I was on holiday! OK, says I. The waiter  then apologised as they had just run out of Veuve Clicquot, and could only offer Bollinger! Five glasses later....
I was in a very happy place!

It was uphill from there. I could run on and on about the service, the brilliant Neil Perry food, the ambience, the Spa, the toilets (these are very important), and the fact that everything was FREE, but I really need to practice my 'cool' demeanour.
It is funny, as one of the nameless masses, I had no idea that such places existed, they weren't on my radar. Now that I know how the other half lives, my expectations have lifted. No more Macca's and hard seats, trying not to trip over legs and luggage in the cattle areas. The decision has been made to travel, not only to broaden horizons but to experience the first class lounges of the world!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Hol's are over

Well, I am back blogging. The last six months have been really busy and I have been working pretty much full time with my shops. Who would have thunk that so many people would want my 'stuff'? It still boggles the mind that I make things, and people buy them.

Rather than go on and on about what has been happening (that's the past baby...move on!) I will start anew, as if I haven't even been away...and show you my fabulous new bag (modelled by Daisy, the Formomatic Dummy).

Made by The Cambridge Satchel Company in the UK, I received it within 10 days of purchase, which is pretty damn good, considering it had to be customised as well. It takes longer for a letter to reach my husband over in WA.

It is a doozy! I got my initials engraved as well, (no, they don't stand for New Zealand) and it is like a real Enid Blyton, Famous Five/Secret Seven/Enchanted Wood type bag, that one would put a jam sandwich in, and then bound off, with reckless abandon, for an adventure!

Which is just what I intend to do. It is going with me on a splendid adventure to Italy and Croatia in two weeks time.

I will be recording our odyssey in minute detail...but that is the good thing about blogs, they remain as a record of your life.


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