So following my last blog have I re-found my mojo?
Yes, I think I have.
It took a while. Usually as soon as I get into the airport departure hall I am excited and looking forward to my trip. On the last occasion that did not happen. It took a few days.
Why did it take a while?
I think I was quite stressed and very tired so it took a few days to unwind and calm down.
Even when I arrived in Bangkok and then travelled to eastern Thailand I was not my usual self, despite some glorious countryside.
I found it in Cambodia
It was not until I got to Phnom Penh that I truly felt myself and started to enjoy my holiday
The city was different and interesting and a marked contrast to Bangkok
The Royal Palace was lovely and the city generally had a good feel. It was clearly rapidly developing.
Well worth the visit and the restoration of my excitement for travel
I have discovered cold brew tea.
This is a minor revelation to me and having read about cold brew coffee as a good way to make iced coffee I suppose I should have thought about the same process to make iced tea, but it never crossed my mind.
However, I recently travelled to Taiwan. This is a country that loves its teas both traditional and up to date by way of “bubble tea”.
I was in a tea merchants in Taipei. Here I was tasting some teas and also a green cold brewed tea.
I found this very refreshing. I was told that you somply needed to put the tea into cold water and leave in the fridge overnight.
I have tried this with green, black and jasmine teas. All seem to brew really well and it seems that if left they do not deteriorate or become bitter, ie become over brewed.
I just use a cafetiere.
So this is a great discovery that I will be using frequently.
I thought I would vent my duty free frustration today.
I have recently returned from a great holiday in Taiwan.
On the way through the airports I wanted to buy some duty free gin.
At Taipei I was told that as the plane stopped and Bangkok I had to buy my liquor there. I suppose I should have challenged this but the explanation seemed reasonable.
However, at Bangkok they told me I should have bought it at Taipei and they showed me a card stating that when transiting though Bangkok form certain countries they could not supply alcohol.
I was very frustrated and never got my duty free gin!
I have emailed the Everrich duty free customer after sales service and will be interested in their reply. https://www.everrich-group.com/EN/Service/ContactUs. There was clearly no discussion to be had with the staff in Bangkok and it was very clear from the paper they showed me that they were correct and the staff in Taipei were not.
Next time I will know!
I recently flew Air Berlin from Paris to Berlin
Here is the Aeroplane
My German is not good but I don’t think this reads “Air Berlin”!
Well yes I was surprised. When I booked I saw no suggestion the flight was to be operated by Alitalia
I wasn’t even aware of the partnership with Air Berlin when I booked.
Don’t get me wrong I have no real issue with this airline. It was over an hour late and was not very clean and was generally quite worn but that could be said of many airlines from budget to National carriers particularly when they are in a rush to turn a delayed flight around.
So weirdly I booked through Air Berlin, which has links to British Airways so received miles and tier points to fly an Italian plane.
I realise many companies codeshare and so you can fly a different carrier but I always thought this was announced on the booking site. Clearly not. Anyway it allows me to tick off the airlines I have flown!
I have just spent a few days in Berlin. I flew in and out of Tegel Airport.
Getting to and from the Airport
Berlin and the surroundings are covered by a network of trains; the U-Bahn. S Bahn, Trams and other rail services. The airport is not. You have to get a bus to and from Tegel.
When I arrived and found this out I purchased a cheap ticket that covered my journey and once validated was valid for 120 minutes (very efficient). The guy selling me the ticket told me where to go and change to the U-Bahn. I got it wrong and got off at the wrong stop but again was guided by helpful railway staff to the correct place. Despite getting on and off a bus and a train my single journey ticket remained valid.
When looking to return I found there was a bus to the airport from the center of the city fairly near my hotel so I would not have to change buses and trains. Great, I thought, and as I was travelling light it was not a problem to walk for a few minutes to the bus stop.
This is where the rather frustrating inefficiency arose. This is a bus to an airport. People using it have cases.
There was no where to put cases!!!
The bus was full and with cases and bags in the aisles being the only place to put them it was difficult to clamber over them to get down the bus.
Generally the transport system is efficient, and straightforward to use but why not install something so simple as a luggage rack? You would lose a few seats but so what. Perhaps this inefficiency can be corrected by the powers that be.
Otherwise a good time was had and Berlin is a very interesting and developing city.
I thought I should experience the British Airways Galleries Lounge as I as flying BA to Barcelona.
It is a big long space divided into several sections. Some have windows but overall the impression is of a dark area.
The first main space you enter is the dining area with a selection of hot and cold foods. There was quite a nice if rather basic selection. All self service.
The next areas you enter are seating areas divided by “wine racks”. There are quite dark but there are windows overlooking the taxi ways.
In the final section there is a large selection of spirits. On the centre of this area is an iconic wine cooler with a light installation above. Many other reviewers have commented upon it. Sadly this is now full of bottles of water.
The wine is relegated to another area nearby. However there is a selection of 4 reds and 4 whites. I could not see and fizzy stuff. The Grenache I tasted was very pleasant. This was all self service.
I found it an odd place. It is big but felt less comfortable and less spacious than the smaller No 1 Lounge upstairs. It as also generally noisier and less restful.
It is ok but not that relaxing. Overall I think I preferred the No 1 Lounge.
I am travelling to Barcelona so decided to use my Priority Pass to try the No 1 Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3.
There was no problem getting in although moderately busy.
I chose a seat by the window with a view over the tarmac.
It was quite spacious with various zones and different seating types. There was plenty of “sit up to” tables to work at or eat and lower tables and armchairs to relax.
Food and Drink
There is a serviced bar with free standard alcoholic drinks. If you wanted champagne a glass would set you back £8 and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot £48.
They served Langley gin. Not one I have had before – quite nice with tonic.
I was disappointed with the food selection. There was self service for some rather boring salads and cakes. If you wanted other food you could order it. The selection, as I write, included Lamb Hotpot, Mac and Cheese, Fish finger sandwich, Soup of the day or the cheese plate. I selected the latter and it was served to me.
Not very impressive
There is also a paid spa, not that I tried it, but it looked good as I walked by it on the way to the toilets and showers. Then toilets are individual cubicles (no urinals). They are quite dark with dark tiling although the toilet is well lit. The handbasin is supplied with L’Occitane Verveine hand wash.
A very pleasant ambience and comfortable place to spend some time. Moderate food . Overall worth a visit
When I landed in Bangkok after leaving Sydney the gate was at the other end of the airport to the departure gate for my London flight.
As I was making my way to across the airport I noticed the Eva Air Lounge. I was able to access this with my Star Alliance Gold card.
it is really funky with strips of neon lights. I almost felt as if i were in a hall of mirrors. The lights were rather confusing and slightly disorientating.
However, it was funky and refreshing . Very different to others more staid lounges I have explored. It was quite comfortable with a fairly decent selection of self service food and drink
It doesn’t have a view of the airport hence the dynamic lighting.
Sadly I could not stay too long as the walk across the airport to the C gates for my London departure were calling.
This was an interesting and fresh and different lounge. It really made me think about flying Eva Air or at least nest time I go to Bangkok to get to the airport early to spend more time there.
On my way home from Australia I decided to have a look into the American Express Lounge in Sydney Airport.
This has had a good write up by others.
As a Platinum card holder I was able to access the lounge free. There was a large placard in the reception of all the accepted American Express cards – and there were loads!
On entering the lounge it was quite light with windows overlooking the airport tarmac. I wondered down the lounge to the food and drinks area. I was then struck that it was not very big.
It was moderately crowded although I was able to find a comfortable seat. Armchairs are by the windows and against the wall opposite and in the middle is a long set of tables and chairs with power access for computers etc
There was a small food area serving and hot and cold food. It looked quite nice although I didn’t try any as I was “saving” myself for the onslaught of food on my 24 hour return flights to the UK. I did have a gin and tonic and was pleased to see they were serving Hendricks gin.
The toilet was a weird affair with an electronic sliding door and once inside you had to press a button to lock the door. There were large signs about this so presumabaly many an accidental door opening had occurred!
This was a small but pleasant lounge with a nice food and drink selection. It was a little crowded and hence not as relaxing as it could have been if it were a bit more spacious.
Visit this place.
Cronulla is easy to reach about 1 hour out of Sydney on the T4 line.
You can then catch the oldest timetabled ferry in Australia. This was launched in 1939.
It takes about 20 minutes to reach Bundeena.
Bundeena is a small village which is the jumping off point for walks through the National Park which is apparently the second largest only to Yellowstone.
The National Park
My visit only scraped the surface and one tiny corner. You could walk for miles and miles.
Choose you paths carefully. One I followed turn out to be soft sand and was energy sapping. Others are rock or much firmer.
I have no idea if anything is poisonous. There were some moderate sized spiders that I came across.
There were many birds from parrots and cockatoos to others I could hear but not see.
There are also bigger animals such as Wombats. These excrete cube shaped faeces. I did seem some and can confirm this is true but will not post the picture!!
The sandstone rocks have been shaped and patterned by the wind and sea and are quite spectacular.
Whilst Bundeena is small and with only a few shops and cafes, Cronulla is a good sized town with decent shops in number and quality. It certainly would be a very nice place to live.
I believe that other parts of Port Hacking contain some of the most spectacular and expensive properties in Greater Sydney so you would have well to do neighbours if you could afford to live in Cronulla.
The beaches were also pleasant and I even had a swim.
So this is is a really pleasant area to visit and you could spend a very long time exploring the park.
And all within a train ride of Sydney.