Browsed by
Category: Uncategorized

Where has the excitement gone?

Where has the excitement gone?

I am sitting in the Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 2. I am about to get on a plane to Bangkok. I have done, and loved, long haul flights before. I am flying with Thai airways, an airline I have liked. I am going to a destination I enjoy and I am also going to a spend a few days in a Phnom Penh, a place I have wanted to visit.

 

Where is the excitement?

So why am I not excited? Is it that I am completely knackered from my day job? Is it that I am meeting a friend and spending some time with him and his family, something I have done before and enjoyed but am worried it could be different this time? There is a different culture between Europeans and Asians and sometimes  intentions are difficult, if not impossible, to read.

 

This time it’s different

I simply do not know why but for the first time my holiday does not seem to hold the excitement it usually does.

 

This is worrying as my holidays are special and are adventure away from the stresses of work and filial responsibility to an aged parent.

 

Perhaps that’s it. I know when I get back in a week it will all be the same and whilst I am away there is the anxiety of an impending crisis and the stress of the difficulties of dealing with it 6000 miles away.

 

This is worrying. It has not been a problem before and should not be now. Little has changed except anno domini.

 

Let’s hope that when I arrive the worries will fall away with the excitement of a diffierent culture and new places to see and experience.

 

“A gap year for every resume”

“A gap year for every resume”

I am starting to feel really old!!

As I write this I am listening to a live webcast about the digital nomadic life.

So far I have listened to comments about teaching English and house sitting. All explaining how to live on the internet rather than be country based. Otherwise known as “location independent”

The presentations are from a group of entrepreneurial young people. I wish they had included older people as they have a huge experience to offer.

 

However I struggle to frequently use the word “awesome”. It seems that if you work on the internet then it is de rigeur to constantly say “awesome”.

 

“A gap year to every resume”

I have just heard this comment. I never had a gap year and would encourage anyone to take a gap year whatever you plan to work, not specifically internet working. This is a completely appropriate comment.

 

An older gap year

It is clear to me that a gap year at any age is important.

I am not sure “awesome” needs to be said every 10th word but some of the comments are really interesting and are equally applicable to someone int heir 20s, 30s 40s 50s or even 60s.

 

Although rather promotional the comments are interesting and I would suggest listening

 

www.theparadisepack.com/live

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Up Appearances – regularly

Keeping Up Appearances – regularly

I admire those that publish daily. The work involved in creating any form of blog is a lot, to do it daily is monumental. The dedication to writing daily is hard. Even publishing a couple of times a week requires a perseverance that I have found challenging.

 

Firstly keeping up with different ideas on a regular basis and avoiding repeats is difficult. Then fitting in writing with the day job or even writing when away on holiday has been harder than I thought, hence my silence for a few weeks.

 

I note some sites have contributions from a number of people. Clearly this eases the individual’s pressure to produce prose but still can be problematic in editing and maintaining consistency and blog format.

 

I will try harder – soon!

Emirates Lounge – Dubai. Is it really a lounge?

Emirates Lounge – Dubai. Is it really a lounge?

To save you reading further the answer, in my opinion, is NO.

 

It is a massive place that spans the entire terminal a couple of floors above the main concourse.

It is pleasant enough but parts are as busy as the main gates. You can board from the lounge so you do not have to mix with coach. However, it essentially mirrors the gate set up 2 floors below.

It is busy at the gates and resemble a slightly posher gate waiting area with slightly more comfortable chairs.

 

There are quieter areas

 

Yes it has free food and drink.

 

It is certainly better than the main concourse but has absolutely no atmosphere above that of a waiting area.

Lounges in other airports at least have some character. This has none.

I will of course use it over waiting in the main concourse gate are and partake of the amenities. However, I will look forward to boarding my plane as soon as I can.

 

 

Amercian Express Fine Hotels and Resorts – Is it worth it

Amercian Express Fine Hotels and Resorts – Is it worth it

Amercian Express Fine Hotels and Resorts  is part of the American Express Platinum service. It seems great; a room upgrade, late checkout and an offer such as a $100 credit for food or other services.

Room Upgrade

I have Boked through Fine Hotels and Resorts twice and on both occasions I did not receive an upgrade. The small print does state “if available”. I suppose I have been unlucky.

Also I have tended to reserve a higher than basic room category so I assume there are less better rooms to upgrade me to.

 

Room Credit

The room credit means I have been able to have a nice meal in a hotel restaurant. This is something I might not have otherwise done.  I suppose you could offset the cost of the deal against this.

 

Late Check out

This is obviously useful if you have a late flight and useless if the flight is during the working day.

 

The Cost

Booking a room through fine hotels and resorts is more expensive than booking a room on the hotel website or even lower down in the American Express travel website list. You can offset the room credit against this cost which does bring it down but I feel it is not of value unless you get a room upgrade.

This also needs to be offset against benefits you might get if you are a hotel elite holder which might entitle you to a room upgrade anyway and breakfast as well as access to the Club Lounge.

 

Conclusion

Other commentators have enthused about the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts service. I am, so far, less  excited and less convinced it is worth it.

I have booked the St Regis in Singapore through it and I am staying there soon. So let’s see what benefits I get.

I suppose I should only book the cheapest room to allow more opportunity for an upgrade and ensure I do not go when there is a national celebration in full swing.

Third time lucky.

Watch this space…..

Funky Eva Air Lounge – Bangkok

Funky Eva Air Lounge – Bangkok

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.

 

The Lounge

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

Heathrow Terminal 2 – Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and Conclusion

Heathrow Terminal 2 – Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and Conclusion

Unlike the other affiliated lounges the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge does not have a first class section (in contrast to Singapore Airlines’s SilverKris, United’s Club and Lufthansa)

I was welcomed very warmly and shown into the lounge.

It is a long lounge along windows with a second tier of seating raised a little from the window seats.

There is a small food section with hot and cold choices.

The bar is serviced and as usual provides a range of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks.

The lounge didn’t seem as busy as the others I had tried earlier that day. I wonder if this was because many airlines use the United Club, or simply by the time I got there a number of flights had departed, hence depleting the number of waiting passengers

The seating was of a modern square design and comfortable.

I was able to watch the status TVs and walked from the lounge to board my flight very smoothly.

 

Conclusion

So which is best?

Of the 3 lounges I sampled on the same day I liked Lufthansa in the main building and the Maple Leaf Lounge in the satellite. If I am not flying first (I wish) then I certainly use this lounge over the SilverKris business lounge and probably even prefer it over the United Club business lounge.

Heathrow Terminal 2 – Lufthansa Lounges

Heathrow Terminal 2 – Lufthansa Lounges

This is on the same, upper level, that you enter once through security. Turn right out of security and it is near the escalators.

I showed my gold status card and my boarding card. My business class ticket with Thai airways allowed me entrance to the business lounge and the status card to the Senator lounge. From reception you first enter the business lounge.

Business Lounge

This was much lighter and bigger the the Plaza lounge. Again more crowded than I have encountered on previous visits but there were still places to sit and relax.

At the end of the business lounge is a door opened by waving a piece of paper with a QR code under a reader. You can then enter the Senator Lounge.

 

Senator Lounge

As before this seemed more crowded than the business section. As far as I understand it this lounge is for first class ticket holders and premium status holders. Although I am one of the latter I wonder how I would feel if I were a first class ticket holder. Perhaps Lufthansa needs to reconsider their admission policy.

The Senator lounge is smaller in area and feels as if it has more seats per unit area than the business area. There is certainly less free circulation space.

 

 

The food selection was similar although a little more extensive than Plaza. Again there were a couple of hot selections and cold foods. The beverages were serve yourself in both areas with any of the soft drinks and mixers, Coke, soda water or tonic water etc provided via a dispenser rather than cans. I presume this reduces waste.

The food and drink selection seemed very similar in both areas so again I can see no benefits of the Senator Lounge over the Business Lounge.

The toilets were clean and modern and had a pleasant air freshener smell.

As my departure time approached I made my way to the satellite part of terminal 2.

Heathrow Terminal 2 and the Plaza Premium Lounge

Heathrow Terminal 2 and the Plaza Premium Lounge

I arrived in Heathrow Terminal 2 at the start of my adventure to Sydney.

My plan was to try a couple of lounges whilst I waited to board. In fact I tried 3.

Plaza Premium – accessed with Priority Pass.

Lufthansa – I was able to access both the Business and Senator sections with my Thai Airways gold card (part of Star Alliance).

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – accessed with my Gold card as part of Star Alliance.

 

Terminal 2 in the evening

Before I comment on the lounges I wants to make an observation on the terminal. I have flown from Heathrow Terminal 2 on a few occasions,  usually around midday. It has been busy but not overtly crowded. Tonight it was really busy.

I dropped my bags easily and then went to security. I usually use the Fastrack lane but tonight the queue was backing up into the concourse. I asked the attendants if the standard queue was any quicker. She shrugged her shoulders, “everywhere is busy”. I decided to risk the standard area as it has more lanes. It was equally busy but well marshalled and did seem to move quickly so, in fact, I got through security pretty quickly. Overall therefore quite a good experience although not as good as previously.

Once through security I decided to try the lounges.

 

Plaza Premium

The Plaza Premium Lounge is in the main hall of terminal 2. After security you go down a level and pass by the transfer desks to the pleasant looking entrance. The receptionist was efficient and processed my Priority Pass quickly and then pointed me to the entrance before moving on to the next customer.

The Lounge is windowless but is well lit in a subdued manner. There are lots of natural woods and is overall very calming except for the crowds! Other reviews I have read say how quiet it is. The day I visited it was quite busy but I was still able to get a seat and was quickly served at the bar for my gin and tonic. Admittedly it was not noisy and was still quite relaxing.

The food selection was good from a couple of hot meals to a few wraps, cheese and cold meats.
There were a few papers and magazines – not a particularly large or varied selection but enough. I was provided with wifi access which seemed to work ok for a bit of web browsing and email checking.

Toilet facilities were clean and functional.

There is another section that contains showers and bedrooms. I did not explore this area.

All in all the lounge was OK. It has clearly got busier since it opened and other reviewers have commented on it.

After a short while I moved on.

All packed and everywhere to go

All packed and everywhere to go

My Australia holiday starts in a few days

I  have got out all the stuff I want to take and am packing it in my case.

It is probably too much. How many shorts do you really need for a week’s holiday?!

I find myself planning my day wear and evening wear, and then some spares, I could get some stuff washed whilst I am there but have yet to routinely use hotel laundry, or even room, services. As I become more settled in my travels I will. But sometimes it feels so expensive.

So I now find myself pretty much packed but I am not due to leave for a few more days. Do I just leave the case in the corner or unpack and repack trying to weed out stuff and really am unlikely to use? I accept not the greatest dilemma of my life but something to ponder.

And another question:

 

Cabin or checked?

I admire those people who seem to be able to pack for all eventualities and fit it all into cabin bags. Clearly their sense of colour and style matching is better than mine and they are also able to exist on a couple of pairs of shoes. (I find these take up a lot of space). I am already taking 3 pairs. A relatively smart set to travel in. Some trainers to walk the streets and flip flops for less strenuous walking or beach roaming. However I do note that some of those who say they only take cabin luggage do seem to take a lot of it; a cabin suitcase, a tote bag and a handbag. My shoulders are not broad enough or strong enough to carry this.

 

Checked for me!

So I will check a suitcase and then have a small cabin bag that I can drag around the airport and fit a bit of duty free in along with my computer and a few other bits and pieces.

Yes I will wait longer to collect my bag from the luggage carousel and wait on tenterhooks until it arrives.

But I will certainly be less anxious that what I have brought doesn’t match well and I will have a few choices of clothes to wear rather than a multi use outfit.

So I am  looking forward to being chilled with my first cocktail on arrival

Cheers