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!


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