luxury travel

Entry Info

One of the Best First Class LoungesThe next destination is Lisbon, the western most European capital city and I intentionally used connecting flights via Frankfurt not using a direct one from Tel Aviv. The reason for this is, of course, the Lufthansa first class Lounge at Frankfurt Airport. Although the first class terminal (mentioned in the previous entry) is restricted for those who have an actual first class flight departing from Frankfurt airport only, the first class lounge is open for those who arrived by any Lufthansa first class flights as well. Therefore, technically I was eligible to use the lounge as I flew from Tel Aviv by their first class flight.

What's more I found a definitive advantage of the transit. You can set the transit time to your convenience providing a number of flights are available. In other words, you can technically stay at the lounge more than 10 hours. This is a huge difference from the direct flight which you can start checking in only 3 hours prior to the actual flight. As the previous flight had left from Tel Aviv in the very early morning, I could manage my transit time for 11 hours duration.

When I got the next ticket, I was bit afraid of not being able to use the first class lounge as the terminal of the next flight was designated for only the short distance flights within the Schengen countries -the European countries which you can travel without passport check-, which means there were no first class flights departing from the terminal. However surprisingly, Lufthansa was operating a full scale first class lounge at the small terminal too. Because of this, the number of people using the lounge was just a few. Sometimes, I was the only one staying at the lounge although they had at least three or four people working.

One of the Best First Class LoungesAfter having a hot shower, I went to a cabana. Although the bed making was quite simple -a large bare leather bed with a down quilt- warm lightings and amenities besides the pillow made the cosy room luxurious. By the way, when had I slept such a pretty private room before this? I must emphasize this fact in case you've forgotten; I'm a modest backpacker sleeping in dorm rooms. It's been a very long time since I could sleep well without any distractions.

One of the Best First Class LoungesMeals were waiting for me after having a nap. Shrimp cocktails, Iberico hams, the gorgeous buffet table was overwhelmingly appetizing. The bar had every liquor from all over the world and it looked like they could make all sorts of cocktails according to your order. In fact, the drink menu had a massive 16 pages including 10 types of water. Though some beverages were seasonal only, without any doubt it was impossible to complete within just a half day.

One of the Best First Class LoungesThanks to this fantastic lounge, I could spend 11 hours in a relaxed mood. Besides, the serving style by German staff was notable too. Unlike the other too casual Westerns or humble Asians, they were always friendly yet not too rude. Therefore, Lufthansa became my favourite flight carrier on this whole trip closely followed by JAL and Cathay Pacific. Oh, I ranked Star Alliance's company as my best, even though I was using Oneworld's first class round the world ticket.

As I mentioned before, this series of flights in the Middle East and Europe was not included in the round the world ticket. Nevertheless, I didn't pay a regular fare at all. The trick was "award flights". I'd earned a significant amount of ANA(Star Alliance carrier) mileage for three years when I was in Japan and got flights on the following route "London -> Frankfurt -> Cairo -> (surface sector) Istanbul -> Tel Aviv -> Frankfurt -> Lisbon -> London(cancelled)". Although they charged a little for taxes, fuel surcharges and such, it was just a marginal expense considering the fairy tale like experience of upper class seats.

Just using a proper credit card for a few years, anyone can earn 50-60k mileages for 3 years. If you say "I wish to be on a first class flight but for the costwise..", why don't you make a credit card and research about the mileage systems? You know, all it takes is a little ingenuity.

Entry Info

Lufthansa First Class Terminal I dreamt ofI stayed at Five Elements Hostel in Frankfurt and I liked this accommodation very much. Probably one of the best hostels so far in this whole trip. Though the bed room is very neat too, I must mention about the sophisticated café space located at the ground floor. For its simple and modern design, you can't believe the hostel costs only 18 EUR for one night. Nevertheless, the price range at the café is as reasonable as the other budget hostels; I always stayed here, drank beer and browsed the Internet in the evening[KO1] . Although I didn't go much sightseeing at Frankfurt, I felt like there more than home thanks to the hostel.

 

And the main event at Frankfurt is Lufthansa First Class Terminal of my dream. I mentioned this story before and I've been longing to visit here for more than 4 years. Yes, the dream came true.

I arrived at the normal terminal as I used the train to go to the airport and anyway checked in there. At the counter, the staff gave me a pass to the first class "lounge" but I asked her about the terminal with very indirect speaking like "Well, I heard you have a nice terminal for the first class passengers." And she assured me I can use the terminal if I don't mind going there on foot for 10 minutes. I don't mind it at all of course. Without the luggage, 10 minutes waking is the same as nothing.

 

Lufthansa First Class Terminal I dreamt ofIt was bit difficult to find the building though, finally I arrived there. In front of the building I couldn’t find anyone around but a person in charge came to me immediately after using the intercom. According to her, they didn’t really think about people who walked from the main terminal as the visitors usually use their own cars or taxis. Well, the reason is so plausible that I couldn't blame their assumption.

 

In order to enter the building, I had to pass the departure procedure as it was a terminal of a sort. Nevertheless, once the personal assistant took my passport, what I had to do was only passing the security gate. Although there was only one gate available, basically there are few visitors there and no queues. After that, the assistant offered me a guided tour around the terminal and I decided to go with her.

 

Lufthansa First Class Terminal I dreamt ofIncredibly, the shower room had a decent bath tub. What's more, the shower booth and the tub were completely separated and the room was spacious enough as though I can make my living there. In terms of amenities, the sets of Etro's mini bottles looked very luxurious while there are usually big bottles attached to the booth in the other terminals. Besides, you can enjoy the tub with a duck. I couldn't recall when I'd had such a gorgeous bath time before this.

 

Lufthansa First Class Terminal I dreamt ofAfter getting refreshed with the bath, of course it was the time for the meals. Prosciutto, salmon, shrimp cocktail, it seemed like a buffet table at a luxurious hotel. How come there are more than one kind of prosciuttos? I reckon the volume and luxuriousness of this terminal far surpassed the other places I ever stayed before. Although I had no time to order the real course menu, I was quite satisfied with the delicious finger foods and exquisite sweets.

 

Lufthansa First Class Terminal I dreamt ofWhen the boarding time came, I had a chance to use a limousine service as the first class terminal is located far from the normal gate. Though there are many luxurious German cars such as Mercedes S class, surprisingly a Porsche Cayman came to me since presumably I was quite young and they brought a cool sport car. Of course, this was the first time to get into a Porsche. Maybe the car wasn’t customized for sports driving too much and it was quite comfortable in the passenger seat. Though there was only a 5 minute drive it was a very exciting moment indeed.

 

Lufthansa First Class Terminal I dreamt ofThe aircraft was not really impressive as it was just a middle distance haul but the quality of their service was quite high. Especially, I loved the chocolate after the dinner. As a chocoholic, I had been already captivated by the chocolates in this area. I'm very much looking forward to the next long visit there at this summer. Despite some troubles before this day, all in all I was satisfied with the trip with Lufthansa.

 

At last, I arrived at Cairo. Though I'd already visited Dubai, as the city was bit special, I should say the trip around Middle East finally began. This 2 month trip from Egypt to Turkey on land would become the most backpacker-like trip in my whole route.

Entry Info

22nd (Mon)
Mar 2010

[day47] Sydney to Dubai 2

Sydney to Dubai2Sydney to Dubai via London. 24 hours from Sydney to London, 15 hours at London and 7 hours from London to Dubai. Considering the other waiting times, it was a huge trip taking more than 48 hours. Although everybody told me something wrong with this itinerary, for me this was the one of the chief event of "first class backpacker". The 2 nights & 3 days trip is long enough to saver what First Class is. (This entry is continued from the previous entry)

Heathrow British Airways Concorde Room

Sydney to Dubai2T5 is the newest terminal of Heathrow Airport and at near the normal first class lounge, there is a very special room named Concorde Room which only first class users can enter. Like Sydney Qantas first class lounge I stayed before, first class lounges are usually accessible to premium mileage members as well. However, this Concorde Room is different. Only those who have the actual flight ticket of BA first can enter the room. My eyebrows were raised at the very beginning when a staff asked me for the first drink. She said "Would you care for any drinks?" Who would ever talk to me such a ultimate polite term!?

Sydney to Dubai2In fact the interior was absolutely gorgeous. The lounge in Sydney was simple and modern but on the other hand here in London is classic and luxury. Many chandeliers are dangling from the ceilings and even a set of fireplaces is there though the fire is just a dummy. I thought this is the Great Britain. What's more, there is a sort of half private space at the restaurant which can be on a par with luxurious hotels' ones. Yet, their taste was sadly so-so. Indeed it was still nice but far below than my expectation caused by this premium atmosphere. I know I'm expecting bit too much but honestly they could improve the quality of the foods in order to be equal to the quality of the space.

London to Dubai

Sydney to Dubai2I stayed Concorde Room for 13 hours drinking fresh juice, organising the photos and wiring the blog entries. When I became slightly bored with the room, the boarding time had come. The flight departed at 21:30 with London time which means very early morning with Sydney time. Therefore I was already half asleep as if I stayed up until morning. What's more the arrival time was 9:30 with Dubai time but 4:30 with London time and 15:30 with Sydney time. So confused was my body that I went to bed without eating any in-flight meals except for a glass of white wine. As a result, I woke up very easily in the next morning and could eat breakfast in the airplane. This is my first time to eat a decent in-flight breakfast indeed.

Entrance to Dubai

It is said that to enter Dubai is very easy. They don't require visa to Japanese and in fact just showing the address of the accommodation, I got a stamp at the passport control. However at the custom, an unanticipated trap was there. I had nothing to declare and tried to go through the gate but an officer stopped me and dragged me to the table nearby. He asked me, "What have you got in your backpack?" I answered "Just my personal belongings for daily usage." "Well, can we open and check the back", responded the officer. From then taking more than an hour, I had to explain all the things in the bags one by one. What's more, their English is not really good, for instance they don't understand "Medicines for hay fever" and I had to use a lot of body languages. Eventually, I was forced to enter a small room for a body check and all the procedures have done.

Observing the gate carefully, I found that mainly people who rear a backpack were caught there. Well, this is not the country the budget backpackers easily call in. Though I gently cooperated with them as they seemed to just obey their mission, not to have any malicious thought I hope this kind of thing would never happen again.

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