Germany

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

8th (Sat)
May 2010

[day52] Jump to Amsterdam

Oh, again. I missed a flight! And even worse, Lufthansa labour union was planning to hold a strike from the next day and the airport was in total chaos. Following the advice from the gate staff I went to the ticket office but there was a shockingly long queue. It took me more than 2 hours until my turn finally came even though I was in a priority lane. During the time, I was trying to sort out the problems. I must not boast this though, I'm very good at confronting any kind of troubles.

First of all, what concerns me the most was the flight I'd missed. In fact, I had a previous experience of missing a flight with a discount ticket and at the time the ticket became invalid. (I've sworn it would never happen again!) What would happen in case of the award flight? Plus, the checked in luggage made me uneasy too. Had it been loaded and left me to Cairo, it must be very difficult to retrieve the backpack. Besides, I had to cancel the airport pick up service from the accommodation in Cairo.

I asked the first two questions to the staff in the counter and regarding the award flight they didn't know the details but they said my agency should handle it. What was the agency anyway? I organised this trip by myself but she repeated "the agency is the agency." About the luggage, Frankfurt Airport has a system which tracks the passengers and unless a passenger is on board his luggage won't be loaded too. The staff secured my luggage and arranged to send it to the carousel. Anyway I felt quite assured as the financial damage will be minimum.

I managed to send an urgent cancelation email to the accommodation with Kindle during the waiting time in front of the carousel. It was positively surprising that Kindle's internet function was finally made full use of. After retrieving the luggage, I joined the queue again at the ticket office to solve the question of 'the agency'. This time, I repeated the question patiently and the staff said "It's the agency which you book the flight." Oh, well it must be ANA.

Well it was Frankfurt airport. I dashed for the ANA counter. However, the answer at the counter was that award flights were not their area and I had to make a phone call to their service centre. Anyway, I got the phone number from them and connected to Skype by airport's paid wi-fi.

According to the operator, if I waited for 8 days, they can arrange an alternative flight at business even though it was a part of award flights. What's more, it was actually possible to book at first class with 10 days waiting. Oh, I couldn't be happier with this result as I'd actually resigned myself to the worst case that whole trip become void. The dream of Lufthansa first class terminal become feasible again.

Besides, the Cairo's accommodation gave me a kind reply which said that they didn't mind as long as I inform about the alternative flight. What amazing consequences they were! Almost no financial damage occurred even though I missed a flight.

The last thing I had to consider was how to spend these 10 days in Europe. I'd once thought of visiting friends in Germany and Switzerland but after careful consideration, I noticed that FITC (a big flash conference) was going to be held on the next day at Amsterdam. I must've been guided by the god of designing.

Once I decided what the next action is, I moved very quickly. Thanks to "Last Minutes Ticket Center", I secured a flight to Amsterdam. Also, during the waiting time at the gate, I booked the accommodation and contacted some Japanese people who were going to join the conference. Only 4 hours later since I called ANA, I arrived at Amsterdam airport. I would like to applaud myself for this recovery.

Nevertheless at the carousel something wrong happened again. The checked-in luggage didn’t appear at all and finally the carousel stopped completely. How come this knockabout? This is my first time of the lost baggage. Since I had almost all valuable things such as the camera and laptop with me and wore warm clothes, I could survive without the luggage. But not having a backpack, I felt quite insecure in the unfamiliar city. "Probably, we can find your bag in a few days", said the lady at the desk and tried to trust her, I headed to the accommodation.

It was already after midnight when I arrived the hostel. Phew, such a long day it was.

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