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QANTAS FIRST CLASS

Qantas QF93 MEL-LAX

Seat: 2A

Cabin: First Class

Configuration: 1-1-1 (4 rows of suites)

The first thing that hit me was the feeling of spaciousness. Whereas Emirates First Class has privacy, Qantas first class has space as it has open sides, but after being seated you swivel your chair towards the window so that you are facing the television screen. Once you are in the swivel position you feel more private as you are now facing away from the aisle. There is a lot of little storage spaces, drink holders and areas to put your stuff. There is even room for visitors to come and sit and chat, or even to sit down and share a meal with you.

The only thing I would say that is a negative is that the space is designed, there is a little “wall” where your arm rest is and you have to awkwardly twist to reach around to access some of the storage spaces. The décor is rather bland or “understated” after flying with the Middle Eastern carriers of late. There aren’t any of the little touches, such as the fresh orchards in a wall sconce, or polished walnut bits, or the little bowl of snacks to munch on during the flight, OR a personalised “mini-bar”.

QF FIRST LOUNGE

First Class Lounge breakfast menu

After arriving in Melbourne, getting through Immigration and Customs, we were left with only an hour to sample Qantas’ First Class Lounge. On first impressions it looked on the smaller side, but service was efficient as the restaurant was full and they served us our breakfast in the lounge area we we plonked our stuff. The egg and bacon roll was exactly what I needed at 8am as I had already been awake since 3.30am for the early flight to Melbourne. The great thing about the First Class Lounge was that it literally was above our plane, so boarding was easy and meant we could leave the Lounge at the last minute.

QF BUBBLES BEFORE TAKEOFF

Champagne as soon as you are seated

Upon embarkation, The Crew introduced themselves and offered a nice glass of Veuve Clicquot and a plate of olives. They were welcoming without being annoying. I like to “get ready” before take-off and work out what I might need during the flight, explore the storage nooks and crannies and sometime the crew can be too convivial and fuss over you and you end up with 5 or 6 people coming to introduce themselves that you never remember their names or what they do. This Qantas Crew had the right amount of “fuss”.

Menu – The Neil Perry lunch menu was full of good choices. The Maggie Beer pate (always a favourite) and the caviar with celeriac puree appetisers were very nice and a good small size. As it was only 11.15am (my time), and only a few hours since breakfast, I

QF MENU

didn’t feel like too much to eat, so I chose two small entrees rather than a big main course. I couldn’t go past the Lobster and soba noodles with XO sauce and I had heard that the First Class Steak Sandwich was a must. The Lobster was excellent, the steak sandwich was also nice but very simple – steak, chilli sauce on a bed of rocket in a baguette….where was the beetroot, egg, onion, cheese and tomato. I won’t fall for that trap again!! The wine list was also very simple with only a few choices. I expected more, but still managed to find a Riesling I like.

Despite being full, Emma the hostie, implored that I had to have the Ice-cream sandwich. Oh wow, it was fantastic and full of honey, nuts and chocolatey goodness. Leave room for this treat.

Breakfast was the usual choice of eggs & bacon, yogurt, muesli  etc.

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The Seat – The seat swivels to face the window or your guest after take-off. There are USB ports to charge your devices as well as noise-cancelling headphone. It is comfortable and fully reclines into a fully horizontal flat bed. While you are changing into your stylish black Martin Grant (who I assume is a designer??) pyjamas and slippers, the cabin crew make up the bed for you with a mattress and duvet. Despite being so comfortable, I didn’t really get any serious sleep: maybe 2 hours here and there and eventually I just gave up. Unlike most flights, it was really hot in the cabin which didn’t help with sleep. I should have taken the sleeping tablet that was on offer by my travelling companion.

iQ – Qantas’ entertainment system had a lot of choice. They had a lot more recent movies than I’ve experienced on a lot of other flights.

The Crew – the crew on-board were fantastic. They were friendly and attentive without being too in your face. They had a great knack of knowing when to be chatty and when to leave you alone. They were also very helpful with some suggestions on what to do and where to go in our ultimate destination, New York. Upon touchdown in Los Angeles, my inner 9 year old self was beaming with excitement as  I was invited into the cockpit to have a look before disembarking.  Nice end to a good flight.

QF A380 COCKPIT

Overall: Despite the lack of sleep, I enjoyed the overall Qantas First Class experience. I absolutely rate the service; it has been friendly, efficient without feeling forced. Can’t wait until next time. Hopefully, there will be a next time.

#thedontforgettravelgroup

THE DONT FORGET TRAVEL GROUP

79 GLEN OSMOND ROAD

EASTWOOD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA 5063

PH: +61 8 8118 6340

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LOOK, BUT DONT TOUCH

Every now and then The Dont Forget Travel Group is  invited to do a plane inspection if there is enough time between landing and take off. This week we got to check out Singapore Airline’s Flight SQ278  which flies between Adelaide and Singapore.

Landing at Adelaide Airport

Landing at Adelaide Airport

I have been on this plane many times but never really taken a lot of notice (because the service is so good)  and I could bore you with lots of detail about it being an Airbus A330-300 with 255 seats in Economy and 60 seats in Business…but why tell you when we can show you……

Unfortunately the plane was a little bit late so we didn’t have much time to really check out all the features. Maybe next time (if they let me back on!!)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

“From the four walls that currently surround you to the infinite potential of space, this week we’d like you to show us your take on room, rooms, or a room.”

Not one for being obvious, I didn’t want to fill this challenge with lots of photos of great hotel rooms. Instead I chose a few of my favourite “rooms”.

Athens

Athens

Ok I just said I wasn’t going to fill up on hotel rooms, but this is the view from my favourite hotel room overlooking my favourite city in my favourite overseas country. Whenever I can see the Parthenon sitting proudly atop the Acropolis, I feel happy….and very much at home. I’m sure I must have been Greek in a former life!

 

 

 

 

Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

One of the biggest gripes that travellers have is the lack of room offered by airlines. Maybe one of reason why this is so is because Singapore Airline’s stole everyone’s extra space and added it to Business Class on their A380. There is so much room it can fit 2 champagne drinking passengers.

Moet et Chandon Cellars

Moet et Chandon Cellars

Speaking of champagne…..(nice segue) this stairway leads into the room that I discovered that I actually do like champagne, when you drink it at the source. This stairway leads to the Moet et Chandon tasting room which is at the end of a labyrinthine network of underground tunnels and cellars. After a tour of the cellars the corks were popped, the bubbles fizzed and my tastebuds did a hallelujah dance. The French sure know how to make champagne. Up to this moment I had only given a polite smile through gritted teeth whenever I had to have a glass.

Belvedere Ice Room Whistler

Belvedere Ice Room Whistler

Speaking of drinking… (another nice segue) one of the strangest rooms I have ever been in is one made completely of ice. The walls, the bar, the shelves, the seats were made of ice. It was called the Belvedere Ice Room and served ice-cold vodka.  On a trip to Whistler I found myself in this room tasting vodka after being kitted out in a heavy fur-lined jacket. It was great fun. The downside was that due to the freezing temperature, you can’t stay all night in the room, even though the cold spirit is warming you on the inside.

Bayon Temple Campodia

Bayon Temple Campodia

There are many different type of spirits (yep, another segue), some alcoholic and some spiritual. On a recent trip to Cambodia, while exploring Bayon Temple’s many rooms I was surprised to come across this buddha . Despite believing that the temples of Siem Reap were abandoned, it was obvious that I was wrong. The Buddha had been cloaked in a bright saffron-coloured sash and surrounding the seated figure were many offering. Some of them were recent offerings proving that this was still an active place of worship.

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In their day, the temples of Siem Reap would have been considered opulent, (here comes another segue) but nothing like the opulence experienced at an exclusive dinner in the Hall of Battles, one of the majestic rooms in the Palace of Versailles.  Believed to be the first dinner staged at the Palace since Napoleonic times, it was a privilege to feel like a privilege member of French Royalty.

Speaking of privilege (ok enough with the gratuitous segues), I have had the privilege and pleasure to have this as my view from my Santorini room.  Really don’t think there is anything more to say…just open a bottle of ouzo, nibble on some grilled octopus and just enjoy.

Santorini Greece

Santorini Greece

The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the weekly photo challenge, but with the added twist that every photo has to have a travel element to it. Enjoy! #postaday

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: ON THE MOVE

It is quite mesmerizing watching all types of vessels passing by my waterfront accommodation: big tankers filled with shipping containers, long transporters full of so much sand that the boat sits precariously low in the water, small wooden fishing boats that look as though they have been plying these waters for generations, modern speed boats ferrying expats from the safety of their gated communities into the hustle and bustle of the city, sight-seeing cruisers with camera snapping tourists, even large paddle-steamer style (sans paddlewheel!!) karaoke dinner cruises. While staying in Ho Chi Minh City, what has really captured my imagination, and is fitting for this week’s photo challenge, is “life on the Saigon River”. While the vessel may vary, the one thing they all have in common is that they are all ON THE MOVE.

The last few days have all been about ON THE MOVE, so this week’s photo challenge was quite easy. Over the course of 3 days I have flown from Australia to Malaysia then onto Vietnam.

The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the weekly photo challenge, but with the added twist that every photo has to have a travel element to it. Enjoy! #postaday

Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

Put letters together to make words. Put words together to form sentences. Put sentences together to produce chapters. Put chapters together to tell stories.

There is an order to letters and to keep the letters in order there is the alphabet. To bring each letter to life is a picture that represents that letter, either physically, metaphorically or graphically.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words here is my 26,000 word essay!

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The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the weekly photo challenge, but with the added twist that every photo has to have a travel element to it. Enjoy! #postaday

THE COLD FACE OF GALLIPOLI

THE COLD FACE OF GALLIPOLI

The Gallipoli campaign was brutal and not for the fainthearted. I went in believing I knew what I was in for and somehow came out the other side as the face of Anzac Day 2006.

Sitting at the stage area overlooking Anzac Cove

Sitting at the stage area overlooking Anzac Cove

Anzac Day is all about reflection, so let’s we reflect…

I had been prepared for the emotion of the occasion, but I wasn’t prepared for the coldness of the occasion. It was freezing with an onshore wind blowing off Anzac Cove. The day had been a sunny autumnal day, but this was just a tease. As the sun dropped below the horizon, the temperature didn’t drop, it plummeted.

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After a 5 hour bus trip from Istanbul (which they showed Mel Gibson’s “Gallipoli” on-board to get everyone into the mood) we arrived at Anzac Cove around 6pm on 24th April. Being on one of the first buses (as there isn’t public transport everyone has to belong to a tour group to gain access) to arrive we had options – lie on the grassed area behind the VIPs which would give you a limited view, but with the chance of getting some sleep, or sit in the stand where you would be guaranteed a great view, but very little chance of any sleep. I chose the latter as I thought “seeing” was whole point of being here.

Despite wearing a t-shirt, shirt, polar fleece jumper, windproof jacket, two pairs of Explorer socks, jeans, a beanie (purchased during the night from a local Turk) and all snuggled inside a sleeping bag it was not enough to ward off the cold that had now seeped its way into the core of my bones. I remember thinking I may be uncomfortably cold, but imagine also being wet and coming ashore under the cover of darkness, to a future that probably wasn’t going to end well.

To relieve boredom, every hour, on the hour throughout the night, either a Military band played, or a 15 minute documentary of the conflict, or a detailed description of where the troops were at that specific time back in 1915, or images beamed up on the big screen of the crowd from the closed circuit cameras. It was both entertaining and informative. A constant stream of buses depositing more people added to the carnival-like atmosphere. By 5.30am there was about 10,000 people squashed into Anzac Cove. I am pretty sure there was not one Australian backpacker left in London!

Amongst the crowd were AFL and NRL football jumpers, Wallaby tops, hats with

Crowd building with the Sphinx in background

Crowd building with the Sphinx in background

the Oz flag, the canary yellow of the Fanatics etc and the closest thing to nationalistic I had was an Austereo polar fleece with a capital A on the front. During the night I was feeling so unpatriotic I haggled with a local Turk selling flags – eventually getting a bargain for 4 Turkish Lira (approx. $4.00). I had got a great deal and I felt good. Back at my seat, with chest swelling with pride, I unfurled the flag to discover that it was only printed on one side. Damn you Turks, you got the better of us Aussies again. The reverse side was completely white!

It was at that moment when a camera on the end of a massive boom, swung around zooming in on me. I could see myself on the screens scattered around the amphitheatre. Luckily the wind changed direction so that the Australian flag side was visible; otherwise it would have looked as though I was surrendering by waving the white flag. I remember thinking “look solemn and pensive and resist the urge to make a face or wave maniacally”.

The service itself was quite stage-managed with many speeches by dignitaries. It

Last Post being played at Dawn Service at Anzac Cove

Last Post being played at Dawn Service at Anzac Cove

felt more like a celebration than a memorial service, so it wasn’t as emotional as I thought it was going to be – that was until the lone bugler played the Last Post and the Reveille – spine chilling stuff.

A few days later I discovered that it hadn’t been a closed circuit tv. The footage was beamed back to Australia and Channel 9 used my image as the opening and closing scenes of their national news bulletin! My cold, but solemn face had been on television every hour throughout the day all over Australia.

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I had turned up to pay my respects and walked away from Gallipoli as the face of Anzac Day.

The Don’t Forget Travel Group

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

I love getting high!

Never one to suffer from vertigo, I love being high….whether it be on top of a mountain after trekking for a few days, or from the Observation Deck of a skyscraper where the effort was no more strenuous than pushing the elevator button. I have always enjoyed sweeping views, particularly vistas from being “On Top” of things.

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The Don’t Forget Travel Group is taking part in the Weekly Photo Challenge with the added edge of each challenge is to have a “travel twist”.

#Postaday