Wednesday 30 July 2014

European Adventure: Day Two - Arrival in Prague, Czech Republic

Because we booked flights using Aeroplan miles we didn't have a lot of flexibility on the routes. After leaving Toronto, we flew to Montreal on Air Canada where we had a 3 hour layover. Dad had enough miles to book business class on all the flights which was amazing. I am not a good flyer to begin with, so having a little extra space and the added luxury did help calm me down.

Leaving the lounge and heading toward our gate I was dismayed to find a Jo Malone store in the Toronto terminal. This is a brand that I have unsuccessfully hunted for each time I have been in Europe. It's a line of women's fragrances and creams that's have a variety of scents - including the ability to customize a mix. Of course I find it when I have no time to browse! Apparently they are now in select Holt Renfrew stores so that's on my to-do list for when I get back - Amanda.G I think we should take a trip to Yorkdale and get you new items for your upcoming trip! (and of course stop at Holt Renfrew!)

We boarded the plane at 3:45 amid a lot of pushing and shoving. My pet peeve is people who don't bother listening to the announcers and just rush to the gate long before they are supposed to. Listening to and following instructions isn't a hard concept to grasp, yet more people seem to lack the ability.  Once on the plane I noticed some men in orange maintenance vests working on the flight desk - just the sight every anxious flyer wants to see before take off... 

Between maintenance delays and another plane blocking us we were an hour late taking off. Fortunately there was a chunk of time between our flights so we weren't worrying. Our plane did have to take off with the landing gear down and not rise it until later then normal due to one of the wheel ends (or brakes) not registering. Again, not too reassuring for an worried flyer! But the pilot was great and made frequent announcements to keep us updated. 

Our seats and service were a real treat! Despite only being an 1hr and 10 min flight we had the seats that turned into beds. Each of us had our own little oval shaped area with fancy controlled seats. They could recline, a foot rest came up, and you could fully extend into a laying position - which I didn't test because I knew I would look strange laying down on such a short flight. The Air Canada stewards were friendly and helpful showing us where the TV screen and table trays were as they are different then the usual seats. We also got a "snack" of a warmed chicken pot pie. This snack was probably better then any potpie I could make! There was a fair amount of distance between the three of us despite being in the same row. My back was angled away from dad, but I could see Brian. The one downfall of these seats was that I was unable to hold Brian's hand during take off. 

The flight was shorter then expected - probably only about 45-50 minutes in the air before we reached Montreal. In candy crush terms that meant I played all my 5 games during take off but by landing only had one new game waiting for me! Taking off was fine - the plane was just a little bit shaky, but as we started our decent the motion got worse. It didn't feel like typical turbulence but rather was more of an actual shaking sensation. Maybe it felt different due to where/how I was sitting which was the first row of the plane and on an angle. 

We had almost two hours between flights so we went up to the Maple Leaf Lounge in Montreal to wait. It was almost the same as the Toronto one - spread out seating, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and light food like veggies, hummus, soups, rice and chicken. On the lower lever there was even a chef making customized pasta! This lounge had a shower in it that you could get a key for if needed. I can definitely see why business travelers like my uncle utilize the lounges they are worth it. I must have looked strange in the lounge as I had to spend a few minutes cleaning up my liquid and gel bag as my pink nail polish had spilled everywhere. I managed to get most of it cleaned/dry but dads carry-on now smells like nail polish. Thankfully it was in a plastic bag and didn't stain all his stuff. But I don't think he will be carrying that for me on the way home! 

The plane to Munich had delayed boarding due to a medical emergency - so we were about 40 minutes late taking off. But the gorgeous seats and cabin made up for it! Lufthansa is amazing! Mom told me she had heard good things and she wasn't wrong. We were in business class - and you would swear it was first class. (Brian peaked at first class there isn't too much physical differences just a bit more room, wood paneling and roses). Business class had three rows of two seats across and 6 rows back. The seats were spacious and comfy and also reclined into beds. There was a ton of storage in front of the seat, an in-flight entertainment system, pillows, blankets, free bottled water and a toiletry kit. 

The plane was a A330-300 and it was the best plane I have been on. There were separate entrances for each class - first, business, and premium/economy. As soon as we sat down we were offered a drink of orange juice, Champagne or water.  We were also given dinner menus offering us salad, choice of beef, sea bass or gnocchi and a desert. There was even an extensive wine and beer list! I think this has shown dad and myself that redeeming Aeroplan miles for economy trips in the US is pointless. It makes much more sense to redeem them for international travel in business class. A one-way one-person flight on just this route/airline next Tuesday starts at $2500.00! We only paid the taxes and fees and that also included our Toronto-Montreal flight and our Munich-Prague flight. It makes more sense to save miles and travel like this on-haul journeys. I am an awful flyer but I was able to relax and not be super anxious based on the incredible surroundings. 

The business class cabin wasn't full - so there was a lot of room as all the passengers were spaced out. I think I counted 9 people in the 24 seats. Brian and I sat beside each other at the window with dad beside us separated by the aisle. Dinner was served quickly, Brian and I both had beef which was decent and dad had the sea bass which he said wasn't the greatest. The salad was delicious, as was the wine and cheeses for desert. The stewardess came by very few minutes offering more drinks, bread or chocolate and was on hand when we needed help with adapters and the remote. Sadly the inflight WiFi was down, but the price was pretty steep so I didn't care. After dinner I moved up a seat and reclined into the bed position so I could sleep without trapping Brian. I think I slept for almost 4 hours, only waking once during some turbulence. It wasn't the most comfortable bed I have slept in, but for being on a plane it was great. Dad watched two movies and Brian played on his tablet - but I think both of then slept for at least few hours. I got the most sleep and woke up after breakfast which was about 45 minutes before landing. The whole flight was relaxing and comfortable, and despite the slight turbulence was a fantastic flight experience. 

We arrived at the Munich airport 1 hour and 50 minutes before our next flight which turned out to be plenty of time. The airport is huge, but well organized and streamlined to ensure everything moves quickly and efficiently. There was a lot of walking which my injured foot wasn't too impressed about - hopefully when I start wrapping it it won't be as painful! Customs/border control was a breeze - we handed our passports over to the guy, he looked at them and then he looked us, then he stamped them and said a simple "enjoy". That was probably only time I haven't had to say anything except "hello" and "thanks" when dealing with an agent. 

The Munich airport was awesome - so many shops, cafés, beer/wine areas and restaurants. There was even the new model Audi in the terminal which looks incredible! We didn't have time to wander which was unfortunate, well maybe fortunate considering it's only day two and I'd have to start lugging whatever I found to buy around! Our gate was at the far end of the airport and was more like a small holding area. Brian was happy as there was a smoking booth right above us which was convenient for him. From our little waiting area we were shuttled by bus to a completely different Tarmac where the smaller planes were. It wasn't the smallest plane I have been on, but it was similar in size and capacity to the plane from Athens to Chios last summer. We also had business class for this flight so we were seated in the first row. The flight from Munich to Prague was only 40 minutes but they also served business class a lunch/snack. I declined, but Brian and dad enjoyed a strange collection of tuna, venison, pea purée, beans, peppers and mango salsa accompanied by bread and desert. Lufthansa really goes above and beyond for their business class customers and is how I would love to travel on all my Europe trips! I did tell Brian this is how I wanted to go when we eventually (a long way away) do Australia and New Zealand. 

We landed at the Prague airport just as it was started to cloud over and rain but the plane connected directly to the terminal - we didn't have to walk outside like we did to get on it. The Prague airport was a decent size and very clean! Not as many shops and cafés like Munich but still would have been fun to wander through. We made our way to baggage where we were reunited with our luggage... I don't know why but I had some odd feeling at last one of them would go missing! Thankfully I was wrong. Dad bought a SIM card for his unlocked phone so that took some additional time, but it was nice to find it at the airport rather then wandering around town looking. I had called Telus to put a roaming package on my phone and was quoted a decent one that included 200 minutes, unlimited text messages and 500 MB of data. However when I called back to add it I was told that that it was only for consumers and that since I was on a business plan we couldn't have access to it. The plan I got instead was 25.00 less and had 50 less minutes, only 200 text messages and only 100 mb of data. I tried to see if there was anything the rep could do, but he couldn't and I was stuck with it. Dad also added that package and  between the two of us combined we have less data then the consumer plan offers. I tweeted them my frustration and of course heard back right away. We are officially In a world where complaints over social media are dealt with more effectively them those over the phone with so-called customer care people. Still even the tech guy who called me back couldn't do anything to make the plan better and just summed it up as "business clients get additional perks". Really? We aren't seeing it. We have been with them since the beginning and have 6-7 phones that rack up a lot of charges --- yet when we travel we get screwed over. Even dad agrees it's time to start looking for a different business provider when we get back. 

I could barely stay awake in the cab to the hotel, and went directly to the room for a nap when we arrived. We are at the Clarion Inn Old Town for the next 3 nights. It's a decent hotel - a little run down, but clean and comfortable rooms. But the location is amazing! Location was where my main focus was in booking our accommodations. All three of us napped, and then met at 6:30 to head out. We wandered along the cobblestone streets and came to a Pizza/Pasta restaurant - Pizza Nuova. The salad and pizza we all had were delicious, so it was an excellent dinner choice. It's taking some time to get used to their money here, right now it involves complicated math of dropping a zero and dividing by something (I think Brian and dad must be making it more complicated then it is!) 

We walked through a cool outdoor market and past two huge malls. We spent the next two hours wandering up and down the streets stopping at places like the Opera House, Powder Tower, and the Old Square. Prague is stunning. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities I have been to. I can't wait until tomorrow when we have the chance to see more! 

No comments:

Post a Comment