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Old Jul 18, 13, 2:51 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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BA First + Canadian Honeymoon

So on 21st June i got married in Portugal. I've been going to the Algarve in Portugal for 30 years and own a villa there and met my wife in the Villa, so when we decided we wanted a relaxed, fun wedding on the beach outside of rip off Britain, there really was only one choice.

We got married on the roof of a brand new boutique hotel owned by a friend of mine (we stayed there as well so family could use the villa) in Ferragudo and held the reception in his restaurant about a 100m away on the beach. The restaurant is my favourite place to eat in there world. Fresh seafood prepared simply and cooked to perfection with salad and a beautiful view. Simple fresh food is always the best.

Restaurant - http://www.reidaspraias.com/index.php?lang=en
Hotel - http://www.casareidaspraias.com/





So we flew back to London Gatwick with BA and went home for the night. Unpacked, packed again and had 8 hours sleep until we were on our way to Heathrow for our flight to Vancouver.

Check in was uneventful, the Concorde Room is the only Airport Lounge i've visited that really impressed me, mainly because it's unlike an airport lounge and it wasn't packed. It reminded me of a 5* hotel lobby and bar and the 'outdoor' section is fantastic. We had some breakfast that was very good, some champagne (i was forced to as i don't like the stuff) and i read a book for a while with my feet up on the balcony area.





You First had told me it would be Old First that morning so i was a very pleasant surprise to find New First when we boarded. I hadn't flown NF before, i was rather impressed, although it's much more claustrophobic that say Cathay or Singapore Airlines First, but perhaps more private.

I was handed a glass of champagne which is swiftly gave to my wife and got a nice gin and tonic instead, and met the crew. I was in 2K while my wife was in 2A. The gentleman in 1K offered to swap so we could have the front two seats but we had unpacked stuff and were settled into our seats. Very nice of him though and certainly worth a mention. 2A or 2K are the best two seats in First when travelling alone if you ask me but you couldn't hold a conversation with the other person if travelling together, it's slightly too far away but close enough to communicate a bit.

I forget the name of the Lady who looked after me, but she was a Scottish Lady with white hair and she was absolutely 'first class' from start to finish, even when the IFE wouldn't work for first 3 hours and they had to reset the entire plane 4 times.

The food was good, although i'm one of those person who realised i'm on a plane not in a restaurant with kitchens when i eat on a plane, so if the food isn't that great then it really doesn't bother me. They way some people go on about their steaks not being cooked right and this and that really is bizarre to me. No chefs, no kitchens and 40,000 feet up, think about that the next time you complain about food (i obviously realise sometimes it can be so bad that a complaint is justified).









Duck





The one thing i would complain about is the library of films being absolutely terrible. There isn't a very big choice of films and there really was absolutely nothing at all i really wanted to watch, which was annoying, so i got my ipad out and watched some breaking bad episodes.


We touched down in Vancouver on time after a pleasant flight. We checked into the Hotel Georgia. Had i not had one major problem during our 3 night stay, i would say it would be one of my favourite city hotels i've ever been to. Unfortunately the first night a phone started beeping at 3.30 am that woke us both up, which when you are trying to sort jet lag out, is not helpful. I told the staff and they sorted it out. However on our final night it happened again, at 04.10 in the morning. Now the purpose of any hotel is to offer it's guests a comfortable and quiet night sleep. If it doesn't do this, especially in a 5* hotel, everything else the hotel offers, the pool, the bar, the service etc is all irrelevant for me. So when we checked out i informed the front desk, they apologised and took off a bag of nuts, some jet lag tea and a beer that we had taken from the mini bar. I was furious but said nothing and left.
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Old Jul 18, 13, 2:51 pm   #2
 
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So while waiting for our helicopter to take us to our next destination, Sonora Resort, i wrote and e-mail to the hotel manager. All hotels make mistakes and thats fair enough, but it's the way they go about correcting that mistake that matters and in my opinion they did absolutely nothing. I had a reservation to stay at the hotel again before we flew home so i told him i was cancelling and going across the road to the Four Seasons. He responded quickly and apologised and agreed with me they hadn't done enough and asked me to keep my reservation and give them the opportunity to set things right. I agreed.

While in Vancouver, the weather was pretty poor and rainy. We went for a few walks, went up the tower and had a good look around. We liked the place but decided to leave Stanley Park and Granville Island for our return.

Some restaurants we ate in;
Hawksworth - Absolutely exceptional
The Flying Pig - Good pub type food
Water Street Cafe - Bit touristy, bit arrogant, pretty average, expensive.
Tojo's - Truly Fantastic sushi in an empty, random and boring room. No atmosphere. Very expensive.

We fly up to Sonora Resort on a London Air helicopter from the airport, a 45 min trip. We had the honour of having the resort owner on board with is, Brandt Louie and his wife, who are both lovely. Shared a drink with him while talking about the resort, fishing the next day.

The resort is absolutely phenomenal. The view from our room;







It's basically an all inclusive, albeit an eye water expensive one. In the evening you have a choice of al a carte or tasting menu. All up to michelin star quality and all superb. The house wine is included and was very good although i did upgrade it a couple of nights to some stuff i really wanted to try.

From out room we could see seals playing, huge amounts of bald eagles and even a pod of dolphins swam past. There are some whirpools outside the resort that force fish up to the surface so you can watch the eagles feeding with a nice G+T.

Facilities include tennis, golf simulators, games room, private cinema, swimming pool, countless hot tubs located all over the place, putting green, biking, hiking, and then some pay for activities such as fishing, eco tours,, heli fishing etc.

We spent a day in the spa, which i've never ever done before, spent an obscene amount of money, but have to say it was worth every penny.

From there we took a water taxi to Campbell River, hired a car and drive to Port McNeill where we started a 4 day Kayak trip. We used Kingfisher Kayak and the trip was incredible. Camp site was top notch, huge tents, raised off the floor on wooden platforms and purpose built kitchen and dining area and located on Hanson island right next to Johnstone Straight. The only thing we didn't see was on Orca, but just being out on the water in that environment was special enough (for someone who lives in London).









After the Kayak trip we did a day trip to see grizzly bears We saw Bella with her two cubs and a small male. I took this photo on that trip,



On the way back a giant black fin pierced the water out of the corner of my left eye and i shouted Orca, boat slowed down and sure enough a huge male transient Orca swam right by. A awe inspiring sight for me, never seen one before.

We flew back from Port Hardy to Vancouver and checked back into the Hotel Georgia. We had been upgraded from Junior suite to a suite and a bottle of wine ($156) was in the room with a personal apology from the hotel manager. I sent him an e-mail thanking him.

This time around the sun was shining and we both fell in love with the outdoor nature of vancouver. Granvile island was great, had a salmon burger from a place in there that was incredible. We ate at Abattoir, my food was superb but my wifes main, lamb, was a bit fatty. We ate in Hawksworth again on our final night and had the tasting menu with the wine. An absolutely super dinner for our final night.

Next day we had some time before out flight back so i hired a small boat and we spent 3 hours going around looking at Vancouver from the water. It's an absolute must and inexpensive. 150 for 3 hours including fuel.

So off we went to the airport to fly home. Vancouver First lounge is nothing to write home about and we boarded the plane to find OF. I find it very difficult to understand how BA can charge full fare for a product that is so old, tired, dated and quite frankly dirty. It's pretty embarrassing for an airline that is trying to claim to be No.1 - it's just not good enough.

That said, we had 1A + 1K and it was a night flight, so we got on, had some food - watched a film and went to bed. So as the space and seat are the same when asleep, it didn't make a huge difference that it wasn't NF.







Steak



Breakfast


The cabin crew again were very good and apart from it being OF i couldn't complain !

Overall, the best 3 weeks off of my life !

Last edited by lighting; Jul 18, 13 at 3:27 pm.
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Old Jul 18, 13, 11:18 pm   #3
 
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Nice photos! And congratulations on your wedding too
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Old Jul 19, 13, 12:40 am   #4
 
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Thanks for the nice report.

What is that green side dish on your NF flight?
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Old Jul 19, 13, 3:28 am   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by will2288 View Post

What is that green side dish on your NF flight?
Pea and mint mash with the duck.
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Old Jul 19, 13, 4:58 am   #6
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Excellent report. Thanks too for the recommendation of the restaurant in Ferragudo. We have a house in Caldas de Monchique so know that part of the world well. Have only eaten at Sueste in Ferragudo itself however, which is normally pretty good.
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Old Jul 19, 13, 7:03 am   #7
 
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Great report.
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Old Jul 19, 13, 9:23 am   #8
 
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Great Report! On 2nd thought, the new First is so similar to Cathay new J. Do they all come from Zodiac Aerospace?
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Old Jul 19, 13, 11:17 am   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BahrainLad View Post
Excellent report. Thanks too for the recommendation of the restaurant in Ferragudo. We have a house in Caldas de Monchique so know that part of the world well. Have only eaten at Sueste in Ferragudo itself however, which is normally pretty good.
I haven't been to Sueste in years, used to go a lot. 5 mins round the corner from there is http://www.fimdomundo.co.uk/ which is excellent. They do the best fish cataplana i have ever had. Truly superb restaurant and then Rei das Praias is 5 mins outside of Ferragudo on the coast rd to Carvoeiro on Caneiros beach.

Honestly, you'll struggle to find two better restaurants anywhere !

My place is just outside Carvoeiro !!
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Old Jul 19, 13, 11:42 am   #10
 
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Congratulations on your wedding! Coincidentally, I first met my wife in Portugal as well. Lisbon that is, not the Algarve area. We do plan on going back to visit in the near future, and thanks for the restaurant/hotel info.
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Old Jul 19, 13, 1:17 pm   #11
 
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nice TR. you would have been more disapointed with the FS in YVR. it seriously needs some updating. consider the fairmont pac rim next time. Sonora is nice.

The club house up on haida gwaii if you want to fish for those interested... equally eye popping prices per person although no different than say a luxary safari in kruger...
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Old Jul 19, 13, 11:52 pm   #12
 
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Congratulations! That resort looks stunning...
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Old Jul 20, 13, 10:17 am   #13
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You said you wanted to escape 'ripoff' Britain?
Flats here in Vancouver are actually more expensive (in some places) than some of the ones I've seen in London!
As for entertainment, I usually bring my own (and attempt to sleep when I'm in Y. On awards I would usually pick a day flight on AA.)
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Old Jul 20, 13, 12:34 pm   #14
 
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Congratulations on your wedding! What an exquisite trip report. Vancouver is beautiful.
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Old Jul 20, 13, 1:06 pm   #15
 
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Congrats on your Wedding!
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