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Four airlines F and J (and a bit Y) QF/EY/BA/TK CBR-SYD-AUH-LHR-IST-AYT return

Four airlines F and J (and a bit Y) QF/EY/BA/TK CBR-SYD-AUH-LHR-IST-AYT return

Old Oct 31, 09, 9:39 pm
  #1  
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Four airlines F and J (and a bit Y) QF/EY/BA/TK CBR-SYD-AUH-LHR-IST-AYT return

Will be starting our trip on Wednesday 4th November and hope to post as we go. I have found very little on EY, so hope my thoughts might be of use to a future traveller.

To put my report into context - I would not consider myself a FF or FT. I normally travel overseas once a year and domestic maybe 4 times a year. While that clocks up some miles, in the context of the regular posters on this board it seems a pittance.

I also am not an overly picky person and love everything about flying - the smell of the fuel, the terminals, the lounges, the planes and even the food. We will be a party of 3 - husband and youngest child (18, so not that young). Mr FM has been seriously ill over the last 2 years and Ms FM has had some major health issues and this is our first overseas trip since 2007, so I think the rose coloured spectacles will be firmly on.

I am not sure about adding photos - bit high tech for me, but maybe some when we return.
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Old Nov 2, 09, 3:37 am
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Location: AUH - UAE
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I shall be looking forward to this as I work for one of the airlines mentioned

Do I have to make this known to anyone? Mods etc as I have had to on other forums ...
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Old Nov 3, 09, 1:28 am
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Hi Cazzi - I think I can work out who you work for Looking forward to seeing what they are like.
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Old Nov 5, 09, 9:38 am
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Leg 1

First leg was a Dash 8 from CBR to SYD. This is a one class 50 passenger plane. Check-in was unusually slow. Canberra is the capital of Australia and more important all Federal Departments are housed there. So early morning and from around 4pm to 6pm are usually chaos with public servants flitting around the country. Middle of the day is fine with not too many people travelling. However this time the Qantas Club check-in had only one person and she was on the phone, so it did take awhile. After that all went smoothly. I had been too busy with last minute preparations to have anything to eat, so the Qantas Club food was a welcome sight. Not that there is a huge variety, but cold meat, salads, bread and cheese is good and they add in soup at lunch time and some hot snacks in the evening although they tend to be snaffled very quickly.

As always our hand luggage was taken and a "premium hand luggage tag" added as we boarded. They have now started weighing the hand luggage as well and I was a bit worried as we came in at 8kg and 10kg, but nothing was said. You put your hand luggage at the bottom of the stairs and it gets stashed in the hold and you pick it up as you get off the plane. The Dash 8s don't really allow for anything much in the way of hand luggage to be taken on board. The ground staff and FAs were charming as usual. Didn't have anything to eat on board - water and biscuits were offered, which is a bit non-existant, but then how much do you need for a 40 minute flight?

The flight wasn't that good - fair bit of turbulence, as there always is coming into Sydney. I am going to be like Tigger and say I love everything about flying except turbulence, which scares me witless.

Leg 2 after some sleep
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Old Nov 7, 09, 10:59 am
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Leg 2

We had asked Etihad if our luggage could be checked through from CBR to LHR, as we had different tickets. They said it was at Qantas' discretion. In the end we decided not to ask as we preferred to know it had been checked in with Etihad - also it enabled me to try out Etihad's check-in.

Luggage was off very quickly from the QF flight and we made the quick train trip over to Terminal 1. We had been told that Etihad checkin opened 3 hours prior to the flight, so we expected to wait 20 minutes or so, but when we got over checkin had already opened. Our checkin was handled smoothly and courteously. I am probably used to the chatty Qantas people as it didn't feel very warm, but no complaints at all. We received fast track cards for Immigration and invites to the lounges in SYD and AUH, as well as two sets of boarding cards.

Etihad currently uses QF business lounge. We've been there many times and it is a slightly nicer version of the standard Qantas Club. It is big so there is not an issue with finding seats and an adequate selection of food. We had a fair bit of duty free shopping to do (mainly cosmetics for myself and 2 daughters, which I left behind to pick up on return). We had a quick plate of cous cous and Laksa and then went shopping and then back to the lounge to wait for boarding.

When we arrived at boarding there was a separate queue for premium passengers and a separate entrance. We were greeted at the door and taken to our seats. First was almost empty - our party of 3 and one other passenger. We had some champagne to start with and were given satchels that had a small range of amenities, head sets, menu cards and fast track cards for ABU.
We were also asked if we wanted pyjamas and supplied. I think we received hot towels at this point. After take off we were offered drinks and a nice smoked salmon and cream cheese appertiser. I really liked the eat any time option. I opted for a potato blini and caviar and when that proved very tiny, added a smoked salmon bagel. Both were delicious. Mr FM stuck to the dinner option and he said it was all excellent.

Staff were very eager to provide good service and were extremely warm and charming. e.g Bed was made up very promptly as soon as anyone looked like wanting to go to sleep. I had my water bottle bottle next to me and drank every time I woke up. As soon as it was empty a new bottle appeared. When I woke up and went and changed back into my clothes I was immediately asked if I wanted anything to eat and when I refused, I was asked again a few more times before landing. Of course this level of attentiveness is expected in F, but it happened very promptly and warmly.

On landing we exited via business, so were not off the plane first, but this was not an issue for me - I know there was some discussion on the BA forum recently about this, but I would certainly not want business to somehow be held back, just to allow F off first.

Totally enjoyed this leg of the flight - the seats are to me a bit over complicated - I think there were about 12 settings, but it seemed a bit difficult to get it to do what you wanted. TV size is just great and I liked the fixed tables, although I did seem to bump into them everytime I turned over. Beds are a little short - worked fine for me, but you wouldn't want to be too tall.

If I had any criticism it would be cabin temperature - I found it a little too hot for comfortable sleeping.
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Old Nov 7, 09, 11:28 am
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Leg 3 EY11 ABU to LHR

On landing in ABU we went to the lounge. We hadn't eaten after waking up, so were feeling quite hungry and travel worn. We were escorted to the lounge and had coats and hand luggage stowed away and told where facilities were. A waiter came and took our dinner orders. We decided to have our showers while waiting, as there wasn't a huge amount of time. This involved getting cases back to get changes of clothes. The showers are in the spa area and a courteous lady showed me the shower and ensured I had everything I needed. Felt much better after that and enjoyed a tasty curry and rice. Kitchen managed to cope with the fact that not all of us ate at the same time - ms FM is chronically incapable of having a quick shower.

The lounge is not terribly big, but there was enough space for everyone there. I think only 2 computers and macs, so I spent a bit of time trying to work out how to find explorer (or safari as I finally worked out). There did not appear to be wifi, although I didn't ask.

There was a queue for premium guests and an entrance for F only. This time we had a nice surprise - on entering the cabin we found we had the new suites!

They are great - beds are longer and wider. The meal tray is more traditional now as it folds out the side, but it is still a good size and weight. We received the satchel with amenities and also a "portfolio" with various bits in it - staff business cards, menu cards, fast track cards and landing cards for LHR. Other bits and pieces. A personal greeting card and box of chocs were waiting - it felt like arriving at a 5* hotel.

I had quite a few chats with staff and I think the thing that impressed me was that the senior staff felt a level of "ownership" of the product. They were excited that Etihad were trying to build a first class product and they wanted to be part of it and were proud of it. When a FA made up my bed she wanted me to feel that the doona cover was silk. They sprayed the pillow with something (probably lavender) and it felt wonderful to drift off to sleep with the scent. A chocolate was included with the "turn down" service.

There was an express option with breakfast and I elected to fill that in, as I never eat much breakfast, but the full breakfast option looked rather nice. I had some soup before going to sleep and that was delicious. The wine list looked good, but I stuck to many glasses of Billiecart champagne on the two legs (well not that many, but possible more than Ms FM approved of )

The suites give a huge feeling of privacy and the bathroom is bigger than normal.

Once again all went very smoothly - just no complaints at all.

BA F staff are probably a bit better - not that there was anything lacking, but the brits just seem to have a special something. However I would put Etihad slightly ahead of QF on service. Not so much on what was done, but just the warmth of the FAs. If any Etihad management read this, please don't let your First staff lose that warmth - it really makes a wonderful experience.

We had a smooth landing, quickly though immigaration and our luggage was just coming off as we hit the carousels. We were quickly assigned our chauffeur after approaching the limo desk and were soon on our way to our apartment in Mayfair. Our chauffeur was interesting to chat to on how the GFC was hitting London and Ms FM enjoyed looking at the scenery. A Limo transfer is fun if you are not in a hurry - I suspect HEX is better if you are.

Last edited by flying mermaid; Nov 7, 09 at 11:33 am
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Old Nov 9, 09, 11:23 am
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London then Leg 4 BA LHR to IST in J

We were staying at the Ascott Mayfair in a 1 bedroom apartment with Ms FM in the lounge. We arrived at around 8am, but they were happy to check us in immediately. We were expecting to have to store luggage and come back later. We freshened up and warmed up and then went shopping. We headed to Harrods first and showed Ms FM around. Then wandered down Bond and Oxford looking at clothes. Colours were all pretty boring, until we found Desigual - it was like Hippy meets Picasso. Mr FM and Ms FM just flipped and spent hours trying on clothes. Most of the stufff was too young for Mr FM, but he did find a few pieces. Was quite inexpensive clothing and heaps of fun.

We were getting tired, so left Mr FM in another shop trying on shoes and headed back to the apartment, with only a slight detour into a Waterstones where we bought 5 books. Books are really cheap in London!

Back at the apartment we crashed for an hour and then dressed up for afternoon tea at the Ritz. Tea was very good and well presented but I think we were too tired to really enjoy it. Mr FM was still whining about having to put on a tie and jacket.

Not able to keep awake any longer we were asleep by 7pm and up bright and early for our next leg. We decided to walk to Bond st station and get the underground to Paddington Station. It was a good decision, as it was quite warm and no wind. Not too many people around at 6am and we had the bonus of being able to enjoy the street Christmas decorations. All went smoothly and the HEX arrived at Terminal 5 at 7am.

At this point I was feeling a bit apprehensive. I have been hanging around the BA forum for some months and it is not a terribly happy place. People seem to hate terminal 5 security and there is a fair bit of unhappiness with BA's economy cuts.

My oldest daughter had already checked us in online, so I knew we had 5A and C and 6C, which I thought would be nice seats. We printed our boarding passes and checked in the luggage and then proceeded to the dreaded fast track. I was a bit surprised to see everyone taking off their shoes, but we got our ready to take off quickly when needed. Fast track was quite full, and the security lady removed the rope and suggested people should move to the normal track. It didn't look to me that we would be any better off, but I felt helpfullness should be rewarded, so we moved over. The process was a little difficult and pressured. Having to put everything in trays makes it more lengthy. I found everyone quite pleasant, although I could see after a whole day of doing it, you could end up a bit snappy. I almost had an arguement with a security guy, as he wanted me to take my bangle off - I told him firmly that it was fine and although he pulled a bit of a face he let me keep it. It is white gold, not metal, so doesn't set anything off. One of hte ladies repacked my liquids into two plastic bags and then told me very nicely that in future I would only be allowed one, but when I explained it was for 3 people, she said that was fine.

We were through in 20 minutes and it was not an unpleasant experience at all. We then made our way to the South Galleries. Lovely lounge (albeit a huge hike to get there!). Had a mushroom and tomato roll - very yummy.

I have had problems in the past with Club Europe and Club World, but this time it was good. Wendy had the trays out in no time at all and then the passengers' selections. Her very pretty blonde side kick did the drinks and encouraged me to have some bubbly. Mr FM and Ms FM were rather jet lagged still and slept most of the flight.

So another good flight. We whipped through Istanbul arrivals at breakneck speed - how those women get the visas done that fast is amazing! Immigration was a breeze, luggage was a little slow, but not too bad and soon we were in our transfer heading for our hotel in Sultanahmet.
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Old Nov 10, 09, 8:24 am
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Istanbul

On arriving at our hotel, the Four Seasons we were told we had been upgraded to a suite - this was terrific as once again Ms FM could sleep in the separate lounge. This is a truly magnificent hotel and amazingly convenient to the major tourist attractions. It is built around a central courtyard with fountains and gardens. Mr FM and Ms FM slept in each morning, but I was up at 7 and would take my book to a very comfortable sofa with a view of the gardens. We enjoyed the bowl of fruit each day and the evening snacks - baclava or Turkish delight or other treats. We had brunch on Sunday and it was magnificent - the rest of the time we ate out, both to experience more local cuisine and to save money.

We have really enjoyed Istanbul - Topkapi was interesting and had stunning views. Both the Blue Mosque and St Sophia were breath taking inside. The cisterns were definitely worth a visit, as was the mosaic museum. The Grand bazaar was a little disappointing - I was imagining more of a real "souk" as in Jerusalem when I visited in the 70s. However it was fun to wander around the thousands of shops and buy bits and pieces. Ms FM scored a free bracelet and many marriage proposals.

We found people friendly and helpful. In the end the defining memory of Istanbul for me will be carpets - you cannot avoid carpet salesman - they lurk in every disguise and every shop. Mr FM bought a leather jacket and the salesman asked Ms FM and I if we wanted one. I said Ms FM had already bought enough clothes in London and I didn't like leather. He asked what I was planning to get for myself and I said probably a carpet - thinking I was safe in a leather shop. Before you could blink we were downstairs in a carpet shop with Apple Tea and carpets being laid out.....

We fell in love with silk on silk kurdish rugs and ended up buying 3. It is incredibly complicated - is it really silk or modified cotton? Is it Chinese made or Egyptian? We had not the faintest idea what they were worth and no expertise. In the end we decided to just buy them and not worry - to treat them as life style goods and get pleasure out of having them. There is one for each kid when we die and hopefully they will enjoy them as well.

Mr FM unfortunately now has a bad cold/flu. We will have a quiet final night in Istanbul and then tomorrow the last of our assortments of airlines.
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Old Nov 11, 09, 4:20 pm
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Thumbs up well done

Nice TR - looking forward to the return flights.

Hope Mr FM has recovered -- nothing worse than flying while ill.
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Old Nov 19, 09, 3:21 am
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Originally Posted by 24.05.2004 View Post
Nice TR - looking forward to the return flights.

Hope Mr FM has recovered -- nothing worse than flying while ill.
Thank-you - that is very kind of you - he had a fairly miserable flight to Antalya but is well now .
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Old Nov 19, 09, 3:42 am
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Turkish Airlines IST to AYT

I had very confidently told Mr FM that we needed to go to the Domestic terminal and then walk towards the International terminal in order to find the Business Class Check in. I felt a little silly when we arrived there, to find our transfer could have dropped us right outside the Business Class check in, which has its own entrance. Sometimes you need to be careful what questions you ask on Flyertalk to make sure you get the right answers

Check in was very pleasant and we were given our lounge invites. We wandered into the lounge and were chased by a woman - we must have somehow evaded the desk. She was not very pleasant and there certainly wasn't a welcoming feeling - I suppose we must have seemed dodgy

The lounge was pleasant enough with nice snacks and good Wifi. The plane was delayed an hour or so - the weather was pretty bad this day (11th November)

Eventually our plane was called and we wer loaded on a bus and did a fairly lengthy scenic tour of the airport, before arriving at the domestic gate where we climbed some stairs to get on the plane.

There were a number of flight attendants standing around but no-one even looked at our boarding passes let alone welcomed us on board! Another flight attendant was standing in our row and it took awhile to evict her so we could sit down. Ms FM and I sat together and isolated Mr FM to the other side as he was feeling quite ill still. The overhead lockers were all full - a considerable amount seemed to belong to the 2 crew sitting in the first row, but even so it seemed very full. The FM family had the 3rd row to ourselves, but there was still no space for 2 carryon bags. Ms FM and I put one under the middle seat and an FA turned one bag above Mr FM to allow room to put his bag in as well.

Then the fun started - an FA tried to shut the over head locker, but the turned bag was too big to fit properly. The FA tried to find out who owned the bag, but it didn't belong to anyone in business - after about 10 minutes of trawling through economy, he finally found who it belonged to and it was evicted to the back of the plane. My guess was that there were some more bags in there that belonged further back

In the interim some orange juice, water and bubbly was served. Obviously I took the bubbly - serious mistake. It was probably the worst I have tasted since my student days!

A meal was served fairly efficiently and was nice - a salmon tartare with warm bread and a few other bits. Service was fairly brisk.

Flight was quick but bumpy - have I said how much I hate turbulence? We were in the clouds almost until we landed and bounced a bit on landing.

When we disembarked (almost swamped by the back of the plane stampeding for the exit) we were directed to a bus. This didn't seem right as some passengers were walking to the terminal. I queried the system and was told to get on the bus, which we did. However still didn't seem right to me so I off loaded the other FMs and questioned again. This time I managed to convince them that we were domestic passengers and we were allowed to walk to the terminal to pick up our luggage. Apparently the rest were being bussed over to collect luggage from the International terminal.

We were met at the airport by the organisers and soon were on a bus to Kemer.

Verdict on this leg - hmm I think Turkish Air has a way to go in the service stakes.

Last edited by flying mermaid; Nov 19, 09 at 4:07 am
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Old Nov 19, 09, 3:58 am
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Antalya/Kemer

We are part of the Australian Delegation at the World Youth Chess championships - there must be over 2,000 people staying at a number of hotels. The actual playing hall is at the Limra Hotel and the Australians are all staying there.

It is a 5* hotel, but while bits are 5* most I would think are 3.5. However it is all very pleasant. Wifi access is quite difficult, although the hotel has tried to put on extra servers to cope with the unexpected rush of about 1000 laptops all trying to connect at once.

We had a rest day on Tuesday and as I had had a visit to Termessos recommended by a fellow FT person, I organised a private tour up there for 7 of us. Ms FM stayed behind to just relax and hang out with other teenagers.

Absolutely fantastic - it is high in the mountains and a bit of a scramble up and down the mountainside. On the plus side is that there were very few other people there and both some of the ruins and the views were stupendous. No place to buy anything within about 9Km, so take your own water and food. (We were prepared fortunately).

The theatre at the top is almost intact and there are plenty of massive sarcophagi and rock tombs and cisterns. Hopefully will add some photos on return. I would recommend 3 to 4 hours to do justice to this site.

We have had wonderful weather - no rain since the day we arrived.

Today 5 of us are going to the spa for a Turkish bath and massage - should be fun.
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Old Nov 26, 09, 4:19 am
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Australia wins first medal at world youth

This probably doesn't belong in a trip report, but it was a very emotional moment for me. Australia has tried for so long to win a medal at the World Youth Chess Championships and on the 22nd of November we finally did - and not just any medal but a gold one with Bobby Cheng winning the U12 category outright. Bobby received his initial training in New Zealand, but his father felt without Australian coaching support at the World Youth Bobby would not have achieved his vistory. Bobby and his Dad was part of our little group to Termessos - he would have preferred to have been back at the hotel preparing, but his Dad felt a day away from chess would be good for him

We had bought lots of tourist junk in Kemer - scarves and little compacts and masses of Turish Delight and Apple tea and a replica gun. Some frantic packing on the 22nd, saw us ready to depart nice and early on the 23rd.
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Old Nov 26, 09, 11:02 pm
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AYT to IST J with Turkish Air

With over 2,000 chess people departing Kemer, most of them via the airport at Antalya, the airport was bustling. Luggage has to be x-rayed before entering the domestic terminal and this proved a problem as the gun showed up on the x-ray and I had to extract it from the middle of a case. The security guy looked at it and asked me to come over to the police. I left Mr and Ms FM trying to squash the clothes back into the case and followed. The two policemen pored over the gun and asked me to wait for the "chief". At this point I was having a "Midnight Express" moment and wondering what we had bought and whether maybe it was a real gun. However the Police head honcho after also examining the gun in detail said it was OK and told me to repack it into the checked luggage.

There were so many people checking in, in economy, that it was almost impossible to reach the business class counter. However I managed to wriggle to the desk and soon we were enjoying the CIP lounge. Pleasant lounge with a small but adequate selection of snacks. Unfortunately our flight was running an hour late, but I had allowed 3 hours between it and our BA flight so no real stress there. The ladies in charge of the lounge were very pleasant and made a point of personally telling any non Turkish guests when their flight was called.

The lounge exits directly onto the tarmac, where a bus takes you to your plane. As before the FAs were not checking boarding passes or greeting anyone. This caused them some problems - the chaos of the large numbers of chess people meant we ended up with wrong people on our plane and I suspect wrong ones on another plane as there was a considerable delay while various people changed to correct planes.

We were seated in row 1 - I would avoid this, as there is no overhead locker storage for this row - all taken up by various bits of equipment. I avoided the bubbly this time and had a pleasant meal. Our luggage was only booked to IST, so we collected it and walked over to International. I expected more hassles with the gun, but luggage is not x-rayed on entry to International. Soon we were checked in and on our way to the BA lounge.
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Old Nov 26, 09, 11:22 pm
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BA IST to LHR in Club Europe

The BA lounge is quite small and with a basic selection of food. Toilet facilities are outside - acceptably clean but not outstanding. Flight was very delayed - I think in the end we were about 1.5 hours late into Heathrow.

Flight was quite bumpy, although not as bad as I thought we might get, given the bad weather over Europe. Once again it was a well run flight with good service and food. This time I had 2 bottles of Pommeroy (just little ones ), to make up for the lack of decent bubbly on Turkish Air.

We took the Heathrow Express and then the underground back to Bond Street, where Mr FM couldn't resist taking yet more photos of the Christmas lights. On checking into the Ascott Mayfair apartments again, we found we had been upgraded to a 2 bedroom apartment.

It was after 10 by the this stage and Ms FM was very hungry, so we went out and tried to find something to eat. After wandering around for awhile and finding most kitchens were closed already, we found a brasserie that was happy to serve us. Lansons I think it was called - quite a pleasant meal. The chocolate icecream was particularly good.

The next morning we stored our luggage and I decided Ms FM needed to do something more than buy clothes so we set off to look at Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. However the palace seemed to exhaust Ms FM's interest and she said she wanted to go to Foyles bookstore instead of the Abbey. We made the classic mistake of thinking Charing Cross Rd and Charing Cross underground station had anything in common. However as we roamed aimlessly around trying to find Foyles, we did come across various landmarks such as the statue of Eros, Trafalgar square etc, so Ms FM was forced to do more touristy things than she anticipated. Eventually we were told to get the underground to Leceister Square and then we quickly found the right road and Foyles, where we spent a pleasant hour browsing the huge book collection.

We ended up having a mad dash to get back to the apartment in time for the limo pickup - aggravated by Ms FM wanting to try on a dress she had seen earlier in the day. We sent Mr FM ahead to get the luggage sorted out while she tried it on - quickest dress I have ever bought.
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