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An Engagement to Remember: BOS to ZQN (with a few stops along the way)

An Engagement to Remember: BOS to ZQN (with a few stops along the way)

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Old Dec 1, 18, 4:35 pm
  #31  
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Congrats swingaling, and thanks for the great report.

Another advantage of flying from Milford Sound instead of driving is you get to see Sutherland Falls on the flight back to Queenstown (not the flight over as flightpath differs). It is the tall falls from a tarn (small lake) high in the mountains nearer Milford than Queenstown.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 8:14 am
  #32  
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Wow, great report thus far. The hotel "SkyScape" looks amazing! What a quiet oasis it looks like. Looking forward to the rest of the report!
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Old Dec 3, 18, 2:21 am
  #33  
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The outdoor tub Looks like a sheeps watering place
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Old Dec 3, 18, 6:01 am
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Congrats on your successful proposal! I hope you used that lovely looking outdoor tub (even if it does look a little like a sheep trough to those of us who grew up on NZ farms...)

Amazing photos of the springtime snow. The flush of super bright green spring growth contrasting with the white snow is a striking and unusual combo.
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Old Dec 3, 18, 10:11 am
  #35  
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Great trip report, and amazing photos! Thank you!
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Old Dec 3, 18, 11:02 am
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Bretteee View Post
Very interesting that the C fare from Stockholm was $2,000. A great deal for such a long trip. We also had the same chocolate cake on Qatar from Doha to New York. The food / bread was not so great. Interesting that BA are now serving leaves as a starter like the US airlines. I hate that. They used to have decent starters. Beautiful pictures. Thanks.
Thanks!

Re the fare: it was actually a companion C/J fare for just under $4k total ($2k/pp) offered by QR during a January sale. But, yes I agree it was a stellar deal, especially when you consider that QR charge nearly $11k/pp for BOS-AKL.

Funny you mention the BA salad. I actually like the salad, but I get why it's not for everyone. The starter on the return BA flight was entirely different (i.e. not leaves).

Originally Posted by Kiwi Flyer View Post
Congrats swingaling, and thanks for the great report.

Another advantage of flying from Milford Sound instead of driving is you get to see Sutherland Falls on the flight back to Queenstown (not the flight over as flightpath differs). It is the tall falls from a tarn (small lake) high in the mountains nearer Milford than Queenstown.
Thank you! I actually did get (and post) a photo of Sutherland Falls on the return flight, though I hadn't labeled it as such (it is now). According to the GPS on the photo, it was taken from 13km away, so not super close.

Originally Posted by 757 View Post
Wow, great report thus far. The hotel "SkyScape" looks amazing! What a quiet oasis it looks like. Looking forward to the rest of the report!
Thank you! Yeah, we really enjoyed it.

Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
The outdoor tub Looks like a sheeps watering place
It really does. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), the sheep are very skittish around people so they kept their distance.

Originally Posted by mad_atta View Post
Congrats on your successful proposal! I hope you used that lovely looking outdoor tub (even if it does look a little like a sheep trough to those of us who grew up on NZ farms...)

Amazing photos of the springtime snow. The flush of super bright green spring growth contrasting with the white snow is a striking and unusual combo.
Thank you! We certainly used it. Had to plan ahead a little, as it takes 35 minutes to fill.

Funny you mention it. My fiancee grew up on a dairy farm, so the tub is very similar to the watering troughs used for the cows (albeit on a smaller scale).

Originally Posted by 1P View Post
Great trip report, and amazing photos! Thank you!
​​​​​​​Thanks for reading!
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Old Dec 3, 18, 12:40 pm
  #37  
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Skycity Grand Hotel

Skycity Grand Hotel
Premium Luxury King Suite
23-24 November 2018


Upon arrival at AKL, we collected our checked bag and grabbed an Uber to the CBD. Since we had bags and there were two of us, I decided not to bother with SkyBus. The ride to the hotel was pretty quick and the check-in was efficient. I'd stayed at this hotel once previously, so I knew what to expect. Its convenient location was also a deciding factor. As with my previous stay here, I was satisfied. It's not the best hotel I've stayed at, but certainly good enough for a single night.

This time around, I decided to get a suite so we'd have a bit of extra space. We were both fairly tired at this point, so we went to the grocery store across the street to buy some things for dinner. Then we relaxed in the room and went to bed relatively early.

Living Area


Kitchenette


Living Area


Bedroom


Bedroom Closet


Bathroom


Bathroom


Bathroom


Bathroom


View from the Room
MSS Huawei Offices Across the Street...


We both had a good night's sleep. The next morning, we decided to go to the buffet at the Skycity casino. The breakfast buffet was ok, but nothing special. And the clientele are about what one would expect for a casino buffet... Enough said.
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Old Dec 3, 18, 2:06 pm
  #38  
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Qatar Airways Business Class: Auckland - Doha

Qatar Airways
Business Class (J)
Discounted Business Class Fare
QR921: AKL-DOH (Auckland to Doha)
24 November 2018
Boeing 777-200LR (Two Class Configuration)
A7-BBB
Seat 2J 9B 2D

Departure: 04:15PM
Arrival: 12:05AM +1



After a solidly average breakfast buffet, we took a short stroll through the CBD area. It was a bit rainy and since it was a Saturday morning, there wasn't much open yet. I'd been able to secure a late 12PM check-out time, so we checked-out at 12PM and caught an Uber to the airport, arriving around 12:30PM. Now, I know there's no need to arrive at AKL nearly 4 hours prior to a flight. Not usually...

The previous day, I'd checked the QR app and started the OLCI process from my phone. That's when I first noticed that there had been an aircraft swap, something QR is notorious for doing. Unlike the 77L we flew in on, this plane had a Qsuite configuration. Sounds good, right? Well, it might have been good, except that QR had changed our seats from our chosen 2J/2K seat pair to 8D/9B, across the aisle in different rows. After a call to QR reservations, they told me they couldn't change our seats (neither could the website, as the cabin was fully allocated). Apparently, the flight was already under airport control (and had been since T-48hr). The only option was to ask for a change at the airport. On the plus side, I'd now flown the Qsuite on the A350-1000, the B777-300ER and the B777-200LR.

It's a bit crazy how they handle these issues, especially since the equipment change probably occurred within the T-48hr window, which meant there was zero opportunity for impacted passengers to change their seats after the swap. But I digress.

We got to AKL early enough to be first in line for J check-in. The ground staff arrived and opened the counters promptly at 1:15PM. It took some work, but the check-in staff were able to switch our seats to a pair in row 2. We were in the outer pair seats (close to aisle, not the double bed option), but it was better than being seated in different rows. There were several other couples on the flight who weren't so lucky.

Since we had time to kill, we walked around the terminal and did some shopping before going to the Qantas F & J lounge. After a quick visit to the F lounge, we migrated to J to escape the gross noises coming from the older gentleman seated next to us. The lounges were nothing special whatsoever. The NZ J lounge is definitely nicer, though sadly not an option for us.

At the gate, we waited to board and couldn't help overhear an extremely aggressive Y passenger at the counter. She wanted to be upgraded (for free) into J due to her (large) size. Even when the GA told her that J was full, the passenger persisted and was quite nasty about it. Eventually, the GA supervisor came over to end the conversation. The passenger said she'd be complaining to QR corporate and even went as far as taking down the names of GAs. The GAs were all a bit unnerved by this nasty DYKWIA. Knowing QR, the DYKWIA will get nowhere with corporate.

A7-BBB


Qsuite


Menu


Menu


Menu


Table Setting for Dinner


Amuse Bouche
Caprese toast


Soup
Decent.


Arabic Mezze
Good as always.


Pasta
Fiancee got this. It was quite good. This is what I should have gotten...


Chicken
This was really bad. The primary flavor here was salt. Worst main I've even had on QR by a huge margin.


Pudding
This was really good.



After this, I went to sleep for about 8 hours. When I awoke, I was a bit hungry so I asked the FA to prepare the sandwich I'd reserved previously.

Steak Sandwich
Pretty tasty. Way better than the chicken main.


After the snack, a dozed for a couple more hours. At 2hr prior to arrival, we asked the FA to prepare our breakfasts.

Yogurt and Feijoa Smoothie


Eggs
Fiancee got this. It was ok.


Arabic Breakfast
My go to breakfast on QR



We landed roughly on time at a remote stand and made the quick trip by bus to the terminal. First stop was the transfer desk to get the hotel vouchers. It took a bit longer this time due to lines and general QR slowness, but eventually we had our vouchers. We went to immigration and were in the arrivals hall shortly after. A 5 minute wait and our car arrived to take us to the hotel. We checked in to the Oryx Rotana once again and I took a quick shower and promptly passed out for 4 hours.
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Old Dec 3, 18, 2:22 pm
  #39  
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Qatar Airways Business Class: Doha - Oslo

Qatar Airways
Business Class (J)
Discounted Business Class Fare
QR175: DOH-OSL (Doha to Oslo)
25 November 2018
Airbus A350-900 (Two Class Configuration)
A7-ALS
Seat 2E

Departure: 09:00AM
Arrival: 01:55PM



We left the hotel around 6:45AM and were airside at DOH in no time. We decided to grab some breakfast at a restaurant in the terminal, as we knew lounge breakfast options wouldn't be that great. Unfortunately, the airport breakfast wasn't all that great either...

Airport Breakfast


Airport Breakfast


Eventually, we boarded the shuttle bus to go to our plane. Remote stand of course, but this time the plane was located really far from the terminal.

A7-ALS


A7-ALS


A7-ALS


Menu


Menu


Unfortunately, the flight had several periods of substantial turbulence. They had to suspend the meal service several times because it was too bumpy. Breakfast was pretty good, though I wasn't overly hungry at this point, so I didn't eat much.

Water and Nuts
With a side of turbulence


Place Setting


Arabic Breakfast


Oatmeal
For my fiancee


An hour or so before landing, I ordered some beef stew. It was quite good.

Beef Stew



Before long, the flight landed as OSL. It was quite chilly out and the trees were covered in thick frost/blown snow. Quite a change from Doha and AKL, that's for sure. A quick exit and then we were through immigration in no time. The bag came out quickly and then we were off to check in to the hotel.
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Old Dec 4, 18, 11:54 am
  #40  
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Park Inn by Radisson Oslo Airport

Park Inn by Radisson Oslo Airport
Standard Room
25-26 November 2018

I neglected to take any photos of this hotel, but it's nothing special at all. The room rate was quite a poor value; more expensive than the Clarion in ARN (which wasn't cheap) and the rate didn't include breakfast. The room was tiny and pretty basic. The only reason we stayed there was due to its proximity to the airport. It's not connected to the airport, but it's a roughly 300m outdoor walk between the airport terminal and the hotel. If we'd had a later departure from OSL, I would have stayed elsewhere.

The one redeeming aspect of our room was that we had partial tarmac views from the room. I was able to see the BA plane for our morning flight parked at the airport overnight.
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Old Dec 4, 18, 12:26 pm
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Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway
25 November 2018

After our arrival in OSL, we walked to the hotel to check-in and dump our bags in the room. We then made the walk back to the airport terminal to catch the Flytoget Airport Express Train to Oslo Central Station. As was the case at ARN, the Flytoget at OSL is pricey. That aside, the Flytoget was fast, convenient and super easy to use. Once we arrived at the Central Station, we decided to have an early dinner, walk around a bit and head back to the hotel. We were both pretty tired by that point and the next day promised to be extremely long.

Grabbed the tram from outside the station.

Opposite Central Station
Waiting for the tram


Fat Pigeon



Our destination was four stops away by tram. We had some very good soup at San Francisco Bread Bowl. Perfect for a cold November day.

San Francisco Bread Bowl


Bris Water? I hope not...
Apparently 'bris' means 'breeze' in Norwegian and Swedish. However, it means something entirely different to many.


Art Installation


On our walk back to the train station, we happened upon a winter carnival setup in a public park. It was really cool. Didn't get any photos from inside, but it was completely packed with people. Despite the darkness, these photos were taken around 4PM.

Winter Carnival


Snow Castle


Snow Castle


Winter Carnival
Yeah, that clown isn't creepy at all...


Holiday Lighting


Norwegian Parliament
Not a museum.


Norwegian Parliament
Still not a museum


Holiday Lighting


Very Cool


Holiday Lighting


Church


Church



Before long, we were back at the train station and aboard the train after buying some drinks/snacks for the room. We got back to the hotel around 6PM and were both asleep not too long after.

Last edited by swingaling; Dec 4, 18 at 1:33 pm
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Old Dec 4, 18, 12:40 pm
  #42  
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British Airways Economy Class: London - Stockholm

British Airways
Economy Class (Y)
Discounted Economy Class Fare
BA761: OSL-LON (Oslo to London)
26 November 2018
Airbus 320 (Two Class Configuration)
G-EUYJ
Seat 27D

Departure: 7:25AM
Arrival: 9:05AM


Due to a BA technology glitch, I was only able to complete OLCI for myself. No such luck for my fiancee. Additionally, when I did check-in I noticed that our chosen seats in row 13 had been lost. We'd been sent all the way back to row 27, the penultimate row. Luckily, we had a long-ish transfer at LHR and we were still seated together, so I didn't make a fuss about it.

We arrived at the airport early to check-in and grab breakfast before the flight. Check-in was at the far and of the terminal, but it was quick. We were through security in under 5 minutes. It was around 5:30AM at that point, so not a ton of breakfast options. So we settled on a cafe near the duty free shop. The coffee and pastries were really good.

Cinnamon Roll, Croissant and Coffee


After a while, it was time to board the plane. It was a fairly full flight, roughly 90-95% full. Once everyone boarded, we realized that we again had an entire row to ourselves. One of the (few) upsides to sitting so far aft; higher chance of an empty seat.

G-EUYJ


Alpenglow


The flight was an unremarkable BA flight and we landed at LHR soon enough. Lucky us, we got to experience the fun of a remote stand, which is always great. Next stop was Pret a Manger to get sandwiches for the flight followed by a short stop at the BA Galeries First Lounge. Soon enough, it was time to get ourselves to T5C. This time we took the train instead of hoofing it through the underground tunnels.
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Old Dec 4, 18, 12:58 pm
  #43  
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British Airways Economy Class: London - Boston

British Airways
Economy Class (Y)
Discounted Economy Class Fare
BA213: LHR-BOS (London to Boston)
26 November 2018
Boeing 747-400 (Four Class Configuration)
G-BYGE
Seat 52C

Departure: 11:15AM 2:45PM
Arrival: 1:55PM 4:08PM


From the outset, I should have known this flight would be problematic. Initially, we were delayed due to late inbound of the arriving aircraft. Apparently, the aircraft was operating BA107 to DXB on 25 Nov and had to divert to MCT the previous day due to long weather hold times and insufficient fuel. That caused it to be a few hours late arriving back at LHR on 26 Nov. As a result, we initially had a 1 hour delay, which was eventually shortened to no delay. Excellent.

G-BYGE


Well, we showed up at the gate around when we should have commenced boarding, but the aircraft clearly wasn't ready. We didn't begin boarding until close to 11AM, for a 11:15AM departure... Eventually, the plane was loaded and ready to get. That's when the captain came over the PA to notify us that there was a mechanical issue with the plane. Apparently, the start valve on the starboard inboard engine (engine #3) was buggered and needed replacing. I'm pretty sure 'buggered' is the technical term, though as an American, most of my knowledge of British English is from British TV shows (telly in the UK for those who don't speak American).

The repair was supposed to take an hour. At this point, it was already 12:00 (well past our supposed 11:15 departure time), so we were now looking at a 13:00 departure. The captain then did a personal walkthrough of the cabin so we could harass and berate him in person. Naturally, 13:00 came and went and we were still sitting at the gate. The captain, to his credit, did periodically provide updates over the PA. During the delay people were up and about: doing laps of the cabin, destroying the lavs, doing calisthenics routines and engaging in general rowdiness. Seriously. Eventually, the offending valve was replaced, tested and we were cleared to depart around 14:20 (a 3hr delay by then).

By this point, the seat-stealing DYKWIA in 53B directly behind us had carried out a loud prolonged cell phone conversation in Spanish, followed by several complaints about the delay to the unfortunate FA cursed with serving our rows. It took considerable restraint on my part not to tell the DYKWIA to shut it and stop haranguing the FA. But I digress.


Main Meal
Got the pasta again. Quite good.



We were eventually wheels up at 14:45 (2:45PM in American); a 3.5 hour delay. Naturally, I had the pleasure of being seated behind a chav (or is ASBO the correct term?) who reclined her seat during takeoff and left it there until final descent (including through the meal service). We landed in BOS a bumpy 6 hours 23 minutes later at 4:08PM (16:08 in British), landing us at Logan in the midst of the misery that is rush hour traffic in Boston. Overall, I spent about 50% longer in that WT seat than I'd intended.

That said, I was a bit cheesed off at BA because the delay was only 2 hours 13 minutes. Why did they have to repair the issue so quickly? I was really looking forward to some of that sweet, sweet EC261/2004, preferably of the 600 variety.

Removing my tongue from my cheek, it was actually a pretty decent flight overall and I'm glad the captain made the call to do the repair despite the resulting delay. And the quality of the main meal in WT was actually a lot better than I was expecting. I'd say it was quite a bit better than what CX serves in PE on BOS-HKG, by comparison. In fairness, the pre-landing snack/meal thingy was a bit worse than I was expecting.

Despite the few snafus we encountered, the trip went pretty smoothly overall. We both had a great time and were relieved to be home again.

I'll be posting a TR once I complete my next solo trip in January. A 5-continent RTW trip visiting Egypt, UAE, Papau New Guinea, Australia, East Timor, Indonesia and Nepal (plus some extra stops along the way). Until next time...
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Old Dec 4, 18, 1:19 pm
  #44  
 
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Originally Posted by swingaling View Post
Museum, I think.
Norwegian Parliament, actually. "Storting"
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Old Dec 4, 18, 1:33 pm
  #45  
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Originally Posted by calbear2005 View Post
Norwegian Parliament, actually. "Storting"
Excellent. Fixed. Thanks for the info. I'll admit I was a bit lazy and didn't feel like looking it up...
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