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Iceland, Spain & Morocco via IcelandAir Business Class & British Airways First Class

Iceland, Spain & Morocco via IcelandAir Business Class & British Airways First Class

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Old Jan 25, 19, 11:15 pm
  #76  
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Originally Posted by nequine View Post
Your sand dunes stuff looked really nice although given the journey, would you do it again/recommend it?
Nequine - it was a great experience although the UAE dunes are much easier to get to.

Originally Posted by CatchThePigeon View Post
I'm really enjoying your TR, thanks. You've managed to capture the sounds and smells of Marrakech and you've tempted me to visit.
Thanks CatchThePigeon; Morocco was an interesting place. Almost Africa for beginners (laughing)

Originally Posted by choosethedrew View Post
THANK YOU very much for this amazing trip report of places well off the beaten track. I love how you have seemingly chosen each destination for its contrast to the next!
Thanks choosethedrew. It was a trip of contrasts for sure.
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Old Jan 25, 19, 11:20 pm
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Le Meridien Piccadilly
Executive Suite


We met our Blacklane driver at the Gatwick exit area. We walked out to a clean Mercedes E200 Touring and we were on our way. It was about 90 minutes drive up to the Piccadilly Circus but the door to door service was pretty much worthwhile over steps, stairs and trains on the Gatwick Express & London Underground routes.

We arrived to the hotel where we were checked in. Platinum Breakfast was not offered in the restaurant; instead we ended up taking it in the lounge. I had an odd first impression at the check in which continued throughout this stay in that the staff seemed pretty detached. I suspect this was as a result of a high number of travelers through the property.





After we were checked in, we led ourselves up to the suite. The suite itself was the oldest looking suite I’ve stayed in for quite some time. Needless to say, I would get to know it quite well.



The suite was configured in an L shape. Immediately on entering the suite, there was a long L shaped hallway with a sitting area on the right. MrsWT73 continued to be coy with the trip reporting photographs.





The sitting area was quite dated. You could describe it as traditional British style. Everywhere else it would be considered as drab. I thought that these wooden tables were relics from my parents houses. LOL.









The bedroom area featured a completely separate area at the end of the hallway. The bedroom was quite dark, as pictured.





The bathroom was just off the bedroom and was tiny. It featured a towel warmer, consistent with many British hotels.



There was a small kettle above the safe in the closet.



Unfortunately, I didn't get many more photographs of the property as I ended up being pretty immobile for the rest of the stay. The Le Meridien Piccadilly's best feature is the location; immediately within walking distance of all the major tourist sites in London.
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Old Jan 25, 19, 11:29 pm
  #78  
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London,
United Kingdom.
Day 1


When we arrived, we went out for dinner immediately across the street at MrsWT73’s usual standby Chichetti. It was a popular spot tonight, and we were lucky to get a table with just a walk in.





After a dinner of pasta, flatbread and pizza, we went for a short walk up through Leicester Square and over to Trafalgar Square. The city was nicely lit up for walking with dry conditions this evening.











We eventually made it up to Nelson’s column at Trafalgar Square… right next to Canada House.





We had a short walk back to the hotel, retracing our steps and in for the night.

On my first night in London, I was a sick as dog. I hadn’t ever been that sick before in my adult life. I was up five separate times throughout the night. On the fifth time, MrsWT73 piped up from bed and suggested that I take the Zitromax Azithromycin cocktail that I had left in my toiletries bag from our India trip in 2015. I suspect this was due to food from Morocco but I couldn't pin point whether it was the camp, the Le Meridien hotel or the BA catering from the flight in (which I suspect was double catered from London).

I was in bed for most of the day on Monday. I woke up at about 11 AM. I still couldn’t get the energy to get out of bed. MrsWT73 left me to go out and do some shopping. I eventually got out of bed for 2 pm for some shopping. Followed MrsWT73 out for Piccadilly Square, then down Regent street up to Oxford Circus, then down Oxford Circus. The sun was out in force today, which made for a nice day for walking.

















I made it about 5 blocks up to Selfridges on Bond Street. Unfortunately, that was about as far as I made it for the day. I ended up retiring for the evening pretty much pooped.



London,
United Kingdom
Day 2


The next day, I still wasn’t moving very quickly. Despite this, I was determined to get a little bit out of our brief London layover. We ended up just going for a short walk from the hotel down to Big Ben and the bridge.

We ended up walking down St James Street from Picadilly Circus, passing the guard’s Crimean War Memorial. The weather was a bit cloudier today, so we didn’t get the brilliant winter skies.



We continued south and ended up taking in the horse guards parade, which happened to be going on when we were passing through.









We also passed by one of the war memorials, which had several wreaths out. We continued down Horse Guards Road, passing peek a boo views of Buckingham Palace and the Bali Bombing Memorial. We eventually made our way past 10 Downing Street, down to the Churchill statute and Parliament.













Unfortunately, Big Ben is covered in scaffold as major restoration work is underway. It was a pleasant brisk day on and near the water.









We eventually re-traced our steps back towards the hotel. Passing the line at Churchill’s War Rooms and back towards Piccadilly’s Circus.













Sadly, this brief one mile walk on the day of our departure was pretty much the extent of my outdoor exposure in London. I’d have to come back and experience more of the city.
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Old Jan 25, 19, 11:37 pm
  #79  
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Qantas Business Class Lounge
Heathrow Terminal 3


We ended up taking the London Underground subway to get to Heathrow Terminal 3 airport today. Although it was direct and convenient, it reminded me why we took a Blacklane car from Gatwick. We navigated three sets of stairs down to the Piccadilly Circus station past the Frank Pick memorial montage; he was an early designer of the London Underground. Once on board, it was about 50 minutes to London Heathrow’s Terminal 3.









Before we knew it, we were at our usual Heathrow Terminal #3 navigating the throngs of smokers outside.



Unfortunately, the British Airways flight to Vancouver departs from Terminal 3. As a result, we didn’t get access to a beautiful check in area or other fancy lobby areas. The Terminal 3 British Airways First Class counter which is a small area of 3 check in stations at LHR Terminal 3. On arrival, we had our seat assignments confirmed and given directions to the first class lounge.







We located the fast track which was a rather dignified way to depart Heathrow – unlike the dismal invasive process that Heathrow security usually is.



We stocked up on duty free and headed for Qantas lounge. There is a whole litany of lounges available in Terminal 3, although it’s pretty easy to find the various options.



I dropped MrsWT73 off at her First Elemis Spa appointment at the British Airways which I had booked 28 days in advance. Despite booking right at the opening window, I was unable to get a time for myself within 3 hours of our flight. The earliest appointment I was able to get for myself was within 4 hours of our departure time, making ultimately “You First” more of an inconvenience than a benefit. MrsWT73 lucked out with availability for her treatment within 2.5 hrs of travel. It was dead quiet at the facility despite no appointment availabilities but no body actually there. I went over to QF lounge with MrsWT73’ 3 carry on’s and my 2 carry on’s.





A pleasant lounge dragon confirmed our entry and provided me with a quick tour after I indicated I had not been here before. The Qantas Lounge is fairly new and assumed the space previously occupied by the Air Canada / SAS Lounge before they vacated the location when they moved over to Heathrow Terminal Two under the Star Alliance "Move under One Roof" initiative. Qantas has done a great job with the space with a modern contemporary look. I started on the ground floor where the mixologist’s bar was situated under the open staircase.







I led myself self upstairs where most of the seating was occupied. The place was deserted at the time of my visit.









There was also a wine bar upstairs, that accented the space in a circular shape.



The back room of the upstairs has small snacks available for self service.



One of the great features of this lounge are the speciality Gin and Tonics inspired by Neil Perry's Rockpool restaurants in Australia. I ended up having a botanist gin & tonic with aperol spritz ice cube served in a proper glass.



It was so good, I actually had another one. It was the first time in about 48 hours that I was starting to feel a bit normal. It was nice to sit down in an empty space with very view people around. With just one Qantas flight to Dubai leaving this afternoon, the lounge was near empty and a great place to spend some time along with interesting Gin and Tonics.

Ultimately, the Qantas lounge was an awesome space, tastefully decorated. It was easily one of the better lounges in Terminal 3 and a welcomed stop. My time here was too short, when it was time to leave, I bid goodbye to the pleasant dragon. He indicated that in the evening around 6 – 9 pm that there could by upwards of 400 people in the lounge. Yikes!!
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Old Jan 26, 19, 3:20 am
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Originally Posted by CatchThePigeon View Post
I'm really enjoying your TR, thanks. You've managed to capture the sounds and smells of Marrakech and you've tempted me to visit.
You really must take the plunge and do it. From the fishing town of Essouria, down to the Sahara it really is an affordable country. Avoid Casablanca though - an industrialised area, and unfortunately, the City where I had to do Business, so that sort of changed my perception, but once out in the Country, it has vast contrasts and the food is always good - from simple grilled brochettes of "lamb" on bread, to amazing tagines.
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Old Jan 26, 19, 4:38 am
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What a bummer you took ill on holiday, there is nothing worse.

Great seeing pics of London and I usually avoid the tube at all costs in London and take the bus instead, even if its a longer journey. Did you not fancy taking the Heathrow Express out to LHR?
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Old Feb 1, 19, 8:26 pm
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Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge
Heathrow Terminal 3


Getting in the full experience, after MrsWT73’s spa treatment at the BA Elemis Spa, and her own G+T at the Qantas Lounge, we headed over to the Cathay Pacific Lounge. The Cathay Lounge was right next door. It had somewhat of a hidden entrance, this time up an elevator and to an immediate reception desk. We were pleasantly welcomed and invited over to the first class side.







There must be lots of One World Emeralds in here since there was virtually no where to sit. It was about the same size as the old Cathay Pacific Lounge in Vancouver but almost fully occupied. There was also a CX flight to HK leaving at around the same time .







We eventually found a lounger and view by the window. There were self pour options for drink. I got MrsWT73 a Moet champagne and a Ruckus Champagne flagged with 2 royal warrants for myself. There was no manned bar but signs indicating a full bar was available in the business class lounge around the corner.







I was still feeling a little off so I went for some comfort food in the restaurant while MrsWT73 read a Hello Magazine. There were lots of things on offer, but I was just looking for a little comfort food. I was able to have Won Tun Noodles in Soup and it really hit the spot.





We had a short stay in the lounge and ended up leaving about 1 hour before Departed at T-60. Overall it was nice, but unfortunately it was fully packed with travelers which made it not as calming, spacious or as peaceful as the Qantas lounge. I'd probably aim for the quietness of the Qantas Business Lounge over this place as my favourite One World location in Terminal 3.
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Old Feb 1, 19, 8:39 pm
  #83  
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British Airways
BA 85 – First Class (Z)
LHR – YVR (London Heathrow T3 – Vancouver International)
Sept 18, 2018
5:20 PM – 6:55 PM
Booked: Airbus 380-800
Flown: Airbus 380-800


At about T-45 minutes, we departed the Cathay Lounge. We headed for Gate 1, which happened to be the row where all the A380 gates are. We passed by the Emirates Lounge on the way and a large A380 from Emirates parked at Gate 7.

We headed along the travellators through a well staffed document check with an army of three people checking documents on the concourse itself. We were then directed to the left where there was a proper and well marked shorter queue First Class and Priority Boarding Lane.







We approached the gate where the call for First Class and One World Emerald had just been announced. We timed it well and walked straight on board. There were lots of people around but the gate was spacious enough that there were lots of space to navigate through the crowds.

We had a proper dedicated jet bridge for First Class today. MrsWT73 was happy to be travelling up front. Surprisingly, the top matches the bag.



We were welcomed on board through L1 and we were asked by crew to find our way to our seats ourselves.

The British Airways First Class A380 is on the lower deck of the A380. It is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration. Although it’s had it’s complaints and criticisms for being very high density, I didn’t mind it on the A380 configuration. The configuration is much better on the A380 than the tighter B747. The configuration has 14 seats compared to Emirates 12 seats (A380). Although there are no doors to the suites, they are very private.























The seat lights and controls were adjusted using a fairly convenient touch pad, with rotary dials for the angles.



The entertainment system was controlled by a wired remote.



We settled in and push back was on time.

A Pre-Departure beverage was offered. I went with the Laurient Perrier Grand Siecle. Top ups were offered with the bottle brought round to the seat but I didn’t partake in any as I was still feeling not so healthy (terrible).

The flight bag was brought around. The Amenity Kits are stocked by Liberty’s of London with Refinery products. There were actually quite a view items in there, some of it actually useful unlike the bag which is too small to practically store anything.





A sleep suits was also brought on the tray. I took a large and as a 6ft 2inch tall person it was a little short in the sleeves. The pyjamas were unbranded, save the BA First logo on the crest.





The senior purser came around to introduce his staff and to welcome us on board. FA Kevin would be serving us throughout today’s flight and did an excellent job with great polish to his presentation. The menus were also dropped off. The menus read as follows…





The main menu had an interesting selection of foods; most that looked interesting and appealing. The afternoon tea offering for the second service had sandwiches that sounded much more exciting than they actually were…







The drink list was reasonable. I think this is one area that British Airways actually does reasonably well, save the occasional low rent touch.











We had an announcement by the captain that the flight would be approximately 9 hrs to Vancouver with no major bumps or turbulence to be expected. We had push back next to an Emirates Airbus 380 from Gate A7..



We had an on time take off out of Heathrow. As always, it was the smoothest take off in the world as was expected on the A380. Shortly after take off, a dinner order was taken. While the crew were preparing dinner, a pre supper appetizer of mixed nuts and Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle was offered. The temperature of the Grand Siècle was proper and it had actually been properly chilled. MrsWT73 joined me in the jump seat for some pre supper chats. There is a small jump seat that is available for such a purpose.





At about 90 minutes into the flight, dinner service started. The first plating was the antipasti plate featuring Cumbirna air dried ham, Cumberland salami, berkswell cheese, olives and sundried tomato. It was nice but a bit flat tasting.



The second course was the seared hand dived scalloped with sweet corn purée, smoked paprika and char filled ciabatta, paired with Montrangy 1er Cru 2015, Bouchard Père et Fils, Burgundy, France. The wine was a bit strong for me but the scallop pairing with the intermingled flavours was really nice.





The main show was the seared fillet of Heredforshire beef and salt beef croquette, with dauphinoise potato, cep aioli and caper beurre noisette, paired with Ch teau Prieuré 2011, Cru Classé, Marguaux Bordeaux. Unfortunately, as with usual beef offerings on aircraft, it was totally overcooked but a tasty slice of beef.





With the first dessert course, I had the Vanilla bean ice cream, paired with Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2016, Vin Doux Naturel, Domaine de la Pigeade, France. I was still feeling terrible as evidenced by the fact that there was a lot of wine left behind.





I closed with the cheese plate. The plate offered Cave Aged Wookey Hole Cheddar & Tomme de Savoie. The presentation was pretty elementary school, with crackers and a few grapes piled onto it.



The dinner service was done at 9 PM or about 3.5 hrs after take off. I might add that I was a slow eater. Most of the cabin turned down for sleep. As such, I asked to have my bed made up and it was done.

I attempted some sleep. I didn’t drink too much and as a result, didn’t fall to sleep right away. Took a few hours of gentle tossing and turning.



I ended up waking up at about 1:15 AM (London Time) to cabin noise and light; about 1.5 hours to the end of flight.

I ended up having the second service of Afternoon Tea. This consisted of a miserably light Camomile Tea, an individual selection of sandwiches featuring, chicken breast with light curried mayonnaise, roasted red peppers, and baby spinach, free-range egg mayonnaise with fresh salad cress and smoked Scottish salmon with creamy soft cheese, lemon dressing and cracked black pepper. This was served with a patisserie of Raspberry and orange Battenberg, Victoria Sandwich and a Chocolate salted caramel cup with Buttermilk scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserve.

Wow sounded deluxe but the sandwiches were terribly small. I devoured all these small portions. The food quality was tasty. I could have used a slightly larger tea pot but this was more of a style over quality issue. Although it captured the essence of afternoon tea, it was among the first times I got off of an International First Class and was actually hungry by the time I arrived to my destination.





The flight entertainment system, which I hardly used, had a few movies but nothing too noteworthy to write home about.







I took a stretch before landing while the bed was packed away and checked out the British Airways staircase at the front of the cabin.



We had a smooth as expected landing at YVR. We pulled up next to an Air Transat Airbus A330.





The aircraft was up to gate and off promptly. It seems as though that the disembarking process means that the upper door for business class is always attached first to the jet bridge. This means that First Class on the bottom deck of the A380 is only permitted to off load after the top deck’s door is attached. This means that First Class won’t likely ever be first to customs on this particular BA Cabin configuration.

For a first time ever, our checked bags were on the carousel after a quick pass through Nexus. This was the first time ever for me in YVR.

Overall, a very pleasant flight with British Airways. The BA First Class configuration on the Airbus A380 was reasonably spacious; more so that the Boeing 747 configuration. The service was professional and pleasant. The food was reasonable, although the serving size for the second serving was pretty pathetic. The quality of food and beverage went a long way in making the flight more memorable. It was also a great relief to be arriving directly into Vancouver and not having to take another flight to get to my final destination.
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Old Feb 9, 19, 8:10 pm
  #84  
 
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I spent three days reading this fascinating report. Thanks so much. It very much made me want to visit Iceland and to go back to Spain; Marrakech not so much.
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Old Feb 11, 19, 8:48 am
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Thanks for another great TR from you. Where is next on your travel list?
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Old Feb 28, 19, 9:58 pm
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In closing, this trip was one that had been on the list for quite some time. It's difficult to get to Iceland and Marrakech; let alone combining them on the same trip. Iceland was absolutely terrific, although Morocco was only slightly interesting without the redeeming intrigue to go with it. Maybe we didn't dig deep enough, or maybe I am too weathered after experiencing places like Egypt and Oman which seemed to have more depth to the whole experience. Either way, we weren't in a rush to return to Morocco, whereas I'd return to Iceland in a heartbeat with my credit cards. There's lots there to explore.

Thanks for following along.



Coming up:

Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas Market) Villages in Germany via British Airways and Lufthansa First Class.



...back in one of the best first class cabins in the world for a great winter trip.


Originally Posted by HawaiiFlyerDC8 View Post
I spent three days reading this fascinating report. Thanks so much. It very much made me want to visit Iceland and to go back to Spain; Marrakech not so much.
Thanks very much HawaiiFlyerDC8. Iceland is worth a trip.

Originally Posted by nequine View Post
Thanks for another great TR from you. Where is next on your travel list?
You're welcome nequine. Aside from Christmas Markets in Germany and the usual work circuit, nothing is planned!

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Feb 28, 19 at 10:05 pm
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Old Mar 3, 19, 5:25 am
  #87  
 
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Thanks for sharing amazing details about each of the locales that you visited!
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Old Mar 7, 19, 10:25 pm
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Thanks for sharing the report ... I also was impressed by the Qantas lounge in London
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