And then we came home. The end.

And then we came home. The end.
Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

Currently, I’m writing this on the first leg of our trip home – my laptop is set up on this ridiculously large dining table, with plenty of room for my iPad and phone to keep it company if required. Probably enough room for dinner too. I’d seen videos on youtube of what it was like in Emirates First Class, but I have to say now I’m experiencing it, all my preconceptions have been quite blown away. It really is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments that you don’t think would ever come true.

The “suite” is much larger than I though it would be. There’s so much legroom my feet have no chance of touching the wall ahead of me. I had to move the seat forward about a foot so I could comfortably type on the laptop at the table. Poor me, I actually had to stretch to read the basket of free snack bars and lollies they kindly placed on the shelf in front of the telly. To be honest, I can’t stop grinning like a loon, this is quite amazing.

To my left is a little shelf full of drinks that rises up with the touch of a button. In front of me is a massive TV screen, a table lamp, and some orchids in a little vase. Also embedded in to the little shelf is a pop-out drawer with a writing kit hidden within. It’s just crazy. Not forgetting the popup vanity mirror with lights around it, and a selection of skin care products as well. There’s buttons a-plenty, including one that will shut the doors on my suite for extra privacy. Mind you somehow we’ve managed to score Row 1 of the plane, so there aren’t people walking by. And while I’m typing this, the sun started streaming into the windows to my right, so some little sun-shades have automatically come down over the windows to reduce the glare. Behind my little pop-up drinks bar is a little iPad-like device – it controls all the functions of my suite – and it’s detachable so I don’t have to twist around to use it in its little home.

My phone and laptop are plugged in to the on-board power, so I don’t use any battery while I busily tap away writing this blog entry which, I freely admit, is pretty much 100% gloat. However, there’s no wi-fi, I know, how dreadful, however will I cope. There are dozens of other little details but I’m sure that’s more than enough already.

Unsurprisingly, the service is amazing. One of the cabin crew is from Picton, always nice to have a familiar accent. As soon as we sat down we were offered newspapers, magazines, drinks, snacks – and a lovely touch was a large date with an almond within, served with a (skilfully poured from a height) cup of arabic coffee. Dinner and a show!

It’s all a bit surreal, and I have to keep convincing myself that someone won’t soon come along to tell me I don’t deserve to be here. This might sound strange but much of time it doesn’t feel like we’re on a plane at all. Between Perry’s ‘suite’ an mine, it’s almost the same size as the room we had at the Z hotel in London, believe it or not.

The stopover in Dubai felt like it passed very quickly – that sure is one huge airport, just the First Class lounge where we were had to be at east two football fields long… with ************e in it.

The second leg from Dubai to Sydney was in an A380. Surprisingly, the fit-out of this cabin is a bit older than the one in the 777 we took on the first leg. It looks almost identical, and let’s face it, it’d be churlish to whinge. However the little touchscreen you use to control everything was very slow to react compared to the prior one. On the plus side though, this one has wifi, so that was pretty cool.

We received a goodie bag with slippers, pyjamas, Bvlgari amenities and other odds and ends. And another ‘fast track’ card to get to the fast queue at customs. Nifty. The food again was unbelievable – and was at this point that it struck me – you don’t see a single trolley on first class. Everything is hand delivered, not just flung at you outta the trolley like in economy. It’s another one of those things that makes you almost forget you’re 40,000 feet up in the air. This plane has showers, but I wasn’t game to try it … I can just imaging how much fun it would be if we struck turbulence… though we’ve hardly had any so far. I had heard so much about how quiet the A380 was … but to be honest I haven’t really noticed the difference compared to the 777.

Still, it’s been a try amazing opportunity, and I’m forever grateful we have been able to try it. Even if has spoiled us for every future flight in business or economy! I think this will be the first time I’ve ever left a long-haul flight feeling refreshed, rather than frazzled.

— some time later …—

Sure enough, I stepped off the plane in Sydney feeling like I’d just had a 90 minute flight from Melbourne, not a 15 hour flight from Dubai. Amazingly, we made our way through the airport very quickly hardly even stopping to breathe. The bags were there as soon as we walked to the baggage claim, we used the automated gates an immigration so no delays there, and since we had nothing to claim we went through customs without any queue either. There’s something to be said for arriving at Sydney late at night. As soon as passed the “G’day. Welcome home” sign, our chauffer was waiting for us at Arrivals, so straight through to the car who delivered us home. All part of the Emirates First Class service, and it was first class it certainly was.

Home was just like we left it – and call me a spoilt child but after everything we’ve seen and done I can’t say I was thrilled to be there. But as Perry said, there are much worse places to be, and that’s very true.

How can I summarise six weeks into a paragraph or two? There hasn’t been a bad day the whole trip. The Netherlands was beautiful – the charm of all the narrow houses in Amsterdam, and the wonderful opportunity I hd to catch up with family and see the old houses where Dad once lived a long time ago. Santorini was unspeakably, gobsmackingly beautiful, with views I shall never forget. Mykonos had a resort to be reckoned with, a lovely relaxing part of the trip, with a fun day spent at the party atmosphere of Jackie O on the beach. Then there’s London, what can be said about a city with so much history, yet so much modern energy? And tons of great west end show? Brighton was a bit of a faded glory (or maybe it just seemed like that due to all the rain), but I’m sure she’ll bounce back. Bristol was big surprise – but bigger and more energetic than I thought, it was a wonderful city with a great vibe, that I’d happily go back and visit again. Cardiff was great, not just for the novelty of driving across to a different country, but a nice city with tons to see especially if you’re a mad Dr Who nerd like I am. Then there’s Stockholm, beautiful and ancient, another real surprise of a city, theres much much more to it than ABBA and IKEA – what ended up being a visit on a whim to get a cheap flight home, proved to be a fantastic (and too short) couple of days.

Greatest of all though was to have the opportunity to experience all of this with Perry, indispensable, indefatigable, organised to the nth degree, couldn’t have (and wouldn’t have) done it without him.

Now it’s time to get the nose back to the grindstone, and look forward to 2017 – Canada and USA … here we come!