Quokka From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (2 years 8 months 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 10126 times:
Back in August I spent some time on vacation in two very beautiful countries: Spain and Portugal. In Part 1 the journey from Perth via Dubai was covered - We're Off To Sunny Spain: EK Per-MAD (by Quokka Sep 5 2010 in Trip Reports) Since posting that I have been away on a short trip to Ravensthorpe in Western Australia, visiting family. Now that I am back I can describe my holiday in Spain and Portugal and the return journey to Perth.
On arrival in Spain I was met and transferred to my hotel, where I would join an organised tour. Lasting sixteen days and starting and finishing in Madrid, the tour took our group to Toledo, Salamanca, Porto, Lisbon, Seville, Valencia, Barcelona and Zaragoza.
Toledo was the former capital of Spain:
Roman bridge in Salamanca:
Cool spaceman carved in the door arch of the Cathedral: View over the rooftops from cathedral Tower:
Boats on the River Douro in Porto:
No visit to Porto is complete without a visit to a Port winery:
The Basilica of Fatima where to Virgin is reputed to have appeared before some peasant children:
Colourful gateway to Obidos:
Obidos street scene:
The castle of Obidos:
Delicious Portuguese seafood:
The Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon:
Monument commemorating first South Atlantic Flight:
The Belem Tower on the River Tagus:
Cloister of Jeronimus Monastery in Lisbon:
Fresh fish and seafood in Caiscais:
A fado evening in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto:
Tomb of Christopher Columbus:
Walls to the Alcazar of Seville:
Within the old Jewish Quarter:
Sevilliano Flamenco Dancing:
The Mesquita in Cordoba, a truly wonderful building that blends Moorish and Christian architecture:
Mohamed al Gafeoui, a celebrated oculist:
The other Moses: Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Rambam), the most influential Jewish thinker since the Moses of the Bible or Torah.
The Bullring in Seville:
A good place to eat:
Scenes from the Alhambra and Generalife in Grenada, the last Moorish Kingdom to fall to the Reconquista.
The fruit that gives the city its name:
The castle at Peniscola was used in the making of “El Cid” – the area wasn’t built up when Charlton Heston rode out along the beach and into the Moorish forces.
The Ramblas in Barcelona – a truly amazing city:
St Josep La Boqueria Market scenes:
Witch’s House in Güell Park:
The fantastic, unfinished La Sagrada Familia, designed by Antonio Gaudi
The Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat:
First day back at school and the first performance of the Boys’ Choir of Montserrat:
Yummy cheese, honey and fruit cakes:
Zaragoza street scene:
Monument to Goya who lived in Zaragoza for a few years:
During the Civil War these bombs fell on the Cathedral but failed to explode:
The Plaza Mayor in Madrid:
Minstrels entertained us at dinner:
The Cervantes Monument, Madrid:
Roman Aqueduct in Segovia:
The Cathedral of Segovia:
Segovia Castle houses a good display of armour and artillery pieces:
Sadly, the tour came to an end and it was time to fly home. The evening before I used my mobile phone to check-in and confirm my seat selection. I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare and made my way to the Emirates check-in desk to drop off my suitcase. There was no one at the First Class desk and the young man in attendance asked whether I was happy with the seat allocation and checked my suitcase through to Perth. He printed out boarding passes and told me how to get to Terminal 4 South and where to find the Amnios Lounge.
Terminal 4 South is separated from the main terminal by about 2.5 kilometres and getting there involves a trip on an underground train. But first you have to clear security. The queues, though not very long, took a bit of time because in addition to going through the scanner they like to frisk everybody. That done I went down several escalators to reach the train terminus. Just a couple of minutes wait and one pulled in.
The wave-form roof of Barajas Terminal 4:
Emirates Guests can use the Amnios Lounge in T4S. This is located up another escalator, above the duty-free shopping areas. When I arrived there was no-one at the reception desk but the reception did notice my presence without reaction. It was only after a couple of minutes wait when I moved further into the lounge that she came forward to “welcome” me and take a photocopy of my boarding pass. A smile was too much to expect.
The lounge itself is small, but with sufficient seats for about fifty people, although only ten people were present while I was. There is a very small counter with uninspiring snacks set out and one can make tea, pour coffee or request an alcoholic drink. Soft drinks and water are available from a glass-fronted refrigerator. I helped myself to some water and found a seat near the window. A bonus is that the lounge does offer good views over the gate areas and you can watch aircraft lining up for take-off.
As boarding time approached I made my way down to the gate. Here I managed to snap photo of Flight EK142 being prepared for departure. No further photos were taken in flight:
Flight: EK142 MAD – DXB 14:25 29 AUG 2010
Flight Time: 7hr 10min
Aircraft: A340-300 Seat: 2K
Gate 216 was used to board First and Business Class passengers, while Gate 218 was used for Economy. The gate agent was friendly and wished me a pleasant flight. As I made my way to the aircraft I was momentarily confused as the bridge to the “front door” was blocked. A member of the crew asked; “First Class, Sir?” and I replied “Yes, I am.” He apologised and moved the offending back-to-front signage out of the way and invited me to proceed. At the door I was welcomed aboard by the purser and shown to my seat.
A moment later, Antonio came and introduced himself and after some polite conversation offered me a pre-departure drink. I requested orange juice and this came promptly. In the seat pocket in front of me were noise-cancelling headphones and a bottle of water. Shortly after, the purser came and introduced himself as Rafiq (I think, because I did not hear properly, so apologies if I have the name wrong). He offered me a copy of the menu in its leather folder and a wine list. Antonio brought slippers, socks and eye-shades. I declined the offer of a newspaper or magazine as I was still reading “The Museum of Innocence”.
There was only one other passenger in First on this sector and he sat in 1A. It did seem that there might be another, but a woman who had sat herself down in 2A was asked to show her boarding pass and was then assisted in moving into the Business Class cabin. I suppose it’s quite easy to confuse 2A and 10A . A group of four came aboard without seat allocations and waited in First until they were shown to seats in Business as Economy was just about full. I think that they may have been non-revs.
There were no delays on departure and as usual before push back, Arab Coffee and Dates were offered – I particularly like the ones with almonds in them. We taxied out to 18L-36R and were soon rolling and airborne. Shortly after take-off hot towels were brought round.
Shortly after the seat belt sign went off I pressed the crew-call button and Rafiq came and asked how he could help. I requested Tapas and a glass of Albariño for now and the sole about an hour later. A couple of minutes later the wine and Tapas arrived, together with a generous helping of mixed nuts. Later Rafiq came and asked me whether I was ready to eat my meal. The table was raised out of the armrest, covered with a cloth and placed with cutlery. The fish was tasty and succulent, not the dry and hard mass that you get on some airlines. It came with grilled vegetables and potatoes, a side salad and a bread basket. All looked fresh and colourful. After the meal, Antonio asked whether I would like some dessert, but I said no and asked for some more wine instead.
The flight was smooth and it seemed as if we would arrive on time. But as we approached Dubai the captain announced that due to congestion over UAE and Omani airspace there would be a delay of “about five minutes”. Several circles of the Gulf later, we began our final approach and descent into Dubai. We touched down about twenty minutes late. Yet again we taxied to a remote stand past the cargo village and the flower distribution centre. Another scenic tour on the bus was required. It didn’t take long to clear security, although this time I was asked to take off my shoes, and I was on my way to the First Class Lounge.
The receptionist welcomed me and wrote the gate number and boarding time for my connecting flight on the boarding pass. After the usual visit to the spotlessly clean washrooms, I found a comfortable seat. A waitress came and asked whether she could fetch me anything and I asked for still water and mixed nuts. One of the benefits of a late arrival is less hanging around in the lounge in the middle of the night. It was soon time to make my way to the gate.
Flight: EK420 DXB – PER 02:30 30 AUG 2010
Flight Time: 10hrs 30min
Aircraft: B777-200LR Seat 2A
Registration: Not known
Boarding was called by zones, with First and Business passengers being able to board whenever they chose to. Again I was surprised to be the only passenger in First! This time I thought that I would spoil myself and have the champagne before take-off, followed by the dates and coffee. The service was courteous and efficient, but I felt that it lacked the spontaneity of my previous experiences. It wasn’t bad, rude or indifferent – it just didn’t feel to be as warm.
There was another delay, this time caused by some late passengers transferring from a delayed arrival. Once they were on board and their luggage was in the hold, we were underway some twenty five minutes late. The flight itself was smoother than on the way out and we were able to make up a lot of the lost time, arriving into Perth only five minutes late.
Before changing into the complimentary pyjamas, I asked for some cheese and biscuits. Then I switched off the lights and had a pleasant sleep. Later I got up and went to wash and one the way met the purser, who asked whether I’d like anything to eat. “Just an omelette, orange juice and some coffee,” I replied.
At last we were making our descent into Perth. Conditions were overcast and there had been rain earlier in the day. We taxied to the usual gate and after our goodbyes, I deplaned and cleared Immigration, Customs and Quarantine in very little time.
All in all, the service provided by Emirates was of a high standard. The delays and need to deplane at remote stands in Dubai is becoming tiresome, but with the continued high growth in traffic is not unexpected. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Spain and Portugal, so much so that I’m planning to go again in December. Because Emirates offer the most convenient itinerary, I will be joining them again, but it will be in Business Class.
I hope that you enjoyed reading about my experiences. Your comments will be welcome.
dfw11 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 27 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (2 years 8 months 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 10062 times:
Quokka, thank you so much for your report, I have always wanted to do extensively the Mediterranean Peninsula.
Well I have to say THANK YOU! Your pictures of the streets in Zaragoza remind me so much of my year abroad in Zaz. (I lived there for a year). I rarely meet a person that has been to Zaragoza and it is a really great city.
Once again thanks!
“I think it's wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly.” - Steven Wright
Kappel From Suriname, joined Jul 2005, 3533 posts, RR: 18 Reply 2, posted (2 years 8 months 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 9925 times:
Very nice pics of Portugal and Spain! Makes me want to go on vacation right now! . Too bad you have no pics of the flight back. The service seemed excellent from your description though... I'd love to fly F someday as well...
Quokka From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 5, posted (2 years 8 months 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 9097 times:
Quoting dfw11 (Reply 1): I rarely meet a person that has been to Zaragoza
Hi, and thanks for the response. Were you in Zaragoza working or at University? It is a really worthwhile place to visit. It wasn't on the original itinerary but we had to stop somewhere for lunch and I am glad that it was here. There is so much of interest to see, that I am surprised that it is not one of the tourist "hot-spots".
Quoting Kappel (Reply 2): Too bad you have no pics of the flight back.
Glad you liked the pics. Yes, I want to go back as well. I didn't take any pics on the return flights because they were in the same type of aircraft as on the outward journey.
Quoting tk747 (Reply 3): EK service still a bit of as mixed bag it seems
Thanks for your comments, Jordan. Generally I find nothing to complain about, but on the final sector the cabin crew just didn't seem as warm as on the other three sectors. Service overall was good and couldn't be faulted from an objective point of view. I just hate the scenic tours that I seem to get every time I land at DXB.
Sadly no. I did manage to drive by, but time prevented a visit. I made do with a visit to the Prado where after the obligatory deference was paid to Valaquez and Goya, I went on to see some really bizarre works by Hieronimus Bosch - the surrealists never found the same mushrooms as he did Next time, I'd like to see the Reina Sophia with Picasso's Guernica.
buck3y3nut From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 864 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (2 years 8 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 8455 times:
What a wonderful picture report Brought back some fond memories of the time when I visited Barcelona & Madrid. Barcelona easily tops as one of my favorite cities of the world. Its such an amazing city
I really enjoyed your pictures. Makes me want to plan a trip to Spain again!
Thanks a lot for writing this report & sharing it with us
While not born in the city of Zaragoza itself, Francisco de Goya was originally from a small village named "Fuendetodos", part of the province of Zaragoza and just about 40-45 km away from the city so it's correct to refer to him as "zaragozano".
Quoting Quokka (Thread starter): During the Civil War these bombs fell on the Cathedral but failed to explode:
On June 24th, 1948 Pope Pius XII gave the Cathedral of "Nuesta Señora del Pilar" the title and dignity of Minor Basilica so currently it's more commonly known as "Basílica del Pilar".
lychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 905 posts, RR: 3 Reply 8, posted (2 years 8 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 8204 times:
Obidos looks the same as in 1964 when I went as a kid. Of course it must look the same as it did 500 years ago. As to Maimonides they just renovated the synagogue in Cairo where he taught 900 years ago. It is a place known for miracles.
Lucky you to come form a country with such a range of attractions and so much history. I am really pleased to have been able to sample only a small part. It made me want to return, which I will do this December.
Good news. I'll have to check it out on my next visit to Cairo. Obidos is amazing. They actually had an effigy of a man hanging from the gallows outside the castle - it seems there was some film being made at the time.
Thanks for all your your comments, everyone.
TBloemink From Netherlands, joined Mar 2010, 114 posts, RR: 0 Reply 11, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6348 times:
Nice report! I had expected more pictures of food and the planes. By the way, did you really fly A6-ERO from MAD to DXB? According to this: http://data.flight24.com/airplanes/a6-ero/ it didnt fly MAD-DXB but LAG-DXB-NBO-DXB. Doesnt actually matter, you cant handle this at all. A340-300's doesnt show their reg's on the airshow. Only 77W's, 77L's and A388's
Thanks for your comments. Now that you ask, I don't know: I wasn't able to write the details down prior to boarding but got them from http://antonakis.co.uk/acars.php?page=request , which listed:
Results for EK0141 for the 14th of August 2010
A6-ERO logged @ 09:41 GMT (0);
but today lists:
Results for EK0141 for the 14th of August 2010
A6-ERO logged @ 09:41 GMT (0)
A6-EKW logged @ 11:41 GMT (193)
These details are questionable as the second rego is identified as an A332 in airliners.net and on the day it was definitely an A343 in service. Just goes to show, you can't rely on information posted on the Internet, even by those with the best intentions.
Quokka From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 13, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 6162 times:
After submitting the above reply, it occurred to me that I responded to the wrong date. You asked about departure and I replied with arrival. Sorry for that.
The same source lists the following for my departure date:
Results for EK0142 for the 29th of August 2010
A6-ERO logged @ 15:28 GMT (193)