We had witnessed the majesty of the pyramids at Giza and Sakkara, had fun riding camels in the desert till hours later when joints and muscles which I never even knew existed started aching.
We had looked wide eyed at the mummies and the treasures of Tutankhamun in the Egyptian museum, romantically sailed in our hired boat on the Nile at sunset doing our best at avoiding glances to some suspicious looking items floating on or nestling on the banks of this famous waterway, we did all that as well as looking at how daily life was spent by the locals whilst we wandered slowly through the backstreets streets of Cairo doing our best to get lost
In all, a crazy week in the heat and dust of that large city which apart from the above was otherwise spent haggling with taxi drivers, shopkeepers and camel owners who never seemed happy at the agreed price even though they were ripping us off.
Time was also constantly spent dicing with death whilst crossing the roads, and breathing in the terrible pollution which as a bonus made me feel that I was doing something positively healthy when having a cigarette.
My body and mind had just about had enough and gladly the time had come to be heading home. It is a fascinating place, so if you want to visit - go, just do your homework before you travel and you’ll have a super time.
21st October 2006
ETD. 0015 Actual 0015
ETA. 08.00 Actual 07.50
We had to check out of our room at 8.00pm to avoid paying for another night and as the flight was not until 03.15am it was a choice of either hanging about the hotel or passing the time at the airport so we chose the latter hoping to do some spotting and took the hotel bus. As our hotel was only a ten minute ride away it didn’t take long to arrive.
Unfortunately we were dropped off at Terminal 2 instead of Terminal 1 before I realised we were at the wrong one and our bus was already gone.
At most airports that wouldn’t be a problem but at Cairo International as soon as the taxi touts spot you, they are on to you straight away. They assumed we had just arrived off a flight and were looking for a taxi. I explained that we were going to Terminal 1 and were waiting for the shuttle bus.
Not to be defeated they tried to assure us that there was no shuttle bus (we had checked at the information desk to make sure that there was) and they would only charge us five dollars for helping us out – very civil of them!!!
This conversation went on for a few minutes then got out of control as two of them started fighting over who should get the fare, my money was on the big guy but suddenly with a machine gun slung over his shoulder a Tourist Policeman having recognised our plight appeared on the scene to spoil the fun.
The taxi guy’s swiftly disappeared into the crowd which had gathered and I turned my attention to our knight in white suit – he was a jolly man sporting a fine moustache, perched on top of his head and cocked to one side was a cap decorated with a fine badge of authority. His trouser hems were a bit on the short side and along with a bulging belly which at any second threatened to burst out from under the tunic’s stressed buttons made him look a rather comical character. I explained to him that we were waiting for the bus to Terminal 1.
Showing off, he quickly got out his radio and after a two way conversation informed us in very good English that it would be along in five minutes, he started chatting to us offering me some of the coffee he was drinking.
If you should ever visit Cairo, the tourist police are everywhere and worth their weight in gold as they enjoy helping tourists, so don’t be afraid to ask them for advice.
It was well after 9pm. when we finally arrived at the correct terminal and then we tried to enter it unsuccessfully by the wrong door on at least two occasions before finally entering by what seemed to be the only available door to get in.
Once inside we found a rather spacious and comfortably air conditioned area which was quiet, but as check-in wouldn’t open till midnight we headed for the café for a coffee a snack and a seat.
Time passed by quicker than expected and finally we were allowed through security without problem and made our way to the KLM priority check-in. The agent checking us in was excellent, assuring us that our seats of 3A and 3C were reserved for us. He mixed humour with professionalism, put priority tags on our checked in luggage handed over our boarding passes as well as lounge invitations and wished us a pleasant journey.
After having our passports exit stamped we entered the departures area which although not large has the usual selection of shops and food outlets. My wife had little difficulty spending our remaining Egyptian pounds on souvenirs. Spotting was difficult as it was dark and nothing could be seen anyway so we made our way to the KLM-Air France lounge which is located on the top floor.
The young girl at the desk took our invitations whilst chatting to a friend on her mobile she was obviously good at multi-tasking. On entering the lounge we saw that it was very plush affair with large soft easy chairs and sofas and had the feel of a good five star hotel about it.
My first stop was to check out the goodies on offer - a small selection of snacks, soft and hot drinks, no alcohol though which was a surprise. I had a soft drink with a selection of small sandwiches,
then a Liptons tea whilst enjoying the comfort of the sofa - so comfortable I could have fallen asleep quite easily. Although very quiet when we entered it wasn’t long before the lounge started to fill up so around 02.00 I suggested we make our way to the gate as I had guessed we would be taken by bus to a remote stand to board the aircraft and on reaching the gate saw that boarding had already started and was indeed going to be a transfer by bus.
After a bit of a wait we eventually moved off and in no time reached the remote stand. I made my way up the stairs and had a full on view of the engine and waited a while amazed by the size of it.
We found our seats of 3A and 3C - the same as on the way out and found that our amenity kits and headsets had been placed on them waiting our arrival. I stowed our hand luggage in the overhead locker and realised how roomy it was, I could have put a couple of roller bags in it and still had room left, what a difference from economy when I always seem to be cramming stuff in – the joys of Business Class. A welcome drink was offered and I declined the Champagne this time for orange juice instead.
Soon everyone had boarded and we pushed back on time at 03.15 and wheels were up at 03.25.
A hot towel was offered once the FA’s were allowed to start service then a drinks round and small meal.
The service would be as follows;
Beef kebbeh, chicken and pepper kebab
Apple tart with strawberry sauce
The food was Egyptian orientated and not really to my taste at that time of the night but as I was not really hungry it was not a problem. I chose the Bordeaux wine and as I was the first taker of the opened bottle the FA showed me the bottle label for inspection and offered me a drop to taste then filled my glass after I confirmed it’s fitness, I did want her just to pour but as she was taking the trouble to serve it very professionally I felt obliged to participate.
I had a look around and noticed that there were only a few empty seats in the C cabin which has a 2-3-2 configuration of 35 seats and about half the occupants had opted to fully recline their seats and utilise the blankets for some sleep so the workload for the FA’s was halved.
A strange flight followed due to the odd timing of the flight, what do you do? Stay awake or try and sleep? I did neither and found myself nodding off with my seat in the upright position looking at the AVOD content and this is how I spent the rest of the flight whilst my wife opted for the fully reclined position and was deeply asleep. Can anyone provide me as to the reason of the odd timings of the AMS-CAI-AMS flights?
Around 06.00 another hot towel round was made signalling that the breakfast service was about to start - didn’t seem that long since the snack service had finished, a glance at the flight-mapper told me we were overhead of Graz at 35000 feet and with 456 miles to run.
For breakfast we are pleased to offer you a fresh fruit salad, smoked turkey, bresola, a selection of cheeses, assorted hot rolls and your choice of one of the following hot breakfast dishes.
Pancake filled with scrambled eggs served with veal sausage and ratatouille.
Local style French toast with orange, black dates and date syrup.
I chose the savoury dish and played about with everything as I still wasn’t hungry enough to enjoy it.
Once breakfast was cleared away it wasn’t long till we were starting our descent to Schiphol. The Delft houses were being handed out and careful choosing was made to make sure duplicates weren’t obtained. I spotted a guy taking one for himself as well as one for his sleeping mate who probably never received it as it was quickly stowed away in the offender’s bag?
Dawn was making an appearance as the 777 touched down at 07.33 and we made the gate at 07.50.
Service was again excellent on this flight despite the rather strange timing of it and the two FA’s always seemed to be available. The food was adequate with the emphasis more on the breakfast than the snack as most passengers wanted to sleep soon after taking off.
I was again impressed with the layout of the 777 Business class cabin, even although some might complain of the 3 seats abreast in the centre there does seem to be plenty of room not for it to be a problem.
We had a couple of hours to spare before our 09.50 flight to Glasgow so didn’t waste much time in heading for the Crown Lounge, the first one was full so we were told to go to the next one along which although busy still had plenty of vacant seats.
My wife helped herself to some muesli and yoghurt whilst I opted for some fruit juice and a couple of coffee’s to wake me up, I also had some of the wafer biscuits filled with caramel which I am rather fond of.
21st October 2006
AMS-GLA KL 1473
Boeing 737-400 PH-BPB
ETD 09.50 Actual 10.00
ETA 10.30 Actual 10.00 ish?
Well after my experience of the Fokker 70 on the outward leg of the trip I was glad to see that we would be on a KLM mainline 737 which has a more spacious feel to it even though Europe Select class doesn’t give you any more room than Economy Class.
The flight would again be full to the brim with not a seat to spare in either section.
I am remembering this part of the trip from memory as tiredness had overcome my desire for taking notes or pictures long ago but I certainly remember the better class of catering we received on this flight than the GLA-AMS KLM Cityhopper flight.
A substantial breakfast was served with plenty offerings of coffee and once again the FA’s were keeping up the great standards of service we had experienced in all the flights taken.
Before long we were making our approach to Glasgow and a look out the window saw the usual cloud cover. Suddenly as we were approaching the Campsie hills which are not far from where we live the cloud separated affording views of the tops of the hills peeking out from the surrounding cloud. I grabbed my film camera out my bag and took some shots but they don’t really capture the beauty of the moment too well as the windows were slightly dirty. I have to say they were the best views of the whole trip which makes me wonder why we travelled in the first place.
Soon we were back in cloud which prevented me from getting a bids eye view of the house to inspect the missing tiles on the roof and on finals to GLA only breaking through the cloud cover short of the Clyde and landed on 23. A US Airways 757 was parked at one of the Gates getting ready for it’s flight to Philadelphia and I wished I was on it - that is why we travel as there is always another airline or aircraft that we want to be on.
Our first whole return trip in Business Class had come to an end so what did I think?
I have had surprisingly good flights on charters to Spain and Greece, pleasant times on cheap no frills flights to Dublin and Brussels and many long hauls in economy around the world with different airlines so I am not really hard to please.
Business class was very enjoyable but did lack the buzz you get in economy. What it does win on is making you feel that wee bit more special, the FA’s have more time to pamper you, there is much more space for everything, feet as well as luggage and you can take a leisurely walk to the choice of toilets knowing that at least one will be free.
The added niceties of priority check-in, lounge access and wee knick knacks on board are all appreciated and do help make the journey more relaxing. Yes if I could afford it I certainly would pay the extra for long journeys.
Thank you KLM you served us well.
For our annual migration to our second home in Argentina we shall again be flying Business Class this time with TAM Brazilian airlines.
We managed to obtain fantastically low fares which were only slightly dearer than economy on their new LHR-GRU and connecting onto their EZE service.
So watch out for those trip reports in the New Year.