“There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it” – Charles Dudley Warner
Hours of travel: 0.75 (taxi); 8.5 (QF1 to Bangkok)
KMs travelled: 7560
Today, I was a task machine. Take dogs to mum, work on assignment, finalise packing, pack last minute items, call cab, get to airport. However, there was one thing I promised myself: even though I only need to check in 1 hour before the flight there was no way on this earth I was missing out on enjoying every second of that Qantas First Class lounge.
As I arrive at the airport, there they are: two dudes straight out of 5 star central casting, in black uniforms, escorting one of those hotel luggage trolleys. We pull up in front of them, and I’m escorted to the First Class check-in desk (located behind a marble wall so the Great Unwashed can’t see us) and perched in a comfy leather chair. Within minutes, I am handed my boarding pass and a Fast Track card to get me through immigration and security faster.
After buying a nifty pink outfit for my iPhone, I headed into the Magical World of First Class, the Marc Newson-designed lounge, resplendent with wall gardens, soaring ceilings with timber beams, Neil Perry menu and its very own spa. You can see for yourself here – watch the little videos!
When you enter the lounge, on the left is a large Departures board, but not a computer thing – it’s a gorgeous one that flickers when the flight information changes, and provides a reassuring sound backdrop while you’re in the lounge. The wall to ceiling windows open out onto the runway, and I head straight for the dining area to grab a very late lunch before my spa appointment. I order the salt and pepper calamari, which is crisp, tasty and tender, along with a diet coke since I’m determined to stay awake until Bangkok to maximise the changes of an easier recovery from jetlag.
While I’m eating, Sam from the spa, a rather hot dark-haired dude in the same black uniform, approaches me and says “Ms Den-Toll, we are looking forward to your visiting the spa. Please don’t rush your meal, just come when you are ready”. I melt into my seat. How did he know who I was??
The sizzle in the open kitchen is partly to produce my stir-fried pork with snake beans and rice – another triumph! I head to the spa, and Sam meets me half-way, and I ask him how he knew who I was. “They inform me when you check in, and then again when you enter the lounge. We keep a look-out for our important customers.” Ohhhhhh when can I move in? No, seriously, WHEN?
After my gorgeous facial Sam claims I looked younger, and you can judge for yourself here.
I reach into my backpack to pull out my laptop: time to start blogging. But I stop myself. Relax! Always I default to WORK, even now, but this is my time to relax: a mere 6 days into a year-long break. Enjoy the lounge: who knows when I will be back?? I put it back and play with my iPhone instead, putting on its new outfit and screwing up the screen protector by allow dust to create air bubbles under the plastic.
Then I ponder what it is to travel. To move, and explore and this feels much more like what I ought to be doing.
When boarding is called, I rip myself away from the Happiest Place on Earth, and head into the tube. They ply you with marinated olives and salted almonds with any drink you like before take-off, and hand you pyjamas for wearing during the flight. I always look for famous faces when I manage to travel first class, but was rewarded only once when Toni Collette and her husband were on their way to LA. Otherwise, I imagine my fellow passengers are as disappointed in me as I am in them.
An annoying loud guy, who originally sat himself in my seat, sits talking to an older woman. He continues to be annoying through the flight.
Like a kid, I still love push back, the singing of the engine, and finally take off, tipping backwards , pulled into my seat and feeling the earth disappear beneath. A river of red rooves passes beneath, soon giving way to a landscape of green, and then finally we break through the clouds into sunlight, the bed of clouds beneath us.
Dinner was a usual spectacular affair (more Neil Perry), and of course I chose the tasting plate.
I have to confess to loving plane travel still. Oh, not the dull little flights between Sydney and Melbourne, but the luxurious adventures that I try to upgrade to in the front of the plane as often as I can. The movies, the great food (Neil Perry of course). Sure, there are dull bits, and particularly those where you can’t sleep as well as you want to and each hour seems to grind by, but THINK! I am heading AWAY, off to a new adventure, something as yet not experienced, to create memories for times long into the future. I wonder who I’ll be when I return, what joys and what challenges I’ll encounter. Will I look different? Think different? It just takes my breath away.