Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: A Tale of Two Cities (2010)


My only previous visit to the Chinese capital had taken place in 1991, as part of my first RTW trip. I remember being intrigued by the relatively limited amount that I was able to see of a sprawling city devoid of user-friendly public transport, where the only traffic jams were caused by two-wheeled, environmentally friendly vehicles and where any simmering road rage, if it existed at all, was vented by the gentle tinkling of the bicycle bell. I also recall the innocent, yet somewhat intrusive stares from the children of Chinese provincial tourists, who had never before set eyes on people of other races.

Fast-forward seventeen years to the Beijing Olympics, and my TV screen confronted me with images that I was barely able to recognise as coming from the same place. Clearly it was time for another visit! The opportunity to act presented itself in Spring 2009. With a Diamond Club rules change fast approaching, whereby First Class redemptions on Lufthansa would become more expensive, I was determined to sneak in another Lufty F experience under the old regime. On the last day of the more favourable tariff, I booked a one-way redemption to Beijing for March 2010, beginning my journey in Madrid and routing via the Munich hub in preference to Frankfurt. Some time later, I decided to make my return using a British Airways Executive Club redemption and, later again, I put the remaining short-haul pieces of the jigsaw in place.

Thus was born another of my trademark trips, leveraging the power of frequent-flyer benefits to conjure up an eagerly anticipated mix of interesting destinations, comfortable accommodation and some of the best that modern air travel can deliver, all at reasonable and affordable cost.