Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Indian Ocean 2012

First stop Scandinavia

I had decided to get up at the usual time for a weekday, even though it was for a much more exciting purpose than a routine commute to work. This was despite having nearly twice as much time available prior to departure, and despite having taken the additional precaution of moving my shower to the previous night, before bed. Having been put off my usual travelling routine by the cost of airport parking for more than three weeks, I had also decided to make the journey to the airport by public transport, yet I was still dreading it a little. When the time came, I trundled round the short distance to the nearest bus stop with my case in tow, wondering just how packed with morning commuters it would be. I just missed one, but saw a second approaching as I crossed the road. It was completely empty, so the first leg of the journey was as good as a taxi, at a fraction of the cost! I already had the feeling that this seemed to be going well.  
  ABOVE: Most unusually, the first staging post on this trip was my local station. Despite being a listed building, it wasn't looking its best on this cold, grey morning.

At my local station, I bought a one-way ticket, crossed to Platform 3 and paced up and down to keep the effects of the icy breeze at bay: was this really the middle of May, and was this shocking weather someone's idea of a joke? Some two minutes ahead of schedule, a three-car train rolled into the station. Now, see if you can spot the frequent-flyer mindset at work. The first thing I noticed (apart from instantly recognising it as a Class 170 diesel multiple unit ) was that it had a First Class section. This is important because on Scotrail, if a train turns up with first class accommodation on a route where there is officially no first class service, you are allowed to use it for no extra charge. And normally that's exactly what I would have done. On this occasion, however, my first priority was finding suitable storage space for my suitcase, so I let it go - the posh bit of the train, that is, not the suitcase. I still managed to get the seat pair with the greatest legroom in Standard Class. Are you seeing any parallels here? It just goes to show that certain skills are transferable between different modes of transport.

It turned out to be one of the more pleasant commuter journeys that I've made into Edinburgh by train. For once, nobody seemed to be making a pillock of themselves on a mobile phone. It occurred to me for the second time that everything was going just swimmingly. It looked like it might all go downhill in rainy Edinburgh, but in fact I was able to transfer to my second bus of the day with no wait whatsoever - astonishing! I got to the airport around 10am, just two hours after leaving home - not bad at all. After dropping my suitcase off and going through Security, I carried out a few currency exchange transactions and then made straight for the British Airways lounge.

  The lounge was delightfully quiet for a change. I wasted no time in helping myself to a mid-morning snack of cereal and coffee. It hadn't been my intention to indulge in a tipple at this stage, but my resolve weakened when I spotted a bottle of the irresistible Pouilly Fumé. The lounge staff had just put out a cheese selection - good timing, ladies! - so that made a nice accompaniment.
ABOVE: Familiar territory, but unusually quiet - the BA lounge at Edinburgh Airport  

(Link to flight log in side panel)

I made an easy transfer airside on arrival at Heathrow Terminal 5, without having to go through Security again. I made my way to the south lounges complex and got a little kick out of gaining access to the Galleries First lounge on the strength of my bmi Diamond Club gold card, thanks to the clued-up agent sitting next to the one that I was dealing with. This trip was, of course, taking place soon after the acquisition of bmi by IAG, the parent company of British Airways, and the new rules of the game were still unfamiliar to some staff. As if my method of access wasn't confusing enough, I pondered - not for the first time - that the lounge's name was also a complete misnomer. With anyone travelling in First Class being redirected to the prestigious Concorde Room, Galleries First was actually a gold card holders' lounge. Why hadn't they called it Galleries Gold?

With the time now after 1:30pm, my first priority was to get something to eat. I ordered a bowl of Courgette & Crème Fraîche soup from the menu, which was very tasty and nicely presented with some crusty bread. I then helped myself to some cod, chips and salad which was, well, typical buffet food - but I certainly wasn't griping, reminding myself that it was free. After eating my fill, I moved through to the terrace section and enjoyed a cheeky glass of Bollinger pink champagne. I made my way down to nearby Gate A17 in good time to catch my second flight of the day.

(Link to flight log in side panel)

The baggage took a long time to make an appearance at Gothenburg Landvetter, which was disappointing at a relatively small airport. I soon found the bus into town, and presented my pre-paid Internet ticket to the barcode scanner beside the driver. For those who hadn't pre-paid, interestingly, this wasn't just a bus where you were able to use a credit or debit card - you had to! Cash was not accepted.

It was a nice enough run into town on quiet roads, ending with a drive down what I would later identify as The Avenue - the 'main drag' in Gothenburg city centre. I got off at the final stop - Nils Ericson bus terminal, adjacent to Central railway station - and easily found my way to the Radisson Blu Scandinavia. As I checked in at one side of the impressive central atrium, it was a little disconcerting to find lots of small children running around screaming and turning the place into an adventure playground.

I quickly settled into my fifth-floor room and decided to go back out for an introductory stroll.
ABOVE: A short evening stroll around the immediate neighbourhood in central Gothenburg 

Confining myself to the sides of the canal adjacent to the hotel, I managed to get a few reasonable pictures in the fading daylight. As it seemed like a very long time since I'd eaten that fish & chips lunch, I grabbed a burger to ward off any late-night hunger pangs. Man cannot live on yellow pea tubes* alone.

* Read the flight logs!