AF3046 – CDG – LOS

I had flown in to Paris from Edinburgh on AF5051 that had clearly been allocated the cheap landing space.  The bus ride to the terminal (2E) took 15 minutes which gave me less than 20 minutes to get on my flight to Lagos which departed from terminal 2F.

There was a mass of people waiting for the bus and I wondered if I would manage to get on the first one.  I did indeed manage, albeit just – I was last on and had the door against me.  The bus took my fellow passengers and I to terminal 2C first.  Nobody got on here and no one got off.  Talk about wasting time when it’s such a commodity!  Eventually the bus got to terminal 2F, although it took a lot longer than the three minutes that was displayed on the board back in 2E.

A security check welcomed me to the terminal, which luckily I breezed through and before I knew it I was at the departure gate – with a whole three minutes to spare before the departure time.  I wasn’t quite last on the plane but I was pretty close!

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Derag Living Hotel Kanzler – Bonn, Germany

The client I was working with had booked my stay at The Kanzler on my behalf.  I was a little despondent as I was hoping to cash in on a Hilton Hhonors promo.

I arrived at the hotel around 11:30am having arrived back into the UK only the night before from a stay in the US.  It was cold in Bonn and I may have been just a touch on the grumpy side but was trying hard not to show it.

Check in did not go well.  The staff member was bordering on grumpy (although perhaps this is a German thing), and throughout the very lengthy check-in process I helped myself to a chocolate from the bowl at reception.  As I reached for another chocolate the staff member moved the plate to the other side of the counter.  Seriously.

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Cheers to KLM!

I recently flew with KLM to Cologne.  Full review to follow shortly but for now I will summarise – there were a few issues with my return journey.  My connecting flight from CGN to AMS was cancelled so I had an extra night (albeit with a seemingly endless supply of lovely Kölsch) and when I finally got back to EDI (a day late) my checked bag was completely destroyed.

This was a business trip and was booked on my behalf by a corporate travel company.  Due to a short-sighted change by Amex (Check out details here) I wasn’t covered for anything other than emergency medical treatment.  I went to the KLM website and found the link to lodge my claims.  I lodged them separately yesterday, and attached my receipts and luggage damage report.  I was more than a little surprised when my phone rang today to discover it was KLM’s Luggage department.  They were sorry about my bag and asked me to provide a receipt for my bag.  I explained this would be difficult and was informed to buy a replacement (up to the value of my old one) and send the receipt to them – they would cover the cost.  So far so good – I was impressed at the speed of the response.

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Divinus Restaurant, Barcelona – Spain

I had been on a leisure trip with Mrs Travel Freak to Barcelona for the weekend.  The weather had been on side and we had enjoyed a great weekend.  It was the last day of our trip and we only had a few hours before we needed to get the train to the Airport.  We had asked in the Me hotel where we could have a bite to eat and then catch the train and were told that Passeig de Gràcia was the best plan.

We hailed a cab and 10€ later we were in the street.  This was clearly an upmarket street – Hugo Boss, Armani, Yves-Saint-Laurent, Chanel etc. all had a presence here.  Luckily for me (and my Amex) it was a Sunday and all the shops were closed.

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FR 6266 – EDI – BCN

OK so what can I say about a Ryanair flight?  ‘Not much’ you might say.  I can’t tell you about the business class product, as there isn’t one.  I can’t describe the amazing food offerings, as they were very limited.  There are however a few things I can say, and believe me – I was just as cynical about using Ryanair as you are.

I am always amused by importance.  The BA and bmi flights depart from gates near the lounges, shops and bars.  AirFrance and KLM flights depart a little further away from the bars, but they have their own shop beside the gates.  The Ryanair and Flybe flights always depart from the furthest gates possible.  I am not sure if this is a subtle ploy to encourage their customers to drink a little less before the flight?

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Bilbao Berria Pintxos, Barcelona – Spain

I had taken a weekend trip to Barcelona with Mrs Travel Freak.  Our flight had landed on time, our car had picked us up from the airport as arranged and the hotel check-in had gone well.  We had asked the barman for somewhere we could go for some traditional Spanish food (it was now already 11pm) and he recommended Bilbao Berria.

We had jumped in a cab as instructed.  The journey from the Me hotel to the restaurant took about 10 minutes and cost 9€.

As soon as I entered here I knew I was going to enjoy myself.  There was a large bar / counter which had rows and rows of Pintxos.  The barman had described these as “small snacks on bread” but I hadn’t really understood what he meant.  There was maybe around 30 different types of Pintxos split into three main sections: fish, dessert and everything else.

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Me Hotel, Barcelona – Spain

For the first time in a while, I was on a leisure stay with Mrs Travel Freak!  Best of all the Junior Travel Freaks were somewhere else.  We were alone for a whole weekend!

I had booked my stay at Me Barcelona almost by chance.  It was a Hotwire adventure and having Googled the area, start rating and amenities for a while, I was pretty sure it was the Me I was booking.  I pressed the ‘book now’ button and waited, feeling just slightly nervous.  It was indeed the Me Hotel Barcelona.

With a confirmed booking I explored the website – seems that Me is a funky hotel for the cool and sophisticated… not sure that’s me but I decided i’d try my very best to fit in.  I started an email conversation with the hotel and ended up agreeing to pay for an upgrade to The Level which gave me a bigger / better room, a Nespresso machine and access to The Level Lounge with freebies.  Normally I get sort of upgrade free with my many loyalty cards so I had high hopes…

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Terra e Vino, Bad Godesberg – Germany

I had been in Bonn in business for about a week.  This was my second trip of the month and I was beginning to get more than a little bored.  Bored of work, bored of Bonn but most of all bored of the bad Italian food that seemed to be served everywhere in Bonn.

I saw a train going to Bad Godesberg and Googled ‘best restaurant Bad Godesberg’.  Of course the results were mostly sponsored nonsense and random restaurants.  I tried again, this time adding ‘Italian’ to the search string.  The top hit was a blog written by an American who had been living in Bonn for some time and was due to go back to the US.  She explained that there was only one restaurant that she knew she would visit again before leaving; it was called Terra e Vino.

The blog post explained that this restaurant was hidden behind a row of shops; it was Bonn’s best-kept secret.  I rang a colleague and 30 minutes later we got off the train at Bad Godesberg Banhoff.  The instructions in the post were clear: turn right out of the station and keep walking until you see a courtyard on the left.  We did as instructed and sure enough we found the restaurant nestled in what looked like a car park.

The restaurant didn’t look much from outside, but we had come this far and we certainly weren’t going to back out now!  This was a very rustic place; we walked past the tiny, open kitchen and could see the seating area beside the enormous racks of wine.  I knew immediately that this was going to be fun…

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Cafe Giaccomos, Bonn – Germany

It was my first night in Bonn.  I had arrived home from the USA only a day before and I was perhaps, a little grumpy.  The temperature in Bonn the night I arrived was -12 degrees C.

I was staying at the Hotel Kanzler that, wasn’t exciting me every much as I had initially been informed that I would be staying at the Hilton and had all the relevant point promos organised.

The ‘bar’ in the hotel was laughable and certainly not the sort of place that I wanted to spend any time whatsoever.  I asked at the hotel for a recommendation for a restaurant and was given the address of Giaccomos.

I jumped in a cab along with a colleague (as the hotel had neglected to tell me about the U-Bahn station a few minutes walk from the hotel) and €10 later, we were outside the restaurant.

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Hyatt Place Tempe, Arizona – USA

I had arrived in Phoenix on the first of four countries I was visiting for a project.  My day had started at 03:35 UK time and I had flown via CDG and ATL; I was beginning to get tired.  The local time was almost 23:00 when my plane landed at Phoenix International Airport.

I had already cleared customs at Atlanta and my bag was out pretty quickly; all I had to do was find the shuttle bus.  There was a large section of one wall that had details of all the airport hotels along with the short code to use to call them from the courtesy phone.  All the airport hotels except the Hyatt Place Tempe.  Having spent far too long trying to get my iPhone to work (user error…) to call them direct I eventually went into the Delta luggage office.  I was lucky enough to find a soul who took pity on me and she allowed me to use her phone to call the hotel.  I was told to leave at exit 4 and cross the street and that the shuttle bus would be with me shortly.

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