The preparations for our first big trip


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September 28th 2017
Published: September 28th 2017
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Well this will be my account of our Holiday that Gretta and I have planned as a celebration for not having having to pay anymore School fees. We have been able to put our 2 boys through the Kings School.

We decided that we would take a holiday for ourselves seeing as we have sent both of the boys to Europe with School for History Tours.

We started planning this way back in July and came up with a rough itinerary that would tick off a few places for both of us. In total we will be abroad for about 5 weeks, which is a long time but at the same time such a short trip as we've had to limit where we go. The rough outline was to fly direct to London for a few days and then onto Paris for a few more, then driving up to Belgium to get some War History on Gretta's Great Grandfather in the Ypres area. From there we were heading into Germany to see a few of the sights and catch up with as much of my Family as possible given the time constraints. From Germany we are flying to Athens for a few nights and then on Santorini for a week to finish off on a relaxing note.

So on September 8 2017, I was able to book us a flight to London, however as we wanted to fly using points and have a preference to fly Business Class on long haul flights our plans had to be able to be moulded around what was available on or around our dates of travel (in this case 24 August 2018). Looking at the Qantas website yielded nothing suitable at all. However a phone call to the QFF Platinum Service Desk soon had some flights appearing on the radar that shall we say were not exactly what we wanted but we were able to make it work in the best possible way.

So to get to London we have to fly from Sydney to Brisbane at 6:30am. This was a total of 32,000 QFF Points to fly in Business Class, indulgent for such a short flight? Yes, but on a 737 in economy you sit 3 abreast and we both end up fighting about who get the dreaded middle seat, fly Business Class, problem solved, seats are only 2 abreast. Once In Brisbane we transfer us and our luggage to the International Terminal for the next leg which is to Singapore. Our flight to Singapore which departs Brisbane at 12pm and arrives in Singapore at 6:15pm, once again this flight will be in Business Class and I'm really looking forward to getting some shut eye before we land in Singapore. This is where things get a bit screwed up for us in that we need to stay in Singapore overnight and depart the next night for London. So we have decided to make the night in Singapore really count and we shall try and get in as much as we can whilst we are here. We have already booked a room at the SwissĂ´tel The Stamford for the night as this has come highly recommended by a work colleague who has worked in Singapore previously. It is also very central and right next door to Raffles. The next day we start the journey to London. It seems a bit counter intuitive but we need to go backwards to get to London as we fly via Hong Kong! Free flights come with issues you know! So we now we fly on Cathay Pacific for this leg once again in Business Class. Strange thing with Cathay Pacific is that we cannot pre-select our seats, so we have chosen window seats in the hope that we can be behind each other because on the A330's Business Suites it's a 1+2+1 layout. This flight departs Singapore at 6:05pm and arrives in Hong Kong at 10:05pm. We have a very quick 1hr 40min stopover and aircraft change over. No time for much just straight from one gate to the next. The next flight is the big one. Hong Kong to London at nearly 13 hours it's about the same as our trip a few years back to LA. In Hong Kong we board our third carrier of the trip so far and that is British Airways an this will be home for this long leg. Business Class here too, but, British Airways has a strange layout for Business with a 2+4+2 arrangement. With half the seats facing forwards and the other half backwards. This will be fine for us as we can stare at each other with the privacy screen down but it would be rather strange if travelling solo. Also as I will be flying backwards (Window Seat) for me to reach the aisle I will need to 'step over' the legs of the person in the next row if they have their bed out. We shall see how well this works once on-board but currently I'm not a fan. So for the trip from Brisbane to London this has cost us 380,000 QFF Points + just over $1000 in taxes.

We arrive in London at 5:35am (scheduled) and once through Customs we can head to our Hotel (Park Grand Lancaster Gate) on the Heathrow Express. This train runs from Heathrow directly to Paddington Station and then we have a 5-10 minute walk to the Hotel where we can leave our bags, have breakfast and then head out for a day a sight seeing. The hotel is located just a 13 minute walk from Kensington Palace and is very close to other Public Transport. We are spending 3 nights in London taking in the sights (minus the sounds of Big Ben who is under repair for the next 4 years) of London. We were looking at getting to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo but this looks not possible now as we arrive in London the morning of the final performance. If we were to go that would add at least another 6-7 hours of travelling time and we would need to stay there overnight which would not be ideal at all.

So from here I'll need to wait about a week and a half before I can book our return flights from Europe. Once this is done we can then start to lock in all of our accomodation, internal flights, car hire etc etc.

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