Sunday, November 13, 2016

Celebrating 14 years in Ireland! Part two

On the morning of November 11th, we dropped off Zane and Arran at Dog Holiday.  Zane and Arran have stayed at this dog hotel several times and always have a good experience there.  I had left some medication for the dogs, along with peanut butter to help them take it.  At first, Max the proprietor didn't want to use the peanut butter because he says it's too messy and full of sugar.  I will admit I got a little pissy, mainly because I use peanut butter that is all natural and contains nothing but peanuts.  Whitley's Peanuts in my hometown of Gloucester, Virginia sells amazing products that are very high quality.  Max was under the impression that I was giving my dogs Peter Pan or Jif.  No way!

I will admit that I was on edge as we were leaving Stuttgart.  Zane just had surgery to remove a mast cell tumor.  I hadn't been expecting the news that his lump had been cancerous, so I was upset.  Having someone imply that I feed my dogs junk didn't sit right with me, but I'm sure Max meant well.

Having dropped off the dogs, Bill and I made our way to the airport.  We were there very early for our flight to Munich, which was set to leave at 12:50pm.  We did the self-check in at a kiosk, which sort of confused us because I think it might have been for people who weren't checking luggage.  Because I booked business class, Bill and I were entitled to check two bags each at no extra charge.  We had planned to check one bag each, but I decided I'd rather not lug around the bag I usually use as a carry on, since the only thing in it I would need was an iPad.  It turned out to be a good decision to check three bags between us.

The very helpful Lufthansa agent pointed us to a dedicated security line for first and business class passengers, as well as the Lufthansa Lounge.  Since I was a bit hungry and we were in no hurry, we decided to stop for something to eat before we went through security.


Salmon tapas and a croissant!

We had a quick bite at the Italian cafe in Terminal 2, which I paired with some prosecco.  The salmon and shrimp salad was great for boosting my blood sugar a bit.  


The priority security lane...  there was even a red carpet there!

Even though our security line was supposed to be "priority", it was crowded.  It took some time to get through the process, made slightly more annoying because I was having trouble understanding instructions.  One of the agents said something to me that I couldn't quite hear.  Even if I could hear it, I wouldn't have necessarily understood it.  I finally said, "Sorry, I'm American."  She switched to English and I finally got what I was supposed to do.  A sharp eyed agent spotted that my car key fob had fallen out of my purse.  When I went to claim it, he asked if I was sure it was mine.  I was sure, especially since it was apparent that no one else in the security line drove a Mini Cooper.  

Once we got through security, we made our way to Stuttgart Airport's Lufthansa business class lounge.  The lounge is actually in two parts.  There's the Senate Lounge, which I guess is for very high priority passengers with first class tickets or many Lufthansa miles.  And there's the Business Lounge, which is for business class passengers and fewer Lufthansa miles.  This was the first time either Bill or I have ever accessed the Business Lounge for any airline, so it was a new experience for us.  To access the lounge, show the agent your ticket.  It will be scanned and you can then go in and enjoy peace, quiet, comfortable seating, food, and drinks.  The lounge offers light snacks, including fruit, soup, and salads, as well as what looked like Chex mix.  They also have wine, beer, whiskey, schnapps, soda, water, coffee and tea.  It's all included in the price of your ticket, so you can help yourself.

WiFi is free in the lounge and easy to access.  There are also computer desks, free newspapers, and a couple of TVs tuned to the news.  There's a bathroom right outside the lounge that is clean and quiet.  You can even charge your phone up there without even entering the lounge.  That's handy information for anyone who's running low on juice and can't find an electrical outlet.  I must admit, it was a pleasure to spend our time in the lounge.  It was probably one of the nicest of the business class "perks" we enjoyed on our flights to Dublin.


Bill enjoys an Italian red wine while he reads the paper in Lufthansa's lounge.

I had been a little apprehensive about out flight to Munich, since I wasn't able to pre-select our seats.  I needn't have worried, though.  Bill and I were given seats 1A and 2A.  Although I'm sure no one would have minded had Bill sat next to me, another Lufthansa perk is that the seat next to you stays empty.  Since there were only two seats to a side of each row, he was seated behind me instead of next to me.


"Free space"


Peek a boo!

Our flight from Stuttgart to Munich was running late, but it was only scheduled to be only thirty minutes, anyway.  Nevertheless, I was very impressed by the service on that particular flight.  The flight attendants were excellent, not just to the four of us in "business class", but to everyone on the flight.


We were even served meals, though I opted not to eat mine.  This was Bill's meal.  Note the real silverware and plates.  He said the food was pretty good.  As for me, I enjoyed two beers in thirty minutes.  They were small ones, though-- 25 ml. each.

We landed in Munich and had just enough time to rush to passport control, where there was a pretty good sized line.  Actually, we got there just in time, since the line got much longer minutes after we arrived.  The passport agent asked me if I had a European passport after she noted how long I've been in Germany.  I mentioned SOFA; she found the card; and we were on our way.  

Our flight to Dublin was set to last about two hours.  The one thing about that flight that I liked was that we had a separate entrance that served the six of us sitting in business class.  Other than that, I can't say the business class experience from Munich to Dublin was that special.


We were served a meal not long after takeoff.  This was a light chicken and shrimp salad with mango.  It was surprisingly good for airplane food.  There was also a berry crumble, hot roll, and Swiss chocolate.  I usually don't eat airplane food, but I did eat some of this.  I think the people in economy class got sandwiches.

Not long after we were served our meal, some guy toward the back of the plane had a medical problem.  The flight attendants asked for a doctor.  I'm not sure if anyone was able to help; but whatever the problem was, it was evidently handled onboard.  I think in the course of helping the person with the medical issue, the lavatory in economy was temporarily blocked.  Consequently, lots of people from economy class were using the lavatory in business class.  Technically, they weren't supposed to do that, but the flight attendants did nothing about it.  

I know it sounds snobby for me to mention this; I mention it only because some people will be reading this actually wanting to know about business class service and I want to give full disclosure for those who care.  In any case, because of all of the people coming up to business class to use the toilet, it wasn't as peaceful and quiet as it could have been on our flight.  I know this wasn't necessarily a usual thing, since at the beginning of the flight, a man seated in economy asked if he could use the business class lavatory before he sat down.  The flight attendant directed him to use the toilet in the back.  Later, I saw him up front standing in line for the lavatory like everyone else.  

Another issue I had that made our business class experience less special was the fact that I was sitting in the last row in business class.  Some guy with long legs was sitting behind me and he kept sticking his feet under my seat and kicking my feet.  Even the free middle seat between us was a little annoying, since there is a place to put drinks there that is fixed.  You can't raise the arms on the seat or necessarily stretch out much.

Fortunately, since we were at the front of the plane, we were able to exit quickly once we landed in Dublin.  Our bags were among the first to arrive in baggage claim.  And within minutes of our arrival, some guy came up to me and apparently assumed I was a local.  I think he was speaking Irish to me, though, because I didn't understand him.

With the flights behind us, I was eager to get to the hotel and rest.  It had been a long day and I was tired and hungry.  Off we went to the taxi stand, where we met our first local.  More on that in part 3.  

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