Queen Victoria Market

C_Class_Tram,_Melbourne_-_Jan_2008The light rail from Port Melbourne to the city takes about fifteen minutes, and costs $7.50 return, if you are a pensioner or $15.00 full fare.
After the Golden Princess docked in Melbourne, we caught the light rail to the city centre. The cost includes a reusable card that can be ‘topped up’ over the internet, so we didn’t throw the card away on leaving Melbourne – just in case we return, because it still has credit on the card!

DSC09675r  Sunrise over Melbourne as we crept alongside the wharf.

Maureen and I lived in Melbourne for five years before moving to Sydney. The Golden Princess would be alongside for about eight hours so where to go and what to see – for me the answer was a ‘no brainer’, Maureen likes shopping, so for something different how about Queen Victoria Market. It had been a long time since we visited this market, and our day of arrival would be Friday, so the market would be open.

Queen_Victoria_Market_201708The market is a hundred and forty years old (opened in 1878), and is open five days a week – Thursday to Sunday and Tuesday.
It is the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, and with over 600 stalls covering seven hectares (17 acres) it would take us most of the morning to see them all. After the market we planned to return to the ship for a late lunch, which would also make sure that we would not miss the sailing time.

With hindsight I think we arrived a little too early, because many of the non-food stalls were only just setting out their goods. Two friends, Viv & Lorrain, from our small ‘cruising’ group had joined Maureen & I, so the ladies could please themselves as to what they wished to see, as I could, because I was not all that keen on checking out lady’s jackets for more than fifteen seconds.

I wondered around with my trusty point and click to record a few colourful stalls. Fortunately the more colourful stalls appeared to be set up earlier than the ‘run of the mill’ stalls.

DSC09682rThis was an interesting stall – all the individual flowers are made from recycled wood!

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DSC09680rI don’t know how many I touched, just to satisfy my curiosity and to make sure that the flowers were not real!

DSC09685r$5 ‘T’ shirts – I didn’t buy any, but the display was colourful.

DSC09688rSupposedly Australian roads signs, but as I don’t have a bar or ‘den’ I didn’t buy any.

DSC09689rBecause our destination was Tasmania I considered buying the Tasmanian Devil sign, but where to hang it at home – all too hard, so didn’t buy anything. I’m a great shopper.

DSC09678rBoomerangs – I think they were made in China. . . not sure if they were supposed to work (which I doubt), or if they are just for collecting dust in forgotten drawers at home.

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Not sure where the ships came from, but I don’t think it was Australia. I fancied one of them, but was bothered about getting it home in one piece. They looked very delicate.

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The card stall was ‘different’ – all pop-up three ‘D’ cards – five for $20.

DSC09693rGlitter and more glitter, reminded me of various stalls that I ‘d seen in Asia & India.

DSC09695rThis stall had the feel of Japanese cartoon characters – another stall offered Japanese crockery – mainly every day crockery. When I was at sea we used to call in to Nagoya (east coast of Japan), to pick up a cargo of everyday crockery, as well as expensively created porcelain.

800px-NoritakeThe above is a sample of Noritake porcelain of Nagoya, from the 1920’s.

We walked up and down each aisle and eventually came out of the covered area to find an unusual sculpture in String Bean Alley.

DSC09697rCheck the hanging item at the centre right of the above picture. Melbourne seems to be big into recycling packing cases or wooden pallets.

DSC09696rA close-up of the sculpture . . . unusual, but not to my taste.

DSC09698rWalking down the alley we came to the organic market, which is more my taste.

DSC09700rI do like chillies – and I was pleased that I’d found something that was ‘made in Australia’ !

veg

DSC09701rSay cheese!

DSC09702r Stuff this stuff that  . . .!

inside

DSC09703rThe indoor area of the market, was mainly for the sale of fresh food – wine, fish, meat, bread, everything that you could possibly want, such a shame that this market it is about a thousand kilometres from where Maureen & I live. The colours and the smell of the fresh fruit was a ‘feast’ to the senses.

fruitNectarines & peaches.

 

meatSmoked meat, cold cooked meat, olive oils and more.

wild meat

Wild meat – It’s years since I last had rabbit, I think it was just after the war when meat was still rationed in the UK.
Kangaroo meat is very lean and tasty.
Venison is ‘common’ and wild boar expensive.
A wallaby is a small to mid-size animal of the kangaroo family, and is a native of Australia and Papua New Guinea – I’ve not tasted wallaby, and didn’t know that it was available as food for humans.

When visiting markets, I try and remember to take my ‘book lists’, just in case I find a second-hand book stall – which I didn’t this time.
After finishing our tour of the market we decided to walk back to the city centre via Elizabeth Street, because years ago there used to be a second-hand book shop just off this street.
It is no longer where it used to be, but I did find a shop called The Book Grocer , which seems to specialise in ‘end of line’ books – nothing over $10!
Like the addict that I am, I couldn’t pass a book shop offering discount books.

As many of us do I couldn’t help but check to see if my own book was on offer . . . it wasn’t.

front

Triangle TradeFor the newer followers I’ve written one book, but it has been published twice. The above two books are the same story – I wrote Ice King and self published, which was picked up by a UK publisher and reissued as Triangle Trade in hardback. Ice King is cheaper and is still available as an e-book from Amazon.

The point of the above explanation is that I am writing the sequel and I’d written about the Fishing Fleet of India during the early 1800’s.

What did I find in the Book Grocer, but

Fishing FleetI had to buy it, for further background research for my sequel. I’m half way through reading The Fishing Fleet and have forgotten that I should read it for research, because it is such an interesting and entertaining book.

The best laid plans etc  . . .

Duck Apple Night

Duck appleThose of us who were brought up in the ’40’s and 50’s in the UK, always looked forward to Duck Apple night, which was well before Dad hired a TV.

Duck Apple was a simple game on the last night of October. We had to try and grab an apple with our teeth. We were not allowed to use our hands, and sometimes we had our hands tied behind our back to make sure that we didn’t cheat.
An evening of fun with family, friends and plenty of laughter, and you didn’t get in to trouble if you ended the evening with your shirt soaking wet. Shock horror, even the adults were soaked.
The tradition goes back to the Roman invasion of Britain (55 BC) when the Romans merged their religious celebrations with Celtic Britain. The apple tree, which was a Roman symbol of plenty (Pomona) was introduced in to Britain and the apple floating in water was used to see if an unmarried person was due to be married.
The first person to bite in to the apple would be the next person to be married. Girls who ‘bobbed’ i.e bit in to a floating apple, would place the bitten apple under their pillow to dream of their future lover. Odd how the apple was held in such high regard by the Romans, considering how important it was in the Garden of Eden.

A variation, in the 18th century, was to suspend the apple in the air, rather than float in a barrel or bath, perhaps they didn’t like getting wet.
All Saints Eve (31st October), according the old writings in Cheshire (the county where I was born), required a hollowed out turnip, in which a candle would be placed to frighten people. This ‘lamp’ being a jack-o-lantern, (will-o’- the-wisp) which later grew in size (we all put weight on with age), when pumpkins replaced the turnip. We used to eat turnips, but pumpkin was only given to the pigs, so I suppose in the early days they changed the vegetable to save money.
Even though the Golden Princess was technically a British vessel (she is registered in London), they celebrated the American idea of duck apple night.
Considering the link between old England and the Romans, and that the Captain and some of his officers were Italian, perhaps they should have had Duck Apple night around the swimming pool. I’ll drop Princess Cruises a line before next year.

DSC00010rI found it ironic that a thousand-year-old ceremony for the souls of the dead in purgatory, should generate a Happy Halloween sign. What’s with the spiders?

DSC09894rI’ve never been winked at by an overweight turnip.

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DSC09893rWas this supposed to be a cowboy?

DSC09902rWe had company in the dining room. I wasn’t sure if he was a passenger from the last cruise still waiting for his first course.

DSC09903rHe was still hanging around when we left.

DSC09991rcOn entering the dining room, we were greeted by, who I thought, was Bat Man, until I realised he was a vampire. At least steak was on the menu!

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I couldn’t see the connection between the dead and a pirate. . . until it was explained to me about the Pirates of the Caribbean – I’ve been told that there are six films in the series – I’ve not seen any, I should get out more . . .

DSC09994rAnother odd connection, unless this steward was a Fred Astaire fan or perhaps a

White Heat 3James Cagney  fan – he never did say ‘You dirty rat’ 1932 film Taxi. The photograph is from White Heat (1949), but he did define why we all go to a bar, what a philosopher . . . Come fill the cup, (1951).

DSC00005rcThankfully, this steward was not attending our table.

DSC00002crDrop your napkin and you meet the strangest people.

DSC00006rcHe curdled by cream caramel !

DSC00007rcAll’s well that ends well.

I can’t remember the last time anyone knocked on our door ‘souling’, and offering prayers for the dead, in exchange for ‘soul cakes’.

Nowadays it is called ‘trick ‘n’ treat’, which is not much different than the insurance (protection for money) offered by Al Capone. Today it is pay up (in sweets), or we egg your car.

Fortunately I have two large gates, which are locked from 3.00 pm on the 31st October – bah humbug!

Wychwood's Bah Humbug!

Dieting ? Then don’t cruise . . .

When cruising, food is a major consideration – after all good food, which is pleasing to the eye, as well as being tasty, is part of the holiday.
On sea days Maureen & I normally visit the dining room for breakfast, rather than the buffet area, because you can meet some interesting passengers over breakfast.

The table, covered in a cream coloured tablecloth, is always a welcome site.

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And then we have the menu – which changes every day.

DSC09649rThe right-hand side lists the day’s specials – the left-hand side lists the standard offerings.

DSC09649cI hope this picture, which has been enlarged, is clear enough for it to be read.

Our routine was to have breakfast about 8.00 am, which would take about an hour. Not that the staff were slow, but who wants to rush breakfast when on holiday, it’s not as if we had a bus to catch.
The portions can be as large as you wish, it’s your choice, but most people seemed to stick to the meal size that they have at home, after-all lunch starts at Noon, which is only three hours away!

DSC09652rLunch on the Golden Princess was civilised – the menu changes daily.

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DSC00035rOr you could visit the buffet area, which has a wide choice of food. The above two pictures were taken just before noon on a sea day – the buffet opened for lunch at 11.30 am. The pictures show just a small part of the sitting area .
If you don’t fancy the dinning-room or the buffet area, you could sit outside and have lunch from a take-away, which we did for one lunch.

DSC09880rA choice of fish and chip (with salad), or beef burgers, chips & salad – with egg or cheese on the burger, or you could have it just plain. There were various other choices of take away dishes, but the burger & fish are all I can remember. Another ‘stall’ (not shown) offered pizzas, whole or by the slice.

DSC09879rTo the left of the take away area you can see a bar, so you wouldn’t have far to go to include a beer with the burger & chips – waiter service of course, one is not expected to exert themselves when at sea!

Just a few examples of various dishes in the dining room.

DSC09653rAppetiser

DSC09881rMain course

DSC09654rPudding

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Do you fancy something else ?

DSC00044rMaureen, being a coeliac, receives gluten free meals at lunch and dinner. Each evening during dinner, the Maître d’ would present the following day’s lunch and dinner menus so that Maureen could pick her dishes and they would be produced gluten free.

At breakfast there were enough gluten free choices that Maureen didn’t have to pre-order, she just asked for gluten free toast ‘well done’, because gluten free toast doesn’t brown as well as ordinary toast.

At lunch and dinner the stewards would offer a menu to each of us, and to Maureen, who would indicate that her meal had been pre-ordered. The steward would ask for our cabin number and from then on all went well.

Maureen’s advance notice of the following day’s meals came in handy for the rest of us, because we would not over eat at lunchtime if we knew of a particular dish was on the dinner menu.  . . .  I do enjoy cruising.

Edible Art

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I’m sure half the crew working in the galley are frustrated artists of one kind or another.

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We saw their work when on a galley tour, but on certain days they produced fancy cakes.

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Not having sweet tooth, I was happy to photograph, but not to eat, because once I started to eat I was bothered that I might not stop . . .

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Someone had already started . . .

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Fortunately, I managed a few pictures before the cakes were all eaten . . .

DSC09417rA fresh lot of cakes came out . . . along with

DSC09418rChocolate fountain.

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More and more came out  . .

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I enjoyed window shopping, but not eating, because I prefer a non-sweet bitter taste . . .

beerThe ship also carried Newcastle Brown ale on tap . . . a well balanced meal is a glass in each hand – Boddington & Newcastle ale.

 

F & B

Food & Beverage always helps to make a holiday.

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Dining in the Symphony Dining room – breakfast, lunch or dinner. Maureen and I started having our breakfast in the restaurant, but ended up on deck sixteen at World Fresh Marketplace – the choice was larger, but each evening we had our dinner in the Symphony restaurant.

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Breakfast in the World Fresh Marketplace, which was very good with a huge choice of food from around the world. On one side, we had a darker décor (see above pic) and on the other side of the ship we had a lighter décor. (see pic below)

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The darker area concentrated on hot dishes – roasts, curries, Chinese spicy dishes, and the lighter area on ‘cool’ dishes – salads, puddings, cakes etc. It was a joy to wander around and check all the dishes, which for me made choosing what to eat, without overeating, the decision of the day.

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A colourful spread of puddings, jellies and sweets, some sugar free, others gluten free, they did their best to satisfy as many people as possible.

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A wide choice of food from around the world – hot or cold.

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Smoked salmon for breakfast or lunch . . . just help yourself.

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I had read comments on the lack of bars for such a large vessel, and the difference in the western and Chinese culture of visiting bars. As soon as we had settled in we investigated which bar was going to be our favourite. The above picture shows Bellini’s, which concentrates on Champagne.

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Or was it the Fountain Pool Bar, near the pool area.

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Seaview Bar near the pool was popular, particularly on hot days.

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Sitting at the bar we could watch the passing desert as we moved gently along the Suez Canal.

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For those who are TT, a fruit and veg bar- drinks produced by blending / crushing various fruits & vegetables.
But, for us The Piazza Bar replaced the Crooner’s Bar on other ships.

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Maureen & our friends at the Piazza Bar for a pre-dinner drink.

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Same bar area of the Piazza bar

This bar was close to the main ‘entertaining’ area of the dance floor, which was also used as a centre of offbeat entertaining.

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Specialty acts

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Jazz band

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The female acrobat returned a few nights later with a double wheel.

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Plus of course we could dance or in my case crush Maureen’s feet.

Another popular bar was the Wake Bar

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This was a favourite place for many to have their breakfast – the World Fresh Market was just for’d of the Wake Bar, and the day could start with a Bloody Mary and fried eggs if this was to your liking.
There was a ‘day starter’ menu available at the bar if you wished for a breakfast cocktail. This menu changed to lunchtime cocktail menus around 11.00 am.

Additional bars were Crown Grill (part of a small restaurant) –

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and there was a bar inside the casino, which we didn’t use.

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I bet (excuse the pun) the casino will be popular with the Chinese during the Majestic Princess’ year long China contract.

 

Initial impressions

DSC08510rOur cabin (or to be PC our stateroom)

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The balcony was a decent size, with a table, two chairs and two foot stools.

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The Atrium or Piazza as it is called in this class of ship, covered three decks in the centre of the vessel.

Each early evening a female string quartet,

DSC08809ror a small jazz band

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or a piano player

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would supply background music.

One afternoon we had four players from the Chinese National Orchestra, who played a short piece to advertise their evening performances.

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On our second evening, while sailing between Naples and Santorini it was the first of four formal nights anticipated for the twenty-eight day cruise. This first formal evening was the evening when the Master and his senior staff were presented to the passengers, over drinks of course!

DSC08580rThe Italian Master had been in command for the past seven months during the fitting out procedure and the first few weeks cruising around the Mediterranean. He left the ship for home leave when we arrived in Dubai, and was replaced by a British Master.

DSC08574rThe Staff Captain was British, but he did not take over command in Dubai.
All the senior people, which included engineers, doctor, hotel staff, chefs, were presented to the passengers.

DSC08571rThe Champaign fountain had been built during the afternoon and I was pleased that the sea was calm . . .

DSC08581rThe maître d’ using two more bottles of Champaign for the trickle down fountain. Free welcome aboard drinks for all . . . . . . .
Most people dressed accordingly for a formal evening – dinner or dark suits, and the ladies in evening dresses.

DSC08573rMaureen (my wife) on the left – Will Wood from New Zealand, his wife Mei has yet to arrive, John & Fiona Cuthbert on the right. Both Will & John have recently retired after a life time at sea – both held command.
The badge on John’s cummerbund was presented to him by the officers of HMS Northumberland, during his and HMS Northumberland’s time in the Falkland Islands. John came from the Newcastle area in the UK.
I booked Maureen & I on the cruise and mentioned this to Will, who asked if he and his wife Mei, could come along, which pleased me greatly. We then ‘ganged’ up and persuaded John, who still lives in the UK to also join us.
The three of us joined HMS Conway together in September 1960, and have kept in touch off and on during the last fifty-seven years, so it was really great to meet up once again for the cruise to Singapore. A bit of a busman’s holiday for Will & John.

Knowing that we would have four ‘formal’ evenings I splashed out and bought a new suit – the original man in black. It was an ordinary suit because I no longer attend functions that require a dinner suit (not since the early 1980’s),

DSC08584rbut I knew that I would blend in with a plain black suit.

On unpacking the suit in our hotel in Civitavecchia, to hang it and avoid creases, I found out that I had only packed the jacket. The suit was in a special carry bag and I’d forgotten that the pants had been sent away for a small alteration, and on their return I had left them on their own hanger instead of under the jacket . . . .
I visited every possible shop in Civitavecchia looking for a pair of black pants. They had black pants, but not my size.
Fortunately during our ‘walk about’ in Naples we passed a clothing store and I was able to buy a pair that matched the black of the jacket. . . . an expensive mistake, but I now have an extra pair of pants that matches the suit.

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A small shop near the above location saved the day for me.

We’re off !

Our driver arrived five minute early, I do love efficiency, and at 3.00 am we had the fastest drive ever to the airport, which was just over twenty minutes instead of the normal 45 minutes.
Check-in went smoothly and our bags checked through to Rome. We were given vouchers for a hotel near Dubai airport, Le Meridian.
We had been told that Sydney airport didn’t open until 4.00 am, but it actually opens at 3.00 am, but emigration & security didn’t open until 4.00 am so we had to hang around for about fifteen minutes.

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I’ve never seen Sydney airport so quiet.

Once in the emigration line we inserted our passports to a scanner and stood while our photograph was taken, and I suppose compared to the passport. The whole process took about thirty seconds, and we had existed Australia.
Next stop was security – due to my pacemaker I couldn’t pass through the normal X-ray machine, but was asked to stand in a see-through box with my arms up and I was checked out. I was told that this security system did not allow any forms of ‘waves’ to pass through the body so was safe for pacemakers.

A five minute walk had us at the entrance to Emirates Business Class Lounge – a beautiful spotless waiting area with a large choice of food and drink. I had some very nice coffee, fruit and juice, which was all that I wanted, and of course a glass of Moet Champaign. After all, one doesn’t want to waste the opportunity of a glass of Moet even at 4.00 am!

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The call to board was made around 40 minutes before take-off, not a problem as the aircraft was not full, and we had to use the lift to go down to the boarding level.
Maureen had a window seat and my seat was behind. The layout is such that the business class seats are not behind each other, but staggered. My seat was behind Maureen’s stowage areas, which was also where my TV screen was located and my footrest area. This allows each seat to be converted in to a flatbed if the passenger wishes to sleep. Before we had taken off the cabin crew were offering mattresses for those who wished to sleep once we had reached cruising altitude.

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The area to the left of my screen was the rear of Maureen’s seat, which was next to her window.

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The above picture was taken from my seat, showing that I was not next to the window. The unit to the right of the picture is the rear of Maureen’s seat.
Once at cruising altitude the crew came around to take our breakfast orders.

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 I chose the granola with vanilla yoghurt & pomegranate seeds.

As I write this on my laptop (universal power sockets located at each seat) we have been flying for 4.5 hours and we are still over Australia.

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The sun is chasing us as we fly north west over Australia.

Breakfast went well, after which we all settled down to watch films, read or sleep.

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I couldn’t help but watch The Magnificent Seven, just one more time.

Maureen & I had our window blinds ‘open’ to watch the passing scenery as we flew over Australia. I found it strange that all through the fourteen-hour flight many passengers, a little further back from where we were sitting, never opened their window blinds throughout the flight, and just sat in the dark.

DSC08395rQuite often Maureen prefers to watch the pasting view rather than watch TV.

The toilets were in the rear of the upper business class section, so when visiting the facilities and walking through the darkened area, I found it slightly depressing that so many were sitting in the dark when it was full daylight.

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The one happy area after the darkened section was the bar. It was never crowded, with just six to ten people sitting or standing around chatting. I had a lengthy conversation with the Chinese barman (he took this photograph), who had worked for Emirates for over three years. He was interesting and in my opinion an asset to the airline.

DSC08407rLater back at our seats it was lunchtime.

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I forgot to photograph the first course and decided to have cheese instead of something sweet.

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After floating in the air for just over fourteen hours we approached Dubai.

Although I enjoyed the overall experience of flying business class in an AB 380, I think I prefer business class in a B787, which is much smaller, and for me, a more personal experience. Flying in a B787 allows the cabin staff to be attentive to each individual passenger that one can be addressed by name, without interrogating a iPad before speaking.
On our flight, there were seventy-six business class seats in our section, so is it any wonder we hardly saw a cabin crew member other than rushing back and forth with trays of food.
The B 787 has twenty-two business class seats and even with far less staff they managed to build a small personal relationship with each passenger. If you would like something in between the AB 380 and the smaller B787 try the B777/ER business class with forty-two seats. Having experienced both the B787 and the B777/ER I enjoyed both, and the largest toilet I’d ever seen, after flying with over fifty different airlines, the B777 wins hands down.

On arrival in Dubai I could not fault Emirates Airlines for the efficiency of their operation. We had been given fast track cards that saw us through immigration very quickly.

Our main suitcases had been tagged all the way to Rome, so we didn’t have to worry about baggage on arrival. Once through the normal procedure we were shown where to go for our chauffeured car to the Le Meridian Hotel for our overnight stay. The driver was waiting, and we were quickly on our way to the hotel. At the hotel, where we were guided through a dedicated Emirates check-in area.
As one staff member checked us in another offered us vouchers for lunch, dinner and breakfast. We didn’t require lunch having eaten during our flight.
We followed a porter to our room in a special section of the hotel for transit Emirates passengers.

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DSC08416rThe two above pictures show our room.

Our onward flight was scheduled to depart the following day at 9.10 am.

DSC08418rInside the Dubliner – Guinness :-o)

Later we had a look around the hotel and a complete area was set aside for assorted styles of restaurants from an Irish pub (called the Dubliner), to Thai, Middle Eastern and other types of food. Clutching our dinner voucher, we wondered through each area and were shown special menus that listed various dishes for transit passengers.
The only thing that we paid for was my beer, Guinness of course, in the Dubliner, chilled, thick and tasty and Italian beer in the outside restaurant that we picked for our evening meal. Soft drinks for Maureen were included in the voucher. The burning heat of the day had passed by the time we sat down and the warm breeze added to the enjoyment as evening turned in to night. With such a wide choice of food it was funny that we both chose a New Zealand steak and salad.

DSC08419rFor breakfast, before being taken to the departure area for the next leg of our journey, we had a large choice of food.