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Category: Around the World

London Heathrow (LHR) T5A BA Galleries North Business Lounge (LHR)

London Heathrow (LHR) T5A BA Galleries North Business Lounge (LHR)

Overall rating: 8/10

One of five BA lounges at Heathrow T5 (others: T5A South, T5A First, T5A Concorde a Room and T5B), accessed on this occasion at 17:00 using a BA Silver card with a BA domestic flight. A short walk from ther Northern security checkpoint.

Food:
A decent selection of hot and cold food:

  • Cold rolls and sandwiches (ham, cheese, etc)
  • A hot buffet (chilli, Mediterranean chicken, pasta, rice etc)
  • Cold desserts and basic baked products (buns, biscuits etc)


Drinks:
An excellent selection of spirits, wines and soft drinks available with self service. 


WiFi and Power:

Private lounge wifi, accessed by password.

Power available inside on some but not all comfy chairs, and in the business centre.
Views and Comfort:
Comfortable, modern chairs with side tables. Great internal terrace with wife views over the apron and Northern runway. Views from the rest of the lounge over the western end of the Northern runway. Lounge is extremely busy almost always. A busy business area with computers and printer is available for those who wish to use it.

Glasgow Airport BA Business Lounge (GLA)

Glasgow Airport BA Business Lounge (GLA)

Overall Rating: 7/10

A BA outstation lounge, accessed on this occasion at 18:00 using a BA Silver Card card with a BA flight.
Food:
A limited selection of hot and cold food:

  • Cold rolls and sandwiches (ham, cheese, etc)
  • Soup, crisps, nuts etc
  • No hot buffet


Drinks:

An extensive selection of spirits, witnes and soft drinks available for self serve.
A cool feature not seen before: the “Glenlivet whiskey snug”.

WiFi and Power:

Private lounge wifi, accessed by password.
Power widely available inside on comfy chairs, and in the business centre.

Views and Comfort:

Comfortable, modern chairs with side tables. Reasonable views over the apron. Quiet at the time of our visit. A business area with computers and printer is available for those who wish to use it.

Limited input from staff to clear tables – rubbish sat there for over 2 hours, and food ran out without replenishment.

Belgrade Airport Air Serbia Business Lounge (BEG)

Belgrade Airport Air Serbia Business Lounge (BEG)

Overall rating: 8/10

A contract lounge, accessed on this occasion at 14:00 using an Air Berlin (Ethiad Guest) card with an Air Serbia flight.

Food:

A moderate selection of hot and cold food:

  • Cold rolls and sandwiches (ham, cheese, etc)
  • A hot buffet (risotto, vegetables, potato)
  • Pastries and baked products such as egg tarts, cakes etc.
  • Desserts



Drinks
:

Standard selection of spirits, witnes and soft drinks available to order at the bar (no charge). I ordered a whiskey and received a JD.

WiFi and Power:

Private lounge wifi, accessed by password.

Power available inside on comfy chairs, and in the business centre.


Views and Comfort:

Comfortable, modern chairs with side tables. No views, but not claustrophobic either. We were the only passengers in the lounge at time of our visit. A quiet business area with computers and printer is available for those who wish to use it.

Geneva Airport Swiss Airlines Senator/First Lounge (GVA)

Geneva Airport Swiss Airlines Senator/First Lounge (GVA)

Overall Rating: 6/10

An airline lounge in Geneva Airport, accessed on this occasion at 18:00 using a Turkish Airlines Gold Card with a Swiss flight (GVA-LHR). Also accessible using other Star Alliance Gold Cards.

I also visited the Business Lounge, which is down a short hallway from the Senator/First Lounge. Personally, I found the Business Lounge far more pleasant and spacious, with a more light and airy feel, and similar amenities.

Food:

A limited selection of hot food, with a few snacks (crisps).

Drinks:

Standard selection of spirits, beer, wines and soft drinks available:

  • Spirits: Gin (Hendricks, Gordons), Baileys, Vodka (Absolut, Smirnoff), Scotch (Red Label, Ballentines).
  • Wine: standard white and red wine (Pinot, merlot, etc… including Prosecco).
  • Beer: Heineken, Erdinger
  • Soft: standard selection – cola (light/full), lemonade (light/full), tonic (light/full), ginger ale and juices.


WiFi and Power:

Use Swiss lounge WiFi.

Power sockets available throughout the whole lounge. Sockets are available next to all seats.

Views and Comfort:

Comfortable chairs with side tables. Senator/First Lounge is quite a small room with limited views. Busy at time of our visit, with most seats taken.


Senator / First or Business Lounge?

I personally found the Business Lounge was far more modern, airy and less busy than the Senator/First lounge, with similar amenities. The photos below show the Geneva Swiss Business Lounge:

London Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 Lufthansa Lounge – Breakfast (LHR)

London Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 Lufthansa Lounge – Breakfast (LHR)

Overall Rating: 8/10

An airline lounge in Heathrow Terminal 2A, accessed on this occasion at 06:00 using a Turkish Airlines Gold Card with a Swiss flight (LHR-GVA). Also accessible using other Star Alliance Gold Cards.

The lounge is in two sections: the normal business lounge, and a separate Senator section at the back accessible using a single-use QR code.

There is limited difference between the offer in the main lounge and Senator sections, other than the Senator section being slightly more “intimate”.

This is one of four Star Alliance lounges in LHR T2, and the only one at the A gates (where most intra-European flights leave from).  If your flight leaves from the B gates (mostly longhaul), I personally prefer the Singapore Airlines and United lounges. You can walk to the B gates and back to A, but it is a long way!

Food (Breakfast):

A full selection of fruit, hot breakfast food, pastries, break, yogurts:


Drinks:

Standard selection of spirits, beer, wines and soft drinks available:

  • Spirits: Gin (Bombay), Baileys, Vodka (Absolut), Irish Whiskey, Rum (Bacardi), JD, Scotch (The Balvenie, Black Label, Bowmore, Glengrant), Cognac (Hennessy), Disaronno.
  • Wine: standard white and red wine (Pinot, merlot, etc… including fizz), Port (Dow’s LBV)
  • Beer: Krombacher, Hoegarden, Becks.
  • Soft: standard selection – cola (light/full), lemonade (light/full), tonic (light/full), ginger ale and juices.


WiFi and Power:

Use Lufthansa lounge WiFi.

Power sockets available throughout the whole lounge. Sockets are available next to all seats.

Views and Comfort:

Comfortable chairs with side tables. Restricted views over the apron. Not too busy at time of our visit (6 am!). A quiet business area with computers and printer is available for those who wish to use it.


Senator Lounge or Business?

All the above photos are of the Senator section of the lounge, which is accessible to Star Alliance Gold members with a QR code given out at the reception. The amenities are the same/very similar, but perhaps a little less intimate:


 

10 Amazing Things to Do in a Day in Belfast

10 Amazing Things to Do in a Day in Belfast

A full day to explore Belfast. Starting in the Titanic Quarter, first of all I went to the Titanic Museum. I’ve been to many similar exhibits before, so decided not to visit the exhibits themselves. However, the building itself was most impressive, and you can easily walk around the docks where Titanic and her sister ship were built.

From here, I walked 10 mins up the road to the Thompson dock/pump house. Enroute, there are great views over the huge cranes, Samson and Goliath. The dry docks and pump house are an impressive sight, and can be mostly appreiciated from the road itself. There are also super views over the port and the oil rigs stacked in the dock. Again, I did not feel the need to enter the exhibits themselves.


I normally hire a car or arrange a driver / tour guide from Tour Driver Finder. However, due to the short distances, this time I hired an Uber to drive the relatively short distance to the Crumlin Road Gaol. The Gaol is the ex-HMP Belfast prison, and is an excellent example of Victoria prison design. The site finished use as a prison in 1996 after 150 years, and has since been converted for events and tours. I did a tour of the Gaol, and it was one of the best tours I have done in a long time. Our guide showed us the process an inmate went through on arrival to the jail, and explained what daily life was like. The building itself is an impressive sight.


From the Gaol, I drove around the estates in the immediate vicinity. The area has several dozen murals of various designs andpolitical  messages. It was quite an edgy area, and many do Taxi tours around here. However, I felt quite safe driving around myself, and appreciated the freedom of driving my own car.


After looking at the Murals for 30-40 mins, I drove 20 mins to the Belfast Castle and surrounding country park. The castle offers views over Belfast on a clear day, and free parking. I also did a 2-3 hour hike up Cave Hill, which provided spectacular views over Belfast and the surrounding areas. Even if you only have 30 mins, you can reach a clearing in the forest on the East that has wonderful views.


It was soon time to head back into central Belfast and check into my hotel. I was staying near Queens University Belfast, which enabled easy access on foot into the centre of town.

I had a quick Pizza before exploring the area further. City Hall was impressive to see, and I understand that it offers  weekday tours. I spent most of the rest of the evening in the Crown Liquor Saloon! A very old and characterful bar, with private “booths” for patrons. Quite touristy, but also lots of locals, and a great experience.


See other Installments for Full tour:

Belfast->Giants Causeway->Bushmills Distillery->Londonderry->Westport->Connemara NP->Galway->Cliffs of Moher->Limerick->Ring of Skellig/Valentia Island->Ring of Kerry->Killarney->Kinsale->Cork->Jameson’s Distillery->Ballycotton->Cork

Cork Airport “Jack Lynch” Lounge (ORK)

Cork Airport “Jack Lynch” Lounge (ORK)

Overall Rating: 6/10

A contract lounge, accessed on this occasion at 18:00 using a BA Silver card with a Aer Lingus flight (ORK-LHR). Only lounge in the airport. Also accessible on PriorityPass and for Aer Lingus Gold Circle premium members.

Food:

A basic selection of pastries, fruit and cold snacks:


Cold pastries and cheese available. Soup machine was broken, but soup was available on request.

Drinks:

Standard selection of spirits, beer, wines and soft drinks available:

  • Spirits: Gin (local), Irish Whiskey (Jameson), Rum (Bacardi), Cognac (Hennessey).
  • Wine: standard white and red wine (Pinot, merlot etc… No fizz).
  • Beer: Heineken, Coors Light (?)
  • Soft: standard selection – cola (light/full), lemonade (light/full), tonic (light/full), ginger ale and juices.

WiFi and Power:

Use standard free airport WiFi.

Power available inside on extendable “towers”, and in the business centre.

Views and Comfort:

Comfortable chairs with side tables. No views over the apron – just internal windows overlooking the arrivals hall. Not too busy at time of our visit. A quiet business area with computers and printer is available for those who wish to use it.

Top 15 Things to do for an Awesome Daytrip to Monaco (from London!)

Top 15 Things to do for an Awesome Daytrip to Monaco (from London!)

I have been wanting to visit Monaco for a long time, but the high summer airfares put me off. By chance I found lastminute sameday return flights for only £80 – and went for it!

After an early start to catch the 7.50 am London-Nice flight and an uneventful journey, I arrived at Nice airport at 11 am. With only a light backpack, I whistled through customs and was soon on the 110 express bus direct to Monaco. This costs €33 return ($20 single) at the time of writing, leaves every 30 mins and takes 45 mins (May ’16).



The bus dropped me off at 12.15 at the top of the Monte Carlo casino garden.

For these trips, I would usually rent a car or arrange a tour guide or driver from Tour Driver Finder. However, due the tiny size of Monaco, I decided to explore on foot.

I walked through the beautiful gardens to the Casino Monte Carlo. The casino was closed at this time (opens 2 pm on a Sunday), so I walked around the square and admired the parked supercars. The compact square is surrounded by the Cafe du Paris, Casino and Hotel du Paris. The cafe didn’t impress me too much, so I deduced to explore the hotel. I confidently walked into the Hotel du Paris and was immediately met by a friendly, but firm concierge who asked how he could help me (they don’t like visitors!). I asked where the return bus to the airport left from, and he was helpful in explaining.

Tip: don’t try to visit the hotel unless you are a guest!


Next I walked down through the casino grounds to the Fairmont Hotel Monte Carlo. The roof of the hotel is a spectacular garden overlooking the marina. I took a few photos before walking further to the hotel entrance. This is situated on the “Fairmont Bend” – one of the classic circuit F1 features. There was a queue of supercars waiting to park at the hotel. Quite a buzz, and a great spot to take photos of passing cars.




From the Fairmont Monte Carlo, I walked to the Japanese Garden. A beautiful space, free to enter, next to large tower blocks. Quite an unusual setting – but worth the detour.


Due to the preparations for the Grand Prix races, many roads had barriers setup. I therefore walked through the tunnel under the Fairmont hotel to the Monte Carlo marina. It was interesting to see the activity around the Monaco Yacht club. The Bateau Bus leaves from here across to Quai Rainer on the other side of the marina. The boat is a wonderful way to gain a different perspective of Monaco, and only cost €2!

Tip: take the bateau (boat) bus from Monte Carlo to Monaco Ville / aquarium.


On the other side, it was fascinating to witness the larger super yachts moored-up. A walk down the marina breakwater offers a great view over Monaco.


From here, it is a short walk along a stunning cliff-side promenade, and a steep ascent to the top of the Monaco Rock to the Monaco Aquarium. I must admit that I wa sceptical about the aquarium, following other disappointing visits. However, it’s spectacular setting and excellently set-out exhibits really impressed me. In particular, the spectacular jellyfish tank with fluorescent jellyfish was astonishing.in another exhibit, you can even stroke a shark!


After the aquarium, I headed to the Saint-Martin gardens, which were a peaceful place to relax after the hectic aquarium. They offer a wonderful viewpoint over the cliffs and aquarium. The cathedral is close-by too, which is a fairly interesting place to stop at for a few minutes (free entry).

From the cathedral, I walked the short distance to the palace. Channel 4 (UK) was filming a piece presented by David Coulthard, which was interesting to see. The view over the marina and the rest of Monaco from the palace is absolutely spectacular – the best single view of Monaco I saw all day.


There is a steep path down from the Monaco Rock to the marina, which I followed. The Marina was in full-setup-mode for the Grand Prix races the following weekend. I found it fascinating to walk around the track, hospitality suites and the pit-stops, and to witness their setup.


This lead me back to the Bateau Bus terminal, so I took this back over to Monte Carlo. From here, I took the elevator up to the square.
By this time, the Casino was open! I walked inside, and was met by a spectacular Atrium. Tickets into the Casino hall cost €10, so I decided to skip.

Exhilarated after a fascinating day, mildly sunburnt, and having walked 25 km in total – I decided it was time to head home.  I headed back through the Casino park to the bus stop for the bus back to Nice airport.

Nice Airport”Riviera” Contract Lounge (NCE)

Nice Airport”Riviera” Contract Lounge (NCE)

Overall Rating: 7/10

A contract lounge, accessed on this occasion at 19:00 using a Oneworld Sapphire card with a Ba flight. Only lounge in the non-Schengen area of the airport.

Food:

A basic selection of hot and cold snacks:

  • Cold rolls and sandwiches (ham, cheese, etc)
  • No Hot snacks.
  • Pre-packaged pastries and baked products such as muffins etc.
  • Savoury Nuts, crisps etc.


Drinks:

Standard selection of spirits, wines and soft drinks:

  • Spirits: Gin (Gordon’s), Scotch (Paddy’s), Vodka, Irish Liquer, Cognac.
  • Wine: White and red wine, and Lindemanns Port.
  • Beer: Heineken and local “craft” beer.
  • Soft: standard selection.

Champagne served on entry to the lounge – could get refills.


WiFi and Power:

  • Use VIP airport WiFi. No Password.
  • Power available at most comfy chairs, and in the business centre.

Views and Comfort:

Comfortable chairs with side tables. A quiet business area with a computers is available for those who wish to use it – not working at the time of my visit.

Porto Airport”ANA” Lounge (OPO)

Porto Airport”ANA” Lounge (OPO)

Overall Rating: 7/10

A contract lounge, accessed on this occasion at 13:00 using a Star Alliance Gold card with a TAP flight. Only lounge in the airport.

Food:

A basic selection of hot and cold snacks:

  • Cold rolls and sandwiches (ham, cheese, etc)
  • The Hot snacks (Shrimp, meat and cod pasties, etc)
  • Pastries and baked products such as egg tarts, cakes etc.



Drinks:

Standard selection of spirits, wines and soft drinks:

  • Spirits: Gin (Gordon’s), Scotch (Cutty Sark, Logan’s Heritage, Ballentynes), Vodka, Irish Liquer.
  • Wine: White and red wine, and of course, Port (all Douro valley)
  • Beer: Super Bock (Porguguese Lager)
  • Soft: standard selection.


WiFi and Power:

  • Use standard free airport WiFi
  • No power outlets on balcony. Power available inside on comfy chairs, and in the business centre.


Views and Comfort:

Comfortable chairs with side tables. Internal balcony overlooking the departures gates. Not too busy at time of our visit. A quiet business area with computers and printer is available for those who wish to use it.