Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Kerala Tourism - Backwaters Houseboat Experience.

The backwaters of Kerala are a network of man made and natural canals that were historically built to provide the only transport available to the local population to bring produce to and from the ports. Although still playing a major part in the everyday lives of the locals, the canals are now also extensively used for tourism, with the rice boats that were once used for transport now reproduced to provide relaxing cruises, with overnight stays if desired, for tourists from across the world. Kerala Blog Express.

The locals call Kerala "God's Own Country". It is certainly a "Heaven on Earth", with varied attractions for the tourist from mountainous tea plantations to "paradise" beaches.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Introducing The Qatar Airways' A380.

Image from Qatar Airways website.
Our flight home from Kochi to Manchester was booked in three stages, first to Doha, then on to London Heathrow, and from there via a British Airways' shuttle to Manchester, some 17 hours travelling time from leaving our hotel in Kochi at 11.45pm local time on Tuesday to walking through the door at home at 6.30pm local time here on Wednesday. None of the flights used the type of aircraft we had booked - except the last courtesy of British Airways..

The first stage from Kochi to Doha was supposed to be a Qatar Airways A321 Airbus, but was in fact the much larger, four engined A340.

When we arrived at the departure gate in Doha, we were very pleasantly surprised to find our aircraft was a Qatar Airways' A380-800, not the planned A330.

We found this brand new aircraft to be silent, and bristling with technology designed to enhance passenger comfort. One aspect I made use of was wi-fi internet and mobile 'phone use once above an altitude of 10,000 feet. I posted on Facebook, with an image of our current surroundings from just over 40,000 feet! My internet package, paid for by debit card online while in the air was just $5 US, and the data lasted plenty of time to do as I wanted on my iPhone during the 7 hour flight. Other packages started at $10 US for unlimited data over three hours continuous use.

Details of this fabulous aircraft can be seen on Experience the Qatar A380 on Qatar's own website.

This was an unforgettable experience for anyone like me who holds the slightest interest in aircraft.

Our three week journey around India included 7 individual flights, two road trips, each of 5-6 hours in duration, and a trip on the Indian Railways Kalka to Shimla narrow gauge mountain line. Everything was well organized, and went without hitch - that is until we arrived on home territory at London Heathrow.

We made the transit across the airport from Terminal 4 to Terminal 5 without any problem. Our checked in baggage was to go all the way through to Manchester from Kochi, and we were to board the British Airways 45 minute London to Manchester shuttle service, which was pleasant enough, with a somewhat rushed service of refreshments. I don't know why they bother on a 45 minute flight.

When we landed in Manchester, baggage was arriving on the carousel as usual, and after a short wait one of our two cases arrived with us. Then we waited, and waited, until it was announced that all baggage had now been processed.

Unfortunately there were still around 50 or so people still waiting at the carousel, just as we were. Yes - British Airways had left behind a whole container of baggage on the tarmac at Heathrow, and my case was amongst it. We joined the queue of angry passengers at the BA baggage desk. Some had arrived on business and only had the travelling clothes they were stood in.

To BA's credit, we filled in our claim form and left for home. The baggage was flown to Manchester on the next shuttle, and our case was couriered to our front door by 1.00 pm the next day. Unfortunately, I suspect that would be not a lot of help to the businessman in jeans and T shirt who was expected to give an important presentation on the evening of his arrival in Manchester at a swish hotel.

Unfortunate that it was down to our home country to mess up on the last lap.