On our way
After getting organised for this journey, I thought this time our schedule was not that bad. Only 4 flights to catch this time. This could be fun. We had plenty of time in between flights. Taking the first flight to Edinburgh with Logan Air the night before was a good idea before the long trip to NZ. We had a hotel booked ages ago and ended up not going on the original date but managed to move the booking for this purpose. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, located next to Edinburgh Zoo and just 15 from the airport. Upon arrival, we took the Airlink Express. You can buy tickets just outside the airport and it is the 4th stop (Edinburgh Zoo). You queue in line next to the ticket booth where a bus stops every 10 minutes.
I assume that when people travel with big suitcases they take a taxi. I don’t. Taxis can be expensive but in this case, I realise it might not have been that bad considering the distance? I am very mindful of not wasting money. But in this case, it was a bit exhausting to manage to get two big luggage plus two hand luggage and keeping an eye on them while making sure not to miss the stop. The luggage was too high, I am not very tall, bus moving, you get the picture. Once we had our luggage out of the bus I was so relieved. That is until I saw the slightly hilly road followed by the number of stairs to get in. We had to do everything in stages, so DD waited at the bottom while I was carrying each luggage upstairs. To our surprise, we were met with a hall followed by more stairs until we finally reached the reception. The receptionist was a very pleasant lady from Greece who was able to give us a room where we could check out later so we could go straight to the airport the next day. Originally we had planned to go to the zoo but the weather was outrageously wet and had no plans on catching a cold just yet.
I definitely recommend to travel light. We were definitely not. I had packed kilos of European food for my parents which they miss. Laptop, binoculars, trainers, hiking boots, outdoor clothing, etc. It all just takes too much space. I was happy to forget about this burden at least until the next day. Before breakfast, I decided to go for a swim. If you happen to stay at a hotel with a pool, go swimming before your flight. You will feel invigorated. Food was definitely needed and appreciated after the exercise. Continental breakfast was displayed with plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Flight to Frankfurt
The flight to Frankfurt was supposed to be smooth. We were going to have a 3-hour layover. Time enough to go through security, get a coffee and for DD to practice some of the German she has been learning. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed due to adverse weather conditions. This ended up being the most stressful flight from them all. Lufthansa flight. No gluten-free snack. NONE. OK. Surprising for such a big company. Logan Air being smaller are more considerate on this note. But for a 3+ hr flight, not a big deal. As long as it was all good on the long haul flights. Unfortunately, this was just the start of our dietary requirements nightmare. More about this later. As the plane is landing, I check the time. Ten minutes before boarding starts for our flight to Hong Kong. No stress. Right. We are never the first people to stand up with our hand luggage in hand, ready to get out when the doors haven’t opened. This time we were. We flew out of the plane and ran as fast as we could looking out for the right transit gate. I was wishing for smooth security control. So far we had already been checked from head to toe and our bags checked for drugs. We really had no time for that now. I mean, when you are in transit, how many security checks can you have? Can you buy illegal items in the shops? After a few interactions with a disgruntled security officer wanting me to get all of my charging cables out of my luggage, we finally made it to the other side trying to put everything back in place and continue running. I think I have never run this fast because we made the whole gate marathon in just over 10 minutes. With pain in our chests, we were in our seats and ready to fly.
Flight to Hong Kong
I like to travel. But when it comes to flying, it is not always comfortable or pleasant. I tend to get circulation problems, so anything beyond a 4 hr flight can be troublesome. I do take my measures. I take compression socks, I do exercises, this time I even bought some mini hammocks to make it easier on my feet. It also depends on the aircraft you are travelling with. Mind you I am comparing Economy Class seats and service as I have never had the privilege of flying Business or First class.
I found that the Lufthansa seats are not very steady and rather on the smaller side. I am not a big or tall person, so I really feel for everyone, especially tall passengers. They are not comfortable at all, Imagine after 6 hrs, trying to turn into another position in order to sleep. Impossible. I have to say that from all aircraft I found the Lufthansa seats to the point of unbearable at some point, standing up, walking and stretching in every possible moment. When I say not very steady, I mean that every time you moved even a slight centimetre, the whole thing moved and creaked. Imagine what happened when trying to watch a film, to annoyance to the person in front of me, having changed from remote controls to touch screens I kept moving the chair in front of me despite being gentle to choose a film.
For those who don’t know, DD and I are vegetarian. Lacto-Ovo vegetarian, meaning we do eat milk products and eggs but no meat (chicken, beef or seafood). Until now we have had mostly no issues when ordering special meals. This is until now. Unfortunately, I developed a problem with gluten and can get ill when consuming anything with gluten in it. So now I am not only vegetarian but also gluten-free. Now for some odd reason, whoever decided the dietary option, did not think of the chance that vegetarians could become gluten intolerant as well. Apparently all gluten-free option comes with chicken, beef or fish. Go figure. So I decided to talk with Lufthansa and see if they could help as I booked vegetarian meals for both but thought maybe they could make mine gluten-free. I was promised that it was booked but when the food came actually only DD had a vegetarian meal on this flight but got erased for the rest. I didn’t get anything. The staff were friendly, after all, it wasn’t their fault. Luckily I got some fruit and salad and got on for the next 14 hrs.
One of the problems I face on long-haul flights is the lack of sleep. I have never been able to sleep on trips. At some point, this catches up on you. I tend to wander in a zombie state and suffer terribly from jet lag. We had about 7 hrs at Hong Kong airport, so we were looking around to grab some food. I realised that I was having issues with finding gluten-free food. Being vegetarian on top of that doesn’t help. First thing, water refill. There are over 100 drinking fountains around the airport and also some hot water stations near the gates. There are shops such as a Seven-Eleven were you can buy instant noodles, soups, teas and drinks, so this amenity is greatly appreciated. Apparently there are complementary shower facilities near gates 12 and 43. You can get towels at the vending machine. We ventured to gate 12 but did not find it and gave up. Time to eat ASAP.
We did have some snacks with us just in case. I knew that I might find it difficult, the language barrier obviously doesn’t help when wanting to find out the ingredients. After trying to ask for gluten-free options with no success, we went for fast food and had some apples. At this point, we were both very tired and decided to relax before killing time exploring and checking out the shops. The sun was going to set soon and we did enjoy a little of the mountain views before it got dark.
There are over 200 shops ranging from luxury items, clothing, jewellery, skin products, electronics, duty-free to souvenirs. Kijken, kijken, niet kopen. Dutch saying meaning: Looking, looking, not buying. That sums us up most of the time. After checking out the shops we checked out the exhibitions and displays around us. After a few hours, we decided to go to one of the recharging stations to charge our phones and laptop and just lounge at our departure gate until boarding time. We couldn’t wait to be on our last plane.
Our last flight was pretty intense and exhausting. We were not really hungry. DD pretty much slept most of the flight as had not closed her eyes since we left. I decided to watch a couple of films. I had a couple of funny looks as the film ended up being so sad, I sobbed at the end. It might have been too visible to my neighbour. I was starting to think that the digital map on the screen showing your location and time to destination is a device of torture. You are near but it will take forever. However, it is an amazing feeling when you arrive at your destination and finally being able to move naturally again. Even if you have to get into a car and ride for another hour. You are there.