Friday, 29 October 2010

Trip Report 2 - Part 1 - Lufthansa BHX-FRA-NUE

As you may have read, I had a Lufthansa service voucher to cash in, so I decided on a trip to Nürnberg. However, as holiday was a bit precious and this was a bit of a fill-in, I decided to only take a half day and was therefore on the Lunchtime FRA. As it only a two night trip and I have no need to be dressy, I decided just to go with a carry-on bag which meant liquids at security - sigh.

I managed to scuttle out of work into a taxi at 12:15, the taxi driver was a bit slow and proceeded to slow down to 25 for speed cameras on the 60 mph section of the Coventry Road. However, he managed to deposit me there at 12:55, which is about the same time I could have gotten there on the train if everything had run to schedule - which is somewhat unlikely for the Cross-City line.

This left me with about 25 mins before boarding was about to start. Because I checked in on-line and didn't check a bag, I didn't have priority access for security. Security at BHX terminal 1 has changed in the last 3 weeks and there is now a new shiny larger security area, but that doesn't really matter as there's still the same number of people so most of the new machines were not in service. About 15 mins later, I finally got through only to find that "I want to swab your liquids". So she opened several containers for the kabuki tests and then seemed shocked when I told her to throw them away. Sorry, luv, but I don't know where those gloves have been and they weren't fresh. Also I don't want leakage over the contents of my bag.

It's the senselessness that gets me, first they decided 100ml is safe, now they decide they have to interfere just in case. I'd be happier if they actually scanned all the cargo (which they don't). At least in Europe they are quite polite and we haven't got to the Nudie-Scope or Grope that they have now in the USA from a workforce that seems to think Eric Cartman is a role model.

Anyway, having done that, I had to pop to Boots to buy a couple of things that the kabuki artists had ruined and by the time we had done that, it was boarding time. So no time for lunch for Yanto.

To my great surprise, instead of the usual Boeing 737-500 or 300 at the gate, there was a shiny newish Airbus 320. Very nice and we had a jetbridge, so doubleplus good. Unfortunately, we had some of the worst gate staff I've seen since Rome in 2005 - three of them there, two yapping away to each other and discussing a payslip, whilst the third was trying to deal with about 130 passengers and carry on a conversation with her two mates. Lets just say that I suspect checking of documents wasn't very through today.

The flight was fairly full, which may well be why we had the higher capacity of the 320, maybe 90% in steerage. Unfortunately, my seat opponent was like myself, a little on the porky side and unfortunately, he was a armrest hogger. But, hey, it's only an hour and 20 mins. It was a fairly standard flight, for once I ate the sandwich, it was the "ham not pork" variety  - which I found also contains the Krautquark filth, I  choked it down with the assistance of a glass of water. I'll try not to repeat that experience again, it was just plain nasty.

We were promised an hour and 10 minutes to FRA, but it ended up being an hour and twenty minutes but to my shock we proceed to a real live gate in the B-concourse. It seems that yet another bit of the constant rebuilding of FRA has finished and we evil non-Schengens can now be properly separated - but sadly not without reclearing security *sigh*. Anyway, after a short wander through shiny new passages which have yet to have the small armada of confusing signs, it was through immigration and to transfer security.

Transfer security was thronged and as usual, there was only two machines open, working very, very slowly and looking like the usual Epilson minus sub-morons were in operation. I wandered down to the other unsigned transfer security - it had a double line in the snake. Hmm, this isn't good - so I used the emergency option. I went out through the exit into a very pleasant autumn afternoon in Frankfurt, enjoyed a few minutes fresh air (and befouled it with a Marlboro Menthol or two) and then decided to go through main security.

That wasn't too bad, although the snake more resembled a set of Dungeons and Dragons corridors than the usual orderly procession, I was through in about five minutes. I then proceeded towards the slum at A26 for my usual free Coke Light and ration of Gummibärchen. It's being refurbished (something it badly needs), so the sole facility for Business Class pax and FTL's for any LH/LX/OS flight going from the Schengen area is the grim DDR-esque looking "Sports Lounge", where the joyfully DDR-like facilities have been enhanced by having even more people crammed into a space barely big enough for 30 people. To add to the early 80's DDR ambience, rather than the miserable range of food and drink normally on offer, there's a rationing system where you can queue up at the "bar" to get one drink, one snack (Leberwurst rolls - uuuuuugghhhhhh) or one pudding/fruit. I bet the bright spark who thought that one up was ex-Interflug. They even managed to get the slow, surly DDR service right and enhanced it by having the barstaff with Keine Englisch and Kleine Deutsch. I didn't bother to find out if they went the whole Commie hog with stock running out, there were no tables and frankly it made the old A26 look desirable. Lufthansa, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

My flight was going from the small set of domestic gates at the lower end of the A-terminal, which features a small but fairly good cafe-bar, I retreated there for Apfelschorle and a decent salad with "Poultry Meatballs".

The flight to Nürnberg was called on time and we proceeded to the bus. It wouldn't be a trip to Frankfurt without a bus-ride, as usual, the aircraft was parked half way to Groß Gerau, but it was a nice afternoon and the bus wasn't too full - so not too bad. The load was about 70% in steerage and I struck it lucky - a whole row to myself. We took off bang on time and were told that the flight time would be about half an hour, not bad for 118 miles. Obviously, there was no service at all on this flight (Business Class still got a drink) as it really was an "up and down" job. I think the shortest Lufthansa flight I've gotten service on is DUS-HAM and the crew have to work like stink on that if it's full. We actually made it in about 25 minutes because 33 minutes after take off, I was buying a U-Bahn ticket at the airport having stopped to go to the loo and buy a packet of cigs after arrival!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Trip Report 1 - Part 2 - Lufthansa PRG-FRA-BHX

I proceeded to Prague Airport by bus, there being a direct service from just outside the hotel at a reasonable rate. More like a minivan than a bus, but ran every 30 minutes and didn't wave the Jolly Roger like most Prague taxis do.

The Schengen terminal is smart and modern and Lufthansa have quite a large check-in area. Fortunately, they have the auto check-in machines, unfortunately, they have staff to assist you how to use them. It's quite easy, I just walk up, put in shiny card and it spits out boarding passes. However, obviously, I didn't know how to use them and the staff attempted to assist, a 90 second job (now LH have fixed connection printing) turned into a five minute job. I then went to drop my bag, but there was an attempt to get me to join the rather large queue for the Business Class check-in rather than the very short one for Economy. "But you are entitled" was the plaintive cry. Whilst in the short Economy queue, I get asked if I want to join Miles and More, I smile and show her my card, "but do you want to join Miles and More", seems my card should be Blue not Silver.

Anyway, the rest of check-in was easy, a nice young man checked the Shiny Case through to BHX, I managed to get through security carefully avoiding the Kettleovs and Kettleova's in the one queue and went through into a bland but spacious and modern terminal. I swiftly bought choccies for work, fags for me and a fridge magnet for the fridge door (there might be some space on it). I then thought I'd spend my handful of change on a couple of final beers. Now a beer in Prague during the weekend had been between 19Kr and 40Kr, not at Prague Airport - it's 120Kr - a great big honking rip-off even by airport standards. I decided to save my shrapnel for another trip.

The short hop to Bankfurt was again on an Airbus 321, again, the aircraft was fairly full with a full 11 rows of business class - mainly occupied by a US basketball team and Chinese tourist group. We left a greyish PRG on time, we were proffered the "meat not pork" sandwich (I declined, partly because I've never had an explanation of what it actually is in there) anyway, a glass of water would suffice nicely for the hop. The grayish Prague weather had cleared on landing at Frankfurt and there were magnificent views of the skyscrapers of Mainhattan from the windows.

Needless to say there was an A-B transit involved,  however, FRA isn't spectacularly busy in the afternoon's and I had plenty of time to spare. A quick walk and very swift transit through Immigration to go non-Schengen, saw me with about an hour to kill before the BHX. I did think about doing some watch shopping, but I decided against it and went to the B4x lounge.

Now, the B non-Schengen lounges are quite roomy compared to the A26 slum and on an Monday afternoon, they are fairly empty. It's recently been done up, with best quality Politburo seating and some nice new flat screen panel TV's. There's even a pleasant looking terrace which if they thought about it they could open to smokers (or have a smoking room as per DUS, TXL, HAM).

The buffer had just been replenished (as opposed to the crumbs usually found at A26) and had a Bavarian theme to it. I had originally thought about a slice of plum cake, but I noticed something labelled as Obzada. , I quickly grabbed a scoop of that, some red onions (what, no radish?) and a Brez'n. It wasn't bad, although it wasn't up to the quality of the Obzada I usually get at the Viktuallenmarkt in Munich. It was accompanied by some sparkling water - Beck's rarely appeals to me and if it was Bavarian week, why not get some decent Helles in.

To my delight, I found that the BHX was going from an ordinary gate with a jet-bridge and not one of Frankfurts horrid little dungeons with an additional security check and a nice bus ride to your aircraft parked somewhere near Giessen. As is getting to be more and more common on the Birmingham services - we were on an Boeing 737-300. We boarded on time with the Daily Hate and the Daily Torygraph available to take as English newspapers (what a choice, eh)  - I had wickedly purloined a FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) from the lounge.

We were fairly full but not chocka and there were just two of us in the row, which makes things a little more comfy. Whilst we boarded on time, we did have to wait in a bit of queue for take off, but were quickly travelling towards Birmingham carefully avoiding Belgian air space (on strike again). Service was fairly quick with the dubious cheese roll on offer this time

I took a tomato juice (no vodka in Euro Economy on LH) and a black coffee to go with it. I have a theory that tomato juice always tastes at its best on an aircraft and I do like to use a little of the Pepper LH provide to go with it. After about an hour and 20 mins, we arrived at Birmingham and were quickly disgorged at the gate. Immigration had quite a queue, although 95% were EU citizens, so it all went quite quickly. Waiting for the bags, of course, wasn't quite so quick. BHX prides itself of being able to get all bags off a 737 in 45 minutes - they even put this on a poster. Personally, I think they should be ashamed myself, it may be fast compared to say Heathrow, but compared to say Singapore Changi (where I have yet to beat my bags to the belt) it's awful.

So there we go, a standard trip in LH Kont Y. The next one is in a couple of weeks, when I shall be doing my voucher trip to NUE, so I may well witter in a few days about luggage.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Hotel Review: Hilton Prague Old Town

The Hilton Prague Old Town was chosen for a number of reasons. Whilst no longer fanatically devoted to the HHonors scheme, I still prefer to keep a healthy balance, so if there's a reasonably priced Hilton in town, I tend to use it.

Prague has two Hiltons, both Old Town and the "original" Hilton Prague (near Florenc Metro) were within a similar price band. I've stayed a couple of times at the Hilton Prague and it has one of the best lounges in Europe, however, it is a little more out of the city than the Old Town Hotel and I had a bit of fun with the bill last time.

As this trip was primarily to get pictures of Prague, I decided to try the Old Town.

Check-In was above average, my elite status was recognised and an upgrade was given. I was asked if I needed newspapers, wakeup calls or a reservation for dinner.

The room was on the ninth floor and of a reasonable size, I've had bigger and I've had smaller. I prefer not to rattle round. The decor was fine, corporate bland, there was a decent sized desk, a "comfy" chair and a good king-sized bed. The bathroom, whilst perfectly serviceable, looked jaded and a little outdated. Storage room was fine for hanging things, but very poor for non-hanging things. The luggage rack was good in that it was large, but strange in that it was a chunk of plastic coming out from the wall which didn't feel in keeping with the rest of the room. The heating/Ac controls were only mildly confusing to a geezer like me and the Heating/AC fans proved to be reasonably quiet.

As it turned out, the bed was extremely comfortable and I slept extremely well. It was also more comfortable than the chair for general lounging whilst reading a book. Whilst jaded, the bathroom was fine, although the loo roll had obviously been sourced from the German Hiltons due to its sandpapery tendency. Housekeeping were very good and offered turndown service on all three nights - declined on one as I was just out of the bath, a small tip was left in appreciation.

I had access to the Executive lounge, which whilst not as nice as the one at the Prague Hilton, was fine for my purposes, there was a decent breakfast each morning with staff offering hot drinks. Whilst the bread was a bit naff (too many stays in Germany), the rest of the offer was fine, I usually had apple juice, a bit of fresh fruit, ham, cheese and bread. In the afternoon, there was cakes and small sandwiches available - the small sandwiches were unmemorable, the cakes were rather nice. In the evenings, the lounge was quite busy and there was a wide selection of drinks, cold nibbles and hot nibbles. The hot nibbles were a bit *meh*, but there were some nicely done cold snacks on a stick. Except for the Saturday evening, it was not crowded.

I didn't bother with any of the other hotel facilities, the bar looked fairly empty and I dislike formal dining alone, although the restaurant did look more interesting than the usual standard from Hilton.

Check-Out was a little perfunctory but pleasant, I was offered a taxi, but declined choosing to take the bus that goes from just outside the hotel. All in all, I would happily return.

Good: Bed, Desk, Lounge
Bad: Storage Space in Room, Bathroom Decor

Friday, 8 October 2010

Prague - Sunday

Sunday dawned a little misty and slightly colder, the latter wasn't a bad thing as the Saturday had been a bit of a coat on/coat off day. I didn't get off to a crackingly early start because of the distraction of having to finish a book, but I was breakfasted and out by 9:45am. My original intention was to wander the back streets to end up in Josefov, this was partially foiled by the police closing various roads due to a public meeting in the area. So I ended up on an extended wander through some, at a guess, 1950's builds which weren't very exciting. I was amused by the Communist Propaganda, Marital Aids and Model Railways shop - an interesting combination.

I then found my way in Josefov proper, looking at the Franz Kafka statue (which attracted big crowds) and the Spanish Synagogue before having a tour of the Old Jewish Cemetery and the synagogues within. This took about 45 minutes and then I wandered back through towards the Old Town admiring some of the buildings which had some wonderful decoration.

I chose to explore the area around Havelska, where I found a street market which kept me busy for some time looking for and failing to find a birthday present for my mother. I did pick up some Karlsbad Spa Wafers for the gannets at the office. As I was in the area and in need of the loo, I decided to have a slightly early lunch at, you guessed it, The Little Bears.It was nice and empty at half twelve and I soon ended up with a delicious pork steak, chips, a small salad and half a bulb of roasted garlic. It was carefully washed down with a couple of delicious dark Budvar's.

Having lunched, I wandered towards the Museum of Communism, I didn't buy a Stalin candle, but I did enjoy the highly ironic displays. A short walk around Wenceslas Square revealed that it had become a little less tacky than my last visit, but would be a nice place for the stag and hen crowd, I suppose. I then wandered back to my hotel for a rest and some Intertubes.

I wasn't sure what to do for the evening, Sunday evenings are usually quiet out, so I ended up taking a walk up into Vinohrady and ending up in a gay bar there. Amusingly, pink drinks were about the same price as non pink ones, which makes a refreshing change. I was a little wary as Prague is notorious for young gentlemen of negotiable affection, but the place was fairly dead and I ended up spending my hour or so in there chatting to the barman - who wanted to improve his English (which was very good anyway). A couple of Staropramen set me up for a good nights sleep.

Next: a short review of the hotel and then the trip home.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Prague - Friday & Saturday

Having arrived at the hotel (review later), I was in need of a short rest, so I quickly unpacked, had a bit of a travel wash and went out to get my bearings before it got dark. I've been to Prague a couple of times before, but had stayed in a different area, so I sorted out my internal compass, had a potter round a bit and my internal compass took me to U Fleků - I had one of their fabled dark beers before wandering back up towards the hotel. By this time it was getting towards 6pm, I was feeling a bit peckish  One of the things I had noticed was that there was a nice place to eat from the small Kolkovna chain near the hotel in the old customs house, so I wandered into there. One plate of Goulash and a Pilsner Urquell later, I was quite satisified. I also noticed that there were a few vegetarian dishes on the menu, these seem to have invaded the beerhall/restaurants of Prague since I was last here. I then went back to the hotel, had a nice long bath and then retired quite early, I knew that Saturday would be a big day.

On waking up at a fairly early hour, I noticed that the sky was mainly blue, which was a very promising sign. I had a quick breakfast and headed out camera in hand. I did think about Metro and tramming my way up to Prague Castle, but I decided I'd be happier walking in nice weather.

I managed to get there in an hour and half, passing through quite a bit of the Old Town on the way, one of my first stops was to admire the Cubist Building with the Black Madonna.

Then along to Old Town Square which mercifully at that hour was still mostly devoid of tourists, I looked at the impressive church, admired the Astronomical Clock at the Old Town Hall and the facades around the square without too many people in range. 

Looking at the time, it was still quite early, so I foolishly decided to wander around some of the interesting alleyway at the west of the Old Town Square before heading for the River and the Castle. There were a lot of nicely decorated buildings of various styles there and a lot of cafes and bars that were just starting to open. The area around the Bethlehem Chapel was particularly attractive and I turned roaming on my iPhone for a couple of minutes in order to map the position of one bar where the Villa match would be shown later.

I decided not to cross via the Charles Bridge, but walked around the Clementinium to the Rudolfinium taking in a cup of coffee on the way and crossed the Vltava a little to the north of it. I liked the large amount of variation in ornamentation of the predominately Biedermeier styles of that bit of the Old Town and resolved to have a further poke around the next morning. I then made my way to the base of the Castle Steps, took a deep breath and fought my way up them through the crowds of tourist coming down. Bad move, Yanto, I should have gotten a tram up to the top.

Needless to say, when I got up there, the Castle was chokka with tourist groups. Not really my idea of fun, I took one look at Golden Lane which was wall to wall Japanese groups and wandered off to what I thought would be about half an hour around the Royal Gardens. It wasn't, I was seriously entranced by these, not only were they well maintained, with some interesting public art, but the tree collection was vast and each type of tree had a very good small information board by it in Czech, German and English. I walked all the way to the end, taking in the view of the Castle and the dry moat and then back up to the castle past the Presidents Summer Residence.

By this time, it was heading up to lunch time, the area around the front of the Castle was all blocked by the many, many vans of a film crew, which was a bit of a shame, so I walked up through Hradcany and then down the hill again admiring the view of the Petrin tower and the wooded parks surrounding it. On consulting my trusty Time Out Guide, I noticed few recommended options for eating in the area, although there were plenty of tourist fleecing feeding places.

I ended up at At the Seven Swabians which was described as an atmospheric cellar restaurant. It certainly was, it was very dark and mainly lit by candles. This did worry me a little, but a large Krušovice beer settled me down and a small bowl of Panská síla (consommé with liver dumplings and fresh vegetables) reassured me that it was in the guide for a good reason. My main course was Poslední krmě Slavníkovců (roast duck, speck dumplings and red cabbage), it was half a large duck, very good dumplings and the best red cabbage ever. It wasn't a small piece of duck either, but half a good sized bird. A bit difficult to dissect in the darkness, but I managed well with the aid of a second Krušovice. OK, it wasn't cheap, but I was very happy with the service and the food and I thought it reasonable for the location. Again, vegetarians were well provided for here and I understand they do themed historical nights - they certainly have the location for it.

It had started to grey over a bit my now, so I wandered down through the Mala Strana to Kampa Island where I explored the park, the streets around it and had a nice sit down on a bench before crossing back over the river. It was, after all, coming up to 3pm by now.

As I was making good time through one of the less visually interesting bits of Prague (although the shops are quite interesting and there's lots of places to eat and drink), I happened to realise I was quite close to the famous U Medvídků (the Little Bears), I'd got time, so I popped into the beer bar for an unpasteurised light lager that they brew on the premises. It was delicious, quite a few Prague beerhalls now advertise that one of their beers is unpasteurised and they are well worth trying. More of the Little Bears in the next post.

I then proceeded onward to watch the Villa in the previously spotted bar, I wished I'd stopped in the Little Bears :-( After that I proceeded back to my hotel as dusk was falling, slightly footsore and somewhat tired. It was shower, some snacks in the lounge, a bit of t'Intertubes and then book and bed for me.

Monday, 4 October 2010

On Hotels

I am currently in that slightly awkward time between having breakfast and checking out, so whilst there may be at least the Prague part of the trip report tonight (when I can process the photos at home), this is acting as a filler in a number of ways.

These days, whilst I collect hotel points, I cannot gain any meaningful status with any chain, so the matter of collecting points is nice but not vitally important (it's not like flying and not getting miles which brings me out in a rash). This actually gives a certain freedom of movement which the dedicated point hound doesn't have.

The most important thing for me with a hotel is location, location is nearly everything. I like to be near where I am either working or visiting. No luxury hotels 10 miles outside of a city, or the cheaper levels of the chains in some suburban industrial park for me. 

Length of stay and amount of "free" time is important in a hotel decision. One night for work or even two nights with something like a conference and something to the standard of an IBIS is fine, if I'm only going to really be sleeping in the room. I dislike the IBIS bathroom, but I do like their breakfast.

For a longer stay, especially if it is tourism related, the level of comfort required can go up. I just can't manage every night out on the razzle these days and so a nice large (or well-designed room) becomes a requirement as I may well spend much of an evening in it. I also prefer an executive lounge, especially in places where I'm not familiar with the area. As a generally solo traveller, I tend to eat lunch as the main meal of the day (when it is easy to get the table for one) and snacks in the evening. A junior suite is nice, but not usually affordable.

I tend to hover towards larger four stars, there are some great B&B's out there, but I do occasionally like to bring trade back and therefore a bit of bland anonymity is fine. Whilst I know some great small hotels and B&B's such as the Ambassade in Amsterdam, which are lovely if I'm travelling with J or P (my two occasional travel companions), I might blush easily if I were dragging back at the sort of place where everyone knows your name. 

I also find very nice hotels at the top of the range slightly intimidating, there's nothing like a night at a Grande Dame in Paris or London to remind me that, at heart, I am a council house oik. Similarly, too much fawning as can be found in some Asian 5 stars makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. 

Other hotel amenities are relatively pointless. I'm not one to hang out in the hotel bar, I'm a beer and fine wine drinker not a fancy cocktails person. Hotel restaurants are usually pretty meh and often worth avoiding - restaurants with rooms are a different matter. If the hotel has a destination restaurant, then they don't want single travellers taking up their tables. The one exception to this is Sunday brunch, brunch can be very good the USA and Asia and increasingly so in Europe. The only other amenity that might sway things is a swimming pool, a nice pool can just tip a booking for me.

Return bookings are usually graded by me in a number of ways.

1) Was there any hanky panky with the bill, either at checkout or afterwards. There's a reason why this trip was to the Hilton Prague Old Town not the Hilton Prague.

2) What was breakfast like or what are local sources of breakfast like. If you are stuck somewhere with a poor breakfast and no good local sources of it, that's not one you want to return to. A latish breakfast can help on those rare times I've been a dirty stop out.

3) Internet access, crap internet access means no return visit. I'm usually paying through the nose for this, so it had better be decent.

4) Was I happy with the room, i.e. comfy chair, reasonably hard bed, decent bathroom that isn't over done (hello, Hilton Stockholm Slussen) and a bit of space (or a feeling of a bit of space) and not some freakish layout of the room.

5) Do housekeeping rattle the doors constantly from some early hour. Actually, are housekeeping good especially when replacing amenties etc. 

6) If there's a lounge, is it a pleasant environment with peace and quiet with decent refreshments or is it a hellhole packed full of the Greated Spotted Lounge Hog. Some can be either depending on the season or the night of the week.

There are a number of hotels I return to again and again, they may not be the best hotel in the area but they suit me down to the ground. 

Right time to gird my loins for another transit at Frankfurt.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Trip Report 1 - Part 1 - Lufthansa BHX-FRA-PRG

So it's off to lovely Prague for a couple of meetings and some picture taking and beer sampling.

The trip was booked back in March before I raised my FRA premium to £100. Yes, I will pay £100 to avoid FRA and use DUS or MUC instead (Swiss is right out for this one, a double dose of Helvetic is more than I can bear).

BHX was swarmed, so I'm quite glad that I have priority security access, although the dirty looks you get for queue jumping are huge. An acquaintance was doing security, so we traded some banter.

As seems to be more and more common these days, we were late leaving BHX, this time they had us wait at the gate before herding us on the 737-300. The official excuse was weather, I just blame FRA. The 737's are starting to show their age and I understand they are getting a bit of a facelift to get them to last to 2020 as well as getting the not fully revealed Neue Europakabine which will cram in a couple more seat rows and provide an "enhanced" meal service. Enhanced is not a good word in airline speak.

However, to be fair, they have actually improved the food a bit, you now get two cheese sandwiches one of "cheddar" on white and one of "filthy Quark with green bits" on brown. Manchester and Heathrow get a choccy bar as well, but I really don't need one of those.

Added this your choice of beverage, and if you ask nicely you can get hot and cold. I chose black coffee which I forgot to get sugar for (I don't normally take sugar in my coffee but its needed with most airline coffees).

We had a good crew with an old school perfectly coiffed purser, LH crews can be a bit sloppy sometimes, but not to the extent of late, lamented BA Regional dinnerladies :-) Two rounds were made for drinks on the 90 minute flight,although this was probably aided by the approx 60% load. We got into FRA about 30 minutes late to, you guessed it, a bus remote stand.

To be far, we were only about a third of the way to Mainz and got delivered to the terminal in about 8 minutes despite the rather strange route which had us to a complete circle past the bus gates drop off (because we would have been facing the wrong way  - ist nicht moeglicht). Immigration didn't even bother to scan passports today, probably, thinking "Oh God, not him again", so it was quickly through to the transit security. 

The signs have changed and all pax for A are now directed to the small security at the bottom of the elevator. I chose to join the queue rather than go around to the other one, it took 8 minutes to do 8 people, mainly because they had the metal detectors on "fry" and about 50% of pax needed wanding. 

My gate was A17, so not too bad and I found my way through the Tunnel of Love to the A26 slum (Lufthansa Business Lounge) fairly quickly. The lounge wardens now scan your card and boarding pass before allowing you into the Gummibear motherlode. It was marginally better than last time I passed through, the "sports lounge" had increased the amount of room - albeit in a 80's DDR cafeteria sort of way and there were actually a couple of spare seats - once you had prised peoples bags off them. Also for the first time in my visits here, there were wurst, agreed turkey wiener wurst, rather than the real thing, but two of those with some sweet mustard and fried onions meant no cheese grenade on the next flight, so that's not a bad thing.

Anyway, after a 20 minute announced delay, they said they were boarding for Prague. After a quick stop at one of the unpleasant Raucherhuetten, I found out they were lying, the plane wasn't even at the gate. I couldn't cope with more A26, so I went and had a decent expresso instead. Eventually, we were called on a 100% full Airbus 321, although I did get a halfway decent seat. Most of the 45 minute flight appeared to be taxiing to a runway somewhere near Wiesbaden, although it would have had my flatmate in orgasm mode at the large number of DC-10's and MD-11's in the freight area.

The legroom was fairly OK in these seats as this photo shows, but remember I am 184cm and, cough, generously proportioned.

Despite the 45 minute flight time, we got a full beverage round and the offer of a different sort of cheese sandwich! I took a sparkling water and passed on the food. It was a heavy landing at PRG, but the bags arrived on the belt very quickly although yours truly was looking for his old bag not the very shiny new bag for the first five minutes.

One only mildly piratical taxi ride later (by Prague standards), I was at the hotel, I suppose I should do some work now.

Some Prague piccies and thoughts in a couple of days.