Madrid – Beirut – London – Madrid …. In 55 hours !

Work pushes you hard … but you can always experience something new … Time for some reviews!
Alitalia Flight – Madrid to Beirut
It is very hard to get used to in-flight services after leaving in the Middle East for 10 years… But removing the nice-to-have perks, i had a pleasant flight with Alitalia, both from Madrid to Rome, as well as then to Beirut. Good service, both on the ground as well as on the plane.
And at Rome i had the chance to grab a quick Ramen at AJISEN RAMEN. Very decent Ramen, especially considering we are in Europe and not in Asia!
Beirut Airport – Unnecessary waste of time
We all know that security is of major concern these days, especially around flights! However, it really pisses someone off when you have to waste more than 1 hour in an immigration line that is not even that full! One thing i learned after a lot of trips to Saudi Arabia, is that things can be improved!! 😃 Bad signs to determine which queue one should take plus very slow process, with more people to take care of one line compared to the other, etc… After a very early bird start, all you want is to get to the hotel. But then you need a taxi …
IHG … Are you really one hotel chain?
Passed through immigration (finally!) and needed a transportation to the hotel. As i was staying at Crowne Plaza, i saw a booth of Intercontinental and thought “great, they may be able to arrange a car to the hotel”. The lady did not even know what Crowne Plaza was (she actually thought it was Ground Plaza 😃 ) and after talking to many people, the response was the easiest one: “This is just for Intercontinental, you can take a taxi”. So there was I, taking some money and getting a taxi!
Taxi? Are you sure?
I lived in Lima for a small period of time, so I have seen really interesting taxis in my life. But that was a very interesting ride. The driver was polite and drove properly, but the conditions of the taxi, especially considering I took it at the airport, were very very below any expectations and did not really set a well a good perception of the city!
Crowne Plaza … Good Room and Service Option … but very bad Club Lounge.
I must say that in most of the IHG hotels I stay, the fact that they recognize my loyalty to the group, pleases me a lot. No questions or excuses, they always try to offer me something extra, just because I am a frequent guest. This time it was not different. Good welcoming, good room experience. I mentioned below that I like when the rooms are well planned. Even though it is not a super new hotel, the rooms were well planned, well placed power outlets (yeay!), welcome fruits. The only let down was the Club Lounge. At the check-in they told me i had access to the club, so i went to check it out. It was very disappointing. Very small, poor food options. Not worth it at all. Sometimes, in my view, it is better not offer something if it will not play positively!
ABC Mall in Beirut — Good option for dinner: Abdel Wahab
I was missing some good arabic food, so maybe i was a bit biased, but the food at Abd El Wahab was very nice. The place is great, the service was good and everything in terms of food was amazing. From the Fatoush, to the raw kebbeh, to the Sish Tawouk, to the Hommous with meat … I had a very nice dinner and recommend anyone visiting Beirut!
Mayline … a boutique cafe worth visiting if you are around
Had a meeting at the Parallel Tower and had the chance to stop by Mayline for a coffee in the morning and later for a quick bite. Very nicely designed coffee shop / restaurant. Modern, chic and with a good food. I recommend the Quinoa Salad (without cucumber, please!)!
Time to take the plane again
The name of the blog is not a coincidence. I fly a lot! So it was time to take the plane again. Left the meeting and headed straight to the airport. I had an overnight flight from Beirut to London, leaving 7pm and arriving 7am via Dubai. Luckily I was flying Business Class, so i could sleep before my next meeting, at 10am in London.
Emirates / Qantas Experience
I flew a lot with Emirates and in general I am a big fan. They set for me a new standard of how flying should be. I must admit that lately they have let me down in terms of services, but the quality of the plane and especially in the Business Class it is very good and as expected the flight from Beirut to Dubai was very smooth. Had chance to work on my meeting, have a good dinner and even watch some series before landing.
With Qantas i did not have much experience, and it was my first time flying on their A380.

I must say, if I compared to Emirates A380, i prefer the layout of Emirates. The layout on Qantas is very traditional 2 x 2 x 2 seats, but not very much space around the seats, so when you want to work, or read, etc… it is just not as comfortable. Service-wise they were very good. Very attentive crew, and respecting your wish to sleep (which on Emirates sometimes i did not get this!). Did not eat as I was sleeping the whole flight, so this will be subject to my next experience with them!

London: Heathrow Express, how a good service should be
Normally leaving the airport going to the city can be a very painful process (as you could see in my Beirut experience).
heathrowexpress1012aWhen landing in Heathrow and going to the city of London, they managed to remove that pain. Easy process, with sales people offering the ticket right when you pass immigration, minimizing queue times and a simple trip that take you all the way to London Paddington. I was lucky, I agree, that i was actually staying at Paddington for my meeting. But overall I loved the service!
Heading back now, on Iberia.
Iberia is currently my airline of choice. As I live in Madrid, it is one of the few that could offer direct flights. First time trying their A340 plane. Must say, it is better than the usual flights I take, with entertainment service on board at least. Nothing too special, but delivers on the expectation.
Can wait to land in Madrid, take a taxi and go home. My heart is missing my three love ones big time!
See you at the next check-in! 

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