It had been a long day at work, and I had hardly slept the night before, as my girl friend, who had come down from Dudley for the weekend, had fallen ill and was up most of the night.
It had started off as a terrible weekend together, although this was no fault of hers, and I didn't think it would get any better when she said she wanted to go into Croydon. I left work and met her at the hotel and we set off to Croydon. We both had time off in April, and were not quite sure what we were going to do.
Walking through the shopping centre in Croydon, my Girl friend set her eyes on the Thomas Cook travel agents, and we went to look at Holidays. Very soon we were being talked through potential holidays. The weekend had got very exciting, as we agreed that we would venture out to the Algarve together. It may have been a month away, but we were both excited.
This holiday was exciting for many reasons, and also very special. We had been together for four months and were about to embark on our first ever trip abroad together. This trip was also special for me personally as it would be the first time I travelled abroad without my parents.
Looking at it from an aviation viewpoint, the holiday would close an eight year gap of not flying, way too long. I had not flown since 2006, when I flew on a British Airways A321 from Amsterdam back to London Heathrow.
Two months had passed, and the day was finally here!
Arriving at East Croydon station around 3am, it was cold, and miserable, and to top it off, I was not feeling well. Still there was some excitement! The journey to Gatwick was fast, and quiet, the only people on the train were airport workers, crew members, and other holiday makers travelling to the airport.
At Gatwick South Airport, we checked in and made our way through security. I personally love Gatwick, both the South and North terminals, although, the South terminal is full of shops and quite welcoming. We made our way to frankie & benny's for breakfast, offering a reasonable view of the airfield.
The buzzing atmosphere of being at the airport brought on the excitement of flying again. It wasn't long before I was feeling better. We made our way to a gate and then took a bus to a remote stand where our aircraft was waiting. I wasn't sure what to expect, and wondered what equipment would be used.G-OJEG, our aircraft to Faro. Built in 1999 G-OJEG and G-MARA are two of the oldest of the A321s in Monarchs fleet
We were amongst the first to Board. It was something to six in the morning, but the aircraft was loud and full of life as the passengers boarded. Upon boarding the aircraft, it was clear to see that this was one of Monarch's older bords. The lights were not as Bright as later A320 family member cabins, and the wall panels had a typical 90's Diamond like print, printed on the window panels . Despite the old age of the plane, it was still in good condition.It was still very early, but a good 95% of passengers on this flight were holiday makers flying away from a miserable United Kingdom to a Sunny Portugal
As we waited for other passengers to board, the impatience began to kick in, as all I wanted to do was fly again! However, the pushed back followed a little later, as the IAE engines came alive, and we taxied to the runway. It was great to hear the sound of an A321 IAE engines again.
It's one thing hearing the engines on a youtube video, but it's always better in person! The runway of Departure today, was runway 26L. We turned onto the Runway, and waited for around a minute, before the beautiful IAE engines powered up, and we were taking off! What an amazing feeling!
However as we began to rotate, a child in one of the rows behind began to shout "We are all going to die!" Charming! It was a smooth limb, and it wasn't long before we were above the clouds and on our way to Faro.Empty seats waiting to be filled prior to departureTaxiing to the Runway (26L)Cruising somewhere above France!A view of the Cabin inflight
For the first hour, the flight was smooth, and quiet, but it wasn't long before the children behind started to act up. One child started crying as they had an earcache and the other started complaining about feeling sick. I was praying that she wasn't sick, and that the other child would soon be relieved of their painful earache.
There was some turbulence en route, as the aircraft seemed to drop, and shook a little. But after that, it all smoothened out, the kids behind settled down and went to sleep. The crew were friendly enough, although they seemed as if they just didn't want to be there. There were no smiles given from the crew when boarding.
As we began our descent into Faro, the weather began to change, and the blue skies became grey. I was hoping that we had left the poor weather behind in the UK, but only time would tell...
We emerged from the clouds, and the coast of the Algarve could be seen below! It was around 9am, so it was going to be a day well spent in the Algarve. The landing was smooth, and we were soon disembarking G-OJEG, and on a bus to the terminal. Our only concern was finding the transfer.Descending through the cloudsWelcome to Albufeira!
The airport at Faro, isn't very big, and it's simple to navigate around. It didn't take long for us to clear customs, and find our coach transfer.
We were directed to our coach, and were soon on our way to Albufeira. The journey was around 40 minutes, although we did stop at other hotels. Albufeira
Albufeira lies on the Algarve coast, and is full of tourists. The town centre has a great deal of shops and restaurants, as well as Sandy beaches. If you wish to leave Albufeira, there are buses, and a railway station, although the station isn't very close to the town centre. A bus or taxi are required to get to the station, which offers services to Faro, and Lisbon I believe. It's generally sunny and warm, and the locals are friendly. A little walk away from the town, you'll find Albufeira Marina, with a few places to eat, and if I remember correctly, you could go go karting. It's also a great place to grab an ice cream and watch the fish swimming around.View of Albufeira beach from our hotel, Hotel Do CerroLooking Towards Faro from our HotelAdd to dictionary Old Town, great for souvenirsSunset over the AlgarveSunrise over the Algarve!Albufeira Scenery
After a relaxing week in The Algarve, the time to return had come. It was an early rise, as we finished packing, double checking and making sure that we had everything. It was a sunny day, and my mood dipped as I realised I would be back in The UK before long. This was the first ever holiday away with a partner, so after spending so much time together, I would be returning to my own bed later on. Sigh
We were soon on the transfer coach, stopping at a few hotels before making our way back to Faro. We got off of the coach and made our way to the check in desk. The queue for Monarch was quite long, as holiday makers queued up for their flights back to London, Manchester, and Birmingham. As stated, my mood wasn't very good as a great holiday had come to an end, but I was in for a treat. A treat which would cheer me up.
As we checked in, we were asked what kind of seat we would like, aisle, or window. Upon hearing this I immediately began to suspect we might have an A330 back home! Although at this time, it could have easily been an A300, but I had forgotten they were operated by Monarch.
We went through the usual procedures at the airport. I can't remember much about Faro airport. I remember being transferred by bus to the aircraft. My eyes lit up, as I set my eyes on the Monarch A330-200. Parked next to a Monarch A321, and A320, the A330 seemed like a beast!
This would be my first Airbus widebody ever. And my first widebody since 2004 when I flew with Alitalia to Lagos from Milan.Boarding the A330 of Monarch, 1 of 2 in service.
The aircraft was one of two Airbus A330's in service with Monarch. MSN 265, a 1999 model, G-EOMA was the A330 on todays flight. Now with Wamos Air as EC-MJS, I now realise how fortunate I was to be able to fly on these Airbus A330s which were soon to be retired from Monarch.
Once on board, I did not hesitate to look around the large gentle giant. As G-OJEG, the A321 we flew on, delivered in the same year as G-EOMA, I saw that the designs were quite similar. Even the seats were the same in Economy!
This was one of the older classic A330's, which had the original interior (pre 2005) design. As we began push back, the Rolls Royce trent 700 engines started, and we were soon taxiing to the runway.
The distinct sound of the Trent RR 700 engines on the A330s, is one engine whine I will remember. For such a big aircraft, it did not use much of the runway, and rotated much faster than I expcted, there again, only half of the seats were occupied.
The flight was smooth, very smooth. Flying on the A330, was a rewarding experience. There was no turbulence, and despite being an older aircraft, it felt very sturdy! Cruising at 43 000ft, I thoroughly enjoyed this flight. The only drawback, was the lack of IFE in the seats, for an aircraft which DID do long haul flights too. But seeing as this was a 2 and bit hour flight this wasn't a big issue. Although I could see it being an issue on a long haul flight. Having said this, I am not going to bash Monarch for not having IFE.. Their premium economy seats, were fitted with IFE in the seats, so everyone travelling in premium economy had their own personal screen.
We soon arrived over the UK, and this could be seen as the weather changed, the scenic views of green fields was replaced by grey clouds, which we descend into. The next thing we saw was Horsham town as we descended into a rainy miserable Gatwick. It was a smooth Touch down, and a great flight. We taxied to the South terminal, where we disembarked the A330.G-EOMA at a wet and miserable Gatwick
So we were back in the UK, and the holiday was over. But I was happy to have experienced the A330-200. It would soon be time to part from my girlfriend as she returned to Dudley, and I returned to my parents. But there was a twist. As none of us were working the next day, my girlfriend asked if I wanted to return home with her. Of course! What a great end to a great holiday. Spending more time with such a wonderful lady.
This may have been the end of our trip, but it was the first of many! We went on to fly with Monarch a few months after to Rome from Birmingham, and London Gatwick to Barcelona, although we returned with British airways on a 737-400 which was soon to be retired. And many more flights, including ta Thomson Dreamliner to and from Cancun. The Thomson 787 trip report can be found on Airliners.net, my first ever trip report. So if you enjoyed this report, please read the Thomson 787 report!
In a few days I will be flying to Dubai with Royal Brunei, so If I can do a trip report on this flight, I will do it.
Next year I have another two flights with Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic in May, so I will also cover these flights, which will be honeymoon flights.
Thanks for reading the report, and I hope to see your reviews!
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