Part 1 - viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1393511
I've stuck to my word and posted the second half quickly...
For the drive of the new BMW i8 Roadster we moved to the Castell Son Claret resort nestled in the leeward side of Tramuntana Mountains near the village of Es Capdella. It was a stunning resort, but we had the first night to ourselves as our group from India was not driving the next day, and so we headed into the village for a spot of dinner at the Restaurante Bar Nou, which I must admit was amazing value.
For 8 Euro, this was awesome value!
The next morning we had a late start as we were heading into the main city of Palma for some sightseeing. I used the delayed start to get through a lot of pending work - global connectivity makes it impossible to really away from work! Soon enough we headed into town and went to the Cathedral. Now, I could argue that once you’ve seen one medieval European Cathedral you’ve seen them all - particularly if you’ve seen the Notre Dame (six times in my case - every visit to Paris I somehow always end up there) but this was a very beautiful cathedral indeed, stunning stained glass and very peaceful.
Unlike some other cathedrals in Europe, there is a 7 Euro charge to enter. After spending some time walking around the historic town centre and Arab Quarter, we settled down for lunch overlooking the pier and I ate some fabulous fresh seafood, following which we stopped at a supermarket - I was keen on buying some local wine and olives before heading back to our hotel ahead of a formal reception at night. The hotel has a two-star Michelin Restaurant ‘Zaranda’ which catered the food at the reception for the car. But like elsewhere, service was relaxed, so relaxed that I couldn’t end up watching the first leg of the Liverpool - Roma game which I was keen to, it was a Salah show there! It got quite late following dinner but not late enough for a brisk walk to the complex gates in order to digest the meal - even though I had skipped one of the five courses.
Breakfast - Spanish Omelette
The next morning, we were all handed the keys to one i8 Roadster each - given the technical lowdown of the car and told to meet for lunch by 2.30-3.00 in the afternoon. We had five-six hours with these amazing machines. The only problem was that it was a slightly cloudy day and as I went higher and higher in the mountains it got quite cold indeed, especially given that I was wearing a t-shirt. And there seemed to be even more cyclists than usual - although my early start meant I avoided the worst of the rush at the start, alllowing me to put the car in ‘Sport’ mode and really give it the beans.
The i8 has always been a great sportscar and the addition of 9kW (12hp) to the battery pack may not seem like much but the combined front and rear traction from two power sources totalling 374hp does make it fun to drive on the twisties, especially with its super sharp steering. This isn’t BMW’s craziest car - in November I had driven the new F90 (G30) M5 with 600+ hp in a sedan! This was at Estoril, because a racetrack is the M5’s natural home - especially in this generation. The i8 is however a far more practical car - it doesn’t turn dinosaur juice into noise and it was disconcerting for some cyclists who had no idea that I sneaked in behind them in electric mode. The new battery with more power allows the car to go faster in all-electric mode (upto 120kmph in e-Drive and 75kmph in Normal) and has extended all-electric range (53 kilometers, enough for many commutes). I’ll post a couple of links to my reviews of the car at the end of this post. My car was in Donnington Grey incidentally.
Don't I look like a 1970's movie star
Love those doors!
The top part of the roof hinge is a 3D printed metal part in order to keep the weight down
Can't stop staring at it
Driving done, we pulled into the Yacht Club at Palma for lunch before heading back to the hotel while dropping one colleague off who was staying back. After reaching the hotel we freshened up before heading to Port d’Andtrax for dinner by the bay. Again, had a fabulous meal of fresh seafood - I had lobster ravioli and some great local wine and now it was time to travel again.
Sunset at Porte d'Andtrax
Dinner - I ate so much on this trip that I've hit the gym to lose the 2.5 kgs I gained
Night by the bay!
STD: 0925 ATD: 0933
STA: 1155 ATA: 1139
Boeing 737-8K2 PH-HSW
Who leaves Palma d’Mallorca on a Friday? Well, we did as did a third of a planeload onboard this flight. Which was operated by a 737-800 that was making its first return trip after returning from a winter break with Sun Country in the United States. Even though our flight was not that early, we got to the airport by 7AM, and after one person’s luggage fiasco (she got it the next day, by the way) we wanted to ensure our stuff made it home. It was through checked-in but we weren’t and as a result I couldn’t pick up any Mallorcan Gin at non-EU prices at duty-free which was a bummer!
With time to kill, a few of us proceeded to the Starbucks near our gate to have a morning joe and kill an hour. I used the time to get some more work done and call my wife back in Delhi. And then we headed to the gate, where the number of people looked positively sparse, but it was a Friday. I’m sure the inbound service was packed! We boarded this very green plane, which looked greener still as the sun (which had deserted us yesterday) streamed into the cabin. Load was very low as mentioned and I got all three seats on my row to myself. The Captain came out to introduce himself and the crew and gave some basics of the route - a very nice touch indeed A short taxi to the threshold of Runway 06R and we took off the same way we came in - the lovely sunlight, and given that I was seated perfectly for the light allowed me to capture a great takeoff and climbout.
This is the greenest cabin I've ever been in
See ya' PMI
Take-Off Video - PMI 06R - https://youtu.be/pkN_0MNpayo
See ya' Mallorca, 'twas fun
Service began while we were still over the Mediterranean, and I had the same thing I had bought on the inbound. A Bacon and Egg sandwich with a Coke Zero. But soon afterwards we were treated to some stunning views of the Pyrenees range, most of them still snow-capped. But soon after that we entered some cloud cover and I used this opportunity to catch up on an hours sleep. It got grey over Belgium as the F/O came over the intercom to announce that we would likely be using 18R so while we would still land early, the taxi to our gate (the D gates) might take a while. Plus, it was King’s Day in Holland, and there was a lot of holiday traffic for the long weekend. There were great views of the port of Rotterdam from the other side of the plane, but we did switch runways and come-in to land on 18C again, following which it was not a long taxi to the C gates that we were using but a company 737 was at our parking position necessitating a five minute wait for a gate.
Trying portrait mode on the OnePlus 5 with a CFM56
More mountains... I'll drive through these as well someday
Not very creative in choosing food
The Dutch coast.
Landing - AMS 18C - https://youtu.be/2RIKsTk5jDs
But after we parked our lightly loaded plane emptied out rapidly and we passed a crowded departure area where the plane was ready for its next load of holiday makers. Once all of us collected, we had been spread all over the plane, we proceeded to the transfer check-in counters to collect our boarding passes. The system told us that our bags had been through checked (for now) and even though we did not have priority tags on them, hopefully they would make it to India.
Not a Fokker farm anymore, they've changed the crop it seems!
The neighbour had an interesting livery
STD 1425 STA 1505
STA 0145 ATA 0135
PH-BHL Boeing 787-9
There were only three of us going to DEL, the remaining five were catching KL873 to Mumbai which operates four-times a week. Immigration was a breeze with a bit of good-humoured banter with the Dutch immigration officer. Definitely one of the more pleasant aspects of Schiphol compared to other hubs in Europe. Following this, I picked up some Dutch cheese, chocolate and Genever. While KL871 was scheduled to leave from F06, we went to the KLM Crown Lounge near the G-gates and boy, was it packed. The afternoon bank of Asia, Africa and US departures as well as SkyTeam status holders meant that seating wasn't all that easy to come by. Me and two other colleagues first sat at the bar before moving to a more open space a bit further away from the food and drink. Not that there was much at lunch at the lounge - some salads, cold cuts and cheese along with soup and meatballs as the only warm offerings. If one was to get fed it would have to be on the plane.
Our Mumbai colleagues left a bit before two for their 1415 departure which was from an adjoining gate and me and another colleague, Sid from NDTV left a bit later after finishing some work for our 1425 departure. Boarding was just beginning when we reached the gate and we were quickly ushered through the gate when I stopped to enquire whether my suitcase had been loaded onto the plane and Sid did the same. When the answer was positive, I heaved a sigh of relief and went down the forward boarding gate to my assigned seat. Sid had chosen 3A and when pushback was delayed thanks to a problem with the Panasonic IFE which needed to be reset multiple times we were just chatting and the cabin supervisor, a lovely Dutch lady came and joined us. Being a day flight, I found the staff far more convival than on the flight from Delhi. The delayed pushback apparently allowed a couple of passengers from a connecting Delta flight to make it onboard as well. But the Captain came on the intercom informed us that we would use Runway 9 to take off and also we would make up whatever delay at Schiphol in the air. All the window seats in Business Class were taken, but most of the middles were empty, load was around 20/30.
Eventually, I sat back on my seat, put on some Big Bang Theory - it was the only Comedy Show of which KLM had a box-set, they really should get some more box-sets even at the cost of overall choice, single episodes make no sense whatsoever and watched as we started our journey to Delhi. We lined up and waited for our turn to take-off and again, the noise levels of the 787 are just so astoundingly quiet.
Love these overwing gates at AMS, never used them though!
See ya' Holland
Drinks service started soon after and I had a Gin and Tonic. KLM serves Bols Damrak Gin and gives a choice of warm nuts in a bowl or Dutch cheese. I’m a sucker for cheese so I greedily went through two bowls of cheese even before my meal which began with a Tomato Soup and Salad, although I switched to a Chilean Chardonnay for my main course - of North Sea Cod. All this while watching Season 11 of Big Bang Theory before switching to the reboot of Jumanji which was stupidly silly and a perfect airline watch. After service, which had ended with some ice-cream, the lights were gradually dimmed and everyone wound down.
G&T with Gouda. Nice.
Tomato Soup and salad. Best course of the meal.
Dutch Cod, Brown Sauce... well, not bad, but I've had better
When in doubt have ice-cream. And a second dessert.
I was wide awake though after my meal, so I decided to finally watch ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’. What an awesome movie! Not usually the stuff I watch onboard a plane, I stick to animation/comedy because I really don’t want to think, but this was amazing. The biggest positive about flying nowadays is that I get to catch up on movies - on domestic sectors thanks to loading up Netflix movies/episodes on my mobile and internationally thanks to IFE. I guess low-cost international carriers are experimenting by removing screens from seat-backs and I’m sure the fares will be awesome, but I’m not not sure I can deal with the screen-less future of long-haul travel just yet.
cabin ambient lighting comes on close to DEL
KLM also had a buy-on-board Wi-Fi service which started at 5 Euro for 20MB (I think) which was the lowest amount, anyway no point on this flight which had started in the evening India time, so the work week was over. Until now I have only used WiFi onboard EK flights, and EK prices it a bit reasonably and well, too narrow for video, but at least they have live TV.
Around 12 midnight India time, the second service began again with a drinks round. The second meal, much like that on the onward flight was well, meagre. I mean if you can count the pieces of mince in the lamb pie, you know there is a problem. I had however, fortified myself during the movie with chips and chocolate, so it wasn’t so bad for me but I did hear a lot of the other passengers cribbing that the second meal could have been a bit more… well, filling. I have flown LH and BA in Business Class cabins into India in 2017 and they both had better and more filling food and both times, the offerings in the respective lounges was better.
Arrival was a bit before scheduled time, but landing on runway 10 meant a long taxi back before parking quite far away necessitating a very long walk to immigration and luggage retrieval. Thankfully, despite lacking priority tags, our suitcases came out fairly quickly and I was in my ride home less than 30 minutes after deplaning.
What do I feel about KLM? I loved the business-class seats on the 787, direct aisle access and a lie-flat bed made a world of difference. But that is only on the 787 and not any of their other aircraft. Given KLM’s tight scheduling, aircraft swaps for a 772 or 77W are quite common on this sector. Much better seats and layout even compared to LH and definitely BA’s Club World in my opinion. Also, while LH does put the A359 on the Munich service, who on earth designed a 48 seat business cabin with two toilets? But LH on the whole have the best business-class amenity kits of any European carrier. Food could be better, drinks are decent, but I would mark down the lounges at AMS, but for lounges you really can’t beat Swiss at ZRH. I’ve not flown AF in a premium cabin and well, EK is EK - a bit too bright IMO but still up there. Of course, the little Delft Blue houses you get as a souvenir is still a brilliant touch making up for the lacklustre bag. Would I fly them again, if I was paying? Certainly on the 787, and if connections were relatively decent.
My i8 Roadster Review in The Pioneer - Do read this, and other reviews as well http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/ ... -isnt.html
My Instagram feed has tons of planes, trains, cars and bit of food... if that is your thing. https://www.instagram.com/kushanmitra/
A couple of my earlier TR's
Germany/Portugal LH/J TP/Y Part 1 viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1378025
Germany/Portugal LH/J TP/Y Part 2 viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1378853
A quick DEL-DXB-DEL run with 9W J/Y viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1375425