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Bob in South America. Part 1 – The Journey
When I planned this little trip, the plane spotter in me checked out a number of routes and flight combinations before I decided that the only way to get to Santiago in comfort and at a reasonable price was to cash in my prized BA miles. All 140,000 of them, collected over the years on my credit card and now the passport to a flat bed on British Airways to the Southern Hemisphere.
I really wanted to make the trip special for me, so Club World was the way to go for a modest outlay of taxes, fees and charges.
My journey starts at Manchester, with a domestic connection to Heathrow and the majesty of Terminal 5, the Richard Rogers designed temple to travel west of London. Oh, how I would browse the international shops, peruse the duty free and relax in the BA lounge ahead of my flight to Buenos Aires via Sao Paolo. So landing on a remote stand in London and deplaning onto a bus to shuttle you from one side of this vast terminal to the other was not the ideal start, leaving me a scant 45 minutes to pick up my currency (pre-ordered to save nearly 9% on the walk up fee – kerching) and board the shuttle train to the gate, where the jumbo jet was waiting.
I arrived a little hot under the collar. Not quite the relaxing flight change I had envisaged. However, once onboard and settled into my upper deck seat, I really felt my holiday had begun. Who can resist complimentary champagne before take off, an excellent dinner with wine and some entertainment from my personal TV before lying back to sleep my way to the first stop.
Sleep took a little while. You see, you have to get the seat position right. And the instruction sheet for adjusting the seat is, well to put it mildly, a work of art in itself. Should I be upright, or in the Z position? Or maybe the lounge position, or just plain old flat? And how do you get the footrest down without the privacy screen separating me from the other passengers going up and down like Zebedee on the Magic Roundabout.? A good while later, technologically challenged Bob had it all mastered.
Anyway, Jim jams on, pillow on the bed and rug to keep me warm. And a cheeky nightcap of brandy and a hot milk had me out like a baby. To be fair the only similarity to the baby will have been the dribbling, but less said about that the better.
After breakfast, (another feast from the excellent crew) we land in Sao Paolo for the aircraft to be cleaned and fuelled before the short hop to Buenos Aires. The weather looked overcast, maybe a reflection on the Brazilian election this weekend, but by the time we had reached Buenos Aires the sun was out and things were looking up.
A quick change to board a LAN Chile flight for the final leg to Santiago and I was on my way. What I was not expecting was the snow capped Andes. I knew we would cross them, but never expected we would descend into Santiago over the mountains. Absolutely beautiful and awe inspiring.
So I had arrived. 24 hours after leaving home, four flights later in Santiago. Tired but happy and raring to go…….