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Three days in Barcelona

Three days in Barcelona
via Lufthansa First Class
April 2010

Another 200,000 miles from my Amex MR account via AC Aeroplan and Mrs. SFO and I were back on our favorite SFO-Europe flight, LH's 9:00PM 346 to MUC. As luck would have it, we were the only two passengers in First tonight. What a treat! Needless to say, service was absolutely flawless and for all intents and purposes, it was a private charter. Yeah, yeah, the hard product is a little dated, but the soft product and LH cabin crew more than made up for it.

We were dropped off at SFO at 7:10P and proceeded to the HON/First counter where we were the only pax checking in. At security, the agent opened the First Class lane and we jumped ahead of 30 or so pax. Then we were off to the UA IFL which LH uses at SFO. Yes, Mrs. SFO now roll-eyes and accepts all my picture-taking...

The UA IFL was pretty much deserted as there was only one other pax in the lounge. The IFL is spacious and comfortable, especially when you have it to yourself. And pretty good close-up views of UA heavy metal.

But, there was no service staff visible anywhere for nearly the entire 45 minutes we were there. The food was pretty much leftovers from earlier in the day when UA flights were departing and some of it looked downright scary. We settled for nuts and veggies, which seemed the least dangerous.

And the limes and lemons looked like they might have been out for a couple of days...

OK, its the end of the day and the A-team cleaning crew hadn't been thru but the place just looked tired. The table between our first seats has crumbs and drink spill stains. And how many more weeks/months is it going to take until someone scrubs or paints the filth off the door to the bathrooms/showers.

On a positive note, the IFL dragon made a courtesy announcement that our LH flight would be boarding F in about 10 minutes. Perfect timing as we got to Gate 99 just as the GA opened the F/J boarding door.


 

San Francisco to Munich
Lufthansa 459
A340-600
9:00P-5:15P +1
April 2, 2010
Seats 2DG 

After seeing our F BP, one of the FA's greeted us and escorted us to our seats, where the Purser and Senior FA also welcomed us and stayed to chat for a few minutes. Would we like a glass of Champagne? But of course, what would Moomba do? Tonight, the 2000 Laurent-Perrier Brut Millesime. Excellent.

Our private charter to MUC.  Just the two us in First tonight. 

Our FA brought PJ's and amenity kits, and more champagne, of course! Although EF showed 1D occupied earlier in the day, no one showed as the Purser announced "boarding complete". An early push-back, short taxi and we were on our way. Shortly after take-off, more champagne and our menus.

Tonight's menu.

Warm scented (hint to AA and others) towel.

Our amuse-bouche tonight was a delicious artichoke dish with radish garnish.

Our smiling FA Laurent came down the aisle with the set up cart, announcing "show time". And indeed it was, an amazing two hour orgy of food and drink, that had my princess announcing "I'd go to Europe once a month if we can fly Lufthansa and this flight". Yikes! Would you settle for once a quarter??

The starter cart complete with the dry ice show...

Delicious Caviar and a glass of iced Smirnoff...

The starter tray.

After our iced vodka, we moved to a delicious 2007 Schloss Vollrads Spatlese trocken Reisling to accompany our starters.
Smoked Trout mousse, poached Leeks, Mustard Dressing. Fabulous.

Duck Confit, Sherry Vinaigrette. Excellent

Seared Watermelon, Goat Cheese Mousse, Banyuls Glaze, crushed Pistachio. A little weird for my palate.

Seasonal Fresh Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing.

Pork Tenderloin Medallions, Rice Cake, Spinach, Baby Carrots and Porcini Sauce... a little dry but nevertheless delicious and the 2006 Catena Alta Malbec was an excellent choice...

Cheese and Desert cart:

My cheese selections and a delicious Niepoort:

May as well use as many glasses as I can, since no one else is using them tonight.

So many to choose from...

My Rum Baba. Excellent.

And our goodnight bon-bons, and more Niepoort:

Whether it was the food, booze, late hour or combination, I crashed and woke up 5 hours later, apparently oblivious to turbulence that woke some of the resting FAs.

Although, we were still pretty stuffed, we had a little breakfast including made to order scrambled eggs.

After a beautiful landing, we arrived at the gate 20 minutes early.

Next up, the MUC First Class Lounge...

 

A long 15 minute walk and we arrived at the FCL.

Our good fortune continued as the agent informed us that since our MUC-BCN flight would board from the tarmac position, we would "have to take a limo tonight". Ah, what a shame!

Across from the check-in desk is the FCL's in house Customs/Immigration. There was no line and we were quickly processed and welcomed to the lounge. The MUC FCL is light years ahead of the UA FCL. Service staff everywhere, bringing drinks and snacks, serving meals in dining area, and keeping the lounge spotless.

I headed for the shower with Mrs. SFO deciding to try to sleep off her hangover in the one the two sleeping rooms.

At 19h00, we headed downstairs to the Limo Dispatch center. A few minutes later, we were on our way in a Mercedes S-class Hybrid to our MUC-BCN flight.

What a great night and day. Even the crappy LH Y disguised as Business Class connector didn't bother me today, especially as I was able to book row 1. From SFO-Europe, it doesn't get much better than LH First and the amazing FCL/FCTs in FRA and MUC.

After a late dinner and evening, we got up late and met our guide.  Highlights from two days of exploring beautiful Barcelona and Gaudi-inspired buildings.

 

The spectacular Sagrada Familia.

 

 

BCN-MUC
LH 4475
A321-200
12:05p-2:05p
Seats 4AC

For a comfortable, inexpensive BCN airport hotel, I would recommend the Renaissance Barcelona Airport hotel. The Complimentary shuttle van runs every 20-30 minutes depending on the time of day, with friendly and efficient drivers. This morning, we were the only pax on the 9:40a shuttle and arrived at T1 at 9:50a.

Very pleasant LH F/J check-in agent with whom we chatted for a few minutes as she efficiently checked us in for our BCN-MUC and MUC-SFO fights, adding HON Priority tags to our luggage. She volunteered that we had access to the Spanair Business Lounge and apologized for the lack of Priority security lane at BCN, refreshingly and candidly adding "it sucks here".

The Spanair Business Lounge is pretty basic and not worth more than a passing glance. Even with free booze, this lounge is sub-par and needs a complete makeover as I noticed stained/soiled fabric on most of the chairs I saw. This place even made the SFO AC look good.

Amazingly, most of the seating I saw featured stains of one kind or another. Perhaps a darker fabric next time??

We left after only 20 minutes as the atmosphere, people watching and shops outside in the beautiful BCN concourse were far more attractive.

I love AA domestically, but 100K BIS miles a year is enough for me. I'll take LH TATL any day over any NA airline.

Our inbound flight was delayed 15 minutes but that didn't stop the gate lice from queuing 15 minutes before the arrival of the inbound.

Although our 321 had a full five rows of J pax, service was excellent and the light lunch quite tasty. Our 2 person J crew was friendly and professional (and attractive), quickly evicting the one Y pax that tried to use the forward lav. Even the tight coach-like seating didn't bother me today, probably because we were reasonably on time, and had two hours to connect to our nearly 12 hour LH First Class MUC-SFO experience.

Very good cold shrimp, scallop, potato and vegetable salad.

Excellent fruit and cheese plate.

After 4-5 stops at the MUC concourse shops (5 days in Morocco and Mrs. SFO was going thru shopping withdrawal), we arrived at the lower level of the F lounge. The FCL agent reminded us that we were on our own to get to our gate (H-2) and that it would be at least a 10 minute walk plus security. Not quite like the FCT but an acceptable trade-off for a late PM departure and the 346.

MUC-SFO
LH458
A 340-600
April 12, 2010
4:10p-7:00p
Seats 2DG

A little more shopping on our way to the gate and we arrived just as they began boarding. We boarded after a big group of J gate lice and were welcomed by one of our two great First FAs and our Purser Barbara. We chatted at our seats for a while, learning that they were booked 6/8 today. In spite of that, we were the only pax in First until about T-10 when two pax showed up... 1A and 1K. The other two didn't show and we departed 4/8. And since we had the entire row 2 to ourselves and big no-see-through curtains separating F from J, it was very private.

Pre-departure champagne and then some more after take-off although Mrs. SFO wanted to try a good German beer. You go girl, I'll stick with the French, merci.

Today's dinner menu...

Our amuse bouche, today a delicious foie gras with mushrooms...

Caviar and vodka to start, forgot to take the photo before I dug in...

Crabmeat and avocado timbale, excellent...

Frisée, Rucola, Radicchio and Romain Lettuce with Carrots, Tomatoes and Bell Pepper with Wild Garlic Dressing which I apparently forgot to photo. Another champagne please!

Followed by the tasty and spicy Curry Bisque...

Grilled Scallops with Nutmeg and Vanilla Sauce (definitely looked like and tasted like a milder version of the Curry Bisque). Sugar Peas, Beans, Mushrooms and Green Pea Mash. Excellent, especially with the 2008 Benefizio Pomino Bianco...

Our fabulous Senior FA Dominic and the cheese and desert cart...

The Warm Banana Cake, Caramel Sauce and Macadamia Nut Ice Cream was fabulous...

And the post dinner drink selections together with Chocolates and Truffles...

Another sensational in flight LH dining experience!

After dinner, a female colleague of 1K came forward from J to chat and flirt, then more chat, flirt, then more flirt... first standing, then kneeling closer and closer to said 1K. If our Purser hadn't finally evicted her back to J, it might have been quite a show.

As others have noted, the LH IFE is pretty crappy and mine kept dying today even after a reboot. After a couple of hours of alcohol induced shut-eye, I moved over to 2A to read without the light disturbing the Princess, who after about six hours of sleep, reported that she had been scared during "the night" by "all the wind". ???? Not sure what she was talking since I was awake most of the flight and it was turbulence free.

SFO: Do you mean turbulence?
Mrs. SFO: No not turbulence, it was just really windy outside.
SFO: Are you sure you weren't dreaming this?
Mrs. SFO: No, it was really windy.
Some things are better left unanswered.

Just a little over an hour out, we had a delicious light snack of Sliced Tenderloin of Beef Mediterranean style, Orechiette Pasta and Marinated Artichoke Hearts. Delicious.

We touched down on 28L a few minutes early at 6:55p, and cleared C&I ahead of the masses. True to LH form, the HON tagged bags were off first (ours were #6 and 7) and we were home 40 minutes later.
Simply another superb LH experience!