Two months have passed in the blink of an eye, and it’s already time for me to start making my way back home again. I always find leaving Australia difficult, probably because it’s not so easy to get to, or at least not so quick. Of course, it doesn’t help that Australia is gradually moving into spring, which means that the weather during this last week has been gorgeous.
On my last visit to Australia, I had breakfast at The Pantry on Manly Beach on my last day. It’s where I promised that one day I’d be back. So I figure it’s a good omen if I do the same this time, in the hope that eventually I will return some day.
Getting to the airport
The regular ferry from Manly to Circular Quay takes between twenty and twenty-five minutes to make the journey. However, if you’re lucky or plan ahead, you might just end up on one of the old Manly ferries, which are slower and take about thirty minutes to make the journey. The Freshwater that you can see in the photo below is one of those old ferries. She makes her first journey from Circular Quay to Manly at 09h30 in the morning, and from then on every two hours. I enjoy taking the old ferry, it’s a far more pleasant and leisurely trip than than on the newer, faster catamarans which depart every twenty minutes.
From Circular Quay , the journey to the airport takes about twenty minutes by train or taxi.
Singapore Airlines checks in on row F, which is more or less in the middle of the check-in concourse.
Singapore Airlines occupies the whole of one side of row F of the check-in counters. There are nine counters in total, of which two are for Suites passengers. My bags are checked all the way through to Paris, and then I’m on my way.
There is a separate line for First and Business Class passengers for immigration. But don’t hold your breath, because right behind immigration there is only one queue for security for all passengers. It’s rather long too, but at least it moves quite fast.
Behind security, you are ejected into a large duty free area with a wide offering of Australian products, including the fabulous TimTam biscuits and Vegemite.
On my way to the lounge, I spot my aircraft trying to hide behind an Air Niugini and a Speedbird.
Most of the airside retailers and restaurants are still closed, including Mc Donald’s.
The Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge
Given the number of flights Singapore Airlines operates out of Sydney, it’s hardly surprising that they have their own lounge facility. There is one reception area for all passengers, and then those travelling in Suites access the First Class section through a door on the right side of the reception desk.
The lounge is small and has an nice, intimate feel. There is a dining area as well as a few large, comfortable armchairs by the window.
Although there is an extensive buffet available, waiting staff serve you directly at your seat. First I have some dim sum and a beef pie.
Then one of the waiters brings me two duck pancakes and chicken satay. The pancakes are not very good. I’ve never been much of a fan of duck anyway, but the pancakes are just very stiff, hard and too chewy to be enjoyable.
The satay are good though.
Boarding for our 15h00 departure starts at 14h30 from gate 57.
There is a separate queue for upper deck passengers. I pass through the gate and make my way down the airbridge. And that’s when it hits me with a pang that this is really happening and I’m about to leave Australia.
The First Class Suites are located to your left as you enter the aircraft on the upper deck, right behind the galley. There are six suites in a 1 + 1 configuration.
The suites are not quite as private as the Air France La Première seat because the walls do not reach all the way up to the ceiling and there are apertures in the door for crew to check on you. Nonetheless, it’s still quite private and quiet.
The main feature of the Suites, of course, is the bed that is separate from the seat.
One of my beefs with the Suite is that you have to swivel your seat around to face towards the door in the dining position. However, as can be seen in the photo below, that means that during the meal service you end up having to face the passenger sitting across the aisle. At least on today’s flight the Suite opposite mine remains empty.
The Suite offers a lot of storage space. Having said that, I also think there’s a lot of unnecessary space that seems wasted and hardly serves any purpose. Still, all in all it’s a very pleasant set up.
A set of B&O earphones, eye shades and socks are already at my seat when I arrive.
Singapore Airlines also offers a vanity kit to Suite passengers. Although to be honest, I think the Singapore Airlines vanity kit must be one of the most useless ones in the industry. Inside it are a scented candle and a small bar of hand soap. I mean, I get that the vanity kit is also intended as a small gift to passengers, but does it really have to be something that is so obviously useless? Shaving kits and toothbrushes are available in the two bathrooms.
The crew on this flight are excellent and really just very funny in their interaction with passengers. Even so, they’re also very efficient and provide the kind of flawlessly elegant service that Singapore Airlines is known for. Throughout the flight, the crew use my family name each time the address me.
As soon as I step aboard, one of the crew helps me stow away my things and settle in, while the other brings me a glas of the Dom Perignon. Out of curiosity, I ask how many bottles of champagne they go through on an A 380 in one flight. They tell me they usually have six bottles of the Dom outbound from Sydney, and if that runs out, they still have the Krug as the backup.
The menu for the flight is already at my seat when I arrive. The crew come to ask if I have any questions about the menu and to let me know they’re happy to help me with the wine pairings. I tell them I’ll only be having sparkling water with the meal. The crew’s attention to detail is really quite impressive: at no stage of the meal is my glas ever empty.
The meal – first service
After take off, the crew come to take my order. I’m a bit undecided, so the green kebaya flight attendant suggests that I should try a bit of everything from the starters and then see how I feel about the rest as we go along. I mean, if you really insist… The meal begins with an initial drink service and a small ramekin of warmed nuts.
And then the table is set for the meal.
First starter: we start with the traditional caviar service. Each passengers gets a whole jar, which is served with blinis, boiled egg, chives, lemon and crème fraîche.
The crew pass through the cabin with the bread basket once only, which is good because otherwise I’ll only end up overdosing on the garlic bread…
Second starter: seared salmon with pickled kohlrabi. This dish is similar to the one I had the last time I flew out of Sydney on Singapore Airlines. This time around though, it tastes much better. Especially the horseradish gives the dish a nice zing.
Third starter: the pancetta soup. Now this dish is really quite amazing. It’s a bit like a minestrone, but they’ve managed to make it more sophisticated and lighter at the same time.
Main course: chicken Sha Jehani style. For the main course I go with the Indian dish, which is chicken in a spicy gravy served with dhal and vegetables. This is a lovely dish and very fragrant.
Dessert: Orange and almond cake with custard. Oh my goodness, this is really just to die for. The custard complements the orange perfectly and the cake is perfectly moist and full of flavour. There are small pieces of caramelised nuts on the plate too, which give it a nice bit of extra crunch.
After all that, the red kebaya flight attendant comes to ask me if it’s okay for her to bring me the cheese selection. She looks rather crestfallen when I beg for mercy and tell her that I really, really couldn’t eat anything else because I’m so full. So we compromise and she asks me if then at least she can bring me some coffee.
After the meal I go to one of the two very large bathrooms at the front of the cabin to change into my pajamas, while the crew make up the bed for me to have a nap.
The bed is rather hard, which I find quite pleasant because its easier on my back and my two slipped discs. My only complaint is that for a guy my size the bed is just very narrow. It’s fine as long as you’re not moving. But every time I turn I’m very careful to make sure I don’t end up rolling off the bed.
The meal – second service
About ninety minutes out of Singapore the crew notice I’m moving around and ask me if I’d like them to remove the bedding. They also ask me if I’d like anything to eat before we land, so I’ll be able to go straight to bed on the connecting flight.
I decide to go with the seafood congee, which not bad. Although it’s also rather bland. For dessert I have a plate of fruit.
Arrival into Singapore
Our arrival into Singapore is smooth. We land and very slowly make our way to our parking stand at Terminal 3. I thank the crew as I disembark and they wish me a pleasant onward journey. I now have just under two hours to make my connection to Zürich. Sadly, Australia already feels far, far away.