I always feel a sense of sadness whenever I leave a country that I love. Sometimes at the end of a trip you are at a stage where you are ready to come home but I never feel that with Italy. But it's knowing that at the end of two flights I'll be reunited with Mr NQN and our little dog Mochi that I become excited and I'm keen to explore what Emirates Business Class has in store for the two flights from Bologna to Dubai and Dubai to Sydney.
My first leg home is from Bologna to Dubaiand I start the journey in the Marconi lounge, the sole business class lounge at Bologna airport. Having just eaten breakfast at the hotel I'm not overly hungry and it's a fairly basic lounge although comfortable. The wifi is shared with the rest of the airport which means that it's free but a little slow and there's a fridge of drinks that you can help yourself to as well as a few food snacks.
What the lounge does have though is a fast track lane so at the exit of the lounge is a special lane that gets you through security. I board the Emirates 777-300R plane. It's the same plane type I came over in and makes up the bulk of the airlines' fleet.
My seat 10D is an aisle seat in a 2x3x2 configuration. It isn't a particularly full flight and the middle seat is free.
They offer champagne, apple and orange juice and I take a champagne which I sip as they bring around hot towels. Menus are in the seat pocket. Shortly after take off they bring out drink orders. My Virgin Mary no ice comes with a mixed premium nut selection and by that time I realise that I am very hungry (around 4pm).
Because I am feeling exceptionally hungry I ask if I can have two appetisers if there are extra and the lovely Welsh cabin attendant does a quick count and that is no problem. There is one appetiser that they say is a signature from their Italian destinations. It's a red mullet agrodolce style. The fish is tender and it comes with pickled sweet and sour onions. The only thing is that it is tough to cut through the skin with the knife provided. The green pea pannacotta is interesting although at this stage I am mostly interested in the peas and salad around it.
They bring around garlic bread (my weakness on planes along with cheese) and they give me two pieces of soft, buttery bread. The main meal is a chicken confit with truffled mash, beans, cherry tomatoes and a porcini sauce which is quite strong.
I resist the urge to order cheese (they aren't my favourites) so I go for the chocolate mousse cake with a mango salsa. It's rather good and I end up eating much more of it than the "little bite" that I promised myself.
I settle myself in for some television watching. I just finished watching the final episode of the final series of Downton Abbey so I am eager to watch the Christmas special (the final, final episode ;)). Alas it seems that it is down and the same lovely Welsh flight attendant checks for me on other screens (she's a huge fan too). I take it as a sign that I should sleep to get back into the Sydney time zone and the flight attendant then places two Valrhona truffles on my armrest as I sleep.
We land in Dubai late at night where I have a couple of hours at the lounge before I board the final leg. I go back to the Health Hub to see what their late night selection is like. Even a full time glutton like me really enjoys the food at this newish outlet. There's chicken salad and a mixed vegetable salad (both delicious) and wish we had more airport food like this rather than the bread/carb heavy items that seem to dominate most airport selections. I take a shower and feel refreshed for the next flight.
I go to board the A380 located at a gate which is right near the business class lounge. I like the more spacious layout of the A380 and can see why people book flights according to planes. I'm sitting in the centre section on the right hand side. There's more space for each passenger to put things and a selection of self serve drinks and even handbags which depending on the plane itself sometimes have to go in the luggage compartment for takeoff and landing.
Although it is 2am at the time of departure we are served breakfast to get us into the destination's time zone as it is 6am Sydney time. There are a choice of four items: two egg dishes, pancakes and a cold cut plate. I want something savoury so I go for the cold cut plate.
A plate of fruit comes out with croissant and butter and the fruit is tasty and thirst quenching. The flight attendant forgets my continental plate (it's his first day, bless) and another crew member brings it to me. There's chicken breast, beef pastrami, Red Leicester cheese and plain and herbed labne.
The lights go out almost immediately allowing people to sleep. I fall asleep with a movie playing in my ears for about 6 hours. I sleep well as they've added mattresses to the seats so you don't feel the folds of the seat when you sleep which makes a big difference in comfort.
Around five hours before landing I change all my clocks to Sydney time and have a cup of tea. I roam around stretching my legs and take a seat at the bar in the back section and read a magazine before returning to my seat resisting the temptations lined up at the mini bar.
You really could eat yourself silly if you were so inclined. Apart from the snacks in the bar, there are light snacks on the menu on offer from a chicken soup, Thai green curry, lamb pie and apple tart.
I try to stay awake to get back into time so I make use of the on board wifi. The first 10mb is free which is enough for reading emails and it's just $1US for every block of 500mb afterwards. It can be sluggish depending on the number of users but hey it's wifi in the air for $1USD!
Dinner is served. I start with a creamy mushroom soup served with a warm roll, side salad, butter and an olive oil and balsamic dressing. I also want the Arabic mezze because that is my favourite appetiser but I don't want to be greedy especially since I asked for two appetisers on the other leg.
The main is a prawn biryani, full of prawns and spiced rice and sauce and topped with cashew nuts and onions. I really enjoy the intensity of spice and the heat in this dish as it doesn't hold back.
I also really like the cheese selection on this flight so I order that for dessert. There's an Old Amsterdam, Isle of Man extra mature cheddar, Gorgonzola Piccante DOP and a Pave d'Affinois with water crackers, dried fig and apricot, walnuts, and a glass of port. And when we arrive shortly after I feel refreshed and rested!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you book certain planes? What is your food weakness on a plane? What do you think of wifi on planes? Do you use it or prefer to keep out of contact?
Emirates flies from Australia to Dubai 11 times a day, including seven daily flights on Emirates flagship A380 aircraft. For more information or bookings visit www.emirates.com/au.