Woke up pretty early, and considered taking the hotel shuttle down to the subway station to grab some Starbucks, but it was absolutely pouring rain out, so rested around the hotel a bit before giving up and catching the KAL Limo Bus back to the airport. I was the only one on the bus until the last stop, so had my own luxury coach:
No traffic at all, took barely an hour to get to Incheon Airport, where Heaven awaited me:
I’ve had every name under the sun on my Starbucks glasses – Justin being the most common, but also Jadon, Trason, Mason, you name it. This was a new one, however:
Friends had told me that after check-in, Asiana agents would escort you through security and passport control, all the way up to the lounge. Well my agents were friendly and helpful, but after they escorted me to the security line they left. No big deal at all, and I actually get kind of uncomfortable with people being overly helpful, but was just surprised based on what others had told me.
I had about two hours to kill in the lounge, which was nice, and I had a couple glasses of champagne while catching up on this blog a bit, and soon it was time to wander to the gate for the main event. Again, I’d been told there was an escort from the lounge to the gate, but no such thing was mentioned.
Asiana Flight 541
Seoul/Incheon, Korea (ICN) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
Depart 12:50, Arrive 16:35, Flight Time 11:45
Boeing 747-400, Registration HL7418, Manufactured 1994, Seat 3A
Not one, but two stellar champagnes were on offer. Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill 2000 and Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaire 1995. I give Asiana a lot of credit for not taking the easy way out with Krug or Dom, and offering two different stellar champagnes. I went with the Pol Roger, and wasn’t disappointed at all.
Pajamas. And yes I wore them.
What’s to eat today?
The fois gras mousse to start, with another glass of the Pol Roger:
Table set and ready for lunch/dinner. The rose is a nice touch, and not only was there a bread plate, it was a fancy shape:
Mmmm, caviar. Yes, I asked for a second serving, but unfortunately they couldn’t offer one.
Next up was the salmon carpaccio. Simple, yet very good:
The creamy chicken soup. It was quite good, and just the right amount.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the salad. It was a couple of lettuce leaves drizzled with olive oil and a pile of mushrooms. Nothing very creative there, but not bad.
Palate cleanser…never seen another airline go this far.
Grilled wagyu beef skirt. Honestly, the most disappointing part of the meal. I was getting pretty full so didn’t bother asking for anything else, but it was cooked nearly well done and pretty tough. The sauce was good though and made it edible 😉
Simple fruit and cheese course. Again, nothing imaginative or ultra creative with the cheeses.
Delicious tart to finish off the meal, with a delicious glass of ice wine.
Stuffed and happy, I passed out for about four hours of solid sleep. When I woke up, literally after about two minutes – the perfect amount of time to become conscious enough for a simple conversation – the flight attendant was there asking what she could bring me to eat. I said I was fine, and she’d have none of it. Not really a croque monsieur, but delicious:
Watched some tv for a few hours, before it was time for the arrival meal. Beat and quail egg salad to start, which was fantastic. Note the glass of Johnny Walker Blue. I asked for it with one ice cube, which she had trouble grasping the concept of.
The lamb tenderloin, which was a nice medium and way better than the beef from the main meal.
…and desert. Note that even on the third try, she just could not get the concept of “Johnny Walker Blue, one ice cube.”
All in all, an excellent flight. Comparing it to my ANA first flight, I’d say they were roughly on par with each other. Both crews were outstanding, and provided the perfect service that was always there when you needed it, refined and polite, but not the least bit intrusive or overbearing. Tie on the service…both were outstanding. I’d give a slight edge to ANA on the meals, but a slight edge to Asiana on the beverages. On the seat, ANA definitely wins with the cube suites while Asiana still has old school first seats. Sure, they are individual and go flat, but there’s little to no privacy.
Quick trek through immigration, and since my scuba gear was still en route to DC I didn’t have to wait for bags and was quickly on the S Bahn to my hotel, the Le Meridien Park Hotel, Frankfurt. I’d never stayed here, but a friend recommended it to me as his favourite SPG in Frankfurt so I decided to give it a try. When I found out it was only two blocks from the Frankfurt Hauptbanhof that was even better.
I was less convinced, however, by my room number:
The room itself was fine. Average since, nicely refurbished and everything was clean and new. I turned down the junior suite upgrade because it was in the historical wing and not refurbished. The room was nice enough, the location was great, internet was fast, and the staff was very helpful…especially for the price, can’t say enough good things about this hotel.
Jumped on the S-Bahn and headed to Zu den 12 Aposteln for dinner. I found it online as “Frankfurt’s only brewpub” and was pretty impressed. Very good beers, sausages, and people watching:
Decided post-dinner to go for a bit of a walk back to the hotel since it was a nice cool late fall/early winter night and only maybe a 2km walk or so. Hauptbanhof looked nice all lit up:
I was exhausted at this point since it was nearing 4am in Seoul or 7am in Auckland where I’d been 48 hours prior, and I collapsed into bed before getting ready to take the last segment of what had been an epic five week trip.