By Amanda England
As I changed trains at Gatwick I looked wistfully at the signs for the airport terminal. I was at the start of my journey to Birmingham International. I found however that it was remarkably easy to travel from Horsham to Birmingham by train and well worth the trouble. The airport is small and very well equipped with so many restaurant choices and a good array of duty free shops.
I was a guest of Turkish Airlines and this was my first flight with them. Well, they certainly know how to go out of their way to make you feel valued as a partner. Enes our host was charming. He organised a seamless check in and escorted us to the Business Class lounge – conveniently located for the shops if you wanted to have a wander, but why would you? The tantalising display of cakes – chocolate brownies, marble cake and flapjacks (just to name a few) was too hard to resist! If you preferred savoury then there was a mouth-watering selection of salads, from tabouulah to a more simple potato salad. It was at this point that I was advised that Turkish Airlines have their own chefs on board their flights. Wow, must make sure I don’t over-indulge now….
Just prior to boarding, the Turkish Airlines Airport Manager came to see us off. Very impressive. That was just the beginning though. Settling into the very spacious and comfortable business class seats, the in-flight chef came round with our welcome drinks. Homemade lemonade, freshly squeezed orange juice or raspberry soda. Divine. I had to try both the raspberry soda and the lemonade – just to compare you understand!
I now know that the best was yet to come. On arrival into Istanbul Airport we were whisked off to the Business Class lounge. This was simply the most incredible airline lounge that I have ever seen. No wonder it won “Best Lounge Worldwide” in the annual Skytrax Awards in 2015. I truly cannot imagine what you could possibly want that they have not already thought of. The double-storey lounge has been artfully divided into various sections. These range from a mini cinema, to a golf simulator range, to a child friendly area complete with a remote controlled car track and Sony Play Stations. The food areas incorporated a piano bar, an olive station, Turkish “street food” concessions, an indoor/ outdoor garden and a more formal dining area to name but a few. This really was a hotel rather than a lounge, even down to the suites that you could book for a few hours! It was a very welcome break before we continued with our journey – another 12 hours of flying time before we arrived in Mozambique.
On arrival in Maputo we were met by Dana Tours and the driver from Machangulo Beach Lodge. Swiftly and efficiently they drove us the short 15 minute drive to Maputo Marina. Here we would wait for our boat transfer to Machangulo Beach Lodge,
Not a bad place to spend a couple of hours after a flight. The Marina Restaurant, complete with swimming pool, overlooked the sea. It was quite a basic set up but the staff were friendly, the facilities clean, the views great, the prices affordable and the food wonderful. Our first taste of the famed Mozambiquan prawns and we were not to be disappointed.
Fully fed and watered we now made our way to the Machangulo boat. A smooth hour and a half crossing and our destination appeared. Well I say it appeared – we saw a beautiful deserted beach with a group of people waving madly at us before they burst into what appeared to be impromptu singing, swaying and clapping, beaming from ear to ear. What a welcome! On closer inspection, we could now start to make out a few thatched roofs nestled in amongst the forest. This was a true African Lodge in both name, location and I hoped experience.
After a refreshing fruit cocktail we were shown to our rooms by the very charming Kelly and Jaco, the couple who run this lovely lodge. My villa was set back way, way into the forest but with the added benefit of being so close to the ocean I had the continuous soothing sound of the waves breaking against the beach.
A quick change and it was back for dinner. The main event at dinner was the Zambezi chicken curry. Authentic and perfectly proportioned. And then came the pudding…. This was possibly the best chocolate mousse ever experienced and we made sure Phillipe the chef knew this. When asked he did share with me his secret recipe, but I couldn’t possibly divulge it…
All set now for a great night sleep….
Next blog Coming Soon…