Far from our expectations of being relegated to the consumption of overpriced, subpar airport food, the past 24 hours of intercontinental travel has instead brought a veritable onslaught of delicious, free, three course meals. We were pleasantly surprised when, 40 or so minutes into our first flight, the flight attendants (who, I might add, were all multilingual) brought around the first round of drinks. The rounds of drinks did not stop for the duration of our trans-Atlantic flight, ranging from sparkling water to wine to cognac. To make it even better, the food was fresh, hot, and served at all meal times for whatever time zone we were in. Being that we lost six hours on that first overnight flight, and have lost four more hours since then, the feedings have been frequent and vigorous. We have literally eaten five full meals in the past 24 hours. Amazing.
Following the excellent service and dishes provided by our German friends at Lufthansa Airlines—including but not limited to teriyaki chicken, camembert cheese with rosemary bread, and some sort of lemon custard tart—we were pleasantly surprised again by the cuisine of Gulf Air. After a somewhat concerning wait for our tickets at the airline counter in Bahrain (which set the scene for amazing people watching), the ticket agent surprised us with a free upgrade to first class seats. Neither of us has ever ridden in first class before. Not only is the leg room all that it’s cracked up to be, but the flight staff actually cooked the best curry I’ve ever eaten…over some tiny stove in the front of the airplane. We were given figs when we first sat down, served Turkish coffee out of a decorative brass carafe, and presented with a three course meal complete with real dishes, stemmed glassware, more silverware than I knew what to do with, and fabric napkins. Hot towels…did I mention the hot towels? Prior to each feeding, we have been given some version of the hot towel, ranging from nice lemon scented ones, to the most recent, which were soaked in hot rose water.
It seems counterintuitive that we are here, on our way to eight months of dedication to a sparse lifestyle, and we cannot seem to be anything but pampered. This is not to say that we are unappreciative of such things, but it has been, to say the least, a very pleasant surprise.