After Liverpool, another leg on my trip was to Belgium for some touring and tasty beers. I also was able to and get the somewhat elusive passport stamp in Luxembourg.
Early morning in Manchester UK
My trip began early in the morning in Manchester Airport. The security line was a bit of a mess, but once through, I had enough time for a quick stop in the lounge for a snack and some tea before boarding. Once on board, we were served a nice breakfast for the relatively short hop to Zürich.
This flight was easy, although the seats were pretty blah after the excellent business class experience I had on Turkish. These were the Recaro slimline seats that Lufthansa and Swiss both have on their Narrow body fleets. These are an older version of what United is putting on their Airbus fleet. Business class just has a blocked middle and sometimes there is a aluminum table mounted in huge middle seat. Yuck!
In any case, the service was good, and the food certainly was good for the short segment, as is the norm with Swiss. After the meal, I had more tea, and this was served with some some Swiss chocolate.
Tea by Swiss
After the flight, I had a short layover in Zürich, and I made a quick visit to the Senator Lounge there before my flight onward to Luxembourg. This is a very nice airport for connections, even for this brief stop that I made. This is also where I was stamped into the European Union Schengen Zone since coming from the UK (EU, but not Schengen) requires a visit through passport control.
The flight to Luxembourg was on a Avro RJ-100, a small 4-engined jet typically used for regional operations. This is an aircraft no longer seen in the United States, but is still common in Europe and elsewhere. It is often used for flight into the short runways of London City Airport. I remembered flying these both on Northwest Airlines and further back the BAe-146 version that Air Wisconsin flew for United. In any case, the aviation geek in me was kind of excited to fly this unique plane type again.
My view of the Avro engines before departure in Zürich
The flight to Luxembourg was only blocked for an hour, but still a small meal was served. I was also impressed by the purser who made announcements and addressed customers in German, French and English. Oh, those Swiss. He also used passengers names while providing service without using paperwork. Granted, there were only 6 passengers in the business class cabin, but it was still very well done.
Swiss snack on the flight to Luxembourg
After arriving in Luxembourg, I took a bus to the main train station, where I took a train into Belgium. The purpose of my time in Belgium was some historic touring, and of course to enjoy some tasty beers. I have been to Belgium before, but all past trips were just passing through, either on a train, or when I connected in Brussels Airport. This would be my first visit to the southern part of the country (Wallonia), where French is predominantly spoken.
The star-shaped Mardasson Memorial near Bastogne, Belgium
I stayed in Bastogne, which was a bit of touristy city, but it was not exactly high season in mid-January. The photo above is of the Mardasson Memorial dedicated to the US troops who defended Bastogne in the winter of 1944-45. I hired a tour guide to maximize my time there. I don’t speak French, and I didn’t have a car, so this was was an excellent way for a customized experience, and the local and historical knowledge was great. If you are in the in the area, I’d highly recommend booking a tour with Roby Clam.
Some oak trees riddled with shrapnel from the battles
I also had some tasty Belgian beers while there. For a relatively small country, there is really an amazing variety of beers. Below are some of the more interesting beers I tasted. Even though I focused on Abbey beers, there are countless more options.
Of course the beer was excellent, and the food was very typical of most meals I’ve had in Europe, very fresh and local. Thankfully most of my days were spent walking around to burn off all of this food and drink!
I only spent a few days in Wallonia, but I look forward to more visits to Belgium to try some more tasty beer. Once my trip was over, I took the train back to Luxembourg, where I took a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul and got the Luxembourg passport stamp. This would be my third time in Istanbul, and the first time where I’d have time to explore the city.
Booking an award trip to Europe in Turkish Airlines Business Class
Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class from Houston to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines 737 – True Business Class within Europe
Swiss Air Lines Business Class to Luxembourg (this post)
A few hours in Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Business Class Lounge Istanbul Airport
Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class from Istanbul to Houston