A day in Dusseldorf at Prowein
A day at Prowein, the Wine and Spirits show, looking for new brands for my distribution company.
Opted for a bath to give my brain time to contemplate the long day ahead before leaving home, particularly what I was looking to add to the spirit’d portfolio.
Top tip: put out clothes the night before an early flight
I drove myself to Heathrow and got to use the British Airways First wing because of my frequent flyer status. A fabulously smooth experience and I was in the First Class lounge within minutes of arriving.
Quickly checked the Facebook group for BA Gold cardholders to see if anybody was around but no takers, probably because it's 6 am on Sunday!
Stayed just long enough for a delicious full English breakfast then the scenic route to gate A-18 via some shops.
Began to regret my choice of work shoes but pleased I had my Fitbit knowing I'd beat the 10,000 steps target.
I like boarding early and settled into window seat 4F after securing overhead bin space, knowing I had time for a ten-minute power nap then ten minutes of emails before take off. Despite a very busy flight with most going to Prowein, the seat next to me was empty, perhaps confirming rumours that BA blocks out seats next to Gold passengers.
If so, it's a nice perk, but I like to chat with the person next to me knowing they can't easily escape. I count at least three people I’ve met on flights that are now good friends.
If you find yourself next to me, headphones are a good indicator you want quiet time!
The BA comic relief safety video never gets old, and Rowan Atkinson's closing scenes had me smiling for take off. I spotted there were no printed menus onboard, that’s new, with cabin crew taking orders but I’d already eaten in the lounge.
I am a self-certified travel geek.
Flying the new British Airways Club Europe (their short-haul business class), while adorned in grey leather isn't notably different to economy except that the middle of the three seats is replaced with a table.
Ask at check-in or use the BA app. They are officially known as PUG (proactive upgrades)
After taking off westward and getting my hot towel, we banked right, and I think I caught a glimpse of the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It does look like a toilet seat, but I would never admit that to my Arsenal supporting friends.
Only 35 minutes into the short flight and we started our descent. My ears felt like popping candy having suffered three weeks of repeated ear infections.
On hearing the "Ten minutes to landing" announcement, I’d forgotten that since passing 40, I should plan a toilet run before disembarking.
Heading down through gloomy clouds was not a great mood setter. After landing, took the bus for the five-minute journey as a EUR20 taxi seemed unnecessary.
Arrived at Mezze centre and headed to hall 12 for Spirits. An abundance of spirits that frankly all look the same. For a non-drinker like me, walking through twelve huge halls of wine was mind-boggling.
Then I discovered hall 7 hidden away and marketed as "same but different". This was the one for me, and I was already finished after 90 minutes of talking to brand owners. I'd seen what I needed to see.
Scaling up using traditional distribution would take a considerable investment in time and money, with shrinking margins, it didn't feel like good value.
If I ever develop my own drinks brand, it's got to be a disruptor.
There was no real representation from low or zero alcohol brands despite the trend with millennials. One non-alcoholic gin I tasted was like drinking white spirit.
A niche market. An unexplored market. Or no market?
Pouring with rain as I left, my early morning decision to take a jacket was a prudent one.
I arrived at the airport hours earlier than expected; got my negotiating face on to see if BA would let me get an earlier flight home.
A firm "Nein". I called the UK based gold line, and a small change fee got me a flight home departing within the hour.
Into the lounge and to the food counter. Suddenly that fee was the best thing I’d ever bought. A very basic lounge with poor food selection. A rock hard German sausage with some mash and another toilet break.
Forty minutes to go and I wrote this blog while emailing those I met today. The flight couldn’t come quickly enough, and I was already debating between a power nap or lunch onboard.
Groups 1 and 2 announced, and we started boarding, albeit prematurely because the aircraft was still being cleaned.
I'd been pre-allocated an aisle, and while I prefer a window seat, 1C had oodles of legroom for me at 5ft 4in. A cheeky glimpse of the cockpit excited the child within.
A very bumpy take off due to European storms (weather not Brexit), a long nap and a snack and we were landing.
Taking the pod back to T5 business parking reminded me of Demolition Man and the robot driver. If only I could have remembered whether I parked at A or B station.
Happy to get home five hours early and spent some time with the kids before the tiredness kicked in.