Russia 2018 - Visa free entry extended

What a positive surprise! 

Checking my emails today, I received an info from FAN ID registration that visa free entry to Russia for holders of a Fan ID is extended to December 31st 2018. 

I really enjoyed travelling Russia during the soccer championship back in  June 18 and this little surprise now opens the possibility to enjoying even a little bit more.

The only little minus, it is December 31st and therefore no new years eve celebration in Saint Petersburg. Maybe this fan id thing is only the prologue for something bigger, visa free travel to Russia in 2019?

FullSizeRender.jpg

Bolschoi

FullSizeRender.jpg

桜 sakura 2019 New Lufthansa Meilenschnäppchen for November

Just came across Lufthansa‘s  Meilenschnäppchen for November. 

Apart from their business class offerings to the US for only 55.000 miles return, flights to Nagoya for Sakura for 70.000 miles seem to be a real bargain. Especially if you are planning to visit Japan anyhow.  Period of travel March 1st to April 15th 2019.

FullSizeRender.jpg

For Bloom 2019 please check the dedicated site of JNTO regularly.

 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Easter on Easter Island and many other interesting destinations around the globe....

I have not been writing for some time. Simply busy with being and enjoying live to the fullest. 

However, I am tented to sharing with you the following itinerary that I found thanks to the help of the guys from flyertalk.

Wide availability in 2018. Simply try it on google flights.  Depending on where you are living, combine it with cheap oneway flights to Singapore or Hongkong and then on to Aukland.

Visit French Polynesia, Tahiti or hop to Bora Bora.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Continue to mystic Easter Island before you continue to Tango in Santiao de Chile.

FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg

Enough seen? Fly home to Frankfurt, Helsinki or Madrid or continue to Japan. It is all up to you and your creativity.

Have fun

Bali island of gods with Garuda for less than 500 Euros return from London

Bali island of gods with Garuda for less than 500 Euros return from London

Bali island of gods, much said about it, millions travelled to it.

Mass tourism, definately yes.

Beautiful, magic and untouched places, definately yes.

Airlines constantly publish new promotions ex Europe and one will get there for around 400-600 Euros.

However, flying to Bali in comfort and style is still the exception.

I just came across a Garuda/Expedia promotion selling returns ex London for 404 £ or 470 €.  Given that you are flying with one of the few Skytrax 5 star airlines, a real bargain.

Flights widly available in 2017.

Read More

The Essence from QR Travel festival - Fly to Bali in Style for less than 1400 Euros

 Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways

The current Qatar Airways travel festival makes its way through various travel sites.

Prices are tempting and flights are widely available towards the end of the year.  As usual blackout dates apply (Summer). Tariffs vary from QR departure airports. Since I always look for tariffs to my favorite island I just wanted to share to interesting routings.

  1. Brussels - Jakarta
  2. Istanbul - Jakarta

Business returns start for little over 1100 Euros from Istanbul and finish at 1300 Euros from Brussels. The tickets get cheaper when you book two or more. Also another 15% rebate applies when you pay with your Visa card. 

Tickets are directly bookable on the Qatar Airways website until 16th January.

  http://www.qatarairways.com/global/en/offers/travel-festival.page#

 

 

 Example ex BRU

Example ex BRU

Flights for the short Jakarta-Bali flights are available for little money and for less than 100 Euros, 

 

Königsallee to Ocean Drive / Rodeo Drive with Star Alliance for less than 350 Euros

 Ocean Drive Miami

Ocean Drive Miami

Cruising along Ocean Drive in Miami or window shopping at famous Rodeo Drive in Beverley Hills does not necessarily have to cost a fortune.

 Rodeo Drive Beverley Hills

Rodeo Drive Beverley Hills

Thanks to the current price war between the major alliances prices ex Düsseldorf dropped well below 350 Euros return! 

Yes, no hidden trick and not one of this much talked about Error Fares. 

You will fly with Lufthansa, Air Canada, Swiss or United.  Routing via Zurich allows you experiencing Swiss new 777s whereas flights via Frankfurt will get you the Airbus 380.

Wide availabilty towards November 2017 with the exception of the summer months May to September. 

Bookable with all major booking engines. 

A good start is google flights.

Have fun and enjoy your flight. 

Düsseldorf airport can be easily reached by train.  DB rail Sparpreis starts at 29 Euro. Thalys tickets should be available for a similar price. Alternatively use one of the major coach carriers.

 Sample Booking Miami February  

Sample Booking Miami February  

 Sample Booking LAX February

Sample Booking LAX February

 Sample bocking Lax October

Sample bocking Lax October

Singapore Sling meets Shopska - Singapore with Singapore Airlines in Business for 1250 Euro from Sofia

0BF9B276-3D50-4719-A046-EBD7963ECD10.JPG

If you want to spoil yourself fly to Singapore. 

Fly in style, fly Business Class, fly Singapore Airlines. 

SG seems to run a promo from Sofia, Bulgaria to Singapore.  Wide availabilty towards the years end.

Multiple routings via Muc, FRA or IST. 

Bookable through all major search engines. 

 

 Major booking engine

Major booking engine

Flori recommends The Park Regis Hotel Singapore

 Booking example

Booking example

City Trip to Kyoto - How a few days can turn you into a Japan addict

City Trip to Kyoto - How a few days can turn you into a Japan addict

Summary

  • Kyoto is a perfect spot for a city break which will eventually transform you into a Japan addict
  • Sights are countless and thus you either let yourself drift away or you make a little plan before travelling
  • Japan is inexpensive and easy to travel (Hostels are an excellent hotel alternative)
  • People are hospitable and adorable (English in Kyoto is widely spoken)
  • Best travel time spring and autumn (cherry blossom festival,
    fall foliage), also temperatures are pleasant with 20-25 degrees
  • Budget for a week including flight, accommodation, food and sight-seeing : 1000 € per person
Read More

Party Playa del Ingles New Years Eve in Gran Canaria

 Party in Playa del Ingles

Party in Playa del Ingles

Still undecided what to do tomorrow?   Or are you fed up with overprized restaurant bookings?

Why not spending new years eve on the island of Gran Canaria? 

 Maspalomas Dunes

Maspalomas Dunes

Spend a lovely day at the endless beach of Maspalonas, enjoy an excellent dinner in one of the many restaurants. Dance the night away at CITA or JUMBO entertainment complex. Sleep under the stars. Return with late evening flight on the 1st. 

Return flights are available for 130 Euros at LTUR

www.ltur.com

Happy new year

 Ltur super last minute  

Ltur super last minute  

Old school - taking Amtrak from Nola to Atlanta

If you want to feel the heartbeat of a nation then for sure you got to take the train. 

 Nola Amtrak terminal

Nola Amtrak terminal

 Platform to train

Platform to train

IMG_3461.JPG

What a difference, arriving early in the morning at the Southern Pacific terminal in New Orleans. No hustle and bustle but pretty relaxed fellow travelers and a warm hearted Amtrak darling that gently pushed me into the line for coach class passengers. Boarding started and the column of bags, food to go boxes, blankets and other stuff was manfully escorted towards the cars where the train guard already waited and the seats assigned.

 Santa's train

Santa's train

 Coach Class the Crescent

Coach Class the Crescent

 

Step back in time, take a seat. Wow, comfy and big seats and panorama windows in contrast to todays airplanes

 Train on lake Pontchatrain

Train on lake Pontchatrain

So why should you swap a one hours flight to 12 hours by train. Well that easy. Start glimpsing at majestic lake Pontchatrain soon after departure in New Orleans. Travel through deep LA swamps and forrests and watch little villages and cities go by before the train makes its first major stop in Birmingham Alabama.

Boy this has nothing to do with Southern romance but with fall of heavy industry, segregation, Ku-Klux-Klan and the struggle of finding its place in the 21st century. It reminded me a bit of German Ruhr Region at the end of the 1980's. However, seeing dozens of bordered up or burned down houses all along the way is tough, especially when travelling in a developed country.

The train got delayed and I used the opportunity catching up with some mails thanks to freely available high-speed wifi on the train.

The dining car manager passed by and asked if I were to make a dinner reservation what I willingly did. 

Three more hours to Atlanta so I was off to my culinary discovery. 

 

 Antrak dining car experience  

Antrak dining car experience  

 A good dinner

A good dinner

The steak with a baked potato was actually quite good and the premium you pay for onboard dining not too high. I paid 25 Dollars plus 6 Dollars for a beer excluding tip.

 DeSean and his wife

DeSean and his wife

Not hungry any more I returned to my seat continuing my small talk with DeSean and his wife on their way home to Atlanta. Both spent some days of fun dancing and enjoying the excellent music on Frenchman Street in Nola. Look at their hats, wonderful.

I still hate the fact that I left out GOORIN, one of the oldest hatmakers in town, an institution for classic or stylish headgear.

I also stepped into Jason, respectively his jesus cruisers well conplemented by hand nitted socks that immediately caught my attention. Student at Louisiana State University School of Medicine, he was on the way home to Baltimore for Christmas. 

What a bunch of people, individuals like me, plane haters, pensioners, tourists taking the time to travel having stopped thinking about the downsides of modern aitravel.

 Jasons hand nitted pair of socks. 

Jasons hand nitted pair of socks. 

The Crescent train not only connects New Orleans with Atlanta but continues all the way up North via Charlotte, Washington, Baltimore to New York arriving there the second day making the journey just a little under 30 hours.

My trip to Atlanta cost me 61 Dollars in Coach. Dleeper cars and a slightly more expensive business class are available as well.  Travelling by sleeper car would make sense when travelling to NY. However, standard coach class seats are reclining seats and a price of 129 Dollars up to NY make you sleep well. Add approx 200 Dollars per  person if you want the privacy of your own compartment.

 Amtrak sleeper compartments

Amtrak sleeper compartments

More info available at www.amtrak.com

Finally I arrived at Atlanta with about 1 1/2 hours delay. The station Amtrak uses is rather small and you get the impression to arriving in a suburb.  Taxis are available at street level and a ride to major downtown hotels will take less than 10 minutes.

In a nutshell: 

Travelling Amtrak is fun. You get the chance of seeing a lot during your trip but I guess that the best about the travel is to touch base with some wonderful people, all of them having a unique story to tell.

Laissez les bons temps rouler - a few days in the Big EASY, New Orleans

Laissez les bons temps rouler or let the good times roll could be best described as the Leitmotif of Creole lifestyle.  People from the South, especially from the Big Easy, as New Orleans is also called, are simply warm hearted and adorable.

Honey, Darling, Sweetheart are just a few expressions that you hear when they first touch base with you.

 Mississippi Steam Boat

Mississippi Steam Boat

 French Quarter  

French Quarter  

When we generally think of New Orleans we associate it with its French Quarter and its infamous  Bourbon Street or maybe with Hurricane  Katrina which virtually wiped away half of the city back in 2005. Forcing almost a million people to leave the city forever.

 St. Louis Cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral

The French Quarter survived. People slowely came back, the Warehouse district with its fine galleries of the beaten track developed and Marigny     became an important counterbalance to touristy French Quarter.

 French Quarter

French Quarter

But where to start when describing the city or to mention the reasons for a visit to a city which is celebrating its 300th birthday in 2017?  It is worth spending a couple of days. Dicover the marvelous French and Spanish influenced architecture when strolling through the streets.

 Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

Enjoy a cup of cafe au lait and eat some delicious pastries. Try the famous baignets at Cafe du Monde next to Jackson Square close to the Mississippi shores. 

Food? Come on, you are in the South, it is a heaven for food lovers. Try catfish, red beans or Gumbo.

 French Quarter

French Quarter

Music? Apart from Bourbon Street there is Frenchman Street - less tourisic with excellent bars with even better live bands performing there every day. 

Home of Jazz? Call it fusion. Today it is more an eclectic mix of all different music syles. I personally attended a session of a band covering stuff from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, mixing Reaggae and Jazz - simply gorgeous.

Where to stay? You'll have the choice. All major hotel chains are present and you usually get a decent room for 80 to 150 Dollars.

 Loews New Orleans 

Loews New Orleans 

On the top end I would definately recommend the Loews New Orleans. This is a modern 5 star hotel with wonderful rooms and in walking distance to the French Quarter, River Walk or the WW2 Museum.

 loewshotels.com/new-orleans

 Hotel Monteleone  

Hotel Monteleone  

If you fancy a hotel with a bit more history reflecting the glorious past of the grand old South then pick the Monteleone right on Royal Street. I have been told that they have a ghost and that if you are lucky you might spot him right next to the monstrous grandfather clock in the lobby. 

http://hotelmonteleone.com/ 

 Hotel the Modern

Hotel the Modern

 New Orleans Street Car

New Orleans Street Car

I personally picked the Modern, a boutique hotel close to the art museums (Ogden, Museum for contemporary art and World War II museum). The stop of the street car is just in front of the hotel and 1,25 Dollar take you to the French Quarter in less than 10 minutes. 

Rooms sell for approx 90 Dollars and a continental breakfast is included. 

 http://www.thehotelmodern.com/ 

Another great way to discovering southern hospitality is to choose one of the many independently owned and operated Bed & Breakfasts. The houses and their proud owners all have a story to tell and love their place. This is what you feel when you are entering their places.

 R&B Bed and Breakfast

R&B Bed and Breakfast

 R&B Bed and Breakfast

R&B Bed and Breakfast

 R&B Bed and Breakfast

R&B Bed and Breakfast

I was simply blown away when discovering one of these places in fashionable Frenchmen Street. R&B's perfectly decorated and themed rooms make you feel like king and queen ruling New Orleans for Mardigras. The place is not cheap but worth every single penny. Priced start at around 250 Dollars. http://www.rbbedandbreakfast.com/

For other B&B's I would simply recommend checking current Tripadvisor listings

 Frenchmen Street

Frenchmen Street

My personal New Orleans recommendations: 

 Frenchman Street Art Market

Frenchman Street Art Market

  • A guided free walking tour through the French Quarter  
  • A cafe au lait with local speciality baignets at Cafe du Monde (although very touristy) 
  • Pubcrawling with live music and local arts market at Frenchmen Street
  • Rent a bike
  • Watch Bourbon Street madness from the balkony of America's oldest gay bar cafe Lafitte
  • Buy a 24 h travel pass for three dollars for the historic streetcar network

DOWNUNDER WESTBOUND - AUSTRALIA VIA THE US

Most Europeans, when travelling to and from Australia, travel westbound.

Travelling eastbound however, is still pretty much unknown.  For sure it takes a bit more effort when reserving your trip but it is well worth it.

Actually all started with the idea to celebrating the 50th birthday of a close friend twice.

This is possible since you are passing the international dateline when flying from the US or Canada.

You are loosing one day on your way Downunder and winnig a day when coming back.

At present flights from Europe to the US are extremely cheap and monthly hit new record lows so why not choosing this route?

Well, there are great cities to discover in the US . Cities off the beaten track like Sacramento, Portland or Atlanta just to mention a few. Also, smaller airports are less crowded an TSA only takes a few minutes.

Coming to the point how to getting to Australia. Apart from the major US carriers there is a wonderfully different boutique airline called Hawaiian.

 Hawaiian Airlines, flag carrier of Hawaii

Hawaiian Airlines, flag carrier of Hawaii

Actually this airline is quite old, so easily comparable to the aviation dinosaurs like KLM, Quantas or Lufthansa.

However, the airline is refreshingly different. For an US airline the fleet age is young and with mainly Airbus A330 state of the art.

 Economy Class Hawaiian Airlines

Economy Class Hawaiian Airlines

Seat pich is good and ..... they offer service.

Yes you heard it right, service.

 Dinner Economy Class Sydney Honolulu

Dinner Economy Class Sydney Honolulu

Decent and free inflight meals, amenity kids, inflight entertainment and..... liquor for free. At least on the international routes or a free welcome cocktail on your way to Honolulu.

 Economy Sacramento-Brisbane

Economy Sacramento-Brisbane

 Economy 767

Economy 767

 

How do you plan your trip?

Start watching for promotional tickets from the US to Australia.

A good source for that would be www.travelpirates.com or proven www.google.com/flights for specific dates.

Watch out for less crouded airports in Hawaiian's network, lets say Sacramento or Oakland.

Also Las Vegas might be a good choice.

Book your flights and then start to finding your appropriate transatlantic connection depending on your needs and interests.

Add domestic US flights when necessary. Jetblue, Southwest and Vergin often have sales.

Enjoy!

Creative routings could include New York or Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco or Sacramento.

I personally ended up with an open jaw ticket from Sacrameno to Brisbane-Sydney and Sydney-Honolulu-Las Vegas.

RAPA NUI - EASTER ISLAND ESCAPADE FOR LESS THAN 1000 € IN BUSINESS CLASS

Most of the bloggers in budget travel often miss out the forgotton dream destinations off the beaten track.

Yesterday I blogged about the recent Alitalia bug allowing you to virtually travelling everywhere in business class for less than 1000 Euros as published at ft.com or Vielfliegertreff. It was even possible to book RTW's, fly to Sydney or.... to Papeete Tahiti. However, hunting for those fares is a game. Sometimes you win, often you loose and your tickets get cancelled. So as written many times already, those fares are nothing for beginners or ultimate bargain hunters since you can be disappointed at the end.

However, here is a routing currently not circulating at the most common blogs as they are still promoting the tickets options for Hawaii or Seychelles. 

Why not flying to mysterious Rapa Nui Easter Island.  Indeed a long flight but at the end you will be rewarded with the views of the majestic Mare.

 

 

 View of Mare stone sculptures

View of Mare stone sculptures

As with the other fares you need to start your trip in Düsseldorf and finish it in Florence, Italy

 Skyscanner.net

Skyscanner.net

Tickets are widely available till November.  Skyscanner is a good tool to identifying available dates.

As with all error fares please be aware that airlines can cancel these tickets, This is part of the game. 

Good luck and happy Easter

Current AZ Error Fare Hype RTW Biz below 800 Euro

Yes, the fare was/is available. Blogs are shouting it out loud. Be it Tokyo return for less than 600 Euro or Downunder for less than 800 Euro.

It is/was possible by simply booking a flight from Florence Italy to Düsseldorf Germany. Since it was a C fare you were somewhat flexible in picking the routing, lets say Florence-Paris-Hong Kong-Los Angeles-London-Düsseldorf.

These kind of fares have been around for years and will be luckily around for at least fäanother couple of years since airlines are still not willing to invest in modern - state of the art - reservation systems. 

So you better be quick, get yourself aboard on this one and enjoy the trip. 

PS. Papeete is still available but for some reasons -see above- slightly priced higher for round about 1500 Euros business return. 

 Sample booking Papeete, Tahiti

Sample booking Papeete, Tahiti

SOUTH AMERICA IN STYLE - FLY BUSINESS CLASS TO ARGENTINA AND BRASIL <1.200 € return

That's a bummer, South America for less than 1.200 Euro in Business class.

Flights are ex Barcelona Spain to various destinations in Brasil and Argentina.

My quick research identified availability from January to March 2017 even over MARDI GRAS.

Enjoy Rio de Janeiro with its famous Copacabana.

 Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Jet to Buenos Aires for Tango, Red Wine or my favourite Asado.

 Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo

Hit for Sao Paulo Latin Americas multi-cultural melting pot. Fly down to Tierra del Fuego for an adventure of a lifetime.

 Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego

 Latam Business Class

Latam Business Class

Tickets are available with South Americas new flag carrier LATAM airlines. Tickets price for less than 1.200 Euro return.

Flights can be picked easily by using google flights and booked via LATAM

 Latam booking tool

Latam booking tool

HNL AIRPORT UPDATE

Boy, I did not recall that HNL was in such a poor condition until I arrived here on Nov 30th. Been here a couple of times travelling  back from either one of my favorite spotd on earth - KAUA'I or connecting to and from AUSTRALIA

 Main terminal partially closed many deviations to take

Main terminal partially closed many deviations to take

Just wanted to let you know folks that the garden court still exists and that the theme gardens have already been upgraded. You can enjoy this little free outside heaven simply walking down the stair case close to food court.

Follow signs to KAL lounge.  Since their wifi is open you can simply connect without paying the 8.50$ that public wifi would cost you.

 Way to secret paradise close to food court

Way to secret paradise close to food court

 Relaxing outdoor gards at HNL main Terminal

Relaxing outdoor gards at HNL main Terminal

 Lounges have free wifi what you can use while being outside

Lounges have free wifi what you can use while being outside