Friday, August 10, 2012
The list gives no points to unique airports like Male International. The Male airport is buffeted on all sides by some of the most beautiful ocean in the world; reef sharks swim just beyond luggage cart check, and the cab line is an eclectic mixture of boats and water planes. It is like an airport from a strange dream, and yet it is really there.
There are some great airports on this list. Hong Kong's airport on Lantau island is a modern showpiece that is 30 minutes from the past (Tai O) and 30 minutes from the future (Central). Singapore lives up to its billing as a the most talked about airport in the world with so many cool options. Adults can enjoy a Singapore sling by the Crowne Plaza swimming pool (one of several pool options), and kids have access to a 4 storey swirling monster slide - the tallest in Singapore. Schiphol in Amsterdam is perfect on account of its robust cheese selection and lodging options, such as Yotel Hotel, a by the hour type of micro-hotel with soft blankets and nice showers.
Friday, August 3, 2012
Rapperswil is a great place to get lost. Back-roads lead to quaint restaurants and quiet squares, and a castle looms uber alles reminding you that this place has been in business for a very long time. In fact this place was booming when a map of the world looked like this.
Located at the southern end of Lake Zurich, boats line the banks surrounding the town, and 600 different kinds of roses bloom throughout the city from June to October - a feat that granted Rapperswil the title of Rosenstadt or town of roses. It is a town frozen in time yet functionally efficient to the modern era traveler. One can explore medieval alleyways, inspect a 13th century castle, and order McDonald's all within a matter of 30 minutes. It is a great place to get lost, but a better place to find.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Idiots! Apparently some bad code in United's award travel reservation system caused users to easily book flights to Hong Kong for only 4 miles. Normally, such a trip would cost about 60,000 miles, but for some lucky customers this weekend, they were able to use just 4 simple miles. That is a 99.993% discount!
Word spread across the internet about "the glitch" and many customers grabbed the incredible deal. United is attempting to cancel the tickets. The DOT is saying not so fast and may require United to uphold the deals. Regardless of what happens, United appears to be in a serious free fall since merging with Continental, and perhaps this Hong Kong fare deal will mark the humorous bottom to their struggles. But, probably not.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Skytrax has released their airlines ranking for 2012, and it is no surprise that no U.S. based carrier is anywhere to be found in the top 20. This list is similar to what you would expect with a few surprises. Garuda almost inches into the top 10 despite being banned from flying in Europe just three years ago. SpiceJet ranks higher than American Airlines. Virgin Australia jumped 20 spots. Royal Jordanian and EgyptAir rank higher than Aerlingus - I have flown all three and would never have guessed that.
Kristin and I have flown over 30 of these carriers and I am left scratching my head more often than not. So how does this happen? What is the methodology?
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Every country has its own culture of shopping. Italy has the pedigree, with worn estate leather goods from Tuscany and glittering catwalks fueling Milan's couture. America boasts 5th Avenue, the biggest week in fashion, and the cookie-cutter malls of middle-America. Shopping in Paris is as elegant as it is expensive, where visiting the temples of Chanel, Dior, and Hermes is like a Hajj for fashionistas. Getting fitted for a suit on Savile Row in London is a gentlemanly apex, one that is best achieved while gently pulling on a cherry-wood pipe and commenting on cheeky matters from a pink-tinged page of the Financial Times.
In Dubai, The malls are king. Vast expanses of high end extravagance, these oases from the draping emirate heat are stocked with Gucci, Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, and any other brand that peddles four-figure handbags to the jet set. Just as America brought the shopping mall to retail prominence, Dubai has perfected the art, blown it up, and put it all back together with megatons of glitter, pomp, and reckless luxury. But more so than brands and shine, the malls of Dubai also have other extraordinary features. A skating rink and a movie theater? That is so 20th century. How about scuba diving, snow skiing, and visiting the tallest building in the world? Welcome to the malls of Dubai.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
It was 2:00pm at Delta HQ when my phone rang. It was Kristin. "We have to make the 4:30 to Zurich, Bermuda is completely booked up for tomorrow." It was Memorial Day weekend, and we needed to use the extra day off as extravagantly as possible. I asked no questions. Within minutes, I scrambled to close up my work. I cleaned out my teapot, saved my excel files, and raced home to pick up Kristin. Within two hours, we were boarding a flight for Zurich. Working for an airline has its benefits, the contours of which I am just beginning to explore.
Zurich is the top city on the Economist cost of living index, but we found it easy to stay there on the cheap. We booked our 4 star hotel through Priceline "pick a price" for about $140 after tax, we dined on Bratwursts and pretzel rolls (a personal favorite), and used Zurich's superb train and subway system to get around when foot travel was not in option.
I did not find it prohibitively expensive at all. In fact, I was not nearly as fatigued from sticker shock as I have been in the past in places like Singapore, London, or the Kathmandu International Airport - where I once bought a Kit Kat bar for something like $5.
Anyways, here are some pictures from our spectacular trip to Zurich:
Monday, June 18, 2012
When it all began, I was just another passenger, chasing the sun across the pacific.
As a traveler, I decided not to stop. The odyssey continued as I finally abandoned my past for opportunities and plied my trade as a writer or student or analyst or whatever else could get me in the position to smell jet fuel and know that on the other side of the jetdoor was a world and a world away. Travel is the journey and the destination, and I do whatever I can to keep the trip alive.
So fast forward, and here I sit. Twice removed from my home, the hour is late and a dog slumbers at my feet. I am tired, sure, but is that not the point? To see so much of the world that you collapse in exhaustion from the beauty of it all? To know what you have seen and to know that the only thing keeping you awake is the bright shining suns in your past, and the possibility to share that beauty with the world, one way or the other...
The question was never when will it stop. The question remains, how long is now?
I ask myself this question when everything is right, and the sun is setting behind a beautiful city to dance its way across the Pacific. There is a moment, just before the sun relinquishes its control to the night, and that moment is my 'now.' I can't capture it with my lens, and I can't capture it with my words, but I will always chase it with my life.
Friday, June 1, 2012
Nestled between Switzerland, Germany, and Austria is the tiny principality of Liechtenstein. It is one of the smallest countries in the world but has the world's highest per capita GDP's at over $140,000 per year. The country is filled with art and flanked by the alps. It is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. In the hills, above the capital city of Vaduz, is a castle where a ruling royal family still lives to this day.
Here are some pictures from this wonderful place.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Visiting Venice is a lot like living in a painting. The colors and reflections feel ephemeral. You blink and the picture changes. The size of Venice ceases to exceed its usefulness as no corner, road, bridge, or shop seems wasted or useless. Each thing plays a part in defining her character. The peeling paint reflects glories of the past, with the new layers an homage to the upkeep of a starstung legacy. The beauty is so effervescent that even a blind man could make a career as a photographer here. While people may come and go, none forget. Hemingway hunted, Napoleon conquered, Monet painted, Leonardo invented, and millions more have gasped and gawked in the shadows of this most storied settlement. It is to be savored like some early morning dream that surreptitiously impacts the remains of the day.
In Venice, the ambiance alone is so beautiful and otherworldly that just wandering aimlessly provides fantastic results. Beyond errant exploration though, Venice provides many gorgeous sights and enchanting islands for travelers to explore. Here are 10 things to do in Venice and around the lagoon.
Gallery: 10 Things to do in Venice
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Once you have arrived in Florence, the beauty can be overwhelming. I do not have a cure for Stendhal Syndrome, but I do have some experiences for you to enjoy while exploring this old town.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Hong Kong is all about balance. Nature and steel. Silt and sparkle. Yin and Yang. This masterpiece of divergences is a Feng shui city bereft of boring angles or a predictable head turn. Spicy aromas billow from a flaming street wok. An animated hawker peddles jade from a humble stoop, his wispy beard blowing in a gust from a passing double-decker. In a corner office sixty floors up, a suited banker creates eastern wealth like a modern day alchemist. Each plays a part in defining the complexities of character forged in this balancing act of humanity. Vertically, Hong Kong is man's answer to the California redwoods - thousands of spires erupting out of the earth like a civilization on steroids. If ever mankind had something to prove, they proved it here on the banks of the South China Sea.
After the Opium Wars in the 19th century, Hong Kong became a British colony. This colonial conquest fostered Hong Kong's character in amazing ways. Compromises were made, the city was built, and the unlikely union created a hybrid society where east met west. The Brits and the Chinese built towards the sun and created a hulking civilization. The end result is Hong Kong - a city lavished in sublime food and breathtaking vistas. It is near impossible to yawn with boredom in this extraordinary city, and these ten experiences are a great foundation to any stay in Hong Kong.
Gallery: Hong Kong
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Monday, April 9, 2012
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
What comes to mind when you think of the world's worst place? While it is easy to complain about rural Wal-marts, La Guardia, Applebee's, and any government office with motor vehicle in its title, none of those places escalate the game from nuisance to immediate danger. All of them can be horrible, yes, but a threatened existence they do not pose.
The places on this list are the bad places. Some have run out of hope. Others have fought war for so long it is the new normal. Most are exceptionally dangerous and heartbreaking. And while none of them are fighting for write-ups by travel bloggers or inspiring travel with the NetJet set, some of these locations may someday be on the travel map. After all, it was not long ago that current hot-spots like Cambodia and Croatia would have made such a list.