Flying with Finnair

When I decided to go to Japan, the biggest concern was getting tickets for the correct dates, price and availability. Seeing as I was buying these tickets less than two days before my intended departure, availability was key and we chose Finnair. It’s also the shortest route from Prague to Osaka, with 2 hours or so from Prague to Helsinki and then 9 hours from Helsinki to Osaka with a brief 3 hour layover.

IMG_6949Pre-Flight

Pre-flight procedures here are pretty standard. You get a reminder e-mail 24 hours ahead of time and you can check in, nothing to remark on. Everything worked as it should have and I was on my way!

Flight

To be honest, it wasn’t one of my favorite flights, the seats are rather small and the place has a cramped feel to it. My return flight was significantly better, as I had two seats to myself and was able to be a little more comfortable. The best part was that the cabin temperature was pretty near perfect and I wasn’t freezing, as is sometimes the case.

Food

Food was decent, although on the way to Japan I didn’t eat much. On the way back, it was significantly better and we even got ice cream half way through the flight! You get a small bottle of water when you walk on the plane, so bonus points for that, even though it’s not enough for the long haul flight. On the short flight, you have a selection of food and drinks that you can purchase. On the other hand, service was great and always helpful.IMG_1193

TIP! Once you’re past security, bring a bottle of water for your long haul flight. I was pretty dehydrated on the way there so I did this when coming back and felt a lot better.

In-flight Entertainment

I was lucky because I travelled there and back in different months, so the movies and tv shows were slightly different. Overall, there’s a decent selection of movies and shows and I wasn’t bored, even though I hardly slept. One tip for you – you get free earphones, but I recommend that you bring your own, along with a converter to the two prong outlet for sound that airplanes have.

Overall, this was a very convenient way to get from A to B with the shortest possible travel time and best departure and arrival times. And for that alone, I would fly with them again. On the way there I was a little surprised, but on the way back I figured out what I need to do to make my flight more comfortable and it definitely was!

Weekend in Vienna

A few summers ago, I took advantage of an invitation and went to visit my friend in Vienna.

It was my first proper visit there, so I decided I would enjoy Vienna and see the city I’ve  heard and read so much about. Being a history geek, I know a decent amount about the history of the region and the Habsburg family and I was excited about seeing it all in person.

So, on a Friday afternoon after work, I hopped on a train. I made the wrong decision of grabbing a seat in a compartment with four Australian teenagers, who were doing a big Eurotrip and despite having already visited Berlin, were convinced that they were “going to Germany.” All in all, it was not a very comfortable train ride.

Four and half hours later, I stepped off the train in Wien Praternstern, where my friend was eagerly awaiting me. We walked to her place, which did not take long and grabbed dinner on the way, while catching up on the recent events in our lives.

On Saturday morning, I was woken up by the sound of rain against the window. Luckily, it was just a short shower and we were soon able to leave and explore the city. We walked and I saw some of the main sights –  St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Opera house. We ducked into a few stores along the way, which made me realize that my German is worse that I thought.

After a walk through the city, we hopped on the metro and went to see the Schonbrunn palace. After making our way through large amounts of tourists – and stopping at a café for lemonade and the famous Sacher Tort, we finally emerged in the palace gardens. The only word I can think of to describe them is magnificent. The palace and gardens  were bigger and grander than I imagined them. Even the sun decided to come out from behind the clouds. While walking through the gardens, my mind went back in time, imagining the lives of those who lived here a mere hundred years ago and their ancestors. We climbed up to the top of a hill, where the Gloriette stands. The view was amazing and it is easy to see, why this specific site was chosen for the palace.  We sat down in the grass and I was taking in every moment, every image.

schonbrunn-palace-944799_1280

After deciding that we should probably get going, we went back to the apartment to make dinner. We had a lazy evening, but decided that we shouldn’t stay in. So we went for a walk in Prater. We wanted to avoid the tourists and the loudness of the attractions, so we walked through the park.

Sunday morning came fast and with it the need to pack. We then went for a short walk, where I bought a few mandatory souvenirs and postcards, and saw the Hundertwasser house with its interesting architecture and fun designs.  A short visit to Starbucks (and the purchase of the Vienna mug from their collection), concluded my visit and I got on the train to go back.

I have to say, I really liked Vienna. Nothing there surprised me – the architecture and history makes it very similar to Prague or Budapest. I wish I had more time there, which means that I am definitely planning on coming back – there is still so much to see. But, before I visit again, I plan on improving my German and reading more about the city’s fascinating history.  


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Japan

Arima Onsen


5 things I never leave at home

IMG_5758I am usually the person who has everything in their purse – need contact solution? check. Nailpolish? Check. Tissues? Pens of various colors? Extra 50 hair ties? Check, check and check. I’m the person who goes away for a weekend with a suitcase (bigger than those tiny carry-on little things), a giant purse and possibly a laptop bag (due to the large amount of things I have in my purse, the laptop sometimes doesn’t fit). And if I’m flying on a long haul flight, add a travel pillow and refillable water bottle. But what are the five items it all boils down to that I can’t live without? Important documents aside, here’s what I never leave at home:

  1. iPhone and charger. This goes without saying. I make sure to update my apps to include a dictionary from English to the local language of where I’m going, possibly a tour guide or map. I try to have a lot of things prepared on my phone, just in case. There are also times when I don’t bring my laptop, so iPhone has to do all the work.
  2. Extra battery pack. Especially with my iPhone getting older and it’s battery life decreasing all the time, you never know when you’ll need to recharge and won’t have access to an outlet. I originally bought mine when going to a music festival, but bring it everywhere now.FullSizeRender
  3. A book (or two…or three). Ok, I’m not the best at judging the correct amount of reading material. On beach vacations, I read a book a day. If I’m traveling for the sake of exploring, I barely read. So it depends on what you’re doing, but I always have a few books of different genres with me in physical copies. And the rest I have as e-books, but I don’t like to rely on having a power source to read (also, electronics and beaches, pools, rain, sand etc. don’t mix well).
  4. Fluffy/warm socks. These are an essential for flights. I basically use them as in-flight shoes. I don’t want to wear my shoes for long haul flights, but I also don’t want to walk around the cabin barefoot or annoy my fellow passengers. So I opt for fluffy socks, which keep my feet warm and safe from whatever may be on the airplane floor. Tip: a plastic bag to put them in after use is always a great idea.
  5. Notebook and pens. You never know when inspiration will strike. I also like to jot down notes about interesting events or things we encounter. Everytime I forgot to bring a notebook, I ended up buying one at the airport (or train/bus station) on my way to my destination.

And, as we’ve said many times before, do not, under any circumstances, forget earphones. Personally, I use them only for the plane/train/bus parts of my travels because babies cry, people talk loud and it’s nice to be able to drown that out. Once I hit the ground at my destination, though, I rarely wear them so that I can enjoy the sounds of the place I’m visiting as well.

I hope that my tips helped you and let me know in the comments what you can’t leave for a trip without!


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Dubai: first impression

Three Days in Munich


Emirates – worth the hype?

For the past year or so, I’ve been hearing a lot of praise for Emirates. I’ve flown with quite a few airlines already, but I kept hearing how Emirates is off the charts wonderful. Finally last week, I got my chance to check it out and see how the airline compares to its competition. So what did I think?

My Emirates plane!

Pre-flight

To be honest, I can’t judge their booking process, as I haven’t gone through it myself. But from the point of receiving my tickets onward, I was happy with the pre-flight process. A day before each departure (from Prague and then from Dubai on my way back), I received a text message, reminding me of my upcoming departure. What was great about this text was that it included a link to online check-in, so I could complete that fairly quickly. At the airport, it was pretty standard – bag drop, quick coffee, security. The one thing I have to say is that on the way back, my check-in, passport and security checks were completed in a total of 15 minutes. That was a first for me, so I was fairly impressed and at a loss for what to do in two and a half hours I had until boarding.

Flight

On my way there, I sat in the very last row of the plane. I don’t really sleep on planes, so I’m not bothered by travelers or flight attendants frequently walking by my seat. I was flying in a Boeing, but I was immediately impressed with their in flight entertainment, which you can start watching as soon as you sit down. Boarding was a quick process and I even got lucky – the seat next to me was empty – probably the only empty seat on the plane. And on medium to long haul flights, this is something I always hope for. I held my breath and was so happy when they closed the cabin door and it was certain that I won’t be fighting for my spot on the armrest. The flight was almost entirely a smooth ride, with no major turbulence or other disruptions.

In-flight entertainment

Even before takeoff, we got hot towels to freshen up and headsets were already on our seats. As soon as the safety video was over, I started looking through my movie choices. The selection was impressive and included several movies that I have been planning to see. Which means that precisely at that point I decided that I’d use the six or so hours to catch up on movies and tv, rather than sleep. (I was grateful for the same selection on the way back, because even then I didn’t watch everything I wanted to).

The in flight entertainment was so great that I didn’t even feel the need to test the in flight WiFi or turn on my phone, which were also within the realm of possibility on these flights. 

Emirates food

Cabin service was amazing. When mealtime came, I was worried that, as often happens in the back of the plane, I wouldn’t be able to choose my meal. And guess what? They still had chicken when they reached the last row of the plane, which almost never happens. And it was not just edible, it was good. I also fell in love with their adorable mini snacks that were a part of the meal. But my favorite part? When they collected my tray ahead of time, so I didn’t have to wait for the cart to reach my row.

 

Emirates luggage tag.

Does it stack up?

Both of my flights, Prague to Dubai and the return journey a few days later, were great and comfortable experiences and we landed before I could get bored.

My conclusion: you have to try it. It’s still an airline, but if you’re traveling far and want to feel at least a little pampered even in economy class, do it.

More details on my adventure in Dubai are coming soon, so make sure to check in later!


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How we flew with Ryan Air

How to plan your trip (without going crazy)


How to plan your trip (without going crazy)

DSCN2952Originally I was going to write this post while planning my three week trip to the US in September, but because, as usual, life happened and I had to cancel last minute. But even though I didn’t go, I went through the entire process of trip planning, so I decided I would share with you how I do it.

Even though it depends on what sort of a trip you’re planning – weekend getaway, road trip across a foreign country or a beach getaway, you have things to learn and plan, so here are my tips

  1. Flight (alternatively bus or train tickets, or car route). Basically, how are you getting to your destination (or the start point of your road trip) and back? It’s always good to start with this so that you have definite time information about the beginning and end of your trip. Personally, I check on websites that compare multiple airlines, so that I get an idea of the prices and can pick who I want to fly with. But I usually end up buying tickets with the airlines themselves, they are usually ever so slightly cheaper and the terms might be better. So it’s worth it to check out both the airline itself and other websites.
  1. Now that you know how and when you’re getting to your destination, it’s time to decide whether or not you will be in one destination for the entire trip or if you’ll be moving around. If you’re going to be moving around and spending time in different places, the next step is to check out transportation. Will you be renting a car? Taking a bus? Train? Look up arrangements, costs and travel times and possibilities. As was the case with my trip to the US, I looked at a few bus companies and AmTrak. I ended up picking a combination of buses that suited my route and budget the best. Map out your entire journey – if I plan on moving around, I like printing a map and drawing my routes in or looking them up on Google.
  1. Hotels! This is my favorite part. I love looking at places to stay and sleep. And since you have your individual trips planned out, you know where you will be staying. Look up possibilities and make sure to look at customer reviews on websites such as Trip Advisor. Also, don’t trust the amount of stars a hotel has. We’ve seen so many different three star hotels – ranging from nearly luxury suites to tiny moldy rooms.
  1. Now that you know the most important things, it’s time to see what you can do and see when you’re there! Obviously, if all you want to do is lie on a beach, your job is super easy. If you want to see as much as possible, look at things that are reachable by public transport or within a couple hours’ drive.
  1. And, most importantly, HAVE FUN!! Be flexible, don’t freak out when things don’t go exactly according to plan, they rarely do. But that’s what makes life interesting :)

My final tip is – you never know when you’ll have or won’t have access to the internet or a printer. Make sure you have the most important documents printed – plane/bus/train tickets, hotel reservations and possibly a list of places you want to go.

Is there anything you like to do when you plan a trip? Let me know below :) Fun travels!


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How we flew with Ryan Air

Festival survival tips