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How I Survive Long Flights

I’ve been asked a few times to share some of my tips for surviving long haul (10+ hour airline flights). To be honest, at this point I don’t really mind long flights so much. I get to watch all the bad movies that I want, I catch up with my Kindle, and I get to eat in a reclining position. What’s so bad? But I do have a few routines that I do on all of my long flights, to make them more tolerable, besides the obvious “bring your own entertainment,” “bring your own snacks” pieces of advice. So here are some that I’d like to share with you today..and I’d love to hear your survival tips as well in the comments!

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1. Lots and lots and lots of water. I am obsessed with drinking water on planes. I have a procedure down pat – right before boarding and after security, I go and buy the biggest bottle (usually around a liter) of water that I can find in a gift shop, along with a smaller bottle of sparkling.

Then on the plane, I always ask for both sparkling and still water at any opportunity before and during the meal service. And drink it all. I don’t open my own bottles until bedtime, when there’s less service. Also, in business/first I always ask for the individual bottle of water if it isn’t already placed during turndown.

That equals two smaller and one large bottle of water…not to mention all of the water I ask for during meal/snack service. And yes, I drink every last drop. It helps keep my skin hydrated, and I’m convinced it helps me adapt jet lag wise. Do it! There’s virtually no downside, except for the cost of the water and the many bathroom breaks. Continue Reading

Asia Aviation Travel

Traveling to Australia – Qantas A380 First Class

Traveling to Australia – Qantas A380
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney – Spice I Am, Watsons Bay, Manly Beach, Cafe Paci
Sydney – The Opera House Black Star Bakery, The Rocks, Sake
Emirates Wolgan Valley – Part One

Emirates Wolgan Valley – Part Two
Kangaroo Island – Southern Ocean Lodge, Part One

Kangaroo Island – Southern Ocean Lodge, Part Two

This was both me and Mr. Feather’s first time ever in Australia – we both love to travel, but the sheer distance to the country had kept us both away for years. We finally decided to make the trip – about 16 hours in the air, each way. It is a testament to my true love for my husband that I agreed to do a SFO-LAX-SYD connection instead of a simple SFO-SYD direct (I have a near absolute rule to always fly the shortest route, and non-stop whenever possible). However, Mr. Feather loves planes and really wanted to fly the Qantas A380, which only flies out of LAX. So in the early evening, we made our way over to LAX!

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I hadn’t been in LAX for years but was impressed by the new improvements and shopping area. Both oneworld and Star Alliance have new lounges there as well – we were in oneworld’s business lounge which I’d rate as fair. Qantas will apparently open a dedicated lounge later in 2015.

We didn’t have too much time in the lounge anyway, as it was soon time to board the plane! I’ve only flown the A380 a few times before and always forget just how huge the planes are.

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A first look at the seats where we’d be spending the next 16 hours of our lives. A nice amount of space in each “suite”,and the large seat essentially would twist to the left when you started to recline, in order to fully extend.

Qantas A380 First Class Seat Continue Reading

Asia Aviation Europe Food Hotels Travel

24 Hours in Istanbul

This is part ten of my travel series to South Africa. For the series so far, please see below:

Traveling to South Africa – South African Airways and Federal Air
Singita Ebony – The Lodge
Singita Ebony – Day to Night
Singita Sweni – The Lodge
Singita Sweni – Day to Night
Cape Grace
Cape Town – The Peninsula Tour and The Boat House
Cape Town – City and Winelands Tour
Cape Town – V&A Waterfront, Test Kitchen, Fork and Table Mountain
24 Hours in Istanbul

On the way home to San Francisco from Cape Town, we ended up having about a 24 hour layover in Istanbul. Somehow after we booked our trip, we got it into our heads that our layover was only a few hours, and thus of course didn’t book a hotel in the city. By the time we were in Africa however, I realized that we had an overnight and quickly booked us a room and jotted down a few recommended sights in Istanbul. Our overnight ended up being the ideal plan – it was great to break up the long travel time back, and plus we got to dip our toes into a new country!

So on the morning of our flight from Cape Town, we headed to the airport and got ready to board our plane.

By the way – if you are checking any baggage, I’d highly recommend that you have it plastic wrapped. Everybody from the concierge to the airline staff were recommending this step.

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And then we boarded our plane! It was the first time on Turkish Air for both me and Mr. Feather.

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Thought this was a nice touch – flowers near the entrance on the plane while we were boarding.

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Our seats. Turkish flies a two class plane from Cape Town to Istanbul. This was their business/first equivalent.

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The seats were lie flat and they offered turn down service.

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Decent sized personal on board entertainment screen.

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We were quite happy with the Turkish Air seats – they were your basic business lie flat and while not brand new, they were definitely newer/in better shape than those on SAA.

The service was also quite good – more on the efficient Lufthansa “How can we solve this problem side”, versus the Cathay/Singapore “How can we make your day better” attitude. I like both equally so was happy.

Where Turkish really excelled however was the food. They had some great service flairs, like clearly outlining in a folder the food options for the different segments of the flight.

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What I also really liked was the check off system for breakfast – so instead of an attendant coming around and asking for your breakfast order, you simply filled out this card before going to sleep.

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The Cape Town to Istanbul flight has about an hour stop in Johannesburg (you don’t deplane). During that flight, we were served small sandwiches, a sweet nutty tart, and drinks. Continue Reading

Africa Aviation Europe Food Travel

Traveling to South Africa – South African Airways and Federal Air

This is part one of my trip to South Africa, 2013. For the complete series, please see below:

Traveling to South Africa – South African Airways and Federal Air
Singita Ebony – The Lodge
Singita Ebony – Day to Night
Singita Sweni – The Lodge
Singita Sweni – Day to Night
Cape Grace
Cape Town – The Peninsula Tour and The Boat House
Cape Town – City and Winelands Tour
Cape Town – V&A Waterfront, Test Kitchen, Fork and Table Mountain
24 Hours in Istanbul

Going to Africa has always seemed very daunting to me because of the incredibly long travel time, especially from California. We finally decided to take the plunge and I will confirm the obvious now – yes, if you’re coming from the US, the travel time will be long. The two most likely options available to us were to either go to DC or New York and take a very long direct flight to Johannesburg from there, or to transit through Europe. In the end, we decided to go through Europe in order to arrive in the morning in Johannesburg and transfer to our safari lodge on the same day.

All right…here goes the long saga. We decided to do our layover in London, and took the afternoon United flight over.

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Nothing particularly unusual about the flight and I’ve flown United many many times by now overseas so it’s become almost routine. My one piece of feedback is that I wish they’d change up their ice cream sundae dessert! They’ve had it forever.

We landed in Heathrow after about 11 hours. We had quite a long layover in London, something like 12 hours, so of course we wanted to head into the city!  Star Alliance has a decent arrivals lounge in Heathrow where you can grab a shower and some food. We had some quick breakfast snacks and then dropped off our bags and headed off for the Tube. We arrived in Knightsbridge around 10 AM and from there went to some of our favorite spots.

First off I dragged Mr. Feather to do some shopping – as I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect leather jacket. I tried on a few and finally found my perfect one at Harvey Nichols (hint: it wasn’t the Rick Owens one). Here’s one of options I tried at Harrods, if you go in the morning the crowds are much less insane.

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After a few hours of shopping and wandering around Knightsbridge, it was time to meet one of our friends for lunch at one of our favorite eating spots in London – The Wolseley! The restaurant was a very pleasant walk away and we chose to amble slowly through Hyde Park. The weather was amazing – one of those perfect days when everybody is outside and out of the office by 4 having drinks.

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This is my favorite dish at The Wolseley – the kedgeree. I get this literally every time we come to London, I’ve definitely eaten it over ten times and probably closer to twenty. It’s amazing – a rice pilaf with smoked fish, a poached and a light curry cream powder. So, so good. If you are in London you must go to The Wolseley and try this dish (reservations highly recommended!). Continue Reading