Back to North America: NYC edition

Maybe Liechtenstein – Part 6 (March 2017)

Before leaving Switzerland, we spent a night out by the airport as we both had morning flights the next day.  We arrived at the Radisson Blu hotel and checked in for our last night in Switzerland.  I was looking forward to the stay as they have a huge vertical wine library in the center of the hotel.  After finding our room, which faced the inner courtyard (and the wine), we made our way down to watch the acrobats fetch requested bottles from the tower.  It’s actually a neat thing to watch and would suggest having a glass or two if you ever find yourself at this hotel or have some extended time at the airport (since it’s outside security.)

zurich-radisson-blu-wine-bar-airport
Wine bar at Radisson Blu (Zurich Airport)

Continue reading

Advertisements

Maybe Liechtenstein

Maybe Liechtenstein – Part 5 (February 2017)

If you’ve noticed, this trip was dubbed “Maybe Liechtenstein” (you can search the #maybeliechtenstein hashtag on Instagram to see more fun photos) because we were never really quite sure if we’d make it to the small land locked country.  But we packed up and left our Airbnb in Zurich and once again hopped on the train.  We started with a train ride through Switzerland to Sargens, the main stop closest to the border.  Once you get to this station, you can either take a bus directly to Vaduz, the capital, or take a local train one stop north and then a short bus ride across to the city.  We opted for the bus since we had to transfer to a second bus in order to make it to our hotel, Hotel Kulm, located in the mountains just above the city.

train to liechtenstein
Views from the train on the way to Sargens

Continue reading

Lucerne Day Trip

Maybe Liechtenstein – Part 4 (February 2017)

I love taking trains!  Maybe not as much as Sheldon (BBT reference), but I still think it’s such a fun way to travel.  Luckily Switzerland seems to share my option.  The train system in the country is fantastic!  After deciding to take a last minute day trip to Lucerne,  we booked some super saver tickets.  You can only book these on the app or online so it’s a good idea to check there first.  Unlike normal tickets, you’re locked in to a specific train but get a really good deal.  You can find more information on the SBB website.

IMG_20170227_093856_089
Great views coming in to Lucerne on the train.
Continue reading

Zurich

Maybe Liechtenstein – Part 3 (February 2017)

I left Paris and hopped on my Air France flight to Zurich (still a part of my points ticket) and I got a chance to visit the Air France lounge for Schengen flights.  Unfortunately it was far away from my gate since the one closest to my gate was under construction.  The lounge was still a nice place to relax before the relatively short flight.  There were lots of drink options, including bottles of Evian, wine, and liquor, and a decent selection of food and snacks.  My flight was nothing too special, due to the short duration and the fact that “European Business Class” is just regular seats with the middle blocked out.

After a short hop from Paris, I arrived in Zurich slightly before my friend, who was coming from a connecting flight in Amsterdam.  There was some crazy weather and most of the flights that day had been cancelled, except for hers luckily!  I tried to meet her at the gate, but the plane ended up being diverted to the auxilary gates with a bus ride to the terminal.  We ended up meeting at baggage claim to pick up her luggage.  Of course, she made the flight but sadly her bag did not, due to a super tight connection.  After filing the appropriate paperwork, we were off to Zurich. Continue reading

A Canadian in Paris

Maybe Liechenstein – Part 2 (February 2017)

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been to Paris many times, but it had been a while since I spent more than a day there.  I ended up having the equivalent of three full days there (midday Monday to midday on Thursday) and I tried to fit in as much as possible.  Much of my time was spent running around between monuments, and finding delicious vegan restaurants to try.

Although Paris has a pretty decent metro system, I decided to walk most places.  I always enjoy walking around a city if I can since it gives me a much better sense of the city, and sometimes you stumble upon fun surprises.  Luckily the weather cooperated and although it wasn’t sunny, the overcast sky gave the city a cozy mood.

Continue reading

Homeless for 2 months…

As I sit here in the final stages of cleaning my apartment, I’m realizing it really hasn’t looked this good since I moved in.  But why am I cleaning it?  Because I’m subletting my apartment to help fund my travels for the next two months.

After looking at my Calendar for September and October, I realized I’d be lucky to hit double digits of days I’m actually in Vancouver.  Since it kinda bothered me that my place would just be sitting empty most of the time, I decided to embrace the nomad lifestyle and put everything in storage (aka other people’s houses) and see what I could accomplish in two months. Continue reading

Paris, tu m’as manqué!

Maybe Liechtenstein – Part 1 (February 2017)

This trip started way back when I thought I would need a ticket back from Europe in March. I found some award space on American Airlines from Zurich to NYC to LAX and home. As it turns out, I ended up not being in Europe, so instead of cancelling the ticket I looked for a flight to get me over to Europe instead. I lucked out and found a points flight from Vancouver to Paris! It’s been so long since I have spent more than a day in Paris, I took it as a sign and booked it on the spot! And then I was able to tag on a flight to Zurich on the same ticket which made it easy to get back home again.

Unlike many of my trips, this one involved a direct flight 😮 Air France YVR-CDG on a 777-200 with the new business class! These seats are reverse herringbone seats so they’re nice and private even though they’re not entirely sectioned off. I was able to score a single window seat (the seats are arranged 1-2-1) which made it even better!

Continue reading

Soaking up Sun in Palm Springs

So after getting my fill of snow in Utah, it was time to head off to the dessert in California.  I usually try to not waste a lot of time at the airport and end up cutting it fairly close when it comes to checking in, but this time I surprised even myself.  After scheduling the 5am shuttle from my hotel, we actually ended up leaving at 5:05am, at which point I was starting to get a little worried as my flight was at 6am. A slightly stressful drive over to the airport went smoothly and I went straight to the counter to drop of my bags (thank you priority check-in!) and walked over to security.  As I was heading through the security check I got a notification that my flight was boarding, so I picked up my bags on the other side, walked to the gate, and straight on to the plane.  From the time I left the hotel to the time I was sitting in my seat on the plane was a mere 20 min!  I think that will be my personal best for quite a while. Continue reading

5 Tips for Maximizing Your Points

I get asked often how I travel so much, but really there’s no simple answer to that.  It’s a combination of many things: keeping an eye on flight deals, searching message boards, taking crazy routings, and last but certainly not least, using points.  Points tickets have allowed me to make some spectacular trips, but I do spend a great deal of time trying to optimize them.

For many years I was a loyal Aeroplan customer, part of the Star Alliance network.  However, after continued devaluations of the program, and the fact that United was the partner in the US, I made the jump over to Alaska Airline’s Mileage Program.  Although the program is not part of an alliance, they have many great partners you can redeem on.  I feel that this program is the best for me in terms of point redemption opportunities, but everyone is different. Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Reykjavik

November 2014

One of the biggest tourist booms in the last few years has happened in Iceland.  No doubt thanks to the free stopover (via Icelandair) and the new discount airlines (like WOW air), almost everyone I talk to is planning, or has just gotten back from Iceland.

I first went to Iceland in 2014, thanks to a super cheap Groupon deal with Icelandair.  Icelandair does have really good deals on their website, but the Groupon basically took that deal and made it irresistible.  So after finding an unsuspecting co-worker to go with me, we were off on an adventure!

Continue reading