July 30, 2012

Sandra T. Enjoying Business Class Lounge Photo: John Pond

Flying to San Francisco recently from Sydney, we decided to try United Airlines Business Class due to their lie flat beds. After completing check-in procedures, clearing customs and security, we were looking forward to visiting the Business Class lounge prior to boarding the flight.  United Airlines does not have its own lounge at Sydney Airport for Business and First Class passengers, but shares the lounge facilities of its Star Alliance partner, Air New Zealand.  We relaxed in the lounge, where we enjoyed a glass of wine with a light snack and some cake and coffee before starting our journey.

When the flight was called for boarding, it was just a short walk from the lounge to the boarding gate.  After a warm welcome on boarding the plane, we went straight up the stairs to the Upper Deck of the Business Class section.  Although there is a section of Business Class on the plane’s main level, we find the Upper Deck section is much quieter and more secluded.   There is a lot of leg room and at the press of a button, located in the arm rest, the comfortable seat can both recline or turn into a lie flat bed.

After a very good sleep on the lie flat bed, we were served breakfast about two hours before landing.  Our on time arrival in San Francisco was around 11 a.m.  Once off the plane, we were surprised by the very long queues at immigration, where after presenting documentation, each person was electronically finger printed on both hands before exiting to the baggage carousel and customs.  Outside the terminal, there were plenty of taxis lined up.  The ride to the downtown area, approximately 25 minutes away, cost around $45.   Sandra T.

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July 30, 2012

Sandra T. at Mandarin Oriental Munich

Oktoberfest, the world’s largest and most famous beer festival, runs in Munich from 22 September to 7 October 2012.

If you are planning to visit this elegant city during Oktoberfest, why not experience this famous event in true style at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, located in the centre of Munich, just minutes away from the Marienplatz.  I stayed at this hotel a few weeks ago and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys 5 star accommodation.

The hotel has a special Oktoberfest Package which includes Bavarian amenities in your room upon arrival and breakfast for two in Restaurant Mark’s, their Michelin starred restaurant.  The package also includes a carriage tour, with drinks and Bavarian pretzels, to the Oktoberfest tent plus two seats at a table for eight in the Hippodrom tent with a three course dinner.

The Hippodrom tent, opened in 1902, is perhaps the most famous of the Oktoberfest tents, and is known for its good food, fantastic beer, champagne bar and amazing atmosphere.

The origins of Oktoberfest began in 1810 when the citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities associated with the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig.  Horse races closed the festivities which were celebrated all over Bavaria.  When the horse races were held the following year, this gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest.  Several years later visitors at the races were able to quench their thirst at beer stands and in 1896 these stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls.

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel is just one street away from the famous Hofbrauhaus at 9 Platzl, the world’s most famous beer hall.   Sandra T   Photos:  John Pond

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July 9, 2012

Emirates Airlines is embarking on a major expansion of its network, with three additional destinations to be launched in the next six months.  From 1 November, Emirates will launch four weekly flights to Adelaide from Dubai, growing to a daily service from 1 February 2013.  Adelaide will become Emirates’ fifth destination in Australia.

The current twice daily service to Perth will expand to 19 weekly flights from 1 December, becoming a triple daily operation from 1 March next year.

“Emirates is currently in a concentrated and sustained period of global expansion,” said His Highness (H.H.) Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group (Pictured).  “The addition of Adelaide to our network and the boost to our Perth operations demonstrates our commitment to investment and growth in our Australian operations and highlights the economic strength and global demand for the two cities as business, leisure and investment destinations.  We will also grow capacity to Melbourne with the introduction of daily A380 services in October, in addition to our existing double decker flight into Sydney.”

The French city of Lyon will also be added to Emirates’ network from 5 December, making it their third French destination along with Paris and Nice, plus a daily service to Warsaw, Poland will begin on 6 February 2013.

The airline currently has a fleet of 176 aircraft, including the world’s largest Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 fleet, flying to 124 destinations and supported globally by more than 60,000 staff.

Emirates has one of the world’s most generous baggage policies, allowing passengers in Economy 30 kg, Business 40 kg and First 50 kg of checked baggage.  These generous allowances are a huge bonus to Australians, who always seem to travel with a lot of luggage.  When planning a trip and choosing an airline, I am sure generous baggage allowances act as an incentive to book with Emirates.   Sandra T.

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July 7, 2012

The recent opening of “Chiswick”, co-owned and operated by Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan is a welcome addition to Sydney’s dining scene.  Diners in the Eastern Suburbs are glad to see Chiswick Gardens, the picturesque small park on Ocean Street Woollahra, is once again home to a restaurant.

I thought it would be just the place to take my partner John, to celebrate his birthday.  We both loved the light filled interior and as we were sitting beside the window we had beautiful views over the park.  The casual atmosphere was very pleasant and it was fun to look into the open kitchen where we could watch the chefs preparing and cooking the meals.

I particularly enjoyed my entrée of char grilled scallops.  My main of battered flathead fillets left me barely enough room to squeeze in dessert of rhubarb éclair, but I did manage to finish it off.

A pleasant surprise was having Matt Moran come to our table and chat for a few minutes.

Most of the beef and lamb served at Chiswick is sourced from the Moran Family Farm on the Central Tablelands in Rockley, New South Wales.  When not available from the farm, the meat is supplied by local butchers, Victor Churchill in Woollahra.  The on site garden provides many of the vegetables and herbs used by the chefs.

Several decades ago, Chiswick Gardens was the location of Pruniers, one of Sydney’s most well known restaurants.   Sandra T.   Photo:  John Pond

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July 6, 2012

If you are lucky enough to be cruising aboard one of the twelve modern ships in MSC Cruises’ fleet at the end of July, no need to worry about missing any of the news or results from the London Olympics.  From 27 July to 12 August, passengers will be able to watch live coverage of the Summer Olympic Games, whilst on board.

More than 2000 hours of the Games will be broadcast via satellite into all of the ships’ public areas as well as into cabins.

Sports loving passengers can combine their holiday with watching coverage of 29 sports as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.  Passengers will be able to place bets on the Games, the Finals and on the number of medals each nation will take home.

Entertainment on board all twelve MSC ships during this time, will be Olympic themed.  On every cruise there will be a colourful parade celebrating different nationalities, plus the anthems of countries will be sung around the pool in a fun filled ceremony.  Sports buffs will be able to show off their knowledge and impress their fellow passengers at the special quizzes on the history of the Olympic Games.

MSC’s chefs have taken inspiration from the Games and will be serving cakes decorated with the famous symbol of interlocked rings.

Sounds like lots of fun, shame it only happens every four years. Sandra T.

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