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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