A trip to the Etihad Airways First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi was the warm-up to the main event: flying the Etihad First Apartment from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne. It was essentially the only reason we had chosen to route from the US to Australia via the Middle East. And a visit to the brand new lounge was nearly as exciting as flying the A380 since our trip was just about 3 weeks after the May 30th grand opening–talk about timing!
As a result, we were purposely very, VERY early arriving at the airport for as much lounge-time as possible before heading to our gate. We checked in quickly and were welcomed into the lounge which is located immediately after going through [...]
While in Argentina’s wine country, we wanted to be sure to see some vineyards and see the outskirts of Mendoza… plus try some local wines. Mendoza’s wine regions account for about 70% of all the wine produced in Argentina, so visiting some wineries and tasting some Malbec is a must while staying in Mendoza.
Turns out, though, that planning a day trip to wineries is a little harder than we thought. Mendoza’s wine regions stretch out over more than 350,000 acres and there are three separate regions within Mendoza. So, with just one day set aside for this, we quickly realized we couldn’t see it all. First, we had to pick a region (we went with Maipú) [...]
Even though we were only in Dubai for 3 days before heading to Australia, we were trying to see as much of the city and surrounding area as we could in such little time. Of course, the center of Dubai is pretty impressive, with the world’s tallest building, indoor ski slopes, etc., but we really wanted to see outside the city, too.
Especially after taking the culture tour of Ramadan (here), we learned that Dubai used to be a small fishing village– and, of course, it’s right in the middle of the desert, so we wanted to see a type of terrain that we were unfamiliar with. We’d also just visited Arizona, so we were curious to compare that desert climate [...]
Mendoza is an excellent small town for a self-guided walking tour and just about everything can be explored within a day on foot. We would, of course, recommend a few more days than that to explore the vineyards and, depending on the season, another day or two to check out the ski slopes that aren’t too far away.
Here’s a map of the route that has a lot of the highlights you’ll want to check out as well as practical info, such as the bus station, airport, grocery stores (to stock up on cheap Mendoza wine!), etc:Stay
We stayed at the Park Hyatt Mendoza and would highly recommend it. It is in the perfect location and quite luxurious. Find our [...]
On our way to Australia, we spent our first few days in Dubai. It was my first trip to the UAE and Jeffrey’s second, and it was fun to split up our trip with a stop in Dubai- especially to get a taste of non-Western culture since our final destination of Australia was about as Western-feeling as you can get!
After flying Etihad Airlines into Abu Dhabi, we decided to spend our entire time in Dubai. Originally, we planned to spend a day or two in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but ultimately decided to spend all 3 days in Dubai to get a better feel for the city and try to stop over in Abu Dhabi in the future. Looking back, we’re glad we made that decision as any shorter [...]
Our first night in Göreme was quite different than our time in Istanbul. We try our best to visit more than one city in a country because only then can you truly grasp any sense of the people, their culture, and their history. While Istanbul is a bustling, international city, the town of Göreme is much slower paced and its history is practically oozing out of each rock and cave.
I knew I wanted to go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia the minute we booked our flights to Istanbul, so our sole purpose of going to Göreme was for this activity. We did some research before leaving on our trip and ended up booking [...]
The Park Hyatt Dubai is a Hyatt Category 5 property, meaning award nights will cost you 20,000 points or 10,000 + $125. Booking with points didn’t make much sense, though, as we were able to book a special 3-night minimum Ramadan rate of about ~$150 US/night + tax. Best of all, when booking with cash or Points + Cash, you can apply a Diamond Suite Upgrade which will land you in a suite and get you access to the minibar for free. More on that later.CHECK-IN
We arrived at the Park Hyatt Dubai around 9:30 pm on a Thursday night during Ramadan after a very long travel day from the US (see Etihad B787 [...]
After leaving Istanbul, we headed to Göreme, in the Cappadocia region of central Turkey. The Cappadocia area is known for its unique geography and rich history. Our main reason for visiting the area was to see the famous caves and “fairy chimneys” and take a world-famous hot air balloon ride.
Trying to cram a lot into a small amount of time, our first 24 hours in Göreme involved lots of activities with little sleep: we got to the hotel (which was partly built into the volcanic rock) around 8pm, dropped our stuff, and headed to dinner at this cool restaurant we found within walking distance, Topdeck Cave Restaurant.
After landing in Abu Dhabi-AUH from our flight from Washington, D.C., we popped into the Etihad Arrivals Lounge after going through passport control/customs. We had our chauffeur already scheduled, so we really only had the time to head to the lounge for some water. We couldn’t stop ourselves from trying a quick snack, too — pita and hummus and a few bite-sized sandwiches.
At around, the lounge was mostly empty. Interestingly, it looked very similar to the Etihad lounge at IAD, with the same decor: dark wood with bright white and light blue leather upholstery.
In the lounge, [...]
While we were in Istanbul, we were bound and determined to get the full experience of visiting an authentic Turkish bath. We began researching the different options after we’d arrived in Istanbul and quickly found out that the true Turkish baths have separate male and female sections (that makes sense… not trying to be ogled by strange men). But, after scouting out TripAdvisor and a few other websites, we gathered that many of the “true” Turkish bath visits involve excessively awkward experiences, compliments of lots of old-person nudity.
Throw in a language barrier, and we (hesitantly) opted for [...]