Archives for category: airline travel
The Millau Viaduct

Last week, Berlin experienced a heat wave. (This week, it’s cold and rainy.) On Thursday, the day after President Obama’s visit to Berlin, the city had a high of 36°C (97°F). Luckily, I had booked a mini vacation to the south of France and was able to escape the blistering heat. The trip was wonderful: good food, excellent wine, friendly people, and joie de vivre. (I had a croissant and coffee every morning. I was in heaven!)

The Millau Bridge as
compared to the Eiffel Tower


One site that I visited was the Millau Viaduct near the charming city of Millau. The Millau Viaduct is the world’s tallest bridge (270 meters or 890 ft), and it’s absolutely amazing. The two visitor centers detail the engineering feats that went into its construction, which took just 4 years to build. The surrounding countryside and the city of Millau reminded me of Switzerland. All that was missing were the snow covered alps.  

On the negative side, my plane ride was less than ideal. Air France has succumbed to the nickle and dime approach to revenue generation. My ticket (not cheap) did not permit a checked bag and my total carry-on items were subject to a 20 kilo weight limit, which Air France strictly adhered to. I was stopped two times on my way to the boarding gate to have my bag and small satchel carefully weighed (11 kilos). 

Millau on a quiet Sunday afternoon




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The Millau Viaduct

Last week, Berlin experienced a heat wave. (This week, it’s cold and rainy.) On Thursday, the day after President Obama’s visit to Berlin, the city had a high of 36°C (97°F). Luckily, I had booked a mini vacation to the south of France and was able to escape the blistering heat. The trip was wonderful: good food, excellent wine, friendly people, and joie de vivre. (I had a croissant and coffee every morning. I was in heaven!)

The Millau Bridge as
compared to the Eiffel Tower


One site that I visited was the Millau Viaduct near the charming city of Millau. The Millau Viaduct is the world’s tallest bridge (270 meters or 890 ft), and it’s absolutely amazing. The two visitor centers detail the engineering feats that went into its construction, which took just 4 years to build. The surrounding countryside and the city of Millau reminded me of Switzerland. All that was missing were the snow covered alps.  

On the negative side, my plane ride was less than ideal. Air France has succumbed to the nickle and dime approach to revenue generation. My ticket (not cheap) did not permit a checked bag and my total carry-on items were subject to a 20 kilo weight limit, which Air France strictly adhered to. I was stopped two times on my way to the boarding gate to have my bag and small satchel carefully weighed (11 kilos). 

Millau on a quiet Sunday afternoon




Billiard Area in the Turkish Airlines
Business Class Lounge

No one disputes that air travel isn’t what it used to be. It seems there’s been a race to the bottom among the US airlines in providing comfort and service to its customers. In the past, when I had the opportunity to visit a Business Class Lounge, it was a real treat; but these days, the Business Class Lounge offers little more than coffee and a few mediocre snacks, at best. Sure there’s Wi-Fi (if it’s up and running), and it’s sometimes a quiet refuge from the chaos of the airport, but it sure isn’t plush. 

On the other hand, if I ever have the opportunity to visit Istanbul, I intend to fly on Turkish Airlines and splurge for Business Class-just to visit the lounge. According to many frequent flyers, the Istanbul Business Class lounge is the best in the world. With phenomenal food, open bar, first class business center, kids play area, quiet room, and even billiard tables, Turkish Airlines knows how to make travel enjoyable.

Billiard Area in the Turkish Airlines
Business Class Lounge

No one disputes that air travel isn’t what it used to be. It seems there’s been a race to the bottom among the US airlines in providing comfort and service to its customers. In the past, when I had the opportunity to visit a Business Class Lounge, it was a real treat; but these days, the Business Class Lounge offers little more than coffee and a few mediocre snacks, at best. Sure there’s Wi-Fi (if it’s up and running), and it’s sometimes a quiet refuge from the chaos of the airport, but it sure isn’t plush. 

On the other hand, if I ever have the opportunity to visit Istanbul, I intend to fly on Turkish Airlines and splurge for Business Class-just to visit the lounge. According to many frequent flyers, the Istanbul Business Class lounge is the best in the world. With phenomenal food, open bar, first class business center, kids play area, quiet room, and even billiard tables, Turkish Airlines knows how to make travel enjoyable.



In addition to the wider seats, the extra leg room, the better food and service, one of the biggest advantages in traveling business or first class is not having to worry about work, the house, or the family. You’re 30,000 feet in the air, away from everything! For a few hours, you’re free from the mundane. If you want coffee, a snack, or just an extra pillow, just ask, and it’s yours. For me the comfort and ease of traveling business (or first) class is worth the extra dollars. 

Perhaps, my attitude about traveling business class is best reflected in the wonderfully humorous novel and film, Travels With My AuntIn the book, Aunt Augusta proclaims to her earnest and proper nephew, “[t]he difference between first and tourist class is wiped out by the champagne and caviar.” (Perhaps, a bit of an overstatement these days. And do the airlines still serve caviar in first class?) As Aunt Augusta reflects on her rather extraordinary and unorthodox life, she wisely notes that “sometimes the journey is more enjoyable than the destination.” I have to agree. Some of my most memorable experiences have occurred while on the journey. 


Most people can’t wait to get off the plane after a long flight, but for some travelers staying at the Jumbo Hostel in Stockholm is the destination in itself.

Welcome aboard the world’s first Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet converted into a reasonably priced hotel for the discerning traveler. Jumbo Hostel is only a 3 minute ride from the terminals at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport and is perfect for anyone catching an early flight.

Most of the plane’s interior has been gutted and converted into a modern Swedish-inspired hotel. The hotel boasts 27 rooms, with 75 beds. It offers standard guest rooms, budget-priced dormitory style rooms, and even a luxury suite (the converted cockpit with a panoramic view of the airport). The hotel has a cafe and snack bar, as well as an observation deck built along the top of the jet’s left wing, allowing guests to view the airport’s taxi-way. The 747’s upper deck, which was used as the first-class lounge, is still there with the original seats and serving areas. You can even order a standard airline meal (not sure I’m up for that). 

It has me sold. The next time I’m in Stockholm, I staying here for a truly unique and affordable experience.