Thursday, April 25, 2013

Langham Hotels 1865 Welcome Package

As mentioned in my post here, I recently applied for free elite status with the 1865 program with langham hotels.  My welcome package arrived yesterday, and I have to admit its one of the nicer welcome packages I have received.  Aside from the membership card there is also a pretty nifty luggage tag.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Photo of the Week: Boston

In light of the tragic events at the Boston marathon, I wanted to share a picture of my Alma mater, Boston College.  I spent 4 wonderful years at BC and have fond memories of Marathon Monday.  The marathon route passes through BC's campus just at the end of "heart break hill" as the course heads into the home stretch.  Patriots day was always such a jovial and celebratory holiday in Boston and its a shame it will forever be tainted.  My thoughts are with all those effected by the tragic events of this past Monday.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Trip Report: Easter Island

There is no question about it, Easter island is far far far away from everywhere. Situated over 2,100 miles off the coast of South America, Easter island is the most isolated inhabited island on earth. As such, visiting this small dot in the middle of the Pacific Ocean can be tricky. The island is serviced by LAN Airlines with non stop routes from Santiago Chile, Lima Peru (possibly being discontinued?) and Papeete Tahiti.   mataveri airport (IPC) is located in Hanga Roi, the only real town on the island, the rest of the island is practically uninhabited.  There is one main road that makes a large loop around the island.  The island is relatively small - only 63square miles. 4 days there is sufficient to see all of the main sights if you have a car. 

I was able to visit Easter Island using British airways miles prior to their conversion to avios.  I was able to book a flight from New York to Lima (Stop Over), Lima to Easter Island (stop over).  Easter Island to Buenos Aires (Stopover) and Buenos Aires to New York on LAN.  The first 3 legs of the trip were booked into Business class and the final leg was in economy.  The total mileage cost was 60k per person.  LAN has an excellent business class product including fully flat seats.  If you have extra American airline or British airways miles lying around, LAN may be a good option for you.

As for accommodations, I ended up stying in a campground which I reviewed separately here.  I thought this was a great, cheap way to see the island.  The weather there is perfect for camping year round.  Food is very expensive every where you go.  The one thing that I would have done differently was to bring some food from the mainland.  As far as language, we had no issues as most people could speak English.

 I was able to rent a car from my campground for 50$ a day, and i would have gladly paid double that in retrospect because of the amount we were able to see.  As mentioned above, I think that 4 days is enough time.  We rented the car for 2 days.  We spent 2 days exploring sites close to our campsite and around town and 2 days driving to the more inaccessible areas. 

Most people are only able to recognize Easter Island by pictures of the iconic moai.  Below, I tried to include some pictures of other things as i think that the remote beauty of the island is reason enough to consider visiting.  With a car, you can easily get out of town and be the only person on the road.  I hope you enjoy the pictures, if you have any questions about my trip please don't hesitate to let me know.

Gastronomic Adventures in Paris and Brussels Part 2

Dining in Paris on a budget is tricky.  We were staying at the Park Hyatt Vendome, which while in an amazing location, seemingly lacked nearby budget friendly dining options.  As mentioned in part 1 we chose to rely mostly on trip advisor reviews when choosing dining options.  I was generally happy with this approach to choosing restaurants.  One of our better meals of the trip however was discovered by chance while wandering around as the restaurant we had planned on going to was booked solid for the evening. 

La Cordonnerie
20, rue St-Roch, 75001 Paris, France
This was a small family run restaurant located on a quiet side street.  We got there just as they were closing up, but since we had reservations we were welcomed in.  Everything was made fresh to order and the kitchen was located right next to the dining room.  I had a pork shoulder that was slow cooked served with root vegetables.  The pork was amazing, it was so tender.  My girlfriend had plaice served with a dill sauce and fennel.  This was very good as well, but not as delicious as the pork.  If you go here i would recommend reservations as the dining room is very tiny.  Dishes were around 20euro.

Le Souffle
36,rue du Mont Thabor, Paris, France
This is somewhat of a theme restaurant.  If you couldn't guess by the title, the speciality here is the souffle.  My girlfriend had the 3 course souffle special consisting of an appetizer, main and desert souffle.  The app was a smoked herring, the main was chicken with gravy and the desert was chocolate.  I thought it was an interesting idea and the souffles were very good, but not great.  I ended up getting roast duck.  I'm not the biggest fan of duck but i figured I'm in France, so i might as well.  It was decent, but the souffles were better.  Prices were around 20euro.

Le Zinc D'Honore
30, Place du marche Saint Honore, 75001 Paris, France
We stumbled upon this place after our first choice restaurant was full.  Rather than stick to what trip advisor said we decided to take a stroll and stop in wherever seemed crowded. I thought the food here was very good.  we has escargot, lamb shank with Moroccan spices, onion soup and a fancy little desert platter.  Prices here were around 15euro for mains and were a good value considering the large portion sizes.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

JetBlue Bonus Points for new members

Here is your chance to earn 7,500 Bonus miles for signing up for JetBlue's frequent flyer program.
Heres the Link.
Become a TrueBlue member today to earn TrueBlue points, starting with your next roundtrip JetBlue flight. You'll earn 7,500 bonus points when you join, register for this special offer, book and fly a roundtrip JetBlue flight by June 19, 2013. Just follow these easy steps:
  • 1.) Fill out the form below to join TrueBlue and register for this promotion
  • 2.) Book your roundtrip flight
  • 3.) Fly by June 19, 2013

Trip Report: Lima Peru

I think the city of Lima generally has a bad reputation and many people simply pass through the airport en route to other destinations such as Machu Picchu.  Those who do stay here tend to stay in the miraflores area and dont venture into the city itself.  Now dont get me wrong, Lima's position as a culinary hotspot is no secret to those in the know, but there are also some very interesting historical sites in the city center that are often overlooked by the casual visitor. 

Lima was the capital of the Spanish empire in South America (and all of the new world for that matter).  As such, there are some very interesting and historical buildings in the older sections of town.  The main cathedral was constructed in 1535 and houses the remains of the famous conquistador  Francisco Pizarro.  The Government palace and the Archbishops palace are other excellent examples of Spanish colonial architecture, all located on the same square as the cathedral - Plaza Mayor.  A short walk away is the monastery of San Francisco.  This is certainly another must see as it houses an amazing courtyard and catacombs which are hundreds of years old.

While i certainly would not venture out into the city center at night, i found it to be perfectly safe during the day as long as you stick to the same general precautions that smart travelers should take anywhere in the world - don't flaunt your valuables, don't leave your wallet in your back pocket, etc.  If you want to experience some nightlife and dining i would suggest heading to Miraflores, a beautiful ocean front area complete with a very modern shopping mall and entertainment center. 

One additional tourist attraction that i would recommend is Huaca Pullana, an adobe pyramid from the pre-incan time period located right in the middle of a residential area.  The site also features a great restaurant.

During my 4 day visit I stayed at the Sheraton Lima Hotel and Convention center which is a great value as a category 2 hotel with award nights starting at 3000 points.  As an SPG gold, i was upgraded to the club level which included breakfast and a light evening meal daily.  The location isn't in the best of locations but this hotel did the job.  There is a supermarket right next door, it is an easy walk to the old town center and there is a free shuttle to Miraflores.  If I had Marriott Points to burn, I would stay at the J.W. Marriott, a beautiful hotel located in the heart of Miraflores overlooking the ocean 

Overall, I found the food in Lima lived up to its high expectations.  I had the best ceviche that i ever tasted and was also able to try some unique local dishes such as Guinea pig and beef heart.  All in all a great trip.

Lima Cathedral

View from my hotel room

Government palace on Plaza Mayor

Archbishops Palace

Monastery of San Francisco


Mangos Restaurant, Miraflores (see photo of food below)

J.W. Marriott in Miraflores

Dinner at Mangos

Interior of Sheraton Hotel

Huaca Pullana

Dinner at Huaca Pullana.  Beef hearts, Guinea Pig crab and ceviche

Miraflores coastline

Friday, April 12, 2013

Win a trip to space....ya seriously

Just got an email from KLM about a unique promotion that they are running.  On April 22, KLM will be launching a high altitude weather balloon.  The person who guesses where on earth the balloon will reach its maximum altitude, will win a trip to space aboard the SXC Lynx.  Full details can be found here.  Don't miss out on your chance to experience a trip to space valued at $95,000

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Photo of the Week: Estonia/Russia

Narva is a city situated along Estonia's border with Russia.  In this picture the fortress on the left is in Estonia and the one on the right is in Ivangorod, Russia.  The Estonian fortress was originally founded by the Danes in the 1200's when they ruled much of Estonia.  My journey here was part of my failed attempt to get a last minute Russian visa and travel to St. Petersburg.   I was traveling in the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and figured a short side trip to Russia would be fun.  Having little experience dealing with Russian bureaucracy I figured I would catch a bus headed east and see where I ended up.  My plan was stopped short here in Narva where at least i could claim to have "seen" Russia.  As a tip, if you intend on visiting Russia, plan to have proof of sponsorship (from your hotel or a local) as well as some patience and a few months of advance planning.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

The new Kayak Explore spy function

Just noticed this today but the Kayak Explore page now has a "spy" function where you can see a real time stream of all flights booked out of any airport that you select.  I am a big fan of Kayak explore as i can quickly look at a map of the world and see if there are any flight deals that catch my attention.  With the old version of the software there were occasionally amazing deals that would pop up on the map that I couldn't seem to replicate no matter what i tried.  Hopefully with the spy function i can see if people are actually booking flights at that price.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Alitalia - 100$+ off for signing up for mailing list

Alitalia, the flag ship carrier of Italy is offering 100$ or more off a booking just for signing up for their mailing list.  Deal can be found here:

Upon registering for our newsletter, you will receive an e‑Coupon valid for your next transatlantic ticket purchase on’s US site, for travel between January 1 and December 31, 2013 on Alitalia operated flights. The amount of the discount varies depending on the Class you book per the amounts below.
  • $100 off in Economy Class - all itineraries
  • $150 off in Premium Economy Class – nonstop itineraries to Milan or Rome.
  • $250 off in Business class – nonstop itineraries to Milan or Rome.

Friday, April 5, 2013

NYC to Uruguay for $374

There is a great fare that popped up today from NYC to Montevideo, Uruguay on Copa airlines for 374$ round trip.  Many dates seem to be available at the moment, but I doubt this price will stick around for long.  You can try a flexible date search on ITA to see what dates are available.  Once you've found dates that work, you can plug them into another booking site like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc.  Copa is a member of star alliance meaning that flights can earn you miles on United or USair.

Photo of the week - Ebeltoft Denmark

Ebeltoft is a small quaint village in north eastern Denmark, about 30 miles from Arhaus.  The frigate ship Jylland is docked in the harbor.  There are not many "tourist attractions" here per say but the quaintness of this town is reason enough to visit if you ever find yourself in the area.