Posts Tagged Munich

Airline Rankings Around the World

We ended up flying on 8 different airlines during our 30/40 World Tour, since we booked our flights individually.  Below is our ranking of airlines from best to worst.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive study; it’s merely our impressions from the economy flights we experienced during the summer of 2011.

View over New Zealand

View from our flight over New Zealand

  1. Air Emirates (Mauritius to Dubai; Dubai to Munich)
  2. Air New Zealand (Auckland to Nouméa)
  3. American Airlines (DC to LA)
  4. United Airlines (Madrid to DC)
  5. Qantas Airways (Nouméa to Sydney)
  6. Air Mauritius (Melbourne to Mauritius)
  7. Air Pacific (LA to Fiji; Fiji to Auckland)
  8. Air Berlin (Munich to Barcelona)

To learn the price of each of these flights (ranging from $137 to $946 per person), see the previous post on the cost of our trip.  But price did not directly correlate with a positive experience on an airline.

Air Emirates

Air Emirates flight attendants

The signature red hat and sweeping scarf of the Air Emirates flight attendants

We were so impressed with our Air Emirates flights.  The uniform of the flight attendants with the red hat and sweeping white scarf is quite striking and exotic.  When we first boarded, I wondered about the practicality of such an outfit.  But after we were airborne, the hats came off.

The Air Emirates food was delicious.  I’m sure you’re laughing about delicious airplane food, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Perhaps it’s because I haven’t eaten hot food on an airplane in years!

The personalized entertainment screens for each seat were the best of all of our flights.  The screens were the biggest of any airline and provided on-demand entertainment options including movies and games.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand was another of our favorite airlines.  Their economy seats were beautifully passenger centric.  The back of each seat had a drink pouch that fit my water bottle perfectly.  It’s so easy and obvious, but I’ve never seen it on another airline.  I usually have to stuff my bottle into the magazine compartment, which forces the whole pocket wide open and takes up far more space in already cramped quarters.

We also loved the personal entertainment screens for each seat, and both watched Cedar Rapids at our own pace.  I started my movie slightly earlier than Mr. HalfFull, so I was pre-laughing at all the funny parts.  Finally, he asked me to pause so that he could catch up and we could laugh together!

I think it’s wonderful when airlines let you play and pause your own movie.  You can sleep when you like, use the restroom whenever, and still catch the full movie.  It’s so nice to be in control!

American, United & Qantas

I don’t really have any strong feelings one way or the other about American Airlines, United Airlines, or Qantas Airways.  I’m also not married to that specific order.  All the flights were fine; nothing stood out to me positively or negatively, so they are all nestled in the middle of my list.

Air Mauritius

Air Mauritius only issues paper tickets.  Enough said!

Air Pacific

Air Pacific

Our Air Pacific flight landed early in the morning in Nadi, Fiji

Air Pacific ranks toward the bottom of the list because of their carry-on policy.  We specifically purchased our bags to be compliant with carry-on size restrictions.  But we had no idea that Air Pacific also has a weight restriction for carry-on bags.

I’ve never had my carry-on bag put on a scale.  But our bags turned out to be too heavy, and we were forced to check them.  I think this may have been because it was a double-decker plane which required more attention to avoid being top-heavy.

I don’t particularly mind checking my bags if I don’t get charged an extra fee.  But the problem was that we had packed with the intention of carrying our bags, meaning that we had our rain jackets rolled on the outside and other items clipped to the outside of the bags.  It’s stressful to repack a bag at the ticket counter with a line of people staring me down for being ill-prepared, especially when I thought I was perfectly prepared!

The other problem with Air Pacific is that they don’t have a regular counter in the LAX airport, so we couldn’t check in when we arrived from Washington, DC.  We we returned to the airport hours later, the line was frustratingly long and we didn’t get the seats we wanted.

Air Berlin

AirBerlin plane

Air Berlin was our least favorite airline of the 30/40 World Tour

Our original plan was to travel via train through Europe on a Eurail pass.  But for our specific plans, it wasn’t cost-effective or a good use of our time.  So we decided to book a budget flight from Germany to Spain.  It was our worst flight of the trip.

It included our only airport layover and our only flight delay.  Double whammy!  Plus, the children on the flight were unbearable and my sandwich was inedible.

In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t as bad as it seemed at the time.  Perhaps our recent awesome flights on Air Emirates skewed our judgement.

 

  • What’s your favorite airline?
  • Have you had a delicious airplane meal?
  • Do you know of another airline that still only uses paper tickets?
  • Have you had a carry-on bag weighed?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Coffee Around the World

Mr. HalfFull got his photo op around the world. Now it’s time for mine.

If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know I drink coffee.  In fact, when I ventured around the world on the 30/40 World Tour:  Quest for Passion, I found that my passions are coffee and napping.  I learned this through various opportunities to enjoy them and be deprived of them.  Undoubtedly, coffee and napping are essential to my life.  Deep, I know.

Let’s take a photo tour of my coffee encounters around the world…

Capitol Grounds lattes

I was armed with a latte from Capitol Grounds on my very first flight out of Washington, DC.

Fiji, our first country on the 30/40 World Tour, was not coffee aficionado friendly.  At our first coffee stop, they tried to tell me that Coke was just like coffee!

Ms. HalfEmpty eats breakfast

Much of my time in Fiji was spent on primitive islands with instant coffee.  Quelle horreur!

I didn’t get real coffee until our final night in Fiji when we checked into Sofitel and I had an amazing cappuccino.

My coffee experience in New Zealand was the complete opposite of Fiji. New Zealand has the most coffee roasters per capita of any country in the world.  They take their coffee culture very seriously; even gas stations have espresso machines with baristas, and no one serves drip coffee.

Coffee @ Mecca Stonehouse

My first full day in New Zealand included a latte (and internet time) at Mecca Stonehouse in Mission Bay outside Auckland.

Blogging in Paihia

I seem to always have coffee while on the netbook, including here at Paihia wharf.

Volcanic Latte

We learned that coffee drinks come from volcanoes at the museum in New Plymouth.

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

I even had a coffee in hand outside the Te Papa Museum in Wellington.

Circa Theater

Later that same day when we went to see a show at Circa Theater, just across from the museum, I had another coffee.  Zoom to see me drinking it.

New Zealand was perhaps the best coffee country on the 30/40 World Tour, but the French-speaking countries like New Caledonia weren’t bad either.

Café Malongo in Nouméa

While waiting in line at Café Malongo in Nouméa, I considered my espresso order.

Change in Nouméa

After using bills to buy coffee, we count our change in Nouméa.

Coffee at Le Surf Hotel

Once again enjoying coffee with a side of internet at our hotel in New Caledonia.

Coffee School

When we reached Sydney, Australia, I considered joining coffee school, but decided I didn’t have enough time.

Australian Parliament

I brought a cup of joe with me to the Australian Parliament Building in Canberra.  They wouldn’t let me bring it inside, but I had no problem devouring it quickly!

Phamish in St. Kilda

The coffee drink and coffee netbook seemed to pair well at a restaurant called Phamish in St. Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

Heidelberg Train Station

After visiting our new Australian friends in Heidelberg (another suburb of Melbourne), I waited for the train with coffee in hand.

Latte Art in Melbourne

Loving the latte art at a café in Melbourne before our flight to Mauritius.

Turkish Coffee in Dubai

Enjoying turkish coffee in Dubai with Sir Expat

Coffee in German Biergarten

Coffee in a German biergarten on Lake Starnberg with my cousins. Yes, I know you usually drink beer in a biergarten, but we had done plenty of that the night before!  Don’t I look just like a beermaid, but with coffee and less cleavage?

Coffee @ Marianplatz

Any time of day is a good time for coffee — even late night at Marianplatz in Munich.

Lunch @ Barcelo Sants

A cappuccino complemented my 3rd course of lunch nicely at our hotel in Barcelona, Spain.

  • Do you try to limit your coffee intake?
  • What things/actions are essential to your life?
  • Do you have any coffee location recommendations for me?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Worst Flight Ever

Thankfully for our livers, all things must come to an end.  After a weekend of partying in Germany, it was time to depart for Spain — the 8th and final country on our 30/40 World Tour.

Everyone has heard of “German efficiency,” but there was none to be found in the airport security line.  The line wasn’t very long, but was so slow!  They were basically taking apart each person’s carry-on bag despite having a perfectly serviceable x-ray machine.  They even examined my empty water bottle and told me I was not allowed to take more than 3 ounces of liquid.  My water bottle was clear plastic and attached on the outside of my bag.  This extra scrutiny seemed ridiculous.  But I assured them that my visibly empty bottle was indeed empty by shaking it for them.

Our flight to Spain was not direct.  It was also one of the only flights we did not book through STA, since they didn’t have any deals.  We couldn’t find any reasonably priced direct flights from Munich to Barcelona, so we used a discount carrier with a one hour layover in Düsseldorf.

Of course, nothing could be that easy.  Remember how we always say you get what you pay for?  This was another case in point.

The flight from Düsseldorf to Barcelona was delayed.  We had done a great job of booking direct flights with week-long layovers in exotic locales.  Our only true airport layover of the 30/40 World Tour was at LAX, but even then we planned a beach outing in Santa Monica.  This time, all we were able to do was hang out in a terminal filled to capacity with people from various delayed flights.  There weren’t any seats; even the nuns were sitting on the floor.  So we headed to the bar to wait.

Once it was finally our boarding time, they packed us into busses en route to the plane.  Finally, we had made it to the plane.  Thank goodness!

Not so fast.  Our journey was not yet over.  It was not yet time to relax.  This flight involved screaming children from all directions.

AirBerlin plane

After escaping the worst flight ever and arriving in Spain, we paused in the terminal to capture photographic evidence of our tormentor

The irony is that we had been on plenty of other flights with children.  Long flights.  Hours and hours of being constricted to a little seat.  But this tiny little 2 hour flight was horrible.

Perhaps I have a special intolerance as a person without children, but it really didn’t seem like the parents were doing anything.  The little girl in front of us was traveling with her German mother and Spanish father.  She was perpetually backward in her seat so that she could stare at us during the flight.  She got increasingly bold and started sticking her arm through the gap between the seats.

This was a nuisance, but not a major problem…until her arm swatted my drink.  Of course, it spilled all over my legs.  So I got to spend the rest of the day with sticky legs and socks.  Just lovely.

To understand just how much I disdain messes and sticky things, I will take you back to kindergarten.  I hated using glue because it could get on my fingers.  Other kids would smear glue all over their hands and wait for it to dry.  I found this appalling.

Back to the flight.  In the US, they would never serve food on a 2 hours flight.  But this was Europe.  They gave us some sort of boxed meal, but all the “fresh” food was inedible.  I think the sandwich was just mayo — gobs and gobs of mayo.  Perhaps there was something else in the sandwich, but it was hidden by the mayo.

We eventually arrived in Barcelona where we had to hurry up and wait for the train.  Despite visiting Dubai, it seemed excruciatingly hot in the train terminal with little air flow.  I expected it to be cooler in the evening as the sun descended.  Perhaps I was just being my half empty self with additional annoyance and stickiness.

We ended up in a train car with a group of boys on vacation.  With a liquor bottle.  They ended up making quick friends with the two girls nearby, and the liquor went back and forth across the train.  Hilarious people watching!

Barcelo Sants elevator lobby

Can you spot Ms. HalfEmpty? She's sitting in the spacey egg chair in the Barcelo Sants hotel elevator lobby.

After an afternoon of travel that seemed like days, we checked into our hotel — conveniently located above the train station.  This hotel had a space theme.  All the hallways were dark until you walked by the sensor and then a group of vertical lights from floor to ceiling adjacent to each door would illuminate.  It was a neat effect and probably saved a good bit of electricity too.

Barcelo Sants room

Outer space portal above our glowing hotel room bed

Our room was elegantly modern with space touches including a captain’s swivel chair.  There were also round portals in the room with pictures of the moon.  Oddly, one of them was above the toilet.

Barcelona taxis

During our 4 days in Barcelona, I spent a lot of time watching the parade of taxis from my hotel room window while waiting for Mr. HalfFull to coif himself. He takes longer than me! It was great people watching to see the drivers smoke and chat. It was like I was spying from space!

We even had multiple sizes of pillows with varying degrees of firmness.  Plus, there was an amazing ergonomic backrest for sitting up in bed, and a perfect bed tray. Our room was so awesome and relaxing that we didn’t leave until 1 PM the next day in search of food.

Maybe the flight wasn’t actually that bad.  I mean it wasn’t great, but it could have been much worse.  Perhaps we had just been spoiled by awesome airlines with hot towels, edible food, and the gift of silence.

  • How do you select flights?  Price?  Schedule?  Number of stops?
  • Describe your worst flight.
  • Does a dislike of glue as a kindergartener make me an old soul?
  • Is it a sin to spend the whole morning of your first day in a new country asleep?  Or is sleep important to help you enjoy it?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Ich bin ein Münchener!

After our 36-hour whirlwind tour of Dubai, we landed in Germany to spend the weekend with my two German cousins and their significant others.  The younger of those cousins, Herr Newlywed, inspired us to visit Mauritius.  He and Frau Newlywed got married there the summer before our 30/40 World Tour.  Mr. HalfFull was so intrigued by the photos that he added it to our trip itinerary.

Herr Newlywed was gracious enough to pick us up from the Munich airport while Frau Newlywed was at a Robbie Williams concert.  I’d actually never heard of Robbie Williams, but apparently he’s quite the heart throb.  So it was especially awesome for Herr Newlywed to chauffeur us while wondering about his new bride and her teenage crush.

In my younger days, I went on vacation with Herr Newlywed.  My first memory of spending time together one-on-one was when his parents took the two of us skiing in Italy.  At the time, I was 13 and Herr Newlywed was 16-years-old.  We were having a great time skiing together until he made me hike up to the highest point of the mountain in ski boots.  He had been skiing his entire life in the Alps, and was an expert skier.  I was not.  When he decided to take the most difficult ungroomed path in unmarked terrain, I opted to find a less challenging route.  I felt sure that he would wait for me at the bottom.

But as we all know, you can’t trust a 16-year-old boy.  He ended up abandoning me for a 16-year-old German girl.  I never found him that ski day.  I was just a little abandoned 13-year-old girl — scared and alone in a foreign country.  I didn’t speak any Italian at the time, and had to make my way back to the hotel on the buses alone.  When I found him again at the hotel,  he had the gall to ask me to go to the ski locker room with him to find that girl’s skis, so he could write down her name to look her up back in Munich.  Ah, young love…

It’s not like I’ve harbored hard feelings all these years.  Okay, it’s exactly like that.  Each time I see him, I take the opportunity to remind him how he abandoned me in Italy.  You know, in a good-natured way.

Alcohol Bottles in 2002

Herr Newlywed and Ms. HalfEmpty out on the town with multiple Bacardi Rigo bottles in 2002. Don't we look young???

My next memory of hanging out one-on-one with Herr Newlywed was when I was in college on a scholarship to dance in Sweden, Finland, and Russia.  During that time, I took a quick break from dancing to visit Herr Newlywed’s parents, my aunt and uncle, in Germany.  One night, Herr Newlywed picked me up to take me out on the town.  At the time, he claimed to be a teetotaler and nonsmoker to his parents.  (This was odd because I’m pretty sure his parents would not have minded.)  I discovered a different reality during our outing.  But to preserve the image he had created, all photographic evidence was staged to look like I was the only one drinking.

Alcohol Bottles in 2002

Herr Newlywed and Ms. HalfEmpty recreate the photo of 2002 in 2011

We recreated that same photograph almost 10 years later on Herr Newlywed’s balcony, with beer instead of Rigo, as we waited for Frau Newlywed to return from the concert.  Even though all the bottles are once again in front of me, please don’t get the wrong idea.  I am not a lush.  There were 3 of us drinking on that balcony.

After Frau Newlywed arrived home raving about Robbie Williams, we all headed to an outdoor bar where a friend was spinning the tunes.  Herr Newlywed’s brother, the Prince of Munich, joined us as well.  The Prince of Munich is one of the most gregarious guys you’ll ever meet.  He knows everyone!

Munich Outdoor Bar

Herr Newlywed with his DJ friend watching the crowd, including the Prince of Munich at the head of the table

Currywurst @ Gartencafe

The Prince of Munich and Ms. HalfEmpty with currywurst at Gartencafe. You can still see my henna tattoo from Dubai, but not the "poop finger."

I’m not a huge fan of German food, but I tried currywurst at Gartencafe.  It wasn’t the wurst, but I can’t say I’d order it again.  It mostly tasted like ketchup to me.  After a short time at Gartencafe, we headed to a dance club.

Bucket of Alcohol

It wouldn't be a Friday night without a bucket filled with Red Bull, vodka, and champagne!

There, my cousins ordered a bucket of alcohol.  More drinking ensued and the Newlyweds hit the dance floor.  By this time I was exhausted.

Remember how we did some cultural immersion training to keep up with the party crowd?  Apparently, we didn’t practice enough.

The next morning, my cousins arrived with their Porsches to pick us up for a drive to the lake.  Mr. HalfFull got the chance of a lifetime when the Prince of Munich offered to let him drive on the autobahn.

Porsche on Autobahn

View of Mr. HalfFull driving the Prince of Munich's Porsche from Herr Newlywed's Porsche

Mr. HalfFull with Porsche

Mr. HalfFull poses with the Porsche he drove on the autobahn. He seems quite pleased with himself.

Apparently, it’s not a free-for-all on the autobahn as we originally thought.  There are actually sections with speed limits.  I learned this while sitting in the passenger seat of Herr Newlywed’s car after he said, “Mr. HalfFull is going to lose his license.”  Um…what?  Shouldn’t someone tell him there is a speed limit here???

Biergarten

Tutzinger Biergarten at Lake Starnberg

Eventually, the Prince of Munich must have clued him in on the rules of the road.  But Mr. HalfFull did get up to 250 kph.

Tutzinger Biergarten

Mr. HalfFull found a helpful German mann to point us to the beer garden

When we reached the Lake Starnberg, we enjoyed one of my favorite consumables — coffee!  It was actually a beer garden.  But since it was still early, and we had already sustained a big night with more to come, coffee was in order.

That evening we were invited to dine on fondue at the home of the Newlyweds.  It was a beautiful spread and so much food!  I only lost a few pieces in the fondue pot.

After dinner, we headed out to a VIP party.  The Prince of Munich had warned us that it would be a dressy affair.  But our duffels didn’t really contain many options.

VIP Party

Ms. HalfEmpty chats with the Newlyweds, the Prince of Munich, and his Princess over drinks

Even though Mr. HalfFull has never met my German uncle, they now have a special connection.  We were staying at my aunt and uncle’s house while they were celebrating my aunt’s birthday in Italy.  I’m sure they would not have minded if we borrowed their stuff, so we took a look in the closet.  As it turns out, my uncle and Mr. HalfFull wear the same size shoes!  So Mr. HalfFull borrowed some black leather shoes and a black button down shirt for the party.  I made do with what I had, but felt underdressed.

Dancer on Stilts

No, that's not a super tall woman. I actually think she was on stilts while grooving to the tunes in her long gown.

The party was quite a spectacle with candelabras, party dresses, and women on stilts.  Of course, it was a night of more champagne and more vodka.  Although this time, we mixed the vodka with ginger beer instead of Red Bull — much better for Mr. HalfFull’s blood pressure.  I called it a night early, but my cousins and their ladies partied hard (as was evidenced the next morning).

Urban Garden in Munich

Urban Garden in Munich

The next day, we tried to walk to the subway.  We got quite close, but our directions were slightly off and we never actually made it there.  However, we did stumble upon some lovely gardens.  Since land is so expensive in Munich, most people don’t have yards.  But they still want to cultivate plants and flowers, so they rent nearby plots.  Each plot had a shed or small house and beautiful landscaping where people could spend the day and escape the concrete jungle.

Prince of Munich Grilling

The Prince of Munich grills sausages on his balcony

For our final dinner in Germany, the Prince of Munich invited us to the penthouse apartment he shares with his Princess.  I’m not usually a fan of sausages (I know you can’t say that in Germany!), but the ones grilled for me by the Prince of Munich were delicious.

Sausages

Delicious spread prepared by the Prince of Munich

We had a lovely evening with the Prince of Munich, his Princess, the Newlyweds, and another couple.  Afterward, Mr. HalfFull and I decided to take a stroll through the city on our way back to the suburbs.  We found some beautiful photo locations and enjoyed being tourists.

Even though both of my cousins are older than me, that weekend taught me that I am old beyond my years.  I think I may need to continue my study of the party culture.

  • What secrets did you keep from your parents in your younger days?
  • Were you ever abandoned in a foreign country?
  • Do you like to party?
  • How fast have you driven?
  • Do you feel self-conscious when your attire is more or less dressy than the crowd?
  • Do you feel old beyond your years?
English Garden

Ms. HalfEmpty in the English Garden

Touring Munich

Ms. HalfEmpty on the walk home from the Prince of Munich's home; surprising that he doesn't live in the castle!

Lederhosen

My cousin has a work party every Oktoberfest where everyone wears lederhosen. Since we were out of season for that party, at least we found these guys outside the Hofbräuhaus on our walk home.

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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