...constantly searching to find the best travel deals and places to visit. A never-ending quest for adventure!

Friday, March 30, 2012

coke bears tackle

So...I must admit that I really like the Coke Bears...and so, in honor of them, my next few posts will feature the new commercials for them.  Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

longest flights

A very dear friend asked me recently how long it takes to fly to Doha (in Qatar) since I'll be flying back there this year to do my dissertation research.  I thought about it, and recall seeing a time of around 15 hours or so direct from Houston...one long flight.  My brother forwarded me an article though that included the top longest flights in the world, and wouldn't you know:

6. Doha to Houston on Qatar Airways (Tie)
-- Miles: 8,047
-- Scheduled Duration: 16 Hours 15 Minutes

Qatar Airways operates a marathon flight route between sunny Doha, Qatar, and humid Houston, Texas. Flying westward to the United States, the journey usually takes just over 16 hours. Economy passengers receive an amenity kit with an eye mask, toothbrush, and even socks to make them feel more at home. They can also follow the "Fly Healthy, Fly Fit" guide and perform some relaxation techniques onboard, such as deep breathing and stretching. While they're not sleeping or dining, travelers can view hundreds of films on their personal 10.6-inch TV screen.

Yes...it's a long flight.  But not as long as the longest flight in the world (by distance):

Newark to Singapore on Singapore Airlines
-- Miles: 10,371
-- Scheduled Duration: 18 Hours

From Newark to Singapore, travelers aboard this 18-hour jaunt receive some much-needed pampering. For this long voyage, Singapore Airlines (SA) employs an Airbus 340-500. Normally holding more than 300 passengers, SA's luxury aircraft hosts only 100 seats. But to call them "seats" is really unfair; they're more like beds. Set in a 1-2-1 configuration (one at each window and two in the middle), the reclining chairs offer immediate access to the aisle. Should you be on this flight, you'll want to get up and move around, especially in the direction of the self-service snack bar. After all, you're on the longest flight in the world by distance.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


My very quick trip back to WI was quite successful, once I made it.  In a previous post I mentioned that I had scored an upgrade to First on my flight going, and that portion of the trip ended up being an adventure.  After taxiing out to the edge of the runway, we were told of a maintenance problem that would make us have to go back to the gate.  So back we went, and 30 minutes later made the try again to take off (I thought for sure the San Diego curfew would make us cancel, but it didn't) and off we were, landing 30 minutes late at Ohare.  But since my flight to MKE was at 8, I had no time concerns.  That was, until Milwaukee was fogged in and the airport closed.  We ended up getting on the plane, deplaning, and then getting back on a little after 10.  Landing at 10:30a, I had only about 30 minutes until I was supposed to be at WLC - I quickly changed, grabbed the rental car, and off I went right to the event.  Whew.  I was so tired when I got done, but happy that I made it.

And...I was fortunate to score another upgrade to First on my way back to San Diego!  Lucky me.  Two positive check marks for United post-website integration for me.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Ghost Fleet of Chuuk Lagoon

No, sadly, this is not a new novel I just found and am reading.  This is real!   And, it's a new 'place of the day'.

Chuuk Lagoon, Chuuk, Micronesia

So what's the big deal about this lagoon? Well, it just so happens to have the largest concentration of sunken ships in the world (most if not all from WW2).  At least 60 Japanese ships are wrecked there, which makes for very interesting diving - huge artificial reefs and choral have been created as a result of the warm tropical water, and are a must-see.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Today's travel surprise for me was quite unexpected - I'm flying this weekend to an event at WLC and was pleasantly informed through an email this morning that I've been upgraded on my flight...certainly not going to be sad about sleeping in First Class.  Ever since the fateful March 3rd weekend of United and Continental merging their systems, I was interested in finding out how smoothly my next flight would go and if everything would work as its supposed to (since the blogs have been jammed with unhappy people).  So far, so good.

If you saw in my post yesterday about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you better apply now if you want to get the card and 50k points - Chase announced on their website today that the bonus point offer was going down to 40,000...the link as of right now still shows 50k so jump on it if you plan to.

Monday, March 19, 2012

deals to be had

I'm always on the lookout for a good deal on miles or points, and depending on how you want to use them, miles can be a great way to get you places you may not have thought possible in seats that are much better than standard coach.  My philosophy on flying has long been the following:

1. Loyalty is huge - status helps you get more miles and the perks to make flying easier.  In other words, pick an airline and stick to it until you have the status you want.
2. If it costs me $50-100 more to fly my preferred airline, it's worth every penny
3. Accruing miles on cheap flights in the US will pay off for longer international flights later

Now, a few caveats to this: I'm not at all opposed to spending $ on international flights that may possibly net me the elite qualifying miles I need to maintain or reach status.  I've found in the last few years that United has been very generous to me with bonus miles, and flying out of San Diego means it's a dominant player at my airport (along with Southwest).  I'm pretty diligent about searching for deals, so it's paid off for me to choose United first.  Also, Southwest and Delta just don't have the connections that I need to get where I'm going quickly (flying through Atlanta to get to the Midwest doesn't make much sense, nor does flying into Minneapolis in winter). 

All this aside, there are some fantastic mileage opportunities coming up in the next few months.  Here's a quick snapshot of two:

1. Istanbul - July and August have great availability showing right now on United or Star Alliance partners.  For example, you can fly on July 4th from O'hare to Istanbul one-way in Business Class for 50,000 miles and $5!  Similar Saver availability can be found the first week in August, which is a great way to use miles - buying that ticket outright would cost you $6100!

If you're a flyer on American or British Airways (OneWorld) and have some miles, you can also get to Istanbul from O'hare in Club World flying BA one-way for 60,000 Avios + $ 467.17.  Fuel surcharges are driving the high co-pay on this one. 

2.  Johannesburg, South Africa - this place is on my list, and availability also seems to be great right now.  That same July 4th departure is available in Business class from O'hare (one-way) for only 60,000 miles and $5. An August itinerary from O'hare through Sao Paulo, Brazil is also the same amount of miles and $2.50 one way. That Saver ticket would be $8200 if you bought it outright...great deal!

So...bottom line, miles are still a pretty valuable commodity in my book.  And getting cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (thanks TPG) with 50,000 points on sign up (and the ability to transfer those 1:1 to several different airlines including United) make it worth exploring.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

rain all around

I really enjoy looking forward to weekends like this - it's supposed to do nothing but rain (and maybe thunder) for two days straight.  Such a rarity here in San Diego, and I'm glad I don't have to go anywhere.  Instead I've taken the opportunity to type on my research paper for the last three hours, do some laundry, and in general clean things up. 

I'm also feeling pretty proud about my lunch choice for the day - scrambled eggs, organic mac n cheese, and strawberry spread.  No decision yet for what dinner may hold.  Any suggestions?

Rather than a specific "place of the day" to highlight, I'll just put in a quick plug for a website I use to keep track of all my miles and points - awardwallet.  It not only does the standard airlines, but credit card points, restaurants, survey sites, and a bunch of others.  If you sign up (it's free) use this code for a free upgrade: free-kaijlo

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the Ides of March

Happy Ides everyone! I love Roman history and Julius Caesar history, so I look forward to this day every single year.  I contemplated trying to have all my meals be Caesar related today...not sure if that's going to work.

A place of the day to highlight though in honor of it all is this Italian city:

Pompeii - Campania, Italy

Yes, Caesar defeated Pompeii eventually, and this is one place I have yet to get to in Italy.  Despite 2/3 of the city still buried, you can really get a glimpse into what Roman life used to be based on the excavations already done.  Located just east of Naples...trains can get you there.

There are quite a few flight options available - all of the airline alliances flight to Rome, and depending on your flexibility you can find some pretty good deals.  Mid-April flights look around $950 right now, and if you can wait until mid-May there are still a few options from O'Hare to Naples for around $870.  If you have miles to use, United has quite a number of flight options through May for saver seats at 55,000 miles, with Business and First options also available upwards of 150,000 miles.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

fight at the symphony?

Yeah...made me chuckle, although I'm sad that it happened at a CSO concert...sounds like the musicians were very professional.

Fight in the seats!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fraser Island

It's already been a long weekend of work and typing for me, but I have a few minutes to highlight a new "place of the day"...Fraser Island!  Someday I'll get to visit New Zealand and Australia, and this is just another location to add to my list once I get there.

Is located on the world's largest sand island, and has nearly 40 freshwater dune-surrounded lakes from which to choose from to swim.  The Valley of the Giants rain forest is also close, as well as almost 75 miles worth of beachfront fun.  The Kingfisher Bay Resort is a highlighted place to stay...enjoy!

Friday, March 9, 2012

SRS Day today....

Happy Friday everyone!

I'm hanging out in the library today for SDSU's Student Research Symposium. Should be an interesting day as everyone is using podiums for the first time for this event.

The weekend for me will be more SRS tomorrow, and then work on my research paper for class. A fun time will be had by all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, March 5, 2012

Found it! But it wasn't really lost...

With as much traveling as I do, I'm amazed that I haven't had any major loss of anything as I've flown around.  And the only major issue that I can recall of off the top of my head was the first time I landed in Doha and my luggage didn't make it till the second day (British Airways didn't even compensate me for that experience, but I still had an awesome time in Club World).

Recently I had a different kind of experience, relating to something that I lost: a track.  This was a certain favorite track that I for the life of me could not recall the name of or who wrote it, but I've been singing it over and over in my head (and most of last week).  I even tried singing it into Shazam and that didn't work.  My only remaining option was to go through all of my classical CD's that made sense...and because I knew it had flute/recorder and violin, I started in with Telemann and Vivaldi (leaving discs like Mahler and others in the binder) and holding off on my desire to pop in Mozart.  And...after much classical music enjoyment...it was found!  I had to laugh at myself when I found it, mostly because of who the composer is and what it's part of.  Silly me.

This is probably one of my all-time favorite movements and I'm happy to share it...enjoy!  


Saturday, March 3, 2012

international food etiquette rules

I thought this particular list of rules when you eat at different places around the world was very interesting...

Didn't know that I wasn't supposed to flip my fish when visiting China!

Hope you enjoy...

15 etiquette rules

Friday, March 2, 2012

it was a good Friday until...

Ever have that kind of day where things started out just great, and then progressively got worse or more frustrating?

Yep, that's been my day today.

Our first morning event at 9am couldn't get the conference phone to dial multiple lines...poor student giving his thesis was so nervous to start with that by the time it got resolved it was 5 min before he was supposed to start.  Felt bad for him, but the line had a problem - it ended up going ok and he finished.

Next up was a demo projector we were given, that (for the most part) was bad right out of the box.  That thing is going back...so much for top of the line...

After that, I found out that confirmed plans I had started to make for my dissertation research and other obligations into the summer months might need to be changed.  Talk about a bit of a gut check for my afternoon...and potentially egg on my face.

The best laid plans...

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I've got a friend from Qatar that is heading to Istanbul coming up and so I decided that it might be a fun "place of the day" to re-highlight.  Along with this lovely offering:

They Might Be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople) from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.