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RTW #7: Lounges, Retreats & Business Class Seats

24 Hours in Abu Dhabi

Posted by on Feb 2, 2012 | 0 comments

24 Hours in Abu Dhabi

After a 12-hour flight from Réunion, I landed in Paris and hopped on the train to meet up with my friend Susan at the Westin Paris. Susan flew in earlier that afternoon and will be joining me for the next 2 weeks of RTW #7! No one has ever joined me for this long on one of my RTW trips and I am super excited that Susan is coming along.

After meeting up at the hotel, we headed out for a spectacular dinner at my favorite little restaurant on Ile St. Louis before calling it a night (since we both had spent most of the night before on a plane). The next morning we caught the train back to the airport and headed to Abu Dhabi.

Situated in the southeast of the Arabian peninsula, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is a federation of 7 emirates (similar to principalities) and the capital city is Abu Dhabi. I’d visited one other emirate before – Dubai – on RTW #1 and it was quite an amazing experience. The UAE is known for oil, opulence and over the top architecture and I wondered if Abu Dhabi would measure up to Dubai.

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RTW #7 – The 2012 Round the World Itinerary

Posted by on Dec 27, 2011 | 0 comments

RTW #7 – The 2012 Round the World Itinerary

As the end of the year draws near, I have finally nailed down the itinerary for my 7th Annual Round-the-World trip!  As I’ve said before, 30 days is more a guideline than a rule and this year’s trip will top the calendar scale at 45 days (thanks, primarily, to award seat availability in and out of the U.S. – but who am I to complain?). It will also be my most ambitious round the world itinerary yet with 19 stops in 16 countries (increasing my current country count from 105 to 115). Like previous trips, most of the stops are new to me but there are a few favorites that I never miss when “in the neighborhood” (like Paris, Bangkok & Auckland). Two of this year’s stops are hard to reach destinations that have been on my wish list for years (Easter Island and Maldives) and thanks to creative flight routings, this is the year I will finally get there!  Without further adieu…here’s the complete itinerary:

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7th Annual Round the World Trip – Ready, Set, Go!

Posted by on Jan 10, 2012 | 2 comments

7th Annual Round the World Trip – Ready, Set, Go!

After months of planning, the day is finally here! This afternoon, I’ll depart for my 7th Annual Round the World trip! As I’ve said before, 30 days is more a guideline than a rule and this year’s trip will top the calendar scale at 45 days (thanks, primarily, to award seat availability in and out of the U.S. – but who am I to complain?). It will also be my most ambitious itinerary yet with 19 stops in 16 countries (increasing my current country count from 105 to 115). Like previous trips, most of the stops are new to me but there are a few favorites that I never miss when “in the neighborhood” (like Paris, Bangkok & Auckland). Two of this year’s stops are hard to reach destinations that have been on my wish list for years (Easter Island and Maldives) and thanks to creative flight routings, this is the year I will finally get there! I’m also happy to report that one of my very good friends, Susan, will be joining me for two weeks in the middle of the trip (meeting me in Paris and flying home from Hong Kong).

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Photo of the Day – The Unglamorous Side of RTW Travel

Posted by on Jan 11, 2012 | 0 comments

Photo of the Day – The Unglamorous Side of RTW Travel

Well, let’s just say RTW #7 is off to a rocky start! Yes, RTW travel is not always as glamorous as it might seem. Today was one of those “Murphy’s Law” travel days and it’s thanks only to a few minor miracles and the complete inefficiency of LAN Airlines (actually working in my favor for once) that I am writing this to you now from my hotel on Easter Island, at last.

It all started out fine enough with a perfect Delta flight into Lima last night that arrived right on time at 11:00pm. But as soon as I stepped off the plane into the chaos that was the Lima airport, I knew something was amiss. Of course, South American airports can sometimes be a little less civilized than those in the U.S. or Europe but this was another level. As the Delta passengers entered the gate area on the way to customs, I was thankful we were separated by a glass partition from the agitated throngs waiting to board our plane. It was apparent that some of these people had been in the airport for a while. They had the look. I noticed as I made my way to the transit area that the monitors showed a number of flights canceled for the night (including the last one to Santiago). I wondered why since the weather seemed fine and we didn’t have any delays on arrival but didn’t give it much thought. Since my flight wasn’t until 8am I figured it couldn’t possibly affect me.

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The Mystery of Easter Island

Posted by on Jan 20, 2012 | 2 comments

The Mystery of Easter Island

It’s one of the most remote islands on earth. A startling 2,200 miles west of the nearest continent and 1,290 miles east of the nearest populated island. The United Nations has proclaimed Easter Island the most isolated inhabited island in the world. It’s also one of the world’s greatest mysteries and an undisputed archaeological treasure. The island is home to more than 20,000 archaeological sites. But despite intensive study of these sites, the question still remains: What caused the dramatic rise and fall of this ancient Polynesian culture?

Known as Rapa Nui to the native population and Isla de Pascua to Chileans, the English name commemorates its European discovery by a Dutch expedition on Easter Sunday in 1722.

I arrived on Easter Island late Wednesday night after my un-glamorous airport adventure in Lima. I had 6 days to explore this perhaps most fascinating of the world’s sacred sites. Since most accommodation on the island consists of simple guest houses, I’d booked a room at the highly recommended Kaimana Inn. My host, Marcelo, was cheerfully awaiting my arrival at the airport late that night and after more than 24 hours of travel to reach the island I was grateful for the short drive into town and to my bed for the next few nights.

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5 Reasons Why Malta is Marvelous in the Off-Season

Posted by on Jan 25, 2012 | 2 comments

5 Reasons Why Malta is Marvelous in the Off-Season

It’s inevitable that in the course of my annual January round-the-world trips, I will sometimes be visiting a destination in its off-season. This is especially true since I always try to include at least one European stop on the itinerary (I mean, you can’t just skip over an entire continent…it’s simply not practical).

So, after learning my lesson the hard way with an ill-advised stop in Berlin on Round-the-World #1, I have since become much smarter with my choice of January European destinations. I’ve tried Croatia, Turkey, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal and the Amalfi Coast and, for the most part found them to be delightful – with mild weather and without the hoards of summer tourists.

Over the years I’ve discovered an off-season visit is rarely detrimental to my enjoyment of a country; in fact in many cases I prefer it to high seasons visits I’ve made later. That may well have been the case with the island nation of Malta.

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