Sunday, March 8, 2020

How to avoid tourist restaurants!

There is a world of difference between “tourist” restaurants and restaurants catering to tourists. That difference is often lost on review sites like TripAdvisor where the common tourist critic “This is a tourist restaurant ...” immediately sets a negative view of the restaurant and makes you click to the next choice. I wish it was that simple!

A “tourist” restaurant is a large restaurant with an industrial kitchen and often coach parking nearby. It is designed to serve tourist groups fast with a boring international set menu and, sometimes, a “tamed” local specialty added. That pretty much defines what you ate on the flight over, right? It is not bad, but certainly not memorable. On the positive side, you are not going to be surprised with odd exotic flavors and you will be in and out in no time, group tours do lunch or dinner in one hour flat! It is also likely to be inexpensive assuming the restaurant offers the same menu to walk-in tourists as they do to booked tours. The downside being that the meal can be pretty bad (but you will not get sick! Because tour operators generally do not care about quality or taste as long as no one gets sick), overly priced (the price shown on menu may be far higher than what groups actually pay … because it makes the group tourists think they are getting a fancy and expensive meal!) or you sit and wait, being ignored while they serve two groups of 50 tourists.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Comfortable Barcelona Airport

El Prat airport
El Prat airport, home of Vueling
I love Barcelona's airport. El Prat. Being that I have flown quite often on Vueling, most connecting flights are at Terminal 1. The first thing you notice coming off the plane is the big, bright and airy space. Even on a busy time of the day, it never feels crowded or oppressing.

If your gate is near the tip of the terminal, it is a long stretch, but with the moving walkways you don't even notice. The best feature of this airport is unquestionably the two large outdoor terraces located on each side of the main building.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Airline food is looking better!

A la Carte selection on Air France by LENÔTRE
A la Carte selection on Air France by LENÔTRE
Denigrated, ridiculed, yet eagerly anticipated! Airline food is a paradox of expectations where one looks forward to a meal that one would never consider in a restaurant. It is a popular subject: Google “Airline food” and you get 100+ millions results … a hundred millions! There are dedicated web sites like showing thousands of meal pictures sorted out by airline, class of service, special meals and even historical with meal pictures from the 50's and 60's (makes you appreciate today's offering!).

Friday, February 7, 2020

Dreaming about a resort vacations? 5 things to consider

Bathing machine! circa 1910
It is easy to overlook the obvious when browsing through wonderful presentations of enticing destinations. Searching for a resort is unlike that of searching for an hotel as you will be spending most of your time within the resort. So, facilities, amenities and services are more important than location. After you have looked at the pretty pictures and read the glorious descriptions, get down to business, go through your own checklist of expectations and minimum requirements and consider the following five points:

Thursday, February 6, 2020

How to pack a suitcase: watching the weight!

Yeah! You need fluffies, but not the entire zoo. 
No! This is not about the fold, the roll, the stuffing … if you need help with that, Google will give you 13 millions results to show you how. Many of them even have how-to video with all the tricks. But what about the weight? Oddly enough, very few pages bring up it up even though that could become your vacation shock expense.

Adding a 20kg piece of luggage to your low cost flight is reasonable enough, I booked an EasyJet flight and the 20kg luggage was only 26 Euro, 1.30 Euro per kilo. You can even add two more bags of 20kg each for another 26 Euro each. Fair price. But what happen if your bag is 23kg or 26kg? That's going to cost you, respectively, 50 or 74 Euro per bag. Meaning that every kilo over 20kg will cost you 6 Euro each! Instead, book a second 20kg suitcase, pay 52 Euro and now you can pack up to 40kg!