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Friday, April 18, 2014

Surprise on the second floor of an empty building in a beautiful Czech spa town

We stumbled upon this lovely abandoned building by accident


This blog isn't being updated as frequently as usual for many reasons, in the lovely Czech Republic, as I live a never-ending Travelife.

However, we have a million interesting stories to tell.

Hopefully, one of these days, I'll get stuck in some airport lounge long enough to write everything from this wonderful trip down.

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WHAT WE SEE, WHERE WE GO, WHAT WE LIKE.
IN REAL-TIME.

In the meantime, in between blog entries, do follow us on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.


Our never-ending Travelife gets updated on these social networks in real-time, as long as there's WiFi. So I'm posting photos and thoughts about what we've seen, eaten or liked in real-time.


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A LOVELY ADVENTURE

For now, let me tell you about our little adventure this morning, in one of the most beautiful Czech towns, living a Travelife.

It was pretty cold and rainy today, but I'd felt especially invigorated by an early morning swim and massage at the hotel spa, followed by a very healthy breakfast.

This was where I had breakfast this morning


So mid-morning, we decided to go for a walk because this town we're in is truly so beautiful. Everywhere your eye rests on is a work of art.


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ABANDONED AND BEAUTIFUL

For some reason, we headed outwards of the town instead of into it.

And one of the buildings we chanced upon on the way out of town was a dilapidated building that was long abandoned. It used to be a beautiful bath house, but it's not been used for decades.

And now, it's largely empty.



Although today, an old lady was seated in the ground floor, watching over some artworks on exhibit, made by the senior citizens of the town.

Yes, it's become an informal event space, for lack of anything else.

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A SURPRISE ON THE SECOND FLOOR

Anyway, we were the only ones there, and we decided to climb up to the second floor.

What a sight awaited us on the second floor. There was this majestic room complete with original tiling, woodwork and chandeliers. You could almost imagine how grand this building once was.



I said to my companion: "This should be turned into an opera house. Or if I were to buy it, I would make it into an ultra-luxurious spa hotel."

That is, if I ever stopped living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The best way to Prague is from Hong Kong to Frankfurt on Cathay Pacific

Arriving in Prague in style

I discovered the best way to Prague from Hong Kong entirely by accident, living a Travelife.

As I've written in a previous blog entry, I found myself on an entirely different route and airline several nights ago, on my way to Europe from Hong Kong.

Because of a slight delay in my original flight, I ended up flying to Frankfurt on Cathay Pacific, and then connecting to Lufthansa's flight from Frankfurt to Prague.

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THE QUICKEST WAY TO PRAGUE

This combination of Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa flights is probably the shortest way from Hong Kong to Prague.

And because the bulk of the travel is done on a long-haul jet, you're assured of a comfortable flight no matter what class you fly on.

On business class, this means you get the flat beds and the new 1-2-1 configuration of seats.

We walked across the Charles Bridge on Day 1

THE BEST SEATS IN BUSINESS CLASS

There are two sections of business class on this flight: one small section ahead, and a longer section afterwards. If you get seated in the first section, like us, it's really very private.

There are only six seats here and you're not in the way of the bathrooms or the galley, so it's very quiet.

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SLEEPING ALL THE WAY TO EUROPE

The Cathay Pacific Hong Kong-Frankfurt is a great 12-hour overnight flight.

I try to get the overnighters whenever possible because this completely eliminates jetlag for me. I sleep right after takeoff and wake up just in time for a quick breakfast.

Then I have the whole day ahead upon arrival, and no jetlag whatsoever.



IN AND OUT OF EUROPE

When I got to Frankfurt, it was a very short wait. 

I think I had 90 minutes to get through the very clean and organized Frankfurt Airport, and then it was time to board a Lufthansa aircraft for the 45-minute flight to Prague.

Lufthansa airport a few days ago
Just like most European airports, Frankfurt has a regional flights section and an international flights section.

To get on a regional flight from anywhere outside of Europe, you will need to pass through Schengen territory immigrations.

EUROPE, TWICE IN 90 MINUTES



Interestingly, the Lufthansa lounge was in the international section and there was no lounge in the regional flights section. However, I only discovered this once I'd passed through Schengen immigrations.

This meant I technically had to leave Europe just to access the Lufthansa lounge from the regional flights section, and then to enter Europe again to board my flight.

The process isn't difficult or long, but you do have to change floors and endure a couple of security checks.

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WHAT IF YOU HAVE A SINGLE-ENTRY VISA?

And what if you just happen to have a single-entry Schengen visa? Then you're unable to access this lounge once you've entered European territory.

Fortunately, I have one of these five-year Schengen visas, so I was able to "get out of Europe" and into the lounge. 

Then I "headed back into Europe" to catch the Lufthansa flight.

PRAGUE, EARLIER THAN PLANNED

We got to Prague in time for a delicious beer before lunch

As for reaching the Czech Republic in one piece, I ended up arriving in Prague several hours earlier than my original flight, even if I took off from Hong Kong over an hour later.

What luck.

There was more time for shopping and even a delicious roast duck lunch, in Prague, living a never-endingly eventful Travelife.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Frankfurt instead of Istanbul, and then onwards to Prague, in a Hong Kong minute

Manila at sunset

So there I was the other day, flying into Hong Kong and living a Travelife, and all set to take a connecting flight to Istanbul and onwards to Prague.

I was due to arrive in Prague just before noon.


I LOVE VINTAGE SHOPS


Roasted duck for lunch on Day 1 in Prague
And then our guide was meeting us at the hotel at 1 PM for a walking tour that would include a couple of art galleries, some interesting art installations, and several vintage shops.


I really like going to vintage shops in Paris and Prague, so I included this in the itinerary for Day 1 in the Czech Republic.

This is where we had dinner in Prague last night....

On this original schedule, we were supposed to skip lunch and then just have a big gastronomic dinner in Prague

Instead we ended up arriving earlier than scheduled, enabling us to have our lunch and enjoy dinner too.


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SLIGHT DELAY TURNS INTO 
SOMETHING NICE

Anyway, back to my story. That night, our flight from Manila to Hong Kong was slightly delayed.

Ordinarily, a slight delay isn't a big deal. But this time our turn-around time to catch the plane for Istanbul was so tight that we were actually in danger of missing our flight.

I've never ever missed a flight in my life so far, by the way.

NO PROBLEMS. LIFE'S GOOD.



For some reason, this delay didn't really bother me -- and even now I don't know why. But on the way to Hong Kong, I didn't even give the delay a second thought.

I had a full meal, thinking my next meal would be breakfast.

There would be dinner after take-off on flight #2, of course, but I was planning to hit the snooze button as soon as we flew out of Hong Kong, and sleep all the way to Istanbul.

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SURPRISE, SURPRISE

At the gate in Hong Kong, we were the first ones out of the plane, and an airline representative was there to greet us.

He said: "You'll have to hurry to catch your plane. And your luggage may not make it."

I certainly wasn't getting on an airplane without my luggage. So far, this has never happened yet in the thousands of trips I've made.

HOW ABOUT GOING TO FRANKFURT INSTEAD?

Frankfurt airport yesterday at 6 AM

But he seemed to have read my mind, because he pulled a paper out of his pocket when he noticed my very unhappy expression.

So he said: "But we can put you on the flight to Frankfurt after midnight, and then you can connect to Prague on Lufthansa."

Chinese breakfast on the way to Frankfurt from Hong Kong
It didn't sound too bad, but I had to reconfirm only one thing, which is really the only thing I care about when it comes to long-haul flights.

I asked him: "What airplane is it to Frankfurt? Is it a flat bed?"

It's a flat bed from Hong Kong to Istanbul on business class, you see, so as long as Hong Kong-Frankfurt was a flat bed too, I didn't mind changing routes, airplanes or airlines.

Flat bed, good food and a nice cabin
from Hong Kong to Frankfurt

FRANKFURT, HERE WE COME...

So in a Hong Kong minute, we found ourselves flying to Frankfurt instead of Istanbul.

From Frankfurt, we hopped onto a Lufthansa flight for a 45-minute flight to Prague.

Lufthansa, Frankfurt to Pragu


Business class was  the typical European regional flight configuration of three economy seats seats in two columns, with the middle seat taken out.

I don't like this configuration at all, but there were only two other people in this section, so it was okay. Breakfast on this very short hop was excellent, as well.

Breakfast on Lufthansa's 45-minute
Frankfurt - Prague flight

We had very fresh yoghurt and a good selection of cheeses.

MULTI-TASKING AS USUAL

At the transit counter at Hong Kong airport

And, yes, I'm really living a never-ending Travelife.

There we were at the transit counter, still trying to get officially booked on the Hong Kong- Frankfurt flight and still unsure of a proper connection to Prague.

But I was pretty non-plussed, for some reason.

WHAT 15 MINUTES CAN DO
FOR A NEVER-ENDING TRAVELIFE

My next spa destination in South Africa

And to while away the time, I opened my laptop on the transit counter desk and booked a holiday next month at one of South Africa's best spa resorts.

I'd been thinking of doing so, after our Travelife trip to South Africa in four weeks' time, but I hadn't gotten around to doing anything about it.

That is, until the other night, when I found myself with a spare 15 minutes in front of the transit counter at Hong Kong airport trying to find an alernative way to Prague.


Spa time again next month.
This time in South Africa...

Then I googled flights from Johannesburg to Durban and arranged for someone to pick me up at Durban airport.

All in the time it took to get us seats to Frankfurt and to print out our boarding cards. In Hong Kong a few days ago, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.