Taiwan, the long way

For our final 2014 trip we booked a near-round-the-world ticket to Taipei, Taiwan, with stops in Europe in both directions. As with most of our longer trips we used miles, in this case US Air miles, and by booking in early 2014 they still had access to their former Star Alliance partners. This meant we would fly a range of new-to-us airlines for 90k miles per person.  Thankfully, everything was in business class!

Stats for this trip:

  • 11 days
  • Four countries
  • Eight flights on five airlines  (Brussels, Austrian, EVA, Thai, Lufthansa)
  • a total of ~22,000 airline miles
  • lots of trains, buses, taxis and Uber!

ChristmasTrip14

 JFK-BRU-VIE-BKK-TPE-BKK-FRA-BRU-JFK

Flights:

Our favorite carrier was Brussels Airlines, with a nice combination of comfortable lay-flat seats, good food and drink, and pleasant cabin crew. After our overnight flight to Europe we each received a box of tasty waffle cookies as a parting gift. Transferring in Brussels involved more walking than we expected; the airport is quite large and under construction. Thankfully, the Brussels lounge was well positioned for our next flight, with a nice array of breakfast items, and the shower rooms helped us reset after the overnight flight.

We also flew Brussels Air on Dec 23rd to return to the US, and this time we each received an entire box of Neuhaus chocolates… merci! The one downside of Brussels Airlines was the relatively small selection of movies, but we always travel with our own so it didn’t bother us.

 brussels chocolates
our business class seats and a delicious box of Belgian chocolate!

Lufthansa and Austrian were both intra-Europe business class, so the seat size is no different than coach (just with the middle seat blocked off). Both were short flights, and we did get breakfast which was reasonably good. The Austrian lounge in Vienna was surprisingly small prior to our EVA flight and not particularly memorable; the Lufthansa lounge in Frankfurt was large, with quite a few breakfast options (including sour cherry jam) for our early morning regional flight.

lufthansabrekkie
cold meats and cheese plate for our second breakfast + flat Santa

EVA Air was a mixed bag – they had an interesting choice of movies, and the food we pre-ordered was pretty good. (Leandra’s Note: On two of the three legs, my special order was ‘missing’ but thankfully the normal meals were fine.) They also had a nice amenity kit, perhaps the nicest of all our flights, and we’ve become fans of the Bvlgari lotion. However, the Premium Laurel seats on Vienna-BKK-Taipei route are lumpy and uncomfortable, something we discovered after the tickets were booked, and confirmed on the flight. Better than coach, but we would likely choose a different route or carrier for such a long future flight. We did get a chance to try the new seats (Royal Laurel) for four hours on our return and they were much nicer. Strangely, we never received a landing card for Taipei while in flight, so we had to hastily fill one out while in line for immigration.

eva-1 eva-2 eva-drinks
Premium Laurel seats (meh), Royal Laurel seats (nice), champagne (always a plus)

Thai Airlines was our least favorite of the flights, with older seats and food that was just not good, especially surprising given we flew from their hub in Thailand. We had a really tight connection, so were were escorted through the airport at a hurried speed by an EVA airline employee. This also meant we didn’t have time to check out their lounge which is widely known to be better than the actual in-flight experience.

thaiairlines

2014 Travel Overview

Videos from previous years - 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 (recap post) Some of our travel stats for the year: 109,409 total air miles on 16 airlines: American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, US Airways, Garuda Indonesia,Wings Air, … [Continue reading]

Memory Monday: a year in the garden

patio_anim_nov

In May, just before we left for Bali, I built a wire trellis to support several climbing plants including moonflower, cardinal climber and passionflower. Starting in early June I took a series of photos of the plant growth over the summer and into … [Continue reading]

Carpet Cleaning 101

livingroom1

With two dogs and frequent guests, our living room carpet gets a lot of abuse. In the last few months in particular, a bunch of random dirt spots have showed up with no logical explanation and it was, frankly, a bit embarrassing. So, when a friend … [Continue reading]

France Nov 2014: Bordeaux food and drink

Bordeaux Beer Shop - walking down Rue des Faures toward the Basilica of St. Michael I noticed the word 'beer' out of the corner of my eye. Leandra was across the street and chatting with the American expat owner a minute later! The shop has an … [Continue reading]

France Nov 2014: Bordeaux sights

While we only had one night in Bordeaux, we found it to be a beautiful city with cozy side lanes, large boulevards, parks, and lots of shopping. As in Toulouse, there are a number of beautiful churches - Eglise Notre Dame, Cathédrale Saint-André de … [Continue reading]

France Nov 2014: Toulouse evenings

starterbasket

In Toulouse we tried several restaurants plus two different Belgian beer bars. Le Point D'ogre - Eric's colleagues took us here on our first night, and it was Leandra's first 3+ hour French-style dinner. This is a fairly small family-run … [Continue reading]