Tim Foolery

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Singapore: By the Numbers

Regular readers know that I had a quick trip to Singapore – returning home last Monday.  This was indeed a whirlwind trip.  My better half was in Singapore for work and since I had never been and always wanted to go, I found a way to make it work.  I’ll have much more details notes coming soon, but here are the high level numbers and stats.

  • Airlines Flown: 3
  • Flights Taken: 5
  • United Miles Redeemed: 180,000
  • Miles Flown: 20,288
  • Hours in the Air: 44
  • Time in Singapore: 68 hours
  • Time in Vienna: 15 hours
  • Airport Lounges: 6
  • Hotels Nights: 4
  • Hotels Stayed: 3
  • Cities Explored: 2
  • Meals Eaten: 6
  • Restaurants Dined: 1 (everything else was Street Food / Hawker Stalls)
  • Cocktails / Wine / Champagne Consumed: Countless
My Route to the Singapore for the weekend

My route to Singapore

It was a quick trip, but with more hours on the ground than in the air, which is always a key metric for a trip like this.  That being said, spending 44 hours flying (excluding layovers) in some great business class products isn’t too bad of a way to spend a the dog days of summer.

Give me your honest opinion – would you go to Singapore for just 68 hours?  Does the fact that it cost nothing (other than points and time) change your opinion?  What’s the longest you’ve traveled for the shortest stay?

Austrian Airlines ORD-VIE (OS 66)

After being disappointed by both the United Polaris Lounge and the Swiss Lounge at O’hare, I was really looking forward to my time aboard Austrian Airlines flight from Chicago to Vienna. I find Austrian has a truly wonderful Business Class product, with fully flat seats, top notch food and a nicely curated selection of Austrian wines – along with options from other regions as well.

A few weeks before, I had called Austrian Airlines to reserve the exact seats I wanted. Austrian’s Business Class is in a 1-2-1 seating configuration. These seats are staggered and when your seat is reclined into a bed, your feet actual have slid under the side table of the seat in front of you. This means the seats alternate where the side table is – either right next to the aisle or next to the window. If you select properly, you can have a much more private seat and if not, you’ll be sitting directly on the aisle, likely getting bumped by passengers and crew as they pass your seat. I’ve been fortunate enough to have selected the single seats closest to the window and farthest from the aisle each time I’ve flow with Austrian.

Boarding began about 20 minutes late at 16h55 through door 1L. Once onboard, I immediately turned right down the first aisle, as I was seated in 5A.

Flight: Austrian Airlines OS66 (Business Class)
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 5A
Departure: 17h20 (17h30)
Arrival: 08h35 (09h01)

I quickly found my seat, unpacked my tablet and power cables and stowed my briefcase. I ended up checking my roller bag – Austrian (well, their contract employees at O’hare) are real sticklers for the rules and often will not let you (or at least try) bring your bigger carryon bags on board – even though there is ample space in the overhead bins – especially in business class. I decided to skip the drama and just check the bag initially.

My Thrown – 5A from ORD to VIE

As I was getting settled, the flight attendant came by with a tray with cups of water, orange juice and apple juice. Alcoholic beverages were not available – a fellow passenger was quite upset about this, so the flight service manager came over and explained it was because Cook County has high taxes on booze opened on the ground, so she’d have to wait until we were airborne. That’s another thing I like about Austrian Airlines – they are polite, but very direct. They are not going to bend the rules, but they will explain why the rules are there and give you an alternate.

I opted for a water. I had also decided that I would endeavor to speak German this entire flight. I took about 2 years of German in college, but haven’t had much of an opportunity to practice – this was the perfect time.

About 10 minutes after I sat down, the menus were delivered by the chef, who introduced herself and said she’d be back to answer any questions about the menu and to take our final orders.

At this time, the Business Class Amenity kit was delivered – and unlike previous versions of this kit, which is billed as a carrying case for a tablet (a tiny tablet, I guess), this kit was reusable as a shoe bag. I don’t think you can ever have too many shoe bags when you travel, they are critical for keeping dirt from your shoes from getting on your clothes.

The kit contained the standard items including socks, an eye shade, toothbrush and paste, lip balm, hand cream and ear plugs.

Austrian Airlines Business Class Amenity Kit with Contents – Dig the Shoe Bag

The chef came back by to finalize dinner selections and to collect our breakfast choices as well – I opted not to be woken up – I’d rather just get a few extra minutes of sleep and grab a bite in the City.

As we wait for boarding to finish, I polished off my still water (Wasser ohne Gas) and scrolled through the In-Flight Entertainment (IFE). I was surprised at the number of films I actually wanted to watch. I bookmarked (which is a fabulous feature on this system) six films, including The Shape of Water, Kingsmen: The Secret Service, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Suburbicon, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and Murder on the Orient Express (which frustrated me, because I rented Murder through Amazon Prime – I could have just saved a few bucks, if I had checked the film options before renting). Despite having several films in the queue, I only watched Murder on the Orient Express, then put the Kingsmen on while I slept. There were a total of 61 films and 87 episodes of TV shows. The diversity of the TV programs was a bit disappointing, but for a nine hour overnight flight, it worked well for me.

The door closed at 17h25 and we pushed back from the gate at 17h30. After a relatively short taxi, we were in the air at 17h50. It was a smooth roll and right on queue the flight attendants jumped into action. The Flight Services Coordinator made her way through the Business Class Cabin, introducing herself, confirming our beverage choices and making it clear that if we needed anything, find her and she’d handle it.

Sunset over Canada as we make our way ever closer to the Atlantic.

I switched on the movie and enjoyed the nicely timed dinner service. I didn’t feel rushed in the slightest, but it moved along at a nice clip, so I wasn’t frustrated with losing quality sleep time onboard.

The table is set with DO&CO branded items – Love this Catering Company.

Prawns Andaluz with a great Truffled Celeriac Cream Soup / Crevetten Andaluz mit Gretruffelte Sellerieschaumsuppe

Buffalo Mozzarella Ravioli / Buffelmozzarella Ravioli

Selection of Desserts: Chocolate Raspberry Trifle, Chocolate Ice Cream, plus a nice glass of Port

The final dinner service was collected at 19h55 and I was sufficiently tired that I actually fell into a pretty solid sleep at 21h15. I woke up several times throughout the flight, but was able to drift back asleep quickly. I didn’t wake up at all for the breakfast service – usually the clanging of plates and dishes wakes me up, but not today. I did get up about 50 minutes before we were landing and everyone else had already made a big dent in their breakfasts. Once the crew noticed I was awake the hurried over asking if I wanted juice – but said that I had slept too long and breakfast wasn’t available – fair enough. The omelet looked pretty good, to my surprise. Looks like I would indeed be grabbing breakfast in the City.

We landed about 25 minutes late. I made my way through immigrations and customs with nary a question. My checked bag was the second off the belt and I was off very quickly into the City Center.

I really do enjoy flying Austrian Airlines. For 70,000 United MileagePlus miles for a one way ticket to Vienna, you really can’t beat it. The service was quite nice – efficient, friendly, but not too friendly. The ultimate goal is for a pleasant flight, but with ample time to sleep as we land at a reasonable hour in Vienna – you’ve got things to do. I look forward to flying Austrian again – and I’m quite confident that I will again soon.

Have you flown Austrian Airlines before? What do you think about them – is my love irrational or are you in the same boat? What other products should I try when I’m off to Vienna again?

Du bist ein schöner Hund – A Lesson in Stopping to Enjoy the Little Things

While in Vienna during one of our walks around the Innere Stadt, we came across this elderly woman, likely in her early 80s. She was dressed very well – not fancy or in expensive clothes, but she obviously took care of herself and cared about her appearance. We saw her leaving a bakery, with a huge bag full of treats. As she stepped out into the street, she had a grin on her face, which quickly grew until her smile took over her entire face.

She sets her bag of baked goods on the ground, drops to one knee and begins to says “Du bist ein schöner Hund…Du bist ein schöner Hund!” While still kneeling, she grabbed the head of a large grey standard poodle, scratching his chin. She stayed kneeling, repeating that simple phrase. She was so happy. The dog’s owner also had a huge smile. The dog’s tail wagged vigorously.

You didn’t really need any German language study to understand what was going on here.  This cute elderly woman talking directly to a dog and telling him that “You are a beautiful dog” was so heartwarming.

This scene lasted at most 30 seconds, but brought smiles and laughter to the three directly involved (owner, dog and woman) and the dozens of people walking past this display. We stopped and watched  smiled and felt really happy.

It is these small things that happen every single day that we often would pass by and wouldn’t notice. I’d likely have ignored it myself, if it hadn’t been for this elderly Austrian woman, saying words that I easily understood in a foreign language. Take a few moments to observe your surroundings at home and while traveling. Don’t be in such a hurry to hit the next location on your list of must-see spots. Stop and pet derHund.

The Most Instagrammable Places in Vienna

I recently took a quick trip to Vienna and while I didn’t have a ton of time to spend exploring this wonderful City, I did take the better part of an afternoon to just walk around. Vienna is a beautiful City with stunning architecture and a thriving art and music scene – not to mention the food and wine. I found some amazing Instragrammable views this quick afternoon.

After landing and checking into my hotel, I took a quick nap then headed out exploring. I started by heading off to the Museum Quarter and made a large circle around and through the Innere Stadt (Inner City).  Here are some of the more visually interesting places I visited.  These locations would be a great addition to your Instagram or Vero feeds.

Ferstel Passage

Freyung (or Ferstel) Passage is a beautiful shopping arcade constructed in the 1860s. During my visit it was filled with Easter excitement.  The ornate arches were stunning and ended up being my favorite part of this stop.

Kohlmarkt & Graben

The corner of Kohlmarkt and Graben is home to a wonderful pedestrianized roadway and high end shopping. You can spend hours window shopping and people watching.

Staatsoper

The Staatsoper is one of the most beautiful buildings in Vienna. Opened in 1869, this building seats more than 1700 patrons. Not only is this a beautiful building, but it is often surrounded by singers and other musicians.  We heard some amazing performers as we walked by each day.

Small Streets Throughout Innere Stadt

This residential building was near the Jesuitenkirche – Jesuit Church. The small balconies make a perfect living extension into the quiet street. This higher density building still feels like you’ve got your own space. Such a beautiful building.

Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace is located in the 1st District in Vienna. This former palace is located at the end of Kohlmarkt. I decided to stop off and grab a sausage (and a beer) from a local vendor for lunch as I made my way through the Inner City.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

The ornately patterned roof at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna sets this house of worship apart from others throughout Europe. A visit to this cathedral is a must for anyone visiting the beautiful city of Vienna.

Jesuitenkirche

The Baroque style Jesuit Church or Jesuitenkirche was built in 1703. The exterior was quite simple, but the interiors were so ornate. Stop by this inconspicuous building and explore the exquisite ceiling frescoes.

Dominikanerkirche

The Dominican Church (Dominikanerkirche) is another gorgeous Baroque building. Built in 1631, this church is most famously known for his beautiful main altar and frescoes. I spent a while in quiet contemplation here last weekend. Such an amazing space.

Elevated Views of the City

The view from our amazing suite at the Hotel Bristol. We looked out on the Staatsoper / State Opera House along the Opernring. I love the hustle and bustle of the City streets, the clanging of the street cars and the occasional song from the opera singers performing on the streets outside of the Opera House.  You don’t have to have a beautiful suite to get these great shots – you can walk to the top of a church, a hotel or any other taller public space.

What are some of your favorite places to visit and photograph in Vienna? Where should I go on my next trip to this glorious City?