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Thread: Help me figure out my winter break!


  1. #1
    Super Moderator spongebue's Avatar
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    Default Help me figure out my winter break!

    So, my winter break is coming up soon, and I'll *finally* have time to travel! I'm looking to go as far away as possible during my 3 stretches of ~3.5-4.5 days. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I'm the kind of guy that's really content with walking around a city a bit without really doing too much other than taking photos and trying out the local food, maybe an attraction or two. For example, I was considering a trip to HKG Mon-Tues, spending Tues night-Wed in the city, and arriving back Thursday afternoon (the time change works in my favor coming home).

    Now, I need to work out destinations. I kind of want to visit as much of a variety of places as possible, preferably within UA's destinations but DL is also an option (I get ID95s on them, but haven't had the 6 months of seniority needed for a ZED). Places I've considered:

    Asia:
    HKG: Pretty well set on this one. Nonstops to/from ORD that tend to be nicely open on a 747, which is a plane I've wanted to fly on as long as I can remember but haven't had a chance yet. English is an official language according to wikipedia, which helps.

    NRT: Possible alternative to HKG just because of the frequency of flights and large city, but I'll probably stick with HKG (there's some kind of appeal to that idea for me)

    BAH/KWI/DXB: I'll admit that I don't know a whole lot about any of these cities, but not too many Americans go to this region and I'd like to see what it's all about over there. Seems like there have been some pretty successful nonrev journeys in the past, too.

    Europe:
    MAD/SVQ: I'd love to go back to SVQ, but probably won't be able to work it in with my lack of IB ZED possibilities and expense of the train (I'm trying to keep each trip relatively cheap). Maybe over Spring/Summer. On the other hand, I haven't been outside the airport at MAD and wouldn't mind checking out the city a bit, and I know the language and love the country.

    AMS or BRU: Both cities I've wanted to visit but haven't had a chance to while I was in SVQ for a semester. I'm sure I can find stuff to do/see, it's just a question of if it's the best choice

    FRA: I missed Oktoberfest when I was in Spain in favor of a school trip to Portugal, but still wouldn't mind going out here. I might go with a friend (I'll get buddy passes and ZEDs just before the last week of break) and he has a friend staying out there that could probably give us a free place to stay

    South of the border:
    PVR/CUN: Good beaches, and my knowledge of the language helps a lot. However, outside of the resort areas you kind of have to watch it a bit (and I do enjoy meandering ).

    SXM: not really a UA option, but might be worth taking a DL ID95 flight. I've really wanted to see Maho Beach, and the weather is bound to be great.

    EZE: Probably my preferred option, but it's a little hard to justify the $130 entry fee for US citizens on top of the $60 taxes I'd have to pay for the flight. On the other hand, that entry fee would be good for 10 years.

    GIG/GRU: More flight options, though they seem to be a little full at times. Popular destinations, but I don't really speak Portuguese (just Spanish with a bit of a horribly faked accent :P )

    Any recommendations? I'm trying to get to one destination in each region, but it doesn't necessarily have to be one of those options if there's an idea that I hadn't thought about. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
    -Brian

    PS: Also, I'm already going to LAS before Christmas (anyone wanna meet up?) with the girlfriend, but that's pretty well set already. This will be a good break.
    Spongebue - NonRev Correspondent - U.S./Midwest Region



  • #2
    NonRev Correspondent ColoAvs19's Avatar
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    I'd say you have a pretty good list there. I always decided my destination by how the flights were, I'd rather go to BCN in J than CDG in Y. Not sure if you ever read my report of my spring break trip in '08 on the old blogs, but I did something like this. MDT-ATL-MXP-ZRH-MUC-TXL-JFK-ATL-DEN-ATL-SXM-ATL-PHL in 6 days. I would go to 3 different continents in 3 trips instead of going the same place 3 times.

    I've always wanted to go to HKG, but never got around to it. It looks like a fun city to see. I've been to Tokyo and it was nice, but HKG sounds like it might be a bit better. KWI is super hot, pretty humid, and smells funny. DXB is nice, but I think it's a bit overhyped. I'd like to get to BAH, but not certain exactly what to see/do there.

    I'd like to see MAD at some point. I've been to BCN and loved it. I'd like to get to AGP or VLC too. Are you able to get to GIB? That's somewhere else I'd like to go. There are a million places to go in Europe, I'd go with the easiest place to get to in front of the curtain.

    South of the border....You should drop everything and get to SXM immediately. I love that place. EZE is a cool place too, but that new reciprocity fee probably would keep me away. GIG/GRU you need to make sure you have your visas...

    HKG, MAD, and SXM sounds like an awesome winter break. A bit more exciting than driving to the beach. We're in a pretty sweet industry!

    Whatever you do, let us know where you went and how it was!
    ColoAvs19 - NonRev Correspondent -Globe Trotting Consultant


  • #3
    NonRev Correspondent Nick's Avatar
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    Hey Brian, gonna get to your msg on HKG in a minute sorry!

    In regards to HKG, most people will know english yes, except cab drivers so it's helpful to have stuff written down in Cantonese. If you want better English ability head to SIN The only issue with SIN is you gotta go via NRT on UA/DL and that builds some complexities.

    I've been to BAH, it was VERY expensive and hot. There really wasn't that much to see, the airport is poky also. Gulfair was interesting but not too bad.

    As ColoAvs said, i'd drop everything and go to SXM. It's close, it's easy, it looks awesome. I can't wait to get there.

    Otherwise i'd recommend HKG, but you're gonna be tired!
    Nick - NonRev Correspondent - Singapore

    Home is wherever I happen to be

  • #4
    Winner! mrs767er's Avatar
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    I second HKG!!!
    GIG is $140 visa fee and done in advance--90 days lately

    EZE might be worth the fee if you'll go enuff times--food and wine are cheap but digs can be high. You can return and see spectacular Iguacu Falls another time or just eat steaks a few times!)

    What about Ecuador--it's a pretty HOT destination in the trav mags?

    So--HKG--DL has nonstop DTW or the NRT cnx (that's really brutal, but I know you've prob had worse...)
    You can get some great room rates--accor has a few places you can use DL discount and the Y hotels are supposedly very GOOD. Food is incredible--transport is cheap--3 day pass:
    MTR > Airport Express Services > Airport Express Travel Pass

    You WILL be tired but if you do the DTW--3:30 pm arr next day 9pm, the rtn is 10am back same day noon
    I just researched new stuff for our trip in Feb and have been once before. Of course, Nick has the skinny on all the details and then some!
    Good luck!!
    PS--I always vote for Prague or Bud over anywhere else in EU--Boss and I favor them! He does FRA alot--and is there now for 2 trips.
    mrs767er - NonRev Correspondent - Specialty Travel

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  • #5
    Winner! mrs767er's Avatar
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    As a side note--DL will fly Palau (pronounced Bell-ow, as in Survivor SHow) soon (no buddy passes) from NRT
    not certain of schedule but might be future interest?
    mrs767er - NonRev Correspondent - Specialty Travel

    Wherever you go, there you are

  • #6
    NonRev Correspondent vulindlela's Avatar
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    I would also go for HKG.
    I have been twice and love it!
    It is not too expensive, especially compared to other cities on your list. It is easy to get around. They do speak english. There is great food.
    I have been to all three of your Middle East options and they are rather boring in my opinion. It will not be too hot at this time of year but will be expensive. The Kuwait Dinar is the highest valued currency in the world. Bahrain is not far behind.
    Vulindlela - NonRev Correspondent - Indianapolis


  • #7
    NonRev Correspondent vulindlela's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrs767er View Post
    I second HKG!!!
    PS--I always vote for Prague or Bud
    What happened to the BUD flight?
    I do not see it in the schedule but it does not list it as seasonal..........
    Vulindlela - NonRev Correspondent - Indianapolis


  • #8
    Super Moderator spongebue's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'm not too worried about connections to HKG... my station only really does flights to ORD on United Express, and I get free UA flights (ID95 on DL, which I'd like to avoid if possible). From ORD I can get a nonstop to HKG, and loads tend to be very good on that flight.

    I've mentally scratched the DXB/KWI/BAH ideas and circled HKG. Now I think it's between PVR and EZE for a southern trip (I haven't crossed the equator yet, would love to do that) and pretty much any of the above European options.
    Spongebue - NonRev Correspondent - U.S./Midwest Region


  • #9
    Winner! mrs767er's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vulindlela View Post
    What happened to the BUD flight?
    I do not see it in the schedule but it does not list it as seasonal..........
    It's expected to return next year, but it may not be DL metal or just out of ATL vs NY base? My husband LOVED that rotation!
    Great hotel near the Danube and I could get extra trip deals on LL if we wanted to go for fun.

    Sorry to morph your thread, spongebue! I forgot BUD is off DL right now.
    If you can stretch one of those breaks for 4.5 days, HKG is a winner--just watch out for the feb 3 lunar new year travel
    mrs767er - NonRev Correspondent - Specialty Travel

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  • #10
    Super Moderator spongebue's Avatar
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    Ha, no worries about the thread morphing. I don't even think I'd have to stretch the break that much with the nonstop option out of ORD... it looks like I can get there at about 18:00 on Tuesday, have all day Wednesday there, and leave again at about 11:00 on Thursday. Thanks to the international date line and everything, I'll be back home at about 16:00 that same Thursday, in time to work my shift at 22:45 with a small nap in between (I'll try to get some sleep on the flight)

    Oh, and I also figured that I can probably justify the EZE entry fee IF I don't try for J or F. Starting to focus on that one more, and probably MAD for the Europe trip.
    Spongebue - NonRev Correspondent - U.S./Midwest Region


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