10 Things to do at airports during a layover

Having layovers can be hard for many people, but if you look at the bright side of life, you can get a whole new experience out of it.

I had quite a few layovers on my travels so far, and most of the time, it was very interesting to explore yet another different airport.

Every airport is different, and the smaller ones don’t really have much to offer, still you can prepare to kill time before your connecting flight, be it at a tiny or huge airport. Here is how:

1. Freshen up

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This is probably the most important thing to do after stepping out of the plane. For this, make sure you always carry around lotion, brush/comb, and a little bit of make-up in your hand-luggage. Body Wipes or roll-on deodorants can also be handy if you feel super disgusting. Some airports even have shower rooms, but I am not sure if they are free or not. Another good idea is to carry extra clothes in your hand luggage. If you were sweating too much, or just wanna feel more comfortable, it’s gonna save your life.

2. Get your gate information

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Many times, the gate and time won’t be announced yet, by the time you land. This is pretty common when you have connecting flights, so you would have to make sure to keep yourself updated in front of the departues boards. It’s more relaxing if you have 3 or 4 hours until your flight, but if it’s only 1 or 2 hours, and your gate is still not being announced, make sure to ask someone at the information desk when to expect the announcement. They will be able to tell you more.

Not only gates, but sometimes, you might even have to get your ticket during a layover as well. That happened to us in March when we were flying back from Dubai to Stuttgart with Turkish Airlines. We had to get our connecting tickets at a counter right after landing, and we only had around 1 hour in total until our flight’s departure. That was very stressful, and I’d prefer airlines not doing this at all.

3. Social Networking

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Posting your location on Facebook or an Instagram picture of your flight is almost mandatory when travelling. Of course, not only for entertainment, but also to inform your family and friends back home and let them know you’ve landed and are safe and sound.

For this, always make sure to have your battery fully loaded or plug it in at one of the charging stations at the airport. If there is none, take a portable battery with you and make sure that it is fully loaded as well.

In January, during my flight from Taipei to Shanghai, my phone’s battery was so low that I couldn’t text my parents after landing, because I needed to show the address to the taxi driver. My parents were extremely worried by the time I finally got to my hotel. It was already midnight and they thought that something happened. After that hassle, I will make sure in the future to keep my phone fully loaded.

4. Food and Drinks

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Sometimes, the food you get on the plane won’t be satisfactory to many of us. How lucky we are that there are food courts even in the smallest airports in the world. It’s nearly impossible to starve on your layover. The higher possibility is that you’ll spend an infinity on deciding where and what to eat. If you don’t wanna opt for fast food on your travels (which I wouldn’t suggest), then there are many beautiful restaurants with great food options as well.

Other than a hot meal, there are lots of cafes, bakeries and shops to get some snacks and drinks for the flight. I personally love to sit in cafes and have a cup of coffee with something sweet to keep me energized.

5. Shopping

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Some people actually buy a lot of things in those shops at airports since it’s duty free and you can find almost every brand at one place. Especially the cosmetics sections are very popular, and even I stroll through those venues every time I’m having a layover. It’s a nice way to kill some time, but also get freshened up with high-end perfumes (I am looking at you YSL). I even bought a MAC lipstick once on my 6-hour layover in Hong Kong, one that I have been searching for a longer time. And I also bought presents for my cousin’s two kids at the Disney Store at Hong Kong Airport. Usually, I buy magazines or books at airports, but that one time in Hong Kong, I just did some last-minute shopping since I still had some money left :’D

6. Extra Activities

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The biggest airports in the world have more to offer than just shopping and food. If you are lucky, you can actually kill some time in an airport cinema (Changi Airport in Singapore, Hong Kong Airport, Schiphool Airport in Amsterdam,…). I would love to try that out once if I have another +4h layover somewhere, but I would think about doing No. 10 instead.

Some airports offer a cultural exhibition. There will be a small section with utensils being exhibited, almost like in a museum. Or even performances to keep the travellers entertained.

In many muslim countries’ airports, there will be prayer rooms offered for free. And I am sure that many more airports around the world will have individual activity programs designated to each airport.

7. Sleep

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This might be one of the most popular things to do during a layover, since most of the time you won’t be able to strech out on a flight. Plus, if the jetlag hasn’t reached you at your layover airport yet, it will definitely kick in after landing at your destination, so sleeping off during a layover might be the smartest idea.

8. Read

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If you haven’t already packed an exciting read in your hand luggage, then you might as well check out the books at your layover airport. If you are not so much into books, you can also get one or two magazines.

I personally love browsing through bookstores at airports, and I even got myself a great book once at the Taipei International Airport (“Crazy Rich Asians”). I don’t always buy a book, though, since I try to bring my own.

9. People Watching

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At an airport, there will be people from all over the world. People you might never ever see again. People who look differently, and talk in different languages. And this is one of the reasons I love airports so much. They are the places where people from almost all nations worldwide meet. I personally love people watching; guessing about their lives, where they are going to, where they are coming from, what language they are talking. I love making stories in my head for just a few minutes.

10. Explore the City

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Most of the times, your layover might be around 3 hours maximum, but sometimes, you will have extremely long layovers where a short trip to the city might be actually worth it. Many big airports will have airport expresses which will take you to the city centre in less than an hour (Hong Kong, London,…). Also, airlines like Turkish Airlines will offer a free city tour in Istanbul when you have +5h until your next flight.

Until now, I only had 2 very long layovers, one 6 hours in Hong Kong and one 3 hours in Dubai. The one in Hong Kong passed by almost immediately. I did almost all activities stated above except for Nos 6, 7, and 10. I could have actually gone to the city as well, but I have already been to Hong Kong several times, and I didn’t want to be more stressed than I already was. In Dubai, I had a layover of 3 hours which made it impossible to take a trip downtown, so I just wandered around the airport and looked around most of the time.

What about you guys? What are the things you love to do at airports during a layover? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Merveille.

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From Xi’An to Shanghai to Hong Kong

I woke up super early on my last day in Xi’An which was a Friday, and I had to be super fit, because it should be a day where I would be in 5 different cities on ONE DAY!!! How is that possible, you might ask. Read on to find out.

It takes around half an hour to 45 minutes to the airport, and during the ride, my taxi driver kept on talking to me. He was the same age as me as I found out, but he could only speak chinese. I understood most of it, until he tried asking me if I had a son. That was weird :’D At first I wasn’t sure if I understood him correctly, but it turned out that I did. Next thing, he wanted to talk about money and how much money german people were earning. It was an interesting cab ride, but I was glad when I reached the airport. I really liked the Xi’An airport. It’s not that big, but everything is easy to find and it has all the important shops you need before a flight.

I arrived in Shanghai at around noon, and then had quite some time until my train ride back to Yuyao, where my boss picked me up. 

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This was the cutest kid on the train from Shanghai to Yuyao. He kept on distracting me with his toys and his cuteness :’D His sister joined him later on as well. 

Here is why he picked me up. Shortly before my trip, I was told that I still had to go to Hong Kong for one last time because my visa had to be renewed for only a few days. So I had to look for a hostel last minute and buy a bus ticket to Ningbo Airport. If they had told me earlier, I could have just made them book a flight from Xi’An to Hong Kong, or at least, from Shanghai to Hong Kong. But I had already bought my train ticket ages ago.

Well, it was still manageable. I put all the important stuff in my backpack and left my suitcase with my boss. In the late afternoon, I made it to the bus and in the early evening, I was already at Ningbo airport for the 4th time now. So the next post will be another Hong-Kong-in-less-than-24-hours post.

I spent another night at that amazing hostel from last time which was also very central. This time, I met a Korean girl from London who was a fashion buyer but wanted to start a career as a fashion designer in Asia, so she started to check out the market in Hong Kong. She admitted that it was a tough job but it was her dream.

This is one of the most amazing things about Hong Kong. You can meet all different types of people from all around the world here. I have already met a Canadian who was a malay, indian, and chinese mix, I met two german girls, I met a Thai girl who I am still in contact with today, and this time I met this Korean girl from London.

After talking to her, I went to bed and fell asleep with the thoughts for the next day’s plans in my mind.

For the next post, you can look forward to more Hong Kong related stuff, but it’s also gonna be the last post about that gorgeous city.

So for me, I was in 5 cities on that day: Xi’An, Shanghai, Yuyao, Ningbo, and Hong Kong. That was a record for me.
What about you guys? What was the highest amount of citites you have travelled through/visited on one day?

Let me know and stay tuned.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me.

Merveille

Beijing Part 1: Getting lost and overwhelmed

As promised, I am writing about my final trip I did around China in March, before I headed back home last year April. I still had Beijing and Xi’An on my list to tick off, so I decided to do the typical trip to those two cities. I heard many tourists and travellers take that route between the two cities via train, and I decided to do that as well.

That was not all, though. Last minute, before I left for Beijing, my boss told me that I had to go to Hong Kong one last time, because I had to extend my visa once more, for only a few days. That did piss me off, because I have already booked all the planes and trains already, and I could have taken the plane from Shanghai airport. This way, after arriving in Shanghai from Xi’An, I’d have to take the train to Yuyao, my boss would pick me up, take my suitcase, and take me to the hotel for me to catch the bus to Ningbo airport. Such a hustle can only happen in China :’D

During that one week, I took 4 trains, 4 planes, and 2 busses in total :’D If it wasn’t enough, we even planned one last Shanghai trip after I came back from Hong Kong :’D That was insane! Never travelled to so many cities in such little time :’D Almost felt like funforlouis :’DD

Anyway, my flight to Beijing was early in the morning from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. I took one of the earliest trains to Shanghai, and upon arriving at the check-in, I was happy to see a great seat which turned out to be an emergency exit seat. The views from the plane were great. The sun was blasting and the sky was clear blue. A pity I didn’t use my camera to take a photo.

I flew with China Eastern Airlines, and I really liked it. Everything was on time, the stewardesses were friendly and the flight was smooth.

I think everything was just too good.

After landing, I took the metro to find my hostel. I had the directions and I also had the address in chinese. I was doing fine, but then, I completely lost my way. It was ridiculous. I was already on the way for almost 3 HOURS!!! Walking around in circles, asking for the way, trying to stop taxis to take me there. Nothin worked.

Because I was so stressed, I didn’t take so many pictures. I was despairing. Finally, a taxi stopped and took me to my hostel. But he was driving in the opposite direction that I came from. I was starting to get really confused. Then, he just let me out in front of a construction and told me I had to walkd behind it to get to the entrance of the hostel since cars couldn’t drive there. It was ridiculous. Ive had enough. I walked and walked through bumpy streets with my huge suitcase and finally, FINALLY found the entrance. It was very hidden, the taxi driver was right.

I entered, relieved and they were looking for my room on the computer. And the bad luck didn’t stop. They said there was no room unter my name. I was panicking. I showed them the e-mail and the girl understood. I was at the wrong hostel. It had basically the same name.

Happy Dragon is a hostel name that is used for three different hostels in three totally different locations in Beijing. They called the hostel and asked if there was a room booked and they confirmed. The receptionst was so kind to organize a driver for me to take me there. And again, they took me back to where I came from.

As it had turned out, I had the directions to the right hostel, but wrote down the wrong chinese address. So guys, please, if you decide to book a room at Happy Dragon, double check which one it is you are staying at and make sure you have both the right directions and the right address.

I paid for the drive at the reception and was told that I got a room upgrade. I actually booked a dorm, but I got a private room. And I didnt have to pay anything extra. I was so happy, and even happier when I saw how clean and beautiful it was. The bed was soft as well. I was so tired and exhausted that I could just lie down and sleep. Even my hunger couldn’t keep me from sleeping for around 2 hours.

When I woke up, I was still tired, but I had to get something to eat and I wanted to explore the city a little bit. It was slowly getting dark, so I got out of bed, got dressed and left. First, I also signed up for the Great Wall trip the next day.

I walked to the metro, and since it was already around 7pm, the streets were full with people. The metro as well. I thought Shanghai metro was full, but the one in Beijing was even worse. I couldn’t believe when I saw how many people were still getting in.

I somehow got off at my station which was the entrance to the Forbidden City.

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Of course, I wasn’t planning to get inside, since it was already closed, but I just wanted to explore the area. I guess I would have done a better choice if I went to get some street food somewhere.

After walking around the area, I quickly got bored and felt my hunger. I took the metro again, this time to find a restaurant somewhere. I didn’t have to walk too far from the metro station. It was a modern american-korean-mexican fusion restaurant in a Hutong. The area was very quiet and old but it looked very authentic.

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Nachos and a salad, Although I was pretty hungry, I didn’t want to eat anything too heavy at that hour.

When I was soon finished with dinner, the only thing I wanted to do was go sleeping in my warm, comfy bed. I took a taxi and enjoyed the late night views I got from Beijing. A beautiful, big city with a huge history, but very overwhelming for me. I saw the beauty of Beijing, but it was still very confusing to me.

What about you guys? What were your first expressions of Beijing?

Dubai Part 5: The White Bliss of a Mosque

Our last day has arrived, on Friday March 17th. We checked out and since this was our last full day, and we had to be at the airport early next morning (like 2am). So we basically had to kill time the whole day and evening until our flight early next morning. Here is what we did.

1. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi

From our hotel, we walked to the metro and bus station which in walking distance to our hotel. There, we bought a metro/bus card and waited in line for the bus to arrive. The bus was a bit late already, and when it finally arrived, there was such a hustle with gettin on it. Some people were accusing an old man of cutting the line, so he had to go to the back of the line to wait for the next bus. It was a bit sad to watch since that man was quite old.

After we were on the bus, the ride took us about an hour. I was getting hungrier by the hour, and when we finally arrived at Abu Dhabi Bus Terminal, we saw that there was a mall in front of it and I immediately had to use the toilet and have a late lunch.

After waiting for the waiters to finally bring the bill, and then bring the change, we finally left the mall and looked for a taxi to take us to Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Here, I would probably recommend you not to take the taxis right in front of the bus terminal. Walk a bit further and get a different one because the ones at the bus terminal will probably start with a higher sum and there will also be those private car taxis where they will try to drive you around in luxury cars :’D Of course, if you are interested, you can do it, but if you get annoyed by this kind of stuff, you should head to a calmer place to pick up a taxi.

When we were finally approaching the mosque, we could already see the snow-white minarettes from afar and were already taking pictures like crazy.

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Before we could enter the mosque, we were given abayas to wear over our clothes. You can avoid wearing it if you come prepared with clothes covering your shoulders, arms, legs, belly and head. I came unprepared on purpose, because I really wanted to wear this abaya. I think it just adds to the atmosphere, and it is nice to be on the same level with the local tourists. I think you should try it, too. You can either purchase your own abaya (as many chinese tourists did, probably on taobao) or you can come with your every day clothes and get an abaya there for free. Of course you have to give it back after you exit the mosque.

I kind of liked the abayas that we got which were blue and made us look like wizards (I’m looking at you Ravenclaw) and were made of a very light fabric.

As soon as we went inside, we started taking pictures of course.

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We were allowed to enter the prayer rooms as well. For this, you have to take off your shoes of course, so we did it. It was so nice to walk around on bare feet.

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After this, we took a few more pictures of the outside of the mosque, and then slowly headed outside.

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As unlucky as we were, the call to prayer just started as we left the mosque :( It sounded so beautiful and calming, but luckily, we could still see the mosque from the outside and hear the prayer. It was still beautiful, but if you really wanna hear the call to prayer while inside the mosque, get yourself informed about the prayer times.

When we left the mosque, it was probably around 6pm. We took the taxi back to the bus terminal and took a bus back to Dubai. This would drop us off in the city centre, because we wanted to do something before heading back to the hotel to pick up our luggage.

After the tiresome day and the thought of the flight ahead of us, we got carried away and actually missed our stop. It actually wasn’t our fault, because there was no anouncement whatsoever on the bus and it was already dark and we couldn’t see anything. We were now driving through parts of Dubai we have never seen before, so we asked the other passengers where this bus was going, and they told us that the next and final stop was Al Ghubaiba and that we missed our stop. We were now starting to panic a little bit, but another guy on the bus told us that we could easily take the metro from there to the city centre. He even helped us get to the metro station which was so nice of him. The people in Dubai truly are very helpful and nice, no matter which part you go to.

2. Take the Dubai Metro

Yes, because it is a bit different than metros in other countries. Smoking and chewing gum is prohibited in most areas with high fines waving at you if you break them. And the biggest shock was of course the division of the train cars into male and female. There is literally a line on the floor that doesn’t allow males to step over. So, our brother had to stand at one end of the line and my sister and me at the other. I know that some people have difficulties accepting this, but I can actually understand the reason for such measurements. It is probably preventing women from getting harrassed. I know that this exists in Japan as well where the trains and metros get filled up with so many people and women often reported about sexual harrassments that could not be screened because of the amount of people. Now, some trains in Japan have female only carriages where women can choose to enter. It is not a must, so if you are travelling with male friends you can still choose to enter the normal mixed carriage as well. In Dubai, it is not a choice though. This was also the only time using the metro for us. If I were to be travelling alone in Dubai, I would have used the metro constantly because it is cheap, it gets everywhere, it’s clean, safe and apparently safe as well. So, I can encourage you to use it when you are travelling solo.

3. Have dinner in front of the Burj Khalifa

Since it was our last evening, we wanted to have a last glimpse at the Burj Khalifa. What better way than having dinner in front of it we thought. We were a bit late since the bus ride took us half an hour longer (2 hours in total because our bus driver on the way back was quite slow) and then we had to take the metro back again. Then, we had to walk like another 15-20 minutes until we got out of the metro and in front of the Burj Khalifa. So by the time we had dinner it was almost 10pm. We decided to have pizza at an italian-american fusion restaurant by the fountain. It was super delicious, the drink and food looked and tasted amazing of course.

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Cucumber green ice tea, water melon – strawberry juice, strawberry ice tea

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We were even lucky enough this time, to catch the last screening of the fountain show. This time, they used a beautiful arabic song. Last time when we were watching, they used a cheesy Whitney Houston song.

Before heading to the taxi pick up at midnight, my brother stopped at a coffeeshop and got himself a late night coffee to be ready for the upcoming red-eye flight.

When we arrived back at the hotel, we picked up our luggage, got changed and called a taxi to the airport. It was sad to say goodbye to the hotel and especially, to Dubai.

At the airport, we waited for about an hour until our check-in counter was open. We charged our phones and used the wifi for a bit. The time flew by very quickly, and we were soon in the middle of checking-in, security and then boarding.

Our layover in Istanbul was shorter this time. At first we were worried that we wouldn’t make it, because we still had to get our connecting flight tickets from the THY counter, and then we saw the security check-up lines and panicked a litte bit. But everything was done quickly and we even had time to use the toilet and have a smoking break (my brother is a smoker).

We then comfortably walked to our gate and boarded. By the time we landed back in Stuttgart, our feet were swelled up like mini-water boats :’D It was horrible! I don’t usually get swollen feet from sitting for too long on airplanes, but this time was extreme. I guess it was due to the time that we also spent at Abu Dhabi, and then spending the whole evening on our feet, waiting for flight, and flying for several hours.

This was our trip to Dubai. I hope you enjoyed the ride. I know, it is a little bit more text this time, but I hope you can use some of the information for your travel plans, whether it be Dubai or any other place. I am sure that some structures and experiences I had can be applied to different places.

What about your next travel plans? Tell me where you are heading to next.

Do you get swollen feet from flying for too long as well? What do you do to prevent it other than flying business or first class?

Do you also have some weird metro experiences? Share them with me below.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille

Dubai Part 1: Arrival, Pools and Burgers

Our trip started with an afternoon flight from Stuttgart to Istanbul at 1.05 pm. We flew with Turkish Airlines but  had 4 hours time to kill in Istanbul before our connecting flight to Dubai. In the meantime, my sister and me had some cake and drinks at Starbucks.

Our flight from Istanbul was at around 10pm local time, so we’d have a red-eye flight this time. But luckily, we had screens to watch movies now, and there were less people on this plane. It was quiet most of the time. I watched Doctor Strange and Insurgent on the flight, and they were both such amazing movies <3

We finally arrived in Dubai on Monday morning at 5 am. We got our luggage, exchanged some money and got a taxi to our hotel. Here, you need to be carefull not to be scammed if you’re planning to visit Dubai! There will be drivers of some nice cars (like Lexus or BMW) who will try to get you in the car and offer a certain amount of money. Don’t get in that car unless you wanna pay 3 times more than the usual price. Just ignore them and head towards the usual yellow taxi cars. My sister almost fell for it and I had to pull her away from that black Lexus.

The ride to our hotel was so pleasant. Our driver was listening to some western radio station and they started playing Starboy by the Weeknd, so that was the perfect arrival for me :’D

Finally, after around 30 minutes, driving through the city and having the first glimpse on the Burj Khalifa, we arrived at our hotel. It looked pretty nice, the Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate. We checked in and luckily, our room was ready, so we didn’t have to wait for hours to finally get proper sleep.

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The lobby area at our hotel
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The pool on the rooftop of our hotel. Never swam here though :/

We slept for around 3-4 hours, until 10 am. After that we just wanted to go to the beach and eat something, because we were starving.

There was a free shuttle bus to the Oceana beach club which was located on the Palm. There was also a Steakhouse by the pool, so the first thing we did was having a burger-brunch.

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The burgers were really yummy, but also quite expensive: 85 AED for this plate 

After that it was all about tanning, swimming and drinks.

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Got myself a Strawberry Daiquiri for 55 AED which is actually okay for cocktails at a beach club. I seriously expected alcoholic drinks to be more expensive. 

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That’s me !
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The infinity pool was pretty decent :)

While we were taking photos by the pool, one of the security guys told us off that we can’t take photos with a camera. A phone is okay though. Very strange. So we stopped and I put my camera back in my bag. My sister and me also tried to swim in the sea, but we saw a sign which said to be careful of jellyfish. We were a bit scared, so we only dipped in our feet and took some photos.

At around 3pm, we slowly started to walk back to the pick up location to drive back to the hotel. We took a shower and dressed up to go to the JBR and the Marina Walk. We took a taxi there and he left us right in front of JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence) although we actually said Marina Walk. But in the end, that was okay, because we found Shake Shack and immediately went inside for dinner.

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I never had Shake Shack before, neither did my brother, but my sister had it in London, and I gotta say, the fries are the best ones I have ever had. Crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside <3 Well done!

We strolled along the JBR promenade a little bit, looked at some stands selling souvenirs and handmade gifts, and even found a LaDuree where we got some single macarons.

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Now, we really wanted to look for the Marina Walk, so we looked for it. After asking some people and occasionally checking Google Maps, we finally found it, and were amazed by the breath-taking views:

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After walking along the Marina and snapping millions of photos from every angle, we were pretty exhausted and took the next taxi to the hotel.

Our first day in Dubai was already filled with many activities and we saw quite some things on our first day.

On our second day, there is gonna be a surprise: the activity I have been waiting for sooooo long. Can you guess what it is? Stay tuned if you wanna find out :)

What about you guys? How do you like long flights with layovers?
Have you ever been to Dubai? What were your first impressions?

Thanks for reading and travelling with me.

Merveille

 

Taipei Travels Part 4: Departure

So my last day in Taipei has finally arrived. I was up early to get ready, put the last things in my suitcase and check off. I had some cheese sandwiches that yinwen gave me stored in the fridge at the lobby, so I asked for those and ordered a hot chocolate to have a relaxed breakfast before my flight. The receptionist also ordered an uber for me. While I was still drinking up my hot chocolate, my uber driver had already arrived to pick me up. I was told not to hurry because I still had plenty of time until my flight.

Anyway, my uber driver was relly nice and he gave me his business card, so I could call him when I would be back to Taipei one day again. At the airport, I checked in and then relaxed a bit, ate some of my dried veggies before proceeding to security.

After security check, I still had some time so I went to the duty-free bookstore and I saw “Crazy Rich Asian” again. I saw this book already around a year ago when I had to fly to Hong Kong, but didn’t buy it then, cause I still had to read GoT. This time, I really wanted to buy it, and I had some NTD left. I also saw a cute key chain with dumplings on it, so I had to buy these things anyway.

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My gate was perfect. We could watch the planes landing, taking off, getting in and out of parking position.

Boarding was on time, my seat was comfy, food was okay. Cathay Pacific is just such a great airline! Probably the best asian airline I have flown with. The movie selection was good, the flight attendants were extremely friendly and competent. Nothing to complain about.

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My layover in Hong Kong passed without problems. I had to take a bus to my gate though, and I was rushing because I thought I’d be late, but the boarding was a bit delayed, so was my flight to Shanghai a little bit.

Yet, another great flight and this time with a window seat. I could take photos of Shanghai by night from above. It came out a bit blurry though.

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When I finally landed, got a taxi at the airport in Shanghai, got to my crappy hotel, and checked in, it was already around 10 pm. I was trying, and after texting my parents, I just fell asleep, too tired to handle anything.

My next few posts will be only about Shanghai and how I spent the last two days in that mega metropole. There is a little surprise, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me.

Final rating:

Sightseeing: 4/5
Food: 5/5
Shopping: 5/5
Nightlife: 4/5
Transportation: 5/5

Taipei Travels Part 1: Flight and Arrival

As you know from my previous post, I have been to China from the 7th – 19th of January. From the 13th to the 16th, I decided to take a short trip to Taipei, since I have never been there and really wanted to go.

My flight was on Friday afternoon from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Taipei International Airport with a stop in Hong Kong. Of course, there were direct flights as well, but the time wasn’t very comfortable for me. The only flight with a good price and time was with a layover in Hong Kong.

My flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong didn’t start really well. I was on time at the airport and also at the gate. However, my gate was changed, and it hasn’t been announced. I only realized it when I noticed the tickets of the queueing passengers were not from Cathay Pacific but some other airline. Then I just saw on the screen of my gate that it has been changed. It was written in the tiniest font ever, so of course I went to the wrong gate, asked there, was sent back, and on the way a ground steward saw my ticket and sent me to the right gate. While I was rushing to the new gate, I finally heard the announcement that it was the final call for my flight.
This has never happened to me before.
Pudong Airport is really big, but I don’t really like how the gates keep on being changed all the time.

Anyway, I was relieved when I finally made it to my flight and was sitting on my seat. The flight with Cathay Pacific was very pleasant, but we took off around half an hour later due to the long take-off queue.

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When we finally landed in Hong-Kong, I was picked up by a ground hostess from Cathay Pacific. Together with around 6 other passengers, we were told that we wouldn’t make it to our flight and we would have to take the next flight, which would take off at around 8pm. She took us to the counter to get us new tickets for the next flight. That took quite long actually but finally we made it to the gate and could sit down for a while before boarding again.

So Guys, this is the reason why it is so important to book your layovers from one airline company. If I had booked 2 seperate flights, I would have missed my connecting flight and would have to pay for the next flight.

I arrived in Taipei at almost 10 pm. Yet another pleasant flight.

First things First: 

  • If you are flying to Taipei over the weekend, then make sure to exchange all your money at the airport. The exchange rate is, unlike other airport exchange stations, very accurate. I made the mistake to only exchange a part of my money which was enough for a taxi and my hostel fee. The next morning, I was told that banks are closed on Saturdays in Taiwan, very unlike the opening times of banks in China. On Saturday morning I was then sent to a department store to exchange money, and their rate was a little bit lower than the one at the airport. Bummer!
  • Make sure to buy a sim-card at the airport as well. In my rush to make it to the hostel before it got too late, I totally forgot to get one at a stand right next to the money exchange. You won’t miss it, it’s right there. And it was really cheap too.

 

I paid around 1100 NTD (around 33€) from the airport to downtown (my hostel was very central), so I’d say that the price for the taxi was quite cheap actually.

I stayed at Oxygen Hostel which is a great hostel with interesting interior and useful amenities offering everything you might need. The only negative side to the hostel was the limited space. I was travelling with my huge suitcase, and there was barely any space for it in my dorm room. I guess most hostels in Taipei are like that because of the limited space there. So if you are travelling with a suitcase, just like me, make sure to check the size of the rooms in your hostel/hotel.

I took a shower and fell to bed, almost dead tired from flying too much.

I know that this post was rather uneventful (except for the airport anxieties), but I promise that the next two posts will be full of surprises.

Thanks for travelling with me!

How to spend less than 24 Hours in Hong Kong, Part 2

As you could already read about my first micro-trip to Hong Kong last year in September, you already know how much you can do in such a well-connected city like Hong Kong. As I have promised, that was not the last time I visited that vibrant city.

Here you can read about a different view on Hong Kong:

Step 1: Find a better hostel this time

In the first part you can read about my struggle to find the hostel that I had booked and how it turned out to be really crammed. For this time, I did a better research and booked 9-people dorm, only female. It had WINDOWS! and although the bunk beds hat 3 stories, it was very comfortable and the room offered a lot of space for your stuff. It had lockers as well. And the owners of the hostel were so friendly and open. They had a lot of recommendations about what to do nearby at what time of the day. This was probably one of my most favourite hostels I have stayed at in general. You can find the website here: http://www.hohohostel.com/

Hong Kong can be really expensive, and if you don’t mind sharing a room with strangers for booking a cheap accomodation, this is your go-to.

Step 2: Take the ferry to Lantau Island

Just as last time, the ferry is an excellent way to get around in Hong Kong, since it consists of many islands, and due to its warm and humid weather, taking the ferry is a more refreshening option than taking the stuffy metro.

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Anyway, this time, the ferry ride took quite a bit longer than last time. I was on the ferry for about half an hour. The island I was heading to, Lantau Island, is also the one where the airport is located. But I wasn’t going to the airport already. I had a different plan…

Step 3: Visit the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island

My destination was the Big Buddha, known as Tian Tan Buddha. It is the world’s biggest Buddha in sitting position. It is quite new though, so nothing ancient, but the area it is located at is very beautiful, surrounded by lush greenery you can have a view of when you climb up the Buddha :)

Step 4: Admire the bright colours of the Po Lin Monastery

This monastery is only 5 walking minutes away from the Buddha. If you follow the path to the monastery, you can already spot some cows that are walking around freely. And soon, the smell of incense will fill your lungs, and that’s when you will be able to see the colourful building of the monastery.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to go inside the monastery. I only snapped some photos and headed back, since my flight was in the afternoon.

Step 5: Take the Cable Car at Ngongping

I took the bus up to the Buddha, but when I headed back, I wanted to take the cable car. I head about the crystal cable car which has a glass bottom and I was intrigued by that. I walked through a little constructed valley that was filled with souvenir shops and some 3D-cardboards before I arrived at the cable car station.

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The queue for the crystal car was very short since it was also a bit more expensive. But I wanted to take that one and together with my limited time it fit perfectly. I shared a cable car with two other girls. They were both taking many photos of each other and I also asked them to snap some photos of me. It was the most amazing cable car ride, not only because of the glass bottom, but also because you could watch the planes take off and land.

 

So these were the main things that I did. Of course, I also had something to eat, but unfortunately, I can’t remember what I ate :’D I think I might have eaten on the plane. Anyway, when I got out of the cable car, I took a bus to the airport.

It was a nice stay this time. I had less stress and a nice stay at the hostel.

I hope you guys enjoyed it.

Have you guys ever been to Hong Kong? What was on your to-see list?

Today’s rating:

Sightseeing: 5/5

Food: 4/5
Shopping: –
Nightlife: 4/5
Transportation: 5/5

Thursday, June 4th 2015 – Friday, June 5th 2015: Frankfurt, Germany to Ningbo, China

hat day we prepared to leave for Frankfurt with my father and my mother. My sister and brother couldn’t join us because they had to work the other day. When I had to said goodbye to my sister it really was an emotional moment. She suddenly started crying and I had tears in my eyes as well but I held them back and started to laugh because I didn’t expect that :D
Well, after that teary goodbye we entered the car and made us on our way.
When we finally arrived in Frankfurt we visited some family friends who live nearby. We had dinner with them and visited them for the last time to say goodbye. My father was getting sadder and sadder after each hour that passed.
It was the first time that I had been to the airport in Frankfurt. It is quite big since it is the biggest in Europe, but I didn’t lose my way once. It really was easy to find. Well, before I got to the gates I had to say goodbye to my parents and our family friends. I think I will never ever forget this moment in my life because it really was one of the saddest moments, but also one of the moments in which I realized how much I am being loved :’) Before, I have seen my father cry only once and it was when his mother died. This time was the second time I saw him cry and I felt so sorry and it really made it so hard for me to leave :’/
My mother seems to be stronger than my father. She was sad as well and had tears in her eyes, too, but she didn’t cry.
Well, after I managed to calmly get pass the passport control I searched my gate. I had to walk a little bit longer because it was at the very end of the floor. I had a view on the plane I was going to fly with and it looked huge. I have never been in such a big plane. When I entered the plane I noticed that it has 2 floors. I didn’t have to go upstairs, but I was happy that my seat wasn’t way in the back but just right on the wing. I sat next to two guys who had to stand up to let me in because I had my seat next to a window seat. One of the guys who was sitting right next to me was watching some chinese TV show on his ipad mini all the time, Holding the screen so close to his face that it almost touched :’D He already wore glasses and I thought that it was no wonder xD
Well, anyway, the plane started to take off and after that I watched Whiplash. I was a bit disappointed by the movie. It was hyped quite a lot but I found it quite boring.
They served food in the middle of the movie. It wasn’t that bad but there was a chocolate cake and OMG that was perhaps the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten *o*
After I had also finished the movie at about after midnight I decided to sleep a little bit which was very uncomfortable. I have problems with sleeping on planes. I think it is the most uncomfortable place to sleep in. I always woke up and once or twice I woke up from the turbulences which frightened me out of my sleep.
Well, at about 4pm we should land in Hong Kong. Until then I also watched an episode of Sherlock Holmes which I liked better than Whiplash.
When the plane finally prepared for landing I had a beautiful view of hong kong. I definitely have to visit that city once before I return back to Germany.
Hong Kong Airport is meant to be huge but I had no problems finding my way around at all. On my way to my gate I also saw the stewardesses of Fly Emirates who looked so beautiful in their arabic style uniforms. Apart from models and actresses, being a stewardess is an occupation I really admire. They are always so beautiful and dressed in nice uniforms, they are friendly and handy and get to travel to many places. As a kid I wanted to be a stewardess as well. But I don’t know why I gave that up. I think because they don’t earn so much.
Well anyway, I looked for my gate in Hong Kong but it wasn’t known yet. I asked at the information desk and they told me that it would be announced after 5pm. So I walked around a little bit and looked at all the shops.

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Soon I found a place to sit

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When my gate was announced, I started to walk into the direction of it. I had to walk quite a bit and then I had to take the bus to the gate :’D in that moment I realised how big that airport was.
I have to say that I really liked Dragonair. It had no turbulences at all and the food was really good. I had a rice dish with chicken and they served green tea.
My flight had a delay of 1 hour so I landed at 9pm instead of 8pm. And until I got out of the Passport control which was a long procedure I had to wait for my suitcase a while although most were already out and I was really afraid that they had lost my luggage but finally it came out and I got out. I saw Chris, the guy who should pick me up and we took a taxi to go to the hotel he had organized for me. I had to stay there for one night and the next day Chris would pick me up again and take me to Yuyao, the place I was supposed to teach.
The hotel room was nice but I think the drainpipes were stinking a bit. And then therr was a guy and a woman having an argument when I decided to go to sleep.
Anyway, it was a long trip and I was quite excited for the next days which I can promise were not boring at all :’D

Holidays: Summarized

Part2: shopping and airport

Like mentioned in the post before, I went shopping right after finishing my term paper. After sitting at home for weeks, and learning, my money has rested and augmented on my account, waiting to be spent. I went to stuttgart and spent about 60 € on clothes from H&M :) I went into the changing room with twelve pieces. A lot of dresses and trousers. I have tried on this beautiful red dress.

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It actually was nice but I didn’t like the cutting of the dress. It didn’t fit well to my body. This dress was better.

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And I also ordered it later from the online shop because there it was only 15 €, half the prize :) I have tried on a white blazer and a johnny depp shirt as well.

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I know they both don’t fit very well together, but I just tried them both to see how they look like. I have bought the blazer as well :) the shirt I want to buy later. Actually I don’t like the color White but I liked this blazer because of the studs :) Another piece I have tried and bought was this hippie-like outfit.

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The pink top is actually longer but I want to cut it :) I can also wear a bra or bustier under this black net-top. Maybe if I can make it to a festival this year I can wear this on with a pair of jeans hotpants :) I have also tried on these trousers and the leo blouse.

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I know, a bad combination again but I just wanted to compare. The trousers were very cheap, but not so comfortable. The blouse was actually not that bad, but I just had the feeling it might be too wide for me, and thus would let me look smaller than I already am. With this blouse I wanted to imitate Alison Mosshart’s style, but her body shape and height are very different to mine. Next to the blazer and the both tops I have also bought a pack of studs. I am Planning to stick them on a few clothes of mine, probably jeans hotpants or vests :) I am also thinking about leggings maybe or chucks, but I fear I would have to buy 4-5 packs more of them :D what do you think? Do you have any further ideas for arranging studs on clothes?

Besides, I forgot to write about our visit to the airport. On the 3rd of march my father flew to turkey and one week after that, on the 10th of march, one day before due date of my first term paper we picked him up at the airport again. The week he was away was the week in which the weather was so nice and warm. After he came back, the weather got worse, and still is until today. However, like mentioned before, I like airports really much. Everytime I am at the airport I get the feeling of wanderlust, of entering a big plane and just flying away. I also like the minimalistic, futuristic architecture of airports, with their cleanless, and big windows. At airports I always get the feeling of loneliness and excitement at the same time. I have taken a panorama photo of the airport in stuttgart.

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It is not so big like other airports, the one in frankfurt for example, but I love it. If I were an architect, I would like to design airports :) We also went to the terasse, although the weather was like shit and it was raining like hell :/ but still a lot of people were outside, standing on the roof with their umbrellas, and watching the Planes take off and land.

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The quality is a bit bad because I made the pictures with my Phone camera. The sky was also not so blue, it actually was grey. But I edited because I thought blue looks nicer :) We also saw the plane with wich my father arrived :) but of course we didn’t see him.