All posts by marine

Vivid Sydney: Australian Winter at its best

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Winter is coming down under? Who cares, there is Vivid Sydney to keep you warm.

Launched in 2009, Vivid Sydney is a light, music and ideas yearly festival which takes over Sydney and transforms the city into a gigantic art gallery and creative incubator.

Vivid light, the most popular franchise, turns the city’s iconic buildings and landmarks into art installations. While the opera house surely gets a fair share of attention, the entire city, from parks to narrow streets becomes a canvas for local and international artists.
My personal favourite (and of course it has to do with planes), Space folding, takes its viewers into a sensory journey following real time flight data from Sydney airspace. Created by Zina Kaye (artist and co-founder of Holly –Sydney’s first digital media agency), the towering cylinder morphs into multi-coloured patterns of light and sound as per the air traffic above Sydney.
Vivid music complements the free and popular Vivid light, with gigs around the city from up and coming bands as well as confirmed artists. While many cities around the world host light and music festivals, Vivid Sydney is also the home of Vivid Ideas: dozens of talks and workshops throughout the festival’s 18 days. Curated by Jess Scully, (who also happens to be one of the curator of TEDxSydney), the programme celebrates innovation and creativity, giving the opportunity for the creative industries across Asia-Pacific to share, discuss and network. With guests such as Tyler Brûlé, Stefan Segmeister and Matthew Weiner (the creator of Mad Men), Vivid ideas does not fall short on VIP speakers from the global creative scene.
Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney runs until June 8 in and around Sydney. For the detailed program, trails and more, head to (although don’t bother downloading the app on the appstore, as it is much slower than the website).
Can’t make it to Sydney before June 8? No worries, the festival runs every year between May and June and with its increasing popularity, one can definitely expect it to grow bigger and bolder each year.
How to get there? Cathay Pacific and Singapore airlines fly from Zurich to Sydney with connections in Hong Kong or Singapore. Flights start at 1200CHF in Economy, or alternatively use One world or star alliance miles.
Where to stay? The best place certainly is Park Hyatt Sydney (facing the Opera House at Circular Quay) but it is also a very pricey option. Alternatives at Darling Harbor are absolutely fine and easier on the wallet.
1888 Hotel is a lovely boutique hotel right behind Darling Harbour. Rooms start at 150CHF a night.
Vivid Sydney

The much celebrated PDX carpet

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There are hundreds of airport rankings: The 10 best, the 10 worst, the most family friendly, the 5 best for people who don’t like to walk, etc. While Portland could certainly make it to the list of friendly and convenient airports, it started a ranking of its own: the most famous airport carpet.

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Around the world in 30 days

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Around the world in 15 cities and 30 days. I’ll be staying between 24 hours to 4 days in any given location exploring airport lounges, report on amenity kits, feed my instagram with airline food and get the most of my stop overs in and outside the airports. The Long weekend around the world (and on the plane).

While I’ve travelled extensively, I’ve always wanted to do a round the world using only my favourite airlines and indulging in my favourite thing: flying!

A glimpse of the destinations to be explored: Los Angeles, Vancouver, Seoul, Bangkok, Tokyo, Sydney, Amsterdam, Munich and more! Departing Frankfurt on May 5…Stay tuned for more!


3 Days in Cape Town: what to do and see

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If you only spend 3 days in Capetown, you can already book your next trip, because let’s face it, you’ll get a taste of it that will make you come back for more!

For a little bit of everything (if you only have 3 days in Cape Town, it really is a little bit!) focus on 3 things: Cape Town, the mother city, Table Mountain or Cape point and a little escape to the Cape Winelands.

Best time to go is from December to March.

Day One

Cape Town is often referred to as the mother city…because everything takes 9 months to complete. And honestly it’s a mum on weed. Cape Town has a very chilled and mellow vibe even if let’s face it, it has some awfully violent side too. Stay safe and don’t be a dare devil.

One of the great ways to discover Cape Town is to hop one of the tours with the great guys at Free Walking tour. They rock and for any budget (you give a donation at the end of the tour) you can discover the city and its (glorious and not so glorious) past. Don’t miss the little piece of Berlin wall, a walk through the Malay quarter and the infamous bench in front of the old Race classification board building.

Once you’re done with the tour, make a small detour to the District 6 Museum. Not the most amazing museum but a great way to understand more about the apartheid (remember you only have 3 days!). There is a great coffee house next to the Museum, perfect for a little break after your walking tour.

If you’ve planned the afternoon tour (at 2PM), you can spend your morning cooking Malayu cuisine in the Malay quarter. Pam at Capefusion tour can help you book your cooking class.

If like me, a fan of Rodriguez, and you’ve seen “Searching for Sugarman” about a dozen times, head to Mabu Vinyl on Rheede Street. Probably the last CD I ever bought was in this store. It’s also a great source of information if you’re looking for a live gig in the area.

3 days in Cape Town
Day Two

South Africa in general is a wonderful place for outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re in Cape Town for a short stay, here’s a pick on classics that you can do within a day without too much driving around.

Table Mountain climb (take the cable car on the way back). I’d recommend the Platteklip Gorge (it starts right next to the lower cableway station). It’s one of the easiest routes, if you’re not too scared of a little scrambling.

If you prefer to do it safely with a guide, check out those guys here.

You can either start your climb mid-afternoon to enjoy the sunset from the top (and spend most of your climb in the shade) or alternatively pick a morning climb to have the rest of your afternoon for exploring.

As usual, don’t forget plenty of drinking water, a good pair of shoes and a little picnic. You might even be lucky to have a rock hyrax as a climbing companion.

Another great visit is obviously the Cape of Good Hope, once believed to be the most southern tip of South Africa (but it’s not, Cape Aghulas is). The climb is much shorter and easier than Table Mountain, and can be done in 20 min with flip-flops. That’s one of the best spot to see where the two oceans meet. On both sides of the road to and from Cape of Good Hope, don’t miss out on the Ostriches chilling out.

Needless to say, if you want to do a self-catering tour, you will need a car to do both in one day.

Day Three

Start the day at Boulders beach with the penguins. Forget kitten cuteness, this is cuteness heaven.

The Boulders penguin colony was established in 1983 to create a safe haven for African penguins.

With 3 boardwalks, one viewing area and a pristine beach, it’s penguins viewing heaven. Stay safe and don’t get close, while penguins are the cutest they won’t hesitate to bite fingers or noses if they feel threatened.

Once you’re ready to leave Simon’s Town and the penguins, make your way to the vineyards and head to the winelands.

Western Cape wine, stem from a long tradition of wine making with the first estate established in 1685 (Constantia). While the Dutch settlements started making wine, it’s when the French Huguenots started opening estates that the South African wine culture really started. I guess a little competition is always healthy.

The Cape winelands encompass Constantia, Stellenbosc, Franschhoek, Paarl, Robertson and Wellington which are the most popular wine regions.

I’d recommend Franschhoek if you want to combine some lovely town with wine tasting and a more chilled out tour. Don’t miss the wine tram, a great way to see some vineyards, do some wine tasting without having to drive around. Get your tickets in Franschhoek town and pick the Blue or Red tour. More here.

If you’re really into wine tasting, Stellenbosch has some cool activities such as Wine-blending at Middelvlei Wines. You get some expert advice on how to make your own blend and can even leave with the winning blend! More info here

For a romantic lunch, don’t miss out on the picnic baskets. Almost every estate offers amazing food and some even have picnic grounds. Forget about bringing your own sandwich, these are posh picnics. Book ahead as for most you can’t just show up for one. One of my favorites is the Boschendal estate, their picnic area is just gorgeous, so are the grounds around the vineyards.

Your way to Gold status on Star alliance

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Star Alliance Gold: you’ve dreamed about it and it could be yours!

Aegean airlines opens its Gold Status for 36’000 miles flown in a calendar year

Aegean airlines is one of Greece national carrier and has one of the lowest miles requirement in the Star Alliance network to achieve Gold status (probably due to the low number of long haul flights operated by Aegean airlines). Its frequent flyer program, Miles and Bonus, offers great opportunity for those looking for an Elite status without flying a heavy 100’000 miles in a calendar year (such as Miles and More Senator).

With Miles and Bonus Gold, you have access to the Star Alliance lounges around the world, priority boarding and fast track at most airports (full list of benefits here), Gold is pretty cool!

What’s the fine print? Well, not all flights qualify on Star Alliance flights (typically the cheapest economy class flights will not). But if you fly First or Business, you could potentially score a Gold status with one return flight. For more information (and see if your next flight could qualify) check here.

Oh, and they’ve just changed their rules and you now need to fly at least 6 segments on Aegean airlines. But really, escape to the Cyclades for a Mileage run…who wouldn’t..?

If you really can’t make it to Greece, you also have the option to fly 72’000 miles on any star alliance qualifying flights and Gold could be yours!