Happy place Barcelona and my insider tips

Happy place Barcelona and my insider tips

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Hello my Aviator,

in August 2016 I moved my home base from Berlin to Barcelona. The original plan was to stay longer than three months, but then I received a new job offer which forced me to move back to Germany. Since then I did not get back to Barcelona until this summer. I was excited to return to my happy place for two weeks of vacation. I really missed the city because it feels like a second home. Unfortunately, the new network of the Airbus does not include Barcelona with an overnight. In this blog post, I will not only share with you my highlights of my vacation and give you some great insider tips but also share my experiences during the cruel attack on Las Ramblas.

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Skyline of Barcelona from the air

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Happy place Barcelona and my insider tips

Barcelona is a great city to do sight seeing. Around every corner, you can discover something new. I recommend renting a scooter to do sight seeing but only when you feel comfortable driving in high traffic situations. Moto rent offers affordable prices. A scooter gives you so much freedom to go to different places in a minimum amount of time.

Since I did already a lot of sight seeing during my past stays, I did not do much this time.

What to do?

Bunkers el Carmel: A must visit if you want to enjoy one of the best views of Barcelona and the sea.  Turó del Carmel is a hill with a bunker on top. Best time is during sunset and sunrise. Take something to drink and don't think you will be alone ;-) The entrance is still free.

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Enjoying the view at Bunkers el Carmel

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Casa Batlló: Barcelona is the city of Gaudi. His architecture is world famous. One of the highlights is the Casa Batlló. I have walked by this townhouse many times before because it is centrally located on the Passeig de Gracia. If you like the outside of the building you should dare look inside. It is really impressive to discover the passion Gaudí has put into this building. I literally was overwhelmed by the beauty that I got glossy eyes. Each guest receives a smart phone as a tour guide and that way you can explore the building also in the virtual reality.

Insider tip: For most famous sights, you can buy tickets online. This way you can skip long lines at the entrance.

 

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Casa Battló on Passeig de Gracia

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Tour guide 2.0 = smart phone

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Boat trip: One of my highlights was a boat trip with Barcelona desde el Mar. I have seen Barcelona many times from the cockpit but to discover this amazing city from the sea was a unique experience. It gave me a whole new perspective of Barcelona. My little cruise lasted around 2 hours and I enjoyed a beautiful sunset from the sea.

Insider tip: Book the boat "Sa Nina" for yourself and take your friends with. Instagram: @barcelonadesdeelmar

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My first boat trip in Barcelona / Instagram: @barcelonadesdeelmar

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Sunset cruise in Barcelona / photo by Andrés

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Where to sleep?

During my three months in Barcelona, I lived in a shared apartment in the historic Gotico. It was a great experience to live right in the center of this vibrant city. For this vacation, I stayed at several hotels in different parts of town.

I had the chance to spend part of my vacationat the Hotel Arts Barcelona. Its unique building characterizes the skyline of Barcelona and was first opened during the Olympics in 1992. It belongs to the luxurious hotel chain Ritz Carlton. As a pilot, I have slept in many 5 stars hotels around the world but the Arts Hotel is exceptional. Not only the temporary design but also the great team make the difference.

 

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Pool area of the Hotel Arts Barcelona 

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My executive suite was located on the 26th and offered me over 70 square meters of space and a fantastic view of the city and the beach. At night I could even see the Tibidabo mountain laying in my bed. The hotel itself is located right on the beach and just one kilometer from Barceloneta.

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One bedroom suite in the Hotel Arts Barcelona

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Luxury bathroom of my suite

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Over the weekend I almost did not leave the hotel, so I could enjoy all their facilities. The day typically started with a tasty breakfast. I spent some relaxing hours in a cabana at the pool and became a big fan of the Club Lounge on the 35th floor. This lounge is a bar, restaurant, cafe and relaxing area at the same time. It is like a hotel inside the hotel. It is more private since only few hotel guests have access to it.

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Check out in the club lounge

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Tasty breakfast on the patio of the Arts Hotel

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Do not miss out on the Spa 43, which offers luxury facilities paired magnificent view of Barcelona. Convince yourself in a 360 degrees video from the terrace in 150 meters height. For the first time, it took my VIRB360 of Garmin on a journey.  This compact camera takes your photos and videos to whole new level. Besides a brilliant resolution of up to 5.7k/30fps, it shoots in 360 degrees. The viewer can decide himself where he wants to look at and you can even share videos in real time with the VIRB360. Check out my first 360 degrees photo from the cockpit on my facebook page. From now on you have the chance to fly with me in 360 degrees.

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https://www.facebook.com/pilotpatrick/videos/vb.373722572693345/1524204674311790/?type=2&theater

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Insider tip: Get a cocktail prepared by Diego at the Hotel Arts. I was lucky to taste some of his creations. He is the funniest and coolest bar tender.

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Best barkeeper in town / Diego Instagram @dondiegobcn 

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If you rather want to stay in Eixample I can recommend the Ohla Eixample hotel. It is a five-star hotel with a minimalistic design and a roof top pool. I stayed in a spacious junior suite. The location grants you close proximity to all kind of different attractions, bars, and restaurants.

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Junior suite of the Ohla Eixample hotel

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Roof top pool in Eixample

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Which season is best to visit Barcelona?

Barcelona is great all year around. If you want to enjoy hot weather at the beach then you need to visit during the summer months. But if you come to do sight seeing and to discover the city, then I recommend avoiding the high season. That way touristic places are less crowded and waiting times are less. Additionally, you do not have to walk through the city in extreme heat.

Insider tip: Visit Barcelona in the spring or late summer. My favorite month was October. Of course, the weather is not that stable, but the city is less crowded and you have the chance to go wave surfing. Additionally, the prices for a hotel room are less expansive compared to the summer.

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Magic fountain show

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Where to eat?

Barcelona offers diverse dining options. There is much more than tapas. Catalans eat late. Either be early or make a reservation. Here are my all time favorite places to go:

Väcka: Vegan restaurant and cafe. Try their vegan classic burger and have a raw treat. Gracia

Teresa’s Carles: Vegetarian food and juices (only indoor/more for dinner) El Raval

Flax and Kale: Healthy restaurant offering a diverse menu (all day) Make a reservation and request a table on their outdoor rooftop garden. Don't miss the brunch on the weekend. El Raval

Surf House: Restaurant right by the beach. The menu offers healthy food but also tasty burger for a cheat day. Try their waffles! Barceloneta

Vinitus: In my opinion one of the best tapas restaurant in Barcelona. After 8 pm it gets really busy. You can choose your fresh fish from the display at the bar. Eixample

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Weekend brunch at the Flax and Kale

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Vegetarian restaurant Barcelona / Teresa's Carles

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Petit Brot: completely raw café, daily menus, and juices (breakfast and lunch) El Raval

Casa Gispert: Dried fruits, nuts and so much more. Best dried mangos I ever had. El Born

BeBo cold pressed: Tasty healthy juices, raw snacks (more for to go) Eixample

Barraca: seafood and paella overlooking the beach of Barceloneta (lunch and dinner)

Cafè Jaime Beriestain: high-class food in a concept restaurant (more for dinner) Eixample

Nubafancy restaurant with live DJ, nice interior and outside seating (more for dinner

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Meet and Greet in Barcelona

After a Meet and Greet in Berlin, Munich and Los Angeles, I was excited to meet my Aviators in Barcelona. One day prior my scheduled event the cruel attack happened on Las Ramblas killing innocent victims. I was at the sight just a couple of hours earlier and when it happened I was safe at the beach. The whole city was shocked and frightened that day. In the evening everyone stayed at home and Barcelona turned into a ghost town. But already the next day people were on the street again to make clear that they are not afraid "No tinc por!" This was a great signal to the world and to the terroristic organization. I decided as well not to cancel the Meet and Greet, because this would have been the signal that we restrict our freedom.

Thanks to all my Aviators who came to see me. I was really happy to get to know over 20 people. We met for one hour at Placa Catalunya to have a chat, take photos and to show that we are not afraid. Together we can create a more peaceful world!

 

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Meet and Greet in Barcelona with my Aviators

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Fantastic weather, interesting sights, cultural events, the beach and of course friendly people make Barcelona a perfect vacation spot. You can choose from a great variety of restaurants and hotels. The prices for food are decent, but the hotel prices can be expensive during high season. My dream is still to live in my two favorite cities Berlin and Barcelona!

 

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Enjoying the beach of Barcelona

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In which city could you imagine to live as well? Please comment below and do not forget to subscribe to my newsletter with your email below.

Safe travels and happy landings!

your Pilot Patrick 

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Waldorf Astoria hotel berlin pilotpatrick rimowa

My stay at the Waldorf Astoria

In my last blog post "My type rating", I gave you an insight view of my training at Lufthansa Aviation Training. The last three weeks in the simulator to acquire the certification to fly the A300 have been quite demanding. Therefore I did not have a lot of time to relax.

Next week I will have my final skill test flight in the simulator and this is why I have the weekend off. The Waldorf Astoria Berlin invited me to spend a weekend at their beautiful hotel in Berlin to relax a little bit from the busy weeks and to tank up some energy before my check flight. My job as a pilot requires me to stay at many different hotels around the world, but I have not stayed at a hotel in my hometown Berlin yet. I was really excited to spend a weekend at the Waldorf Astoria hotel since it really sticks out with its location and the architecture next to 20 other five star hotels in Berlin.

Read about my stay at the Waldorf Astoria and find out why I did not want to leave again. I hope my following hotel review helps you when choosing the right hotel for your next stay in Berlin or to find a place to escape the hectic city.

Location

In 2013 the Waldorf Astoria opened its doors for hotel guests. The hotel is situated in the famous building "Zoofenster" and is easy to recognize since it is a 32 stories-high skyscraper. Being one of the tallest buildings in Berlin it gives the hotel guests, including me a spectacular view over Berlin. It is located right in the center of West Berlin and one foot step away from tourist attractions, shopping locations and leisure activities.

Waldorf Astoria, Tower suites with panormaic windows on the upper levels

Watch my live Facebook video of my check in and the TOWER SUITE.

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1307668549298738

Accommodation

The room was amazing. I was lucky to reside in a TOWER SUITE. The luxurious suite was at the 28th level and its panoramic windows gave me a fantastic view over Berlin. I could unwind in a spacious and very comfortable room. The design is elegant and modern at the same time. A separate sleeping room with a private balcony was located in the rear of the suite. Every room granted you a different view of the city. The TV system was ideal for my needs to stream music and videos from my mobile phone and laptop.

Warm welcome in the Tower suite 2801 through sweets and a friendly staff Private small kitchen with a Nespresso coffee machine and a dining table

Features of the tower suite

  • upper level (22-29) separate elevators for the tower suites
  • separate living area with a dining table and mini bar
  • fully equipped small kitchen with a private Nespresso coffee machine
  • two 40-inch TVs with Apple TV technology
  • luxurious marble bathroom with a bathtub and separate shower
  • complimentary Wifi and so much more...
Signature Waldorf Astoria bed with a private balcony overlooking West Berlin Bathroom with a bath tub and a huge shower

I used my suite also for my monthly online live talk on my Facebook account 'PilotPatrick'. Follow me on Facebook so you don't miss any future events. (Meet and greet coming soon.)

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1308411159224477

Guerlain Spa

I enjoyed a short time-out from the vibrant Berlin outside in the Spa. The 1000 square meter spa features a cloud shaped pool, saunas and very cozy therapy rooms. I really liked the private bathroom with shower and changing facility.  The gym is fully equipped and big windows provide you with natural light during your workout. On Saturday I took a break from the gym since I did exhausting personal training with Timo on Friday.

Private bathroom for Guerlain Spa guests swim shorts by XARFIA

Premium swim shorts by XARIFA, which are entirely made in Italy. I am wearing the short length version in size medium. Use the code 'pilotpatric' to save 15% on your new swim shorts by XARIFA.

Cloud shaped pool at the Guerlain Spa Swim shorts by XARFIA

Features of the spa

  • therapy rooms
  • pool and hot tub
  • sauna and steam room
  • terrace
  • fitness room with daylight
  • complimentary water and fruits#

The spa area is free of charge for hotel guest. With a day pass, it is possible to you use the luxurious spa facilities as well. Mention PILOTPATRIC when booking a treatment and you will get a free glass of champagne.

Food

I am really conscious when it comes to my diet. In my blog post "I am a foodie pilot" I already wrote about my healthy eating habits. Nowadays I expect that hotels adopt to the healthy food trend or at least offer meal options in case you have a special diet. The selection of food of breakfast buffet was excellent. The vegetarian omelet and the smoked salmon were really tasty. For dinner, I went to the ROCA Restaurant on the ground floor. The atmosphere was relaxing. I suggest having a selection of their tasty salads as a starter.

Try the vegetarian omelette with salmon, Green organic tea and grapefruit juice

What do around?
Shopping

  • Kurfürstendamm a big street with hundreds of retail stores ranching up to luxurious boutiques
  • Bikini Berlin is a concept mall with interesting pop-up stores right around the hotel.
  • KADEWE (Department Store of the West) is the second biggest department store of Europe, visit the impressing food court on the upper level

Leisure activities

  • The huge park "Tiergarten" is right around the corner, at the Cafe am Neuen See you can rent small paddle boats to drive around on a small lake
  • Siegessäule (Victoria Column) at the big roundabout (Großer Stern) Some hundreds of steps take you up on top giving you an amazing view over Berlin.
  • The historic cinema "Zoopalast" is directly opposite of the hotel. Book a comfortable LOGE seat which grants you access to the lounge for a free drink before the movie
Sunset from my tower suite at the Waldorf Astoria hotel Berlin

Resume of my stay at the Waldorf Astoria Berlin

From check in and check out I felt welcome every minute of my stay. Besides an amazing suite and luxurious facilities, the friendly staff made it a memorable stay.

Good bye Waldorf Astoria It was a pleasure and I will miss the view

I hope my following hotel review helps you to choose the right hotel for your next stay in Berlin or to find a place to escape the hectic city. My tip: Book a room on one of the upper levels of the hotel. I just loved to sit at the window observing Berlin from the top.

Watch on my youtube channel pilotpatrick my Instagram story @pilotpatric of my stay at Waldorf Astoria Berlin.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET2F33Mkqjk?rel=0&w=640&h=360]

Your Pilot Patrick

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my stay at sanbona wildlife reserve

My stay at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

I recently published my first airline review of the flight with Lufthansa to Cape Town. Now I want to share with you my first hotel review about a very special place, which is more than just a hotel. During my three weeks of vacation in South Africa, I stayed two nights at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve .

I had a lot of activities and places on my list. One of my top once was to do a safari, on which I would have the chance to see the big five. The african travel agency "Going to Capetown"  recommended to overnight at a lodge, which is located inside a wildlife reserve and offers daily game drives. The photos of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve looked stunning. At first I was not convinced, because of the the high rate. But in the end every penny was worth spending.

Sunset vibes - Open Land cruiser for the game drives

The Main Gate of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is about 270 km (approx. 3 hours) away from Cape Town. The landscape changes from green valleys to a more rough and mountainous countryside. A little bit of Jurassic Park feeling kicked in when waiting the big gate to be opened. A short drive on a gravel road took us to a Welcome Lodge, where we had to leave our car behind. After a warm welcome of the manager and some refreshments a transport took us to our lodge, where we would stay for the next two days. The ride lasted about 45 mins and we already got some amazing impressions of the landscape.

Insider Tipp: Try to manage to use the earliest pick up time at the Welcome Lodge, so it will be more relaxed and you will have the chance to go on a game drive in the evening.

Main lodge in the middle of the rock formation

The lodge

The reserve consists of three different lodge categories. We stayed at the most exclusive and luxurious lodge, called Dwyka Tented Lodge. The location is truly impressive. The nine tented rooms are concealed by striking rock formations. The roof of the "room" reminds of a tend but the inside can keep up with a five star hotel. The design of the tents invoke the feeling of a pioneering adventure with a modern touch. Luxury safari at its best!

"Hotelroom" of Dwyka Tented Lodge

A tented room for two adults features:

  • private deck with heated jacuzzi
  • outdoor shower
  • big comfortable bed
  • ensuite bathroom with bath tub
  • air condition (hot and warm)
  • private mini bar
  • amazing views (leave the TV off)
Luxury tent with a own private deck and amazing views Dwyka Tented Lodge with a private deck and jacuzzi

In the centre of the tented lodges is the main building, which features a cozy lounge, the reception and the restaurant (also open air). In the lounge is a telescope to watch the stars. I highly recommend to use it since there is only little artificial light. Adjacent to it is a smaller tent, which features a relaxation retreat. I booked a full body massage.

Total of nine tented lodges at Dwyka Tented Lodge

Wifi: You do not really need it. It is a good feeling not to be reachable from time to time. In the main lodge is Wifi provided with decent speed. The signal reached only some rooms.

Insider Tipp: Do not leave the jacuzzi cover open with the lights on after sunset. A lot of animals will join you in the water.

Game drives

The interactive game drives last up to three hours and take place in the tranquil moods of sunrise and sunset. Since it was summer in South Africa the day started at 05:00 am with a nice wake up call of the ranger. The game drive starts at 05:30 am in a comfortable open Land Cruiser.

Game drive with a comfortable Land cruiser last 3 hours (shot with my gopro)

In think we had the best ranger I could imagine. Owen explained everything in detail and was able to show us all major animals really close. We got to see the big five: elephants, rhinos, buffalos, lions and leopards. Additionally we got to see giraffes, zebras and many more. In all situation we felt safe, even when we stepped out of the Land cruiser to watch the cheaters eat. This experiences I will not forget in a lifetime! The Sanbona Wildlife Reserve aims to restore the ecological balance, that is why the animals are protected by a fence. Therefore the probability to see many animals in a short time is relatively high.

Elephants crossing our path Guided safari with an experienced ranger

Evening game drives offer a spectacular sunset over the Little Karoo. With a glass of gin tonic we enjoyed the amazing colors on top of a hill while the sun was setting. After arriving back at the camp you we offered a wet towel and drinks in the lounge to reflect the experiences of the day together.

The display of lights when the sun sets are spectacular

Food and Service

As you know I am a "Foodie Pilot" which means I am really picky when it comes to food. Keeping in mind that the next supermarket is definitely not around the corner, the menu offered a good variety. I really liked the south african cuisine, which was  tasty. I especially liked the BBQ evening, which offered many flavors and dishes I never had tasted before. The atmosphere during dinner was cozy since there are only a maximum of 18 guests in the lodge at the same time.

The staff was really friendly and the service during meals was really good. The manager of the lodge was really caring and we had some good laughs with her.

Lazy white lion - It was amazing to see them live in nature On the way back to the lodge. Little bush fires due to the dryness in summer

What to pack for the adventure:

  • Safari hat
  • Binoculars
  • Outdoor shoes
  • Camera
  • Warm clothing
  • Sun screen

It is not solely a classic hotel review. It is more a review of an adventure in the wilderness. I recommend to stay at least two days at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. I really enjoyed the time and I was sad to leave this unique place on earth.

The price during high season was over 800 Euros (night/room), which included meals, accommodation, game drives and much more. Nevertheless I had high expectations, which were surpassed. In the end every penny was worth spending for this amazing experience.

Have you been on a safari before?

Your Pilot Patrick

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