Amazing Amsterdam city guide - My top 7 highlights

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Dear Aviator,

this year I have been in so many cities like never before. On my list of private travels are 13 different destinations. That's my personal record. Vienna, Miami, Rio, LA, Las Vegas, Zakynthos, Lisbon, Crete, Dresden, New York, Sharm El Scheikh and last but not least Amsterdam! In this blog post, I want to share with you my perasonal highlights of this trip. My Amazing Amsterdam city guide prepares you well for your next trip.

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The beautiful red light district

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Delft houses

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Amazing Amsterdam city guide

I have been to Amsterdam in the Netherlands numerous times, but it was always for work. Usually, I flew in one day and the next day already out, so I never stayed very long. Most of the time I only got to see the hotel. I wanted to change this so badly to have more time available to discover. Recently in November my flight duty ended in Amsterdam, so I decided to spend my off days there. Now enjoy reading my amazing Amsterdam city guide.

It was love at first sight. Amsterdam is now one of my TOP 5 favorite cities in Europe

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Beautiful canals around Grachtengordel

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1. Delft houses Instagram location

You want to take great content for Instagram and co., then you will enjoy Amsterdam a lot. The photo locations seem endless. The most iconic and famous one is definitely the spot on "Damrak" opposite the typical duty delft houses. You can spot the reflection of the narrow crooked houses in the water. Make sure to pause for a moment an embrace the beautiful setting. For canals photos I can recommend the streets "Herenstraat" and "Herengracht".

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Amsterdam Central station

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Amstel

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2. The Conservatorium Hotel

Hotels are my second home as a pilot. Most of the time I am happy to check out from the hotels I have to stay at. Quite the contrary at the Conservatorium Hotel, where I did not want to check out at all. This luxury hotel in Amsterdam has repeatedly been crowned the number one luxury hotel in the Netherlands. It is located in the elegant Museum Square district, close to Van Gogh Museum, Concertgebouw, Vondelpark and Rijksmuseum.

The architecture of the Conservatorium is unique and absolutely stunning. It combines a landmark heritage building (it used to be a post bank as well) with contemporary luxury design.

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Exterior of the Conservatorium Hotel

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Bathtub goals

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Welcome at the Conservatorium hotel

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Amazing Junior Suite

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I stayed in one of the most amazing hotel suites, which was located on two levels with a living room on the ground floor and the bed room on top. The junior suite was located at the corner of the building. With its huge windows, it offered fantastic views of the city.

After your business day, shopping day or sight seeing tour, you can relax in an 1,000 sq m Akasha Holistic Wellbeing. It comprises of a well equipped gym, a huge pool, sauna, steam bath and treatment rooms.

Breakfast was served in the Atrium in the middle of the hotel. Besides a buffet you can enjoy a la carte menu with dishes that are prepared on point for you! I am truly in love with this hotel.

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Breakfast at the Conservatorium Hotel

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Atrium of the Conservatorium Hotel

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Gym at the Conservatorium Hotel

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Spa at the Conservatorium Hotel

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3. Boat trip on the canals

In my opinion, a boat trip is a must attraction in Amsterdam with all its beautiful canals and bridges.

By the way do you know which city has the highest number of bridges? (Answer at the end of the blog)

You will discover the city from a whole new perspective. I went on a 1-hour cruise with "Flagship" for 16€. Other than big tour operators, "Flagship" uses smaller boats to give a more genuine experience. It was interactive and very informative trip. I spontaneously bought a ticket at the departure point (Anne Frank house), but you can also get them online.

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Flagship boat trip

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Flagship departing at the Anne Frank house

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4. Midtown Grill Steak Restaurant

Do you need a dinner recommendation? Why not fancy eating a steak? I can recommend the Midtown Grill, which is centrally located in the Marriott Hotel. You know that I am really picky about food, but the quality and the taste was really excellent. I had the Porterhouse which serves two persons.  It is one of their prime cuts which grants you the opportunity to choosee from a slection of knives frorm around the world. Guten Apetit!

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Midtown grill at the Marriott hotel

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Midtown grill

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Proterhouse steak

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Foodporn!

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At the Midtown Grill

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5. Highest Swing in Europe

If you want to have a nice view of Amsterdam, you should visit the A´DAM building, which is located opposite the central station. A ferry (for free) takes you across the harbour. In case you are brave enough you can go on the highest swing of Europe. It is 100m meter over the ground and the felling to swing over the edgeof the building is a lot of fun. The building offers also other attractions like a cafe and a rotating restaurant. Unfortunately, the entrance is not free neither is the swing. I recommend buying tickets online because you get a discount.

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A'dam lookout

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Highest swing in Europe

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A'dam look out

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6. Juice by Nature - healthy cafe

Healthy food lovers will not be disappointed in Amsterdam. One of my favorite paces is "Juice by Nature". It is a quick stop cafeand the food is really tasted. Especially their raw cakes are a dream. I was in food heaven several times. Use the app "Happy Cow" to find healthy places around you. That's how I find them when I am new in town.

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Juice by Nature

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Juice by Nature

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7. Blauwburg Bridge and Amstel

You should not only trust me, but also Claude Monet, who used this scenery for his art and I used it for my Instagram stories and photos :-) The area around the Blauwburg bridge, its sister bridge is loacted in Paris, is very pretty. The Amstel canal is wider than the other canals creating an amzing setting that invites to stroll around! In general, the size of the city is perfect to discover everything by foot or bike.

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Amstel

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Museums district

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The answer is Hamburg in Germany. Followed by Venice and Amsterdam. Hamburg has more than 2500 bridges, which is more than Venice, Amsterdam and London combined.

I hope you enjoyed my amazing Amsterdam city guidee and you will consider my highlights for your next city trip! Do you have a favorite city in Europe! Let me know in a comment below and don't forget to like my blog post!

Safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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the greek Instagram island

The greek Instagram island - mini vacation on Zakynthos

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Dear Aviator,

great to welcome you back on my blog! Have you heard of Zakynthos before? I hadn't until I saw several bloggers posting like crazy from this greek Instagram Island - Zakynthos". I literally I was tempted by beautiful caves, crystal blue water and a breathtaking beach with a shipwreck. I thought I need to find out for us if this island is really that beautiful or if this is a "Instagram fake".

 

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Appraoching Zakynthos with Skyexpress

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It was super spontaneous

I finished my flight duty in Athens and decided spontaneously to stay in Greek during my off days. I checked for flight connections to the most famous islands Santorini and Mykonos, but there was no suitable return flight available. Then this island with the famous shipwreck beach came into my mind. I knew it was somewhere in Greece. I booked a flight connection with Sky Express from Athens, which lasts only 45 mins. The return flight was with Eurowings via Düsseldorf back to Berlin four days later. Watch also my the Instagram Story Highlight about the trip.

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Must see: Xigia Sulfur Beach

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Greek island facts - Zakynthos

The Greek island in the Ionian Sea is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. It covers an area of 405.55 km2  with only about 40,000 habitants and the coastline is roughly 123 km in length. The name, like all similar names ending in -nthos, is pre-Mycenaean or Pelasgian in origin. In Greek mythology the island was said to be named after Zakynthos, the son of the legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus. Zakynthos was hit by a 7.3-magnitude earthquake in 1953, which destroyed most of the buildings on the island. That's why you will not find any typical white buildings (like on Santorini) on the island.  Zakynthos econonmy is based on tourism, olive oil and wine.

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Suites at Olea All Suite

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Suite at the Olea All Suite

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Eagle view of the Olea All Suite

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Check out my YouTube channel PilotPatrick for more exciting videos about my trips around the world!

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Minimalism, elegance and a private pool

I have stayed at many hotels in my time as pilot and frequent traveler, but the two properties on Zakynthos were one of a kind. On vacation I prefer smaller more intimate hotels, than big hotel bunkers. Boutique hotels offer a much more personalized and exclusive service.

I stayed 2 nights in the Zante Maris Suites and 2 nights in the Olea All Suite hotel, which are sister hotels and are located on the same property. As the names suggest the star hotels properties comprises of suites only.

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Private pool suite Olea All Suite

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Pool area at the Olea All Suite

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Mountain views at Olea All Suite

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Olea All Suite

The unique hotel is set on a picturesque hill, surrounded by olive trees and green, walking distance to the beach and only 10 minutes from Zakynthos town and airport. I was lucky to stay in a suite with a private pool, which not only offered stunning views of the ocean, but also granted a lot of privacy.

Next to a Spa, gym and a vast pool area, the 3 restaurants offer exquisite culinary options, including greek and mediterranean dishes.

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Breakfast at Zante Maris Suites

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Dinner at Zante Maris Suites

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Dessert at Znate Maris Suites

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Zante Maris Suites

Smaller in its size. Only 45 suites in total, but all with outdoor living space. I have never seen such a special welcome drink. Smoking Ice tea served on a plate with fruits and nuts. Food was amazing as well. As a half board guest you can choose from a huge menu from seafood, cheese to meat and extortionary desserts.

Which one did I prefer?

Both hotels are similar in its minimalistic yet luxurious design. For even more privacy, relaxation and exclusive service I would go with the Zante Maris Suites, since this is an adult only hotel. In my opinion breakfast and dinner was even more exceptional at the Zante Marris Suites. However I did not try the a la carte restaurants at the Olea All Suite.

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Welcome drink at Zante Maris Suites

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Spa ath the Olea All Suite

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View from the massage place at the Zante Maris Suites

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Activites on the island

I stayed for 4 days, which is sufficient for a short getaway. However, 4 days was not enough to fully explore the island.  The stunning hotel property made it hard to leave the hotel, but I came to Zakynthos to see the island as well. So make sure you plan with enough time. One week should be about the perfect length.

What did I do:

Navagio Beach

The Instagran spot! Also known as the shipwreck beach. You can only get to the beach by boat because the beach is surrounded by 200m  high cliffs. A breathtaking setting with ultra blue water. Make sure to see the beach also from top of the cliff. The view is amazing but be careful as well!

 

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Navagio Beach - Shipwreck Beach

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Navagio Beach - Shipwreck Beach

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Navagio Beach - photo credit SPATHUMPA

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Blue caves 

One of the most popular attractions on Zahkynthos.  Nature is really the most beautiful thing on earth and so are the blue caves. To see the blue caves in real live and to find out why they are called blue caves was an amazing experience. The best way to visit them is in a small to medium boat. I charted a small boat with  Alykes VIP Boat  captain Georges knew all the amazing spots. With in 5  hours I was at the shipwreck beach, inside the blue caves, swam in crystal blue water and jumped of a cliff. Additionally he gave me lots of background information of the island. A true VIP and insider experience.

 

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Famous Blue caves

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Olive trees

Only few urban areas makes you feel that you are in nature the whole time. I did not expect such a green island. During my exploration tour I passed many wine-growing areas and olive trees. I also got to see the oldest olive tree of the island. It is supposed to be over 2000 years old.

Kampi

One of the best locations for sunsets on Zahkynthos. It is loacted on the west coast so you will be able to see the sun set into the ocean. The view is breathtaking. I could not stay for the sunset so please do it for me.

Transport

You do not necessarily need a car to get a round. One day I booked a driver to take me within 4 hours to many interesting sights on the island, since I did not have so much time. Alternatively you can book a quad or a two seater buggy to discover the island by yourself.

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oldest Olive tree on the island

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Go to Kampi for the sunset

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Zakynthos is not only an "instagramable" island with amazing photos spots, but also a place where you can relax and feed your soul to the fullest.

 

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Have you been on a greek island before? Let me know in the comment section below.

Safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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vacation on mauritius

The vacation in paradise I always dreamed of?

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Collaboration /Advertisement

Hello my Aviator,

if I had to choose I would always decide on a summer vacation. I love the warm weather, the sun, the beach and everything that goes with it. Especially when I am able to escape the cold season at home in Berlin. This year I decided on Mauritius. This destination was always on my bucket list. Did it meet my expectations and was it really the paradise I always wanted to visit?

This blog post is supported by skincare of Eucerin.

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The PilotPatrick flat white with almond milk

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My Ocean villa

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Why Mauritius?

The name Mauritius itself suggest long sandy beaches, palm trees, and crystal clear sea. From what I have heard and seen it must be a paradise on earth. Honestly, I am not able to recall how it got onto my exclusive bucket list of destinations. When I started to plan my vacation in September I still did not know where to go. But once Emirates offered me to fly in their Business Class my decision was made rather quickly. One important point was that both flights from Frankfurt via Dubai to Mauritius were on board the A380 and November you can expect good weather (as long no cyclones visit Mauritius) Check out my YouTube video about my first time flying the A380 and Emirates.

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Skincare on my travels

During the winter season in Germany, I try to escape the cold season of the year at least once. So I packed Eucerin Sun protection for the sunny weather on Mauritius. It is not only vital to protecting the skin from the sunlight, but skincare is important throughout the year. Every day I can read new comments saying that I am perfect, but I can say my skin is not ;-) You might be facing the same problems as me. Sometimes it is a turbulent flight with the skin and once in a while, you have to use the right products to get it under control again. Eucerin offers a wide range of skincare for your special needs.

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The Pilot Essentials of Eucerin

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Bedroom of the Ocean villa

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DermoPure face fluid

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My daily routine

Clean my face: Eucerin DermoPure Cleansing Gel cleanses to remove dirt, make-up, and any excess sebum. The gel eliminates skin bacteria and prevents bacterial growth. I use it in the morning and before going to bed.

Shower: The pH5 shower gel of Eucerin which is made for people who shower frequently. It protects your skin from drying out. Especially during work, I shower a lot, that's why I carry a small travel edition with me.

Day cream: I differentiate between if I am exposed to strong sunlight or not. If yes I use Hyaluron Filler with SPF30. If not I use the DermoPure face fluid which has a matting effect and it also helps to control blemished skin. I can easily have a shiny fatty-face appearance, so it is ideal for me.

Hands and lips: Especially during the cold season and to fight the dry air on board of aircraft, I have always a hand lotion and a lip balm with me.

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The pH5 shower gel for frequent showers

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Hyaluron Filler with sun protection

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Brief facts about Mauritius

Mauritius officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean. The main Island of Mauritius is located about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent The island of Mauritius is relatively young geologically, having been created by volcanic activity some 8 million years ago. The capital and largest city Port Louis is located on the main island of Mauritius. It inhibits around 1,2 million people.

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I was excited to go on a snorkeling trip but then ...

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Not the visibility underwater I expected (ocean in front of Grand Gaube)

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The paradise I have dreamed of?

As a blogger, it is my responsibility to share with you my personal opinion. This includes mentioning aspects that I did not enjoy or like as well. Like on previous blog posts, for example, the one about my dream job. I have not only listed the great advantages of my job, but I also mentioned the downsides which come with it.

I stayed for one week on Mauritius close to Grand Gaube, which is in the northern part of the island. As I found out the concentrations of attractions and activities is a lot higher in the southern part then up north. This was not too severe since I wanted to enjoy a rather relaxed vacation at the beach, with good food and hot weather.

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Why my disappointment?

But in the end, I was rather disappointed. Not of Mauritius itself. Do not get me wrong: it is paradise on earth! The people are all super friendly and their hospitality is one of the best one I have ever experienced. Never the less I felt like I was in a tourist trap. I do not mind to spend a little fortune for a vacation, but the cost-benefit has to be aligned. For a 5 star hotel in a junior suite with half-board, I spend over 700€ a night (regular price was around 1000€) I have never spend so much money on accommodation. Despite all the luxury amenities, it was not worth the extremely high price. I expected a lot more.

Additionally, all extras in the hotel were, in general, more expensive outside of the hotel and more expensive than in Germany. During my stay, I had to find out about the salary of the staff. I was literally shocked. Their daily salary is even less than the price for a burger in the hotel. They put in all the hard work to make it an unforgettable for the guests and they do not get rewarded accordingly. That's why I think the price is even more over the top.

Since it was my vacation, my precious off time, I made the best out of it: I wrapped up the positive sides in a video on my YouTube channel

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My recommendation

My opinion should not stop you from visiting Mauritius. Next time I would plan my stay more wisely. Get a rental car and stay at different spots on the island. Maybe a serviced apartment or a vacation rental of a villa could be a more affordable option. With a car, you can be more flexible and you have the chance to discover and see more of the island. That way you do not have to rely on expansive hotel prices of tours and activities.

Good planning is the key to a successful and satisfying vacation. 

Where will you spend your next vacation? Leave me a comment below and subscribe to my newsletter with your email!

As always safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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barcelona insider travel tips

Must visit places and my insider tips of Barcelona

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Cooperation / Advertisement

Hello my Aviator,

after one year of absence, I finally made it back to my happy place Barcelona. I really missed this city because it feels like a second home for me. Unfortunately, my schedule did not allow me to stay more than three days. In this blog post, I will show you my personal highlights and share my insider tips of Barcelona for your next trip. 

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Skyline of Barcelona from Bunkers del Carmel

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Barcelona my happy place

Barcelona is a great city for sightseeing. Around every corner, you can discover a new spectacular place. I recommend renting a scooter for your stay. This time I was cruising through the city with a Vespa of ViaVespa. A scooter gives you so much freedom to go to different places in a minimum amount of time.

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Scooter rental with ViaVespa

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Check out my Vlog about Barcelona on my YouTube channel PilotPatrick!

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Where to sleep?

Two years ago I lived for three months in Barcelona, I stayed in a shared apartment in the historic Gotico. It was a great experience to live right in the center of this vibrant city. Due to a new cockpit job, I was forced to move back to Berlin. For this mini-vacation, I decided to stay at the 5 star Arts Hotel Barcelona close to the beach. Its unique building characterizes the skyline of Barcelona and was first opened during the Olympics in 1992. The views it grants from the rooms, club lounge and the spa are exceptional.

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One bedroom suite in the Arts Hotel Barcelona

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Stay protected at the pool

The hotel recently opened a newly designed outside area with an infinity pool. Now you can overlook the beach and ocean while taking a swim. I love to cool down in the water and to relax in the sun. But not without the correct sun protection. At this stage, I want to remind you how important it is to use sunscreen to protect yourself from sunlight.

First of all not to get a painful sunburn. Secondly to lower the chances of getting skin cancer. Solely in Germany, 200.000 people became diagnosed with skin cancer for the first time in 2016. Additionally, the sun is the reason for skin aging and hyperpigmentation. About 90% of the visible skin aging is caused by UV- Light and HEV- light (high-energy visible light) Read one of my latest blog post to find out more about this vital topic.

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The new infinity pool at the Arts Hotel Barcelona

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Relaxing in a cabana with Eucerin sun protection

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Eucerin Sun Protection offers a wide range of sunscreen products for any age, skin type and occasion. Two of my favorite products is the “SUN OIL CONTROL FACE GEL-CREME” for the face and the “SENSITIVE PROTECT TRANSPARENT SUN SPRAY“. My face gets shiny really fast and is really sensitive. The “Sun oil control face gel-creme” is made for such skin types and is light and dries really fast. The transparent sun spray for the body has an ultra-light texture and is not sticky. Two great products for a day by the pool.

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Eucerin Sun Transparent and Oil Control

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What to do?

Bunkers del 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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highlight: La Sagrada Familia

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Cathedral in the gothic quarter

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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.

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

 

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Casa Battló on Passeig de Gracia

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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.

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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 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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healthy eating at Teresa's

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Teresa's Carles in el Born

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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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Nuba Restaurant

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Magic fountain show

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Which season is best to visit Barcelona?

Barcelona is great all year around. If you want to enjoy the hot weather at the beach then you need to visit during the summer months. But if you come to do sightseeing and to discover the city, then I recommend avoiding the high season. That way touristic places are less crowded and waiting times are less.

Insider tip: Visit Barcelona in the spring or late summer. My favorite months 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.

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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 PilotPatrick

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Happy place Barcelona and my insider tips

Happy place Barcelona and my insider tips

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(Sponsored by product placement)

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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my first time flying in first class

My first time flying in first class

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In May I spent over two weeks of vacation in California. On the way to San Fransisco, I flew in Lufthansa's First Class Cabin. I am now excited to share with you this amazing experience. My dream was to fly in First Class before I turn 30. I am so happy that I accomplished this goal. Read in this blog post how you can fly First Class without spending a fortune and how you can be the winner of my giveaway

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Timelessly elegant design and top-quality materials

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My last long range flight with Lufthansa was to Capetown in 2016. On this flight, I was seated in the first row of Business class. During the flight I was wondering how it would be to fly in First Class as traveling in Business class is already luxurious. At this point, I never imagined flying in First Class already one year later.

The first seven years of my aviation career I was working as a First Officer for a private jet company. I got to know the most exclusive flight service possible. That is why I was excited to see the differences between a private jet flight and a First Class flight as a passenger. You probably can imagine how excited I was to go on my flight to San Francisco.

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Lufthansa A340-600 MUC Terminal 2

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Lounge and connection

My trip started off luxurious with the limousine service of Blacklane. A comfortable Mercedes S-Class picked me up from home to take me to Berlin Tegel Airport. This service can be booked in more than 250 cities worldwide and is easy to pre-order via an application on your smartphone. In Berlin, I can recommend Blacklane's airport transfer in a business class car since it is faintly more expensive than a regular taxi. Their cars are clean and a friendly driver awaits you.

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Blacklane chauffeur service to Berlin Tegel airport

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My flight connection

04.05.17 TXL - MUC LH2037 13:00 - 14:05 Airbus A321 BUSINESS

04.05.17 MUC - SFO LH458 16:10 - 19:05 Airbus A340-600 FIRST

Lounge

During my short layover in Munich, I visited a First Class Lounge for the very first time. The lounge was located in the new Terminal 2 satellite building and is better than any private jet lounge I have been to. Besides a huge buffet, you could also choose from a la carte menu. While enjoying a refreshment you could watch the air traffic on the apron from cozy seating areas inside and from a terrasse outside. All kinds of facilities are provided for a demanding passenger. Compared to a Business Lounge it was much more exclusive and private. Unfortunately, I could only stay for 1,5 hours in the lounge. Try to get a connection which allows you to stay a minimum of 2 hours to enjoy the lounge the fully.

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Seat and airplane

My Seat was 1A on an A340-600. This is a window seat in the first row of First Class. I had so much space and storage. I really could not believe it. My seat not only offered direct aisle access but also four windows all for myself. Firstly I had to play around with all the buttons and check out the features of my own little living room above the sky.

The cabin consists only of eight First Class seats creating a really private and calm atmosphere. After dinner, the flight attendant did the turndown service to my seat. In the meantime, I took a small walk through the entire airplane wearing my pyjama. I had the impression that people were staring at me. I probably looked quite silly in this grandpa style outfit. The A340-600 used to be one of the longest aircraft and offers four different booking classes. Honestly, the economy class looked tighter than before. I wish I could have invited them to the free seats up front.

Returning to my seat I found a full flat 2-meter long bed with a mattress topper. A real 5-star bed in the sky.

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Seat 1A with Jil Sander Amenity Kit and Van Laack Pyjama

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My 2 meter flat bed in the sky

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Service and food

The service was exceptional and was tailored to one's wishes.  You can decide when you want to eat. There are no fixed service times. I enjoyed the full menu including the famous Lufthansa caviar service. If you get hungry during the flight you can always order something from the menu or get sweet and salty snacks from the small bar in front. The food was delicious and nicely decorated.

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Famous caviar service in First Class

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Three different starters on my huge dining table

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Worth it to fly First Class?

This depends solely on your personal needs. If you need the extra space and a more exclusive service then go ahead and fly First Class. A big plus over the Business Class is the larger bed, the privacy shield, and the much smaller cabin. In the end, you do arrive at the same time as everyone else and you have to wait until everyone has boarded to be ready for take off. The price for my route was about 3000€ one way. Definitely not for everyone's budget, but if you compare it to a private jet which costs 60,000€  the ticket is worth the price. I think if you want to allow oneself a flight in First Class then do it together with someone else at a special occasion.

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  • My ultra comfortable seat with a movable footrest

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How can you fly First Class?

You want to want to fly Economy on your next flight but do not want to spend a fortune to fly Business and First? Then register with the loyalty program of the airline or alliance you fly most of the time and start collecting miles. I usually fly with companies of the Star Alliance and I have been a Miles and More Member for ages. Since I have to travel a lot for my company and also on a private basis I reached a higher status which grants me extra benefits like the lounge access. If you are patient and start collecting miles in every possible way you end up having enough miles to book an award flight. With the Miles and More program you do not necessarily have to fly to earn miles. You can collect them by paying with your credit card or setting up a mobile. Check regularly their website for new ways to earn them and soon you will be flying First Class as well.

 

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Approaching San Francisco

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Amenities and my recommendations

The list of amenities is almost endless. Here are my favorite once

  • First Class lounge with restaurant
  • High baggage allowance
  • Priority boarding
  • Large choice of food and beverages
  • Amenity Kit, pyjama and slippers
  • Turndown Service
  • In-flight entertainment
  • Sound insulation
  • Privacy shield
  • Wifi (really poor connection on my flight)

My recommendations when flying First Class

  • Book a seat at the window
  • Try to fly A380 (LH: bigger lavatories and better cabin air)
  • Fly at least 10 hours
  • Use the First Class lounge (minimum 3 hours between flights)
  • Enjoy the full meal service including the Kaviar
  • Ask for the turndown service

 

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GIVEAWAY of my unused amenity kit (read below)

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It was truly a first class experience. Even though I did not sleep during the whole flight of 12 hours it did not last long enough to enjoy everything in detail. I love to fly as a passenger as well, but the real First Class remains up front in the cockpit. You get to your destination and you even get paid for it!

First Class give away 

I am giving away my unused First Class amenity kit of Jil Sander with La Praire products, sleeping mask, socks, etc. Just subscribe with your email to my blog and leave a comment with your favorite airline below this article and you have the chance to win it!

Good luck and happy landings!

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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business class review Lufthansa

Business Class review - with Lufthansa to Cape Town

I decided to publish my first airline review, because you were interested in my opinion as private jet pilot about a flight experience in a higher booking class.

Business class review Lufthansa

This year I spend three weeks of vacation in South Africa. I had an amazing time and I felt in love with South Africa. The flight made this vacation special as well. Months in advance, I was excited to go on this flight. One reason for this was, that I flew in Lufthansa’s Business Class on the A340-600. But the flight almost did not depart…

A340-600 at the parking position in Munich prior boarding to Cape Town

I want to give you a brief review of my experience on board of Lufthansa, one of my favorite airlines. This might help you when booking your next flight, maybe to Cape Town.

My flights:
Berlin Tegel – Munich
Munich – Cape Town (night flight)

Cape Town – Munich (day flight)
Munich – Berlin Tegel

Welcome on board!

On the flight to Cape Town seat 3D was mine. Right after I stowed my hand luggage and took a seat, I was offered a welcome drink. Overall the service was excellent. The flight attendants were really friendly and gave a personal touch to their service. The front cabin of the A340-600 was quite spacious, but I noticed right away that there is not much privacy when seated. Nevertheless I really liked the modern design and the interior.

Welcome drink on board of Lufthansa's A3400-600 in Munich. Seat 3D

Take off thrust set in Munich. Reaching about 120 km/h the four engines spooled down and the brakes were applied. I said quite loudly: “Aborted take off!" I was right. The aircraft vacated the runway. Interesting fact: In 6 years as pilot I never had to reject a take off. Fortunately the pilots could solve the technical problem, so that we attempted for another take off 30 minutes later, after the brakes had cooled down.

Seat

Lufthansa Business Class Configuration 2-2-2

I was surprised about the versatility of the seat. It felt comfortable when eating, watching a movie and especially when in the sleeping position. A flat bed on a long-range flight is luxury. I am 1,86 m tall and I had enough space in length. Additionally you can adjust the degree of hardness of the cushion through air. Unfortunately I had the impression that the seat width was a little bit too narrow and the pillow a little bit too thick.

Food

Dinner in Business Class shortly prior landing in Munich

As I mentioned in my recent post “I am a foodie pilot”, I am really strict and picky about my food. That is why I am definitely not a benchmark. But I have to admit, that the selection and the taste of food were really good. Great wine and drink menu. I missed some snacks in between meals on a 12 hours flight. Fantastic was have an espresso above the clouds.

Inflight Entertainment

A huge selection of movies, series, documentaries, games, music and so on in up to eight languages were offered. The headsets were comfortable to wear and the interface was easy to control. I used Wi-Fi during flight to keep you up to date on my snapchat. :-)

Flat bed in Business Class, Seat 3D good while in sleeping position

My recommendations:

  • If possible reserve a seat in the first row. The seats in row 3 (A340-600) at the window give you some kind of shelf and the seats in the middle give you some extra legroom.

Seat 3D to CPT and seat 3A on the return flight

  • When traveling alone I recommend to take a window seat, because the seats in the middle section are angled a little towards each other. Those ones I rather recommend for couples.
  • During night flights I suggest to take a middle seat, since each seat has direct aisle access. Find your seat map on Seatguru.
  • Choose a seat in the front of the Business Class, because during boarding only Business and First Class passengers will pass you in the aisle.

Overhead Africa on the way from CPT to MUC

Following extras can you expect:

  • Amenity Kit (including socks, ear plugs and cosmetics)
  • Cosmetics in the lavatories
  • Water bottle at the seat
  • USB and power plug at your seat
  • Free newspapers and magazines
  • Big pillow and a blanket
  • High quality headset

Leaving Cape Town on Lufthansa's A340-600 overflying Camps Bay

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The price for a Lufthansa Business Class ticket can be quite expansive, but the investment is totally worth it. This way the vacation already starts on board and you are looking forward to your flight. Especially on the way to Cape Town, which primarily takes place during the night, the flat seat is fantastic. Since their is only one hour of time difference, you can enjoy the day fresh and fit.

My rating

My rating of the flights in Lufthansa Business Class, where 5 aircrafts highest and 1 lowest:

Business Seat    ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Privacy                 ✈️ ✈️
Aircraft                ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Service                 ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Food                     ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Entertainment  ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Extras                  ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

My Rating:         ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

Which airline has the best Business Class for you? Please comment below.

Read my next blog post: "What's in my bag?"

Your Pilot Patrick

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