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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: All Nippon Airlines

10 Travel Pictures from My Past, Vol 3

Paula Gaston

Every once in a while you can see some travel picture blog challenges going around. I have done it twice and showed you some pictures from my trips around the world. It is always fun to see people's travel photos, and it is even more fun to find some from your own albums. So many memories! 

So here it comes! Travel Pictures from My Past, Vol 3. The first photos you can find from here:

10 Travel Pictures from My Past
10 Travel Pictures from My Past, Vol 2

 

MY ALL TIME FAVORITE SHOT

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This photo quickly became one of my favorites. My family! And now we also have one more tiny traveller, but when the photo was taken, we were only three people. This picture was taken in Nara, Japan. We visited Todaiji Temple to see the world's biggest Buddha. The temple is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and it truly was worth going to. 

A SURPRISING SITUATION

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When we travelled to Japan, I was dreaming about seeing a geisha. Then I found out, that it is actually pretty difficult to find them, and there is only 200 of them left. One night we were strolling around the Gion Geisha District when we heard this jingling noise. Suddenly a geisha walked by us. That night, we ended up seeing several geishas on their way to work. I will never forget it!

A GEM FOUND NEARBY

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On our Christmas trip last year, we stopped in Solvang, here in California. Even though I had been there shortly before, I was surprised how much I liked visiting this Danish style town. We walked around downtown, stopped in little shops and ate some danishes. Perfect! 

WHITE SAND AND TURQUOISE WATER

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In California, when in need of paradise, it's time to head to Hawaii. There you can lay on the sand and snorkel in the turquoise water. I would really love to go snorkeling again. All those colorful fish and corals are so beautiful! This picture is from Big Island.

WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE WORD FREEDOM

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We have driven through Nevada several times, and it looks like this at it's best and worst. The total freedom to do what ever you want and go where ever you want! It is both exciting and a little bit scary to drive through the open desert. On this trip we drove through an Indian reservation, saw some Joshua Trees and wild horses, and got stuck in a snow storm. Anything can happen in Nevada!

IDYLLIC LIFE

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It is pretty cozy to stuff yourself inside the smallest pub in England with a bunch of other people for a pint. And I can tell you, the pub is really tiny! But it was fun to visit there. 

LUXURY IS...

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It is absolutely a luxury to fly in business class sometimes, especially when flying with All Nippon Airlines. The service was spotless, and the food was way better than that served in many restaurants with lots of stars. If I could always fly like this, I wonder if I would always arrive as happy and without jet lag to my destination.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ARHITECTURE 

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The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen. Many pictures from Japan could have also been used here, but I decided to go with this one from Saint Petersburg, Russia. The whole city is full of beautiful buildings on the inside and outside. 

A BITTERSWEET MEMORY

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I am still a little bitter about the way my trip to Israel and Jordan went. I was picked up by the border control at both borders for a special check up. In Jordan, a whole bus load of people had to wait for me to get through border control. In the end, everything went well, and my trip was a success, but I still remember sitting in the back room of customs. Although, now it seems like one big adventure.

IT HAS TAKEN TOO LONG TO GO VISIT THIS PLACE AGAIN

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There are so many pictures that I could have used on this topic. Since we just had a baby six months ago, I haven't been able to visit Finland in a very long time. This is actually the longest, I have ever been without visiting my home country. I chose this picture from the Snow Castle of Kemi, since it has been several years that I have been there. We rarely travel to Finland during the winter, and every year I think how cool it would be to visit the Snow Castle again. Well, maybe next year...

 

In case you are interested in participating in this challenge, you can copy the list of the topics from here. Originally this was started by a Finnish blog Journey diary. If you do write a post about it, I would love to read it. Please link it to my comments, and also link my blog on your post so we can find each other's posts easily.

1. My all time favorite shot
2. A surprising situation
3. A gem found nearby
4. White sand and turqoise water
5. When I think about the word freedom
6. Idyllic life
7. Luxury is... 
8. The most beautiful arhitecture
9. A bittersweet memory
10. It has taken too long to go visit this place again

 

All Nippon Airways' Business Class won't Disappoint

Paula Gaston

I think I have told you all, that in the beginning of this year I was very lucky to win flights to Tokyo on All Nippon Airways business class for two. They gave us one year to use the tickets, and since this trip came to us as a surprise, we ended up going to Japan at the end of the year. There were two choices for the route, either San Jose Mineta-Tokyo Narita or San Francisco-Tokyo Narita. Since San Jose Mineta Airport is very close to our home, we naturally chose that one. I also think that it is easier and nicer than the huge San Francisco International Airport.

Booking the tickets didn't quite go as we planned, and we actually even talked about skipping the whole trip. I called the ANA sales office and told them the situation; that we have two business tickets but we are a family of three. Since our daughter is 4, she wont go as a lap child anymore. I was hoping that they would help us figure out what kind of third ticket we should purchase, maybe even get it upgraded to business class. I gave the sales person the dates we wished to travel on, and waited for her to contact me back. It took two days before I finally received an email from her. A ticket for business class was over $5000 and economy was over $900. She also had changed the dates. Really? It takes two days for a sales office to find the same information that I can dig up from online in five minutes? I had of course checked these before approaching the sales office, so I knew that the day I asked for a travel date was much cheaper for economy than what she was offering. I could say I was a little disappointed by that. 

After I told them that we are not able to purchase a business class ticket for this price, and we will buy one economy ticket, they offered us a discounted business class ticket with $2600. Yes, it was an great offer but still way too expensive for us so I had to decline. We wanted to just purchase one extra economy ticket on the same flight. The sales person made us a reservation but instead of giving us one economy ticket, she gave us two, and once again on a different date than I had asked for. So if I have two free business class tickets, why would I want to downgrade the other one to economy? I honestly started to feel like they are trying to make fool out of us in every way they can! After a pretty straight forward email exchange, we finally got our reservation done for two in business class, and I ended up just booking the economy ticket from online separately. I don't think it has ever been this difficult for me to make airline reservations, and when we a few days later got an automated message that our reservation had changed, I started purely seeing red! Luckily, it turned out that this reservation was the old one which was made for the wrong dates, and obviously had not been deleted. Amazing how bringing an extra paying customer into our reservation got everything so messed up. Never making that mistake again!

Finally it was our departure day. A very friendly attendant at the business class counter checked us all three on the flight, and told me that I am welcome to bring a guest to the lounge. That was nice since we had a lot of time until the flight, and we were able to have a light breakfast at the lounge. Our plane was a Boeing 787 where the seats are completely staggered. This means that you don't really even see the other passengers. For us this was not maybe the best choice, since I would have liked to sit next to my daughter, but I understand that for people traveling alone, this arrangement is perfect. In front of the seat, there were two racks for your things which also served as as extra leg space. The seat can be fully reclined into a bed. Above the racks there is an entertainment center and electrical outlets. The table folds widely and can be pulled close in to the desired spot. 

When boarding, we got slippers (which later in Japan became very familiar to us), a shoehorn, and an amenity kit. The amenity kit had a facial mist, hand cream, lip formula, a toothbrush and tooth paste, ear plugs and eye mask. More toothbrushes and tooth paste were in the lavatory among some facial sheets and mouth wash. The lavatory was spacious since I was able comfortably fit in with my little daughter. Every seat had an extra mattress for sleeping, a pillow, a warm blanket and head phones. The best thing about this flight was absolutely the food and the friendly service.

There were two menu options for the flight, a Japanese menu and International menu. I chose to have the Japanese menu for both ways as my first hot meal, and the international for my second meal. The portions were beautiful, tasty and there was plenty of food. They also had a full wine list. During our ten hour flight they served two hot meals, and the passengers were able to order more food at any time from a special menu. This menu had everything from hamburgers to cheese plates to miso soup. We had ordered a kid's meal for my daughter, and that one also had a starter, main course and dessert. Way too much food for a little one, but oh, so delicious! 

Foie-gras mousse with mango gelée, Ham and tomato aspic with cornichon, Duck and apple tarte-tatin style, Sweet glazed walnut, Two kinds of olive and cheese with herb oil

Foie-gras mousse with mango gelée, Ham and tomato aspic with cornichon, Duck and apple tarte-tatin style, Sweet glazed walnut, Two kinds of olive and cheese with herb oil

Zensai; Grilled mackerel sushi rolled with daikon radish, Simmered ginkgo nut in salt-based sauce on pine needle, Fried water chestnut, Grilled flying fish fishcake, Deep-fried sailfin sandfish in vinegar sauce. Nimono; Simmered thick tofu, broad bean sprout and shimeji mushroom. Otsukuri; Kombu kelp-cured alfonsino.

Zensai; Grilled mackerel sushi rolled with daikon radish, Simmered ginkgo nut in salt-based sauce on pine needle, Fried water chestnut, Grilled flying fish fishcake, Deep-fried sailfin sandfish in vinegar sauce. Nimono; Simmered thick tofu, broad bean sprout and shimeji mushroom. Otsukuri; Kombu kelp-cured alfonsino.

Shusai; Grilled Greenland halibut with soy-based miso sauce, steamed rice, miso soup and Japanese pickles.

Shusai; Grilled Greenland halibut with soy-based miso sauce, steamed rice, miso soup and Japanese pickles.

The kids meal was also very cute with it's egg fish and cheese that was made to look like candy.

The kids meal was also very cute with it's egg fish and cheese that was made to look like candy.

I was especially happy about the service my little daughter got on this flight. Ten points to our lovely flight attendees! They treated my daughter like any important business person, sometimes I wished they would have asked about her drink choices from me, not only from her. But it was nice to see how they took care of her on this long flight. They made her bed, chopped her food for her and propped her up with a pillow, so she could better reach her plate. Right before we landed in Tokyo, she also got a little goodie back with toys and cookies. 

On our flight back home we didn't get to enjoy the lounge in Narita airport for long, but that's ok since they suddenly didn't allow me to bring a guest like they did in San Jose. Our flight was two hours shorter than the flight to Tokyo, and it was an evening flight, so we slept for part of the flight. .

It is pretty clear that the All Nippon Airways main focus group is business travellers. It seemed like more than half of our plane was business class. ANA also has a first class, which is even higher class than business among the economy and economy premium. ANA is also known for it's Starwars themed airplanes, and we happened to see one of them at Narita Airport. It would have been so fun to fly on that one! But we can only be thankful that we got to experience what we did. Our experience in All Nippon Airways business class was amazing! On my next flight I will be back in the "piggy section" like always. 

 

Japan for the First Time

Paula Gaston

Last February I got very lucky and won tickets to Japan. So we started planning our trip. Because we never visited Japan before, I read many travel blogs and articles about what to see and do in Japan. My ex colleague from work, our Country Specialist for Japan, convinced me that in addition to Tokyo, we should also see at least Kyoto. So our trip soon started to look more like a cross country tour, which made me a little nervous since we were travelling with a 4 year old. But this was the plan we used, and it worked out well.

In a the middle of November we jumped into a plane and got to enjoy business class service at All Nippon Airlines. After we arrived at Narita airport in Tokyo, we stamped our JR pass (a train ticket sold only for foreigners) and took a train to Shinjuku in Tokyo. After some confusion at the metro station we finally found our apartment, and started our very first Airbnb experience. 

The most beautiful airplane meal I have ever seen. 

The most beautiful airplane meal I have ever seen. 

Gyoen Park in Tokyo

Gyoen Park in Tokyo

We stayed three nights in Tokyo before taking the bullet train to Kyoto. In Kyoto we visited some shrines and castles, saw many Unesco Heritage Sites and some geishas in Gion district. We got to experience the autumn colours of Japan, and enjoyed some delicious Japanese food. We also spent one day in the city of Nara. Then we packed our bags and moved on to Himeji and Hiroshima, and finally back to Tokyo again. 

Kinkaku-ji

Kinkaku-ji

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

In Nara you can find some friendly deer roaming around the park freely

In Nara you can find some friendly deer roaming around the park freely

Hiroshima gets one quiet.

Hiroshima gets one quiet.

Everything on our trip went surprisingly well. We were able to drag our bags and a baby stroller along, and our daughter seemed to enjoy the trip as well. We got to visit all the places we planned, and had no problems with our hotel reservations. The only blunder we had, was that on our way to the airport when leaving for home, we lost one small backpack. And of course, the one with some important things in it. We are hopeful that we will get it back. Other than that, we arrived back home to California both tired and happy. Now we have time to process what all we saw and experienced on this trip. So stay tuned!

All these pictures are from my Instagram account which you can follow @paulagaston. You can also follow my travels on Facebook, Twitter; @paulagaston or at Snapchat with username paulagaston.