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Airlines Asia Reviews

Airlines We Love: Cathay Pacific

When you’re flying 16 hours across the world, it’s always much appreciated when an airline goes above and beyond to make your journey comfortable and pleasant and Cathay Pacific did just that during my round-trip nonstop flight from JFK to Hong Kong. From the moment I stepped onto the plane, I was acknowledged, thought of and cared for the entire time by the warm crew on board.


Business Class

Seats
Cathay’s lie-flat seats are super comfortable and offer privacy as well as plenty of electrical outlets and storage for your belongings. For long haul flights, business class is a great option for those who want to travel in comfort for a decent value over first class and seating can make or break your business class experience. Luckily, Cathay offers reverse herringbone seating configuration with private single pod rows and paired seating in the middle if you’re not traveling solo.

Dining
Before you can even get settled in your seat, the crew is ready with lovely refreshments such as champagne, water, juice and my favorite- cranberry juice infused with champagne, rose water and baby roses! Such a lovely touch.

Meal times are obviously my favorite time when I’m flying on long hauls and luckily Cathay has designed an award-wining menu with exceptionally delicious food during appropriate meal times and cold snacks aren’t the only snacks offered in between but hot snacks as well with a choice of Western and Asian fare such as gourmet burgers and fries or hot soup.

Amenity Kit
Flying as much as I do, I always pay attention to the airline’s amenity kit and I especially appreciated Cathay’s practical and non-wasteful kit and natural skin care products by Jurlique.

Entertainment
200+ inflight movies, 1,000’s of episodes along with a large screen and personal Bose headset will your long haul trip fly by- pun intended.

Tip: Hong Kong Station Check-In
By heading to the Hong Kong International Airport via Airport Express (AEL), you’re able to check in your bags at the Central or Kowloon Stations before boarding the train, cutting down on long lines at the airport.

Cathay Dragon
Cathay Pacific also offers regional flights on their sister airline, Cathay Dragon. We flew from Cathay’s hub in Hong Kong to Yangon, Myanmar and the 3 hour and 20 minute flight was also super comfortable and pleasant. The business class on Cathay Dragon still manages to maintain all of the qualities offered on Cathay Pacific’s business class but on a smaller aircraft. Cathay Dragon is certainly a wise choice as they have a wide network covering the most popular travel destinations in the Asia Pacific region.

This blog was written in partnership and sponsored by Cathay Pacific. As always, opinions are my own.

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Airlines Europe Food Hotels Luxury

An Art Themed Guide to Paris

Earlier this month we embarked on an art themed Parisian adventure in partnership with La Compagine Boutique Airline and Le Royal Monceau hotel, where we got to experience the first flying art gallery by Brooklyn based artist, Kevin Lyons!

The concept was just as innovative as La Compagnie itself, a boutique and affordable all-business class airline offering one main route from Paris to Newark and back again. At times, the cost is just about as equal to economy flights to Europe on major airlines… but with way more perks such as lounge access, a swift check in and boarding process (total boarding time took about 15 minutes since there were as little as 70 people on board), comfortable lay down seats, friendly service and excellent French cuisine!

Additionally, La Compagnie is always thinking of unique ways to keep their guests entertained. This time around, in the collaboration with Kevin Lyons where he was be onboard to meet and greet passengers.

He also signed the drawings that were offered in a magazine that featured the sketches on the windows! It’s safe to say that time went by fast.

Hotels We Love: Le Royal Monceau

After landing, we checked into the uber chic Le Royal Monceau – which has to be one of the most unique hotels we’ve experienced in Paris.

Built in 1928, the hotel underwent complete renovation in 2010 with the help of legendary Philippe Starck, making every inch of the hotel a work of art.




Ideally located down the street from le Arc de Triomphe, the hotel offers a gorgeous Clarins spa, a 1 Michelin star restaurant, Il Carpaccio, a sushi restaurant, Matsuhisa by Chef Nobu, a cinema room, bar, smoke lounge, an art gallery with a private art concierge and a gorgeous book store. With all of these unique spaces, you won’t want to leave the hotel!

Junior Suite

This suite was like sleeping in an art gallery! The whole set up of the room is unique with the bed in the middle, dual hidden televisions behind the mirrors, and a bathroom covered from top to bottom with mirrors. Straight out of an artist’s dream!


Art Concierge

Le Royal Monceau is also the first hotel to offer specialized art concierge services led by art guru, Julie Eugene. Every week, the art concierge prepares a special schedule of various art events especially for guests staying at the hotel.

And if you don’t feel like going far, you can enjoy an art tour of the hotel itself with the art concierge as it has its own art gallery featuring various exhibits. We got to see their recent photography exhibit, “Icons.”

Our art filled trip began with a private tour of the Grand Palais with Julie to enjoy the “Jardins” Exhibit, which was equally inspiring and beautiful.

Art Galleries Not To Miss In Paris:

Picasso Museum

The museum was open to the public in 2014 and the building itself is art. Stunning staircases and gorgeous views of the Marais district are seen from every window. “Olga Picasso’ was the exhibition we toured… and it was simply beautiful. The love was felt between the two through every painting, drawing and photograph.




Perrotin

My favorite exhibit was The Wrinkles of the City: Istanbul by artist JR. It was incredibly moving to see such massive portrait photographs in person and to observe all of the details in each.

Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery In Pantin

This is a very special gallery located in the outskirts of the city, allowing for more grounds for the sprawling space. I was especially inspired by the light filled rooms which shining on the beautiful artwork.

Zimoun at Le Centquatre

I absolutely LOVED this place. I felt like I had just walked a movie set. Seeing all of  urban artists flourishing in this creative environment where they could spend hours on end perfecting their craft was so inspiring.

Private Visit Of The Studio Of French Artist Baptiste Debombourg

We had the opportunity to visit the studio of French artist, Baptiste Debombourg, who creates various impressive works such as this piece made entirely of staples. I highly recommend Googling him to check out his many other mind blowing masterpieces, some of which are massive sculptures made of glass. An impressive artist with a heart for humanity, I can definitely appreciate that.

Xippas in the Marais Lunch / Drinks:

  • Il Carpaccio – Le Royal Monceau
  • Biglove Caffe

Dinner

  • Les Cocottes located in the Sofitel Arc de Triomphe by Chef Christian Constant.
  • Clover Grill this restaurant quickly became one of my favorite restaurants in Paris with its cozy yet interior (perfect for drinks and dinner with friends or even a date), incredible meats and their Provence lavender cocktail was delicious!

#nastasiainparis

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

I was invited as guest by La Compagine Boutique Airline and Le Royal Monceau. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

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Food Hotels Latin America Reviews

Why It’s Worth Spending Time in Lima Before Heading to Machu Picchu

When it comes to Peru, Lima is often overlooked as simply the gateway city to get to Cusco and Machu Picchu but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Lima is a wonderful city with many things to offer. From checking into the chic Royal Park Boutique Hotel in San Isidro, to spending the day exploring the historic El Centro area and eating the most delicious meals I’ve ever had, Lima was delightful and memorable. Thus, here are some reasons why you should spend more time in Lima.

Boutique Hotels in Chic Neighborhoods such as San Isidro and Barranco.
We stayed at the Royal Park Hotel, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The rooms were spacious, the beds, oh so comfortable and the welcome was warm. The hotel is located in the chic neighborhood of San Isidro, not far from Miraflores and Barranco and it is within walking distance from Parque El Olivar, a grove of interesting looking olive trees that you can easily get lost in.


El Centro’s gorgeous architecture and churches
The bulk of the attractions are located in the historic El Centro area. Here, you will find tons of restaurants, street food, churches and shopping.

Tip: If you plan on visiting El Centro during dusk and into the evening, have your hotel call a cab to drive you to El Centro and accompany you while you walk around. For around $10 an hour, you will have a local roaming the historic center along with you. This is an efficient and safe way to see the city center in a short period of time. We even befriended ours and he joined us for dinner!

Monastery of San Francisco, Lima
The convent and church are close to the city square and it made the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991. Aside from the church, it also contains catacombs which you can roam through.

Plaza de Armas
The heart of the city and the spectacular main square is the most popular area in El Centro. Here, you will find beautiful architecture and shades of yellow, great people watching and churches.

Markets
Markets galore, hundreds of vendors line the streets with tons of goodies to buy.

Colorful streets and kind locals
I couldn’t put my camera down! Tip: look up! El centro’s balconies are stunning and unique in their own way.

Amazing food
From fresh ceviche to delicious Peruvian dishes such as my favorite, Lomo Saltado (combination of strips of sirloin, fried potatoes and rice), Lima lives up to its award by World Travel Awards as being recognized as the World’s Leading Culinary Destination.

Huaca Pucllana
The fact that this restaurant is situated on 1,500 year old ruins is reason enough to dine at this gorgeous restaurant. The best tables are outside which overlook the ruins. But a reservation far in advance is in order to snag one of these highly sought after tables. Perk: if you dine at the restaurant from 7:30pm to 10:30pm, a 20 minute partial tour of the ruins is available.

Royal Park Lima’s Le Molière restaurant
Le Molière offers gourmet Peruvian and French dishes as well as delicious home baked bread. We tried their shrimp and prawn colonial style causa (Peruvian layered mashed potatoes), ceviche and 
lomo saltado. Not to mention their decadent and gorgeous dessert! The hotel’s restaurant is an excellent choice for dinner.

 

Miraflores oceanfront
While we didn’t make it to the Miraflores area, it is known to be a popular area on the oceanfront, full of restaurants, hotels and views of the ocean. But if you prefer to hang with the locals, the San Isidro and Barranco neighborhoods are the places to be.

Getting there
LAN Airlines is the airline with the most domestic flights with a dozen per day to Cusco. You can catch a short 1 1/2 hour flight from Lima to Cusco en route to Machu Picchu. Tip: grab a window seat! This was one of the most scenic flights I’ve ever taken. The mountains of Peru are simply breathtaking. Flying with LAN is an efficient and smooth way to get around South America, as the airline is timely, the service is great and all of the planes we boarded felt fresh and new.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

Nastasia was invited to tour the cities of South America with LAN Airlines. All opinions are my own.

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Guides Hotels Latin America Reviews

7 Things to Do in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (plus, What to Do When It Rains!)

Golden sandy beaches, stunning landscapes, beautiful people, heart pumping music, Rio de Janeiro is a dream for many people. We spent 4 days in this vibrant city and rounded up the Top 7 Things to Do in Rio.

1.) Go Beach Hopping
Definitely no shortage of beautiful beaches in Rio. The best way to explore is on foot. Start in Copacabana or Leblon and walk along the strip to explore the various beaches while observing their many differences and similarities.

Copacabana
Sand castles, sun bathing, grand dame hotels and restaurants, Copacabana beach is as iconic as it gets. A night market thrives daily on this beach (except for Sundays), the perfect place to shop for souvenirs. In need of some caffeine to hit the night life scene? The perfect coffee shop right off the strip called Cafeina serves up the best chocolate laden cappuccino in town.

*As iconic as Copacabana is known to be, take note that since the beach is known to attract many tourists, it also attracts being a target so keep your belongings close and out of sight. We were a victim of a common trick where someone walks by and sneakily sprays gunk on you, offering to clean it but instead pick-pockets and runs away. This occured in the middle of the day so keep this in mind while strolling the beach.

Ipanema and Leblon
Though Copacabana is iconic, its neighboring beach neighborhoods, Ipanema and Leblon, have a more fresh, polished and trendier appeal. One of the most stunning mountain views is from Ipanema beach. This is also a perfect place to grab a coconut or a drink and watch the sunset. Leblon is the place to go if you’re looking for trendy nightlife and chic restaurants.

 

2.) Get lost in the Tijuca Forest
Equipped with exotic plants, lush forests and waterfalls, Tijuca forest is a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of Rio. It surrounds Corcovado and makes for a great stop before heading up to see the Christ the Redeemer statue. The forest also provides stunning views, especially from Dona Marta. One of the must-sees in this lush forest is the Taunay Waterfall just steps away from a mini pink chapel known as Mayrink Chapel.

3.) Visit The Christ the Redeemer Himself
You simply cannot visit Rio and miss the seeing the famous Christ the Redeemer, one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. While the statue itself is quite impressive, the view that Christ Redeemer overlooks is just as impressive. Stunning 360 views including an epic photo op of Sugarloaf mountain will leave you speechless.

Insider tip: try to visit the statue in late afternoon for better visibility and photos.

 

4.) Take in the view from Sugarloaf Mountain at Dusk
We took the cable car up to the top of Sugarloaf mountain during dusk and the views were magnificent as we watched the sun go down. On a clear day, the light is just beautiful. The travel up to the top by cable car was quiet and peaceful and the view of Christ the Redeemer is even more incredible from afar.

There are restrooms, coffee shops, wifi and a restaurant at the top. The food was okay but its a great place to sit for drinks and to take it all in.

Insider tip: The tickets are 75 R (US$19.75) for adults but show your student ID for a discount!

 

5.) Spend a Rainy Afternoon at Parque Lage
Find yourself in Rio on a rainy day? Don’t panic! Our 3rd day in Rio was my favorite and it just so happened to be pouring all day so we decided to check out Parque Lage, a lush park with beautiful architecture and a hidden cafe that will make you want to spend the entire day there.

The mansion in the middle of the park is the staple with it’s hallways filled with highly concentrated and passionate artists painting away their afternoon away and a small cafe tucked away in the corner. Here, you will find beautiful locals sipping on crisp white wine, savoring each moment that passes by. You can feel the romance throughout this magnificent palace that was built by Mr. Henrique Lage who gifted the palace to a woman he fell in love with, Italian singer Gabriela Bezanzoni.
6.) Stroll Through the Incredible Jardim Botânico

Just a short 15 minute walk down from Parque Lage, you will discover the magical Jardim Botânico, a 340 acre botanical garden. Here, you will find the Avenue of Palms containing over 900 varieties of palm trees and and giant, symmetrical streets lining the garden’s outer areas, making for beautiful photo ops.
We spent our rainy day wandering the garden and it was magical. Nothing an umbrella can’t fix! Or just skip the umbrella all together and embrace the rain.


7.) Hang out with the Local Artists in Santa Teresa  and Escadaria Selaron
The Santa Teresa neighborhood is one of my favorites with its colorful doors and homes of artists, cobblestone streets and street art. I especially loved visiting the Lapa steps, the creation of artist Jorge Selarón. The steps are full of colorful mosaics of tiles donated from people from all over the world. The project initially started with the use of garbage collected from the city. The artist claimed it as “my tribute to the Brazilian people”. Just goes to show the good old saying, ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Insider tip: Snoop Dogg and Pharell Williams shot the video for their song “Beautiful” here!
 

How to Get There: TAM Airlines
There’s no better way to travel to South America than with TAM/LAN Airlines. We boarded our flight from JFK en route to RIO and the experience was smooth from start to finish. You can also purchase the “Brazil Pass”, offering decent discounts.

Where to Stay: Windsor Atlantica Hotel
Towering high in the heart of Copacabana is the Windsor Atlantica Hotel. It seemed as if no matter where I was in Rio, I could easily spot this high rise hotel! The beach is right across the street and the hotel is equipped with two stunning swimming pools: One facing the beach and the other on the very top of the hotel, offering stunning views from the rooftop.

Windsor Atlantica also offers 2 restaurants: An Italian one on the first floor and a buffet style restaurant on the 4th floor with views of the beach. An awesome spread and wide selection for breakfast is usually included in the price of your rate.

Windsor Atlantica Hotel is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Visit their website for more stunning and independently owned hotels all over the globe.


*Photos courtesy of Windsor Hotels

Tours Tour with Brazil Expedition
The city of Rio de Janiero is HUGE. One of the best ways to see as much as you can is to take a guided tour. We spent an entire day with Brazil Expeditions and they efficiently took us around majority of the city. If you have a few days to spare in Rio, I recommend booking a tour at the beginning (maybe the 1st or 2nd day) so you have a better idea of the lay of the land and can take note of the places you’d like to revisit and spend more time in later on.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. 

 

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