Hilton Hotel in Paris Resorts to Duct Tape

Have you seen the (I believe) famous Canadian comedy show The Red Green Show?  I liked it a lot (10-15 years ago) – it was shown on PBS…The main character Red (Steve Smith) is the leader of Possum Lodge and a self-proclaimed handyman who is constantly extolling the virtues of duct tape (“the handyman’s secret weapon”).

Well, on my recent business trip to Paris I relived my happy memories of watching Mr. Red….but I also had the bad experience with the Hilton at CDG-Paris.

I arrived late (around 10pm) and checked in quickly into a nice room – exec room on the hotel’s 2nd floor.

In the morning though I had rather unpleasant experience when I tried to take a shower – the hotel shower = a handheld shower with a grip bar – turned out to be broken and fixed with….yes! you guessed it DUCT TAPE  (Mr. Red would haven been proud!)

There were two problems with that

a) the shower was broken and fixed by a questionable housekeeping handy person

b) with Duct Tape that would not hold the handshower in place as the water started flowing through it, the grip would release and the shower would fall to the floor….

Hilton -Charles De Gaulle   The Duct Taped Shower You can see the shower setup on these two photos I took with my iPhone – pretty interesting usage of duct tape after all…

I took a shower eventually – gasp! – by holding the handheld shower in one hand…not convenient but, hey, it is only a Hilton!!!  Not..!

Then, later that morning, the second surprise came about – I wanted to get to the airport.  The helpful front desk staff told me “Yes, of course – which airline?”  I told them “British Airways”.   The response was “Sure – terminal 2….please wait for the shuttle”.  I waited for about 20-minutes and finally the shuttle was there.  Well we boarded, and made it to the airport, but to Terminal 2E!!! We were told here you are for your flights….I asked them “Is British airways here?” the response was “yes”

Come to find out – indeed – BA was in Terminal 2 – but Terminal 2A…. A helpful airport employee smiled and said – “you better hurry…you have a bit of a walk ahead of you”

I guess I needed it – indeed, it took quite the walk to make it from 2E to 2A…. But my frustration was with the Hilton staff.   I bet there are plenty of guests who fly BA

Why not drive to the proper terminal to start with?   Hopefully someone from Hilton will see my gripe and do something about it.

Posted in British Airways, Hotel Information, Hotel Reviews, Travel Outside of China | Tagged , | Leave a comment

British Airways Rude to Disbelief Flight Attendant

Air travel these days is definitely less than glamorous but on top of that it some cases it could be also very disappointing.  There have been many articles highlighting the fact that flight attendants are becoming increasingly frustrated with their jobs, but what happened to me 2 days ago on a British Airways flight BA307 from Charles de Gaulle (Paris) to London Heathrow, was very disappointing – I encountered a very rude flight attendant.

I boarded the plane pretty tired. Before we even took off, I had fallen asleep while also listening to music from my iPhone with noise cancelling headphones on.  Sometime later I woke up – just at the time when a flight attendant was passing small bags of potato chips (crisps) as snacks.  I picked up one and as I noticed that my seat mates had drinks on their seat tables – I asked for a glass of sparkling water.

What happened next was unbelievable – to me, and to my seatmates… The flight attendant – male, his name tag read ‘Alex’ – stared at me and uttered “Well, I asked you what would you like to drink several times a moment ago and you just ignored me…”

Really ? 

I have never heard this is my flying experience – this flight attendant was ready to spank me or worse !  Hate to see this dude if he was really annoyed …!

After he berated me with words – Alex (the flight attendant) just walked away…

I waited for a minute or two and I pressed the call button.   To my second surprise, nothing happened again!   

This is an incredible attitude and lack of service !

Saturday Night Live skit from several years ago is a perfect example of my experience – British Airways flight attendant must have taken a page our of SNL’s skit and applied incredibly successfully!

David spade was the  epitome of the BA flight attendant !!!!

We love to ignore you !  Is the motto for this British Airways crew member…!

Well folks, if you have had similar experience, feel free to post or drop a comment on this blog – I plan to aggregate and let BA know – all in all my experience was something no passenger on any reputable airline should have to experience!

Posted in Airlines, British Airways | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Istanbul Blog: Day One Itinerary

Istanbul Blog:  Here I will publish a set of postings to help you organize a multi-day adventure around this diverse and interesting city.  I first visited the city and the Bosphorus in the summer of 2013 and at that time did a very fast run through several of the major sites and important trips which only made me and my family decide to come back for an extensive visit.

So, this July we decided to make that special trip and spend time in the city, visit the major sites but do so at a very slow pace and enjoy the experience.  To that effect we devised an agenda (as much as possible) ahead of time.

That included several specific sites to be scheduled in each of our 5 days in the city.  Here is the itinerary we finally ended up running with:

  • Day 1:  Bosphorus Trip
  • Day 2: Turns out our Day 2 fell on a Tuesday, and as it turns out further, the Sultanhamet / Topokapi – Old Palace – is closed on Tuesday;   Long story short, as a result we ended up visiting Hagia Sophia – which is an amazing old church where you can find the amalgamation of multiple cultural and religious influences.  Very impressive
  • Turkey-Istanbul-Hagia-Sophia

    Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

    Hagia Sophia to Blue Mosque

    Looking from a Hagia Sophia window

  • Day 3:The day to visit Topkapi Palace – yes, it does take an incredibly long day to see all the wonders of the palace and enjoy the splendid views of the Bosphorus from the many verandas (my name for the terraces that exists in many corners of the palace and overlook the city and the Bosphorus).    So plan for a long day, bring lots of water, cool clothes if you are visiting in the summer, and of course many cameras – tons of great photo opportunities.   See here – just a couple of shot, but you get the picture :-) right…?
Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul 

This is one of the terraces from which you can get a great view and photo shots of the Galata bridge, Galata tower, and many other interesting sites in the area





  • Day 4: You can decide to explore the Asia side of Istanbul.  For that all you need to do is get a ferry ticket and cross to Kadikoy.  While on the Asian side – visiting Kadikoy, you can certainly experience the bit slower side of the city, have some good food and then return back to other parts of the city

Kadikoy Street

These are just some ideas of what and how while visiting Istanbul…. Enjoy! Drop me a note with questions…

Posted in Observations, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Delta Airlines – Economy Seats on Some Domestic MD80-S80 Planes

There have been many articles over the last year about the incredible shrinkage of the economy seats on many US airlines.  Well this week I had 4 flights on American Airlines and 2 flights on Delta airlines.   Interestingly enough the two flights on Delta were both on MD80 / S80 aircraft, but seating wise (both in economy) wow, were they different.

Delta Airlines  Delta Airlines

As you can tell from the photos above (hopefully some idea) my knees were cramped into the seat infront of me.   There was NO ROOM whatsoever between my knees and the back of the seat infront of me.  And I was sitting completely flush with the seat and back of my seat – no slumping or reclining.  Most of the flight (which thanks for small mercies) was only an hour or so in duration I spent as if sitting at attention in the principle’s office.  All in all a terrible experience!

The reason I think this was specially configured for density plane is that my second flight that same day was on a MD80 as well but this time on an older plane and one where I had at least 2 inches between my knees and the seat back infront of me.

Go figure!  I love the old plane(s) I guess and good luck to all of us on a new Delta plane….Or reach deeper into your wallet and pay for that upgraded seat…!

What a shame…!

Posted in Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frequent Flyer | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Bosphorus

The Bosphorus – views and link to a short iBook


The many views of the Bosphorus

Posted in Observations, Photo Gallery, Photo_Blog, Turkey | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Climbing to Cruising Altitude

flying the friendly skies

Posted in Frequent Flyer | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo, Autograph Collection

The Prince Sakura Tower: Renovated Hotel, but Value for Money is Average

Prince Sakura TowerI have stayed in this hotel quite a few times since 2005. The hotel was renovated recently – in the last year or so, my last stay was actually in the Prince Takanawa hotel near by as this property was being redesigned.
The new furnishings and overall setup is definitely nicer. But there are some issues that I wish were resolved – and to be honest make me wonder was the redesign just cosmetic…?
My biggest issue – the shower in the bathroom. Take this
* the rooms are large
* clean, new carpets
* comfortable bed

But the bathrooms are small and the showers tiny!!! More about the showers:
* In a upscale / expensive hotel – why would you put a shower that is really 1980s?
* There is hardly a spot / shelf to put more than a bar of soap — Why? I had to put the small bottles of shampoo over the frame of the shower door as the small shelf was occupied by a soap and a razor…that’s it…

Additionally, I was very surprised not to find electrical outlets that can work with US plugs. In most hotels I have stayed, at least at the desk you will find power outlets that accomdate multiple standards including US ones for electrical outlets – but not in this hotel.
So, if it is a hotel accomodating business travellers – why not put at least a couple of outlets with more than just Japanese standard???? Very strange and inconsiderate
Further on the fit for a business hotel – the hotel room has a desk area (rudimentary I may add, but it is what it is), but no phone at the desk…! Another strange configuration I must say…What do you think? Would you want to have a phone on the desk? If you are like me – you have multiple business related conference calls and those usually require you to reference material from your laptop. So in the Price Sakura Tower hotel your option for a business conference call is the bed!!! Why? The phone is on the bed side table, NOT on the desk.

So good luck hunching over your laptop as you talk on a short cord telephone…
(I wish there was at least a cordless phone…)

So, my overall assessment – if you are a business traveler and if you have options, look for another hotel…!

Posted in Hotel Information, Hotel Reviews, Japan, Observations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Japan: Senso-Ji Temple and Nakamise Street

Sakusa-Senso-Ji-TempleJapan: Senso-Ji Temple and Nakamise Street

On a recent business travel to Japan I managed to squirrel away one half day, and to enjoy that going out in the city and looking for ancient times Tokyo.

Needless to say, this was not an easy choice given that there are tons of places to see in the city.  I had an additional task from my family – “…buy a yukata present for us”!  So having two difficult objectives, of course I turned to my hotel concierge services with the all important question – “…I have only 3 hours.  Where do I find a good yukata and how do acquire them..”?

I was told that the Nakamise street sells tons of traditional Japanese arts and crafts products and is a good place to look for those yukatas I needed to purchase.



Early in the morning along Nakamise Sttreet

Nakamise street is located in the Asakusa area – and yes, as you can imagine, it is located on the Asakusa Line.  The shopping street has approximately 50-stores and majority of them deal / sell traditional wares including many ornamental / souvenir items


Off Nakamise Street


Early Morning on Nakamise-Street

On the same street you will also find yourself looking at a great temple – actually THE OLDEST temple in Tokyo – the Senso-Ji Temple.


Entrance to the Senso-Ji Temple from Nakamise Street


A View from the Main Hall of the Senso-Ji Temple

So, you went to Nakamise street to find some good souvenirs and ended up being told the story of Tokyo’s oldest temple and worship another half an hour…

As I understood, the temple is VERY old – it was established (with its initial worship hall) in and around 645 AD, by a Buddhist priest. Over the centuries, the temple has continued to be used both as a pilgrimage site as well as a worship place;  On the day I visited, the place was already mobbed around 10 am. – tons of people and as a result actually not very pleasant to stroll around – eventhough the grounds are beautifully landscaped – the large number of people made it less than attractive for my stroll.   Here are a few more photos from the temple:


The prayer hall of the Senso-ji Temple


Map of the Senso-Ji Temple (courtesy one – I snapped an image inside the temple grouds)


Five Storied Pagoda

Finally, to the most important questions: Fee?  No!  It is FREE!!!;   Operation Hours:  Apparently it is open from 6:00 to 17:00; but the grounds are always open;

Posted in Japan, Observations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Narita to Shinagawa – When Your Plane Arrives Late at Night

If you are traveling to Japan and Narita specifically, you will need to consider options for how to get to your hotel or other destination into Tokyo.  Most often used methods of getting from the airport to many destinations in town are

  • the Airport Limousine (bus shuttle service)
  • the Narita Express (NEX) train – from Narita to Shinagawa for example;

On a recent trip, I flew in from Taipei into Narita.  My flight was supposed to arrive at Narita around 8:30pm;  However, the flight was delayed and I actually arrived around 9:30pm and as a result once I walked out into the international arrivals hall and got to the Airport Limousine bus to buy a ticket – I was told “no more busses…”

Turns out the busses that go to the hotels around the Shinagawa station left at 8:35pm as the last service.  So I was more than an hour late.

Next, I tried to get on the Narita Express — turns out – the situation was the same:  No train beyond 8:30 or so;

Now, you (like me) may ask “Why?  Who stops service so early in the evening?” etc.   But at the end of the day – it is what it is…. What do you do then?

I was able to get alternate route – which requres transfers but it worked well.  Here it is:

  • From Narita, buy ticket at the JR train booth/office for the SKYLINER express train. You will ride this train to the Nippori station;
  • At Nippori you need to look for the JR Yamanote line; Before you get to it you will need to get a fare adjustment; Nippori to Shinagawa should be around 200 Yen;   Then the train will be most likely on platform 10 (headed to Ueno);

In case you need to look for characters on the signs – for Shinagawa, those are 品川駅 (meaning Shinagawa Station) or just 品川 (Shinagawa);


Shinagawa Station at Night

Once you make it to the station, several hotels are within walking distance – for example, the Prince Sakura Tower;

Posted in Hotel Information, Observations, Travel Outside of China | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Istanbul, a Few Photos a Day – Installment 3

Istanbul – and the experience from visiting this great city, continue…

I hope you are not tired of these postings – and hopefully, the photos being uploaded via them are interesting enough to capture your imagination and influence a decision to travel and visit this interesting city…

So, here comes installment number 3 – the previous ones are visible here

Now of course it is time to post the next set – this time with views from a high point (hill) in the city – the Bomonti district, which sits high enough in Istanbul, allowing a visitor staying in one of the area hotels to get a very nice view of the city in many directions – towards Topkapi and the Blue Mosque, or towards the Bosphorus and its bridges or just into the new city itself.


Sunset in Bomonti, Istanbul


Another sunset view from Istanbul, Bomonti



View of the Bosphorus from the Bomonti Hilton


Look at the Gates and you can imagine the lavishness inside…

Well, enjoy you travels and think, think – when do I visit Istanbul…..

Posted in Frequent Flyer, Observations, Photo Gallery, Photo_Blog, Travel Outside of China, Turkey | Tagged , , | Leave a comment