In a few hours I’m heading to Geneva courtesy of the watchmaker Audemars Piguet. The local dealer is sending some of their customers to the main Audemars Piguet headquarters in Switzerland and I was lucky enough to be invited as well. I’m a huge AP fan and I’ve always wanted to visit the Vallée de Joux area (pictured above) where all the prestigious watchmakers are located so this trip should turn out to be amazing.
Once I get there I’ll be getting a local sim card so I could continue to post pictures on Instagram whenever I find anything interesting. As usual you could follow me by adding me on instagram, my username is mark248am or you can check out my pictures with your web browser by clicking [Here]
If you’re ever in the Beirut Souk in Downtown Beirut then you have to check out the old Greek and Roman (I think) ruins which are preserved underneath the souk. Instead of demolishing the ruins they built on top of them so while you’re walking in the modern souk there are openings and spaces where you can can see the old ruins. I think thats a great way of preserving the old without sacrificing the new.
I’m at the airport right now and I just noticed the Alshaya section past emigration is going to be huge. Their section will have Starbucks, Potbelly and Pinkberry but I just noticed they’ve actually built a second floor on top of the place. Pretty cool.
Not sure why it took them so long but Jazeera Airways now has online check-in. What this means is you could now choose your seats and check-in to your flight before arriving to the airport and then just drop off your luggage at their fast baggage-drop counter instead of waiting in the long line with everyone else. [Link]
The last day when I was in London I decided to try their public bike rentals. I was worried it was going to be a bit complicated riding around a city I didn’t really know but it actually turned out to be a lot more fun that way. First of all the bike are very cheap to rent costing one pound for 24 hours and no other costs if you use the bike for 30 minute intervals. The rental process is automated using a touch screen and credit card and once you’re done paying for the bike you get a code which you punch into the bike to release the lock.
Me and Nat picked up our bikes from the corner of Hyde Park and rode across to the other side before returning the bike to another bike dock. We then crossed the street to shop a bit and when we were done we picked up new bikes from a different bike dock further down the street. Since I had already paid for 24 hours worth I just placed my card in the machine which recognized me right away and printed out new codes to release 2 new bikes. We then rode down passed Buckingham Palace where we stopped to watch a ceremony and then proceeded to head down towards the river.
Because we were on bikes we were covering a lot of area much more quicker than if we were walking. We also rode in areas we would usually skip by taking the subway so that allowed us to see and discover new things. The fact they have a lot of bike docks all over makes it easy to pick up a bike when you need one and drop off the bikes when you’re done. So next time you’re in London try renting a bike, it’s worth trying out.
Just a tip. If you’re traveling to London and are planning on getting VAT refunds at the airport on your way out then make sure you get to the airport 5 or 6 hours early. Seriously. It seems Travelex, the company that handles the VAT refunds at the airport actually deliberately try to be very slow so that you give up waiting and leave without collecting your refund. I arrived to the airport 3 hours ahead of my flight and first thing I did was stand in a super long line before check in to get my refund but the line wasn’t moving. I spent around an hour and moved only 2 or 3 spots and I estimated I had at least another 2 to 3 hours just get to the front of the line. In the end I gave up and decided to get the refund as credit on my credit card, a simpler process which involved passing the forms to the manager stationed there but not receiving any kind of delivery proof or even a carbon copy of my forms. According to other people who were waiting in line they tried the credit route before and never got the refund. I didn’t really have another option.
I had a new laptop with me as well so to get a VAT refund for that you need to do it after passing immigration. Once inside I got my laptop VAT Refund document stamped but then had to wait another hour and half in line to get the cash refund for that. It’s the same line you need to stand in by the way once you get your forms stamped in the first super long line before immigration. I ended up collecting my refund just as they were announcing the final call for my flight. So make sure you get to the airport a lot earlier then you think you need.
I’m really not a museum type of guy but I have to highly recommend the British Museum in London. I passed by because I was in the area and curious but I’m really glad I did. The museum is HUGE, I think it’s the largest museum I’ve ever been to, actually I’m sure it is. It’s a maze of rooms after rooms filled with so much random stuff from all over the world that you’re bound to find something that interests you. Nat enjoyed the Egyptian mummies while my favorite section was the old watches and clocks but even the Japanese and Americas history section was fascinating.
What was going to be just a quick in and out tour of the museum ended up taking a couple of hours and I really was just walking from room to room barely stopping. That’s how big the place is.
The British Museum is just a few minutes off Oxford Street and entry is free.
For just £15 I was able to get a pre-paid phone line from the mobile operator 3 that lasts a month and comes with 300 minutes of talk time, 3000 SMS’s and unlimited 3G data. Works great with the iPhone and Personal Hotspot also works so you could get online in your hotel room with your laptop and avoid the hotels expensive internet rates.