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Travel

Athens Guide: Eat, Drink, See and Sleep

Dexamenes Seaside Hotel

Last week I flew to Athens for a quick getaway and I fell in love with the city. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid in the 80s so it was basically my first time. The ticket was around 140KD on Kuwait Airways, and it was a short 3 1/2 hour flight so I definitely want to go back again. Below is a quick guide of all the favorite spots I found which I think you’d also like:

Birdman

Eat
I had my best meal at Cherchez La Femme (@kafeneioncherchezlafemme), a small cafe serving greek food in tapa sizes so you can mix and match. Sushimou (no insta) was a great (and affordable) sushi bar serving an omakase menu. The owner and masterchef (@thalis) was named the world’s 100 top chefs. Do Birdman (@birdmanathens) for a Japanese grill with great music and drinks or their sister location Ekiben (@ekibenathens) for a quick bite. For breakfast go to the picturesque cafe Minu (@minu.athens). Head to Wild Souls (@wildsoulsgr) to pick up gifts for friends, and if you’re there in the summer, go to Oggi (@oggiathens) for the best gelato.

ANÄNA Coffee | Food

Drink
Dope Roasting Co (@doperoasting), Anana (@ananacoffeefood), Motiv (@motivathens) and Behold Theman (@behold_theman) were my favorite coffee shops. If you want a place to sit in a garden and enjoy a few drinks, six d.o.g.s (@sixdogsgr) was super chill.

See
KORI (@kori.gr) have lots of beautiful jewelry and ceramic pieces by Greek designers and artists. DangerousMinds (@dangerousminds.gr) if you’re looking for streetwear while Eating +he Goober (@eatingthegoober) is a very cool greek contemporary clothing brand. The Naxos Apothecary (@thenaxosapothecary) is a Greek fragrances and body creams store which is their equivalent to Aesop. Finally, visit the hidden but very scenic neighborhood of Anafiotika which surprisingly isn’t overrun by tourists.

the foundry suites

Sleep
There were a lot of great hotel options but I ended up staying at The Foundry Suites (@thefoundrysuitesathens), a hip boutique hotel with just 12 rooms in a neighborhood full of cafes and antique stores and is not busy with tourists (@perianthhotel was my Plan B). I also spent a night at the Dexamenes Seaside Hotel (@dexamenes) which I would highly recommend. Technically not in Athens because it’s over 3 hours away, but definitely worth it. Rent a car and drive, the road is chill and very photogenic.

Like all my travel guides, this is a curated list with most places being off the beaten path and not packed with tourists. Use it to supplement your own things to do list. Also with some restaurant you need to book in advance so keep that in mind. Also in case you missed them, check out my previous travel guides for Barcelona and Istanbul.

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Travel

New Dining Area in Terminal 4

Theres now a new dining seating area in the Kuwait Airway terminal T4. It opened on the ground floor across from Shake Shack and is meant to serve everyone and not a specific restaurant.

One thing I’d love to see at T4 is an automated bag drop off station. It’s super easy to print out boarding passes from the various machines around the airport but if you’re carrying any sort of luggage that you need to check in, you still end up having to wait in a long line with people who haven’t checked in.

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Travel

Armenia Now Just a Quick 2-Hour Flight Away

The Armenian national carrier, Fly Arna now flies direct to Kuwait twice a week. The flight from Kuwait to Armenia is only around 2 hours long and ticket prices start at 82KD.

I went to Armenia back in 2020 and loved it although I might be a bit biased since I’m half Armenian. The food was amazing, there was a lot to see, and the city gave off a great vibe. I’d put a travel guide together although I’m not sure it would be accurate since I went just pre-Covid so might have to head there again for a few days again just to revisit some places.

If you’re looking for a new, interesting and close destination to fly to, this is it. To book a ticket or check the prices, visit flyarna.com

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Travel

Kuwait Airways World’s Most Improved Airline for 2023

Kuwait Airways was recently named the “World’s Most Improved Airline in 2023” according to Skytrax, the airline and airport review and ranking site. This was the second year in a row that Kuwait Airways won the ‘World’s Most Improved Airline’ award. Last year, Kuwait Airways moved up from 179th place to 76th place, and this year they moved up to 42nd place.

Singapore Airlines won the top airline award for 2023 while Qatar came in 2nd, Emirates 4th, Saudi Arabian Airlines 23rd, Oman Air 27th, and Gulf Air 32nd.

Categories
Information Travel

Istanbul Guide: Eat, Drink, See & Sleep

I’m currently in Istanbul and I’m assuming a lot of people are coming here for Eid so this is a quick guide of all my favorite spots:

Eat
My favorite breakfast spot is Namlı Gurme (@namligurme) which also recently opened in Kuwait. Yeni Lokanta (@yeni.lokanta) is my favorite restaurant here and is based on Turkish cuisine but deconstructed into more contemporary and exciting versions (book ahead of time). Kase No16 (@kase.no16) is a cozy spot located in a trendy neighborhood and has good music, street side seating and great food. Il Cortile (@ilcortileistanbul) is a great Italian place located in a beautiful courtyard. Finally, Borsam Taşfırın (@borsamtasfirin) is a hole in the wall bakery serving probably the best lahmajoun in Istanbul.

Drink
Petra Roasting Company (@petracoffee) is my favorite brand of coffee shops in Istanbul but the one I visit the most is in the Topagci neighborhood. There is another good one in that area called Cup of Joy (@cupofjoy_istanbul) which I usually prefer if I want to sit outdoors. If you’re more of a tea person, Viyana Kavesi (@viyanakahvesi) have multiple locations around Istanbul but really you’ll be going there for their San Sebastian cheesecake. For just tea, Burası Kahveci (@burasikahveci) is my an unassuming hole in the wall option.

See
Salt Beyoğlu (@salt_beyoglu) is my must go exhibition space when I’m here since they tend to have very interesting things happening. The Istanbul Toy Museum (@istanbuloyuncakmuzesi) is located in a large house, a completely random thing to visit but I love toys so I found it fascinating. The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (@istanbulmodern) just opened last month in their new spot by the sea and is worth checking. For fashion, Shopi Go (@shopi_go) is my favorite place with a great sneaker collection and selection of clothes. Wunder (@wunder) is another good spot near it. If you like Aesop, Homemade Aromaterapi (@homemadearomaterapi) is Turkey’s version.

Sleep
This is easy, Soho House (@sohohouseistanbul), I can’t recommend a better hotel. Other than the fact the hotel is beautiful and their Club House next door is my favorite place to end the day, the hotel service is incredible with the staff always going above and beyond. The rooftop of the Club House is also now open for the summer so you can head there to watch the sunset and enjoy the music.

Categories
Travel

Barcelona Guide: Eat, Drink, See & Sleep

I was in Barcelona for a friends wedding last week hence the lack of any updates, but I’m finally back in Kuwait again and I’ve got a bunch of interesting posts lined up for this week. Since Kuwait Airways will start flying to Barcelona at the end of summer, I wanted to share a Barcelona guide which you can bookmark and use if you ever decide to head there (you should).

Eat
El Xampanyet (@el_xampanyet), Cal Pep (@calpepbcn) and La Plata (@barlaplata) were definitely my favorite places for tapas. With El Xampanyet and Cal Pep expect to wait in line, with La Plata just go stand at the bar and order fried fish.

Other notable places, my favorite gelato place is Oggi (@oggibarcelona). I also had lunch at the Michelin Star Japanese restaurant Koy Shunka (@koyshunka) as well as dinner at their sister Japanese restaurant Shunka (@shunka_bcn). For both I had to book online before I got to Barcelona. Between the two I preferred Shunka because all I ever want is nigiris.

Drink
Oddly not that many third-wave coffee shops in Barcelona but my three favorites were Nomad (@nomadcoffee), Casa Taos (@casa.taos) and Skye (@skyecoffeeco). There are a lot of bars all over the city and most have non-alcoholic cocktails so if you don’t drink you can still visit and experience places like Paradiso (@paradiso_barcelona) which was voted the #1 bar in the world.

See
I can’t list everything to see obviously but here are a few that you might not find in your regular Barcelona guide. If you like flea markets then Mercat dels Encants Barcelona (@encantsbarcelona) is a great looking one to visit. The nicest sneaker store in Barcelona is Solebox (@solebox) and my favorite sunglass brand is Wilde (@wildesunglasses). Finally if you’re into vintage furniture then check out Noak Room (@noakroom).

Sleep
I stayed at The Hoxton Hotel (@thehoxtonhotel) located in the trendy neighborhood of Poblenou. Not a lot of tourists in that area, its a 5 minute walk to the metro and there are some very cool places near the hotel. If you do want to stay in a more touristic area, Sir Victor Hotel (@sirhotels) was my Plan B and that’s located in a more popular area.

Categories
Travel

Update: Biometric Scanning when Entering Kuwait

Just a quick update on yesterdays post. After watching all the snapchat videos of people stuck at the Saudi Kuwait borders for hours, I spent the whole drive from Riyadh to Kuwait anxious about how long I’d be stuck there for. I figured if I arrived to the border around 3:30, I would probably leave around 6 because of the long queues. Well that didn’t happen.

I ended up arriving to the Saudi – Kuwait border around 2:30pm. The Saudi side of the border was pretty much empty, I didn’t have to wait at any of the passport control windows and just drove through basically. When I arrived to the Kuwait borders thats where I saw the long queue. Two lines of cars stretching maybe 15-20 cars long. Not as bad I was expecting it to be based on the videos I had watched. As I was getting ready to settle in for the long wait, a border control officer sees my car plates and waves to me to skip the queue and head straight down to the passport control window. Turns out cars with Kuwaiti plates didn’t have to wait in this line.

I moved out of the long queue and drove up to one of the free passport control windows, gave the guy my passport, he stamped it and I was done. No biometric scanning or anything. I was worried I was going to spend hours at the border and it ended up taking me less than 15 minutes to cross over, the fastest it’s ever taken me. I’m not sure whats going on, maybe they were forcing everyone to get a biometric scan but the lines were crazy long so now they’re just doing it for non residents?

A reader who landed in Kuwait on Sunday wrote that when he arrived, only the Kuwait/GCC queue at passport control were getting biometric scanning while expats weren’t. I’m assuming this is a soft rollout and eventually everyone is going to get scanned.

Categories
Travel

Biometric Scanning when Entering Kuwait

While driving out of Kuwait on Sunday morning I noticed huge traffic on the way into Kuwait. I thought it was weird because the border is usually empty in the morning. I later found out the traffic was because of the new biometric scanning. Every person entering Kuwait now has to get their iris, face and finger prints scanned. This applies at every entry port including the airport.

A friend landed in Kuwait yesterday and had to go through the process. I’m heading back to Kuwait today and going by the videos on Snapchat I’m worried I’m going to be stuck at the border for hours. Looks chaotic!

Update: I’m back in Kuwait and posted an update.

Categories
Travel

More Photos of the 1966 Kuwait Airways Plane Crash

Last year I posted about the 1966 Kuwait Airways plane crash after finding a photo of it. You can check that post out here. Recently I came across more photos of the accident and so decided I’d share them here.

On 30 June 1966, the Trident 1E registration 9K-ACG was destroyed when it crashed 4KM short of the runway at Kuwait International. The plane was on its way back from Beirut when the plane descended at a high rate and the pilot didn’t follow the proper regulations. No lives were lost. Source

Categories
Travel

The Cost of Driving from Kuwait to Dubai

With the long weekend approaching you might have considered traveling to Dubai but were put off by the high ticket prices. If you’re more than one person and like road trips, you should consider driving to Dubai. There are a number of benefits including:

  • You leave and come back when you want
  • You can purchase large items and bring them back
  • No weight limit
  • You don’t need to rent a car while there
  • You can save quite a bit the more people in the car
  • The long drive is therapeutic

I’ve previously done the trip and I’m planning to do it again this Eid since I need to bring back a bunch of things with me. Here is how much I paid for car insurance at the borders and for fuel. This is with a Toyota Hilux so depending on your car’s fuel economy, it could be a bit less:

Saudi to UAE Boarder
11 KD – Saudi car Insurance
22.500 KD – Fuel

UAE Border to Dubai
17.5 KD – UAE car Insurance
20 KD – Fuel

On the return:

Dubai to Saudi Border
40 KD – Fuel

Saudi Border to Kuwait
19 KD – Fuel

Total: 130 KD

Considering the cheapest airline ticket right now is around 150 KD, if you road trip with a friend, split the cost, and not have to pay for a rental or cab while in Dubai, the savings can be big. And then you have all the other benefits I mentioned earlier so it’s kinda a no brainer… if you’re fine driving for 12 hours that is.

For a more detailed write up about the drive, click here.

Categories
Travel

Kuwait Airways Launches Electronic Boarding Pass, but Not in Kuwait

Last week, Kuwait Airways launched the Electronic Boarding Pass feature, but oddly, not for Kuwait. It’s pretty strange, I thought it might be because the immigration department needed a physical boarding pass to stamp, but even if you’re just transiting, Kuwait Airways is requiring a physical pass.

On the bright side, it does mean I can now fly out of Dubai a lot more conveniently. One of the disadvantages of flying with Kuwait Airways over Emirates was the fact I had to wait in a queue at the Kuwait Airways check-in desk to get my boarding pass. Now I can just get the digital one when I check in online and then zip through the E-gate as soon as I get to the airport. No waiting in line to check in, and no waiting in line for immigration.

To find out which airports accept the Kuwait Airways E-Pass, click here.

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Interesting Travel

What a 4,500KD a Night Hotel Room Looks Like

Back in February, I got a tour of a 2,000KD-a-night hotel room but a friend told me there was a more luxurious 4,500KD-a-night room at the St.Regis. So I got in touch with them and after a bit of back and forth getting all the approvals, yesterday I finally got a tour of their 4,500KD-a-night Amiri Suite.

The 400sqm suite was designed to be a luxurious home away from home for royalty, diplomats, and celebrities. The suite can’t be booked online only by phone. It has a beautiful view of JACC and a lot of features including:

  • Master Bedroom
  • Barber Area
  • Meeting Room
  • Video Conference Room
  • Large Dining Area
  • Massage Room
  • Fitness Area
  • Sauna and Steam Room

Unless someone proves me wrong, I believe this has to be the most expensive hotel room in Kuwait. If you want to see some nicer photos of the room, they a few on the @stregiskuwait website. Link

Categories
Travel

Watch Paul vs Fury in Riyadh this Holiday

If you’re looking for something fun and different to do this coming holiday weekend, drive down to Riyadh for the Paul vs Fury fight. Jake Paul, the popular YouTuber turned boxer is fighting Tommy Fury, the brother of two-time heavyweight boxing world champion Tyson Fury. The event is on February 26th and ticket prices start at just 15KD.

Riyadh is just 6 hours away by car and there are plenty of things to do there. If you want fight tickets, click here.

Categories
Travel Videos

Sam Chui Flies Kuwait Airways

Sam Chui, one of the most popular aviation and travel vloggers in the world was invited to Kuwait by Kuwait Airways recently. That was a couple of weeks ago when the airline made a number of announcements including the revealing of the new flight attendant uniforms. His video of the trip just went up and there really isn’t anything revealing or controversial.

But I did find one thing odd, Sam was getting a tour of the Kuwait Airways headquarters and the CEO mentioned that the building was inspired by the stealth bomber. I thought that was an odd design decision for a civilian airline headquarters.

Categories
Travel

Fly to Rome and Back for Just 47KD

Back in October, the ultra-low-cost airline Wizz Air started flying out of Kuwait with Abu Dhabi being the first destination. Now they’re adding two more destinations, Rome and Vienna.

Starting this summer, round-trip flights to Vienna from Kuwait will start at 44KD, while flights to Rome will start at 47KD. Both destinations are direct flights, and the prices I shared don’t include add-ons like luggage or picking your seats. If you’re a Wizz Air member (easy to do), you can get the flights even cheaper.

For comparison, the cheapest ticket with Kuwait Airways to Rome is 128KD. After all the add-ons you might want with Wizz Air, expect to save around 40-50% compared to a regular airline ticket. wizzair.com