Avenues Bahrain

Post by Mark

Over the weekend I was in Bahrain and dropped by the recently opened Avenues there to check it out since I had some time to kill. It’s pretty tiny compared to Avenues Kuwait but they’ve got great outdoor seating that overlooks the bay.

I’m not sure how many phases Avenues Bahrain has, I think just two with the first phase currently the only one open. The first phase looks like Grand Avenues here in Kuwait just a bit longer and tighter. Currently not much is open there and what is open we have in Kuwait, so it’s probably not worth checking out yet.

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Flying Wataniya Airways

Post by Mark

Over the weekend I flew to Bahrain for one night and decided to take Wataniya Airways. I had booked my ticket fairly late, around 3 days before my trip and when I checked ticket prices, Gulf Air was KD68, Kuwait Airways KD50 and Wataniya Airways was KD40. Since its a short flight I went with the cheapest priced ticket. I hadn’t flown Wataniya Airways since they relaunched and so was curious to see if it was any good.

The first issue popped up 24 hours before my flight, I couldn’t check-in online. The online check-in button on their website didn’t work and when I contacted customer support they told me online check-in wasn’t possible yet. So Friday morning I woke up early and headed to the Sheikh Saad terminal so I could check-in early and choose my seat. When I got to Sheikh Saad Terminal I found out Wataniya Airways didn’t fly out from there. Neither my ticket nor the website had mentioned which airport they flew out from and since they used to fly out of Sheikh Saad Terminal before, I assumed that was still the case. It wasn’t and so I had to get back into my car and drive to the main airport instead. Wataniya Airways if you’re reading this, you need to mention what airport you fly out from on the website or the ticket!

My flight was empty with just 34 passengers so I didn’t have any trouble getting the seat I wanted. Speaking of the seats, the economy class seats looked pretty dated, they also don’t have screens nor USB or power ports. On the other hand, they did serve food and beverages on the flight although it was basic, just sandwiches and either a juice pack or a cup of water. The crew also had no issue with me using my electronic devices on takeoff and landing, some airlines still make a fuss out of this and it’s really annoying when they do, so it was a plus that they didn’t.

Would I use Wataniya Airways again? Possibly, their prices right now are pretty competitive and they’ve got offers running all the time. Last week you could have booked a ticket to Doha for free and now I just checked ticket prices to Beirut and it’s KD40 (using the coupon code SUNDAY). My only issue really is the online check-in since I like choosing my seats before I get to the airport. I could still do that but I’d have to pay for the seats and I think the first few rows are KD10 (I think I even saw KD20), and then keep dropping down in price the further you go back. When your whole ticket costs you just KD40, doesn’t make sense to pay KD20 as well on seats. Overall though it’s great having another airline to choose from.

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Renderings of the New Kuwait Airways Terminal

Post by Mark

Not to be confused with the new and huge Terminal 2 airport thats being constructed, and also not to be confused with the new Jazeera Airways terminal thats also under construction, this third terminal that’s also under construction is meant to alleviate the pressure from our current airport until the new main terminal 2 is completed sometime in 2020.

This terminal will be exclusive to Kuwait Airways and is being built adjacent to the cargo terminal. It’s expected to be completed and in operation by Q1 of next year. And yes we currently have three new terminals under construction.

For more photos and information, click [Here]

Thanks ChaoticTranquility

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Wataniya Airways to Launch Beirut Flights Next Month

Post by Mark

Kuwait Wataniya Airways announced launching flights to Beirut, Lebanon, as of November 9, with four flights weekly to and from Kuwait International Airport.[Source]

Has anyone flown with Wataniya Airways? If yes then how was your experience? They’re currently running a buy one get one free offer on all their destinations. [Link]

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Travel Essential: Amazon Fire Stick

Post by Mark

One the most essential items I now pack when traveling is my little Amazon Fire Stick. The Fire Stick is a tiny streaming media device thats a bit larger than a USB memory stick and has NetFlix, Hulu, Amazon Video, HBO GO and more all installed on it. Unlike my Apple TV, the Fire Stick is a lot more portable and easier to connect since you just plug the stick directly into an empty HDMI and USB port behind the TV. Whenever I check into a hotel or airbnb, one of the first things I do after unpacking is just plugging my Stick into the TV and connecting it to the wifi so I can have access to all my TV shows.

The only reason I don’t use my Fire Stick instead of the Apple TV at home is because it’s a bit sluggish compared to the Apple TV and I tend to AirPlay a lot of things from my phone or MacBook onto the Apple TV which I can’t do with the Fire Stick. Well actually that’s not accurate, I did get an app that enables AirPlay on the Fire Stick but its pretty buggy and doesn’t work the way it should every time. But anyway, one of the best things about the Fire Stick is the price, it costs just KD12 on Amazon so it’s not that big of an investment. Also if you have Amazon Prime then you already have access to Amazon Video (and music) so you don’t really need Netflix or Hulu if you don’t want them.

If you’re interested in picking one up, here is the link for it on [Amazon]

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Jazeera Airways Reveals New Interior

Post by Mark

Jazeera Airways recently rebranded their identity, and as part of the rebranding process, Jazeera revealed they will also be giving their plane interiors a new look.

One of the biggest complaints about their current interiors is how aged they look so the facelift is a much needed one. They’re still sticking with leather seats but instead of the light grey color they’re currently using, they’ll instead be going with a blue tone.

The new interior is currently being rolled out and the whole process should be completed before the end of the year.

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The New Jazeera Airways Terminal

Post by Mark

This new terminal is currently being constructed to the left of the existing airport and is expected to be completed sometime next year. This terminal is completely different from the new airport/terminal that is being constructed near the Sheikh Saad Airport.

The Jazeera Airways Airport Terminal aims to both alleviate the current overcrowding at Kuwait International Airport and meet the requirements of travelers in Kuwait for many more years to come.

One of the largest-scale and most important infrastructure projects currently under construction in Kuwait, the new terminal will divert 1.5 million passengers a year from the extremely busy airport once it opens in early 2018. This will increase to over 2.5 million travelers per year in the next few years.

I couldn’t find any more pictures but you could read more about the design over [Here]

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Kuwait Airways Ranked the Noisiest and Dirtiest Airline at Heathrow

Post by Mark

A few days ago, Heathrow released its latest “Fly Quiet and Clean” report which shows which airlines are using the quietest and cleanest aircrafts at their airport. The report also shows which airlines are using the noisiest and dirtiest (pollution wise) aircrafts and Kuwait Airways topped that list.

At first I thought it was because Kuwait Airways was flying their old planes to London but I just checked the route while writing up this post and they’re actually flying their new 777 planes. Since this report is for Q2 of this year which runs from April to June, I figured Kuwait Airways might have been running their older 747 planes back then. So I asked a friend of mine who’s a flight attendant with Kuwait Airways and flies the Kuwait London route and I was right. Kuwait Airways has only been using their new 777 plane on that route for just the past two months. This means Kuwait Airways should end up much higher on the list in the next report because of their quieter and less polluting new planes.

Anyway you can see the full rankings over [Here]

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Airport Taxi Car #1

Post by Mark

Just a random tidbit. If you’re ever taking an official airport taxi back home keep a lookout for taxi car #1 (they’re marked on the side). The cab is easy to spot and you’ve probably already seen it before since its the only one with a satellite dish on the roof. The cab is driven by Abou Ali who is currently the longest working taxi driver at the airport. He originally started picking up passengers from the airport back in 1964, before the current airport even existed. That’s more than 50 years ago if you can’t do the math.

I actually used to dislike taking airport cabs back home since they seemed to always avoid highways. But most of the drivers are actually pretty interesting to talk to since they’ve all been working at the airport for many years and have tons of interesting stories to share. So next time you take an airport taxi, don’t be shy to strike up a conversation with the driver.

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Hiking Lebanon

Post by Mark

Over the years I’ve posted about different things to do in Lebanon and different places to go, but I’ve never really posted about any outdoor activities you could do (well except for paragliding and ATVing, but that was ages ago). I tend to like doing one outdoor activity whenever I go down to Lebanon, usually camping, but if I don’t have enough time then hiking. Hiking is actually something thats really easy to do in Lebanon and doesn’t require much in terms of prep, you just need transportation and a good pair of hiking shoes (or old sneakers). If you’re interested in hiking the next time you’re in Lebanon, below are two places I highly recommend.

Tannourine Cedars Forest Nature Reserve
The Tannourine reserve is a really great place to go hike and for a number of reasons. Firstly if you enjoy driving then you’ll enjoy the drive to the Tannourine village. The roads are long and winding with beautiful views so I’d highly recommend you rent a convertible for it. Secondly because the reserve is so high up the mountain, even during hot summer months the weather up there is bearable. Finally and most importantly, the reserve is beautiful and filled with huge cedar trees throughout the trail.

The reserve is also pretty well organized. The website isn’t that great but once you get to the reserve you get handed a map at the entrance along with a explanation of all the trails available. There are three trails available with the shortest lasting an hour and the longest nearly three hours. The hike isn’t that difficult although there are some areas that are steep, so you need to be a bit fit or else you’re gonna keep stopping for breaks. The trails are also clearly marked with wide paths and various signs at various intersections so it’s really difficult to get lost. The entrance fee is just 5,000LL (KD1) and the reserve is on Google Maps so it’s really easy to find. For more information you can check out the reserve website [Here]

Shouf Biosphere Reserve
The Shouf reserve is really easy to get to if you’re staying in the Beirut area. If you try to head to the Tannourine reserve during the middle of the week it could easily take you up to 3 hours while the Shouf reserve would take you half that. Like the Tannourine reserve, there are 3 main hiking trails with the shortest lasting just 20 minutes and the longest over 3 hours. But the trails are pretty tough due to the fact that the first half involves a very steep uphill climb to get to the top of the mountain. The trail is actually so tough that you really don’t get to enjoy the beautiful forest until you start making your way back down. The trails also aren’t clearly marked and there are barely any signs. Most of the time you’ll wonder if you’re heading in the right direction or if you’ve veered off the trail and are heading into the middle of nowhere. But its because of that I like this trail, it’s more exciting and feels like a proper adventure. You’ll spend a lot of time on the trail second guessing yourself, wondering if you should have gone left instead of right or right instead of left.

The biosphere’s website is also pretty well put together with a lot of information on all the different trails available as well as information on where to stay or where to eat in the area. The entrance fee to the reserve is 7,000LL and its also easy to find on Google Maps. For more information you can check out the biosphere website [Here]

If you’re really into hiking and camping, and have a bit of time then you could attempt one of the official Lebanese Mountain Trail hikes. The LMT trail is 470km long and divided up into 26 sections. You can get more information on the LMT by clicking [Here]

Like I mentioned at the start of the post, whats great about the two reserves I shared is that they’re easy to get to and very doable if you’re in Lebanon for the just the weekend. It’s a perfect escape from the city and great stress reliever. And best of all, both reserves are close enough that you’ll still have enough time to get back to the city and party after sundown.

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