Miami and South Beach (Florida Keys Trip 2014)

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Florida Keys Trip Report

We only had one day to spend in Miami. Since our flight was leaving from Miami, we had made travel arrangements to leave Key West the previous day and spend the night in Miami so we wouldn’t be rushed or worried about sitting in traffic on the Overseas Highway from Key West to Miami in order to make a flight. Instead, we drove to Miami the night before our flight and had the entire evening and following afternoon to enjoy Miami Beach.

Art Deco Walking Tour Miami

Our first stop was the Art Deco Walking Tour. The tour originated at the Art Deco Welcome Center, which was just a few blocks from our hotel, the Angler’s.

Art Deco Welcome Center in Miami Beach

We bought our tickets for the 10:30AM tour and then walked around the Welcome Center for a while, which had Art Deco-related exhibits:

Inside the Art Deco Welcome Center at Miami Beach Inside the Art Deco Welcome Center at Miami Beach Inside the Art Deco Welcome Center at Miami Beach

Then there was an announcement that the tour was beginning. Our guide began our walk down Ocean Drive in South Beach. The tour started with a stop outside the Beach Patrol Headquarters building:

Beach Patrol Headquarters Building on Art Deco tour | Miami Beach Beach Patrol Headquarters Building

Our guide was very knowledgeable and I tried to absorb as much as possible as what she was telling us, but I know I won’t do the descriptions of these buildings nearly enough justice.

Our next stop was the Congress Hotel:

Congress Hotel in South Beach Congress Hotel in South Beach

The guide explained that two buildings side-by-side in Miami Beach cannot contain too many similar design elements. In other words, when new buildings are constructed in Miami Beach, they cannot appear similar to the one next door!

Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach

We made a lengthy stop outside of this building, which used to be the home of the designer Versace. It now serves as a hotel:

Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach

I just kept snapping photos of all the amazing and gorgeous buildings along Ocean Avenue, even if they weren’t a focus or a dedicated stop on the walking tour:

Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach

Even the post office in Miami Beach is an Art Deco style!

Outside the Miami Beach Post office Art deco tour Inside the Miami Beach Post Office Art Deco Tour

The tour includes stops inside a few buildings as well, to see some of the art deco elements used in the interior designs. One of our stops included The Tides Hotel:

Outside Inside the Tides Hotel | Art Deco Walking Tour

The tour group circled back, viewing more Art Deco style buildings:

Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach Art Deco style buildings in Miami Beach

The walking tour ended where we began, at the Art Deco Welcome Center. We walked across the street and took a quick photo of the actual beach in Miami, since we hadn’t even seen it yet. (Even though our walk took us along Ocean Drive, there was almost a slight elevation from the street that blocks a view of the ocean!)

South Beach

We grabbed lunch, checked out of our hotel and put our luggage in storage, and then headed to our next stop, the Wynwood Walls!

Wynwood Walls

We took an Uber and traveled to the Wynwood Walls, an outdoor grafitti art space in Miami. (We didn’t want to worry about finding parking, hence the Uber).

Wynwood Walls entrance in Miami

This was a really cool spot. And it wasn’t terribly crowded at all (likely because it was an early Friday afternoon).

I’ll just let the photos do the talking here:

Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami

There was also an indoor space featuring the works of Peter Tunney:

Peter Tunney exhibit at Wynwood Walls in Miami Peter Tunney exhibit at Wynwood Walls Peter Tunney exhibit at Wynwood Walls

Anyway, this place was well worth the Uber drive (especially since Wynwood Walls is free to visit). I definitely recommend it if you have the opportunity to go.

Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami Wynwood Walls Graffiti Art in Miami

Ocean Drive … Drive

We took an Uber back to our hotel. We loaded up our luggage into the rental car, and we still had some time to kill before our 6:00PM flight departure. So we decided to do a drive up and down Ocean Drive. We put the roof down of our Camaro rental car and just enjoyed the drive. It’s definitely a slow drive. Lots of cars, pedestrians, and traffic lights. It’s still enjoyable, but definitely requires a lot of attention!

Driving along Ocean Drive in South Beach Driving along Ocean Drive in South Beach Driving along Ocean Drive in South Beach Driving along Ocean Drive in South Beach

We even spotted some sort of fun-looking photoshoot!

Photoshoot along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach

And that was it! We started our drive to Miami Airport. We hit a TON of traffic on the way out of Miami Beach, likely because it was rush hour. Luckily we gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport. We kept the convertible roof down on our entire drive, and we were able to see a stunning Miami sunset while stuck in traffic!

Miami sunset from highway

We dropped off our rental car, checked in for our flight, and we were on our way back home from a fantastic trip!

Angler’s Hotel Miami – Hotel Review (Florida Keys Trip 2014)

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Florida Keys Trip Report

Nearly two years ago, I stayed at a Kimpton property in Seattle, the Hotel Monaco Seattle, and man was I blown away. Before booking the reservation, I had requested a status match to the “Inner Circle” elite status of Kimpton Karma Rewards based on my Hilton Gold Status (which, apparently is now a defunct option – You need to have Hilton Diamond now for the match). Based on the Inner Circle status, I speculated that I was upgraded to a much nicer room at the Hotel Monaco in Seattle, and I was hoping that would also be the case for the Anglers Hotel (a Kimpton property) in Miami. And why yes, we were upgraded to a MOST SPECTACULAR ROOM. You can read more about how we selected our hotel room in the introduction post for the Trip Report.

Manor Villa – Two Story (Angler’s Hotel Miami Room Review)

We had originally booked a Tower Duplex Terrace King, which was going to include a hot tub on the balcony. When we checked in, we were upgraded to a Manor Villa, Two Story. It was the room I was hoping to be upgraded to, and after our dismal room at the Casa Marina Waldorf Astoria property in Key West, it was amazing to have a truly fantastic room at the Angler’s.

The room had it’s own private patio and entrance. The entrance to the patio was just a simple locked gate. Up a few stairs was the entrance to the room, and on the right of the patio was a private hot tub for 8 people.

Patio and hot tub at Manor Villa at Angler’s Hotel Miami Patio and hot tub at Manor Villa at Angler’s Hotel Miami

There were also two very comfortable lounge chairs on the private patio.

Lounge chairs and hot tub in Manor Villa suite

Next to the door to the suite were some comfortable patio chairs and a small table.

Patio chairs and table in Manor Villa suite

The suite itself was two floors. Right after entering the door, you were in the living room, which had a couch, two chairs, and a flat screen TV (about 40 inches).

Living room area in Manor Villa Suite | Angler’s Hotel Miami | Kimpton Living room area in Manor Villa Suite | Angler’s Hotel Miami | Kimpton Living room area in Manor Villa Suite | Angler’s Hotel Miami | Kimpton Living room area in Manor Villa Suite | Angler’s Hotel Miami | Kimpton

There was also a full bathroom accessible from the living room.

First floor bathroom in Manor Villa First floor bathroom in Manor Villa

An endtable on the first floor housed a Keurig coffee maker:

Coffee maker in suite

In the corner of the living room was a well-stocked bar and a spiral staircase to the second floor of the suite.

Bar and Spiral Staircase in suite Bar in room

I will say that the spiral staircase was a bit of an inconvenience for doing things like carrying luggage upstairs. But, I understand that no other type of staircase would work in that room given the space constraints. (Not that it’s a small room, but just that regular stairs take up so much space.)

Top of spiral staircase in Manor Villa

The top floor had a king size bed, ample closet space, another full bathroom, a desk with an iPhone/iPod Dock speakers, and a sitting chair. There was also another flat screen TV, probably about 32 inches.

Bedroom area of Manor Villa Suite Bedroom area of Manor Villa Suite Bedroom area of Manor Villa Suite Bedroom area of Manor Villa Suite Desk with speaker dock Closet with safe in suite

The full bathroom was great and had a decent amount of countertop space. There was a shower, but no tub (like the bathroom on the first floor). Who needs a deep soaking tub when you have that enormous hot tub on the patio anyway?

Bathroom in Manor Villa Suite at Angler’s Hotel Miami Bathroom in Manor Villa Suite at Angler’s Hotel Miami Bathroom in Manor Villa Suite at Angler’s Hotel Miami

The bathroom towels and robes were thick and luxurious.

From the second floor, we had a good view of our private patio.

Private patio at Anglers Hotel

We had just one minor complaint about our room. The top floor of the suite (the bedroom) was SO warm. We cranked up the air conditioning as high as it would go, and it was just so hot. Too hot to sleep. I was ready to go to the first floor, where it was cooler, and sleep on the sofa.

We called the front desk, and there were no maintenance folks available to take a look. So some other employee came, took a look at our thermostat that was reading 80 degrees, and did the next best thing: Offered a rotating fan. He came back quickly with a fan, plugged it in, and that made the room comfortable enough to sleep. It was November, so it wasn’t even peak summer heat or anything in Miami, so hopefully this isn’t as big of an issue other times of the year.

Angler’s Hotel Lobby and Common Areas

Like other Kimpton properties, the lobby and other common areas were hip and stylish. I (well, the both of us really) tend to feel a little out-of-place at such hip and stylish places (since I’m a dork), but the friendliness of Kimpton staff made me so much more at ease!

Check in Desk at Angler’s Hotel Lobby area at Angler’s Hotel Lobby area at Angler’s Hotel Lobby area at Angler’s Hotel

There was also a bar and a small dining seating area.

Bar and Dining Seating at Angler’s Hotel - Kimpton Bar and Dining Seating at Angler’s Hotel - Kimpton

Outdoor areas and Pool at Angler’s Hotel

In the evening, the hotel had some fantastic lighting that made the dining and lounging areas very inviting.

Nighttime view of patio at Angler’s Pool at Angler’s Hotel at night

In the daytime, the common outdoor areas looked just as fantastic.

Lounging space at Angler’s Hotel Pool at Angler’s Hotel

Hotel Exterior

The hotel is very unassuming from the street. I was worried that the hotel would be noisy because it sits right on a main street in South Beach (Miami). And, our private patio faced the street, and I thought there might not be that much privacy like when taking a dip in the hot tub on the private patio. However, the trees and landscaping were done in such a way that the hotel still felt very private.

Exterior of Angler’s Hotel in Miami Exterior of Angler’s Hotel in Miami Exterior of Angler’s Hotel in Miami Exterior of Angler’s Hotel in Miami

I also just want to point out that the hotel name is pretty small on the exterior, so we drove right past it when we were first arriving!

Bottom Line

I definitely recommend this hotel, and especially the two story Manor Villa! We paid for our stay using my Barclays Arrival Plus card, so I was able to redeem Barclays points for the entire cost of our stay! (For those not familiar, you essentially get a rebate on your statement). So our entire stay was free!

Vdara Las Vegas (Hotel Review) – Deluxe Suite

This entry is part of 3 in the series Las Vegas 2015

 

The weekend after my birthday this year, Ken and I took a long weekend trip to Las Vegas. Las Vegas is definitely a love-it or hate-it destination. We are firmly in the love-it category. There’s just so much to do, even if you don’t like gambling or drinking.

We usually stay at a different hotel each time we go. That way we can explore different parts of the Strip on foot.

This time, we opted to stay at the Vdara. Rates at Vegas hotels for that weekend were actually kind of expensive. Probably because it was Valentine’s Day weekend. But, now that many Vegas hotels have partnerships with either Hyatt or Starwood, it was easy to redeem points for our hotel stay.

The Vdara is part of Vegas’ M Life Hotels, which partner with Hyatt. A Deluxe Suite at the Vdara was 20,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night. We were staying for three nights, I I transferred 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my Hyatt account, and then booked the Vdara directly through Hyatt’s website.

Our flight arrived around 11AM in Vegas, and I knew we probably wouldn’t be able to check in until the allotted time at 4PM. So first, we went to a supermarket for some snacks and drinks for the hotel room. Nothing much, just some Slim Jims, Pringles, a bag of cookies, etc. Most importantly though we like to have bottles of water and some soda. Neither one of us are coffee drinkers. Our preferred breakfast beverage of choice is Dr Pepper!

Afterwards, we stopped by In-n-Out Burger. Always on my must-do list for any trip to the West Coast!

In-N-Out Burger in Las Vegas

 

By the time we arrived at the Vdara, there still wasn’t a room available. So, we put our bags in storage and headed out to the Strip and walked around some of the hotels and casinos for a bit.

Deluxe Suite at the Vdara (Review)

Once we finally got checked in, I snapped some pictures of our room!

When you first walk into the room, there is a small dining table on the left, and a kitchenette on the right. The bedroom / living area is just beyond that

Kitchenette in Deluxe Suite Vdara Small dining table in Deluxe Suite Vdara Kitchenette

There was a side-by-side small fridge. One was packed already with mini-bar items for purchase, the other one had two complimentary bottles of water, but was primarily empty for guests’ items.

Mini fridge at Vdara

The living / bedroom area was relatively large, and we always appreciate having things like a sofa instead of just a bed to sit on.

Bed and sofa in Deluxe Suite at Vedara King size bed at Vdara Bed and chair at Vdara

Across from the bed was a small desk, a flat screen TV, and a dresser

Desk, TV, and dresser in Deluxe suite

The bathroom was really fantastic. It was large, had a separate tub and shower, and plenty of countertop space!

Vdara Deluxe Suite Bathroom Deep soaker tub at Vdara Tub and shower Standalone shower at Vdara Deluxe Suite Countertop Space Toilet and Shower in hotel room

The view was decent, but not amazing. We actually tried the Twenty Dollar Trick to get a room with a better view, and in the weeks leading up to the trip, I was pretty confident it would work. Then, a few days before the trip, I happened to check for availability for better rooms. The hotel was COMPLETELY SOLD OUT. And sure enough, we tried the Twenty Dollar Trick, and the receptionist looked sympathetic and just said there was nothing she could do, that the hotel was sold out for Valentine’s Day weekend.

Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the view at night, but here are some pictures during the day. It had a great view of the Luxor especially!

View from 31st floor in Deluxe Suite Vdara View from 31st floor in Deluxe Suite Vdara

Vdara Lobby and Common Area

It’s worth noting that the Vdara does not have a casino. I was worried that this might detract from the classic “Las Vegas Experience” of walking through a crowded casino and listening to the chimes of slot machines as you make your way to the hotel elevators to get to your room.

So, for that, I kind of wouldn’t recommend Vdara to first-time visitors to Las Vegas. There’s just something about that experience of walking through the Casino that is so classic. But, I will say, I LOVED being able to basically walk into the hotel and get right on the elevator. You didn’t have to walk for ten minutes just to even get to the elevator for the guest rooms. And that was so nice after a long day on our feet! It would probably also be great for older folks or individuals with mobility issues.

When you walk in the main entrance, the reception / check-in desk is on the left, and there’s a large seating/loung area on the right.

Lobby and Check in Desk Reception desk at Vdara Lobby and Check in Desk Lounge Area at Vdara Lounge Area at Vdara

Just beyond the reception desk was another seating area.

Seating area at Vdara Seating area at Vdara Seating area at Vdara Lobby

After the seating area was a bar, a small cafe, and a Starbucks.

Lobby area at Vdara Lobby area at Vdara Lobby area at Vdara

There was also a pathway that connected the Vdara to the Bellagio and trams that connected to other hotels.

Path to Bellagio from Vdara Lobby

Valet and Outdoor Space at Vdara

If you’re not familiar with Las Vegas, you might not know that hotels offer free valet parking (just whatever you decide to tip the valet). The valet was always quick and efficient, although unlike other Vegas hotels we’ve stayed at previously, you couldn’t call down ahead of time to have them bring up your car. You had to actually drop off your ticket outside.

Valet at Vdara Valet at Vdara

Right next to where the Valet drop off was, the Vdara had a very trendy outdoor seating space. This actually got quite crowded at night. It even had space heaters and firepits!

Outdoor Lounge Space at Vdara Outdoor Lounge Space at Vdara Outdoor Lounge Space at Vdara Outdoor Lounge Space at Vdara

The Pool at the Vdara

I actually wasn’t expecting the Vdara pool to be open. It was February, and during our last trip to Las Vegas (which took place in the month of November), all the pools were closed. But, perhaps it was because Las Vegas was having record-breaking heat, they opened them?

Not sure. We didn’t go swimming, but we did walk around for a while.

Pool at Vdara Pool at Vdara Pool at Vdara Pool at Vdara

Overall, we really enjoyed our stay at the Vdara. With the one (very minor) caveat of it not being a great hotel for a first-time Vegas visitor, primarily because of the lack of “casino” experience, we’d certainly recommend it!

Air Berlin Business Class A330 Review TXL-MIA (And Lounge at TXL Airport)

This entry is part of 23 in the series Russia 2014 Trip Report

Air France / Air Berlin / British Airways Lounge at Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL)

After spending our overnight connection at a nearby Holiday Inn, we arrived at Berlin’s Tegel airport bright and early for 9:20AM flight from Berlin to Miami. After two weeks abroad spanning many hotels and cities, we were anxious to get home!

Air Berlin Business Class passengers share a lounge with Air France and British Airways business and first class customers. When we arrived at the lounge, it was quite empty. I think it was just Ken and I plus one or two other guests. However, by the time our flight was ready to board, it had really filled up.

There was a decent amount of seating, but if the lounge got much more crowded, I’m not sure if there would be enough for all the guests!

Air Berlin Lounge at TXL - Berlin Tegel Airport | Shared with Air France Lounge Air Berlin Lounge at TXL - Berlin Tegel Airport | Shared with Air France Lounge Air Berlin Lounge at TXL - Berlin Tegel Airport | Shared with Air France Lounge Air Berlin Lounge at TXL - Berlin Tegel Airport | Shared with Air France Lounge Air Berlin Lounge at TXL - Berlin Tegel Airport | Shared with Air France Lounge

There were light snacks available, plus self-serve beverages, including beer and wine.

Drinks and Snacks at Air Berlin Lounge at TXL Drinks and Snacks at Air Berlin Lounge at TXL Drinks and Snacks at Air Berlin Lounge at TXL Drinks and Snacks at Air Berlin Lounge at TXL

When we checked into the lounge, the receptionist said she would announce boarding for our flight. When 9:00AM came and went, we decided to ask if they had started boarding, or perhaps there was a delay. She said, “Yes, they’re boarding now.”

Umm, thanks for the heads up!

We rushed to the gate, where we transited security (security was done at each gate, not at a central location), and got on board.

Air Berlin Business Class A330 Review TXL-MIA

When we boarded, the business class cabin was already quite full.

Air Berlin A330 Business class cabin

We took our seats in 1E and 1F. And while it was infinitely better than what coach would’ve been, I couldn’t help but think that our seats looked pretty squishy.

Air Berlin Business class seats

We were promptly offered drinks, and we both opted for orange juice.

Pre departure drink service on Air Berlin

We had plenty of legroom, and enjoyed streching out our legs.

Legroom on Air Berlin Business Class A330 Legroom on Air Berlin Business Class A330

But, I will say one thing. The seats were WAY too close together. I love my husband and all, but if we both had our arms on the armrests, our elbows always touched. And during the course of a 10 hour flight, that is really REALLY annoying.

It also didn’t help that the plane was swelteringly hot, so sharing body heat just worsened matters. I definitely would not recommend the E and F seats on rows 1, 3, and 5 on Air Berlin’s business class product, especially if you are traveling by yourself. It was bad enough touching elbows with my husband. You wouldn’t want that around a stranger. The seats A, D, G, and K have more privacy. (Check the seat map here).

Headphones were provided, and they worked well for the inflight entertainment. Seat controls were on my left hand side.

Air Berlin Business Class headphones Air Berlin Business class seat controls

There was this dire-sounding warning next to our seats:

Seat warning on Air Berlin

And there was a task light if needed.

Lighting on Air Berlin business class seat

The opening to get into your seat was really tiny. I know that Ken and I can stand to lose a few pounds, but it was a really tight squeeze.

Opening to get to Seats XX

We were served lunch, which I actually thought was quite tasty. (My apologies, I did not get a photo of the menu, and I’m not sure what these dishes were).

Meal service on Air Berlin Business Class - appetizer Meal service on Air Berlin Business Class - appetizer Meal service on Air Berlin Business Class - main course

And even though the dessert looked slightly off-putting, it was great!

Air Berlin dessert

And with that, we were full!

Air Berlin Business Class meal service

After lunch, we settled in for the long haul. However, thanks to the morning flight time, a good night’s sleep the night before, and traveling 10 hours all during daylight, we weren’t that tired. So sleeping to pass the time wasn’t really an option.

I watched three full movies: Behind the Candelabra, The Butler, and No Country for Old Men. (I had actually seen No Country for Old Men in the theaters, but I thought it was worth re-watching!)

At some point, Ken’s screen started acting up, and the flight attendant restarted it over and over until it started working again.

Inflight entertainment system on Air Berlin

And finally, after what seemed like a painfully long flight, we started our descent into Miami.

Air show on Air Berlin

The Service

I thought the service onboard our flight was impeccable. We had three male flight attendants, and each one was polite and attentive. They always made sure my wine glass was full, and always remembered which wine selection I had made. Even when Ken was having trouble with his TV screen, the flight attendants kept working on it until it was fixed.

Bottom Line

Although I definitely enjoyed having the extra space compared to coach, Air Berlin Business Class seats were quite small and way too close to neighboring seats. But, given how easy it was to redeem AAdvantage miles on Air Berlin with low fees, I’d definitely take Air Berlin again if that was the best option.


Pulkovo Business Class Lounge Review and Air Berlin from St. Petersburg to Berlin Tegel (LED-TXL)

This entry is part 22 of 23 in the series Russia 2014 Trip Report

Ken and I like getting to the airport early, especially in cities we’re not familiar with. We never know what traffic might be like, how long security and immigration lines are, and what the check-in process might be like. So, we left for the airport about 4 hours prior to departure, even though it was only supposed to be about a 30 minute drive to the airport.

We did actually get stuck in traffic for a while. I could tell that the taxi driver was getting nervous. He started saying something in Russian, but I couldn’t hear him. Then, in my (VERY LIMITED!) Russian, I finally heard him ask what time our flight was leaving. I was saying, “5:45” in Russian, but he looked really confused. Then I realized that I should have been saying 17:45, since they use the 24 hour clock in Russia. Whoops. So, I just quickly set an “alarm” on my phone for the time, and then showed him. He looked relieved that we weren’t running late, even with the traffic.

In English, I said with a smile, “No problem!” And, he responded, using his arm to span the traffic jam, “BEEG Proplem!” And we all laughed.

I love how even when somebody can’t speak a different language, there are certain phrases that just everybody knows. Like people who can’t speak any English still know what “No problem” and “Big Problem” mean!

Well, when we arrived at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport, we quickly learned that you’re barely allowed IN the airport more than 90 minutes prior to departure. Our taxi driver dropped us off, and we immediately had to put all our luggage through an x-ray scanner before entering the airport (something we had seen at Sochi and Moscow’s airports as well).

Then there is a pretty small “lobby” area for the airport. In the lobby, there were officials checking ID’s at podiums prior to passing through a separate set of doors, which would take you to the ticketing and check-in area. Well, we were basically “stuck” in the lobby. You could not pass through those doors until the ID-checkers said so, and it was completely unclear how long that would take.

The entire lobby area was a completely crowded zoo of people. There was a small restaurant / coffee shop place, and Ken and I managed to find a table. And we just sat there, drinking beverages until it got closer to departure time.

Once we were finally allowed into the ticketing area, we checked our luggage and received our boarding passes for our Air Berlin flight from St. Petersburg to Berlin’s Tegel Airport. Then we transited immigration, and we were finally on our way to find the Business Class lounge. (Security was not conducted until immediately prior to boarding, in the gate area).

I had low expectations for the Business Class lounge. I had read that it was pretty much a joke. Well, it was still better than a lot of U.S. domestic airline lounges (I’m looking at you US Airways lounge at DCA!)

Business Class Lounge at St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport (International Departures)

Business Class Lounge Pulkovo Airport

The lounge was one big room, with chairs that very closely resembled (and might have actually been) Ikea Poang chairs.

Business and First class Lounge at St. Petersburg, Russia Pulkovo Airport Review of Pulkovo Business Lounge | Air Berlin

There was a food and beverage area that was self-serve, complete with coffee, bottles of beer and wine, chips and other snacks, and bottles of water. #StillBetterThanMostUSAirwaysLounges

Snacks and Beverage area at Pulkovo Lounge | St. Petersburg, Russia | Prior to departing Air Berlin LED-TXL Snacks and Beverage area at Pulkovo Business Class Lounge Snacks and Beverage area at Pulkovo Business Class Lounge Snacks and Beverage area at Pulkovo Business Class Lounge Snacks and Beverage area at Pulkovo Business Class Lounge

There was even an aquarium and a flat panel TV. Okay, I know that is not saying much, but considering how much of a zoo the airport was, and how limited seating was in the actual gate areas, Ken and I appreciated having a quiet place to sit before our flight started boarding. And of course, as a nervous flyer, I appreciated the free booze at my disposal.

Aquarium at Pulkovo Lounge TV at Pulkovo Lounge

Air Berlin Flight from St. Petersburg to Berlin (LED-TXL)

Ken and I booked business class tickets for the entire journey (St. Petersburg > Berlin > Miami > Washington, DC), but I knew that this leg would be economy class because it was a single-class aircraft. It wasn’t the end of the world, considering the flight was only 2 hours and 15 minutes.

At some point before our trip, I could’ve swore that I read online that Air Berlin just keeps an empty seat next to passengers who are booked on Business Class but riding on a single-class aircraft. Of course, as the trip approached, I could not find where I had read that, so I wasn’t sure if it would actually be the case.

When Ken and I checked in, we were booked for seats 1D and 1F, meaning that there would be an empty seat in between us. But, I really can’t be sure if we were given those seats because we were Business Class passengers. Why? That flight was literally the emptiest commercial flight I had been on in a LONG time. I’d estimate there were maybe 25–35 people on that A319 aircraft. So the fact that we had an empty seat between us wasn’t really saying much!

Legroom of bulkhead seat on Air Berlin flight Ken and I in row 1 on Air Berlin flight LED-TXL

We were provided with a sandwich and chocolate. The sandwich was actually quite good!

Air Berlin sandwich Air Berlin chocolate

The flight was uneventful, and we landed at Berlin Tegel, transited immigration and customs, and made our way to the Holiday Inn Express Tegel Airport. We ate a late dinner at the hotel and went to bed (no review of the Holiday Inn, it was a basic hotel, but a convenient location for overnight connections), and woke up early for our flight the next morning to Miami. We were ready to get home!