The 2012 frugalfirstclasstravel year in review – hits & misses

Hi Frugalistas!

As we come to the end of the year it seems timely to reflect on my travel experiences during the year and in particular what worked and what didn’t:

Hits

Favorite Destination:  I find this really hard to answer – it’s a bit like asking a mother who her favorite child is.  I hadn’t visited Bali for close on 20years, and while it had changed, it’s still charming, cheap and exotic.  I hadn’t visited London for 12 years and loved how it had changed.  In 2000 it was crowded, dirty and horrendously expensive.  Fast forward to 2012 and it’s got its groove and positivity back.  Thanks to the strength of the Australian dollar it didn’t even seem expensive anymore…….

Burlington Arcade, London

Burlington Arcade, London

Favorite experience:  definitely the Etihad Diamond First Class Suite from Sydney to Paris and back again.  A fantastic splurge, great experience, and for what it cost, value for money.  I can’t wait to do it again!

Fine dining in Etihad First Class

Fine dining in Etihad First Class

Favorite first time thing:  we’ve travelled a lot as a family, but this year Miss G and I took our first “girls’ trip” together when we went to Bali.  She loved Bali and I love being there with her.

Miss G and I out for dinner at Jimbaran Bay

Miss G and I out for dinner at Jimbaran Bay

Favorite gear:  the Go-tubes I reviewed earlier this year.  Cheap, reusable and work no matter how you like to travel.

Perfect gear no matter how you like to travel

Perfect gear no matter how you like to travel

Favorite travel surprise:  Garuda Business Class.  Half the price of the competition, with twice the amenity.  What’s not to love?  If only they were part of an airline alliance to make frequent flyer point accumulation realistic.

My biggest surprise of 2012 - Garuda Business Class

My biggest surprise of 2012 – Garuda Business Class

Favorite sight I visited:  the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.  Hands down winner.  I found it beautiful, moving and awe-inspiring – and isn’t that what travel is all about?

Not finished, but still my favorite sight of the year - Sagrada Familia

Not finished, but still my favorite sight of the year – Sagrada Familia

Favorite meal:  not something I wrote about on my own blog (it was published on www.maviefrancaise.org), but the meal I ate at the Institut Vatel hospitality school in Paris was the definite winner in this category.  Classic French haute cuisine prepared and served by the next generation of French cookery stars, it’s a must do next time I’m in Paris.

Fabulous classic French food in Paris

Fabulous classic French food in Paris

Misses

Fortunately there aren’t a lot of misses to report, but a few things I did and tried just didn’t live up to expectations:

Worst experience:  those who read my review wouldn’t be surprised that I’ve voted Cathay Pacific Premium Economy my worst travel experience this year.  Not because it paled in comparison to the glorious Etihad First Class, but because it didn’t live up to its own marketing, or even deliver the level of service and amenity it said was included in the price.  At twice the cost of a standard Economy ticket I thought it was a rip off.  I was glad I didn’t pay for it (but unfortunately my employer did).

Worst gear:  my dual sim phone.  A great idea and the dual sim card aspect was great.  What let this down was its most basic function – it was just a terrible phone with awful sound quality.  Mine was a Samsung.  You have been warned.

What I’m most sad about:  not getting to see everything I wanted to in Barcelona.  It’s left me longing for more and I’m not sure when it’s going to happen……

Most persistent gripe:  the cost of wifi in some hotels – Hilton Hotel in Surfers Paradise, Australia, that means you!

Most disappointing trip:  so much so I didn’t even blog about it – our family trip to the Gold Coast, Australia earlier this year.  We went so Miss G could go to the theme parks.  Long queues, dreadfully expensive, much smaller than we had imagined.  Even Miss G was a bit underwhelmed.  On the upside, our apartment in the Hilton at Surfers was brilliant – great room service and terrific staff.  Shame about the wifi……..

I’d love to hear about your travel hits and misses, so drop me a line in the comments box and let’s compare!

Disclaimer:  the author booked and paid for all accommodation, gear and transport mentioned, except as noted above.  All photos are the author’s unless otherwise credited.

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2 Comments on “The 2012 frugalfirstclasstravel year in review – hits & misses”

  1. Tiny Girl with Big Bag 22/12/2012 at 11:53 pm #

    Love all the foodie experiences you had! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and that the next year there will be mainly hits and fewer misses 🙂

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