Tulum Mexico

Thinking of Cancun as a pure beach thing for a vacation might be interesting for people who want to do nothing but relax and hang out at the pool bar. For people with a bit more energy in their tanks the place has more to offer, specially for those who are interested in history. The ruins of ancient Tulum are just a 2 hour drive away from Cancun. Tulum is an amazing place to visit. Let’s travel back in time.

It’s good advise to arrive early in the day to avoid large crowds.
Photographers will love the many opportunities offered in hidden corners of the old fortress. Most sacred places are off limits for tourists, unfortunately. People have been stealing to many arte facts and stones from the heritage site. As a result we are no longer allowed to climb or enter the ruins.

Walking around Tulum ruins and exploring the seights takes around 3 hours. There is a public sandy beach at the sea side of the Mayan Riviera that can be accessed by wooden stairs.

Entrance Fee: 30 Peso
Parking Fee: 30 Peso

Official Website: http://tulum.gob.mx/Turismo

Chiang Mai Cat Cafe Catmosphere

Playing with felines while chilling for a coffee break? Sounds like a great idea. Indeed, cat lovers will fall in love with the cats at Catmosphere cafe in Chiang Mai. The cafe isn’t very big, but well designed to host around 20 cats and almost as many customers. During most times there are around 6 to 12 people here. Unlike other cat cafes around Asia the animals are rather active. It’s fun palying with them or just watching them interact with their comrads.

Catmosphere Chiang Mai
The cafe is easy to find. Short walking distance from Maya Mall and Chiang Mai University campus.

The fun is not expensive at all. Coffee, tea and smoothies at competitive prices are served along with smaller dishes, cakes, brownies and mostly sweet dessert style food. They have a minimum consumption of around 100 Baht per hour, but to be honest I don’t remember the details. There shouldn’t be a problem with that unless all you drink is one beverage and you intent to stay all day long. The kitties are all mixed up. A couple of exotic races, but most are adopted Thai street cats, some of whom have a family inside the cafe.

sleeping kittie
Some kitties just wanna sleep. Cute!

The reviews are mostly positive. Families, bloggers, students and regular tourists churn into the place all the time. Taking photos isn’t a problem at all unless the kitties become too tired to serve as models.

Official Website:
http://www.catmospherecafe.com/chiangmai

Map & Directions:
Catmosphere on Google Maps

Idea: Bring an empty box along. The cats love to use them for this and that.

Eurowings Economy Class Review

Just finished my first long haul flight with Eurowings from Bangkok to Prague via Duesseldorf and it was somewhat of an adventure. There were 2 reasons to pick Eurowings for this trip: First it qualified for 100% miles accrual with United’s Milage Plus frequent flyer program according to the webiste wheretocredit.com and second, the price was a lot cheaper than competitors fares for January.

legroom
Legroom in economy class is sufficient, but lags behind legacy carriers.
The cabin is tidy and in decent shape
Sufficient space and comfort made in Germany.

When I wanted to add luggage on Eurowing’s website while managing my booking the first clouds foreshadowed a flawed experience. It created errors and ‘not found’ error pages. I was able to circum-go the errors of their faulty site by downloading their app to my ipad. Picking a seat after upgrading from Basic to Smart fare didn’t work either. My choices were voided each time I had made them. Turns out I had to add a payment method and pay the amount of 0 Baht to confirm my seat selection. Online check-in wasn’t available for my flight EW 1107 either. I had to check-in at the airport. However, that went like a breeze and I walked down to the gate in concourse E. The Airbus A330-200 departed with 1 hour delay.

cake and coffee
Breakfast was a not much. A piece of cake, non palatable, water and coffee.

After takeoff passengers were served with a small snack. A choice between cheese sandwich and cake was offered. It was a cardboard box with a miniature cake and water. Throughout the flight water was served. The flight attendants were hardly noticed during the flights. The cabin staff was friendly and professional, but not very attentive. They refused to take away rubbish outside of their service turn. About three hours before scheduled landing dinner was served. I picked chicken with rice. The meal was served in a very hot tin form, very hard to open without burning fingers. The flimsy plastic kitchen ware made it difficult to shuffle the otherwise edible food into my mouth.

air meal on Eurowings EW 1107
While tasty, the rice meal with chicken was hard to eat with the provided kitchenware. It was very flimsy and could hardly hold a small bit. Maybe bring your own fork along next time?

Unfortunately, the captain of flight EW 1007 had not tanked sufficient fuel supplies for the flight to reach Düsseldorf. We had to make an unscheduled stopover in Budapest for refueling. It took around 2 hours on the ground to get the plane back in the air. By the time we arrived in Duesseldorf my connecting flight to Prague from Düsseldorf had left already. I was offered an overnight stay at the Maritim Duesseldorf airport hotel with dinner and breakfast included before heading to my final destination Prague, where I arrived with almost 12 hours delay.

While luck wasn’t on my side with my first Eurowings booking, the pricing was reasonable with the basic fare. Considering that I added the smart option with meals, drinks and baggage, the price rose to a level where better airlines like Finnair operate with better service and higher reability. A few days after the flight 50% Miles were deposited into my United Milage Plus account, only. It’s hard to find reliable information on milage credit since Eurowings does not provide any information on booking classes while booking or confirming flights. Let’s take as much Miles as we can get. These days we must learn to appreciate smaller mileage credits for discounted economy. For that 50% isn’t terribly bad.

Would I fly Eurowings again? Maybe yes, if the price was right.

ÖBB Railjet First Class Prague to Vienna

Flights between Prague and Vienna are ridiculously expensive. In addition to the flight fare one may also need to add train or taxi rides from the airports to the city. Even in the most opportunistic event travel time will exceed 4 hours.

The alternative are rides by train or bus. They are significantly cheaper and offer a lot more comfort. Trains leave and arrive at the respective main railway stations in the middle of both cities. Today, I am taking the ride from Hlavni Nadrazi Praha to Hauptbahnhof Wien. Since I bought last minute I opted for First Class since it was just 300 CZK more expensive than economy wagons. While booking the ride, there were differences in price between the desktop site and the mobile app of the Czech Railway. The desktop portal was cheaper for almost all searches and I paid around 1100 CZK for a one-way ticket while a economy seat would have been around 800.

It is a smooth and uneventful ride with just very few stops on the way. 4 hours is the complete travel time. RJ79 train is owned and operated by ÖBB, the Austrian state run railways. The wagons appear clean and in excellent condition.

First class train Praha Vienna
First Class cabin on RJ79 is organised in 3 seat rows.
luggage compartment RJ 79
Luggage compartments are available to take up bigger suitcases.
OBB First Class
Seats with tables can be booked in advance.
reclining train seat
All seats offer lots of legroom and reclining backrest.

On the bottom line it is a very comfortable train ride. It is possible to order drinks and food, one bottle of water is complimentary in First Class. Wifi is provided free of charge. Connection speed isn’t great, but should be sufficient for normal web apps imho. It’s less stress than riding a car and a bit less time consuming than both, travel by car and airplane. Observing Bohemian villages and Moravian landscapes enroute to the Austrian capital is infusing a mix of tranquility and providing ideas for future biking trips. The forests and hills along the way are peaceful and show nature from its best side. After RJ 79 arrives in Vienna it continues further south to Bruck an der Mur before it arrives in Graz, its final destination.

Egypt Air Economy Class

Egypt Air Economy Class

Posted on By Global Traveler

Flying from Frankfurt to Bangkok offers nonstop connections with Lufthansa and Thai Air. The direct flights are the most comfortable solutions, but a bit expensive when booked one way. The reasonable pricing of Egypt Air was the reason for me to give them a trial during a trip in November 2018.

Frankfurt to Cairo

The first segment of the flight was from Frankfurt to Cairo on Egyptair 786 on a single aisle Boeing 737 aircraft (see B737 seatmap). The flight takes a bit over 3 hours and a full dinner is served. The following layover at Cairo airport lasted around 4 hours.

Egyptair B737 800
The airplane is being loaded for the flight to Cairo at Frankfurt International.
FRA CAI flight
Your standard configuration with three seats on both sides of the aisle in economy class including on-board video entertainment.
on board dinner Egyptair 786
Delicious dinner choice: Fried fish with rice. I am very surprised about the high quality of the meal on this Egyptair flight. Salad and cake along with a bun were on the plate.

Cairo to Bangkok

The second leg of the trip lasts just a bit over 8 hours. It is a comfortable flight. The seats are in good condition. An overnight kit and head phones are given to all economy class passengers. The overnight kit is a surprise. Very few carriers bother to provide this comfort to their passengers in economy class. There is a foot rest for more comfort. Egyptair 960 is conducted on an Airbus A330-300 aircraft. The flight is not sold out, but pretty full.

Top Ten Headguard Review

The Top Ten Headguard

Back 30 years ago boxing was considered a bloody sport, karate too dangerous and MMA wasn’t even around. In the 1980ies it was prudent to think the bloodily dangerous sports were doomed to become socially inacceptable. Politics and medical experts tried to outlaw them and the IOC wanted to ban amateur boxing from the Olympic Games. Now, fighting sports are as popular as never before. One of the main reasons for this is probabaly the new generation safety equipment that changed the reputation of the martial arts.

top ten head guard kickboxing
The competition headguard is very popular with female amateur boxers and kickboxing girls.

What happened in the 1980ies to change the safety standards was the work of a single person. German martial arts pioneer Georg F. Bruckner invented the Top Ten headguard. It was the first headguard able to protect the brain from trauma by absorbing the impact of hits by a factor of around 50% over its entire lifespan. The most innovating part of his new headgear was the use of a synthetic rubber with open bubbles and a sealed surface. Upon impact the air inside the bubbles would be pressed into nearby chambers thus soflty reducing the power of impact. Afterwards the air would flow back into the area making the headgear ready for the next hit. The material would be good to take another blow. Scientific tests demonstrated amazing effects with durability of over 100,000 hits without any wear to the structure of the Bayflex rubber. The material chosen for this has been used by German carmakers to fit dashboards, passenger seats and other safety relevant parts. It had been a breakthru for Bruckner and the headgear was patented in 1982 for the first time. For may years to follow the Top Ten headguard was the Official headguard at Olympic Games for amateur boxing, many World Chamionships in both, boxing and kickboxing.

Today, the Top Ten head guard is still very popular for kickboxing and boxing despite the fact that its patents have expired and it’s being cloned and copied by many other companies. The competitors however, do not copy all the details. The inventor Georg F. Bruckner put a lot of love into details that benefit the practitioner. He loved to serve good fighters and had many competitors, trainers and scientists contribute to the development of his equipment. Here are a couple of markers that make the Top Ten headguard so unique:

Inner structure: The inside of the helmet is structured with channels leading sweat away from the face. This concept will prevent sweat from flowing into the face and eyes when hit by punch on the forehead.

red Top Ten headguard
The inside of the guard shows a system of channels for sweat drainage.

One Piece: The item is made up of one molded piece. It is easy to clean. Tear and wear is reduced to a minuímum.

Straps: Velcro straps on the back of the head and under the chin make it easy to adjust the size of the protector for individual fit. However, the user must follow the instructions how to install them in order to maximize tractive power on key portions of the guard. It is an easy process, essentially. A tight fit feels comfortable while preventing the piece to slip and slide.

Metrial: The Bayflex polyurethane material is absorbing shock at a high percentage. It lasts very long without wearing down. Reinforcements at crucially import areas like the openings for the velcro straps reduce tear and wear to increase longivity.

Today, there are many different colours and designs available. From classic red and white competition to neon-green advangart. The one that might suit training best would be the the facesaver head guard for full protection of cheekbones and chin. Try it out and see for yourself.

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