first class on korean air

Three days after our wedding, my new husband Johnny Jet and I departed my hometown of Toronto for our dream honeymoon. We flew out of Toronto on Korean Air, headed first to Seoul and then on to the ultimate honeymoon destination, Bali!

Before leaving for the airport, I went through my usual pre-flight routine. Toothbrush, passport, laptop? Check, check, check. I ran through my list of essentials and was all set except for one last thing. I can’t travel without my Kobo but I’d not had time to download any new books. With just half an hour to go before we left for the airport, I downloaded two new novels: Andrew McCarthy’s memoir The Longest Way Home (Free Press, 2012) and a thriller by Linwood Barclay, Never Look Away (Delacorte Press, 2010). I waited impatiently for the books to download but once they did, my Kobo froze. What? I didn’t have time for this. I started to panic. A bookworm like me can’t go two weeks without her books. I went online to troubleshoot but nothing I tried revived my e-reader. We made a pit stop at Walmart to grab a new one before heading to the airport.

As we walked through the international departures terminal at Toronto’s Pearson airport, John told me I had a number of surprises awaiting me throughout the course of our honeymoon. Surprises? Who doesn’t love surprises? I’d have to wait to discover what he had in store for me!

We checked in for our flight, went through security, then waited in the lounge until our flight was ready to depart. My new Kobo was not formatted; I had to download all my books on there before I could use it. Fortunately, Pearson International Airport has free WiFi so I jumped online immediately to get my Kobo up and running for the 13-hour flight. But it took so long to format and download my 50+ books, it didn’t finish before I had to board the plane. Ugh. A 13-hour flight with no books. Not good. Turns out I didn’t really need to worry about that.

ImageLove the free WiFi at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Trying to format my Kobo and download my books before boarding our 13-hour Korean Air flight to Seoul.

As we boarded our Korean Air flight and walked to the very front of the cabin, I realized that we would be flying first class … what an amazing surprise! The seats were huge with tons of legroom. And the first class cabin was virtually empty, making us feel like we were in our own private living room.

ImageFirst-class seats on our Korean Air flight were an amazing surprise and made the 13-hour flight a breeze.

When it’s time to sleep, those big, comfy seats lie fully flat. I’ve had the good fortune of traveling business class on other airlines with lie-flat seats but Korean Air’s seats are probably the most comfortable I’ve ever experienced. I was truly comfortable, not just sort of comfortable. I woke up feeling like I’d had a great night’s sleep, which doesn’t happen often on an airplane.

And thanks to the incredible entertainment system, I didn’t even miss my Kobo. The selection of movies and television shows is extensive (I finally got to watch Snow White and the Huntsman), as well as the selection of music, kids’ channels and games. The entertainment system offerings are the same in all classes on Korean Air but the screens get larger as you move from economy to business to first. You can even access the in-flight duty free shopping from your individual screen. Kobo? What Kobo? Yeah, I didn’t miss it – I had more than enough to keep me entertained.

ImageEnjoying the fully lie-flat bed in pajamas provided by Korean Air. Flying doesn’t get any easier or more comfortable than this. I was very lucky (and grateful) to experience this!

The food took airplane food to new heights. I realize I was flying first class, so of course it was good, and unfortunately, I can’t comment on what the food in economy was like. But the first class menu really was first class. From traditional Korean dishes like ‘Bibimbap’ to grilled beef tenderloin and roasted black cod, the food was gourmet. Although my favourite dish might have been the spicy Ramen noodles that were served as a snack later on in the flight. And the still-warm cookies.

ImageLunch begins with blue crab meat cannelloni with poached prawn on mango salsa.

Overall, I give my experience on Korean Air a 10 out of 10. The service was exceptional. The flight attendants couldn’t have been more helpful or friendly. These days, when all we seem to hear about in the news are travel nightmares, it’s nice to know that there’s still exceptional service out there. Thanks, Korean Air!

ImageThe incredibly friendly, polite and helpful flight attendants are a big part of the reason why the experience on Korean Air is so enjoyable.

{Photography via: JohnnyJet.com}

What’s your favourite airline to fly?
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sorry for the silence … I was busy planning my wedding!

Maybe you’ve noticed (or maybe you haven’t), that I haven’t posted in a few months. I swear, I have a good excuse! I’ve been busy planning my wedding. If you’ve planned a wedding before, you know how much time it takes but the wedding went off without a hitch last weekend and was one of the most beautiful days of my life. My wonderful husband (wow – that’s going to take some getting used to!) Johnny Jet and I are now honeymooning, so I’m gearing up to tell you all about where we are and what we’re up to, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few wedding photos with you. Here’s a sneak peek at our special day:

My beautiful bridesmaids. I can’t imagine my life without these incredible women.

Signing the register. With my beautiful sister and John’s brother as our witnesses, the deed is done!

The groomsmen give our ring bearer and flower girl a ride after a job well done.

Inside the lobby of the Trump International Hotel in Toronto, where we held our wedding reception, we pose for a few photos.

A photo with John’s family.

With John’s dad and my mom. {Photo via Dan Lantz}

Our head table, lined with beautiful pink hydrangeas and lots of candlelight.

The cake, made by my best friend, Jen. The cake topper is from John’s parents’ wedding cake from 1951.

Our first dance.

The day went by so fast – if only we could have slowed it down. But it was the most beautiful day and I am eternally grateful to all the people who helped us prepare and for everyone who celebrated with us. Hope you enjoyed the photos!

brindisi, italy: don’t bother

The short story is that Brindisi sucks.

But it seems unfair to just leave it at that. Here’s a quick look at Brindisi, Italy and what I enjoyed and what I didn’t enjoy.

Brindisi is an industrial port. Due to its location on the Adriatic Sea, it’s a major trading port between Italy, Greece and the Middle East. Its leading industries are energy and chemical production and agriculture. If you’ve been following along, then you know that my fiance John and I have been on a 10-day cruise through the Adriatic. When we disembarked the ship, the walk into town was not picturesque. Once we got into town, the streets were slightly more appealing but nothing you’d tell friends and family back home about. Let’s put it this way: There wasn’t a whole lot of Instagram-ing going on, if you know what I mean. There’s lots of shopping on the main drag but again, nothing to get too excited about. In short: Brindisi didn’t seem to offer visitors all the charm we’ve come to expect from Italy. And since this is my first trip to Italy (I started in Venice a few days ago), and I’m full of high expectations, it sorely disappointed.

Streets and buildings like this did nothing to appeal to my senses. Italy? Is that you?

But turn a corner and you encounter this scene. Love the colours, the architecture and the typically Italian Juliet balconies.

Despite the fact that I found this town lacking in the looks department, you can usually count on Italy for good food. John and I broke down and sampled an Italian pastry for breakfast. This sugar-covered, white-chocolate stuffed doughnut was OMG-good. I think it was a diet doughnut, too, thank goodness.

There are a lot of churches in this small town but the one really worth seeing is the Brindisi Cathedral. The duomo was originally erected during the 11th and 12th centuries but what visitors see today is an 18th century reconstruction; an earthquake in 1743 destroyed the original church that stood here.

The old, somewhat dilapidated exterior belies the beauty that lies within the walls of the Brindisi Cathedral. Inside you’ll find soothing colours and soaring ceilings.

John was in need of a haircut and decided to visit an Italian barber for a trim. In a town with little else for tourists to do, it’s great to try and live like a local. The owners of this barbershop were wonderful and friendly and as we communicated in a comical exchange of broken English and broken Italian, this became the highlight of our day in Brindisi.

And last but not least, we had to try some real Italian food. Alas, the spaghetti pomodoro at a restaurant near the port was not quite as delizioso as we had hoped.

All in all, Brindisi failed to impress. What is it that makes some cities great and others disappointing? In this case, I would say that the town of Brindisi just wasn’t beautiful and it didn’t stir my soul. And maybe that’s okay … you need to know the ordinary in order to appreciate the extraordinary. I can’t wait to return to Italy but needless to say, Brindisi is one stop I won’t be making again.

corfu, greece on seabourn spirit

Back in 2009, my fiance Johnny Jet and I sailed on Seabourn Odyssey through Turkey and Greece. This week, on Seabourn Spirit, we traveled to Greece for the second time, this time to Corfu.


Corfu is one of the most popular of the Greek islands (and the first Ionian island at the mouth of the Adriatic), and we were among the throngs of tourists that flock to Greece during the summer months. But as Seabourn Spirit pulled into port, it was easy to see the draw. The vibrant blue waters of the Adriatic Sea and the rugged coastline are a perfect pair.


John and I climbed the rugged and sometimes slippery steps up to the top of the Fortress of San Marco, which was built by the Venetians between 1576 and 1645. (Corfu was under Venetian rule for about four centuries, beginning in the 15th century.) Even in the sweltering heat, the views from the top were worth the climb.


It was hot in Corfu – about 38 degrees Celsius hot. Cooling off in the Adriatic was not just nice. It was necessary! We found a small pebble beach (sand beaches seem to be rare in these parts) and spent the afternoon swimming. This particular beach was popular with locals too. Many of the kids spent hours diving off a wooden platform over and over again.


After strolling around the Old Town of Corfu (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), we asked a few locals for restaurant recommendations for lunch. The reponse was unanimous: Restaurant Rex. We dined al fresco and I had saganaki. Delicious and authentic. Opa!


Back on the ship, there was a performance of traditional Greek folk dancing for all passengers to enjoy. Afterwards, the dancers taught willing participants how to master their moves.


To eat at the outdoor restaurant The Veranda on Seabourn Spirit, you have to make advance reservations. Luckily John and I had. They were serving Indian food that evening and as usual, the food was first rate. My hat off to the chef, who consistently serves up delicious and varied meals for us each night.


After dinner, we were treated to a spectacular sunset, the perfect note on which to bid the day adieu.

exploring kotor, montenegro on seabourn spirit

The first stop on my 10-day Seabourn Spirit cruise on the Adriatic was Kotor, Montenegro. I’d never heard of Kotor so needless to say, I didn’t know quite what to expect. But I’d had dinner with the Captain the previous evening and he’d given me a small sense of the beauty that awaited us upon our arrival. And he wasn’t joking.


After hours at sea with nothing in sight but water, our approach into Kotor was breathtaking. The limestone mountains seemed to rise from the sea, dotted with the terra cotta rooftops of houses along the coast.

The Bay of Kotor is one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea and the curves of the coastline make it pretty and picturesque. The old town in Kotor is especially well preserved, one of the most preserved of all the towns lining the Adriatic in fact, and is also a UNESCO world heritage site.


Visitors to Kotor’s old town are greeted at the entrance with a carving that reads: “What belongs to others we don’t want, what is ours we will never surrender.” The medieval old town reminded me of the setting of various fairy tales I’d read as a child; I had my eyes peeled for a prince or an evil queen at the very least. I loved the centuries-old, winding, narrow streets.


Wandering the streets of the old town is a must but even before you do that, I suggest climbing the mountain that provides the impressive backdrop of Kotor. The climb consists of some 1,500 steps and it’s a demanding walk. Do it early in the day before the afternoon sun gets too hot and be sure to wear comfortable shoes and a sun hat. And don’t forget to bring lots of water. Locals sell water along the way if you forget. When you reach the top of the citadel, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Kotor. The mountains, the peaceful waters of the bay and the old town below make a postcard-perfect picture. On your way down the mountain, be sure to go slowly and hold on to the railings. It’s steep and many of the stone steps are slippery from wear; it’s easy to lose your footing.


The other great thing about climbing the mountain is that from way up there, it was easy to get a lay of the land and spot beaches where my fiance and I could go cool off when we got back down to the bottom.


The beach we found was a small pebble beach. The turquoise water was warm and inviting. A long swim was just what we needed to cool off after our hike in the hot sun and to work up an appetite for a fresh lunch back on the boat.


As Seabourn Spirit departed Montenegro, we passed a small church standing solitary on a small island in the bay. Our Captain had mentioned that he has a tradition of blowing the ship’s horn as he passes; if the local priest is there, he will ring the church bells in response. As we sailed by, the ship’s horn blew and we awaited an answer. And then it came. The church bells rang out loud and clear and as I soaked in that moment, in the most glorious natural surroundings, I felt God’s presence as sure as the warm summer breeze on my skin.

boarding seabourn spirit

I boarded Seabourn Spirit on Saturday, ready for a 10-day cruise along the Adriatic. Our itinerary goes like this: Venice, Italy; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Greece; Brindisi, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Split, Croatia; Triluke Bay, Croatia; Rovinj, Croatia.

What I love about Seabourn ships are their small, intimate size. I was aboard Seabourn Odyssey two years ago, which has a capacity of 450 passengers. But Seabourn Spirit is even smaller, with a capacity of 208 passengers. Compared to huge cruise ships, which can carry thousands of passengers, Seabourn offers a quieter, more intimate experience. It’s easier to get to know the other passengers and overall, things just feel calmer aboard the ship. It really struck me when we docked in the small coastal town of Brindisi, Italy … as my fiance and I walked around, we barely saw any other tourists. I couldn’t help but think that if a cruise ship had pulled into port and spit out 3,000 tourists, we would have overrun this quaint little town (and not in a good way). Seabourn’s 200 passengers feel much less intrusive.


Our balcony suite is approximately 277 square feet and while that sounds tiny, it feels ample, spacious even, when you consider the fact that you’re on a boat! There’s a queen-size bed, a tub and a large vanity, plus a separate living room area with chairs, a small sofa and table for dining or working. Oh, and there’s a walk-in closet so you can unpack and hang all your clothes up. That’s another nice thing about cruising. You can unpack for a stretch and not feel like you’re living out of your suitcase. Our cabin attendant Aurelia, from Romania, is a great part of this experience. She’s lovely and after I met her, I felt like I’d made a friend straight away.


Decks 7 and 8 are where all the activity happens. There’s a pool, hot tubs, the Sky Grill for casual al fresco dining and lots of loungers for sun bathing. There are often performances out here, put on by the talented entertainment team. This is the place to hang out during a sea day, with a cold drink and a good book.


We were invited to dine with our Captain, David Bathgate, on the first night of the cruise. Hailing from Scotland, our Captain joined Seabourn in 2010 and it was our great privilege to spend the evening with him.

This is my third time aboard a Seabourn ship and each time, I’m reminded that besides the luxury accommodations and the dreamy destinations, the real appeal is the feeling on board the ship, created mostly by the friendly crew, from the cabin attendants like Aurelia, all the way up to the ship’s captain and everyone in between. Great job, Seabourn.

venice for the first time

This week, a lifelong dream of mine came true. I’ve been daydreaming of Italy for as long as I can remember and when my British Airways flight from London to Venice touched down, it felt like a special and unforgettable moment. Italy. Wow. For me, this is a really big deal!

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say about a place that so much has been written about. You don’t need me to tell you about the sites to see. Every guidebook will tell you where you need to go and what you need to see. Instead, I’ll try to share a few of the personal details that made my trip so great – and a few photos that will inspire you to visit Venice if it’s on your bucket list, too!


I flew from London to Venice on British Airways, a quick 90-minute flight. At Heathrow, our flight departed from gate A17 and what you may not know is that right around the corner from this tucked away gate is the perfect place to sit and do some planespotting. There are a number of seats and hardly anyone there, save a few Heathrow employees who obviously know that this is a quiet spot amidst the activity of the airport. Grab a seat here if you can for some peace and quiet in an otherwise loud and busy area.


My fiance Johnny Jet and I aboard our British Airways flight from London to Venice in Club Europe. Way excited.


When we arrived in Venice, we were greeted by John’s friend Cinzia and her husband Luigi. They met us at the airport, then Cinzia toured us around Venice. Her vast knowledge of the city combined with her savvy about avoiding the throngs of tourists was fantastic. Venice is teeming with tourists in July. Plus, it was so hot in the afternoon sun. Cinzia led us through shaded back streets, which were less crowded and much cooler. It was really to our advantage to have a guided tour by someone who knew where they were going and could lead us through the labyrinthine back streets of Venice. To book a tour with Cinzia, visit veniceguideandboat.it.

{Photo via: JohnnyJet.com}

The Bridge of Sighs or Ponte dei Sospiri in Italian. What can I say? It’s almost extraordinary and ordinary at the same time, but exquisite in the romance that Lord Byron’s literature lends it (though it’s said that little could be seen through the stonework covering the windows prisoners were believed to gaze longingly from). The bridge is made of white limestone and isn’t particularly special, especially when you consider some of the other architecture of the day. But the notion of prisoners sighing at their last glimpse of freedom is the stuff of poetry that perpetuates through the ages and it was still a sight to behold.


We met up with more friends in Venice. Jennifer and her husband Tim met us at our hotel, the Metropole, which was right on the lagoon and we explored Venice on foot – mostly in search of the best gelato we could find. Turns out Jennifer was a bit of an expert on the subject, explaining how differences in colour and fluffiness impact flavour. She led us to a great spot to stop on a hot day and we all enjoyed a scoop (or two!) of refreshing gelato. She’s got a great travel blog, too – you should definitely check it out at jdombstravels.com.



Venice is more than gondolas and gondoliers, canals and bridges. St. Mark’s Basilica is an imposing and beautiful structure and possibly one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture.


St. Mark’s Square, the central square in Venice, generally referred to simply as ‘the Piazza.’  See what I mean? Teeming with tourists. And tourists aren’t the only thing this place is overrun with. Used to be pigeons but Venice banned feeding the pigeons in St. Mark’s Square back in 2008.

I was only in Venice for about 24 hours before boarding Seabourn Spirit for a 10-day cruise through the Adriatic. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to see more of Italy in general and Venice in particular!

british airways lounge at newark liberty international airport

On the road again, this time on the trip of a lifetime. Italy has long been on my bucket list. I’ve daydreamed about traveling to Italy for many years and this week, my dream came true. But before we land in Venice, I’ll tell you about my journey there.

From Toronto I flew to Newark, as I was flying British Airways from Newark to London to Venice. British Airways just recently opened a brand new lounge for business class passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport and I got to check it out. Here’s a peek inside:

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British Airways recently changed the location of their gates at Newark, part of a multi-million dollar upgrade to Terminal B. This new lounge means a shorter walk to the gates for passengers when they’re ready to board. The new lounge is about twice the size as the old one it’s replacing. When I first walked in, I was the only person there, save a few staff members, which really emphasized how large it was. But even as the lounge filled up, almost to capacity, it didn’t feel cramped or crowded. The lounge has seating for 177 passengers, spread out over more than 8,000 square feet.

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The furnishings in the new lounge are modern and elegant and – perhaps more importantly – comfortable. Many travelers I chatted with in the lounge had wait times of about five hours for their connecting flights. Comfort is important. But the fact that they look so good doesn’t hurt either. Bright, bold fabrics help add a modern look and feel to the lounge.

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The lounge is enveloped in floor-to-ceiling windows, making it the perfect place to sit back and enjoy the panoramic views and do some planespotting.

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You won’t go hungry in the lounge. There’s a tea and coffee station with crackers, cheese, pastries and biscuits.

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There’s also a deli, a full bar, plus a dining area with a full hot and cold buffet. There’s a central island set up with fruit, fresh fruit juices, chips and other snacks as well. I loved that they offered fresh fruit juices!

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Although – perhaps the best treat I found in the lounge were these Smores bars for dessert, which I sampled after my hot meal of salmon cakes and creamy bacon mashed potatoes.

Of course, it’s mostly business travelers who frequent the lounge and for them, plenty of amenities are available. There’s free WiFi (just ask a lounge attendant for the password), as well as four PCs, a printer and a small table with power ports so you can charge up all your gadgets. Although, I have to say – I’ve noticed this any time I’ve been in a business class airline lounge: There are hardly any women. It’s mostly (in my experience) a sea of men in suits with loosened ties and rolled up sleeves, the globally recognized signs of a long day at work and the need for a scotch. Have we really not come as far as we think we have? Is business travel still predominantly the domain of men, while we women stay home to tend to the family? I digress but I couldn’t help but ponder this as I sipped my English Breakfast tea and surveyed my surroundings.

The British Airways lounge at Newark Liberty International Airport is bright and welcoming and the service quite good. The friendly staff are easy to find, ready to answer questions and quick to whisk away that empty mug.

Have you been to the new British Airways lounge in Newark? If you have, what did you like best?
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custom business cards at moo

I’m in Keystone, Colorado for this year’s TBEX. It’s my first time attending and I’m pretty pumped – not only to be here as an attendee but to be speaking on a panel as well. Before coming, I wanted to get some business cards printed that would help me promote my blog. I discovered MOO and holy cow they’re fantastic!

Log on to moo.com and you’ll find countless business card designs to choose from. Regardless what you do for a living, you’re sure to find a custom design that suits you. And in the event that you don’t, you can upload your own image or design to customize your cards. Here at TBEX, I’m meeting so many people who have used MOO to design their cards and all of them are really fantastic.

You can design your cards directly on their website and the site’s functionality is impressive. Smooth and easy to use. It took me about half an hour to find the card I wanted and design it (which is really just typing in your name and the information you want to appear on your card.) You can also play around with font type and size, size of card (the mini cards are really unique) and I love the cards with rounded corners, which add something special to your card.

For $80, I received 100 business cards; that’s not cheap compared to other options for buying business cards. But when they arrived in the mail, I couldn’t have been happier with my purchase.

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First of all: the packaging. How gorgeous is this? The cards come packaged in a white box, elegantly wrapped in a royal purple ribbon. The box has a magnetic closure and it’ll look great on your desk.

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Secondly, the quality of the cards just doesn’t compare to that of others I’ve seen. The cardstock is deliciously thick. Each card has the thickness of about 4 ‘regular’ business cards. According to their website, the cards have a weight of 350gsm. I don’t know what that means but it sounds impressive. More importantly, the cards feel impressive when I hand them out. I ordered 100 cards, which came with four different patterns on the back.

But my experience with MOO didn’t stop there. After I placed my order, I realized I had a question for their customer service team. I tweeted them and received a response right away. When I went on to their website to follow up with customer service, a pop-up box granted me immediate access to a customer service representative. Within three minutes, a friendly MOO employee had answered all my questions. So many businesses have a long way yet to go in terms of customer relations but MOO really seems to get it. You don’t have to call and spend 15 minutes on the phone trying to reach the right person. I loved that I could chat with a rep online and have my issue resolved in mere minutes.

Have you tried MOO? If not, you should definitely check them out.
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union jack iphone case from cygnett

I don’t know what it is about iPhone cases but I just love switching mine up. I love finding new ones that express a feeling or mood and they’re just the ultimate accessory for a gadget girl like me. My new fave: This Union Jack case from Cygnett ($29.99). What I love most about Cygnett iPhone cases is that they’re ultra slim unlike many other models I’ve tried before that add unnecessary weight and bulk to the iPhone. It’s a shame to cover up the slim, sleek design of an iPhone and Cygnett has figured out the perfect balance between offering style and protection.

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How fun is this Union Jack iPhone case? In honour of the upcoming Summer Olympics in London, Cygnett has a whole line of London-inspired cases, some featuring Union Jacks, others featuring tube maps and stops. Love!

What’s your favourite iPhone case?
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