know before you go: Chinggis Khaan (ULN)

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You read that right.  Ulaanbaatar, capital city of Mongolia, has an airport named after one of the most famous pillagers of all time, their native son, Chinggis (Genghis) Khaan.  I mean, pretty cool name for an airport, and was so named in 2005 to celebrate the 800th (!) anniversary of Mongolia being an independent state.  Currently, there are around 3 million people in the country, with ~1.5 million of them in Ulaanbaatar.  Many Mongolians are still nomadic, traveling around the country in their gers (yurts), but I have to imagine that most that are on the grid use this airport for travel.

I can’t take sole credit for this one, this is courtesy of my parents, as I have not yet made it to the ends of the Earth..one day.  Apple does not fall far from the tree.

This is a small airport, serving mostly domestic flights throughout the country (Aero Mongolia, Hunnu Airlines), however there of course, are many flights from Asian countries such as South Korea and China, as well as European cities like Moscow and Berlin.  Mongolia has only really been open to foreign tourism for the past few years, so its airport system is still developing.  It’s a little bittersweet because this old airport is being replaced with a new more international friendly airport in the next few months.

There is one terminal with two levels.  Arrivals level one, departures second floor.  It’s located about 11 miles from the city center, and you can access easiest by car/taxi.

Remember ✈️ khan it  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ hun-ny I’m home

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (bus, taxi — there can be dense traffic around the airport)

Security/immigration:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (typically not too bad as there aren’t usually tons of flights coming and going at the same time)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (just one small building)

Dining: ✈️✈️ (cafe, noodle shop, just enough to get by)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (a lot of bathrooms for departure level, only 2 for arrivals, I guess they assume you’re go when you get to where you’re going)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi)

Amenities: ✈️ (one first class lounge, duty free shop/convenience store)

know before you go: kansai (kix)

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The best thing about this airport may be its code: KIX.  Like the wholly underrated cereal.

Kansai is the airport that serves Osaka, Japan and is located on its own artificial island in the bay of Osaka.  It is made up of Terminals 1 (main) and 2 (domestic low cost carriers), which are not connected, but have shuttle service between them.   Kansai is designated as the longest airport terminal in the world at 1.1 miles in length.  This is why there’s a people mover.

As this airport is in the middle of the water, railways connect it to the mainland, and a ferry service can transfer you to Kobe airport.  That does however make it a potential target for tsunamis, such as Jebi 2018 which halted operations for several days.

Remember ✈️ kant-sai  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ pumped up kix

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (bus, car, etc.  there’s an efficient railway, duh it’s japan, but it is on an island, so…you have to plan ahead for travel time.  There’s a high speed ferry to KOBE airport as well)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (terminal one has a people mover)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (What are you even doing if you’re not loading up on musubis for your trip?  Have curry, udon, even okonomiyaki before you board.  And yes, there’s Starbucks, McDonald’s and Burger King if you must)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (japanese toilets are the best)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi, business oriented so plenty of charging)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (japanese airports have the best shopping.  Aside from luxury brands like Rolex, Chanel, Gucci, Hermes, you have japanese craft markets, dollar stores like Daiso and even a Pokemon store.  There’s Korean, JAL, ANA, Royal Orchid lounges, business centers, and an airport hotel as well.)

 

 

 

know before you go: marseilles (MRS)

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But where’s the Mr?  I jest, but Marseilles Provence Aeroport has the coolest code, MRS! Although she makes less than her male colleagues. {rimshot} I’m here all night, y’all.

This regional airport is actually the fifth busiest in France, with destinations from all over Europe and Northern Africa.  Located about 17 miles from Marseilles in the bucolic region of Provence, this is probably the most convenient airport for those who summer in the south of France. As one does.

There is a direct shuttle from the train station to the airport for those coming in from the city.   There’s also bus, car and taxi transport.

There are 2 terminals, with around 45-50 gates total.  It is a small regional airport, but has all the traveler comforts you need.

Remember ✈️ provence is enough  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ marseilles it again

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (plan ahead, it’s a regional airport in a rural region)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (small, very manageable)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (mostly french cafe fare, but there’s a Burger King and Starbucks)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️ (there could be more, but it’s a small airport)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi, could have more changing)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (paid VIP lounge, a few airport shops, uniquely a few culinary shops due to the region where you can pick up your herbs de provence and sel and lavender and all sorts of curated gourmand goods)

colorful hue, vietnam

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Love a good pun.  Pronounced hway (not really exactly right don’t @ me) not hugh like the color or Grant, this very proud city was the former Imperial capital of Vietnam until the end of the Nguyen dynasty in 1945. I’m sure you’re familiar with what happened next.  Vietnam has three regions, and this is the largest city in the central region (see previous posts on Hanoi and Saigon/HCM).

Hue was the stop after Hoi An, my favorite on the Vietnam itinerary, and I think I would have enjoyed it more had I NOT GOTTEN SICK on the way there.  I made a rookie travel mistake that you will read all about after the jump.  Hot tip: don’t drink foreign beverages.

right hue, wrong hue

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take me down to the Vatican City

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So, I’m not Catholic.  Just gettin’ that little factoid out there.  I am, of course, familiar with the religion and of historical and current events, but I am by no means an expert.  I went to Rome without having read up extensively on the topic, purposefully to leave my mind open to the environment.  Despite my lack of knowledge, I have to say that going to the Vatican City was an unforgettable experience.  There is beauty in the concept of a religion, even if its not yours.

just like a dream, you are not what you seem…

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bon voyage: know before you go CDG

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Paris is one of THE magnificent cities of the world, and its main airport? C’est si bon!  It is the second largest airport by volume in Europe and the 10th largest in the world.  Obviously Paris is a destination in its own right, but as a port to the rest of the world, if you’re headed to Africa or the Middle East, good chance you could be stopping here, too.

The hub for Air France, this airport is named after the leader of the French resistance against Nazi Germany during WWI who later became president of the newly re-democratic France, Charles de Gaulle.  The history is complex, so you’re gonna have to trust me when I say he was a very notable French figure in the 20th century.  They don’t name airports after just anyone (see: the soon to be Muhammad Ali airport in Louisville).

There are three Terminals, but the set up is not exactly like other airports.  Terminal 1 is for airport operations, mass transit stations, shops and restaurants, check in counters and baggage claim.  Terminal 2 is split into sub-terminals 2A-2G. 2E is where your long haul flights will be, as it can accommodate Airbus A380.  Air France international flights are almost all exclusively run through Terminal 2 (American, Delta are also Terminal 2, while United flies through both 1 and 2A).  2F is for intercontinental European and 2G is in a separate building and is dedicated to regional Air France flights.  Terminal 3 is for budget airlines.

Remember: ✈️ = hate it  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ =   louvre it (sorry i couldn’t do any better, i’m le tired)

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (16 miles away, but RER metro transit will take you from central Paris –and there’s a new express trains coming soon.  There are also express buses and old fashioned car travel as well)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️ (there are CDGVAL trains that will take you from one terminal to the next; it does get confusing though and there’s not a lot of helpful people jumping at the chance to help you)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️✈️✈️ (there are a lot of travelers here, that doesn’t make things go quickly)

Dining:✈️✈️✈️✈️ (there is only one thing to know and that is there is a Laduree in 2F.  Otherwise, there’s a McD’s, Starbucks and Pre-A-Manger along with french offerings)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (fair for an airport of its size)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Free wifi, charging is available — don’t forget your Type E adapter!)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (this is Paris, home of Cartier, Dior, Chanel, Hermes, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Longchamp, Saint Laurent –you will find them all here along with well known Italian brands too 😉  All that’s missing is Goyard and Louboutin and then you’d have the best place ever airport shopping center in the world.  There are MANY lounges available as well — Air France/Delta SkyTeam in like all terminals, American, Etihad, Air Canada, El Al, Emirates, Qatar, SAS, Lufthansa, United/Star Alliance, Cathay Pacific.  Also, this airport was used in both U2 and Alan Parsons project album artwork, so extra cool points.  J’aime cela!)

All’s Mayahual in Costa Maya

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Quintana Roo is an eastern Mexican state on the Yucatan peninsula and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. From Cancun to Cozumel, you will find resort towns dotting the entire length of the Caribbean coast. It’s not all sandy beaches, there’s a ton of historical Mayan settlements and various ecosystems.

Costa Maya is basically a Disney-fied version of a Mexican port. Legit, it literally looks like the same developers who build the attractions at Disney built it – from the colorful plaster/stucco walls to the just-so perfect vibrant décor. El nombre real de esta area en del este de Mexico es Mahahual. I guess they figure that’s a little harder to pronounce than the more Anglicized Costa Maya. It is basically the southern most point of the Mexican seaboard and is a stone’s throw away from Belize.

My oh Mayans…

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row, row, roatan

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Honduras.

Not a region of Mexico.

There’s been plenty of news out of this country in regards to the dangerous conditions and crime, but what doesn’t get as much press is that it is a culturally rich country abutting the Caribbean sea that has white sandy beaches, temperate surf and colorful, friendly people.

Tropical the island breeze, all of nature wild and free, this is where I long to be…

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here’s looking at you CMN: know before you go Casablanca

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Play it again, Sam.  Originally built by the US as a military airport during WWII, Casablanca’s Mohammed V airport has evolved into the busiest airport in Morocco.  After Morocco gained its indepedence from France in the 1950s, the airport basically rebranded into a public airport named after the former King/Sultan of Morocco, Mohammed V who ruled in the 50s-60s.

There are two terminals 1 (domestic and international) and 2 (international).  It is the hub of Royal Air Maroc and probably services more passengers from Paris to Morocco than any other airport in the country.

Remember: ✈️ = what in heaven’s name brought you to casablanca? to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = the beginning of a beautiful friendship

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (30 km from the city, but there is a train station on in Terminal 1 that will take you to the city)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️ (Terminals 1 and 2 are connected, lack of signage makes things a little difficult.  Airport communication is in French, Arabic and English but can be confusing)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️ (very crowded, expect longer wait times)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (some westernized options: Starbucks, pomme de pain — very expensive)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️ (could use more facilities based on the level of passenger traffic)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️ (free wifi x 30 minutes, remember your European adaptor plugs)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (there’s a few international brand stores, local Moroccan purveyors, pharmacy, urgent care, Pearl lounge and a VIP concierge service)