RTW to Bali: Cathay Pacific Business Class, Hong Kong – Denpasar, Bali

TRIP INDEX

Joann and I made our way through Hong Kong International, taking in the sights, people watching, and admiring the clean, bright conditions that HKG seemed to be in. It was a far cry from our home airport, EWR, that’s for sure.

HKG (Hong Kong) – DPS (Denpasar)
CX785
26 AUG 2012
Boeing 747-400
Business Class, Upper Deck

Seats 81A, 81K

Boarding & Settling In

When we got to the gate, Business Class was invited to board and we were the first ones on the this 747, the Queen of the Skies. I definitely wanted to make sure we got a shot of the stairs going up to the upper deck!

cathay pacific hong kong denpasar business class bali  hkg dps 747

Stairway to heaven?

The stairs lead to the aft of the upper deck cabin. A very friendly flight attendant greeted us and showed us to our seats at the very front, right behind the flight deck. It was really cool to be right behind the pilots on the upper deck.

We were offered pre-departure drinks and started back up on the champagne. I could get used to starting a flight with some bubbly!

Upper Deck Business Class

Upper Deck Business Class

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RTW to Bali: JFK-HKG Cathay Pacific First Class

TRIP INDEX

Our first ever long-haul flight in an international premium cabin… Cathay Pacific First Class. Pure ecstasy in the air.

This is going to be a LONG post with LOTS of pictures… and it’s all worth it.

After walking through the throngs of people hovering around the gate, we were among the first to board. As I handed my 1A boarding pass to the flight attendant at the door to the aircraft, he directed me to the left and all the way up. We were finally here!

JFK (New York) – HKG (Hong Kong)
CX845
25 AUG 2012
Boeing 777-300ER
First Class

Seats 1A, 2A

The Suite

The first thing that went through my head as I walked to the very front of the plane was “WOW.” I’d seen plenty of pictures prior to this but being here in person was actually a surreal feeling. Right then, I knew all the planning, credit card churning, and overall points hustling had all been worth it.

Right away, we both got to exploring our own suites and taking pictures with every device imaginable – iPhone, Canon 300 HS (our point & shoot of choice), and my Canon 40D digital SLR.

Easily, the best parts about the suite are the privacy (only a step below completely enclosed suites) and the seat width. The seat is 3 feet wide; Joann and I even watched a movie together sharing it.

This command center of an airplane seat also had plenty of storage compartments for your small travel gear, a closet,  and a dual-purpose ottoman – 1) to extend the bed when fully flat and 2) to act as a seat for a visitor.

One thing to note if you have a chance to fly this plane (and you should try your hardest to) is that the left side of the cabin will be the most private.

Check out the seating chart. Each row has 3 seats, but both the D & K seats access the aisle on the right. Therefore, only 1A and 2A access the left aisle so it’ll feel a bit more private.

I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves, but I assure you, they don’t do the suites any justice.

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

First Class Suite… private!

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

From the reverse angle…

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

The behemoth of an airplane seat… 3 feet wide

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Ottoman that doubles as a visitor seat for couples dining

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Noise cancelling headphones

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Everyone else settling in; our side was most private b/c of this wall. And there’s Mama ‘Just Another Points Traveler‘ on the left!

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$63 to Chicago: FOOD

TRIP REPORT INDEX

Food

We love our food whenever we visit a new destination. We managed to hit up all the places we wanted to in just over two days.

Pizzeria Due

It’s the second pizzeria opened by Ike Sewell, the founder of the famous franchise Pizzeria Uno. It’s a block north of the original Unos location and they say it’s just as good. They even share the same menu!

My first taste of Chicago deep dish in probably more than 15 years. The 4 of us shared a large Numero Uno®, since we were starving, not having eaten since early in the morning (it was now 2pm). They take your pizza order as you wait because it takes 45 minutes to make the pizza anyway.

When the pizza finally came, it was HUGE. Deep dish is serious. Layers upon layers of cheese, pepperoni, sausage, peppers, and onions smothered in a bright red tomato sauce. There’s no other way than a fork & knife for this.

Pizzeria Due uno chicago

Pizzeria Due

The Numero Uno pizzeria due

The Numero Uno

The Numero Uno pizzeria due

Serious meat & cheese layers

The Purple Pig

This is a highly rated Mediterranean tapas joint right in the heart of Downtown. Like most trendy tapas places, the place was tight and loud. The prices were actually pretty good, cheaper than any tapas place we’ve been to (Barbuto in NYC, Sra. Martinez & MGFD in Miami).

We ordered about 8 dishes between the 4 of us which was plenty as we were all still full from the pizza about 8 hours earlier. I’d say the highlights for me were the roasted bone marrow, fried brussel sprouts, pig ear & kale salad, and porchetta panini. I love tapas restaurants because you get to try so much and it’s just a more engaging eating experience with friends.

the purple pig tapas restaurant chicago

Crispy Pig Ear Salad with Kale & Egg, Burrata

the purple pig tapas restaurant chicago

Roasted Bone Marrow

Portillo’s

We were tipped off about this Chicago institution as having good food but not specializing in anything particular. We figured it would be a good place to try both the Italian beef sandwich and a Chicago-style hot dog.

Everything was simple.. and delicious. Italian beef with spicy peppers was a perfect combo, the bread soaked with all the jus that the beef was dipped in. I had low expectations for the Chicago hot dog with all those non-meat toppings, but it all went together really well and was quite tasty. Their crinkle cut fries looked frozen but were fried perfectly. Throw some cheese sauce and chili (that tasted exactly like Fuddrucker’s) on the side and we were in heaven.

Click for the full size panorama of Portillo’s

portillos italian beef chicago hot dog

Italian Beef, Portillo’s Hot Dog, Fries, Chili and Cheese!

What Card Do I Use For This Purchase?

This is a question that many friends & family ask me almost every day. There is usually a simple answer, but sometimes there are just so many types of purchases that one can forget.

A fairly updated array of all our credit cards

Here are a list of categories that you might commonly spend your money on and the cards that offer bonuses for spending within those categories:

Groceries

American Express Blue Cash Preferred: A straight up, no frills 6% cash back.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold: 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent.

American Express Hilton Honors Surplus: 6 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent.

Chase Freedom (rotating categories): If eligible for that quarter, earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, capped at $1,500 per quarter.

Gas

Chase Ink Bold Business: 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent.

Chase Ink Plus Business: 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent.

American Express Mercedes Benz: 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold: 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent.

American Express Business Gold: 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent.

American Express Hilton Honors Surplus: 6 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent.

Chase Freedom (rotating categories): If eligible for that quarter, earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, capped at $1,500 per quarter.

Dining/Restaurants

Chase Sapphire Preferred: 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent.

Chase Freedom (rotating categories): If eligible for that quarter, earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, capped at $1,500 per quarter.

American Express Mercedes Benz: 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent.

Citi Forward: 5 ThankYou points per dollar spent.

Airfare

American Express Premier Rewards Gold: 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent (3 if you purchase through Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal)

Hotels

Chase Sapphire Preferred: 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent

Chase Ink Bold Business: 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent

Chase Ink Plus Business: 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent

Other Travel (Tolls/Taxi Fare/Train Tickets)

Chase Sapphire Preferred: 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spen

Office Supplies

Chase Ink Bold Business: 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent

Chase Ink Plus Business: 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent

Drugstores/Pharmacies

American Express Hilton Honors Surplus: 6 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent.

Communications (Cable/TV/Internet/Cell)

Chase Ink Bold Business: 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent

Chase Ink Plus Business: 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent

Advertising/Shipping

American Express Business Gold: 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent.

Amazon.com

Citi Forward: 5 ThankYou points per dollar spent.

Department Stores

Chase Freedom (rotating categories): If eligible for that quarter, earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, capped at $1,500 per quarter.

Movies

Chase Freedom (rotating categories): If eligible for that quarter, earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, capped at $1,500 per quarter.

Things to Note

  • ALL the links in this post are PUBLIC OFFERS that don’t pay me any commission. They are open to anyone and can be found with a simple Google search. That is, in face, how I found these links.
  • The Chase Freedom appears in a lot of these categories. Its bonuses change every quarter (as I’ve most recently posted about here) and with no annual fee, it’s almost a no-brainer to always have one in your wallet.
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred also shows up in a lot of categories, mainly because Chase considers a lot of things in the category of “travel”.

Wrap-Up

Clearly, there are A TON of bonus categories that you’ll come upon in your everyday spending. It can get a bit daunting, but hopefully this guide will help you out.

As for me, I have my favorites of the bunch. Both the aforementioned Chase cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, which is why they are my favorite card combo for earning points that can be transferred to the following:

  • United Airlines
  • Southwest
  • British Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Hyatt
  • Priority Club
  • Marriott
  • Amtrak

Please let me know what you think and if this helps. Also, if you have other categories you are wondering about, post a comment and I’ll see if there is a card that qualifies for it!

Another Birthday Back in South Beach: South Beach Diet

TRIP INDEX

If you’ve followed some of my Trip Reports, you know that Joann and I love our food (VancouverKauai, Maui). With only two nights in Miami, we had to make sure we hit up some of the best spots!

Sra. Martinez

My buddies took me here last December for my bachelor party and the tasting menu was insane. When Joann and I went, it was just as good. So many great courses. Too many to remember. Even Chef/Owner Michelle Bernstein was in the house that night so it was a real pleasure to try her creations. I guess she was in a giving mood because we enjoyed a few comped drinks and huge portions of every tapas dish. Way too much for just two people.

Cafe Charlotte

Authentic Argentine food. Argentine empanadas are my favorite and their beef ones were super rich. We also had the pabellon which was kind of like ropa vieja. Again, really homey food. And they threw a fried egg on top of the rice which is like adding bacon to something; it’s cheating but I love it.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

For our last stop before departing, we stopped by a favorite from last year’s Miami jaunt – MGFD. We started with the appetizer special – a caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes and burrata. The tomatoes were so fresh and the burrata was melt-in-your-mouth creamy. For lunch, we ordered the Short Rib Panini with Fontina Cheese & Caramelized Onions and the Lamb Burger. Both were amazing and bursting with flavor. The panini was served with a tomato chutney to add some acidity and cut richness of that tender short rib meat. The burger was packed with all the lamb flavor that you could ask for, cooked perfectly and very juicy. We thought the food was good last time for dinner but this lunch was definitely the way to dine before heading home.

Photos

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