Great Wall of China – Best of 2014

As 2014 draws to a close I encourage everyone to take a look back at 2014 and come up with your own Best Of list.  This year was probably my best year for travel ever: 12 countries with almost half of those being new! I’d like to share with you some of my favorite experiences and pictures of 2014, in mostly sequential order.  I took just over 13000 pictures in 2014, so I had quite a few to go through, but I’ve condensed it down to my favorites.  Halfway through the year I significantly upgraded my camera and decided to take photography more seriously (hopefully you’ve noticed less overdone HDR pictures), leading to a much better-developed knack for post-processing.  As a result, I decided to go back and completely re-edit my favorites so you get the best possible edition of my favorite pictures! Great Wall of China I had honestly never been that interested in visiting China.  The Great Wall, to me, sounded like just another wall.  But that was ignorance on my part.  There’s such rich history in that part of the world, it was really unique and special to realize how much had taken place along a cultural path completely separate from that of the Western world. As I detailed in my Great Mileage Run of China post, I found an airfare I couldn’t beat to China and centered my probably-way-too-quick trip around a visit to the Great Wall.  It was incredibly special.  It should’ve always been on… read more

The Forbidden City: Great Mileage Run of China, Finale

No visit to Beijing is complete without spending at least 3-4 days there.  I completely whiffed on that one, spending a total of about 40 hours in Beijing.  But another thing everyone says you have to visit is the Forbidden City.  Located in the middle of Beijing, just north of Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City is a massive complex of almost 1000 buildings, countless artifacts, and some sweet roofing (see above).

Beijing’s Summer Palace and Peking Duck: Great Mileage Run of China, Part IV

My dear faithful readers (hi Mom!), I apologize for my delay.  My duties as a frequent flyer got in the way of my trip report, for which I apologize somewhat half-heartedly, as I did a really enjoyable mileage jog to Easter Island over the weekend.  If you’re salivating about what the trip report for those flights will look likIT WAS 6 FLIGHTS IN COACH ON A LAN 767 AND 2 ON AN AMERICAN S80…done.  That trip report (at least the cool parts) will come once I’m done with this China one, so at my current rate that means…November. Ok, back to China.

ORD-PEK American Airlines Business Class

A Correction Last post, I mentioned that I would be using British Airways Avios points to get to Philadelphia to begin my trip.  In looking over my notes, I got confused with a more recent trip I took to Costa Rica (for which I used Avios).  I updated  the other post, but wanted to clarify that I ended up taking a US Airways flight to Philadelphia (since it was so cheap, $69 one-way). The correction is actually a nice segue into the subject of this post: how did I get to China?  Writing about it is going to make me pretty bitter, honestly.  Why?  When I took the trip, I had the coveted Executive Platinum status with American Airlines, entitling me to all sorts of entitlements with which I had a tremendously entitled sense of entitledment…you get the idea.  Life is good flying as an Executive Platinum.  March 1 was a tough day for me this year.  Not for any actual reason, but March 1 is The Great Status Reset Day.  Logging into my American Airlines account was far less cool on March 1. Flying isn’t quite as fun as a Gold, but it’s ok.  I have plans and designs for earning back my EXP status as quickly as possible, for reasons I detailed in this post.  I’ll detail my strategy once this report is done. To China…I mean Philly Anyways, I made my way to DFW Airport to catch my US Airways flight.  American and US Airways have had… read more

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