Travel sustainably in Austria – Bahn zu Berg

Since I started to hike a lot again, I was also looking for nice hiking spots in Austria where I am able to travel to sustainably. My hubby and I do not own a car and never regretted not having one. He loves to go by train anyways and I am happy as long as someone else takes me vom A to B – I hate driving myself and have never gotten the hang of it. So going by public transport is not only much better for our environment, it’s also much cheaper than owning a car and much more relaxing as you do not have to cope with all the crazy people out there that have won their driving license in the lotteries.

So a couple of months ago I stumbled over “Bahn zu Berg” – a non-profit organization that is dedicated to support sustainable travel and hiking in Austria. I was hooked and therefore joined the Facebook group of theirs sharing my first hikes there. Not long in I joined the ranks of writers for the site, adding more content for hikers that are less offspring of mountain goats :P. Not much into “Berg” (= mountains) myself but more into hills (but “Bahn zu Hügel” does not sound as fancy…) as my constitution and knees are not yet ready for steep slopes and rough terrain and I am terrible scared of heights too.

So if you also want to leave your car at home or do not even own one or if you are traveling to Austria and do not want to rent an expensive car but want to go for some hiking nevertheless, you should check out the website and get some inspiration on what can be done. The site is in German only but I am sure that Google translate will work just fine as German-English translations are mostly okay nowadays. You’ll find GPX tracks for downloading to your devices as well as information on which train or bus to use, how long it takes and what the highlights of the tour are. All tours have been tried and tested by the authors themselves – we all walk the talk so to say.

Check it out, give it a try and happy hiking!

City Hiking Path #8 – Sophienalpe

My hubby and I are making progress in hiking all city hiking trails. This time we decided to hike #8 which starts in an area that looks more like being somewhere in Lower Austria than in a city of 1,9 million inhabitants. The trail starts in Kasgraben and can easily be found once you step of the bus. The path starts pretty steep, so we were trotting along slowly but surely. As soon as we reached the Franz-Karl-Viewpoint however, all effort was quickly forgotten as the view is amazing. The trail between the viewpoint and Sophienalpe was pretty frequented especially with a lot of bikers and people with kids – quite difficult to keep safe distance in the current troubled times. It was a little bit cloudy and starting to rain, so we decided to take a little break at Sophienalpe.

This decision proved to be the right one as right after Sophienalpe the trail steeply goes down a gravel slope that can be quite tricky when wet. Afterwards it was an easy hike through the woods where we were mostly alone – seems everyone else took a different way down again then we did. We also came across a nature playground of the nature kids kindergarden which reminded me a little bit of my youth playing outside in the woods next to my home. We really should have more of those.

Close to the end of the trail we stumbled over two historic sites where we took some time to check them out. First was the “Türkensteine” which have been transferred here by field marshal Gideon Ernst von Loudon after the taking of Belgrad in 1789. It’s quite an interesting read! Next was the tomb of Gideon Ernst von Loudon himself which is pretty amazing with it’s carved details and the statue of a warrior in mourning. It’s fascinating that you are actually hiking through the garden of his palace!

After that it was just a short path next to the Mauerbach until we were back at the bus station again. We were lucky that we had only a couple minutes to wait – the intervals are pretty terrible out there.

Overall it was a nice and easy hike which had interesting and historically fascinating spots that have not been known by me until then.

Want to hike it too? The tour and GPX data can be found here at my komoot account: https://www.komoot.de/tour/248839389

Wienerwald hiking – Rodaun to Kaltenleutgeben

My hubby and I decided that we needed some more training for our vacations where we will be hiking in the mountains. Therefore this weeks hiking trip was planned with some more changes in altitude.

We had set our alarm as we wanted to start early in the morning but we were woken to the sound of heavy raining. I was totally frustrated as the weather forecast had been talking about clouds and sun the days before. We decided to not give up easily and got ready with a relaxing and slow breakfast. After about an hour the rain had stopped completely and we picked up our gear and headed out.

We started of in Rodaun – one of 8 parts of the 23rd district of Vienna that is right next to the huge woodland Wienerwald. It’s really nice there as you can drop around any corner and start hiking. However it’s uphill all the time and hell, was I huffing and puffing! I guess I need to find mountains that are very very small for our vacation 😛

First stop was at the nature reserve of the European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus) in the “Perchtoldsdorfer Heide”. The core part is secured heavily in order not to disturb this endangered species by hikers and their dogs. I was looking forward to seeing them because I had spent a lot of time studying a different population during my studies of biology and just love those little fur babies. But sadly they were late sticking their noses out of their lair. So we just enjoyed the great view and visited the sheep population that they let graze there.

Afterwards it was up, up, up again – but this time through the woods. After some time we reached the Franz Ferdinand Schutzhaus which was not open yet due to a recent fire. So any break was postponed until later. We tried to reach the “Teufelsklippenstollen” though that’s situated next to it and is supposed to be a small, probably man-made cave that nobody knows anything about any more. The path was too steep and too slippery though, so we decided that looking at it from above was as much as it would get. I am very afraid of heights and am not very trusting when it comes to steep pathways as when I was little I once almost fell of a cliff while hiking with my father.

After climbing back to the main track we followed the signposts to the Kammersteinerhütte and the “Josefswarte”. It has a nice area to sit outside so we decided to take a break and got ourselves a drink. I also decided that I wanted to climb up the stairs to the top platform and even though I am afraid of heights that was really easy to do. And it was so worth the effort! The view is so great up there that you could spend hours just watching. We als met a couple from Styria there on top that was trying to shoot a selfie with a great view. As it was really looking awfully uncomfortable, I decided to step in and offered them to take the picture for them. We then started to chat a little bit and had a great laugh trying to figure out what we actually see from up there.

Afterwards it was mostly downhills – just as my mother always used to say: if you climb up, you’ll need to climb down eventually. We stumbled over a nice little spring on our way before we started a very steep descent throught the “Eisgraben”. Before our trip I read about the historic meaning of the “Eisgrabenhöhle” – an about 5 x 2 m big cave – during World War II and seeing it in person gave me the shivers. If you want to read the experience report of a young girl from this time, you can do it here (German only).

At the end of the “Eisgraben” we reached the small town Kaltenleutgeben. We could have taken the bus from there home but even though our feet were already a little bit tired, we wanted to stick with it until the end. We followed the main road until we were able to take a path into the woods again. For the last time on this trip it was a short hike uphill to pass by the “Eichkogel” – the biggest hill of the 23rd district. From there we followed part of the City hiking path 6 in the wrong direction back towards Rodaun. At that moment we were unsure if we are looking forward to tackling that hiking path as in the right direction it will be uphill for quite some time :).

When we reached the bus station we just missed our bus by an inch. We were so frustrated! And due to the fact that we had started later than planned, we now where also not able to reach the restaurant we had planned on eating at before they closed down for the day. So we decided to just take the next bus home and order something online. An hour later we sat munching burgers happily and feeling great – except for our feet that were heavily complaining about the longest trip they have taken since quite some time.

Want to hike it too? The tour and GPX data can be found here at my komoot account: https://www.komoot.de/tour/240384130

City Hiking Path #9 – Prater

The city hiking path #9 starts close to one of the major hubs of Vienna – Praterstern (train station, subway U1 or U2). Don’t let yourself be led astray by the amusement park. This time it’s all about being off into the greens and not having fun on a rollercoaster ride.

You do not follow the main avenue for long and steer to the right on to less traveled paths with a lot less runners and cyclists. It’s still a lot like hiking through a park in the beginning though until you reach the “Lusthaus”. Designed and build as a hunting lodge, it is now used as a coffee shop and restaurant. However we rather grabbed something to drink at the Gösser Bierinsel next to it as this is were you get your stamp. And you already know: if you don’t have a stamp, there’s nothing to prove that you hiked here 🙂

After the Lusthaus you are getting farther into the “wilds” – less park style, more trees, small ponds and less trotted pathways. We even stumbled over a small church right in the middle of nowhere which – as it was Sunday – was visited well (sadly from a lot of people ignoring the current corona safety rules). I didn’t even know that Maria Grün existed or that it is actually a pilgrimage church founded in 1924. I find it surprising how much I can still learn from a city that I have been living in for 25 years.

This was not the only unexpected treasure on this trail – you can also find some amazing urban art on the walls of an underpass. I am quite a fan of urban graffiti as long as it’s not only writing (which I can never read) and this one you really have to see for yourself! So much detail, the concept is Viennese transport system related and it tells a great story painted on a huge area. I would not even be able to do it on a piece of paper …

Soon after this piece of art you are coming to the end of the hiking path. But before you rush off to your well deserved rest (and some nice food on the Prater Hauptallee), be careful when crossing the railway tracks. The Liliputbahn is a miniature train that provides a full-fletched railway experience for kids with a special station and 3,9 km of tracks with crossings and signals. There are 6 different miniature locomotives with two steam engines being my absolut favorites. Sadly those are only used on days with a lot of visitors and therefore are hard to see by chance. However here we were just in time to wait for the diesel engine D3 to pass by.

Last but not least I have to say that I was quite positively surprised by this 13 km hiking path. All the time I was amazed that we were actually hiking right in the middle of the city. It’s really a fast way to stick your nose into nature if you do not have time to travel far.

Want to hike it too? The tour and GPX data can be found here at my komoot account: https://www.komoot.de/tour/213108786

City Hiking Path #7 – Laaer Berg

Sundays are hiking days now if the weather is fine – which it was with sunny 31 degrees Celsius this weekend. A friend, my hubby and I have decided to hike all the Viennese city hiking paths to collect the hiking pin you can get for successfully following all those trails. We all love some bling-bling 😉 We have done the city hiking path #9 a couple of weeks ago (I will add a blog post on that later on) so this time we decided to hike trail #7 which runs close to were another friend of ours lives.

The path starts at a pretty ugly point of Vienna (my personal opinion) – the “Verteilerkreis Favoriten” which is a big distribution circuit in the 10th district. It’s best reached by subway U1 (station: Altes Landgut) or via bus 15a if you are heading there from were I live.

In the beginning the road snakes through less traveled side streets passing by the stadium of one of the two most famous Viennese football clubs, the FK Austria Wien. Don’t wear anything dark green when passing by as you might get accidentally mistaken to be fan of their enemy football club :P.

You finally enter the fun part of the trail when you reach the “Böhmische Prater” – a miniature version of the big Prater amusement park. It takes just a couple of minutes to walk through to give you a feeling how small it really is but it also has a Ferris wheel.

After that it’s hiking through a classic pannonian dry grasland which sometimes changes to small vinyards or fields of millet, vegetables and sunflowers. The area looks rather like being somewhere out in the countryside than in the biggest city of Austria. Halfway through, after about 2h hiking, we made a little break at the stamping point “Brückenwirt” to catch our breath, get a well deserved elder flower drink and the stamp to prove we have really been there.

Continuing onwards the look and feel changes dramatically as soon as you reach the small brook Liesing. I love the natural look of this part of the brook – it’s actually a nice place to relax with smaller kids as you can be assured that nothing seriously can happen in those shallow waters. We live close to the same brook in the 23rd district but there it is less de-regulated yet and therefore less nice to hop into to cool down a little bit.

When you start to hear the cars again, you know that you are coming to the end of the hiking path. Civilization sneaks in again more and more until you are back where you started.

Last but not least I have to say that even though it’s a nice hike, it’s not one I would probably do again. With 15 km it’s the longest of the city hiking paths and it’s probably also one of the hikes with the least change in altitude. Shade is scarce, so it should be planned for a day which is less sunny than it was last Sunday. Signs are well positioned and visible, so it can be easily followed without even the smallest chance of getting lost anywhere.

Want to hike it too? The tour and GPX data can be found here at my komoot account: https://www.komoot.de/tour/231685870

I am back

Well, it’s been quite some time since my last post. Life has been a little bit like a rollercoaster and the blog got a little bit too much to handle at that time. But now I am back and promise to fill you in with news now and again 🙂

It all started out when my husband and I decided to follow one of our oldest hobbies – standard and latin dancing – again in spring 2019. We had trained up to gold star level 20 years ago and lost the drive after due to not having a dancing class offered closer to where we lived at that time. Now we started again and we were having so much fun dancing at least 2 times a week and taking the exams for bronze and silver (which we never had the guts to do before) – until Corona forced us to stop. It took away a lot of our spare time though, so my other hobbies got a little bit time limited.

However that doesn’t mean that I was not busy crafting too. I just did not have much time posting. I did a lot of beading, crocheting and I even picked up brush and paints again for some miniature painting. I tried myself on micro macrame jewelry too and am quite happy about that first result.

Now with everything still quite restricted (no cinema yet, no going out with friends for a nice chat over some cocktails, …) and with a lot of home office and little to nothing daily activity, my hubby and I decided to pull out another of my long lost hobbies: Hiking. When I was a kid my father did a lot of hiking and we kids were forced to be part of it. I partly loved and hated it. I learned a lot from my father about plants and animals that way and how to navigate and survive in the “wild”. We even sneaked in those little visits to the local wine taverns now and again without my mother knowing – she would have disapproved heavily wasting money there but it was always our little secret. Maybe the reason why I picked up hiking again is also that my father passed away in December last year and I keep thinking a lot about him and the fun we had together. So be warned: starting from now you will also read quite a lot about hiking trips around Austria here 🙂

Things to do in Vienna: SherLockd

Welcome to my new blog category “Things to do in Vienna” where I would like to introduce places to go and other stuff to do in my hometown Vienna.

Last Saturday we have been invited by our friends to one of the escape room games that are currently sprouting all around the city. We picked SherLockd as my hubby loves Sherlock Holmes and also because it has a lot of good reviews.

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Location:

The game is located in the 14th district pretty close to the subway station Hütteldorfer Strasse. Therefore it is easily reachable with the orange line U3. The rooms are build into the cellar of one of the residential houses and you actually have to know what you are looking for or you just walk by. But as soon as you enter you step into the world of Sherlock Holmes and are greeted by the correct detective equipment.

Introduction:

We received a great introduction on what is allowed and what not (like picking up or drinking the room fragrance ;)). As well we were shown the different types of locks so that we would not need to figure out how they were supposed to work during the short period. We were confident that with the intro we received, we would make it for sure.

Game:

We picked Holmes I where Watson receives a message from Holmes writing that he has set up a bunch of riddles so that Watson is not bored during his absence. So poor Watson is all on his own in a room and needs to escape in 1 hour.  Easy you would think? Think twice! The beginning was pretty straight forward but the puzzles got more challenging. I was really surprise on the amount of different puzzle types that make up the whole game: Cryptographic algorithms, combination puzzles, puzzles using UV light or hot water, puzzles you could figure out on your own and those you need two or more at the same time, puzzle where you need finesse and some you could plunder into, … We really had a lot of fun trying to figure it all out and our brains were on fire.

Overall summary:

If you are in Vienna with some friends or family members and have one hour to spare than go for it! Book a slot at SherLockd and maybe, just maybe you are able to escape! We made it to 75% (sadly due to the fact that one lock was hard to open and we wasted way to much time on it) but we will definitely be back for another run with another challenge.

The end (… of 2018)

Well, well, well …. haven’t I been naughty not to write for such a long time. Life has been tough the last month and time was a limited resource. A lot has happened though that I like to share with you.

The last weekend in November I visited the VIECC, the Vienna Comic Convention. It’s a pretty big convention for geeks and nerds and cosplayers and it was a lot of fun to look at the great costumes everyone was wearing. As well I got autographs from Walter Bishop (alias John Noble) and the 7th doctor (alias Sylvester McCoy). Both are great actors as well as super-cool people – the first really took his time while autographic chatting with everyone and the later is so funny I had a stomach ache from laughing.

Sadly, two days after I started to struggle with the inflammation of a tendon just below the right knee that left me in pain for a whole week. It was impossible to sit for long periods and craft and keeping up my running training was not an option at all.

As soon as I was better, I went on vacation to the hot spring in Tyrolia. It’s a tradition by now that I am always looking forward to. Lots of warm water, nice crisp air, great food and relaxing time just for ourselves. I spent some time tatting but most of the time I was just playing some handheld games or reading.

After that I only had one more week at home before heading off to Berlin for some Christmas vacation. As neither my husband nor I have lots of family visit responsibilities, we usually are spending Christmas all around the world. It’s fun to see how other countries celebrate – and Berlin especially is a city I have fallen in love with before. This meant one week of lots of walking around the city that added up to more than 75 km on my sports watch :).

And last but not least hardly back home again, we went to visit a friend of mine with her hubby and two kids for Years End. It’s also a tradition by now as we hardly meet during the year and therefore established this fixed date each year. It was fun again but now I am happy to stay home again and have some time to think about the new year and what I want to achieve.

Vacation apologies and new spirit

I want to apologize to my readers for not posting the last couple of weeks. I actually wanted to set up everything, so that during my vacation I would be able to release new blog posts while traveling to the other side of the world (literally).But then spirits were low and I just could not make myself craft anything – too much heat and too much stress added up to me actually sitting after work not doing anything at all. Even my hubby realized that something was terribly wrong as I only do not craft when I am feeling really really bad….

But vacation gave me the long needed break and the refocus on what I love. Travelling with my hubby and seeing beautiful places is definitely on top of this list. We spent three totally cool weeks in New Zealand traveling slowly around the north island. It was great not to be too rushed, so that we could take in beautiful scenery and a bunch of totally amazing people. I definitely fell in love with Kiwis who are so friendly and open-minded – even the staff at the airport (security and bio diversity) are laughing, friendly and having a good time. Below are just a bunch of impressions – I still have to sort out 2000 pics from my hubby and myself. I will write a little bit more over the next weeks and will pep up my posts with some stories from our trip.

Of course I could not come back from New Zealand without at least a little bit of something to craft. I was stupid enough to plan Napier on a Sunday so that I could not shop at the only yarn store I could convince my hubby to plan into our trip. But I found a nice little shop in Auckland that sold beautiful New Zealand-ish bookmarks and fat quarters. However I was not able to put the whole store into my luggage, but I know I will be coming back anyway, so next time I’ll just plan accordingly.

This Saturday I could also convince my hubby to visit the local baking and crafting show – which actually was very disappointing. I always envy people from other countries like US, UK or even Germany because there craft shows are big and beautiful and totally devastating on your budget. Here it was just terribly small and hardly anything worth looking at – until my hubby pointed out the nice little display of Wolloase multicoloured yarn bobbels. He even got quite into a frenzy pointing out one bobbel he liked after another. He definitely is a keeper ;). So we ended up with three bobbels and a hand full of beading stuff and this wife went home pretty happy.

With spirit high again I have now huge plans for the next months: one of this bobbels will become a Grinda Shawl, I will participate in the Havana CAL and I still need to finish my hubbies blanket before it gets really cold. As well I start thinking about Christmas presents – not sure what those will be this year. And a friend had a baby shortly before my vacation and I am thinking of whipping up a baby blanket for her too. So look forward to a lot of new projects on this blog soon.

Flower doily and vacation planning

img_0767This week was not very creative: I am currently spending my time finalizing my vacation planning. We will be traveling to New Zealand soon and I am already pretty excited about it. The route is planned fully and now I just need to make sure that we have somewhere to sleep. And of course ask my friend Google where to find good yarn stores on the North island….

In the little time left I started a flowery doily. I have not crocheted with thread for quite some time now and it was weird working with the small crochet hook again. The thread also cuts much more into my finger, the one I use for an even tension. I just finished before it drew blood. Sadly it is still on the blocking board, so please don’t be mad at me for the bad picture. It will be a nice addition to my round dinner table, so as soon as it is try I will shoot a better one.

Bucket List #2: Visit Filitheyo Island

20170903_100914In my last post I have been half way to Maldives already, so it was only a short jump from Dubai to Malé. We found the lounge, where we were supposed to get our tickets for the water taxi, easily thanks to the good description from the local agency Maldives Exclusive we had booked our holidays wih this time. Actually it’s really not easy to get lost at Velana International Airport as the support there is really good. By bus we were brought to the waiting area for the water taxi and only after a short wait we were ready to fly. It takes 40 minutes by plane and 15 more minutes by boat to Filitheyo – but that time flies by quickly as you watch turquoise water passing by underneath.

20170910_164247The first you see when approaching Filitheyo Island are the water bungalows – bungalows build over the sea with a special entry to the water. No sand and beach though so we actually are not a fan of those – you just won’t get that special Robinson feeling there – and I don’t think  that they are worth the extra money.

20170903_112108As soon as we stepped from the boat we took of our shoes – it’s a barefoot island after all. We were seated and brought a nice mocktail and some fresh coconut to get into the tropcial spirit. After a short information session – we were returners after all – we were brought to our bungalow. We were so happy as we actually really got the one we had last time as we had requested.
IMG_0452Honestly – it’s the best one right in front of the best part of the house reef. And most people pick water bungalows or bungalows closer to the bar areas – so it’s much more secluded. We had no neighbors during the whole stay and we also never had to share the beach area.

We settled right in – jumped into our bathing stuff and settled down on the beach beneath the trees (not palm trees as those tend to drop coconuts and old branches – and you really don’t want to get hit by those). We were very tired after the flight, so we mostly slept and actually went for a swim the next day for the first time. The house reef was just as beautiful as we remembered and we were hard pressed not to stay too long each time as the sun is pretty intense. Never swim without a shirt! We tried to shoot underwater pictures for the first time, so hopefully I am able to show you some fishes soon.

IMG_0443Every day when it was nice and sunny (almost every day :)), we went to the sunset bar. It’s one of two bars on the island and actually the one we prefer. It’s situated next to 20170910_164823the pool – you could even order your cocktail from inside the pool itself. However we preferred to stay dry and just enjoyed the sun and the nice view while sipping a cocktail. Best of all – there was a happy hour every day from 3 to 5pm and as the sun starts to settle at around 5, it’s almost perfect.

 

Filitheyo Island is simply paradise.

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Visit Filitheyo Island – double check ✅

Bucket list #1: Flying Business class with Emirates in an A380

The last three weeks I have been a little bit quiet as I have been on vacation without internet access. Sorry for not replying to any comments – I will get to them soon. But I have gathered a lot of impressions during that time that I want to share with you over the next blog postings.

20170902_131829My hubby and I really love to fly with Emirates Airlines. For several reasons: not only is the staff overly friendly even in Economy class, the space there is also bigger than on some other airlines and food is always delicious. You get a lot of soft drinks without ever needing to ask (or beg as I needed once during another airline’s flight). Dubai airport is also nice to pass your time during transfer with a lot of sitting areas and nice shops to look at. So this year, heading for Maldives, it comes to no surprise that we picked Emirates again – especially as the flight from Vienna to Dubai was on an A380!

20170902_135728Then it happened – we got an email that we were eligible for an upgrade to Business class for a certain, reasonable amount of money. My hubby was already all ears – he had read before about the Business class in an Emirates A380. So after quite some thought – and various checks that this email had not been a fraud – he upgraded us. I was dubious at first – is it really worth the money? We had been upgraded to Business class for free once on another flight with a different airline and it was okay but not spectacular. I just didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Just let me tell you one thing: put this experience on your bucket list and you will never regret it!

20170902_145601At the airport you are singled out in order to get a priority boarding. We actually boarded together with part of the crew.  Because of that you can make yourself very, very, very (add 100 more “very” here) comfortable on the top floor of the plane. Remember this foot space that never seems to be big enough in Economy? Definitely no worries here – I am a small person but even my tall hubby had enough room to stretch in here. The seat can be moved to the front or the back in order to adjust to your size and can be made totally flat if you want to sleep. Or halfway down if you want to watch your movie in a really comfy position. The screen makes you feel like in your own personal cinema. Remember these controls that look like a TV remote? Here you have an Ipad to use for controls if you are too lazy to use the touch screen. Or to watch those cameras that show you where you are while watching the movie on the big screen.

20170902_164106You are not even settled down yet and a stewardess steps up and offers you soft drinks, wine or even champagne – Moët champagne – to celebrate in style. Those nuts you get in Economy for a first snack – nope those are not fancy enough to suit the luxury used clientel. Here you get them on a plate and they are slightly warm. No peanuts here – pistachios, almonds and – oh yummy – cashews!

20170902_151830Then the menue is handed out – even though Economy is always really delicious, Business class can still top that. You get a menue with a lot more options and you even get a wine card to select which high end wine you want to take with your meal. To be honest in Business class I threw my rule of not drinking alcohol during flights quickly overboard …

The meal itself is like dining in a fine restaurant – it’s just up in 30000 feet. You even get a table cloth! How crazy it that!

And finally you have to make one last trip – to the back of the plane where the bar resides. There you can get a cocktail or mocktail and – in case you are still hungry which I don’t know if that ever can happen – grab a snack.

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Flying Business class on an A380 of Emirates – check ✅