AC Premium Economy YVR-HK

September 18, 2014

It wasn’t long at home in Ottawa after our electives in Nova Scotia until we had to go back to Brisbane.

One on hand, I was tired of living out of a suitcase these last 2 months and excited to get settled back into our house with Mike. On the other hand, I wanted to stay in Canada longer with my family and friends!

We had an early 7:45am flight – thank you to my mom, brother and Uncle 3 for taking us (and all our luggage) to the airport!

Last selfie in Ottawa… I really don’t know when we’ll be back 😦

IMG_7877

We usually book our international flights out of Canada with Air Canada, for their prices and good service. While looking into our flight back to Brisbane, Michael came across Air Canada’s Premium Economy Class, which at the time, cost approximately $100 more than a regular economy class ticket. A section in between business class and economy class, sounded appealing!

After a bit of research, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fly Premium Economy at such a low additional cost. You can read more about it HERE, but these are some of the perks we appreciated with Premium Economy class:

  • Wider seats, more recline, more legroom
  • Larger entertainment screen
  • 2 checked bags
  • Hot towel service and premium meals served on china dishware
  • Amenity kit
  • Earn 125% Aeroplan Miles
  • Best of all: priority check in, boarding and baggage handling

There are currently only a few selected routes that offer Premium Economy, including Montreal to Paris and Vancouver to London. We chose to fly Vancouver to Hong Kong.

Although we bought a Premium Economy ticket from Ottawa to Hong Kong, that class was (as expected) not available on our flight from Ottawa to Vancouver. Instead, we were given preferred seats (extra leg room, close to front) with a complimentary meal. We were also able to enjoy all the priority services with this leg of the flight – which to us, is one of the best parts of traveling.

Vancouver to Hong Kong was much more exciting 😛

Flight AC007 on a 77W
Seats 14A & 14B
Depart Vancouver 13:00 Sept 18
Arrive Hong Kong 17:05 Sept 19
Flight time: Approx 11.5 hrs

Here is what the cabin looked like. Surprisingly, it was practically empty, there must’ve been around 10 of us in total.

IMG_7882

The seats, as you can see, are wider (50.8cm) with more leg room (7″)

IMG_7878

Felt quite spacious!

IMG_7880

Larger screens at 26.4cm/10.4in

IMG_7881

Settled in and ready for a long flight!

IMG_7886

Our welcome beverage of orange juice – no other choices were offered.

IMG_7889

Our flight menu, handed out at the beginning of our flight along with newspapers

IMG_7892

Our amenity kit. Had the essentials (toothbrush/toothpaste, eye mask, ear plugs, and socks) although not nearly as nice as the ones given in Business/First class 😉

IMG_7894

Our first meal of green salad with balsamic olive oil dressing. Grilled Alberta AAA beef tenderloin with morel mushroom sauce, red skin mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, broccolini, zucchini and carrots. Bread and butter. Cappuccino cake. The salad was fresh and crisp although I’ve had much better bread. Beef was well done and bland, however, the meal was overall good, especially because the dessert was quite nice.

IMG_7896

Wine was good too!

IMG_7897

We did not realize that only one meal was premium. For our next meal, it was the same as served in Economy class. A choice between Shanghai noodles with chicken or Beef stroganoff with mushroom cream sauce and rotini pasta, with bread and a fruit salad. Meal was so so!

IMG_7899

IMG_7900

 

Prior to landing, we were also served a snack of chicken salad sandwich and Peak Freans cookies.

Despite the cabin being nearly empty, we found the service to run the extremes – either super rushed or insanely slow. For example, flight attendants flew around the cabin to give us menus and amenity kits and just as quickly zipped away. Later during the flight, when we pushed the call button, we were actually never attended to – which has never happened to us, ever, on any flight. I had garbage leftover from a meal that was never collected and I wanted to get rid of it so I could stow away my table while Mike wanted a drink. During our 15+ minute wait, we rang the bell 3 times, in case they didn’t hear us or was busy at the time and forgot. Eventually, we were able to flag an attendant who appeared but disregarded our call light. Service was particularly disappointing, as it was way below the average service we’ve received in Economy class.

Some of the advertised perks of Premium Economy are not unique, such as power outlets/USB ports and complimentary wine & spirits, and pillow/blanket (did not receive a ‘large’ pillow like advertised) which are also available for Economy Class passengers.

Overall, we definitely enjoyed the flight and the perks that came with it, especially priority services, extra baggage, extra seat and leg room, and better food. Would we purchase a Premium Economy class ticket again? Yes, certainly if the price difference was as small as this time!

 

 

Mike & Meaghan’s birthday!

September 15, 2014

After a fiasco with booking our bus tickets to Kingston, we had to resort to asking Mike’s dad to drive up to Ottawa and get us. Thank goodness for him!

Today was a special family day, an early joint birthday celebration for Michael and and his sister Meaghan! Mike was turning 35 on Sept 21st and the first time he’s been home to celebrate with his family in over a decade. And Meaghan was turning the big 30 on Sept 26th.

Got to spend some quality time with the family, including Mike’s parents (Greg & Caroline), his brother Matt with his wife Jessice and 2 children, Jasper and RInoa, Aunt Patsy & Uncle Dan, as well as Uncle Jim & Aunt Brenda 🙂

Started off the day with a delicious lunch, thanks Matt – you make awesome grilled cheese! My mom sent a coconut lemon poppy seed cake that was fantastic and a hit with the family as well.

For dinner, Mike’s mum made meatballs, beans, caesar salad, and biscuits from Aunt Patsy – yum!

After dinner came the cake and singing! Caroline made 2 cakes, chocolate for Mike and vanilla for Meaghan.

IMG_7840

The vanilla cake provided lots of good laughs! It was supposed to be a lady bug 😉 … a pretty cute one!

IMG_7866

Look at that smile!

IMG_7867

IMG_7843

Happy early birthday guys! 🙂

IMG_7846

IMG_7847

Great to catch up!

IMG_7841

Aunt Brenda & Uncle Jim

IMG_7851

The birthday siblings

IMG_7852

With Uncle Jim

IMG_7853

The cute nephew, Jasper!

IMG_7854

IMG_7855

Uncle Dan & Aunt Patsy – see you soon in Australia!

IMG_7858

Mike’s dad and his youngest grandchild 🙂

IMG_7863

Jasper excited for cake!

IMG_7862

Matt and his son Jasper. Cake and ice cream, what better way to end the night?

IMG_7868

IMG_7869

And finally, some family photos!

IMG_7870

IMG_7873

IMG_7875

My last opportunity to spend time with Mike’s family 😦 Thank you for having me and can’t wait until we see you again in Australia!

Good food and dressing well

September 13, 2014

An early flight back to Ottawa from Halifax, thanks Matt for driving us to the airport! We can’t wait to see your family in Adelaide next year!

We got back to my house around 11am and went to lunch with Ruixi and Chris! Similar to last year, we were all craving Perkins, so breakfast for lunch was perfect! It was so nice to see them and catch up, especially since so much has happened since we hung out with them at Perkins last year, including a wedding and honeymoon! 😉

When my mom got home from work that evening, we ordered Shawarma Palace (of course) and joined my grandparents for dinner.

Shawarma chicken and beef platters… how I miss you!

IMG_8619

My mum and grandpa

IMG_8616

Family minus Jenni!

IMG_8617

Enjoying some Jost Maple Ice Wine, thanks Dan! He and Mike had a sports bet and he lost. The prize? A nice Canadian bottle of ice wine, which we shared with family 🙂

IMG_8620

Chicken, beef, rice, potatoes, garlic sauce, pickles, hummus, bread, salad… mmm

IMG_8622

My lovely grandparents!

IMG_8626

Always fun having dinner with my grandparents 🙂

IMG_8628

Some of you might know or remember that I’ve kept a coin collection since I was young. A very amateur collection, spurred by the release of the 1999 Millenium coins. Even now, my grandma will save new/different/fancy coins she comes across for me to riffle through and pick ones to save.

Here’s the collection of quarters she’s kept for me! Just going through them to see which ones I don’t have and can add to my collection, thanks grandma!

IMG_8632

My brother makes the best faces and takes the best selfies!

IMG_8644

September 14, 2014

The following day, my brother, Mike and I went on an ambitious adventure. Andy was going to photograph some engagement photos for us. He had a few sites picked out to visit and we had lots of fun, although I can’t say many of the photos turned out 😛 But when they’re ready I’ll share!

One fun aspect, we got to dress up a bit! My mom and aunt were going to come along as well, but unfortunately she had a prior engagement so mum and I took a few photos together at home instead 🙂

IMG_8649

IMG_8654

Can you tell what we did on our photo shoot? 😛 So serious!

IMG_2160

Check out my brother, the “pro”

IMG_2162

Two hands mama!

IMG_2165

And what did we finish the day with?

Delicious home made Phở Tái (Vietnamese noodle soup with beef cooked rare) before addition of herbs and garnishes, thank mum!

IMG_2167

And of course, who can forget Benny! So cute, but he’s so camera shy!

IMG_2173

Only $1, what a deal! I missed having these, brought back memories from childhood 🙂

IMG_2176

Last moments with friends in Halifax

September 12, 2014

Our last night in Halifax, Matt and Laura were kind enough to let us have a BBQ at their house for one last chance to see everyone! Thank you Dan, Will, Ian & Sarah, Mike & Tina, and Christine & Stella for dropping by and spending time with us! We will miss you all!

Here are a few photos I took with Laura and Christine and their daughters playing outside while we waited for the boys to return from Go-Karting.

Beep beep!

IMG_7816

IMG_7831

Stella was so shy initially!

IMG_7838

Isabelle is such a miniature version of Matt, it is uncanny. So adorable!

IMG_7820

IMG_7821

IMG_7824

Haha, this is her ‘smelling the flowers’ face, so cute!

IMG_7828

Hopping/skipping/running down the neighbourhood!

IMG_7835

Smiles with Christine and Isabelle!

IMG_8590

Some mommy daughter moments

IMG_8591

IMG_8592

IMG_8593

Sorry I didn’t take more photos with everyone who came by, but thank you to EVERYONE for your time and hospitality during our stay in Halifax, we miss you all tons!

Blackberries at Point Pleasant Park

September 07, 2014

This should’ve been talked about a few posts back, oops!

The evening of our Food Truck Adventure Day, we decided to go for a nice stroll in Point Pleasant Park

Our biggest surprise, blackberries. Blackberries everywhere! Bushes with huge, ripe, sweet blackberries at every turn. Even though we were completely stuffed from our food truck adventure, we ate so many blackberries, it was ridiculous.

We walked around with a never ending palm-ful of blackberries because… looks how many are around! 😛

IMG_7796

Even the park animals were enjoying them!

IMG_7798

IMG_7801

IMG_7803

After eating our weight in blackberries, we spent 5 minutes picking some to take home for Laura and Isabelle. Look how many we picked in such a short period of time!

IMG_2135

Although distracted, we eventually made it to the tip of Point Pleasant Park while the sun was still up! This is looking out at the mouth of Halifax Harbour – you can see McNabs Island in the distance…. and the moon, and a cargo ship.

IMG_7807

Lots of smooth rocks on the shore for stone skipping!

IMG_7806

(We are such losers, I couldn’t remember the word ‘shore’ and asked Mike what is the area between land and water for this photo called. He answered, quite seriously, “the rock carpet.” I had to look up synonyms for the word ‘beach’ to enlighten myself. Early morning brain fart for the both of us!)

I love him 🙂

IMG_7804

Post exam dinner at Agricola Street Brasserie

September 11, 2014

Ecstatic to have completed our Medical Specialties exam, we were looking forward to a nice dinner with friends. A highly anticipated visit to Agricola Street Brasserie – finally! We were joined for dinner by Laura, Matt and their daughter Isabelle, as well as Ian & Sarah. 🙂

I have to apologize that we didn’t take many photos, too busy enjoying the food and everyone’s company!

You are immediately invited into the restaurant by the great atmosphere and friendly waitstaff. High ceilings, very rustic (yet classy) looking with mood lighting.

IMG_2287

We all enjoyed a cocktail to start, great choices available, although I can’t remember what we ordered now! Once our dinner orders in, some nice house bread and whipped butter were brought to the table. The butter was presented in cute mini jam jars, a cute touch!

We ordered a few appetizers to share, including a cheese plate with local and imported cheeses ($14). The cheese variety (can’t remember, sorry!) was interesting and tasty, served with bread, crisps and mango chutney. I think most of us enjoyed the blue cheese most, which was unexpected! With the amount of cheese on the plate, it could’ve definitely used more crisps or bread, although I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a problem if we had asked for more.

Mike and I picked out 2 dishes to try and share with everyone. The first was Classic Beef Tartare ($15). I quite liked the presentation of this dish, mainly because of the egg yolk in a half shell you pour over the beef yourself. Simple, but nice touch! The tartare was nicely seasoned accompanied perfectly with the dijon mustard and served with grilled bread – yum!

IMG_2284

The other appetizer we chose was Snails & Mushrooms, Garlic & Parsley Butter, Almond & Thyme Tartine ($13). This dish was fantastic! Heaping amounts of really tasty large snails and mushrooms atop 3 slices of bread. The bread soaked up all the juices, making sure we didn’t lose any of the delicious flavours! Unfortunately, only one other person at the table, aside from Mike and I, tried this dish with us. The others missed out!

The appetizer portions were a great value for the price. Unlike numerous other restaurants we’ve visited, these appetizers could easily be enjoyed between a group of 6 people!

For mains, Michael chose the Thai Sausage, Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts, Thai Chilies, Cilantro ($19). Really tasty dish with a lovely fragrant and texture to the sausage. However, we both felt that it could’ve used a small portion of seasoned rice or other form of carb to balance out the taste and look of this dish.

IMG_2285

Ian and myself chose the Basmati Rice & Chick Pea Salad, Vegetables & Herbs, Ginger, Lime, Olive Oil ($14). Flavours, delicious. I loved the crispness of the fried chick peas, they added really good texture to the dish. I’m generally not a fan of basmati rice compared to other types but this salad was done well with fresh vegetables and a nice, crisp dressing. The only thing about this dish that I didn’t enjoy? Too many hot chilies for my palate, I had to pick out quite a few!

IMG_2286

Other mains ordered at our table include the Roasted Halibut, Sweet Pea Puréeé, Mussel Butter, Pea & Brocoli ($27) which was thoroughly enjoyed with no complaints.

Another was the Seared Scallops, Cauliflower three ways, Bacon, Apple & Thyme ($25), which was unfortunately a disappointment. The scallops did not have a beautiful golden sear on them and the vegetables, especially cauliflower three ways, was too lacking. Compared to the serving size of other dishes, including appetizers, this one was tiny. Visually and conceptually, I think this dish needs to be rethought.

At one point during our dinner, the restaurant manager, Peter Goneau, stopped by our table to say hello and see how the evening was going. Mike and I always appreciate when staff go the extra mile to check in on their customers!

Everybody enjoyed desserts, some of which are not listed on the current menu. Matt had ordered a creme brulee while Laura enjoyed a sundae. Ian and Sarah enjoyed a chocolate pot de creme.

Mike and I shared what we thought would be a strawberry cheesecake. But it turned out to be almost a mix between cheesecake and strawberry shortcake. Mike was so disappointed but I quite liked it!

IMG_2289

At one point during dinner, I took a bathroom break, where I discovered 2 things:

  1. Really cool toilets! Individual private bathrooms with great personality. Love some of the unique touches like the faucets, and the door handles which were crafted from pipes.
  2. The open kitchen, that you can sit and dine at. As this area is tucked away from the main dining room, I had no idea but this would definitely be where I’d want to sit at for my next meal. Enjoying good food while seeing the magic happen in the kitchen, yes please!

IMG_2290

Great ambiance, attentive service, reasonable prices and overall very tasty food – one of my most enjoyable restaurant experiences during my time in Halifax. I’m keen to see what seasonal dishes will be on their menu the next time I visit!

Agricola Street Brasserie on Urbanspoon

One last meal with Bill at Dharma Sushi

Sept 10, 2014

Bill drove Michael up into the city from New Germany as we had our final exam the following day.

Of course, we couldn’t say farewell without a final meal together. We ended up at Dharma Sushi, one of Bill’s favourite Japanese restaurants. Walked into a narrow restaurant with 2 rows of small tables lining the walls, a few occupied by obvious regular patrons – always a good sign!

IMG_2275

Started with some warm sake around the table! Couldn’t celebrate too much, had an exam to study for! 😉

IMG_2274

We shared a couple of appetizers, including a dish of Gyoza (6pcs for $7.95). Thin, crispy, delicate skins enveloping a nicely seasoned meat filling.

IMG_2281

I also chose a 10pc Dharma Diamond specialty roll with crispy avocado, Eel, Salmon, & spicy sauce with golden roe and chives on top ($12.95). Lovely blend of textures and flavours, highly recommend this roll if you’re dining at Dharma Sushi!

IMG_2280

For mains, we all couldn’t pass up the new menu item: Dharma Ramen with shio-kouji (salted rice malt) based broth ($10.95). The ramen was good, but not the best we’ve ever tasted. Bill loved the ramen, however, both Mike and I found the broth needed more flavour. The noodles were excellent, but some fattier slices of pork and a medium boiled egg would’ve certainly added more richness to the dish.

IMG_2282

It was nice to see you Bill, thanks again for everything!

IMG_2279

A great little restaurant offering delicious Japanese cuisine with exceptional quality service, highly recommend! Would love to visit again when I’m back in Halifax to try some of their other dishes!

IMG_2278

Dharma Sushi on Urbanspoon