HAILO – The Experience

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For the last couple of years there were different applications that came out for Black Cabs, and finding a cab or quick transprotation is London is always a gamble. There have been times where I ended up walking over an hour heading home instead of finding a cab in the rain or on a Friday night. Other Apps came out but they were hit or miss, and always searching for vehicles which drove me nuts.

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Hailo is different then the pack, it is extremely easy to use and secure with cash or credit payment option when requesting the blackcab, so even if you don’t have your wallet or cash on you, you can just charge it to your card which is registered to your Hailo account. The application is both on Android and iOS so anyone could use it.

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The application opens up to your location and you can search for black cabs right away, when it finds a few usually there are anywhere from 3 to 10, you click yes and the closest one or the one that is free first will confirm. They will give you an update on the amount of time, anywhere between 4 minutes up to 20 minutes and usually they are perfectly on time and you can track their progress on your Hailo App.

The best part is that the Cabbie is there to pick you up and can only start the meter with you in it. Once the ride is done you pay the normal fare with a minimum fare starting at 10 & 15 GBP depending on the time of day. Overall it is a very simple experience even when they pick you up from a busy location like a restaurant or the movie theater, they have your name and your confirmation number when they come to pick you up. Each cab has a Hailo sticker on it to make it easy to identify.

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The experience is very simple,easy and straight forward, and once the cab ride is done you rate your cab driver. And I have given mine 5 stars because they pick me up on time and get me where I need to go making it for a pleasent and easy experience. I seriously love this application, no more major issues and has worked perfectly every time I use it, even when I don’t find a cab I try it again and it works perfectly.

Currently its Running in:

  • London
  • Dublin
  • Toronto
  • Chicago
  • Boston

Opening Soon In:

  • New York
  • Tokyo
  • Washington DC
  • Cork
  • Madrid
  • Barcelona

There are some cities like Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Singapore, and London which I would happily get in the cab because they are genuinely great cabs which are comfortable, but Cabs in the US are usually pretty bad, the crown victorias or not maintained vehicles, when I use vehicles in the US I use the Uber App for private driver who usually have decent vehicles like an Escalade or a vehicle like that when in New York or LA.

Link: HailoCab

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Electronics Ban on Planes to be Lifted By FAA

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I have been on a few airlines that didn’t care if you had your iPad out reading magazines or watching shows, or watching movies or your laptop. But a majority of airlines prefer you not to use your electronics or your mobile phones during take-off and landing due to it “interfering” with the plane, I never knew an iPod can mess with a plane.

This was due to the original rule from the FAA in the US and everyone followed suit, but thankfully after such a long time they have come to their senses and realized that phones can not bring down an Airbus or Boeing because a guy is looking for a phone signal to send off his last email. Lets see how soon airlines adopt this new line of thought.

Link: Wired

Amsterdam – Food & Stops – Love This City

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For the 2nd time visitng Amsterdam I wanted to make sure I get to expolore it as much as possible, and every time I like it even more and after this trip I do love this city. It has the unique capability to combine classic with modern design in their structures which I love.

These are the list of places that we enjoyed on this trip and every time we are surprised, some places stuffed in these smalls streets, and those places turn out to be huge, there is no way to tell.

Restaurants:

  • Momo
  • IZAKAYA – Sir Albert Hotel
  • Brasserie Harkema
  • The Butcher’s Den – Burger Bar
  • Burgermeester
  • Starbucks The Bank – A very unique Starbucks location

The Red Light District is a must visit, it is just such a unique piece of the history and just something different to see. People walk around there like it is a zoo, well it is sort of like a zoo. Watching the women behind the glass with lots of other people looking to as we all walk by. It is a unique piece of Amsterdam’s night life that isn’t in any other city, not in this way at least. It is really worth a visit because you see some bizarre things and so many people just walking about there and the women in their underwear behind the glass even when it’s near freezing outside. There are different zones which designate where women from different regions are in, and there are areas for transvestites which is very freaky. You have to see it at least once, and you will laugh, there are some hilarious sights.

This is city is full of charm and I love to walk around the city, we ended up walking at least 8 miles a day because of the conference then we keep walking around after that. It is a city built for walking. But when you walk around you have to watch for a lot of things to make sure you stay alive, the streets are a sort of organized chaos. There are car lanes and bike lanes, but scooters can use the bike lanes but not motorcycles, then there are the trams. You have to keep your eyes open for the Cars, Trams, Bicycles, Scooters, & Motorcycles. And there were some close calls because sometimes the sidewalk and bicycle lane sometimes looks similar and these guys fly.

The city has a certain charm with a lot of character and the people are genuinely nice, and it is one of those places that you have to explore in Europe.

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Vodafone UK – 4G

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All the Providers are talking about their 4G Coverage in London. Of course the 4G Services is only available to Contract numbers, not Pay As You Go or Top Up lines. In my case I have a contract line and upgraded to 4G contectivity with a max of 8GB per month for 36 GB per month, you can change from month to month, but only stay on 4G.

I was happy and thought I would get the same service as I do in Kuwait. At full signal I was getting 50+ MB/s which was impressive. Out of all the companies – EE, Orange, O2, Vodafone, & 3 – I read that Vodafone has the best 4G coverage in London as well as the fastest.

It seems their definition of coverage is similar to swiss cheese, lots of holes in the network. 4G was fine as long as I had 4G coverage, spotty would be putting it nicely. The coverage in London’s main metropolitan area is a disaster. Every building I go into, there is almost little to no coverage, and even when we are outisde it is max one or two bars. Rarely do I see full bars, I don’t know how they planned their coverage but Vodafone falls far behind Zain or any of our Mobile Companies in Kuwait. Zain has spoilt us, our expectations are too high.

Frankfurt Airport – The German Experience

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It seems the most difficult Schengen Visa to get is from the German one, all the others were more routine and less difficult with the paper work. I can understand if they wanted to clarify paperwork, but they out right refuse any bookings from a local travel agency, the whole process was annoying and if you just want to make a one or two week stop they just give you a one month or two month visa. Previously they used to give 3 to 5 year visas without an issue. If you get it from Italy or Spain they still do that and 3 years from the French Embassy and the French used to take the longest. At least the British have a normal two week process or a 45 KD VIP process which takes 3 to 5 days.

I have my Visa and took off with a one day trip to Frankfurt and the rest of the week in Amsterdam. Unluckily for us there were probably two planes that landed from China because the lines were insanely long and these people do not know how to que. A new line opened up which one lady went to who wasn’t European and so I tried my luck and so did a friend. The lady immigrations officer was thinking of letting us pass on the European line since there were no Europeans but the guy next to her told her to send him back and he sent me back to the insanely long line. We understand rules but there was no one there and the lines for Europe remained empty.

We got back in line and waited, the Chinese were getting stamped without any questions and I would say at least 80% of them didn’t speak a word of English. They didn’t even bother looking at their paper work. We thought at least the line will move quickly.

When it came to our turn, instead of taking 2 mins it took 20 mins. The guy wanted my confirmation booking in Frankfurt and in Amsterdam, and he wanted to see my ticket back to Kuwait. I told him I have the printed booking from Lufthansa that I already gave to him and my confirmations are on my phone. He looked at my phone and then shrugged, he asked me why I didn’t have a ticket with me, I told him no airline issues a ticket one week before the flight. He went through my passport twice and kept typing on the computer, I was done to his annoyance and my friend was still going through questioning. The Chinese guy behind me walked out 30 seconds after me.

That was a very strange experience, and I’m surprised that Germany is turning into this, since when I spoke to people about it they told me it isn’t an isolated incident.

Now as for when we were leaving my cousin wanted to do the tax refund as he had one item from Frankfurt and one item from Amsterdam. In Amsterdam the Customs people told us he would have to exit the European Union to get the customs stamp so in his case he would get it done in Germany. When we went to Germany they stamped all the things of the Chinese guy in line in front of us without asking a question or asking to see the items.

When my cousin step up he just had to invoices with the details filled out but he refuse to stamp the one from Amsterdam and we explained to him what we were told and he simply said it wasn’t his problem. Then he refused to stamp the other invoice and said he would get it done after immigrations, but then when we went inside they told us it was only Jewelery at the inside customs not a Tumi bag.

This was the strangest experience I have had at Frankfurt Airport, it seems they are getting a bit aggressive with arabs from what I can tell. In Frankfurt itself it was easy and an enjoyable trip for me even though I was just there for 24 hrs but this treatment at the airport was not expected.

I AMSTERDAM

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Went to Amsterdam for about 5 days and 1 day in Frankfurt, had to go for a big technology conference called the IBC and its huge. We went from meeting to meeting over the five day period but still we made sure to enjoy the city when we can. We stayed at the Conservatorium Hotel and it was a beautiful hotel, a modern European hotel with a historic twist, and staff that were just amazing.

This is the second time I visit the city and I honestly fell in love with it. When crossing the road you have to watch out for people, bicycles, cars, scooters, motorcycles, and Trams. This city has an organized level of chaos going on but you can feel that there is a level of mutual respect that is why it works. I loved walking around the city, we would walk at least 10 to 15 km a day, and there are so many amazing restaurants to eat in. We had a lot of work to do so we didn’t have enough time to enjoy ourselves, so on my next European vacation this will be a spot I want to visit.

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WH Smith – Kuwait Airport

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This was a very pleasant surprise, That Al Salasil has opened WH Smith at Kuwait Airport. It is a lot better then the previous magazine store they had there which was a bit depressing. They had a decent selection of English books, some Arabic and a respectable amount of magazines overall.

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I’m looking forward to more books being brought into Kuwait, even though a lot of bookstores have shutdown over the years there is still large amount of people that like buying books. Lets hope that this business venture with WH Smith turns out to be a successful one, I’m happy to see a store like this finally open in the airport.

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Zain 7 KD – Data Roaming

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There has been a package for GCC Data Roaming since the beginning of the year by Zain. Sometimes it works with the carrier and sometimes it doesn’t, but I would say that it works 70% of the time which is pretty good. 150MB for 7 KD across the GCC which I thought was perfect, honestly you don’t use too much and it doesn’t cost as much as a car if you use too much data, I remember some bills going over a 1000 KWD because of mistakes with billing which are insane. So these packages for data roaming are reasonable if you didn’t purchase a local land line.

To my surprise when I went to London they also had a 7KD package but it was for 100 MB on Vodafone, honestly that wasn’t too bad. I was pleasantly surprised about it. I switched on my data roaming and within minutes it was working on Vodafone’s network in London, truth be told Vodafone’s network isn’t too great but no one really is in London. But it was just enough data to get WhatsApp working as well as a few emails through as needed, it does the job and I’m happy they are making these deals with other telecom companies, at least now Zain is taking advantage of their size and influence and working out deals with other telecom companies to benefit the customer. I’m not sure if that package works for all of Europe or not, but those people traveling during Eid will know when they get there.

Phoenix Palace – The Need For Chinese

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Late night food and very hungry, the only thing that could satisfy my hunger while in London was going to the Phoenix Palace. I go there and the place is packed but there is always space, and still the people from years ago remember me and gave me a nice spot, they know I like to order a good amount of food even if it was for one person, and I thought in London I usually walk around enough to justify burning off this food.

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I wasn’t going mess around with the food or try something new, I was hungry and I wanted to go to a late night movie, so my options were clear. And I knew exactly what I wanted.

  • Vegetable Spring Roll
  • Prawn On Toast
  • Hot & Sour Soup
  • Vegetable Crispy Noodles
  • Half Peking Duck

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That was a good amount of food and I love that one item keeps coming right after the other, people can complain about Chinese food but when its good its really good. Honestly I haven’t found any Chinese place better then in London and there are quite a few good ones there. After the meal I was hoping not to pass out during the movie but luckily enough it was an action packed movie so I was wide awake during the whole thing, and even then I had some sweet popcorn.

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Jones The Grocer – Dubai

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A lot of restaurants open in Dubai and usually in or around some sort of mall and over the recent years that is Dubai Mall since everyone flocks over there to that mall. Rarely do you explore other locations, but thanks to MFW he took to me a new location a little while back, and thats Jones The Grocer, a singular building next to Jumeirah’s residential area just off of Sheikh Zayed Road. Literally nothing around it but a small shopping complex with a few businesses and a gas station.

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You walk in and it is genuinely a unique restaurant/cafe/store, they have a very nice food selection in their menu. Loved their salads and sandwiches, I have been there close to a dozen times over the past 6 months, I make it a point to go there and try something new when I go.

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It’s not your typical place, different types of seating in different sides of the building, with the cafe display cases in the middle, and the outer areas of the restaurant has cooking and food related items for sale from high end coffee machines to cook books and Turkish delights. Literally something for everyone in that place, and if you are cheese connoisseur you will enjoy the selection they have. Try the greek salad with steak and the chicken sandwich, they are very good dishes, and even the meat dishes are good there.

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If you have been there then you are missing out since it out there not next to anything you feel like you are in a unique hip place. Feels like a place that should be in New York or San Francisco, it has this unique vibe to it and the best thing is that the food tastes just as good as the place looks.

Link: JonesTheGrocer

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