The Art of Shaving in NYC

While in NYC I wanted to get a shave and a quick hair cut, my problem is that I have gotten used to how they shave in Kuwait. With a single blade and they do it very well, honestly I haven’t found very many places that know how to shave your beard and give you that cut that the barbers in Kuwait do. Well I have known about The Art Of Shaving for a very long time and some of those stores have barber shops, not all of them do. It started off as a mom and pop business that grew to several locations across the US and was bought out by Proctor and Gamble who spread it all across the US and with them barbershops.

It has this old Gentlemen’s club feel to it and they have some fantastic products, especially their aftershaves which put out the fire on my skin after a shave. I shaved here once in February and the Barber was Puerto Rican and his name was Azreal, so I called and the guy was there. To say that he was an Artist with the a single shaving blade is an understatement, this guy was good, he was so good that I really enjoyed the shave and booked to come back a week later. For me its a pleasure to get a shave, you lay down, close your eyes get a warm towel and you get rid of that very annoying itch on your neck and cheek. He used the shaving cream and oils from the line of products that I like, and I always end up getting a few things from them on the way to take back to Kuwait with me.

They call their Barbershop the Barber Spa, and it deserves to because these guys are really good and talented. If you are ever in New York stop by the Art Of Shaving on 520 Madison Avenue, best place for a man to get a cut and shave. And I always want to buy some of their blades even though I rarely shave at home, still they have some great products which I use with my barber in Kuwait.


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My Emirates A380 Experience

You always hear about the A380 and the double decker plane from Airbus and how many Emirates Airlines ordered from them. Recently I had a chance to fly on one from New York City to Dubai. I heard some conflicting reviews about it so I wasn’t sure what to expect but my expectations were not high. Usually I like flying on the Boeing 777 LR as they are comfortable planes with a very good configuration and long range for for those DXB to US trips.

Now for the first time on the plane I was impressed, it felt like I was going into a building, the thing is huge, no joke, it fits a lot of people. The Average plane fits between 180 to 250 passengers on long haul flights but the Emirates A380 can handle 644 Passengers which is an insane amount 143 of those passengers were in business class which I was a part of. You walk in you can feel that it was a bit cramped but also cozy at the same time, the seats were comfortable and go completely flat. It was a 13 hour flight that got a bit interesting because of a technical delay but the staff managed to keep people happy and we made our connection at the end. Overall there were a lot of short comings that would make me not want to get on an A380 again, it was an experience that I would not like to repeat.

My Overall Opinion:

  • You are handling over 644 passengers and business class which is usually 40 seats increased to more then threefold to 143 passengers, and they didn’t increase the staff in the same capacity.
  • You don’t get that personal touch that you expect in business class, its still there in first but it feels like you are just part of the cargo in business.
  • Asking for a glass of water took 25 to 40 mins when usually it takes them 5 to 10 mins max.
  • Overall the experience wasn’t that good, the price for A380 is even a bit more expensive then a normal plane yet you don’t get that extra service.
  • Basically you are paying for Business Class seats with economy service, you really get lost with the crowd.
  • The Entertainment system in Emirates is excellent as usual, that isn’t even under question and I hope they keep it up.
  • The bathroom was another design disaster, usual business class is 2 to 3 bathrooms for 40 to 50 passengers, and in this case it was 4 bathrooms with two that the air staff closed so basically two bathrooms for 143 so initially it was 35 to 1 bathroom but in this case it ended up to be 71 to bathroom which you can imagine was a nightmare.
  • All of this was just one thing to take into consideration, when you land into any country with 643 passengers the lines at passport control and customs is a huge disaster, even when passengers from First & Business Disembark from the different walkway then Economy we all end up together outside which is a huge amount of people and the number of bags is a also humungous. Basically its as if you are dealing with three planes landing at the same time.

The A380 may have been a success for Airbus with Airlines but it isn’t an experience I would want to repeat to anyone or one that I think is a success for individuals. As a business case its fantastic for airlines, basically packing more people in and the whole plane was full so they will be making more money, for now I’m going to stay away from any flights on that plane and I will try my luck with the Boeing Dreamliner. Boeing may have been very late with the 787 Dreamliner but that is one plane that I am looking forward to flying on. They designed it so it would be more spacious for the person riding and bigger room, more headspace, overall more spacious and more effecient way of flying. So they improved the flight experience of the travel unlike the A380.


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Back On The Ground

TheWater

Being disconnected from internet when you have a lot of activities feels slightly strange. Its not that I was completely disconnected, just that I couldn’t really use the internet available very well since it worked at a snails pace. I tried using the internet at the hotel but it would time out a lot and take a lot of time to load normal items such as my email and very light browsing, I tried downloading an attachment but that took so long I had to cancel it.

I was lucky that I got a Vodafone UK Prepaid chip which works fantastic in Europe with Data, just top it up comfortably and even Data works while roaming in Europe in even remote locations but it wasn’t enough to go through my RSS feeds, but I could go through my emails and get on Twitter & GooglePlus. I am loving the Google Plus application on my Android, really streamlines it and gives you lots of options for uploading when roaming. Even the Vodafone UK Roaming chip is 100 times cheaper then Data Roaming on your Zain Chip and much better service and connectivity, I do wish that Zain Services improve until it reaches the levels of Vodafone, but doesn’t look like it any time soon. And before I had a problem with my RSS Feed being over 1000, but now that has gone way past 1000, I think its close to 12000 articles and it would take me at least 3 months to bring it down, and my problem is that I HATE using the “Mark All As Read” button.

Best Hotels in Lebanon 2011

Lebanon is known for its service, restaurants and night life, I probably haven’t seen any people with so full of life and wanting to party and go out 24/7 seriously, I for one can’t keep up with them. There is an after club for every club and then lounging in some beach type club the next morning, and always the best of service in any restaurant, and they love rebranding the same places every year and coming up with new concepts for the same place and keeping it fresh. I had some work and break trips to Lebanon over the past 6 months and had the chance to experience the hotels and their services thoroughly on many different aspects, and levels, from personal service to cost of room service. These are the four five star hotels that I had a lot of experience with and the ranking is from best to worst, from top to bottom in all the categories.

Below is the list of hotels by ranking and which one I prefer to stay in:

  • Le Gray
  • Four Seasons
  • VenDome Hotel Beirut
  • Phoenicia Beirut

Concierge Service: Le Gray out did everyone in every scale for level of concierge service, if you are willing to pay they can get you into any place and any reservation or anything you had in mind even in very short notice and keep following up with you which is fantastic, that is what made Le Gray the best of the list for me, what set it apart from the rest.

  • Le Gray
  • Four Seasons
  • VenDome
  • Phoenicia

Hotel Interior: The Four Seasons Interior is very fresh, very much like the rest of the chain but from a touch of Lebanon

  • Four Seasons
  • Le Gray
  • Phoenicia
  • VenDome

Hotel Rooms Size & Quality: Le Gray has rooms which are about 20 to 30 % bigger then Four Seasons but both have excellent quality

  • Le Gray
  • Four Seasons
  • Phoenicia
  • VenDome

Hotel Room Service: Le Gray and Four Seasons both had amazing food

  • Le Gray
  • Four Seasons
  • VenDome
  • Phoenicia

Hotel Location: I like walking around and Le Gray had the easiest access to shops and restaurants around it without the need for a car.

  • Le Gray
  • Four Seasons
  • Phoenicia
  • VenDome

Hotel Cost: From Most to Least Expensive

  • Le Gray
  • Four Seasons
  • VenDome
  • Phoenicia


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Pearl Lounge Update

After years of use they finally decided to upgrade the place, I know they charge about 10 KD for entry if you don’t have a business class seat, I’m not sure what fees they get from the other airlines but I’m assuming its a lot of money at this point. You would think they would make improvements at least on a yearly basis but that isn’t the case. Luckily they do have free internet but honestly its so insanely slow it really kills, they should upgrade it since people are consistently using it. At least this time around the couches are relatively comfortable compared to the previous ones, those were falling apart and needed to be changed, but I think there are too many single couches around the whole place and only large couches on the side which are too few.


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Comic Art from Pedro in New York

He is an Artist in SoHo selling in front of shops from his Van and he had some amazing Marvel and DC work done. I love Comic Art and I saw an Amazing Batman that I wanted but I said I would pick up after we were done getting a few things but by the time I got back it was gone.

Talked to him about getting some personal ones done after finding the images I had in mind. Back and forth with the guy and we agreed to 450 for 4 paintings and he came up with some really cool stuff.

The guy didn’t have a cell phone but he had an email which was something new to me. He bought a new phone and topped off the minutes and got back to me on the progress of the paintings. I ended up giving him $20 to top off his phone so he could talk to me when he is done with the work.

Asked him to work on a Superman, Batman, and two Optimus Primes and came below are the amazing the results. I love New York for this reason you get to meet some very interesting people and it is a city which attracts artist and creative people.


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Connection Speeds in Canada

I was in Canada a little while ago and while I was there I discovered what fast was, we have been living in the dark ages. Every year for the past decade we discover one extra megabyte going faster and faster. I plugged in the ethernet cable to the laptop only to discover light speed internet connectivity and the downloads were insane. I had it for about 5 days and it was bliss, thinking that we can only have a maximum of 20 MB with fiber connectivity is something to look forward to but 30-60 MB Downloads with 57MB Uploads are what dreams are made of.

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The Pleasure Of Flying

Flatly I want Wataniya Airlines back!

For local travel within the region there wasn’t an airline that could beat its price for comfort package, and the airport was so convenient that every other factor was minimized in comparison. Many people including myself are sick of Kuwait Airport, its a jungle and its frustrating getting to the planes when at Wataniya Airlines it was so easy and enjoyable it didn’t feel like you were in an airport. I got my starbucks, went to the lounge, sat down and relaxed before the flight.

These days I dread having these impromptu meetings in all different areas. I have to check Emirates, Middle East Airlines, Gulf Air, Jazeera, Royal Jordanian and any other airline thats going in the direction that I am going. I got used to only being at the airport 30 to 45 minutes before the flight, and now we are back to leaving the home 2 hours before the flight just to be sure I make it or nothing stops us.

I’m not the biggest fan of Jazeera since they treat their customers like cattle and if they could charge you extra for being a big guy then they would. Surprisingly Jazeera increased their prices from 20 to 60% for many of the desitionations right after Wataniya Airways made their anouncement. They still have their deals but it isn’t what it used to be, and its not like they aren’t making a lot of money with all the ridiculous amount of extra fees.

There is still hope for Wataniya Airways yet, and this is just a rumor that Wataniya Airywas will be coming back in different form. A lot of employees have found new jobs after leaving Wataniya because they didn’t know what their job status was and I’m assuming there is going to be a lot of legal issues going on with them. Wataniya Airways is now a nonoperating Airline but they aren’t going to be bought out, what they are trying to do is bid to buy Kuwait Airways. Wataniya Airways have 7 planes, 3 or 4 parked in Kuwait at Sheikh Saad Airport and the rest in Amaan Jordan, and they will have to pay $70 Million to Alafco as part of their lease payments for these planes, and that doesn’t include the other incuring expenses. The rule that has been stipulated in the bid for Kuwait Airways is that who ever bids for Kuwait Airways can’t be an operating airlines, and the government is reaching the final stages to put Kuwait Airways for a bid. So the step Wataniya Airways took is so they would be in prime position to buy out Kuwait Airways, and if they do take over then it would be a fantastic development. I really don’t have a clue how this is going to work out or how long it takes, but I hope it happens soon and I do hope that they take over Kuwait Airways.

Rumor: Wataniya Airways Bankruptcy

This is shocking and very sad news that is going around. Wataniya Airways will be announcing its Bankruptcy very soon and shutting down completely and will no longer be operational. I honestly thought they would be able to reorganize themselves and adjust their issues to get the airline back on its feet. I didn’t think that it would reach this point, and I don’t care what others may say Wataniya Airlines had excellent service and I was very happy traveling on their airlines, they made it enjoyable to travel again. Now we are back to the old options of Jazeera Airways, Middle East Airlines, and Emirates Airlines for travel within the region.

If you have purchased tickets from Wataniya Airlines you only have 45 days to get a refund for any tickets. And it will probably insane over the next few weeks if this is the case.

Continental Business First Boeing 757

ContinentalBusinessFirstSeats

Business and First Class travel is something to look forward to in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, but not in the US. Usually in the US the Airlines are outdated, the staff are somewhat not in the best mood and your stuck in your seat until you get to your destination. I usualy try to avoid flying long trips within the US, I usually try to take a long haul flight that lands in the city of my choice so that I can drive to my next destination or a short trip away. And the airport security experience is another story in the US, and the tedious security procedures.

That is my usual experience but this time around I have had a very different and extremely surprising experience. Usually I fly Southwest or United Airlines when I’m in the US because they are usually on time and get me where I need to go but this time around I took Continental and booked BusinessFirst and to my shock they had sleeper seats on the plane. The entertainment system had a few updated movies and tv shows, with a very detailed flight map with information. The seat was very very comfortable and becomes fully flat, and it is comfortably wide. They are upgrading their fleet and most of the Boeing 757s are done, and 777s are completed, but they are still working on their 767s. This surprise was a nice turn around for a US airline which is usually lacking in comparison to its International counterparts but in this case the flight was comfortable, I watch one show while having some yoghurt and then passing out for the rest of the flight. Now Continental has jumped to the top of my preferred list for airlines to fly within the US. And they have merged with United so lets see what the results of that will be as well, I hope they continue to improve their service.