Emily Jablon: Daraius and I went to Europe in September to celebrate our 2nd anniversary for ~2 weeks. It was my first time in Italy so I was very excited! In Italy, we visited Varenna on Lake Como, Milan, Venice, and Rome.
Since we were in Europe, we visited a friend in Strasbourg, France and also spent a night in Zurich. We started our trip with a one day layover in Chicago to see friends!
Our Anniversary To Italy – Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Planning & Introduction
- Part 2 – Park Hyatt, Chicago
- Part 3 – One Day in Chicago
- Part 4 – Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- Part 5 – Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, London
- Part 6 – Under the Channel to Strasbourg
- Part 7 – Hotel Cathedrale, Strasbourg
- Part 8 – What did we do in Strasbourg
- Part 9 – Eating in Strasbourg
- Part 10 – Park Hyatt, Zurich
- Part 11 – 10 Hours in Zurich
- Part 12 – Hotel Eremo Gaudio in Varenna, Italy
- Part 13 – What to do in Varenna, Italy
- Part 14 – Eating in Varenna, Italy
- Part 15 – Park Hyatt, Milan
- Part 16 – What Did We Do in Milan
- Part 17 – Eating in Milan
- Part 18 – Hilton Molino Stucky, Venice
- Part 19 – Around the Hilton Molino Stucky & Free Shuttle Boat Details
- Part 20 – What we did in Venice
- Part 21 – Eating in Venice
- Part 22 – Waldorf-Astoria, Rome Cavalieri
- Part 23 – Eating in Rome, Part 1
- Part 24 – Emily’s Best Meal Was in Italy!
- Part 25 – Rome Cavalieri Imperial Floor
- Part 26 – Activities in Rome
- Part 27 – Activities in Rome – Where to Go, What to See, How to Save Time
- Part 28 – Virgin Atlantic Flight from Europe to US
- Part 29 – Conclusion & Blog Giveaway
How You Can Do It Too!
We used 100,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. It now costs 125,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles, but you don’t pay fuel surcharges when you book Virgin Atlantic flights with Hawaiian Air miles. The regular price for a flight is ~$4,000, so this is a good use of Hawaiian Airlines miles! Do note that it isn’t easy booking flights by calling Hawaiian Air, and I had to call back a few times to get the ticket booked.
If you’re new to miles and points, it is easier to fly to Europe using United or American Airlines miles, than it is to earn and use Hawaiian Airlines miles. We just, errrr, happened to have lots of Hawaiian Air miles, from when Bank of America issued the Hawaiian Air cards, which we wanted to use!
Virgin Atlantic Lounge
Daraius and I flew from Rome to London for our return flight home. We stayed overnight at the Hilton in Terminal 4 using a free night from the Citi Hilton Reserve card and took the train between terminals.
We had a few minutes to check out the Virgin lounge. It looked nice and we wished we would have had more time to enjoy it. I guess we shouldn’t have slept in!
There was a business center…
and lots of room to relax before the flight!
Virgin Atlantic Flight
After a quick visit to the lounge, we went to our gate and boarded the flight. We were thrilled when we saw that we had a plane with the newer Upper Class (business class) cabin!
The cabins were much newer than the ones on our first Virgin Atlantic flight from Chicago to London.
Daraius sat next to me during the flight.
He liked to trouble me every few minutes or so to take pictures!
Virgin Atlantic does not have First Class, and their Upper Class is like Business Class. There were several other passengers in our rows.
The seats came with lots of plug-ins to charge your electronics.
At the bottom of the seat was an outlet that we used to charge our laptops.
There was also a built-in TV…
that swiveled out so that you could watch it in front of you.
The picture quality was very good and they had a great selection of movies, TV, and music. You can even hook up your iPod or phone!
Soon, it was time for dinner. Here’s the menu…
and here’s the wine list.
Daraius sat on my footstool that doubles as a chair.
He tends to be messy when he eats.
Our first course included leek and potato soup (for me) and dill and caper infused potted salmon (for Daraius). I loved my soup – it was so flavorful!
Next, I had chicken with mushroom gravy, which was served with mashed potatoes and carrots. Daraius had herb-crusted fillet of British beef with potato rosti, carrot puree, and thyme shallot jus. I loved my main course (the chicken)!
For dessert, we had a chocolate torte and cherry sponge pudding. Dessert was also excellent!
Finally, we had a selection of cheeses, including crop-well bishop stilton, coastal cheddar, and French brie.
Daraius was anxious to get some sleep so he made his bed.
He can sleep just about anywhere!
After a few hours, we had the tea service, which included tea, small sandwiches, and petit fours.
I liked the scone and sandwiches the best.
In addition to the regular dinner menu, there was a “Graze” menu for faster meal service. The Graze selections included a gourmet beef burger, potato chips and chocolate bars, and fresh fruit.
We also went to the bar for a drink.
How You Can Do It Too!
We redeemed 100,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class before they increased the cost of redemptions. If we booked the same flight now, you’d pay 125,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles. But there are NO fuel surcharges. Because you could pay ~$4,000 to fly Upper Class, redeeming Hawaiian miles (even 125,000 per person) is a great way to get Big Travel with Small Money.
Because you can double your miles and points if you have a partner, if you and your partner both apply for the Hawaiian Airlines (personal) and (business) cards, you’ll have 140,000 miles (35,000 + 35,000 x 2).
Some readers were able to get the Hawaiian Airlines credit cards (when it was issued by Bank of America). But I haven’t heard if anyone has been able to get 2 Hawaiian Airlines cards issued by Barclays.
If you want to use your Hawaiian miles on Virgin Atlantic (and other partners), you have to call Hawaiian Airlines at 877-426-4537 (Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Hawaii time).
The food on Virgin Atlantic was great, and we liked the new seats on Virgin Atlantic!