Trip Preview: Baby Daughter’s First Time in Europe

Not long after a short getaway to the Japanese hot spring city of Hakone with my wife and daughter, it was time for us to head on a much larger and longer trip. The trip took us to Europe where we were based at my parents’ place in Slovakia for just over a month and took a few side trips from there.

It was my first major trip since visiting Canada in May and my daughter’s first visit (of hopefully many more to come) to her grandparents’ in Slovakia. With her being eight and a half months old when we departed, she beat me by a few months as I was just over a year old when I visited my grandparents in Japan for the first time.

Anyway, enough background for now. Let’s jump into talking about what flights we took and what lounges we visited, where we stayed, and what articles related to this trip you can expect to come out in the near future.

Daughter'r First Time in Europe
This trip included my daughter’s first long-haul flights.


Given that we were traveling with a baby, it would have been great to fly on Austrian’s non-stop flight from Tokyo Narita to Vienna – the closest major airport to Nitra, my hometown in Slovakia. That said, with that option being considerably more expensive than some other one-stop options, we decided against it in the end.

Instead, we took the cheapest option that didn’t involve multiple or overnight transits and other complications. That option turned out to be EVA Air for just over 160,000 yen (about 1,000 dollars) per person departing at the end of August and arriving back in Tokyo in early October. My wife’s parents joined us for the last week of our stay, traveling on the same flights.

EVA Air A330-300
Boarding an EVA Air A330-300 in Taipei.
EVA Air Boeing 787 Economy Class
EVA Air 787 economy class cabin.

Separately, while in Europe, I decided to do a quick trip to Romania to fly on an aircraft I had been eyeing for a while – Aeroexpress Regional’s Embraer EMB-120. The airline is the only operator of the type on scheduled flights in Europe and uses it to connect Budapest in Hungary with Cluj-Napoca in Romania.

After tinkering for a while with a number of different itineraries, I decided to book the flight in the direction from Cluj to Budapest for 19,900 Hungarian forints (about 55 dollars). To get to Cluj, I booked an award ticket from Budapest via Bucharest on TAROM, paying 10,000 Delta SkyMiles and 20,700 forints in taxes and fees. I was lucky with my selection of flights to Cluj as I ended up flying on TAROM’s retro jet.

TAROM 737-700
TAROM 737-700 in a retro livery.
Aeroexpress Regional EMB-120
Aeroexpress Regional – one of the last airlines using EMB-120s on scheduled flights.

The final list of flights (all economy class) I took on the trip looked as follows:

This itinerary allowed me to fly on two types (ATR 72-600 and EMB-120) and three airlines (EVA Air, TAROM, and Aeroexpress Regional) for the first time.

I will be writing about all of the flights listed above except for the one from Taipei to Vienna as it was operated by the same type as the return flight which I found easier to review due to it departing during the day rather than at night. In addition to the reviews, I will also share some of my thoughts about long-haul air travel with a baby and about flying with an infant on EVA Air specifically.


As usual, prior to taking most of the flights during this trip, I was able to visit one or multiple lounges thanks to my Priority Pass membership and Star Alliance Gold status.

Before departing Tokyo, I stopped by the recently opened IASS Superior Lounge NOA which is one of the Priority Pass lounges at Narita. Then we all went to the United Club where we spent the remaining time we had before boarding, mostly in the lounge’s kids’ room.

IASS Superior Lounge NOA
IASS Superior Lounge NOA.
United Club Tokyo Narita
A kids’ room in Narita’s United Club.

During our transit at Taipei Taoyuan Airport, we went to EVA Air’s The Star Lounge which is the airline’s lounge for Star Alliance Gold members. While my wife and daughter relaxed in this lounge throughout our transit, I also briefly visited two of the Priority Pass lounges at the airport – Oriental Club Lounge and Plaza Premium Lounge (Zone A) – to review them.

EVA Air The Star
EVA Air The Star Lounge.
Oriental Club Lounge
Oriental Club Lounge.

On my side trip to Romania, I visited the two lounges available in Budapest Airport’s non-Schengen area – Platinum Lounge and Plaza Premium Lounge. I also spent some time in the uninspiringly named Business Lounge in the international part of Cluj Napoca Airport.

Lastly, before departing Vienna, we briefly stopped by the Austrian Senator Lounge in the airport’s non-Schengen area.

I will be reviewing (or updating my old review in the case of the United Club) all of the lounges except for the two lounges in Budapest since the majority of the photos I took there didn’t save properly. Luckily, I noticed the problem with my iPhone’s camera soon enough to fix the problem before boarding my TAROM flight to Bucharest and taking photos for subsequent reviews.

Austrian Senator Lounge Vienna
Austrian Senator Lounge in the non-Schengen departures area of Vienna Airport.


For the vast majority of the trip, we stayed at my parents’ house. That said, there were a few nights on the road too. Namely, we did a five-night road trip around Slovenia, a one-night trip to Prague, and a two-night trip to the High Tatras – a beautiful mountain range in Slovakia.

Additionally, I had one night in Bucharest during my trip to Romania before continuing on to Cluj and back to Budapest the next morning.

In the High Tatras and most of the nights in Slovenia, we stayed in apartments that I won’t review. Our first night in Slovenia, though, we stayed at B&B Hotel Maribor which I plan to review. I also plan to review Hotel Museum (a reasonably priced and excellently located hotel in Prague) and Relax Casa Victoria (a nice place to stay within walking distance of Bucharest Otopeni Airport), each of which I stayed at for one night.

B&B Hotel Maribor
B&B Hotel Maribor.
Hotel Museum in Prague
Hotel Museum in Prague.


While I won’t be writing an article about it, I thought it would be worth mentioning that I also visited SIAF 2023 – an airshow held at Malacky Air Base in Slovakia in early September.

The reason I went was simple – to see the Slovak Government’s VIP aircraft in action. If you like airliners, I highly recommend visiting the airshow to see the spectacular display of the A319 and the F100. If you like military aircraft instead, chances are you will find something of interest for you there too.

SIAF 2023
Slovak Government F100 and A319 during their SIAF 2023 demo flight.


Considering that this was my daughter’s first trip to visit her grandparents in my hometown, it was by far one of the most memorable of my life. As an added bonus, I got to visit an airshow, fly on the EMB-120 for the first time, and review a few airline products, lounges, and hotels that I haven’t before.

Stay tuned for the review to come out over the coming weeks. I hope to finish them all before my next big trip, another trip to Slovakia, this time for Christmas!

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