California March 2015

This was to be our first family trip with James, as well as our first trip in over a year.  But thing did not go exactly as planned…

Alyce had a week off in early March.  In planning, we knew we wanted to take James somewhere to test out flying/travelling with him prior to our planned Italy trip (in fall 2015).  It is still pretty cool in lots of places in March, so that led us back to one of our favorite destinations because we were confident that we would have good weather.  California.  And the weather was great.

The plan was to fly into San Francisco and rent a car.  Then drive to Carmel and spend three nights there.  Then spend a night in San Francisco in route to Napa, where we would spend the final three nights.  All hotels, flights, wine tastings, etc. were booked.

But that is when things went awry.  A couple days before we were set to leave, James came down with an ear infection—and that came with a strong recommendation against flying.  We weighed our options, which ranged from completely canceling the trip to Alyce staying behind and meeting me with James if he got better…to any other conceivable option.

Ultimately, we decided to go ahead and go alone for an abbreviated trip and leave James with his grandparents for a couple days.  Alyce would travel the first three days then head back, and I’d spend one night in San Francisco since we had used an award night that we could not get back.

This ended up working out well.  While I wish James would have been able to make the trip with us, the few days Alyce and I had alone were very relaxing.

On to the actual trip…As mentioned, the weather was fantastic.  Sunshine and spring time temperatures.  If anything, it was a little warm in the middle of the day.  Renting a car worked out great – driving is pretty easy in California.

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Chicago 2012 Retro Review

Chicago is a great location for a quick weekend trip.  It is very easy to get to from MSY (3 different carriers fly non-stop).  Plus, the flight is under two hours.  We left on the first flight Friday morning (flying United – we ended up getting upgraded to exit row seats for free which was nice) and were at our hotel by 9:00 a.m.

We just took a cab from the airport, which cost around $40-$50…Taking public transportation from O’Hare is supposed to be not too difficult and only $2.50 a person, so that is a definitely cheaper alternative.  Another positive with having a quick non-stop flight, you can leave your destination in the afternoon and still get back to town at a reasonable hour.

There is plenty to do in Chicago to keep you entertained for a long weekend.  There are many restaurants, ranging from the ultra high end to casual joints.  For entertainment, there are plenty of options…Museums, zoos, an aquarium, sporting events, shows, etc.  Chicago also has several Blues Clubs and Piano Bars for night activity.  We were pretty busy while we were there and still did not get to do a lot of stuff I would have liked to have done.

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Paris, France 2014 Wrap Up

Paris – the City of Light.

After a nice time in London, I wasn’t sure what to really expect in Paris.  I was fairly confident the food would be more to our liking, but I wasn’t positive at this point.  My confidence was a little shaken.

I could tell that public transportation was much more reasonably priced than London (1.3 Euros for a one way trip) and would get us to just about everywhere we wanted to go.  I was relieved to know that going in to it.  No more $70 US cab rides just to get to/from dinner 15 minutes from the hotel.

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London, UK 2014 Wrap Up

Europe.  Here at last.  While Europe seems to be the most common site for international travel –  as well as most peoples’ first intercontinental destination, we seemingly traversed the rest of the globe before making it to Europe.  Alyce had really been wanting to go to Europe, and I was excited about it too.  Our first stop – London.

London…Easy to figure this one out.  It’s the capital of the country England.  But wait, what about the United Kingdom?    Or Great Britain – where does that factor in?

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The Asian Detour

Hong Kong/Cathay Pacific

The start of our second trip around the world – albeit a much quicker trip than the last one.  Alyce was pretty anxious heading in to the last trip, and I couldn’t really blame her.  We were going to be away from everything that we knew and was familiar to us for nearly 3 months.

This time, she was much more relaxed (relatively speaking, of course).  We would only be gone for 12 nights.  And although neither of us were particularly happy about having to board Moose at the vet for that time, we knew he’d be taken care of.  Our parents watched the pain in the butt – aka Chunk.

We spent the night before we left in New Orleans, making things easier for the following morning.  Our flight to Chicago left New Orleans at about 7:30 a.m.  It was on an American Airlines Embraer E175 regional jet and we were in business class.  As with most domestic flights, it was pretty standard.  Though, I will say that the plane was actually pretty nice.  Many regional jets can be cramped/not good to fly on, but we liked this one.  And it was clearly a pretty new plane…I think it even had a new plane smell.

Upon arriving in Chicago, the cold air took our breath away on the brief walk up the gate bridge (I think it was 6 degrees F).  We followed the signs to the international terminal, and recleared security then waited for the lounge to open.

It was a little past noon, and the Swiss lounge was still pretty dead looking.  I finally found someone there and asked when they’d be opening, at which point I was informed that Cathay Pacific no longer uses the Swiss Lounge.  Oops.  I should have checked on that.

Now, Cathay uses the BA First lounge.  It is a bigger, much more spacious lounge compared to the Swiss Lounge.  That said, the food and drink selections were without a doubt superior in the Swiss Lounge.  It was not a big deal, and the extra space was nice.  Plus, you get your fill of food on the plane.

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The Asian Detour

The Asian Detour

Yes, yes, we went to Asia on the way to Europe. Why? Justin explains the reason in his last post. Anyway, we did it. Once again, we flew in style.

Cathay Pacific First Class Take 2:

Once again, Cathay Pacific doesn’t disappoint.  Even though I knew exactly what to expect, I am always amazed by the level of service and attention to detail provided by this great airline.  If you want a more detailed review, see our previous post (about a year ago).  My flight experience basically went like this:

1. Get on the plane

2. Eat a 4 course meal

3. Ask the flight attendant to make my bed while I change into my pajamas

4. Sleep for 8 solid hours

5. Drink some hot tea while watching TV

6. Eat again

7. Get off the plane

 

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Seattle August 2013

Seattle 2013.  My first extended trip without my better half.  What happened?  We were in a huge fight and…Not really.  I had a work conference.  I’ve been travelling more for work related reasons lately and that trend looks to continue increasing.

The COPRI Ports 2013 Conference was located in Seattle this year.  It only happens once every three years, and the next one will be located in New Orleans.  So no fun work related travel courtesy of the Ports Conference until 2019.  But work agreed to send me and my coworker/supervisor to this conference, and I was in.

The conference itself was fine.  It was kind of surprising in that some of the things I thought would be interesting were not…and some of the things I was least interested in ended up being the best topics.

Other than the conference, I tried to experience as much of Seattle as possible, but it was still very different than my ordinary vacation.  There were conference things during most days and semi-work related stuff at night.  Still here is my initial take on Seattle:

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