London, UK In Pictures

With the nasty weather in London, I didn’t bring my big camera out with us everyday.  Also, with the ridiculously expensive public transportation (combined with the weather), I didn’t spend any nights out exploring with my tripod (cf. Paris).  So everything we took in London was just hand held, walking around.  It still gives you a pretty good idea of what we saw.

See the link below for all the pictures, and scroll down for some selected shots:!i=3040579811&k=9RQnVMT

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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 In Pictures

Alyce came up with the name “The Asian Detour” to describe…well, our detour to Asia on the way to Europe.  I like it, so I’m sticking with it.  Even though we weren’t in any one place for long, we still managed to get some shots along the way.  Here is the link to the pictures below, as well as some selected shots in this post:!i=3040577877&k=QBRkHLr

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I May Never Have to Eat Again: Le Taillevent vs. Le Cinq

The last 2 days, we ate lunch at 2 of the best restaurants in Paris.  Why did we decide to do lunch rather than dinner? Basically, dinner is expensive.  Like, really really expensive.  Both restaurants have lunch options in which you get to experience these first class restaurant for less than 1/2 the price.  Each one is a classic French fine dining production.  I don’t use the word “production” loosely.  Not everyone appreciates what goes into these fancy shmancy meals. That’s OK. It’s not for everyone (my own sister thinks the whole thing is ridiculous).  But, we both love to sit back and watch all the ritual and tradition that makes these meals so special.

Both Le Taillevent and Le Cinq are located in the Champs Élysées (a word that Justin and I have both been trying to pronounce since we got here) and just a short metro ride away from the hotel.

I’ll start with Le Taillevent: Justin said that this is the more “classic French” of the 2. We really had a fabulous meal here.  When we first walked in, I noticed that it was very crowded and somewhat “bustling.” Perhaps it is a Friday hotspot for the Parisian business lunch crowd?

The lunch menu consisted of your choice of an appetizer, entree, cheese course, and dessert.  You could also get 2 glasses of wine, water, and coffee for a little over 100 euros per person (about 130$).  This was a super bargain as water can sometimes cost up to 15$ per bottle.  So we each got the menu, including the beverages and Justin drank my wine.

Sidenote on the wine: Apparently, the traditional way to decant wine is to pour it into the decanter over a lit candle so that you can see where the sediment starts. I have never seen this but it was really neat to watch!

The amuse bouche was a shrimp roll thingy (although much fancier, of course) and it was very good. For my starter, I got Foie Gras, and Justin got oysters.

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Paris, Day 3

Rain rain, go away!  It was a pretty yucky day in Paris today!

After breakfast, we decided to hit the highlights: The Arc de Triomphe and The Eiffel Tower.

We walked along the Champs Élysées and tried to stay dry.  It wasn’t very cold unless the wind was blowing strongly.  I enjoy walking around Paris much more than London.  There is just something so special about this city.

We made it to the Arc de Triomphe and took lots of pictures.  Next, we headed towards the Eiffel Tower.  The rain started coming down a little stronger, but it was still manageable.

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Sunshine in London

Sunshine in LondonWell… was still raining when we woke up, but by about 10am, we could see blue skies and the sun peaking through the clouds. Yea!On today’s agenda was Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the Parliament building.  The walk wasn’t too bad……maybe a couple of miles.

The buildings are all so beautiful and old.  We took tons of pictures! We didn’t go in Westminster Abbey (it would have cost about 70$).  They certainly don’t give anything away in London!

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Next, we walked to the palace.  By this point I was getting pretty tired. We stopped by the fountain across the street from the palace and rested for a while. Poor Justin. I’m sure that he gets tired of me fussing about how exhausted/thirsty I am! My short legs have trouble keeping up with him!

Buckingham Palace is very impressive, but you aren’t allowed to go inside. (No mom, the Queen Mother was not outside walking all of her corgis! I was disappointed too!)

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We took some pictures, then headed to the Queen’s Shop to get a couple of souvenirs.

After than we walked back to the hotel, and I took about a 2.5 hour nap! Then, we got dressed for dinner and went to the club lounge for drinks and snacks. It was Asian night in the lounge. Sushi, yum!

For dinner, we ate at Corrigan’s.  Luckily, it wasn’t too far, and we could avoid the ridiculous taxi prices.  Unfortunately, it started to rain again. Boo!

The restaurant was very nice. We split the pressed duck liver appetizer.  It was delicious and my favorite dish of the night. Justin had beef shin with tenderloin and marrow for his entree.  I had the pork belly special.  They were good.  I think Justin’s was better. Either way, we enjoyed our last night in London.

Tomorrow, we leave for Paris.  It is about an hour flight. Looking forward to experiencing a new city!