Left around 12.15pm, got to the airport around 1pm. No wait for bag drop. No upgrade unfortunately but the counter agent said they were having a special offer for premium economy upgrade, only $650. I was like “only” $650, you’re kidding. When I checked in on saturday I saw that the flight wasn’t that full so I passed.
There was a queue at security, nothing unexpected. I wandered around the duty free; I’d decided that I wasn’t going to buy anything no matter how tempting. I have no room at home. I got to sample the standard Jack Daniels and got chatting with the gentleman in charge of the tasting table. He gave me a small sample bottle of brandy!
Decamped to the bar. A glass of wine and spicy tuna poké for lunch. Interesting, this poké trend. I like it, the tuna was marinated, a little spicy which balanced out when mixed with the rice and avocado. There were also two large rice cracker pieces. Felt like I was eating something healthy, most people around me were having a burger.
The flight was definitely not full. My bulkhead aisle seat gave me lots of legroom and the seat next to me was empty. If i’d stuck to my original selection of seat D I would have gotten the whole row but that was always a risk. I was able to sleep for about 5-6hrs in total on the flight. The film selection was one of the poorest in recent trips. Nothing I wanted to watch at all, and the ones that appealed to me were old films like Harry Potter, Star Wars, Iron Man. I ended up watching the two John Wick films and some old tv series. The John Wick films were surprisingly good, mindless action. And surprisingly good reviews too. Food was mediocre, beef stew with potatoes that had no flavour for dinner and chicken stew with mash that had spring onions for lunch. Didn’t touch either potato sides. At least the cup noodles was consistent and there were plenty of snacks.
I bit the bullet and booked my flight to Chicago. There are 2 airlines with direct flight and since one of the is UA, I only have one realistic choice. Been waiting and waiting for CX to come up with offers but no luck. I hate that they’re going the route of other airlines, nickel and diming passengers. The cheapest fare has no points, can’t reserve seats and is generally extremely inflexible. From what I can see, the flight is pretty full and available seats in that booking class are middle seats. Argh. Not for 16hrs.
Discussed with mm and we both agree it’s worth splashing out on the next booking class. 100% points, more choices and can pre-book seats. This is what economy class flying has come to, what a shame.
Checked out at 9.30am, drove to airport, returned car. Total 701km driven this trip.
Finished the remaining fruit we had and did some shopping. Mum bought eye serum and I made friends with the people at the whisky counter. Tried aberfeldy 12 and 18, craigellachie 13 and 19. Bought a 1l bottle of craigellachie 13 for NZD99. Bought some more chocolate.
The only lamb we ended up eating in NZ was the turkish sandwich at the airport. Ah well, we have plenty of NZ lamb at home.
This was at the airport. The sign says, “On loan from Middle-Earth, Do Not Touch.” Heh.
First flight was almost full. We asked for 2 aisle seats and luckily had empty seats next to both of us. I watched thor 2, edge of tomorrow and a bunch of rizzoli & isles. Food was okay. Chicken thingh and lemon shortcake ice cream for lunch and chicken curry and panna cotta for dinner.
We landed at singapore at 6.40pm. Our next flight is 7.55pm so it’s tight. But of course the gate is at the other end of the terminal! And of course mum’s foot is hurting. We got there during final call, but luckily weren’t the last ones to board. The entertainment system isn’t as extensive as the previous flight, they didn’t have the entire season of rizzoli & isles so I watched veep and part of suicide squad. Dinner was seafood pasta and magnum ice cream. Kept falling asleep.
Arrived 11.45pm, thank god our luggage came out quickly. Taxi home, fruit in fridge, will unpack tomorrow.
Flight arrived early, around 6.30pm. I phoned Mum while I was waiting for my luggage, which came out quickly. I was hot and tired so decided to get a taxi at the airport instead of going to the airport express station and fighting with the rush hour crowd. Was home by 7.45pm. Mum made braised pork for dinner, yummy.
Airport shuttle every 30mins so I was there well in time. Security didn’t take very long thankfully so I had lots of time. Got a bottle of Blanton’s at the duty free, ate a mcdonald’s breakfast burrito and got a glass of wine at the bar next to the gate to kill time.
Flight was pretty full. A middle-aged couple sat next to me so I never had to get up for them.
Watched a couple of films. Hitman 47 and something else. Some Grand Designs too. Slept for a few hours on and off.
Flight was almost completely full. Someone sat in the middle seat, she’s travelling with 3 others and they didn’t seem to have been lucky with their seat assignments. Quite noisy, one of those stupid people who scream across the aircraft cabin to talk to her friends.
Dinner was meatballs, breakfast was omelette. Watched Pride & Prejudice and Zombies (really funny, highly recommended) and The Lobster (very…interesting). No Bake-off but there was Grand Designs. Managed to sleep for about 5hrs.
There was a stopover in Vancouver, which was why the flight took so long. We had to take all our stuff and go to the transit lounge. More security check by US customs. Couldn’t go out of the lounge even.
JFK leg was also full so my hopes that the idiot neighbour would move evaporated. Dinner was salmon and mash. I didn’t eat any instant noodles this flight. Watched The Martian, it was very good. Slept for about an hour.
Flight was early, arrived at 6.20am. Immigration was fast but bags took forever to come out.
I took the airtrain to Federal Circle and from my instructions I was supposed to call the hotel shuttle. The line was so faint on the official phone that I had to call on my mobile. Waited for about 5 mins then I realised one of the vans there had a sign for my hotel. Missed it completely, hahaha. The nice driver took me there in 5 mins, got to the hotel at 8am. Unfortunately couldn’t check in but they could store my bag and said I’m welcome to have breakfast.
So I dumped all unnecessary stuff from my backpack into my duffel, had a couple of croissants and tea. Shuttle back to the airport once an hour, so I’ll go back, get the subway and go exploring. Next post.
Day of the flight. Car’s cousin Mike kindly took me to the airport and I was checked in and through security in no time. Bought a Balvenie triple cask 16 that we first tasted in Heathrow, then bought 4 pork buns at wow bao for lunch. Beer at the bar next to the gate was expensive, $11.
The flight was full, and I got upgraded to premium economy. Here’s the dilemma, which is the better seat: an aisle seat in economy or a middle seat in premium economy? I would have preferred an aisle seat but the lady sitting next to me was nice and slept most of the way. The additional seat width and leg room were good in helping to make 15hrs pass faster.
Disappointed that there wasn’t much to watch, no big action film, no Bake-off and too many old tv programs (Prime Suspect s1, Entourage s1, ugh). Watched Spy (funny, good) and The Hundred-Foot Journey, which was a real gem. An Indian family’s car broke down in the middle of the French countryside and they decided to settle down roots, opening a restaurant directly opposite a Michelin-star establishment. War ensued, but of course it was a happy ending in the end. Helen Mirren was brilliant in this predictable feel good movie, perfect for watching on the plane.
PE had better food. Filet steak and creamy shrimp on rice. I had half a glass of wine, but mainly stuck to coke zero and sparkling water.
Door to door was 20hrs, and I lost most of Wednesday. Got home around 9.30pm, showered and unpacked quickly.
My nano time is based in Chicago so when I woke up at 5am there was enough time to write and assign it to day 4. I wanted to get around 1000 words in, and am pleased that I got almost 2000.
Woke up at 6am. Showered, did quick laundry. Out the door at 7.30am. I thought I’d beat the rush hour madness but every taxi that went past was either occupied or on call. It was raining very heavily (10cm this morning already) so chances of grabbing one off the street was zero. Had to call one at the end.
Already checked in so dropping my suitcases took less than 5mins. Two suitcases total less than 20kg, hahaha. I was meeting mm at the check-in counter, she was early and was already there. We had a nice breakfast, had time left so I treated her to starbucks.
Security and immigration took another 5mins. Wandered around the duty free, but I know I can’t buy anything. There was Yamazaki NAS and Hakusu NAS, but nothing else. Texted mm and we decided that it’s not worth getting, since it’s NAS and not Nikka. Then again, to complete our collection I may, if I remember, get it on the way back.
Flight was around 80% full. If I’d just picked the row in front or behind I’d have a free middle seat. Unfortunately I was sat next to a young couple. And probably the only mainland people in the whole cabin. Ugh. Why do I have to be near those effing people. Ugh.
Food on the flight was forgettable. Beef with mash and beans plus ice cream for lunch. Chicken with more mash and beans and creme caramel for dinner. Had instant noodles in the middle. Watched Pitch Perfect 2, Entourage, Ant-man and 10 episodes of Veep. No bake-off this trip.
The flight was early. Landed at 1.30pm. Immigration was fast, now that I have a new passport I can use the machines. Luggage came out fast too. Carleen picked me up at the car park and we were heading back quickly.
Had food at our favourite steakhouse, then went to the supermarket. Lots of pumpkins out in the front, aha, it’s Halloween coming. Bought some stuff to take back, aiming at not too many purchases this trip. Unpacked, showered and relaxed. Lasted till just before 9pm, my eyes can’t close anymore. Time for bed.
The day before a flight is always neither here nor there. I did a quick job of packing last night and had to cancel lunch and/or dinner with mm so I’m on my own all day. No fridge means either instant noodles, canned soup or eat out. I had a couple of errands to run so I decided to find something to eat at or near the market.
It was around 11.30am, so before the lunchtime rush. Went to Sister Lai’s vegetarian restaurant. Haven’t been there for a long time, still nostalgic for the days when it was a small shop near the market. Now it’s more commercial, and with posher crockery. At lunch there is a choice of 3 dishes from 6. I had mixed vegetables, cauliflower and tofu. What hasn’t changed is that rice and soup were freeflow. I had 2 bowls of rice and 3 bowls of soup. Fantastic.
Bought fish, clams and mushroom for dinner. Snacks for travelling and chewing gum. Got back home pretty early, around 1.30pm. Still a few more hours to wile away.
5.0km 38.51min 7.42min/km
Went for a short 5k, as it was part of the training plan. Uphill for the first 2k, and it was raining pretty heavily too. Luckily the rain went away at the end so I took a walk around the elevator home. Nothing to buy, just ambling around.
Still too much time on my hands. After shower and snacking on some of the clams, it wasn’t even 5pm. Argh. Watch tv then. Early dinner then more tv. Do laundry. Early alarm tomorrow so early to bed tonight.
Flying west means losing the better part of the day. I boarded in the afternoon of Thursday and arrived on Friday night for a 15hr flight. On the way in, the route was along Japan then across first Canada then the mid-weat. The return flight took us almost over the north pole, at halfway point we were somewhere in the arctic circle.
Even thought the flight left an hour late, the pilots caught us up and we were only 5mins behind scheduled arrival time. Luggage was very slow coming out, people were standing around most belts and nothing was coming out; there were constant announcements of luggage delay, guess there was a general problem. It’s not really acceptable, waiting 30mins for luggage.
The great thing was, mm came to pick me up in ryan. We took a slightly longer route home, we were chatting and I was not in thinking mode to help navigate. Still probably faster than me taking the train then a taxi. Plus it was great to see mm. Easy unpacking, since one suitcase was almost all mum’s stuff. Showered then straight to bed.
Left the house at 12.30pm and was at ORD punctually at 1.30pm. No problems dropping off my luggage, the nice counter person put priority tags on my 2 suitcases even though strictly speaking I’m no longer at a high enough level. There was a huge long queue for TSA passport check, although the queue for security wasn’t bad. I had my normal backpack stuff plus the large, heavy, breakable award in a tote bag. TSA wanted to check my award, and the agent even said to me as she was getting her swab ready, “is it an award?” Some of our winners had been stopped last year so I wasn’t surprised. Not much of a delay, so I wasn’t bothered.
I looked at the whisky selection at the duty free—not much interest, may be balvenie 16 at $101 or laphroaig 10. Didn’t want to take more stuff on the plane. The flight had a 1hr delay because of late arrival from the incoming flight. I sat at the bar with a view to the gate and had an IPA from a local brewery. Debated on whether to order food, I was a little hungry but didn’t feel like any of the heavy burgers or sandwiches. Decided on a spicy tuna roll which was quite okay, if expensive for the portion.
Flight was uneventful. I had an aisle seat and sat next to two elderly Australian ladies. They weren’t familiar with the flight etiquette of closing the window blind so I had to ask them to, because the sun was reflecting off the wing straight into my eyes. The attendant for our section had the funny name of Sonic and he seemed quite inexperienced, if very polite and hard-working. Watched Insurgent, Kingsmen and the Avengers: Age of Ultron. I’m glad I watched the entire Bake-off season on the way in, it disappeared off the menu this month. Didn’t sleep a whole lot.
Woke up at 6am, showered and went through the checklist. Morning called mm, and she drove over at 8am to take me to the airport, so nice!!
Check in was straightforward. The plane was full, so I got upgraded to premium economy. When I checked in 48hrs ago, there were only 3 available seats, so I thought something was up. We had a quick breakfast, then I had to go in. On the way to the gate, I stopped by the duty free out of habit. They had Mortlach in the new bottle, so I tried that. Nothing special, to be honest. May be too early in the day.
The flight was definitely very full. Even in premium economy. Looked like they upgraded a bunch of people from economy, because couples/familes weren’t seated together and there was a scramble with people swapping seats.
I couldn’t sleep very well even though they pulled the curtains so only around 30 people in the cabin and it was fairly quiet. So I spent almost the entire flight watching season 5 of bake-off. Great season as usual, very skilled group of contestants.
Flight arrived early, at 1.30pm. I was prepared for a long wait at customs, but now that they’ve gone electronic, it was so much faster. Luggage came out at a reasonable time too. Carleen came to pick me up (thanks, dear!) and we went for a quick Mexican meal before heading back to her house. Unpacked and showered.
Very tired, couldn’t open my eyes much longer. Went to bed at 8pm.
I’m never this inefficient with packing or getting going. We spent the morning lounging around and lunch eating the last of our foods—lamb shoulder, fennel, bagel, rocket, pepper, yogurt. We simply didn’t want the trip to end, and were reluctant to get going, sigh.
But all good trips come to an end. Minicab and train to heathrow, speedy check-in and we had loads of time to browse around the duty-free. Bought a Talisker Dark Storm, which we had the opportunity to try. £42.99 for 1l is good value. I had in mind getting the Balvenie triple cask 16 at the airport, but was more drawn towards the Talisker. It’s also a lot cheaper.
The plane wasn’t full but there was someone sitting in our row which was a bummer. Dinner was chicken with rice (average) and breakfast sausage and eggs (fraction better than chicken). Watched Hobbit 5 armies and Hunger Games Mockingjay part 1. Slept for about 2-3hrs, a little uncomfortably.
We had half a day in Dublin, so we took a stroll north of the Liffey, crossing the Ha’penny Bridge to the O’Connell and Henry Streets area. Another pedestrianised area with familiar shops. Bought a few more last minute souvenirs. Lunch at Brick Alley café at Temple Bar, back to the €8.95 special—shepherd’s pie, lentil soup and ice cream. Good value, homemade and tasty. This is the other good thing about Ireland—familiar shops, familiar foods, cheaper prices.
Returning the rental car was weird. The person took our keys, checked the car, mileage and fuel. Normally at this point, they’d use a handheld machine to print my receipt, but here at Dublin airport it involved going into the office. Long queue. I never had to queue to return a car. Not very efficient.
Queues at check-in and security too, but we allowed plenty of time. We definitely needed the cushion in order to browse the irish whiskey selection at the airport. Initially my plan was to get the Tullamore DEW 10 year that we tried yesterday. We ended up getting this one, and in talking to the informative guy there, also bought the Tullamore DEW Phoenix special release as well as a Bushmills 16. We have to figure out how to pack all these bottles on the way home.
Early dinner at the airport, shared a beef and guinness pie. I couldn’t resist, I had to get a pint of guinness. It simply won’t do, to spend 4 days in Ireland without tasting a drop of the good stuff. The pie was decent for airport food.
Our flight was about 30mins late coming into heathrow, quite a significant delay considering flight time was just over 1 hour. It was the third time this trip that we landed at heathrow and today we finally made it out of the terminals. From Paddington we took a taxi to the airbnb flat we rented in Kilburn. The host’s cleaning lady was still there, so we had to sit around while she finished.
The flat is a one-bedroom that looks like it’s someone’s home instead of those professional rentals that have infiltrated airbnb. Homely furniture and charmingly decorated. Funny thing is, many things don’t work properly, just like in someone’s home. One of the blinds in the living room fell down, the dishwasher is broken, some of the storage doors don’t close properly, the shower handle comes out when touched. We weren’t looking for anything slick, so this homely place works for us. During this trip we stayed at different types of accommodation, from retreat houses to hotels to airbnb to staying at friends’ home. I think at the end of this trip I can write articles on different types of travel accommodation and how to manage 1 month’s travel on 20kg luggage.
Travelling day. Early start, 6.30am alarm and out of the house at 8am. Had to repack at bag drop as our luggage was just a little above the limit. First time we fly easyJet and we can see the nickel and diming at work. Flight was almost 100% full and almost on time arriving at Rome. Picked up our luggage and leisurely made our way to the train station. We had a couple hours to wait for the direct train to Florence. It was fine, we found seats and had sandwiches we made at our friend’s house for lunch.
The train was very nice. When I was booking online, the first class (non-refundable) was the same price as second class (flexible) so I sprang for the first class tickets. For that we got comfrotable seats, a free drink and a small snack.
Florence train station was a big heaving mess. We had the option of taking a taxi or bus, and ended up at the bus stop. The bus arrived a few minutes later and we squeezed in with what seems to be the entire population of florence. I had the fare in my pocket but wasn’t able to figure out how to pay when we were pushed further down the bus. We knew we had 4 stops to go, and were glad the directions were correct.
We found the retreat house with no issue, the only slight problem was pushing our suitcases along the narrow cobblestone streets. We were greeted by Sister Lucia and Sister Flora, both from India. Their warm and friendly welcome was a good sign already. Our room was a good size and basic, with our own bathroom. We took a peek at the breakfast room, sitting room, chapel and garden. More pics tomorrow.
After leaving our bags, we headed out to find dinner. Found the remains of a market at a nearby square selling baked goods, cheese, olive oil and balsamic. I bought some balsamic glaze for mum, as requested. We also found a small supermarket where we stocked up on water.
Dinner was a small café nearby. We both had spaghetti vongole and we shared a plate of grilled vegetables. The spaghetti was good if a little salty; the veg was very good. I also had a small carafe of house red, which was the same price as a large coke. Pretty good. The retreat house has a curfew of 10.30pm, we were back well in time.
Travelling day. I set the alarm for 5.15am, showered, last minute packing, I was out at 6.30am to catch the bus to the airport express station. Check-in and everything was straightforward. The flight wasn’t full; the seat between us was empty (I deliberately picked the 2 aisle seats in the middle column).
It was a day flight so I couldn’t really sleep. Watched Imitation Game, Grand Budapest Hotel and Robocop. Enjoyed all of them, especially Imitation Game and Grand Budapest Hotel. There is a Japanese anime cartoon feel to GBH, it was atmospheric and funny.
Food was mainly forgettable airplane food. Decent quality, I only had about an inch of their cab with dinner, sticking with coke zero and soda water at other times.
The route was almost 1 hr longer than it used to be, to avoid Ukraine. Most of the flight was over Russia. We laughed when the map showed that we were almost directly over Amsterdam, and then we carried on to London. Going from T3 to T5 was okay, then it was a long queue at security. Definitely security theatre, they swiped my small flight toiletries ziploc—the same bag and contents have flown with me thousands of miles around the world, so why would T5 need to swipe it today? Hahaha.
There was enough time to sit for a while. We shared a hummous wrap from eat and I had a much needed large cup of tea. Ahhhhh.
The flight to AMS was very short. BA gave us snacks (crisps and biscuits) and drinks (the other businessmen all opted for something alcoholic, I had diet coke). We spent about 15mins around the duty free shop, retrieved our luggage and our friends L&P picked us up. They live in the suburbs, and we picked up chinese takeaway on the way back for dinner.
A long travelling day, the sense of excitement is building. Getting a good night’s sleep then we’re ready for the trip proper.
A partial day today. Left around 12.30pm, Carleen dropped me at O’Hare. No queue at checkin, the lady told me I was the first person to check in on Friday. I’ve been 0004 before, but this is the first time I was 0001. I don’t know if I was distracting her, or she did it on purpose, but she gave me priority luggage tags. Yay! I won’t complain.
Security was quick too. Terminal 5 only has a tiny duty free so I wasn’t tempted. Since I didn’t bother going out to town during the week, I bought a Chicago magnet for mum at the airport.
Plenty of time till boarding so I found myself at the mexican bar. Had a michelada cocktail — lime, hot sauce, corona. Would have preferred more hot sauce and may be some worcester sauce but in general a good drink.
The fligtht was about 80% full, the middle seat was empty and I shared with a frequent flyer businessman — one of the better types of fellow passengers. Lunch was chicken cacciatore, mashed potato and vanilla ice cream. Watched Captain America, which was pretty good, a nice loud action film perfect for a long flight. Then watched a horrendous train wreck called Grand Piano. Not even Elijah Wood or John Cusack could save this, with an unbelievable and frankly stupid storyline and poor performances. Watched part of Walking Dead season 4 and Divergence until we needed to land.
Pork chop and pearl cous cous for the next meal. Instant noodles during the flight too. Don’t like the new practice of serving the second meal in the middle of the flight instead of 2hrs before landing. Difficult to sleep. Didn’t sleep very well, may be 2-3hrs overall. Crossed the international date line, so most of today and tomorrow are lost.
Woke up at 6am, showered, finished final packing. Out at 8am. I didn’t need to leave so early, since my flight wasn’t until noon, but I needed to fight with people going into work for taxis. As it was, it was 15mins before an empty one came by. Checked in already, so dropping off luggage and getting the boarding pass was straightforward. Interestingly, the queue for regular economy class was shorter than for members. I got the train to the airport and walked around duty free.
The flight was completely full. I had the aisle seat in the middle column and even the middle seat was occupied. Food was okay, better than the Vancouver flight. I had chicken and ice cream for lunch and fish and blueberry cheesecake for dinner. I don’t quite like CX’s new practice of serving the second meal in the middle of the flight vs 2hrs from landing. Means we had to wake up. Anyway, I didn’t get much sleep, just a little here and there. Watched Lego the Movie, US masterchef and found an interesting BBC drama, The Escape Artist. Only 2 eps, it was very good.
Landed at 1.45pm, so only 1.45hrs seemed to have elapsed since I got on the plane, when in reality it was a 15hr flight. We had to taxi for a long time because another plane was at our gate and we had to wait till it left. Surprisingly I was out of immigration very, very quickly — I was 3rd or 4th in line. I was at baggage reclaim at 2.30pm. But what time I saved at immigration was useless because the luggage took a whole hour to come out. There’d be a few bags on the belt, then nothing for 5mins. So frustrating.
So it was 3.30pm before I finally escaped. Checked email to see where Carleen was, called her and she picked me up at the carpark. Very easy. We went straight to the car rental office near her place so I could pick up my rental car for the next few days. We were at her house around 5pm so door to door it took 22hrs.
Dinner was steak at longhorn, a little overcooked but still very nice, I had about 2/3 and took the rest away.
For some reason I could not log into the wifi, even though I was able to last time I was at the house. Neither the mba nor the iphone worked, but the ipad was able to get a signal. Strange. Still, I wasn’t totally without internet. Too tired to do much, went to bed even though I wasn’t sleepy by then. I was tired, but my brain was on a different timezone. Early start tomorrow.
Jetlag does weird things to my appetite. Most articles say loss of appetite is fairly common after a long flight. It’s true for me to a certain extent. We arrived at 7pm last night and by the time we got our luggage and sorted ourselves out it was around 8pm. My dad met us outside and my parents went to eat before they made their way home. I didn’t feel like eating at all, the day I arrive I usually don’t want to eat. What I wanted more was a shower and to brush my teeth.
I woke up at 4.30am, no surprise. I was hungry all day, at odd times. And I was craving things I usually don’t crave. I spent most of the morning snacking, mostly chocolate and biscuits. I’m not one of those people who go gaga over chocolate.
Met mm after work. Only had one glass of wine, and ordered spaghetti for dinner. And I hardly ever order pasta in restaurants. Didn’t feel like dessert either.
It’ll take a few days to get back to normal. I have fish, vegetarian ham and cabbage in the fridge, fairly easy to cook food.
I spent most of the flight watching season 4 of Bake off.
We got on the plane at around 3pm on 03-June, flew for 12-ish hours. By the time we landed and I finally got home it was 10pm on 04-June.
I hate flying west across the international date line, I lose a day. I also hate coming home after flying, I have no appetite and the flat feels like it needs to be cleaned. Stupid weather, making everything moldy.
Final packing done quickly in the morning. Had salmon spread on crackers and oatmeal for lunch, then left at 12.30pm. Taxi, check-in, train and I was at the airport in less than 1 hour. Parents arrived about 10mins after I did, and I took Mum to the senior check-in counter so she didn’t need to queue up. Got through security with plenty of time to spare so we browsed through duty free. Tried a taste of Aberfeldy 12 and 21 plus Jack Daniels Honey, can always rely on duty frees for whisky tastings.
The plane arrived late at the gate so the flight was delayed about half an hour. It was a very full flight, even the middle seats were taken. I’d booked 2 aisle seats at check-in, G and H, and it proved to be a good decision because we both had a little bit of space and we could move around without disturbing other people. Lunch was fish, ice cream and beer. Pretty bland and forgettable. Watched Hobbit 1, I’d seen it before on a flight and I wanted to see it again. Then I discovered there was the entire season of The Great British Bake-off, so I started watching it, episode after episode. Wonderful. Breakfast was sausage and eggs with weak tea. At least CX knows the concept of tea.
Arrival at YVR was uneventful although there was a long wait at the luggage carousel, which stopped at one point. Luckily (or not), most passengers were waiting still, so it wasn’t our luggage specifically.
Car rental places was just across from the terminal in the car park. I’d booked through avis uk which gave me a better deal than avis us, so I used my uk licence and lloyds credit card. Hyundai Accent in white, a neat little car. We set off at 3.15pm with the mileage reading at 20,997km.
An easy drive down BC-99 to the US border, we got there at 4pm. Then there was an hour’s delay while we had to park, go into the customs building, queue up for a long time to wait for immigration. And all this despite us having visa waiver status and ESTA, plus they charged us $6 each admin fee. We never get charged admin fee at airports.
We got to Seattle around 6-ish. One way system and a bit of map misreading meant we got a tad lost. I wasn’t that worried, because I saw from the map I printed that the hotel is near the Space Needle and it was just a matter of finding the right street. And without a map or GPS I actually did, ha! The hotel was a modest Quality Inn, which worked out to be just over $200 per night including room, taxes and parking. Fairly large room, if a bit dark.
It was getting late so time to find food. Walked to a nearby Walgreens to get toiletries and coke. The friendly cashier directed us to the 5 point café which is somewhere between a diner and a bar. I had chicken fried steak and Mum had the steak dinner. Large portions and even though we were pretty hungry after our long day we couldn’t finish the large mound of mash that came with each dish. The food tasted okay, no complaints. They also had nice craft beers, I was thirsty so I had 2: a Maritime Pacific dark and an amusingly named Northwest Crazy Bitch IPA. The bill came to $50 including tips.
Walked back to the hotel via the Space Needle, which looked very impressive at night. Showered, got on internet, pretty tired.
Woke up at 7am and left the apartment at 8.15am. Drove to the central wholesale market, which turned out to be immediately behind the curb market. Huh. Lots on sale there, at wholesale prices and unfortunately quite large portions too. Walked over to curb market for brunch: uni & ikura rice (never get tired of it), live cuttlefish sashimi, whole crab. Bought some fresh seasonal asparagus, nicely wrapped up for the flight. Went back to central market and was a little panicked when many stalls had already closed. Oh no!! The stall i wanted to get king crab legs from was still open, but we couldn’t find one that sold soy ikura. With the language problem we resorted to fishing out a pic on my camera and we were so blessed that the young man we asked led us to another stall and talked to that stallowner for us. Phew. Must remember next time that the wholesale market closes before 11am.
Then it really was time to head to the airport. Returned the car, got the shuttlebus and was at the terminal by 1pm. The check in counter wasn’t opened yet so we browsed around the shops and then looked for a place where we could sit and have a drink. Our blessed trip continued when we walked into a bar, thinking we’d have a yoichi or miyagikyo and then discovering, hidden on the top shelf, several bottles of ichiro’s malt. Wow. Ichiro’s malt is produced by the chichibu distillery, a smaller, independent distillery unlike the corporate suntory or nikka groups. We opted for a glass of the oak barrel blend and a glass of the ten of diamonds of the card series. The oak barrel was smooth and full of character, the outstanding one was the ten of diamonds which was rich and packed a punch. Sigh. What a great end to our trip, to find rare whisky at the airport.
We were probably overweight at check in, but the nice counter agent let us through. She also suggested to us that we should check in our seafood, wrapped in cold bags because the ice pack was considered liquid and couldn’t be taken as hand luggage. Combining our suitcases, the pillows and the seafood we checked in 5 pieces.
After check in, there was just about enough time for last minute chocolate and snack shopping and then duty free. Sigh, the prices inside the duty free were much lower of course. By then we were both whiskied out and didn’t dare buy any more. For future reference I guess.
Like the flight coming over, the flight was around half full. We had 3 seats between us, so we were comfortable. Dinner was fish, rice, macadamia biscuit and I had a beer. Watched Hobbit 2 and some of the Fall. Divided our seafood shopping at the airport then caught the airport express and taxi home. Tired, loved the trip and can’t wait to go back.
I have no idea what timezone I’m in. There was about 5-6hrs from milan to dubai, more sitting around then 7-8hrs from dubai. Bought laphroaig at dubai airport. The leg from dubai was on an A380 so I’m glad parents have the opportunity to fly in one. We were in the front of the plane, it was roomier and taller. I finished watching the walking dead season, saw frozen and some other tv programs.
This is without doubt one of the most stupid and waste of time day in my life. We were on one of the earliest groups to get off the ship, so we sat at the lounge waiting for our 8.25am group call. The bus to milan airport left at 9am and we were at the airport around 11-11.30am. Couldn’t do early check-in because they didn’t have early check-in at milan airport. Stupid. The counter would open at 6.10pm for our 9.10pm flight.
So yes, the entire day was spent sitting around at the airport. Stupid. At least there was free wifi and wall sockets. So many idiots travelling on the same flight as us, I do not ever want to see or hear any of their face or voice again. Disgusting people.
Flight in the afternoon, so I cleared everything at home, cleaned up and headed to the airport early. Not happy to see all the other fellow cruisers at the airport, felt like going on a packaged tour with all these idiots. I’ll have to spend the next 2 weeks avoiding them.
First leg of the flight was 7hrs. Had chicken and rice, rice pudding and no alcohol. Watched Bones, Brooklyn Nine-nine and got started with some Walking Dead. Saved the tuna mayo sandwich for the stopover at Dubai. Say what you will about Emirates, they have lots of entertainment.
It’s now 9.45pm on Thursday. The taxi is coming at 11pm to take us to the airport. Flight is at 1.45am Friday morning, arriving 6.25am. We will pick up our car, drive 1.5hrs to Yamazaki distillery. Then another 3.5hrs to Shirahama via Wakayama. It will be a long day, we need to keep awake, which should hopefully be okay with the excitement of travelling. We will be tired by the time we reach our hot springs hotel. Will need cups of tea and snacks. But sooooo looking forward to everything. Yay!
Arrived NRT at 2pm. Long line at additional security, looked like several flights came in at the same time. I didn’t have my boarding pass yet, and the CX counter said it’d only open 1hr before boarding. I didn’t want to wait so I went over to the gate of an earlier flight and got it from the agents there.
Didn’t shower. Bought a Yamazaki 12yr at only ¥4,500. Watched the plane arrive, boarding was a little late because of late arrival but we ended up arriving early anyway. Caught a nice sunset on the way, the pink clouds were just like candyfloss. My trolley bag came out relatively quickly but there was a longer wait for the duffel. Home at around 10.15pm. Total travel time 26hrs door to door.
Even though my flight wasn’t till 11am, the airport shuttle pickup was 7.15am. Got to the airport around 8am, had to queue for counter check in after not being able to use the self check in terminals. There was a woman who wanted to take her 2 dogs and there was a problem with either their cages or taking them in general, she was screaming and in tears. Probably didn’t do research or notified the airline beforehand. Typical entitled dog owner.
Plenty of time after security. Had a brisket barbeque sandwich, it satisfied my hunger but was pretty dry. Tried a cocktail called beerita — regular margarita with a bottle of corona stuck in the glass. The beer came out as we sipped the margarita. Pretty nice.
I only had my backpack so was able to board early with the “small bags” group. I’d changed to an aisle seat so I could walk around. Watched some films, had meatballs & rice, sandwich, pizza and my neighbour offered me a big piece of chocolate. Lots of diet coke.
I set off at 7.30am from home, knowing that it was coming up to rush hour and there won’t be too many taxis. I was right, it still took me a good 5-10mins to get one. I thought the check in process would be straightforward, but for once in my travelling life, it was a nightmare check in. My flight goes via NRT to DFW, and the first leg was a codeshare with CX. Turned out, the CX flight had not run for months, so AA tried to rebook me onto a JL flight that took over that particular timeslot. For some reason they never completed the booking and I wasn’t on the JL passenger list. Very alarming.
So I sat and stewed around for almost 2 hours. Basically neither JL nor AA were any help. No effort made, nothing. CX did their utmost, above and beyond, 3 people got involved in calling. Finally I had to drag my luggage to the train and rush to the airport, where another CX staff waited for me at the platform to rush me to the JL counter 5mins before check in closed. Thank you CX.
Other than that, the JL flight was uneventful. Arrived at NRT tired and hot. So I splashed out ¥1,000 (around $11) for a shower. Best ten bucks or so I’ve spent. There was time to walk around the duty free and even try free whisky samples.
Next leg to DFW was 12hrs and I wanted to be as clean as I could. The AA flight was okay. I’d paid extra for an aisle seat at the front section, the configuration was 2-5-2 and I was in seat B, with a nice enough neighbour. Had salmon pasta, bad red wine, turkey sandwich and bad pizza. Watched some films and TV, slept about 3hrs.
We were almost 1hr early, arriving at 3.10pm CST. Just as well, because the queue at immigration took 2hrs. Very slow moving, only 6 or so counters open, and people allowed to cut in because they have connecting flights. By the time I got to the conveyor belt, the luggage had been moved to the floor. Car and Heather came to pick me up, and as usual I was too tired to spot them. So grateful to them for coming all the way, and it was so very nice to see them.
Very fast check in at the hotel. I dumped my stuff, went downstairs and already started seeing friends. We’d arranged to have dinner with Erica and her husband and we headed over to Humperdinks, near the hotel. I had a barbeque plate and a medium beer called Buttface. Of course I picked it for the name.
More socialising at the hotel lobby, I sneaked back upstairs for a shower and a change of clothes. Around midnight people started dispersing, I went back upstairs and Ann came in around midnight. Caught up a bit, but was started to fade. I’ll fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.
The good thing about a late night flight is you have the whole day still to do stuff. The bad thing about a late night flight is you’re all set and then you have to wait a whole day before setting off.
Seriously, nothing much to do. Met with sis and gis for a bit, had a glass of wine then bought takeaway home to eat. That’s it. Dubai next.
Long layover at Dubai, and in the middle of the night. At least there was enough time and we weren’t rushed. I hopped into the duty free and bought a bottle of Dalmore 18 that also came with a bag. Explored the other shops. There’s a Mcdonalds there selling chicken big mac. The food shop had the usual chocolate, biscuits and nuts but also milk and cheese. Lots of people waiting for planes there, seems to be a big hub. There’s a flight to Manchester and another to Gatwick. I wish I were on those.
Sunday night I left home at 8pm for a 12.35am flight. Early yes, but because it was a group ticket I couldn’t check in online and besides, my parents and friends H&F were getting to the airport early too. I did not expect to be all checked in and on the train by 8.20pm.
It’s the first time I’d flown Emirates. Being at the back in steerage class is pretty awful actually. Watched tons of 30 Rock, tried to sleep, arrived at Dubai at 5.45am. The plane was parked all the way out at the edge of the airport and took 10 mins on the shuttle to get to the terminal. Then it was walking to the other side of the terminal only to get on a shuttle again to somewhere remote to board another plane. Dislike. Impressions of the terminal — crowded, pretty run-down, definitely not what I expected of Dubai.
Watched even more 30 Rock, had an interesting mezze breakfast, before finally arriving at Barcelona. Flew past the port and thought I saw our ship. Shuttle direct to the port meant no chance of exploring Barcelona at all, this was one of the biggest regrets of this trip.
Embarkation to the MSC Splendida was straightforward and we were in our cabin by mid-afternoon. Or should I say stateroom. It felt more like a cabin. Like a Best Western hotel room, small compact bathroom and a balcony. I had the sofa bed and my parents had the main bed.
Had tea at the self-service buffet, explored the ship a little, then went to the emergency drill. The buffet was okay, filling but not exciting food. The ship is huge — several pools and whirlpools at the top deck, shiny atrium with crystal staircase, long corridors with plenty of cabins. A little drama when we sat down for dinner — we’d been seated with other people in a table of 9 and we wanted our own table. Food was okay, I had salad, risotto, beef and ice cream. There are 2 fixed time seatings for dinner, we had the first one at 6pm. The menu had 6-7 courses and we could order all courses or just a few. Had to order water with our dinner, and we had a bottle of gewurz too. There are drinks packages available, but no one in my party drinks so I’m going to have to no think about the lack of wine and beer all trip.
I know I’ll sound like a spoiled brat but I hate being in the lowest airmiles class. No priority boarding, although the announcement was vague and the staff member let me through before general economy boarding. I checked in as soon as the online window opened so I was able to switch to a second row window seat. The flight was full, there was a poor girl sitting in the middle seat. Watched The Avengers and a few eps of Glee, slept for about 5hrs. Luggage took forever to come out, the priority bags came quicky then there was no activity for a good 10mins. So much so that I had to go over to the desk to check. Ugh.
My parents, bless them, came to pick me up and we got home in a taxi quickly. Had dinner at the market they like going to — golden prawns, pigeon and vegetables. I was so hungry I even had half a bowl of rice.
Got really sleepy suddenly. I hope I won’t wake up in the middle of the night but I’m sure I will.
Flight tonight is at 8pm, so as long as I’m back at the room by 4pm I’m fine. I took the tube all the way out to Covent Garden and had lunch at Hawksmoor. Sigh. That wasn’t a surprise at all, right? Not a filet person, always finding it too bland. But I finally tried the filet tail they had on the board, plus bone marrow and a side of peas and lettuce. No dessert, moved to the bar for a Blanton’s though. And then got a free shot of Rittenhouse from the bartender when I told her that I was flying out. The end of an era, of sorts.
It’s a long way to go from Covent Garden to Heathrow, over an hour on the tube. There was enough time for a shower and final packing. Check-in was straightforward, at 21kg I wasn’t even overweight. I’m only bringing minimal clothes, the heaviest items in the suitcase are Prague sausages. I’m wearing my Highland Park t-shirt, and had a nice chat with the people at World of Whiskies. Flight looks to be full, I hope I can sleep.
Made veal chop for lunch at home, then all too soon it was time to pick up the zipcar, load up mm’s luggage and take her to heathrow. She wanted to claim VAT, and the queue was so damn long! Over 2 hours. By the time we finished, she had to rush to the gate. I had to rush back too, I hadn’t booked the zipcar long enough and couldn’t extend because someone else booked it afterwards. I begged the rep to help me, he called the next person and got me a 30min extension. It was so stressful.
I had no appetite at night. It wasn’t because of the zipcar stress. It’s because mm is on her way home, after such a wonderful 3 weeks with me. All I can hold onto, is the rainbows we saw last year. Blessings.
Patriotic ad from British Airways. The message is “Don’t Fly. Support Team GB.” And coming from the national airline it’s kinda of an oxymoron.
It’s now almost 10 days to the Olympics. Running to Regent’s Park today past Lord’s they’re already beginning the preparation. Giant concrete anti-terrorist blocks along the entrances, official cars disgorging officials lugging boxes into the site. Archery is at Lord’s, and it’s one of the earliest sports to begin.
Sigh. I’m NOT getting the Olympics spirit yet. Far, far too many stupid ignorant tourists around town. Standing still blocking almost the entire pavement while they look up, or look at maps. Not knowing to stand on the right on the tube. Getting off the bus from the front! Making my teeth grind and wanting to just wring their necks. I wish I had made plans to leave the country.
On the other hand, apparently aside from Olympics visitors no one is coming so it’s easier to book restaurants. Well true, I just managed to get a reservation for one of the hottest new restaurants, Dinner by Heston for August. Small silver linings.
I left at 5am, earlier than I needed, just in case there were delays in traffic and in returning the car. You never know. I took the tollway I-294 and it was surprisingly busy so early, lots of crazy fast cars and trucks. Returning the car was straightforward and I also managed to catch the Hertz shuttle to the terminal. My suitcase ended up at 57lbs, almost 26kg, and I had to transfer some stuff to my backpack because they only allowed 52lbs. Lucky that I have both my backpack and trolley as carryon items.
I did pay an extra £36 for an exit row seat. While it bristles that airlines are nickel and diming us, and making extra money off us, I can’t help feeling that the £36 was money well spent. I had something like double the legroom of an ordinary economy class seat and didn’t disturb my neighbour when I went in and out of my seat.
Food was okay, nothing special. The first meal we had, breakfast, came with a packet of snacks (biscuits, dried fruit) in a narrow cardboard container that fit perfectly in the seat pocket, wonder if it’s on purpose. One thing about American, they give you the whole can of diet coke instead of a tiny amount over ice in a glass.
We were only 5-ish minutes late arriving, even though it was pretty late, almost 11pm. Long, long walk to immigration and a short wait at the baggage carousel. The duty free shop had closed by the time I exited. I had already booked a minicab, and I spotted the card with my name quickly. At this late hour the drive home was quick. £30 plus parking is pretty good for the minicab.
Showered and unpacked. Could have waited till tomorrow to unpack but I usually can’t wait. Bedtime.
The flight was uneventful, watched the Iron Lady and Adele’s concert at the Royal Albert Hall. The food was okay. The guy sitting next to me spent the whole flight sleeping, so crawling out was difficult. Arrived almost half an hour early. Car picked me up from the airport and we were back at the house having pasta in no time. Yum.
Unpacked a bit, and then we went off to see Snow White and the Huntsman. Interesting film, a modern, darker, special-effects filled take on the familiar story. I was waiting for the dwarves to appear and I wasn’t disappointed.
Very hot. Over 30°C. Two days of rest then we’re off to the con. It’s good to be back in Chicago.
Going to Islay with RM for the long weekend. Early morning start at 4.30am. Bus to Paddington then train to Heathrow. Flight to Glasgow was 7am, arriving at just before 9am. Our luggage were checked through, so we didn’t have to worry. Got the #500 bus to Glasgow city centre and walked around a bit. Originally we were worried that we won’t have time to see anything but we managed to see the main sights. Nothing much to see, to be honest.
Flight to Islay was delayed for over 1 hour. The flight itself was only 30mins, so it’s all relative. Luggage came out quickly. Got our rental car and drove to Port Ellen. Checked into the hotel no problem, very pleased with the room. As soon as we ditched our luggage we ran out and hightailed it to Ardbeg. We had booked a tasting tour, and I called in Glasgow airport to advice that we were delayed and they were so kind to let us join the end of the tour, the tasting.
The tasting. Oh man. Incredible. Out of this world. We tried 8 different expressions, starting with a 10 year old, then it got better and better. 17 year old, 24, sherry cask, ones that are no longer available. I gave quite a lot to RM, and he got quite drunk. Heehee. We barely made it to dinner. I had scallops, lemon sole and summer fruits pudding. Shower and spent the rest of the evening watching tv.
Temporary pictures only. Will need to do the whole set when I get home.
Flight was full on the return trip too. I got a bulkhead seat so I could move around easier. We arrived early, around 4.45am. My bag was only 17kg, so I just took the tube and walked home. I had planned on getting milk and some basic staples on my way home, but nothing was open, no shops. Okay, it was only 6am. After showering and unpacking, it was a reasonable hour to go out, so I went to the supermarket and got a few more things. Most of the rest of the day was laundry, vacuuming and catching up. Early to bed.
The flight was very full, haven’t been on one this full for a while. (No whining about business class, nope.) I watched Moneyball and 8 episodes of Entourage. Slept for about 3-4 hours total, may be. By the time I got to the conveyor belt my bag was already out. There was a huge long queue for taxis, ended up waiting almost half an hour, ugh.
First thing Mum said when I walked in, “we’re going out for dinner.” Nice, although I was tired. They took me to one of those busy places hidden inside a market. Had golden prawns (sautéed in salty egg yolk), a most succulent boneless pork rib that had been braised and served in a sweet sour sauce, pigeon and vegetables. I really was very tired, almost fell asleep on the train back. Felt better after unpacking and a shower. Bed soon.
Flight out today 10.05pm, so I left work at 4.30pm, took a shower, finished packing, took care of rubbish and everything else. Got to LHR on time, checked in, through immigration quickly. Got some chocolate for mm, then got settled in the lounge. Had some noodles and some wine. Now just waiting for boarding.
I booked a taxi to go directly to the airport. Flat rate of $53 which wasn’t too bad. Was at O’Hare ridiculously early so I spent a good chunk of time at the food court and bar. Had a Uno pizza and bud light, oh so very American.
They were offering upgrade to upper class for $1,700. I mean, really? I did pay for the upgrade to premium economy which was good enough. Unlike the trip to Orlando the seats on this flight were newer and more comfortable. Actually regular economy on the way over was fine too. I watched source code which was quite good. The story was improbable, but the execution made it believable. Then I watched the bbc adaptation of Sarah Water’s The Night Watch. I was confused with the characters at first, because I wasn’t familiar with the actors. I already know that in the book the timeline is reversed, with the past coming after the present. It’s the sort of drama the Brits do so well, and I’d like to watch it again (with no character confusion) to catch the nuances and emotions better.
Flight arrival, immigration and baggage reclaim were uneventful. By the time I got to Paddington it was 8.45am and not surprisingly the taxi queue was long. I had considered doing zipcar but I’ll go to Tesco with mum next week anyway. Got home, unpacked, walked out to the supermarket. Talked for 1 hr with mm in the afternoon. I’m sure I’ll go to bed early.
I had plenty of time at Heathrow. Had breakfast, talked to mm, made my way to the gate. The flight was full but wasn’t too bad. They fed us plenty and I watched a couple of films — Super 8 and The Green Lantern. Landed early, at 1.30pm. As usual the line at immigration was long and the luggage was already on the belt when I got out. I had about a 30min wait for the bus, which was good cos I could get some fresh air. These are good buses, and Car picked me up at the station. Pizza dinner. Everything is just like it was, feels like coming home.
Why the pic of a Metra train? It was the first pic I took in my first personal trip to Chicago in 2006. I don’t count the 2000 overnight trip because all I saw was the hotel and office.
The day that neither of us want has forced its way in. We wanted to go to Whole Foods to get ingredients for another feast, and then realised it doesn’t open till noon so there isn’t enough time. Luckily, the organic butcher at Warwick Ave opens early. Even better, we took a walk there and back. I made this impossibly huge meat feast — veal t-bone, sirloin, lamb shop, veal filet. And mm ate it all, I could fold her into my arms and never let go. She even finished the mint choc cornettos.
The afternoon slipped by far too quickly. She packed her suitcase efficiently and we tidied up the flat. Then it was time to pick up the zipcar. I’d forgotten it’s the notting hill carnival and that part of elgin ave was blocked. Had to call zipcar to find out where the car had been moved to. Uneventful drive to Heathrow, she checked in quickly and we shared a baked potato at the terminal.
Last time when we said good-bye physically hurt. This time was no easier but there wasn’t any actual pain. It doesn’t mean I miss her less, I think last time was missing her and being scared stiff about having to navigate London on my own. I’m more settled now. We keep reminding ourselves of the blessings we encountered this week — wonderful trip to cornwall, good food, full of nostalgia, seeing the sisters at her school, playing piano at steinway, and 2 rainbows — the one yesterday at covent garden when she was down, and today when we were on the A40 when I was sad.
Managed to leave work a little earlier and picked up the rental car. Was going to relax for about an hour at home but when I checked mm’s flight it was half an hour early so I had to hightail it to the airport. The traffic was bad, I got there at 8pm, but in the end there was plenty of time. She came out quickly, we picked up some chicken wings at m&s and got home. Early day tomorrow so we’ll go to bed soon.
Got my luggage quickly, and ran into the tailend of rush hour on the train, which was full. Taxi home, showered and booked a zipcar to go to Tesco. Done in 2 hrs, so my fridge is full. Early night tonight.