Sunday, November 4, 2012

30,000 Miles to London


I have a strong desire to spend my 60th birthday in London this January but things looked bleak. I have been to London in January many times in the past as it is the cheapest time to go and all of the other tourist stay at home. It’s a win for all of us. But instead of paying my usual $500 to $600 for a round trip I will have to pay over $1,000. It looks as though I would be staying home too. But then I remembered to check my air miles account. I have a lot of miles from flying to London once a year but the bulk of them come from my credit card. I did not think that I have enough for a ticket this time but I tried making a reservation using the awards tab on US Airways website. I will be in London this January.

You buy with miles, which can vary but you also have to pay the taxed and fees with money. In looking at different months I found that the T & F is somewhat constant all year and about $200. The miles can vary with the days of the week and what season a month falls. US Airways tickets can be had for as little as 30,00 miles and can peak over 100,000 miles in summer. So I pulled out my US Airways credit card and bought a trip. But I am not going for my birthday.

I would have had to use 45,000 to blow out the candles in London. Then I thought about some events I would like to see. I altered my trip for late January with a return in February. I saved 15,000 miles that I can apply for a future flight. I still have a fair number of miles and will pick-up more on this trip so doing this next year should be a done deal. If you have a miles card it may be worth a check of your account. Spending miles can give one a head ach. One way to look at miles is that you receive them when you buy things you need such as food and gas. Another way to look at them is that they accumulate one mile per dollar. That means I spent $30,000 for a flight that goes for $1,000. Still, if you have miles you can have a nice holiday for very little cash out of pocket. With the money saved one can enjoy high tea at the Savoy.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jogger’s Jogging


I do not live in London but I visit often. I enjoy so much of the city but most of all engaging in chat with people in pubs. I noticed something and passed it off but I have subsequently seen if again: terrorist in trainers. Yes, men jogging down the sidewalk at all hours of the day. Normally this is nothing a walker would give any thought of. But now I pause to see when the jogger will strike. What I saw was a male jogger run into a woman. It looked like an accident but there was room for him to pass. What bugged me out was that after he hit the woman he never stopped or even as he continued he never said sorry. During my last visit I saw one of two joggers run into a woman with infants. Once again, not stopping or sorry.

Is this a growing trend? Is it getting worst? Have men lost (or loosing) their civility towards women? I have only seen this twice but I cannot help but think this is more common that I suspect. I hope not because it will diminish London’s reputation as being walking friendly. They don’t even do this in New York. And yes London, you can take that as a hit.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Airline Carbon Tax


Yes, that is my question. Has the airline carbon tax been imposed on flights to and from Europe? I was in London in December 2011 and March 2012 and paid around $500 USD round-trip. US Airways is posting RT prices for this summer at triple what I recently paid. This is understandable as it is summer. The Olympic and Diamond Jubilee would have influence on price, too. But I have looked into January 2013 and prices remain steady at $1,300 USD. Can I ask; bloody hell?

I am assuming that the airlines are tying to re-coup some loss in fuel cost but it can’t be just that driving prices up. I know the EU is/was looking into adding a carbon tax in airlines. Has that occurred? Is it that much? I don’t know but it is playing havoc with my future London Holiday plans. It will be interesting to see if these high prices affect tourist travel this summer and fall. All I know is that publicans will be crying in their pint glasses if I don’t get back over too soom.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream

What would England be without Cheddar Cheese? What would a holiday be without ice cream? How would I to know that I would find them on my plate in London as a dessert? I had the pleasure of having a long lunch with friends at the Gilbert Scott Restaurant in London. The restaurant is in the newly refurbished and recently re-opened St. Pancras Hotel. It is very old world in service and d├ęcor. In scanning the list of deserts I found one item of particular interest: Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream. This was most unusual to me and it had to be very good or very bad. Using the food that I just finished as a guide I knew it had to be good. It was interesting.

In a multi-star restaurant presentation is everything. The desert came on a brilliant white plate with no fancy chocolate swirls or garden plants. It was plain and simple. The ice cream sat upon what looked like a crab cake. Or, should I say crab-shell cake, as it was rather hard. After chipping into the central core of this moon rock I found a delightful raspberry filling. The ice cream was next. It was soft, as in slightly melted, and vanilla-cream in color. I found the initial taste to me mild and the mouth-feel to be pleasant. It was ice cream so it was refreshing. Then, as it warmed in my mouth if changed in taste. At least to me it did. The cheddar flavor started to come out and gave me a dry-bitterness in my mouth. I was interested in trying it and glad that I did. Would I recommend it to you? Yes. It was something new away from home. OK kids, you can try this at home. Take a small bite of cheddar cheese and a spoon of your favorite ice cream and see what happens. Have the video set to record. Dairy Queen would be amused.

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/lonpr-st-pancras-renaissance-london-hotel/

http://www.thegilbertscott.co.uk/

Friday, April 6, 2012

Citical London Bike Ride


I was sitting in my room at the Imperial Hotel off Russell Square and thought I heard an unusual noise coming from the street. As I peered out the window I saw bikers coming north on Southampton Row. This was not unusual as there are many people biking in central London, even during rush hour. What was unusual about this was that there were bikers by the hundreds. They took the both northbound lanes and eventually swept over and shut the southbound lanes. They turned to go around Russell Square and ride further into Camden, At the turn some bikers stopped all traffic going south. Needless to say the drivers were not happy especially with high petrol prices and a fuel shortage due to a tanker driver strike looming.

Petrol prices in March were one-pound forty per liter and in US dollars that come to $8.50 a gallon. Some petrol stations were closed and they had no gas to offer and the government was activating the British Army to deliver petrol to England’s filling stations. Needless to say tensions are high in Britain right now.

The ride, which also included many skateboarders started under Waterloo Bridge. The event is world-wide in nature and put together by Critical Mass. It was not exactly a legal parade so to speak and no police were present to provide safe passage for the riders. Part of the ride was to focus on people who were killed by hit and run drivers and also to focus on sharing the road. This point may have been lost on the group as they consumed the road and caused gridlock for the gas guzzlers. I think the many drivers watching their fuel gage plummet to the E as they sat on the road thought these people were akin to terrorists. Most London bikers obey the law and ride “with” traffic and not “against” the law. I am just glad that I was five floors up.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Time to get to London

I have made reservations to visit London this March. I had just visited this past December and one can not visit London too often I say. In looking over my flight times and layovers in Charlotte I was a bit stunned when the numbers added up for me. The overseas legs are typically 8 to 9 hours so seeing 17 flight hours was not a surprise. The jaunt from Pittsburgh to Charlotte is about 1.5 hours making a total of 3. I have the pleasure of laying over in Charlotte for about six hours. I love being in Charlotte but for about 3 hours each does not allow for any sight-seeing other than what is in Terminal B.

But when I totaled all the flight and layover times I was shaken by the 26 hours I will be in transit. My holiday is for 9 days and I will be using one day and two hours of the time NOT being in London. Still, I cannot wait t be in the air eastbound.