Friday, October 23, 2015

Quick Madrid Trip - September 2015

A very quick trip to Madrid for a couple days of meetings. Had a Saturday to visit the Reina Sofia museum to see Picasso's Guernica and an interesting display of their collection on revolt and change from the 60's to the 80's including the end of Franco's reign in Spain (see what I did there? :) ) Watched a bit of the Battle of Algiers in French dubbed in to Spanish, but it was not hard to understand what was happening. Highly recommended.

A bit of time in the Retiro and two days of meetings. A good amount of ham. Some mediocre white wine by the glass at more than one place. Averaged about 10 miles a day of walking over the weekend according to my phone.

Food and Drink

Marisque Riveira do Mino - Really liked hanging out at the counter with a glass of white eating cold (previously steamed) prawns and the pulpo you get as a tapa with the wine. Great lunch. They have a number of different things to try. Would definitely return.

Charlotte - Huge gin and tonics outside, then around 2:00 or so the party moves inside. "What time do you close?" (asked around 4:30am Saturday with still like 20 people drinking and eating popcorn) "Oh, around 2:30".

Sifón - Nice and little out of the way. Good chill place on a nice day.

Ramses - Can only comment on the terrace, not on the overly fancy looking inside restaurant or the club that looked pretty euro-douce. Good wine by the bottle list. Food was decent. Great to sit outside.

La Giralda II and Restaurante La Despensa - decent if unspectacular places in an area covered with bars and tapa. Not expensive at all, so a decent time. The places that looked "better" from a food standpoint were jammed full both Friday and Saturday nights.

La Venencia - Very touristy off the Gran Via, but really nice sherry and ham for a snack. Interesting differences between the three types they pour from giant kegs, and if you have a couple people a bottle for €14 is a good deal

Botin - So very touristy but for wine, a salad, and some crispy pig it is a very nice stop. Not expensive

La Barraca - Pass. No need to have paella in Madrid. Rice and clams were great but the prawns were either way overdone or just not great to start with. Wine was good. Super touristy. The Del Diego across the street had good cocktails.

Up very early for the return flight.

€1 = $1.12. Flew Virgin Atlantic SFO-LHR RT, BA LHR-MAD, and Iberia MAD-LHR. Quite nice flights. Made it to SFO just in time to drive to our company offsite in Sausalito.

More Photos

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lyon, St. Briac, London - July 2015

Mixing in some time with Adrienne's family and a couple days in London. SFO-LHR on Virgin Atlantic with a BA LHR-LYS on our outbound.


Arriving in Lyon at midnight had us a little hungry, so we started at La Gratineé  a "member club" open from 23:00 to 7:00 each night. Membership costs €2 per person, so not a real impediment. They do have an apparent rule that everyone must order a main, and if you're sitting in the back as opposed to in front of the bar, look at the menu and decide what you want on your way in. Very simple menu with four steaks, three sauces to choose from, and a couple kinds of potatoes. Cannot recommend enough for late-night dining.


High temperature was around 38C/101F for our two days. We made the hike to the basilica on the first day and wandered around the heights of the old city which was nice. The second day was very hot and we tried to stay out of the heat as much as possible. Nice walk through a market along the Sôane in the morning and dinner at Le Passage which was very good, but a note that locals eat outside so they can smoke, leaving the inside full of tourists. Good food and fantastic service nonetheless.


Saint Malo

UntitledLeft Lyon on a train to St. Malo, transferring at Marne-la-Vallée - Chessy, otherwise known as EuroDisney. You don't have to leave the station to transfer, so the mouse is not pushed on you :) No issues on the way to St. Malo and a quick cab ride to St. Briac. Had a great stay at Le Vieux Logis which has 4 or 5 rooms and fantastic breakfasts served by an excellent hostess.

A couple very nice days with Adrienne's extended family and a little bit of beach time on an actually warm day. This was followed by a windy, cloudy day just to make sure we got the full experience. Had a very nice hike along the Gulf de Dinard despite the conditions and saw a WWII German bunker that was interesting. Good dinner at Les deux sardines where I had very good sardines and fish. I think I ordered poorly at Cotes et Broches, with the pulpo being a bit tough and the fish not great while Adrienne's lamb was fantastic. A quick uneventful flight from Dinard to Standted (DNR-STN) on Ryanair, with the only highlight being the surprisingly great pub on the second level of the Dinard airport. Really a nice place.



Two nice dinners with Adrienne's friends at Fifteen (would probably not return based on very slow service) and Ffiona's (great sea bream). Good visit at the Tate Modern including tea and scones on the 6th floor overlooking the Thames. All around an excellent museum stop. A lot of construction in London with a ton of cranes all over the city. Was tough to find a simple pub to watch the Wimbledon's mens semifinals but after trying a couple places (including the Sports Bar & Grill Farringdon which was pretty meh) I ended up at the Kings Stores by Liverpool Stn. Great service and good beer/cocktail list. Food menu was interesting but we had dinner plans.

Completely uneventful return flight to SFO and actually got a bit of sleep to help with the time adjustment.

$1.09 = € and $1.53 = £1 - More Photos

Restaurant Links:

La Gratineé
Le Passage
Les deux sardines

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Amsterdam and Lima - May 2015


TK 80 SFO-IST 773 J

A bit of crazyness at SFO to get a boarding pass, waiting 90 min in the business/star gold line. The economy line looked to be about 100 deep and barely moving. Going to guess growing pains as TK just launched this route. Ended up delayed about an hour waiting for everyone to check in. No security line for a 6:30pm scheduled departure. A mobile boarding pass would have been a huge improvement but apparently they needed to physically scan passports. I did receive a mobile boarding pass for my IST-AMS connection when I checked in online but SFO prints a paper pass anyway...

Nice flight. Very good wifi the entire flight which was helpful to kill time. I only snacked, no meals and the cheese was ok. Food looked good overall. Wine was decent with a couple red and white choices. Service was attentive but a slight bit awkward. Got 5-6 hours of sleep which was very helpful. Power and headphone (two prong) under the middle armrest.

The lounge in IST was nice but very busy upstairs so I went downstairs which was a bit better. Olive bar was a little disappointing. Mezze bar was good but the other food was pretty uninteresting. Good wifi in the lounge as well.


TK 1195 IST-AMS 321 J

Very quick boarding. Not much legroom in business, just the middle seat blocked. Good food on this flight. Right on time. Landed on the close runway at AMS. Less than a 5 min wait for immigration to open new lanes. Uber pick up at the Sheraton across the street from the arrivals and I was at my hotel in under an hour after touchdown at 22:30.



Went out for a wander around AMS on arrival and had a couple drinks then amazingly slept from 1:30 to 10:00 which helped reset my clock. Woke up the 2nd night from about 4:30 to 6:00. The Andaz Pricegeracht was very nice. Had a great room with a canal view. Good bar where, as with every other bar in Amsterdam, they featured a wide variety of gin and tonics. Yelp was very helpful for restaurants and other things, like finding a laundromat.

For the love of god, buy Rijksmuseum tickets online. The line was wrapped around inside the building and far down the street outside, but with the pdf on my phone from buying online, zero lines to wait in. Museum itself was very crowded as well, but the ship modeling and other temporary exhibits in the bottom floor were interesting

Restaurants and Bars

Mossel Gin - fantastic mussels and gin cocktails. had oysters and calamari as well. just great
Butcher's Tears - good beers, both theirs and the guest taps. cheese plate has a *lot* of cheese :)
de Biertun - great beer selection. good snacks. did not get to try the food as they do not serve from 2:30 to 5:30 or something along those lines
Staring at Jacob - good American style Sunday brunch 
Restaurant de kas - great setting. good food. very reasonable wine list.
Restaurant Shiva - very good Indian. Not fooling around with heat on the vindaloo. good pickles 
Cafe Toussant - nice cafe for a couple lunches. really liked the tomato soup, the salmon bread, and I think there was a good salad involved one afternoon
Bar Oldendorf - good cocktails. nice people. pricey at €17 each, but that was unfortunately common at similar places
Wurst & Schnitzel - Good schnitzel. liked the bratwusrst a little less. the potato salad and fried potatoes were a little meh
Sampurna - indonesian - just ok. would probably find something else next trip

Additional Amsterdam Photos - $1.12 per 1 euro for this trip.

KL 743 AMS-LIM 773 J (KLM Asia on tail)

Mobile boarding pass really worked for this flight. 28 min from getting in an uber at the Andaz to the KL lounge, which was boring, almost UA red carpet-esque. Food was sliced cheese and salami along with some cereal and dried fruit for breakfast. Had a bloody mary which was fine. Under construction so might improve. Flight was ok, but no wifi. OK movie selection. For the TV series, they had one episode per series. This could be so much better. Headphone jacks (three prongs) were under middle armrest which made them a bit annoying. Power on front of middle armrest. Lunch finished about 2.5 hours from takeoff, followed about 90 min later by a snack (ice cream, cheese, veggie something). With about 3:30 left in the flight we were back over land entering South America over Guyana


Not a particularly attractive city but Miraflores and San Isidro were nice. Lunch starts late and runs late in Lima. The Westin Lima was a good hotel, pretty much what you would expect from a Westin in a city. Nice executive lounge on the 29th floor. Breakfast buffet on the first floor was good but a bit boring after five days.


Pescados Capitales - Great ceviche, pulpo, grilled fish, and drinks. Just great.
La Carreta on Ricardo Rivera Navarrete - San Isidro. Love the Rafael sauce (dijon and peppercorn) on a steak and paps rosti. So good.
El Hornero - Francisco Masias 505 - San Isidro. Good steaks and salmon here as well.
Astrid y Gaston - pass. 3.5 hours of touristy tasting menu. experience was very good, but the meal dragged way too long. 29 courses is just too many. I did really like the wine paring.
El Mercado - meh. very upper class clientele in a casual space. the grilled fish was good but everything else was kind of a miss. service was  uneven during brunch. much more interested in taking food orders than drink orders.

Additional Lima Photos  3.12 Peruvian Soles for $1


LAN 600 LIM-LAX 789 J

Online check-in only served to allow for seat changes. Have to physically check in at the desk but there was not a line two hours before the flight. Made it from the Westin to my gate in 55 min having left at 22:30. LIM is a nice airport but the lounge here is tiny and jammed with people having flights between 00:00 and 02:00.

Flight was fine until the attendants began waking people up for breakfast two hours in advance of landing, at 5:30 Pacific Time. OMG, just let people in business sleep a bit longer and make breakfast much shorter. Why even serve breakfast? Just stay quiet until 6:50 or so and wake people for approach. Nice plane though.


Yeah, so you have been on an E-175? Yup. That was this flight. An unglamorous ending to what were a few really nice flights. But great to have made it home!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Santiago - October 2014

A pretty quick trip to Santiago for meetings with ISPs at LACNIC 22. Flew Delta SFO-ATL-SCL as the lowest total flight time. Not particularly impressed with J in the 767 for 9-10 hours ATL-SCL and back, but was fine. The food was reasonable and FA's were nice. Just felt cramped as there was not a lot of space around the seat to store anything. All flights on time and the DL lounges in ATL were decent. Not sure of the appeal of the lounge in Terminal F with the outside area as I could not get past the constant smell of jet exhaust...

I was very bad at taking photos this trip, basically being inside for meetings for four days and not building any extra time in for sightseeing. The air was not particularly clear for any of the days I was there, rather a mix of haze and smog that was not good for either landscapes or my allergies. Good stay at the W Santiago. Nice residential and business neighborhood by the W but funky in that there was an Appleby's and a Denny's within two blocks, along with a number of pizza places. Took the metro to the conference hotel which took 10 minutes and worked very well. Area was pretty dead at night from what I could tell in my brief ventures out.

Apparently the tallest building in South America was right down the street from my hotel. Office and residential space on top of what appeared to be a huge mall. Chile remains on my list for further exploration but will definitely get out of Santiago. Good reports on Valapariso, skiing in Portillo, fly fishing south of Santiago, and hiking in Patagonia. $1 = CLP 584 at the time of the trip.

Do have to make mention of the California Sports Cantina where we watched the Giants win Game 7 of the World Series. Probably the best American-style sports bar I have been to anywhere outside of North America. Highly recommended.

Croatia and München - September 2014

One busy week in Croatia. Mostly a work trip with a bit of sightseeing thrown in. Started another one of my convoluted travel days with SFO-MUC in LH First on a donated upgrade, which was really really nice. Food was good but the best part was the space including a foot locker and full lie-flat without anyone near. Very attentive service. Felt a little bit funny after the flight but may have been due to overindulging in the caviar. Basically progressed downhill from there in the luxury department as MUC-SPU on Croatia Airlines was ok, followed with a completely reasonable $5 bus ride from SPU to the port of Split, then a 60 min ferry ride to Hvar town. All told about 18 hours in transit.

Nice stay at the Adriana Hotel with a room overlooking the harbor. Roughly $1 to 6 HRK and 1.34 EUR on this trip. Had a day and a half in Hvar and was great to wander around. Very lively at night with a chill crowd for a small town.  Food was decent but not spectacular on average, without a real highlight excluding the consistently good octopus. Hiking trails in multiple directions from the center of town. Had a longer hike along the coast planned that was cancelled due to a day of pretty good thunderstorms. Very pretty when it was not raining and I can see why people bounce from island to island in the Dalmatians. Clean water with many visible sea urchins and abundant fish. Could definitely spend some time here.

Ferry back to Split and a totally crazy cab ride to the Le Meridien Split, which is about 15 min from the port. A decent hotel but a bit eastern European feeling as opposed to a relaxing destination. Was fine for our four days of meetings and presentations. Not in a real hurry to return to Split as the city is pretty built up for tourists and the number of mid-rise residential buildings do not make it particularly attractive or interesting from a visual perspective. A bit surprising but the food at the restaurants right outside the hotel, on the marina by the yachts was very good. In particular the grilled octopus and fish were outstanding with a good wood grill taste coming through. The clams, mussels, and avocado salads were also fresh.

A tiny bit tricky to find, but one of the better meals I have eaten was at F de Mar in the Split harbor area. There are two or three other F restaurants in the area, and friends gave one of them less than stellar reviews, but this is the one furthest from the cruise port on the water. Did essentially a 7 course chef's choice served 3 "starters" then 3 "mains" that is not on the menu but our waiter put together based on things we wanted to try and/or avoid. Great seafood bisque to start, a couple shrimp dishes, a cuttlefish risotto, a small crunchy fried fish, one sort of forgettable octopus dish, and with the final plate, the best piece of beef tenderloin I can remember having. Just perfect temperature, color, taste, and prep. No idea where it came from, but absolutely perfect. So stuffed from the soup and six courses that nobody could manage desert. All told, including two bottles of Croatian white wine, $180 for three people.

Limited flights out of Split and needed to be in LA Thursday night for meetings on Friday, so took a late afternoon flight SPU-MUC on LH and spent the night in Munich. Good service and seasonal food on the short flight. LH really delivers on these. Did not go to Octoberfest, rather opting for a more quiet experience in the Hirschgarten, made even more quiet by everyone else apparently being at the Weisen :) Had a good dinner and no issues with MUC-LAX the next day. A good trip with some highs (Hvar, München, the food in Split) and meh's (Split overall, the flight situation to/from SPU) but no travel issues.

More Croatia + Munich Photos on Flickr

Monday, September 15, 2014

Taipei 2014

Four day work trip to Taipei but got a decent amount of sightseeing in at night. Very warm, 96F and humid. Not bad in the morning but high heat very early in the day. Decent flights on UA SFO-TPE. Taxi to the hotel and Uber back ($52). Great stay at the W Taipei including excellent buffet style breakfasts and a highly respectable Tuesday night American-style BBQ with a number of other Taiwanese/Chinese/Japanese dishes to go along.

Very nice people wherever we went, but one recurring question: Why on earth does a city with such hot weather specialize in hot beef noodle soup?

The soup was indeed good but not much food variety in local dishes other than soup, dumplings, pork buns, and the occasional vegetable. Many Japanese restaurants around the area of our hotel but we never sought one out for some reason. The Rahoe Night Market had some nice food including great steamed pork buns and a whole crispy pig (weekends only). Ling Tong Fung had great noodle soup and sides for around $8 per person for 5 of us. Good dumplings at Din Tai Fung, but a bit cliched and touristy. Still worth the trip at least once. The fried pork was good there if you have tired of soup and dumplings.

World-class cocktails at Alchemy, which is a great speakeasy vibe upstairs and opposite a more normal bar. Couple decent western beers at Beer and Cheese Social House with your average US/Aussie/Canadian traveler crowd.

More photos and the exchange rate was around 30.0 Taiwan New Dollars per 1 USD.

EU - May 2014

Fondue in Zürich
A bit belated in this one, but a quick hitting trip to BRU, FRA, Bonn, Zürich, and Paris. Generally busy with work efforts but a few notes follow. Great weather for this trip. Very sunny and warm other than 30 min of rain one day in Paris. Almost too warm in Zürich at 85F. Warm hotel, particularly for Dave on the top floor of an older but nice building down the street. Very good trip overall.

Liked flying Virgin Atlantic SFO-LHR, then into BRU and out of ORY on BA. Only minus was the transfer to BA at LHR T5 which was an absolute mess, even with a fast track security pass. Many people, not signed well, lots of lines, a lot of walking. Able to get an Uber at BRU and CDG on the way in which was nice. Train'd in to FRA and ZRH. Took Uber from central Zürich to ZRH ($90) and Opera to ORY ($70). Good to see their service expanding.

Stayed at the Hotel Amigo in BRU (meh), Le Meridien Statpark in FRA (nice, small gym), the Sheraton Zürich (just ok), and W Opera Paris (excellent).

L'Avant Comptoir

Notable food at Atschel (ordering the pig shoulder "Schäufelchen, mariniert mit Bratkartoffelnund gemischtem Salat" next time) and beer and sausage at Dauth Schneider in Frankfurt. Enjoyed the Summergarden at Bauschaenzli and the excellent if touristy cheese fondue at Le Dezaley (with a couple bottles of acidic white Epesses „Terre à boire“, Louis Bovard) in Zurich. Very disappointed with our concierge's recommendation of Le Petit Marius for seafood in Paris. Very expensive. Not very good. Oysters and belon were served almost warm even though they were on ice. Not great texture on those or the crab. Small portion of lump crab meat. Would not return. Much better food at excellent prices standing at the bar of L'Avant Comptoir around 5:30. Excellent oysters, charcutiere, tortilla, wine, and service. Meh again at Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit in Paris and the moules frites I had in Brussels. Neither that impressive.

The Tower!

More Photos  Around $1.38 for €1, and $1 for 0.97 CHF.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Athens - October 2013

Flew United to Paris then Aegean to Athens. Not a bad combination but the Star Alliance lounge in CDG Terminal 1 is not much to write home about, particularly on the food front. Not a ton of options in the terminal either. The SAS lounge next to the Aegean gate was no better.

Athens was fantastic and greatly exceeded expectations. Very lively central area. Many options for outside eating, drinking, and hanging out. The north and south sides of the Acropolis seemed to be mostly tourists while the northeast seemed to be more locals. Kind of a mix elsewhere. People were very helpful even when they were not great at English, although spoke a bit.

The food was very good with fresh vegetables, fresh seafood, and lots of good cheese. Would recommend Koallis for seafood although having a map and knowing it is near the Hotel Metropolitan was very helpful to the taxi. The greek salad from Kuzina was almost a panzanella with excellent tomatoes, arugula, croutons, capers, and excellent olive oil. Would recommend the 12-hour pork here as well even though I opted for the salad. Great starters. For lunch and cafe time, there are a few on or near Vasilis in the Thiseio area but you can really look anywhere around the city. They love their iced coffee. Could also recommend the roof bars around A for Athens and 360.

For a break from the Acropolis and nearby crowd, highly recommend wandering around
Filopappou Hill which is right next door. Very few people and great views. About a 30 min walk away you get to the base of Mount Lycabettus. About 25 min up to see the Church of St George and look down on the entire city. Fantastic views. Make sure to take water.

Stayed at the New Hotel Athens which was great. Nice rooms. Excellent full breakfast in their restaurant. Great little tea cookies by the check in desk and chocolate at turn down :)

Perhaps one too many fantastic martinis at Osterman on Plateia Agias Irinis (menu looked great. should have eaten more) and was off to the Athens airport Sofitel for a 5:00am wake up to catch my Aegean flight to MUC then Lufthansa to SFO, only 0.2% over the direct route. Good although unintentional carbon footprint minimization. Had planned a longer layover to head in to MUC but it was 3C and very foggy, and I was underdressed, so settled for an airBrau at MUC. Pretty good helles and only €2.60 for a 0.5L. Highly recommended. You can go outside security to the location outside the check-in area (do not have to clear passport control connecting from within the EU) or visit the smaller one in Terminal 2 after you go though passport control for international flights.

$1.375 = €1 which was not a great rate compared to recent trips. Ended up with a 3G SIM from Vodafone from a store in Athens. €17 for a micro SIM for my 4s including 500M of data for 30 days and 400 minutes of local calling. Very helpful to call a local conference bridge number for work. No stores for SIM cards on arrival at ATH. BKK still wins at that game. Tried to buy a Wind SIM first but it did not work with my US 4s. The guy at their store said this happens frequently with unlocked iPhones from various other countries. Google Maps and Apple's friend stalking apps were so very helpful in Athens.

Additional Photos

Monday, July 22, 2013

EU 2013 - London

After a completely uneventful flight to London on Ryanair, we actually had a bus work out, this time from Stansted to London Liverpool. There are a couple bus options and the Stansted Express train but we thought it would be nice to see outside instead of being in a train for an hour. Plus that the bus had wifi, even if it was a bit mediocre.

First stop was to meet up with some work people for drinks. Great views from the Madison roof bar. Next day was the Wimbledon Mens semifinals. Great 5-hour match between Djokovic and del Potro to start then Andy Murray beating Janowicz in the 2nd. We had left before the end of the Murray match after he was clearly going to win and we had been in our seats for almost 8 hours with only a couple breaks. Very entertaining and a great Wimbledon experience!

St John Bakery near Maltby St

Started the next morning at the Maltby Street Market which has a great variety of food being chased by what appeared to be a significant number of American foodies. It does not suffer due to this at all. Very good and interesting snacks, sandwiches, and other options at stalls on a very narrow street named Ropewalk off of Maltby. Very fresh, very nice people, and a great time in the sun. As a twofer on Saturday markets, you can walk 25 min to Borough Market for their retail (also Thursday and Friday) but I was pretty full at this point and Borough is more of a zoo. Spent the afternoon wandering around while Adrienne went shopping, hitting the Tate Modern and the Paul Smith Sale Shop then heading to Victoria Park for a walk and to visit a couple pubs. Found the beer garden on the park closed for a wedding but enjoyed a few pints at The Hemmingway and The Lauriston in South Hackney. There was some excellent looking pizza at the latter of those two so might have to head back at some point.

For dinner, met one of Adrienne's friends for dinner at St John. Very disappointing, partly because the food was only sort of interesting outside of the desserts this night but also because the server was generally unfamiliar with the dishes and was very rushed despite the restaurant being only half full. Maybe they're losing their touch here. At any rate, not in a hurry to return. St John Bread and Water was great on a previous trip and the bakery near Maltby St was awesome, so it's not all their properties, but maybe the main one could use some attention.

Woke up the next day to find our United Airlines flight canceled and rebooked for two days later. Ostensibly due to the Asiana crash at SFO except that all five other UA, BA, and VS LHR-SFO flights went out that day. Only ours was canceled. Just great. Called UA's UK number and found a very helpful person who tried a number of options but could only slightly help us get back to SFO two days later.

The Eagle - Clerkenwell

With two days to fill, extended our stay with points at the Hyatt Anadaz Liverpool St, which was an excellent, newly-renovated hotel. Great location, very helpful staff, and really an enjoyable stay. So happy to use points here as they seem to run £320+ per night. Used our extra Sunday to have a fantastic lunch at The Eagle in Clerkenwell followed by watching the Wimbledon Mens final at the Slaughtered Lamb and dinner at The Well.  Normal day working from our London offices on Monday with a good dinner at Dishoom in Shoreditch

Headed to LHR in our second attempt to leave on Tuesday morning to find ourselves 59 minutes before our flight. United has a hard cut 60 min before but they did some radio work and got our bags on. Made it to our Boeing 787 Dreamliner to IAH without an issue and everything seemed fine until about the time the doors would close and we would be on our way. Three hours and multiple pilot comments about computer issues with the plane later we were all offloaded and told to wait for future updates in the lounge. This did not sound encouraging and I had called UA earlier to be backed up on a flight the next day as we would be missing our connection in IAH. They said the luggage would be offloaded so we asked to have ours sent to the baggage claim. Got a hotel from UA due to the delay and missed connection and went to the LHR Hilton for the night. UA eventually canceled this flight 6 hours after the scheduled departure time, leading about 150 people in line at Terminal 4 to deal with rooms and rebookings. So two flights cancelled, three days delayed, and have not yet seen compensation from UA. Probably flying BA or VS next time.

London travel basics: $1.50 = £1 at the time of this trip. Vodafone SIM from one of their shops in Kensington. With a Freedom Freebee, £10 gives 100 min of UK calling, 300 UK txts, and 50 Mb of internet. When you top up with a normal £10 (or higher) voucher in the future, it reloads this. Very helpful and extremely useful when calling the United Airlines UK number in multiple attempts to rebook.

Additional photos at flickr

EU 2013 - Brittany

Sometimes when you want to get from point A to point B, you have constraints. These normally might be cost or availability but Brittany is a little more like Lake Bohinj in Slovenia where there is no nearby airport and you need a combination of planes, buses, and perhaps other options and it sucks up a full day of travel. Our itinerary:

- CPH-TXL (Berlin) SAS. Using UA miles to get to Paris. 30 min flight. 14:15-15:10

- 2h 40m layover at TXL. Bizarre airport in that there is no real "airside". At least for intra-Schengen flights there's an exit door right next to baggage claim. Terminal A is open to anyone off the street to enter, including shops, restaurants, and the LH Senator lounge if you have the correct ticket and status. Walked outside to get from terminal to terminal then back through security. Not sure anyone checked my passport prior to the TXL-CDG flight.

- TXL-CDG LH. 17:20-19:05 Nice flight. Normal LH selection of cheese or ham sandwich. Had a Warsteiner. Still generally like LH. So far so good.

- Air France bus to Gare Montparnasse via Gare du Lyon. 2 hour bus ride due to Sunday evening Paris traffic. 40 min spent winding around the CDG terminals from 1 to 3. 30 min into the ride, while sitting in traffic, someone asks the drive to turn off the AC. Queue an hour of roasting and near nausea.

- Roughly 12 hours after leaving our CPH hotel, we arrive at our Paris hotel. Could have taken a taxi or RER or really anything other than the bus to get there.

- Around 7 hours of sleep, which is pretty good. Get up to take a 3h train to St Malo.

- All told, 11am left CPH hotel on Sunday, arrive 14:00 Monday at La Villefromoy St Malo.

A fairly quick but very nice trip to visit St Malo, St Briac, Cancale, and meet up with Adrienne's family in St Brieuc.  Mixed weather with some sun and some rain. Not particularly warm. Fantastic meal at Restaurant l'Atelier in St Malo. Other meals were kind of mixed with shellfish and wine in Cancale being pretty good but fairly touristy and somewhat expensive and a couple restaurants in St Malo being expensive and not particularly good, but we were somewhat limited by our desire to eat later in the night, say after 9pm.

Hiking along the coast in Cancale was a highlight with great views of the water on one side and interesting houses on the other. The variance of the waterline due to tides is something else to look at, where boats are on the seabed at one point then the water returns a few hours later.

Much easier to leave the area with a €20 taxi ride to the Dinard airport for our Ryanair flight to London Stansted. Easy jet is a bit prickly about baggage weight but we planned perfectly and were right at the limits so no issues. They really jam a lot of seats into the plane and this one was surprisingly completely full. I suppose when you only have two or three flights a day from an airport that will happen.

Brittany travel basics: $1.30 for €1 at the time of our trip. Would have been much easier to fly to Dinard through London instead of our CPH-TXL-PAR-St. Malo trek. 3G cell and data again, this time from an Orange SIM ordered on eBay and activated by sending a passport scan to Orange at with the phone number. Created an account online at as well to track progress as activation takes a couple days. 50Mb of internet for €2 per day for data activated through a menu system by dialing #123# and searching through the menus for Options then Internet. A bit tedious using their system of replies but worked out and 50Mb was fine for maps and email.

Additional photos at flickr.