Sometimes you just need a little pampering….. Denver September 2014

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I had business meeting in Denver, bright and early on Monday Morning at 8 am. So I needed to fly in on Sunday. But since I am short on nights for keeping my Hyatt Diamond status, I flew out on Saturday to Hyatt Hop.

Hotel Hopping or mattress running are terms near and dear to the frequent traveler trying to maintain their status in hotel programs. To maintain Hyatt Diamond, you have to have 25 stays or 50 nights. I am not about to make the status on nights, but I am coming close on the stays.  Well I was coming close due to hotel hopping. So Saturday night I stayed at the Hyatt Place Denver Airport and Sunday night I moved to the Grand Hyatt.  So 2 stays done. If I had wanted to stretch for a 3rd stay I could have over to the Hyatt Regency, but even I get lazy about packing up and moving every night.

The Hyatt Place was great! First time I’ve been given a rose and the cookie was pretty tasty too.

 

I originally had plans to spend the day with friends down in Colorado Springs, but those plans changed and I ended up at the spa.  It’s funny in all my travels, I think I can name all the places I have every done “spa” days. First time was in Bangkok, Thailand, with my friend Jon. They mistook us for a couple and we were put in the same room for massage.  I refused to take my clothes off. It was awkward.  If you’ve ever had a Thai massage, you know what I mean.  That put me off massages for a little while. The next one was on the beach in Cancun, thought it would be nicer then it was.  And the last one with in Bali, where I was covered in so much oil, that no amount of showering would rinse it off.  So my “spa” experiences up until this trip had not been memorable.

Enter the Oxford Hotel Spa, Club and Salon. I had unintentionally arrived early so Leo and Zero, at the hotel next door invited me to have a seat in the lobby, while I waited. What a beautiful hotel, too bad it’s not a Hilton or Hyatt, I would have liked to stay there. I booked The Perfect Day Package, that included a massage, facial, lunch, manicure and pedicure.  It was bliss…….

I have to wonder why I don’t do it more often. It was a experience that I will definitely plan on repeating again in the future! Possibly even at the Oxford Spa! I wish I had written down everyone’s name’s that had done my treatments, because they were just wonderful! I only remember Christine, who did my facial, because we bonded over our love of travel!  My face still feels amazing!

It was such relaxing day, I headed back to my hotel for my favorite pass time, drinking wine in the lounge, while pretending to work.

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I would like to say I did something awesome during the day on Monday, but well can’t be posting that on a public blog……… However Monday evening, that’s a different story. I love Bacon. . I found a place that had bacon appetizers, but probably should have looked closer at the address though …. Oh well thank goodness for Uber. I ended up at The Berkshire , for some swine and wine.

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After thoroughly enjoying the bacon, it was time for cheese. Yes my perfect night, wine, cheese and bacon……… So off to Cru Wine Bar, for wine flights and goat cheese beignets.

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And finally ended the night at Tom’s Urban for some pork belly tacos. Of which there are not pictures, because at that point, I inhaled them upon sight. It was a nice night, until the damn sidewalk jumped up on me, causing me to roll my ankle. YES, sigh, the same foot.

Lucky for me the Grand Hyatt had a nice gym, so the next morning I was able to work off the remaining effects from the night before. And then I had another seriously boring day at a work conference, that first speaker really should thought about serving coffee as part of their presentation…….

And finally time to head home. Of course the conference ended earlier then planned, and of course, I booked a later flight to be safe, and well I could have switched to the earlier flight but I was not about to trade my confirmed first class seat, for a middle seat in coach. I knew I could find wine at the airport. IMG_2002

Somehow I made it, 5 minutes late for boarding. I was not in a hurry because my carry on’s were small. BIG MISTAKE. I get to the gate and there is not line for boarding, odd. That’s because there was an insane line on the jet bridge and it was hot. IMG_2004

Given the prima donna traveler I have become, I started looking around for the special line for people like me. Yeah, there is not such line……….

And back to Chicago I go, but I have to wonder will I ever get tired of this view?

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Hello Edinburgh……

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I have to laugh at myself sometimes. I gave myself a challenge of visiting 50 countries before 40. In order to do this I would need to actually go to places I’ve never been. Ironically, the next few trips are not new countries, but new places. Oh well, it’s going to make 2015 interesting.

When I was in Tanzania, I met a nice couple that live in Scotland. We have since kept in touch and I mentioned that I wanted to go to London to go boot shopping. Yes boots. Well lucky for me,maybe not so much for my friends, there is a  Duo Fit Ship in Edinburgh. So I can get my boots, visits a new place and see some friends. Win win.

Why am I flying to the UK for boots? I am tall, have wide calves and big feet. Finding boots to fit are a problem. Duo Boots have 21 different calf sizes, 3 widths and various heights.  I think my biggest challenge is going to be suitcase space!

So I made the decision, but I had to find flights. I considered the direct flight from Chicago to Edinburgh on United for about a hot minute. They fly a 757 on that route. Anyone that knows planes, know that 7 hour 35 minutes on a 757 is pushing the level of comfort. So to spare my bum, I opted to go out of my way to Frankfurt and Brussels.  Yes I realize that I would have been better off time wise, but nope. I flew Newark-Dublin once on a 757, that was the first and last time.EDI

 

So other then buying boots, eating shortbread and drinking scotch, I guess I need to research what there is to do in Edinburgh. I am looking forward to discovering a new city and catching up with my friends!

 

 

A little history, a little sand and a little shopping

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I love visiting Christmas Markets in Europe. It’s not even about the shopping, honestly I don’t believe I’ve ever actually purchased something at the markets. It’s more about the electricity and excitement of the upcoming holidays, about spending time with family and friends.

Since I am on my quest to visit 50 before 40, I was originally planning on trying to go to Poland and Hungary in November/December.  But then I got a bee in my bonnet…..

I’ve been stockpiling my airlines miles and hotel points for some fantasy trip that I’ve been planning to take. I’ve now amassed enough points to bring a family of 4 with me on this trip, so maybe it’s time to start burning them?

Unfortunately, one of the bloggers I follow, Nomadic Matt, has been posting on pictures from his trip to Vienna on his instagram page.  He’s been making me hungry.  So I really wanted to go to Vienna for schnitzel.

So I started playing on United’s website……….

First off, I am willing to fly coach on United because of the economy plus, but I draw the line on partner flights. So ideally I was hoping to redeem my miles for a Business class ticket.  Second. I was only willing do a saver award, because I did not “need” to go anywhere, so I did not want to spend miles unnecessarily. So after a few hours searching around and 2 calls into United, this is what I came up with.

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I fly to Vienna,Austria where I spend a day so I get my schnitzel on. Overnight flight to Addis Ababa, Ethophia, connecting on to Mahe, Seychelles. 6 days of relaxation before I head to Istanbul,Turkey for a day of shopping. Then I catch an evening flight to Brussels, where I will spend 2 nights, getting my chocolate and family fix! And then home.

Austria, Seychelles, Turkey and Belgium in 11 days! At least I was savvy enough to leave the shopping for the tail end of the trip!

I was able to book this entire flight in Business Class using 160,000 frequent flier miles and $151.70. I will be raiding my Hilton points to cover the hotel stay.  And again,thanks to the various travel blogs, I follow, I was able to build in a stopover to be able to see my family in Brussels!

Now I need to research what the heck am I going to do in Seychelles, by myself for 6 days?????

 

Strasbourg

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As you know I travel a lot, so there are few givens to my travel. I am picky about how I am going to get there and where I will stay once I have arrived.

If I were to be honest, my airline of choice would be Lufthansa, but they don’t fly Chicago to Fort Lauderdale, so United is my preferred.  When it comes to hotels, I used to be in committed relationship with Hilton, but Hyatt has since stolen my heart.

Given that there was no Hyatt’s in Strasbourg, we opted to stay at the Hilton. It was located right off the motorway, so it was great because it did not require having to drive thru town.  And due to my status, we were given an upgrade to the executive floor, free wireless, breakfast, and executive lounge access.

After a long day of driving and a really nice happy hour in the lounge, we opted to have dinner at the hotel.  Which turned out for the best given the nice wine selection and dessert options. Can you can say food coma?

 

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And I am off….

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I guess I should clarify something with my posts, they are not in real time. They are days behind. So if you arre reading this thinking, hmm I think I am going to find Flo in Germany, yeah I am probably already home.

My usual travel pattern, when heading to Europe, is to take a 6:00pm departure,  so I have a chance at sleeping. Well due to the schedule for the next day, I took the 2:20 pm from Chicago to Frankfurt. Rookie Mistake #2.

I also booked my ticket late, so the choice seats where gone. Rookie Mistake #3.

So I ended up in the middle seat sandwiched between 2 men, both who where armrest hogs. The one to my left was  not as bad, elbows touch someone would move. However, the guy to my right? I am pretty sure he was trying to get his cuddle on.

So 7.25 flight time, I watched 3 movies, so maybe 2 hours of sleep? Arrived in Frankfurt at 5:20 am, ready to go to bed rather then face the day.  But the next day, was the big day, and I was way to excited to sleep.

Originally the plan had been to meet up with friends in Frankfurt and we would drive down to the Audi Forum in Neckarsulam. I had booked a hotel room at the airport so we could refresh before fhe drive.  Well plans changed, flights cancelled and I made rookie mistake 4. Don’t prepay your hotel unless your willing to lose it.

So I walked over to the Frankfurt Hilton Airport to refresh and drink about 4 expresso’s.  The Hilton was located in the Squaire, which right next to the train station for the long distance trains. So it worked out great given my bad situation.

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I had prebooked the train, at risk, because the price difference was so signficant it was worth it. Next stop Stuttgart……….

 

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