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Published: October 24th 2018
Let the self indulgence begin! I’m on VACATION!! Oh, and so is Susan. We are in the lounge where she is swilling free tomato juice like it was, er, free while I type this while sitting in a – wait for it – comfy chair! Such decadence. And when I finish this, oatmeal!
Yee and haw.
We splurged and upgraded to business class – at least for the leg to Montreal. Upgrading on the New York leg would actually cost MORE than the Edmonton run. Go figure. And since even tourist class on the New York flight is only two seats across, we get to sit together, which is the most important part. As long as Susan gets the window and I get the aisle, we’re golden. (And, yes, thank you, I am aware of the pun inherent in using that phrase for people my age. Hmph.)
We are in the part of the lounge furthest away from the television blaring CBC news. Puh-leez. So people who want to make phone calls come down here. The things people say in public! One guy was down here begging someone not to spend so much as there is not very much money in the account. Yikes. That did not sound good.
Right, so here is the plan. We head to New York today, landing about 830 NY time. Two nights at the 414 Hotel on 46 St. W., then board the QM2 on Thursday, landing in Southampton 1 week later. For those who keep track of such trivia (like, fer example, me!), the voyage begins on St. Crispin’s Day (cf. the BIG speech about the same day in Henry the Fifth, which ends as nearly as I can remember:
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall hold their manhoods cheap
And count themselves accursed
They were not here
Whilst any speaks who fought with us
Upon St. Crispin’s Day!)
And, slight diversion dealt with, ends on All Saints’ Day, having bounced over Hallowe’en along the way.
Then four nights in London at the Montague on the Gardens (one of the Red Carnation chain, which we love, and I receive, dammit, no compensation from them for saying so. At least not yet. I live in hope. Red Carnation, Red Carnation, Red Carnation! Hm. Nuthin’. Ah, well.
We spend the last night in Amsterdam (direct train from London) so we can take advantage of a weirdness in the Aeroplan booking system. To get out of London to Edmonton we would have had to leave Sunday and spend two nights in Toronto, where we would have to pay for a hotel. And this was a booking I made in March.
Further detailed (OCD, anyone?) searching revealed a different story from Amsterdam. Business class (again?! Does the man think of nothing else?), Air Canada to Edmonton via Toronto), leaving at 1115 a.m., and getting home at 11:17 p.m the same day for a couple of hundred bucks more.
THAT was easy.
Hotel 414, New York
Lessee, highlights so far. Dinner last night at Becco, Italian and recommended. Delicious and creative. Get this, “naked gnocchi” (apparently the Italian spelling is “nudes” or possibly “gnudes” – I’ll let you figure the rest of that out). Ricotta cheese mixed with puréed stinging nettle, formed into gnocchi sized bites, dusted with flour, carefully poached and served with a brown butter/sage sauce. It was so light it was like eating clouds. Fabulous.
Also house made fettucelle (big flat noodles) perfectly cooked, an octopus ceviche as a bonus with a serving of mixed pickled vegetables (highlight of that was the spaghetti squash. Seriously), amazing breads with olives and a white bean paste (on the house). A three level wine list which started with inexpensive house wines, went through 60 (yes) Italian wines of ALL styles priced at $31 per bottle, then the premium list of expensive stuff. Entrée for me of sea bass on a bed of broccoli rabe and house made pork and fennel sausage. Total for dinner before taxes and tip was $90!
Okay, I’d better move on. Lovely little quirky room with screened windows that OPEN. Greeting from Emmy from East Yorkshire who actually has seen Sheffield United (the world’s greatest soccer team) play. Cab driver who talked all the way from the airport (once I found the location of our hotel for him. Apparently that is the job of the passenger in New York where no one has heard of GPS) in a heavy New York accent, marvelling that Susan and I do not have Canadian accents. We did not say “hoose” and “aboot”. He also thought “zed” was hilarious.
Meeting folks at breakfast this morning. Couple in their ‘80’s who both lost their first spouses a decade ago, became friends then got married 6 years ago. No indication as to whether they are still friends.
Couple from Denmark who paid $200 for dinner for two last night at a steak house (one glass of wine, only) and got a dry aged, 2.5 pound steak to split between them. Loved it. Kind enough to read the notice on the table in front of me when I mistook “Thursday” for “Wednesday.” Sure, let the people whose first language is not English help you out there, Tim.
The Australian banking expert who does project management for banks, then gives herself 10 weeks vacation. She just came from Canada (Rockies), is going back to Canada (Winnipeg. Winnipeg???? Oh. On her way to Churchill to see the polar bears.) Then New Orleans, Memphis, Hawaii and home. She was in heaven as the breakfast buffet included a jar of Marmite.
Sunny and going up to 12 today. Central Park beckons.
I digress. Come to think of it, when do I not?
Uh, yesterday, right.
Writing and sipping red wine (Austrian, dry and delicious. Austrian? Who knew? Oh, wait, I did. Wine bar serving local wines in Vienna, four years ago!!) at 30,000 feet. I cannot believe that I get to say things like that. Helluva life, ain’t it?
Not that life up there in the expensive seats is perfect. Far from it! The selection of movies was singularly unappealing. Oops, check that. Isle of Dogs. ‘Scuse me, dinner and a feature length cartoon about dogs with a happy ending. Poifect. A a a a and we land.
6 p.m. Smooth transit thru Montreal airport. LOWLIGHT: Pleasant enough except for the youngish, plumpish hairy man in front of us who was wearing baggy blue jeans, slung really low, and no belt. Every time he bent down to move his luggage, two dozen people found a reason to study the ceiling tiles. Fascinating they were, too. Urgh.
Can't let this writing end with that, can I?
Better news. I write this on a portable blue tooth keyboard. I replaced the batteries last week. They died about 15 minutes ago. I am typing this in the little lobby where they also serve breakfast. The young man working reception today, Adanes (pronounced, of course, Adonis) when asked if he can tell me where to find a place to buy batteries, says What size? And then produces two from behind the counter. Compliments of the hotel. That's just plain nice!
Now we can depart. Later. Hopefully with pictures!
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