Introduction: Maldives and Ocean Paradise

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Introduction: Maldives an Ocean Paradise

Etihad First Class Lounge JKF Airport
Etihad First Class Apartments New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) A380
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
Etihad Regional Business Class Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Male (MLE)
Maldivian Sea Plane
Conrad Maldives Arrival Lounge
Conrad Maldives
Around Rangali Island
Maldivian Sea Plane
Leeli Lounge Male Airport
Emirates Business Class Male (MLE) to Dubai (DXB) B777
Conrad Dubai
Around Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai (DXB) to Dallas (DFW) B777
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Introduction: Maldives and Ocean Paradise

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Indian Ocean

We recently returned from an amazing trip to the Maldives!  Wow this vacation was like a dream, a true paradise on earth!  Beautiful warm weather and warm turquoise water! The last four out of five years we have taken a trip around my birthday and so it was the Maldives for 2016!

We were fortunate to experience some great airlines and luxury accommodations during our vacation!  We started off flying in what is the best, most luxuriest and biggest first class suites in the skies-Etihad Apartments!!

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Etihad Apartment First Class

We had an absolutely amazing flight and crew!  This is THE way to fly, folks! Please stay tuned for my review of that flight as I have tons of pictures.  I want to burn all my AA miles on future Etihad flights!

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Enjoying dessert with the family on Etihad Apartments

We had a 20 hour layover in Abu Dhabi which was perfect for a some relaxation and a pit stop to the Grand Mosque.  What an amazingly beautiful structure! Continue reading

British Airways Business Class London to Chicago 777

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Intro to London 2016: To See a GOAT on Grass
American Airlines Business Class Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR)
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Leicester Square
The May Fair Hotel
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Westminster Abbey
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Wimbledon AELTC
London Eye
Dining in London
Brexit, London Street Scenes and Red bus tour
British Airways Business Class London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD)
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British Airways Business Class London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD)

We arrived at the airport a bit late due to the Brexit protests.  We went to checkin and it was taking a bit longer than anticipated.  The young BA worker was having trouble checking us in, something to due with the lap infant I believe. The checkin agent had to call a few people but after about 10 minutes of waiting we were issued our boarding passes.  He mentioned to make sure to visit the business class lounge but then realized we really wouldn’t have time to use it.

We went right to the gate after clearing security and our flight was beginning its boarding procedure. We were seated at the very last row of business class as that is where the bassinet is for the infant seating.  British Airways packs them in, in business class where seating is 8 across. We had seats in the middle. I had an isle seat and my wife had the middle seat directly next to me. Thankfully there was no one seated next to my wife in the middle. Of the four seats in the middle we had control of three of them which was perfect!  It gave us space to put our stuff on that third seat and gave my wife a buffer from people next to her so she could juggle the baby and nurse him privately with ease.

The flight attendants serving us in business class were great!  They were full of smiles, cheery and genuinely helpful.  When we got to our seats the flight attendant started gushing over our new travel stroller and said she wanted to get one and had never seen one in person.  She also offered us an infant seatbelt and mentioned that they would be more than happy to set up the bassinet in case we wanted to put our baby in there.

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My seat

I honestly thought the seat was plenty comfortable but just a bit narrow for business class.  The seat could use more storage so that you could place your items away more conveniently. There was tons of legroom and the seat goes fully flat for sleeping.  I did think it a bit strange that the passenger in the middle seats ahead of me needed to step over my leg to get out into the isle (if I had my legs extended or was laying down).  I did proactively lower my foot when I saw her trying to leave her seat but a strange setup overall in that regard. Believe it or not my wife preferred our flight on BA Club World more than AA business class on the 777-300 due to having two seats to herself and the better service.

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British Airways Club World

Continue reading

Brexit, London Street Scenes and Red Bus Tour

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Intro to London 2016: To See a GOAT on Grass
American Airlines Business Class Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR)
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Leicester Square
The May Fair Hotel
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Westminster Abbey
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Wimbledon AELTC
London Eye
Dining in London
Brexit, London Street Scenes and Red bus tour
British Airways Business Class London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD)
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Brexit, London Street Scenes and Red bus tour

Our visit to London was the week after the big Brexit vote in the UK. On the weekend following there was a fairly large rally/protest.  On the Saturday of our departure from our hotel the protest actually ended up shutting down many areas of London and many streets were closed for hours.  In fact there were no cabs allowed in near our hotel and our scheduled driver couldn’t reach our hotel either.  We ended up having to have one of the hotel bellman put all of our luggage on a cart and walk down to the end of the block to meet our driver where the road was open.

Then it took a long time to get out of central London because of all the street closures the traffic was at a standstill.  So we sat in traffic for quite some time.   All thanks to Brexit protesters. This was really the only Brexit related activities that we witnessed aside from a dedicated area of London where several media outlets were set up daily for reporting live.

Below are just some streets scenes of London during our trip.  (I am not captioning these photos so if you have any questions please leave a comment in the comment section.)

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Dining in London

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Intro to London 2016: To See a GOAT on Grass
American Airlines Business Class Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR)
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Leicester Square
The May Fair Hotel
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Westminster Abbey
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Wimbledon AELTC
London Eye
Dining in London
Brexit, London Street Scenes and Red bus tour
British Airways Business Class London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD)
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Dining in London

Social Eating House

We had our concierge at the Radisson call for a reservation for us as opentable.com was showing full.  He was able to get us in for a 6:30pm table. We walked the 5-10 minutes or so from our hotel and we were there.

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Social Eating House

They confirmed our reservation upon arrival and showed us to a large booth.  They did not however have any high chairs for the baby. Meaning baby would need to be held by us and on his best behavior which wasn’t on his agenda for the evening!  This reservation was too close to his bed time and wasn’t the relaxing evening we had hoped for.

We started with some tasty hand-crafted cocktails and some appetizers.  Service was good, not great.  I think one of the waitresses was a little put-off that my wife had to nurse our son to get him to cool down for a second but oh well. Continue reading

London Eye

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Intro to London 2016: To See a GOAT on Grass
American Airlines Business Class Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR)
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Leicester Square
The May Fair Hotel
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Westminster Abbey
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Wimbledon AELTC
London Eye
Dining in London
Brexit, London Street Scenes and Red bus tour
British Airways Business Class London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD)
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London Eye

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London Eye

No first time visit to London would be complete without a visit to the super-touristy London Eye.  The line was really long but they do sell fast track tickets which are a bit overpriced but in the end, totally worth it.  If I recall correctly it was a bit over $100 for us to ride on this thing for like 20 minutes LOL!

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London Eye

On our walk there we discovered a merry-go-round and my wife wanted to take our baby on the ride.  So we all went on!  I thought I could stand up on the ride and snap a few pics but the ride operator let me know that I did have to actually take a seat on a horse!  It was quite a funny site.  Continue reading

Attending Wimbledon 2016

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Intro to London 2016: To See a GOAT on Grass
American Airlines Business Class Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR)
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Leicester Square
The May Fair Hotel
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Westminster Abbey
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Wimbledon AELTC
London Eye
Dining in London
Brexit, London Street Scenes and Red bus tour
British Airways Business Class London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD)
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Wimbledon AELTC

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All England Lawn and Tennis Club

One of the main reasons for this entire trip to London was to attend Wimbledon’s annual tennis tournament. It’s the the most prestigious tennis event in the world.  I really wanted to see Roger Federer on Centre Court Wimbledon. He is getting older and you never know how many years he has left.  I am a big Rafa Nadal fan but I can respect Federer and his accomplishments as the GOAT(greatest of all time) of tennis.

I went to London with no tickets hoping I could score some while over there. In the past I have attended the Aussie Open and French Open and was able to easily score tickets ahead of time but Wimbledon is different.  There are just a few ways to get tickets to Wimbledon for the common folks. One way is to enter your name into a raffle in November and they will let you know a few months later if your entry was selected.  I did this but did not get selected. Another way is to “queue”. Literally wait in line overnight or arrive very early 4-5am and wait in line until 10am.  For popular matches the queue actually sells out. Yup the line is so long they tell people to not even bother coming down to get tickets!!  There are days were the grounds are at capacity and you cannot even get a grounds pass!!!! That part was amazing to me.   The third way and how I got my ticket was to go onto the UK’s ticketmaster website the day before the day you want to attend. They release a few hundred tickets at 9am and you just have to be lucky to score Centre Court tickets. I did this and after several attempts at around 9:07am I scored 1 ticket for $100 or 70ish British Pounds.

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Sign that awaits you outside the Wimbledon train station

My wife and child went to Harrods while I went to Wimbledon. Our baby could not enter Centre Court for obvious reasons so there was really no point for him or my wife to come. I took the tube/train from our hotel (The May Fair) and it was a fairly easy trip with only one connection and about 45 minutes ride.

Once you get off the train at the station your in Continue reading

Tower of London and Tower Bridge

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Intro to London 2016: To See a GOAT on Grass
American Airlines Business Class Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR)
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Leicester Square
The May Fair Hotel
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Westminster Abbey
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Wimbledon AELTC
London Eye
Dining in London
Brexit, London Street Scenes and Red bus tour
British Airways Business Class London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD)
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Tower of London and Tower Bridge

We hopped off our RedBus tour to check out the Tower Bridge and Tower of London. Both attractions are pretty much directly next to each other.  We first decided to check out the bridge.

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Tower Bridge

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Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge was pretty busy with plenty of tourists walking across.  There are some nice views of the Thames and the city of London.

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Views of the Shard from the Tower Bridge

There are some paid tours/exhibitions actually in the upper area of the tower portion of the bridge.  The line was really long and we weren’t super interested so we decided to pass.

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Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge is such an interesting piece of architecture to me and so it was nice to see it up close and get to walk across. Continue reading

Visiting Westminster Abbey

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Intro to London 2016: To See a GOAT on Grass
American Airlines Business Class Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR)
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Leicester Square
The May Fair Hotel
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Westminster Abbey
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Wimbledon AELTC
London Eye
Dining in London
Brexit, London Street Scenes and Red bus tour
British Airways Business Class London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD)
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Westminster Abbey

We decided to check out Westminster Abbey one day. The church was walkable from our hotel so it made sense to check it out.

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Westminster Station

When we arrived around mid-day there was quite a line stretched out all the way onto the sidewalk. The nice thing is that the line moved quickly so perhaps 20 minutes or so of waiting before we got to enter.

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Westminster Abbey

The exterior of the church is very grand and goth-like. There is lots of detail on the front of the church. Continue reading

Visiting St. Pauls Cathedral

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Intro to London 2016: To See a GOAT on Grass
American Airlines Business Class Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR)
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Leicester Square
The May Fair Hotel
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard
St. Pauls Cathedral
Westminster Abbey
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Wimbledon
London Eye
Dining in London
Brexit, London Street Scenes and Red bus tour
British Airways Business Class London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD)
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St. Pauls Cathedral

Wife,baby and I decided to stop and check out St. Pauls Cathedral.  During our visit, there were some free tours being offered.  We decided to take the “great fire of 1666” tour.  The tour took us around the entire outside of the church and after making it around the exterior took us in the basement/crypt and back up to the main ground level.  The nice thing about the tour is it was just us and one other lady who was from Arkansas.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral exterior

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St. Paul’s Cathedral upon entrance

Our tour guide was a nice local woman whom was of course very knowledgeable about the cathedral.   Continue reading

Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard

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Intro to London 2016: To See a GOAT on Grass
American Airlines Business Class Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR)
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Leicester Square
The May Fair Hotel
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard
St. Pauls Cathedral
Westminster Abbey
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Wimbledon
London Eye
Dining in London
Brexit, London Street Scenes and Red bus tour
British Airways Business Class London (LHR) to Chicago (ORD)
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On our first day in London while waiting for our hotel room to be ready we decided to walk around a bit and see what we run into. We happened to walk towards Buckingham Palace and the nearby park.  We decided to just walk up The Mall and torwards the Palace.  We happened to notice the palace guards walking down The Mall and decided to go follow them for the changing of the guard.

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Shift changing of the guards

After turning the corner the guards went towards another building which I assume to be some sort of guards quarters.

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Old guards leaving and new guards replacing them

At this point a bunch of new guards came out and the old ones went in. The guards were escorted by two Continue reading