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

The May Fair Hotel London Review

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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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The May Fair Hotel London

Wife, baby and I had the pleasure to spend four nights at The May Fair hotel. As the name suggests the hotel is located in the May Fair area of London which is one of London’s most upscale neighborhoods.  My wife and I were dropped off by cab and greeted by the doormen at The May Fair.  We were offered assistance with our baggage and we kindly accepted since we had baby with us.

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The May Fair exterior

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The May Fair exterior signage

Upon entrance you could tell this property was a few notches up from the Radisson Blue Edwardian Hampshire that we had checked out of just earlier.  The May Fair has a much more luxurious feel.  The staff is sort of formal and dressed to match that vibe. The lobby was large and light with low ceilings. There were actually a lot of staff in the lobby and most were plenty busy. There were 3-people at the door, then another 2-3 people in the lobby greeting people. The front desk had four people assisting guests and the concierge had another 2-3 employees behind the counter.

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The May Fair lobby seating area

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The May Fair front desk

When we arrived there was actually a slight 5 minute wait or so to checkin.  Once a front desk member became available I was welcomed up to the desk by a nice gentleman.  I provided my passport and credit card.  He initially confirmed that I had Continue reading

Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Leicester Square Review

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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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Radisson Blue Edwardian Hampshire Leicester Square 

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Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire exterior entrance branding

We were dropped off by our driver at the hotel. Actually it was just down the street a bit since it was almost impossible for the driver or us to tell where the front door to the property was.  In fact the street in front of the property appears to be closed to cars/vehicles.  There is no traffic in front of the hotel and directly across the street they are in the beginning stages of building a large building.

Once we found the property and walked in we were treated warmly by the doormen.  We were escorted over to the front desk where a very professional checkin agent helped check us in.  Since it was only around 10:30 a.m. or so we were advised that our room wasn’t quite ready yet.  We decided to waste some time and had a light breakfast at the hotels restaurant.  After our breakfast I decided to ask if our room was ready. He checked and said not yet.  They offered to call us when it was ready but we didn’t have cell service overseas and thus decided just to keep our backpacks on us and walk around the city for a while.

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Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire exterior entrance

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Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire exterior at night

After a few hours of walking around we came back closer to 1 p.m. and then our room was Continue reading

American Airlines Business Class Chicago to London 777-300

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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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American Airlines Business Class Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR) 777-300

My wife and I arrived at terminal 3 via Coach USA bus and went to checkin for our flight. There was only a short wait to checkin at the American Airlines Business Class counter.  Once at the counter we were greeted kindly and after handing over our passports, we were issued our boarding passes.  The checkin agent asked if we wanted seats next to each other instead of behind each other but I personally selected our seats to have window seats so I declined.  She gave us detailed instructions on how to find the Admirals Club and we were on our way.

I was shocked when we walked over to the PreCheck security line and there was NO line. We walked straight up put our bags thru the belt and walked thru!! AMAZING! No line. It took about 1-2 minutes from start to end. Continue reading

London 2016: To See a GOAT on Grass

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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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Intro to London 2016: To See a GOAT on Grass

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The GOAT on Grass

Last October British Airways had a flash sale on airfare that lasted for around 48 hours. I wrote about it then.  We booked our airfare at that time and the deal was that we would take one trip a year without our baby and just the two of us.  My wife was hesitant but agreed.

In reality though I had begun planning for the trip months prior to booking our airfare.  I had started to book a few nights accommodations in London by burning some of our Club Carlson hotel points before they greatly devalued their points.  I booked a few back to back nights just to get something locked in at the time back in April of 2015.  I knew I wanted to visit London during Wimbledon and continue my quest to attend all four of tennis’ Grand Slams. I also wanted to make sure to see Roger Federer play Centre Court at Wimbledon. He is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) and although I am a big Rafa Nadal fan I still respect Federer’s accomplishments. So after booking the nights and having the flights locked up I did some minor tweaking to our hotel reservations like adding more nights at the Mayfair and using some free night certs instead of points.

As the trip got closer my wife decided we couldn’t take the trip unless Continue reading

Ha: Breathe of Life Show Review

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O’ahu 2016: Introduction
Hyatt Place El Segundo
Four Seasons O’ahu at Ko Olina
Pearl Harbor Memorial
Makapuu Point Lighthouse
Polynesian Cultural Center’s- Ha: Breath of Life Show
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Polynesian Cultural Center’s- Ha: Breath of Life Show

My wife and I wanted to book tickets for a Luau while on O’ahu.  We asked our the concierge at our hotel what they recommend.  They gave a few options and we selected the luau at the Polynesian Cultural center.  We did get a call from another concierge at our hotel to tell us about the best ones on the island but those were over $150 per person for “VIP tickets” with ocean views in the background.  Our tickets costed about $80 per person.

We had a decent ride back up towards the North Shore side of the island.  We finally arrived after about an hour.  The parking lot was fairly full but we were lucky enough to find a spot up front. The Polynesian Cultural Center is a place where you could spend a few hours learning about the Polynesian Islands prior to the luau but we were tired and procrastinated and left just enough time to eat and see the show.

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Polynesian Cultural Center entrance
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Polynesian Cultural Center

After getting our tickets through the Continue reading