Trip Report: Chicago (part 3) Waldorf Astoria Chicago

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Introduction: Post Valentine’s Day getaway
Amtrak Hiawatha Milwaukee Intermodal Station to Chicago Union Station
Waldorf Astoria Chicago
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Waldorf Astoria Chicago

Our cab dropped us off at the entrance of the Waldorf Astoria Chicago and we were greeted promptly by their doorman.  I was asked if we needed any assistance with our bags however we were only traveling with one carryon thus no assistance was required.  The door was opened for us and we were directed to the front desk. Once inside you are greeted by the absolutley stunning lobby.  An amazingly high ceiling with beautiful chandelier and two of the most unique statues staring at guests as they enter. They appear to be greek-like, wax heads and are most interesting!

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Front desk at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago

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Front desk at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago

There were two guests checking out when we arrived so we had a short wait to check-in.  We were greeted and handled by a great check-in agent named Martin.  He confirmed our details and I asked politely if there is a possibility of a an upgraded room.  He mentioned that I was confirmed for a handicap accessible room but mentioned I am a Hilton gold member and he would see what he could do for us.  I also added our first stay here a few years ago was lovely as we had a suite we adored.  He was able to confirm us up to a Waldorf Suite which was most appreciated!  Martin did mention our suite wasn’t quite ready but should be within 1-2 hours.  He confirmed my phone number and said he could call us back when the room was ready for us. I mentioned my wife and I would be having lunch at the property at Balsan so we should be close by.  Martin said he would be happy to deliver the room key to us at Balsan (which is located on the 2nd floor) and our bags would be waiting in our room as well.  An impeccable check-in experience provided by Martin. Continue reading

Trip Report: Chicago (part 2) Amtrak Hiawatha Service Milwaukee to Chicago

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Introduction: Post Valentine’s Day getaway
Amtrak Hiawatha Milwaukee Intermodal Station to Chicago Union Station
Waldorf Astoria Chicago
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Amtrak Hiawatha Milwaukee Intermodal Station to Chicago Union Station

We got to the train station about 30 minutes before hand which is way to early.  We stood in line while they let a large group of people board.  We were then summoned through in the next group and on we went.  We were the first on board our coach cabin and we had our choice of seats.  The cabin ended up being about 50-60% full I would estimate. Our tickets were for unreserved coach seating.

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Boarding the train

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Boarding the train

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Amtrak Hiawatha coach cabin Continue reading

Trip Report: Chicago (part 1) Post Valentine’s Day Getaway, An Introduction

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Introduction: Post Valentine’s Day getaway
Amtrak Hiawatha Milwaukee Intermodal Station to Chicago Union Station
Waldorf Astoria Chicago
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Introduction

I decided to take my wife on an overnight trip to Chicago the day after Valentines day.  I tried booking our preferred hotel using points on Valentines day night but it was sold out well in advance.  However the day after Valentines day which happened to be a Sunday and Sunday night stays are typically easier to book using points at most properties.  We figured to take the train down to Chicago and have a nice relaxing ride instead of fighting traffic and paying tolls and parking.

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About to board the Hiawatha

We had a relaxing ride down to Chicago’s Union Station.  I transferred points to Amtrak to actually ride this route for free. The Amtrak Hiawatha is the service between Milwaukee and Chicago.

We then had a lovely stay at our favorite city hotel-The Waldorf Astoria Chicago.  We haven’t stayed here since it was the Elysian back in 2010 and we loved our stay so much.  We were finally happy to make it back there and this time we got to redeem points as the property is a Hilton portfolio property.

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Waldorf Astoria Chicago lobby

This will be a quick “mini” trip report as it was just an overnight and we didn’t do much in Chicago besides hang out in the hotel, do some clothes shopping for my wife and attend the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. I won’t cover those bits in this report.

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2015 Chicago Auto Show

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Porsche at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show

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Burberry Chicago

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Water Tower

 

-pointspinnacle


 

Trip Report: Australia (part 21) Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge Sydney
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Qantas Business Class Brisbane (BNE) to Los Angeles (LAX)

We boarded on time for the most part and there was a separate line for business class passengers.  Business class is seated in the forward cabin of the lower deck and there are also some seats in the upper deck as we were flying a Boeing 747-400.  I choose to sit in the nose of the plan on the main deck for our seats. It just appeared to me to be a little more spacious yet private.

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Our Qantas B747 to LAX

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Our Qantas B747 to LAX

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Main deck business class seat map, we were seated in 3A and 3B

My wife and I were seated in 3A and 3B which meant we had to Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 20) Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas International Business Lounge Sydney
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE (Brisbane)

Sad to leave Australia behind we began our trip home on Qantas domestic business class.     This was the first leg of our trip home. We had about a two hour connection in Brisbane before flying into LAX.  This flight was a straight forward flight.  Seats were wide, recline was good, legroom was ok for business class but could’ve been better.

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Our Qantas domestic business class seats Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 19) Qantas Domestic Business Lounge

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge Sydney
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Qantas Domestic Business Lounge Sydney 

(Please note: I wasn’t sure I was going to review this lounge so forgive me for the lackluster photos)

Since we were connecting from Sydney to Brisbane we had access to Qantas’ Domestic Business Lounge while in Sydney.  We found the lounge entrance easily on the ground level but once inside you take an escalator up to the 2nd floor.  There is a checkin desk in which an agent reviewed our boarding pass and allowed entrance.  Everyone needed to be checked in. There were some busy business travelers rushing in the lounge without waiting in line and they were asked to show there boarding passes before entering as well.      The lounge is open from 5am until last departure.

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Qantas Domestic Business Lounge

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Qantas Domestic Business Lounge

The lounge was large and had tons of seating. The lounge was configured in a square with the seating along the edges as is a typical lounge configuration with bathrooms and such in the middle.  The seating appeared to be in good shape and overall the lounge felt like it may have been recently remodeled in the past year or so.  The lounge offers a great variety of local and international newspapers and magazines.  Do know that the lounge also provides shower rooms as well in case a traveler is in need of a freshen up. (I did not view the shower rooms) Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 18) Bondi Beach

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Bondi Beach

We took the hop on hop off bus to Bondi beach.  There are two stops at Bondi one on the  southern part of the beach and then a North Bondi stop.  We walked from one end to the other and then went down on the beach for a bit.  It was cloudy and raining on and off while we visited.  The beach was pretty empty aside from the few hardcore surfers trying to catch a wave.  The surf is really big and rough from our view so you would need to be a good swimmer to enter on the day we were there.    We spent about an hour to an hour and a half at Bondi beach.  Prior to our trip we were hoping to go for a swim and maybe spend an afternoon at the beach but the weather didnt cooperate while we were in Sydney.

Aside from the beach there are many stores and shops in the are and also a lot of places to grab a bite to eat.  We did stop and grab a quick meal at Harrys which is famous for some of their dishes.  See our pictures below from our quick stop at Bondi Beach and let me know if you have any questions.

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Continue reading

Trip Report: Australia (part 17) Sydney Opera House Tour

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Introduction
British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Around Melbourne
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Bondi Beach
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
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Sydney Opera House Tour

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I debated doing a post on the Sydney Opera House because as it turns out they don’t want you taking pictures of anything of interest.  You can take pictures of the hallways and such but once inside one of the many rooms, photography was strictly forbidden.  Meaning the actual Opera and Orchestra and play venues cannot be captured via photography…. bummer.   I really didnt take many pictures inside as to me, those were the most interesting things about the Sydney Opera house’s interior.

The tour was just over an hour and cost around $30 per person.  Our perky female tour guide was good. Happy to answer questions and generally enthusiastic.  We were given headphones to wear so that the rather large group (30 or so people) could hear our guide. We were shown into various different rooms of the Opera House and learned about the general history and building of the structure.  I am not going to cover any of that here and its easy enough to google or wiki the Opera House for the fine details. Continue reading