Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi

_________________________________________________________________________
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
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi
Etihad Regional Business Class Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Male (MLE)
Conrad Maldives Arrival Lounge and Maldivian Seaplane
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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Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi

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Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque

For our limited time in Abu Dhabi I made it a priority to see the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. This is the biggest tourist destination in Abu Dhabi by far and also the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. After a long nap in our hotel room my wife decided she wanted to stay in bed and stay in the air conditioning with our baby. I decided to get ready and grab a cab to the Mosque.

I arrived at the Mosque at dusk and was amazed how pristine it looked. The structure looks brand new!  It was very hot at around 6pm! It was around 90 degrees hot!  I marveled at the structure and decide to take a few photos.

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Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque

I found the entrance to visitors of the mosque and there was a very short line to enter.  The men went into one line and woman into another. Both lines were subject to metal detector security checks.  My camera and tripod also had to go through a security scanner as well.  There was no admission charge to enter the mosque. Continue reading

Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi Review

_________________________________________________________________________
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
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi
Etihad Regional Business Class Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Male (MLE)
Conrad Maldives Arrival Lounge and Maldivian Seaplane
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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Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi

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Hyatt Capital Gate checkin

We arrived by taxi and were welcomed by the bellmen.  We were assisted with our luggage and brought up to the lobby level.

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Hyatt Capital Gate lobby

The lobby was very grandiose and pretty for a Hyatt.  I didnt have grand expectations but the opening impression of the hotel was very nice. You could tell everything was new, clean and in immaculate condition.

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Hyatt Capital Gate lobby seating

There was plenty of lobby seating and some tables with refreshments. There were three front desk agents and all three were busy assisting people when we arrived. Another agent cam out of the back room and asked they we have a seat and offered a refreshment while we waited. A short 2-3 minutes later the agent came back to check us in.  He was from Japan and noticed we had previously stayed at the Andaz Tokyo and was excited we had visited his home country.

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Hyatt Capital Gate lobby

After checkin we were on our way to our room.  Upon entering the room we noticed the strong smell of smoke.  I called down to the front desk even before our bags arrived to tell them of the issue and to see if we could be moved.

Below are a few pics of the first room:

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Hyatt Capital Gate room

Our second room was much nicer. It had no foul odor and was slightly large while at the same time having a slightly lesser view.

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Hyatt Capital Gate

The bed was big and comfy. They also brought in a complimentary crib for our baby shortly after arriving.

The complimentary wifi was nice and plenty fast for our casual web browsing and email checking.

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Hyatt Capital Gate room keys

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The floor plan

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Hyatt Capital Gate bathroom

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Hyatt Capital Gate bathroom

There was a large tub and a nice shower with waterfall shower head.

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Hyatt Capital Gate bathroom

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Hyatt Capital Gate bathroom

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Hyatt Capital Gate bathroom

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Hyatt Capital Gate room closet

My wife was starving and instead of going back out in the heat and trying to find somewhere to eat with the baby it was more convienent for us to simply order room service.

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Hyatt Capital Gate room service

I think I ordered a steak sandwich and a pizza to share and my wife had some pesto pasta with a side of fries.   We also tried some dessert which we forgot the name of which was different but good. I think our total for the meal was around $75.

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Pesto pasta

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Dessert

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Pizza

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Steak sandwich

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Room entrance

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The hallways at the Hyatt Capital Gate

ROOM WALKTHROUGH BELOW:

 

Overall this was a very comfortable stay.  We would have no problem returning here in the future.  We arrived around 1pm and departed around 6:30am the following day so we didn’t have a lot of time to experience everything. In our limited time however the hotel was perfect for our short stay.

PointsPinnacle Breakdown

I ended redeeming my annual category 4 Hyatt free night certificate that comes with me holding the credit card.

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Email confirmation showing FREE NIGHT PROMOTION

The cash price for our one night stay would have been $109 plus tax/per night.

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Cash price for our night
Let me know if any questions or comments!

 


 

 

Etihad First Class Apartments New York to Abu Dhabi A380

_________________________________________________________________________
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
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi
Etihad Regional Business Class Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Male (MLE)
Conrad Maldives Arrival Lounge and Maldivian Seaplane
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
__________________________________________________________________________

Etihad First Class Apartments New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) A380

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My wife and I were excited to board and see what Etihad had in store for us. We boarded through the upper deck jet bridge where the first class cabin is on Etihad’s A380 plane.

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Our A380 awaits

We were greeted by a flight attendant upon entrance and directed to turn left and that our apartments were on the right side of the isle.

I think by my wife’s facial reaction that she was quite impressed!  I don’t think showing her photos of the cabin before hand fully prepared her for how nice this cabin was.

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Look close at my wife’s face to see her reaction to her Etihad Apartment

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MIND BLOWN!

Upon entrance into the first class cabin you get to see just how elegant it is. My wife was in 3K and I was in 4K which are adjoining seats, one in front of the other. I think my wife knows my dislike of flying facing backwards so she took 3k and got settled in with the baby.  We both had our carryons and backpacks and they were all fairly full. Our primary flight attendant AKA butler helped us fit our bags in the storage area.  One of my wife’s bags was slightly to big so our butler helped stow it away in a crew cabin.

Upon entering my apartment I was Continue reading

Etihad First Class Lounge JFK Airport

_________________________________________________________________________
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
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi
Etihad Regional Business Class Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Male (MLE)
Conrad Maldives Arrival Lounge and Maldivian Seaplane
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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Etihad First Class Lounge JFK Airport

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Etihad Airways First Class Lounge JFK

We booked transportation from LaGuardia to JFK via Legends Limousine as they had infant seating for the ride to JFK. We arrived at the airport (JFK) from Chicago very early around 9:45 am. Our flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until 3 pm and the Etihad ticket desk wasn’t scheduled to open until around 11 am at the earliest.  We decided to camp out in the airport for a bit. After about 30-45 minutes of waiting a lovely Etihad rep appeared to get the counters ready.  As she approached the separate cashiers desk near where we were waiting I asked her what time would they be opening for ticketing and mentioned that we were first class ticket holders.  Once she heard we were first class she advised she would check us in right away and opened up the line dividers for us to get to the counter.

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Checking in at the Etihad desk

She was wonderful and super nice in assisting us.  I asked if she could swap out our ugly AA boarding passes for some on Etihad stock instead. She gladly printed them for us.  She wasn’t used to checking in guests as she worked at the cashier desk most recently in which she handled escalated issues, etc. There was a line forming in anticipation of the ticketing desk opening and a few people decided to line up directly behind us bypassing the roped off area only to be turned away and told they don’t open until 11 am. After a few moments we were directed to the security lines and given directions to the Etihad Lounge.

After a quick jaunt through TSA we quickly found our way to the Etihad Lounge. Since we were the first ones checked in we had the lounge to ourselves for a long time before the next guests arrived.

We found a semi-private area in the back of the lounge in which we were seated and plopped our bags down.  We wanted to stay out of the way and secluded as possible with the baby in hopes he would have a nice quiet place to nap and that he wouldn’t disturb other guests. We were asked if we would like a beverage to start and shortly thereafter given menus.  We were told we could dine in the formal dining area or they would be happy to bring out anything we needed.

We decided to take a peek at the buffet and made our baby a plate of food to snack on.

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Once back to our seating area we selected some food since it was so early and we weren’t going to be on the plane for another 3-4 hours. Continue reading

Introduction: Maldives an Ocean Paradise

_________________________________________________________________________
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
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi
Etihad Regional Business Class Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Male (MLE)
Conrad Maldives Arrival Lounge and Maldivian Seaplane
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 an 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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Continue reading

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