01 – The Second Honeymoon
02 – Conquering Medieval Stairs
03 – Urinating in Brussels
04 – On to Paris
05 – Seeing Louvre
06 – A Police Story
07 – The Sun King’s Blingy Home
08 – Her Majesty’s Beverage in the Sky
09 – Hangin’ with Our Royal Neighbors
10 – Sending Ourselves to the Tower
11 – Raining on the Parade
12 – Her Majesty’s Beverage in the Sky Again
We were going on another honeymoon.
Well, sort of. Honeymoon sounded more fun than a 6-year wedding anniversary trip, and this was definitely more than just a vacation: we were ditching the kids. Can’t even remember how this came up any more, but Hong’s super awesome parents agreed to babysit for us for two weeks, allowing us to get some long-yearned freedom. We were extremely grateful, happy, and borderline confused about what a childless life would feel like.
Another aspect of this trip was that, for the first time, we were doing it with full luxury. Premium cabin flights, airport lounges, and five star hotels all the way, thanks to the generous world of points and miles. The BoardingArea writers would never agree to calling Delta One or British Airways First “full luxury”, but for the two of us with no experience flying up front, this was such an incredible treat.
Before the kids awoke, we had a light bite at home and headed across the street to SFO. There, we skipped a long security line with TSA PreCheck, enjoyed a second breakfast at the Delta Sky Club lounge, and boarded our flight via the VIP lane, skipping yet another long line. It was the first for both of us, and while the gate agents put the peasants on hold to scan our boarding passes, we couldn’t help but suspect glares of wrath from behind our backs.
Delta Sky Club SFO
Food at the Sky Club
The flight was on an old, modest, and squeaky aircraft. Compared to the pictures of Emirates, Singapore, and Cathay first class that I’m too familiar with, the Delta One seemed all too boring. But did I say that we had never flown premium cabin? My reading-based low expectation was quickly overwhelmed by the experience-based excitement. The seat had power recline! There was more legroom than I had legs! Flight attendant greeted us by last name! Bottled water! Pre-departure champaigne! Table cloth! Holy moly!
What peasants pretending to look high class looked like
By 9:30am, we were finishing up the third breakfast. That was a lot of food, considering that my first meal of the day was often not until 2:30pm. This one consisted of two courses, and I had two (surprisingly yummy) croissants to go with it.
The premium cabin plus the lack of kids made this the best flight experience since when we were little kids, and we landed in JFK almost too soon. We knew we arrived in New York, because everyone in the terminal was walking past us like they were late to a meeting. We took advantage of Delta Sky Club again, eating/drinking some more and freshening up with a shower. Because, why not?
Not that I’d ever care for an outdoor deck, but wanted to pay a visit because BoardingArea seemed to rave a lot about this place
Coffee from DD, plus a pre-vacation cleanse with celery
Not sure what this referred to, but we took our chances
The shower was quite posh
The NYC experience, no matter how brief, would not be complete without being yelled at by somebody. We were surprised to not get a dirty look from the Dunkin Donuts lady, when we inquired about ordering an iced coffee that wasn’t on the menu. But surely, the scolding came as we tried to bring Shake Shack into the Delta lounge. Apparently that was a no-no.
The In-N-Out of East Coast and Middle East
The peasant food was enjoyed at the peasant waiting area. Not my favorite burger but far superior to the lounge food
Three hours of transit time was quite short when we were busy eating free food, eating NYC nostalgia food, and taking showers. We cut the line again and boarded our next flight, with even fancier seats. I got a bit stressed out thinking how we were gonna fit dinner, breakfast, and sleep into this 6.5-hour red-eye flight.
Angled, lie-flat seats… so this is how people get spoiled…
In the next 10 days, we will be roaming around Brussels, Bruges, Paris, and London. Having never been to Europe, I was simultaneously excited to visit and having reservations about the destinations. In my mind, the entire continent was “too old” (i.e. without any serious skyscrapers) and “too similar” to the U.S. (same Caucasian heritage and lots of direct cultural interactions). But preconceived notions are often incorrect, aren’t they?
Both Paris and Brussels had been associated with recent memories of terrorist attacks, while London was considered to be of equal risk. Without trying to minimize the horrors of the two incidents, I just could not rationalize terrorism to be a tangible risk for tourists. I actually managed to capitalize on the media-instilled fear by booking cheaper hotel rates after the Paris attack, and cancelling an extra flight itinerary after the Brussels attack, without incurring a fine.
Lots of people out there, however, were paranoid. I knew this because Delta permanently cancelled its Brussels flight from Atlanta, the connecting flight that we originally booked. When I called Delta to re-route our outbound through JFK, we were put on flight 444 for the first leg. The irrational fear hit harder here than even the news of terror. I didn’t want to point this out, until after getting off the flight…