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Honeymoon In Europe (UK, France, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, etc.) - AA/LH/EK F

Honeymoon In Europe (UK, France, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, etc.) - AA/LH/EK F

Old Sep 4, 15, 2:28 pm
  #1  
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Honeymoon In Europe (UK, France, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, etc.) - AA/LH/EK F

Hi everyone! This is going to be my very first trip report on FT. I'm going to start with a small introduction and background on how this trip came to be before jumping in to all the fun stuff.

To preface, I wasn’t new to the points game, but I never realized I was doing it all wrong until recently. I used to apply for bonuses and redeem for gift cards when I was in school, using those credits to buy a new computer part or stereo upgrade. Now, don’t get me wrong…I had heard of Flyertalk long ago, but never had enough interest to actually make the trek over to peruse all the content available. Only when I realized that many of the credit card bonuses I came across on other websites/forums were actually first reported here did I take a second look.

That second look was about 2 years ago, when the Citi 100K AAdvantage deal first started. Previously, I had always met minimum spending out of pocket, and did not understand the intricacies of manufactured spending.

In that same time frame, I had gotten married, but unlike most couples, we decided against immediately departing on our honeymoon. We had decided to do it when the time was right, whatever that means, or when we had enough money. At the same time, I realized that the window for the perfect getaway was quickly closing since we wanted to start a family soon.

Anyhow, once I had a good grasp on things, I shotgunned out a barrage of applications. As mentioned above, I started with the Citi 100K AA, with only intentions to cover a coach flight for 2 to Europe. I’ll spare you all the details as I’m sure many of us have undergone the same transformation. Over the past year and a half, we have accumulated over 1 million points/miles to churn and burn for the itinerary and trip report you’re about to read. This covered all the positioning flights, with all the long-hauls in LH or EK F, as well as every hotel night of our 3 week trip. A few of those hotel redemptions weren't optimal, but I wanted the milestone of having all flights and hotels paid on points

Thank you for those who have guided me along the way and educated me. Those of you who write great trip reports allowed me to realize what was possible. Without further ado, this is my honeymoon…


Day 0 (SAN to MIA):

Flying out of SAN via a red-eye to get to MIA. We decided to take this route since many of the flights from SAN to IAH arrive too late to connect to the trans-Atlantic flights. I figured the new Centurion Lounge just opened, so why not go check it out?

As usual when we fly out of SAN, we stopped by the Airspace lounge to grab a quick snack.



Day 1 (MIA to IAH):

The 2nd leg of our positioning flight. Nothing out of the ordinary, but I was getting more excited since I was getting closer to my first international F flight. We stopped by the Centurion Lounge to rest up for a few hours.





View upwards near the Centurion Lounge entrance



We arrive in IAH with lots of time to spare. Went to the check-in counter just as they were opening. Unfortunately, there was some clown of a passenger who saw my wife and I and just start saying gibberish ala the "ching chong ling long ting tong" woman from a while back. Sad to see, but we were about to embark on better things so we brushed it off after the wife told him to shut up ^.





Some plane spotting at gate D12 waiting for our LH flight



IAH to FRA

We were able to walk up to priority boarding once it began, even though a long line of business class passengers formed. There were multiple announcements asking people to please stay seated until time to board, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears. I'm sure one guy lines up and then the others are afraid of "missing out" and it all goes downhill from there. Once on the plane, we had our standard PDBs, followed by a delicious meal service before getting some sleep. The FAs offered to wake us up for breakfast, which we accepted.

















Day 2 (First Class Terminal):

Once landed, it was time to go through customs to visit the First Class Terminal. I decided to do some whisky tasting before taking a nice refreshing shower. Our flight to London was scheduled to depart at 1200, so we sat down at the FCT restaurant when the menu switched over to lunch. I grabbed a few buffet items and ordered the wiener schnitzel.









Once it was time to board, we went downstairs and got our documents sorted. Our excellent personal assistant had asked when we arrived if I had a vehicle preference, and I opted for the Porsche. As we loaded up, the driver mentioned he saw my camera and asked if we wanted to take some pictures, meaning he would take the scenic route. I gladly accepted the offer. It's amazing how much larger these behemoths look from the ground!







The flight to LHR was uneventful and I didn't take any pictures. We just arrived today (9.4) and did some walking around.

To be continued...
chongl is offline  
Old Sep 4, 15, 4:30 pm
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Originally Posted by chongl View Post
Unfortunately, there was some clown of a passenger who saw my wife and I and just start saying gibberish ala the "ching chong ling long ting tong" woman from a while back. Sad to see, but we were about to embark on better things so we brushed it off after the wife told him to shut up ^.
Very sad. Good for your wife...
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Old Sep 4, 15, 7:16 pm
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Great pictures - which camera are you using? And I don't even have words for that passenger in Houston -- glad you were able to brush it off as I would have been furious
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Old Sep 4, 15, 7:38 pm
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Wow - really nice photos!
TangoOneSeven is online now  
Old Sep 4, 15, 9:20 pm
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Originally Posted by MatthewLAX View Post
Very sad. Good for your wife...
Originally Posted by LukasVIE View Post
Great pictures - which camera are you using? And I don't even have words for that passenger in Houston -- glad you were able to brush it off as I would have been furious
Originally Posted by arh1 View Post
Wow - really nice photos!
Thank you all!

I am using a Canon 6D with 24-105 f4/L lens and also rented a 16-35 f2.8/L II. Some of the shots are taken by a very pocketable and potent Sony RX100 III for when I want to be a little more discrete. I used to have a crop sensor T3i, but the photos were never very sharp (maybe just a bad copy of the lens mismatching with my body).

I'll be posting some more pictures from our adventures in London over the next 3-4 days before we leave for Paris. We'll definitely be doing the more touristy things, so it may be a bit bland for the well-traveled.
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Old Sep 5, 15, 1:48 am
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Looking forward to the rest.
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Old Sep 5, 15, 11:26 am
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Great Trip Report so far! The pictures are amazing esp. that United flight landing! As someone who lives in London, the weather this weekend hasn't been great but hopefully it warms up for the rest of your trip.

Congratulations on the marriage by the way!

Kind Regards LL
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Old Sep 6, 15, 1:59 am
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Originally Posted by avneeshj View Post
Looking forward to the rest.
Time for an update

Originally Posted by louislitt View Post
Great Trip Report so far! The pictures are amazing esp. that United flight landing! As someone who lives in London, the weather this weekend hasn't been great but hopefully it warms up for the rest of your trip.

Congratulations on the marriage by the way!

Kind Regards LL
Thank you! It has been quite chilly, but I had checked the weather forecast just prior to leaving so I had the chance to bring a decent jacket with me. I never would have expected lows in the mid 40s Fahrenheit in September at all.


London

We took the tube to the hotel rather than the airport express to save on some money as suggested by either a trip advisor review or one of the threads here. We took the Piccadilly line to Hammersmith and then did a cross platform transfer to the District line. As we exited the Westminster station, we were greeted by a breathtaking view of Big Ben! We then walked across the bridge and checked into London Marriott at County Hall early in the afternoon and did some strolling around town. London seems to have a great juxtaposition of old and new architecture at every corner.





Looking out from the entrance of the hotel



Westminster Abbey in the background



Try as best as we could by going to bed later, we still weren't used to the time change and ended up waking at 4:30 in the morning. So what better to do than to get some night shots without the crowds?



Unfortunately, County Hall is still under renovation so there is lots of scaffolding on the exterior (which remains unlit)



Some light trails with a 2 minute exposure



It began to drizzle so we returned to the hotel to grab some complementary breakfast thanks to my Platinum status. The executive lounge and breakfast area were relocated to the end of the hall on the first floor, with breakfast in the library. Afterwards, we went to the Harry Potter set as one of the wife's activities. I'll spare most of the photos save a few that blew me away as to the artistic mastery and attention to detail. It's definitely worth a visit for a fan (even though I am not )

Waterloo Station



Harry Potter set







The tour took us about 3 hours which was a perfect time for lunch. We took the tube to Camden Town to Hook Camden Town for some delicious fish and chips.



Followed by a short stop at King's Cross



Random picture as the doors opened on the tube



Now on to all the other touristy spots like the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.







Tower of London





Some old ruins



Afterwards, we strolled along river before grabbing some dinner at The Hung Drawn & Quartered, a pub nearby the Tower of London.





I had a very good burger and wife had one of the meat pies.





With our legs exhausted after nearly 30,000 steps for the day and close to 10 miles on foot, we retired to the hotel for some much needed rest. Coming up next will be lunch at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and some more strolling around this beautiful city!
chongl is offline  
Old Sep 7, 15, 3:30 am
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We did some strolling around yesterday since we couldn't go into Westminster Abbey or Houses of Parliament on Sunday. We walked to lunch at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, a 2 Michelin star rated restaurant. Initially I had wanted to book at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, but not knowing they took reservations 3 months in advance made it impossible to secure a spot at the 2 month mark. The Fat Duck, another 3 star establishment, is temporarily closed, so the next choice was #7 ranked on the world's 50 best restaurants.

There were some very antique buildings and some extremely expensive cars along our walk route. I've never seen a LaFerrari or Porsche 918 until now, let alone both at the same time (there was a Veyron there too)!





Building called "The Albert" that was built in the 1860s







Time for lunch, which was inside the Mandarin Oriental











The tipsy cake was delicious!



Ice cream made with liquid nitrogen



Afterwards, our legs needed a rest, so we didn't get a chance to venture into Hyde Park or see the Marble Arch. We returned to the hotel for a short break before going to the Imperial War Museum that had many interesting exhibits. We spent about 2 hours there (didn't take many photos) before walking back to the hotel. After some rest and a snack at the executive lounge, we waited until sundown to venture out for some night shots. As it turns out, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are lit at night when it isn't 5AM like my last shot attempts





Across from Marriott County Hall



A mini-fair along the banks of the Thames





And a last shot from of Big Ben from across the river this time

chongl is offline  
Old Sep 7, 15, 5:19 am
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Brilliant pictures of London! Great report chongl and congratulations on your marriage!
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Old Sep 7, 15, 6:42 am
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Agreed with the other posters – really excellent shots, I live here and you are making me want to swing by all the tourist attractions!

How did you find Dinner by Heston Blumenthal? I’d be interested to hear what it’s like (I’ve never been), especially now it has been open for a few years.
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Old Sep 7, 15, 4:08 pm
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Congratulations!

And wonderful shots!
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Old Sep 7, 15, 9:44 pm
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Congrats and sorry to read about the incident in Houston.

Great photos, been looking through your flickr. How is the Sony RX100 III? Seems to be able to achieve background defocusing like DSLR cameras. Potent enough for a phone cam guy like me surely?
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Old Sep 7, 15, 11:36 pm
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Great report, looking forward to the rest. Thanks for sharing!
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Old Sep 8, 15, 6:52 am
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Nice TR and great pictures
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