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Mileage Running to New York via Delta First Class for Alaska Airlines MVP Status

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Old Apr 30, 17, 11:40 am
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Mileage Running to New York via Delta First Class for Alaska Airlines MVP Status

Mileage Running to New York via Delta First Class for Alaska Airlines MVP Status (DL F)

YVR-MSP-LGA (paid)
LGA-MSP-YVR (paid)




In this report:

Delta Airlines First Class: Vancouver - Minneapolis St Paul
Delta Airlines Sky Club: Near Gate C12, Minneapolis St Paul
Delta Airlines First Class: Minneapolis St Paul - La Guardia New York
W Union Square
New York
Delta Airlines Sky Club: La Guardia New York
Delta Airlines First Class: La Guardia New York - Minneapolis St Paul
Delta Airlines Sky Club: Near Gate F1, Minneapolis St Paul
Delta Airlines First Class: Minneapolis St Paul

Links to my previous reports:

Havana and Varadero Cuba via Westjet Holidays from Canada (WJ Y) Nov 2016
Malta (and the island of Gozo), Venice, Italy and Oktoberfest in Munich, via Air France Business Class (AF J, LH Y) Sept 2016

South Africa, Namibia, Victoria Falls, Mauritius & the UAE via Emirates First, Qatar Business (QR J, EK F, BA J, SA J, SW Y) April 2016

Dodging Volcanic Ash: A family trip to Bali / Singapore with my 11 year old (DL J / OZ J / KL J / JL J) July 2015
RTW#3 (J): Vietnam, Maldives, and Tackling India’s Golden Triangle. (AC/OZ/SQ/AI/TK), May 2015
Experiencing flying as a "Non-Rev", Australia Wine and Beaches, (AC J/Y, QF J) November 2014
Alaska Airlines First Class to Las Vegas, and a stay in the Aria Sky Suites “Penthouse” (AS F), August 2014
Family trip to Kenora Lake of the Woods Ontario via Air Canada Business Class (AC J). August 2014
Cathay Pacific First Class to New York, a sombre visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum & 4 days of eating in NYC. (CX F) May 2014
RTW #2 (J): The Khors of Oman - via Japan, Poland, & the UAE. RTW in Biz (NH J 787, OZ J, TG J, EY J, TK J, LH J). April 2014
South Africa, Safari in Maasai Mara Kenya, & Mauritius (UA J, SA J, XAK, LX J, AC J) Nov 2013
A family trip to Westin Playa Conchal, Liberia Costa Rica, (UA Y) Aug 2013
Buried Treasure: UAE Empty Quarter and Beyond to Huvadhoo Atoll, Maldives (UA Y, EY J/Y, Q2 Y), Nov 2012
RTW #1 (F): The Time Share Presentation, Spain, China, Thailand, (AC J, OZ F, TG F, LH J, LH F, AC Y) May 2012.
A visit to Macchu Picchu and Valle Nevado, Peru and Chile. (AC J, LA Y) Sept 2011
Travel after the Revolution of January 25, 2011. Egypt. (MS Y) May 2011
A Step Back in Time: The Twilight of Burma, a visit to Myanmar (MI Y) Sept 2010

Background:

It’s been almost ten years since our last actual mileage run. After several paid trips this year to Hawaii, USA, and Germany, Alaska MVP status for 2017 was within our reach. We ended up taking this trip in December 2016 to round off the calendar year. You never know when elite airline status will come along handy and with Alaska's distance based mileage chart and the past relationship with Delta, it was easy to get MVP status.

I happened to find some reasonably discounted First class fares on Delta from Vancouver to New York at around the $800 CAD mark return. With these flights earning a generous 100% plus a 75% class of service bonus in Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, what’s not to like? With the thoughts of Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree and 5th avenue shopping in MrsWT73’s mind, we booked ourselves a weekend get away to stay in New York. We settled on Delta’s La Guardia option over John F Kennedy for the proximity to Manhattan.

We also decided on the W Union Square as it was close to Designer Shoe Warehouse and had a Nordstrom Rack across the other side of Union Square. I also happened to find a rate that was discounted.

I hope you will enjoy a weekend of shopping in New York.

Last edited by worldtraveller73; May 16, 17 at 8:18 pm
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Old Apr 30, 17, 11:43 am
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Delta Airlines
Compass Airlines Operated as Delta Connection
First Class
YVR-MSP (Vancouver International Airport – Minneapolis St Paul)
DL 5718
December 10, 2016
Booked: Embrauer RJ 175
Flown: Embrauer RJ175
Departure: 12:48PM
Arrival: 6:08 PM


After MrsWT73’s Christmas party the night before under a rarely snowy Vancouver, we self drove ourselves to the Vancouver International Airport.

The Delta Sky Priority Check in was completely deserted today and we used the kiosks to get the boarding cards prior to having our bags tagged. We have been doing carry on only but since this trip was a shopping trip, we elected to check a mostly empty additional suitcase for returning items.





The Vancouver Interational Airport had some festive decorations up which made the mood a little more cheery. Unforuntately, for some reason, there was a terribly long line at the international departure with a lot of asian bound flights departing today.







The Vancouver International Airport has US Customs Pre-Clearance and with Global Entry and Nexus we bypassed a security line of about 75 passengers waiting for screening and were through directly to the front of the queue. Unlike TSA Pre-Check, the Nexus line does not offer expedited (shoes on, laptops in the bag) screening, but rather just dumps you at the front of the line.





Delta First Class doesn’t get you into any lounges in Vancouver so we had some Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwiches prior to getting on the flight.



The inbound flight was delayed a little bit – only about 15 minutes and the ground staff did an excellent job to turn the aircraft around quickly.





We boarded at the First Class call. Once on board, all the bin space was already gone so we had to do the rollies under the seat option.

There is also no closet on this particilar aircraft so I had the winter coats piled up on the arm rest next to the window.









A pre-departure beverage of Dasani bottled water was offered with a polite announcement that the pre departure beverage bar service would start once airborne to ensure the on time departure of the aircraft.



A pleasant crew and the door closed only 8 minutes behind posted schedule.

Departed on runway 8L, which was unusual (it’s usually 8R). There were several aircraft a head of us in a very wet and damp Vancouver.





A bar and beverage service was offered as we got airborne. I started with a Gin and Tonic.



A small towel service was offered with tongs from the tray.



Lunch snack was offered consisting of a cold Prawn and Orzo salad, or chicken Bbq sliders with coleslaw and fruit. I had the BBQ sliders and they were remarkably tasty for a regional service. It was much better tasting, and a lot less bizarre, than the Alaska meals we’ve had lately.





The drinks were refreshed and I enjoyed another Gin and Tonic as the sun slowly set outside.



We arrived to a very dark and bleak Minneapolis; well covered in snow and darkness outside.



In summary, a pretty straight forward flight. There wasn’t much available bin space and the aircraft was pretty compact for a longer 4 hour flight. The bonuses were the reasonable fare from Vancouver, the tasty catering, and the fact that my glass was never empty.
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Old Apr 30, 17, 11:47 am
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Delta Airlines SkyClub
Near Gate C 12,
Minneapolis St Paul International Airport


We had a ninety minute connection. It was dumping snow outside when we arrived to gate F2. We wandered through the concourse to the Sky Club adjacent to gate C12. We were admitted with our two boarding cards as we were continuing on from an international itinerary (from Canada), which permitted access.









Once inside we settled in by the windows. The clubs in MSP appear to be going through a renovation of sorts and an update on the coloring and offerings. This club hadn’t been renovated and was decorated in darker earth tones of the early 2000’s.









There were large windows and several seating areas, although the place as almost at capacity when we arrived.



There were study carrels and self pour drinks available at the end of the lounge. This was a first for me as most of the hub based lounges I’ve visited in the US usually have a bartender.









There were some very simple (3 choices only) salads and two soups. There wasn’t much else.



Free wifi provided by ATT. Worked fine and connected without issues.

A good view of out plane next to the lounge. It didn’t look like it was going anywhere



This Delta SkyClub near Gate C12 was a reasonable place to park for a while. It didn't have any outstanding or redeeming features; no green wall, no massive sweeping spaces. Just daylight windows and a place to park yourself and your bags between flights. It was an okay spot but I certainly wouldn't route through here necessarily just to visit.
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Old Apr 30, 17, 11:54 am
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Delta Airlines
Compass Airlines Operated as Delta Connection
First Class
MSP-LGA (Minneapolis St Paul – La Guardia new York)
DL 5718
December 10, 2016
Booked: Bombardier CRJ-900
Flown: Bombardier CRJ-900
Departure: 7:43 PM
Arrival: 11:34 PM


We had a 90 minute connection. We left the lounge at T-35 and went to be first in line. We had some strangely decorated airport signs in the area of our gate, with stuffed Christmas bears hanging out on some of the overhead signs.





First one on board today so we ended up with the rock star pictures on this CRJ-900.







A bottle of Dasani water was also available for each seat.



An open bar pre-departure beverage today. I went with a gin and tonic while I looked out the window at the cold outside.





We had a push back over to the de-icing pad. It’s been a while since I’ve been de-iced and it was awesome to watch the full scale winter operations here as they quickly de-iced dozens of planes. This took about 50 minutes of ground time before were were airborne







\

Once we were airborne, a quick wet nap towel service



Followed by another round of drinks.



The dinner choice was pork tenderloin with blue cheese along with a green salad with oil and vinegar dressing or a cold chicken salad. I had the pork which was awesome with red wine (unnamed variety).





Some salty snacks for the rest of the ride



A quick approach into La Guardia.



Followed by an arrival into a deserted terminal at 11:30 PM to collect our empty suitcase.







Delta Airlines First Class was a more modern way to cross the continent. Although it wasn’t the most exotic way to travel, among the legacy carriers, it’s certainly trying for better. The food seemed to be a cut above some of the boring offers among the other domestic US carriers.
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Old Apr 30, 17, 12:23 pm
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Great report and excellent pics. I'm getting the chills just looking at the winter pics.
But gosh, talk about taking one for the team. Transcon by regional jet. OMG, you must really want to re-up your MVP status.
Although the pork tenderloin looked very nice.
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Old Apr 30, 17, 3:31 pm
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Great report! Glad that you had a good connection through MSP which is my home airport. Delta, in my mind, is the best domestic airline today. In all my flights with them, I'm impressed by the great service. The food served looks good - and I'm impressed that you got pork tenderloin on your MSP-LGA flight. I didn't realize that the CRJ-900 had an oven in FC! When I flew on one from PSC-MSP last year, only cold meals were offered.

Looking forward to your return trip.

Best,

Matthew
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Old Apr 30, 17, 10:32 pm
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Originally Posted by worldtraveller73 View Post
Delta Airlines First Class was a more modern way to cross the continent. Although it wasn’t the most exotic way to travel, among the legacy carriers, it’s certainly trying for better.
I generally agree with this. IMO Delta has the best domestic lounge and onboard F service of the majors. Delta edges out United, especially in the lounge department, and I feel like they are just a bit more polished. Though they both outpace AA by a mile. My domestic F flights with Delta are consistently pleasant, and until today, represented a cost effective way to credit a lot of BIS miles to AS.
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Old May 3, 17, 7:11 pm
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Originally Posted by SFO777 View Post
Great report and excellent pics. I'm getting the chills just looking at the winter pics.
But gosh, talk about taking one for the team. Transcon by regional jet. OMG, you must really want to re-up your MVP status.
Although the pork tenderloin looked very nice.
Thanks for your support SFO777.

It reminds me of the time that I flew Seattle to Toronto on an Air Canada Embrauer 190 jet; the longest flight of this aircraft type at the time. Thankfully I was in business on e-upgrades, but it was solely for the purpose of getting 100% EQM's which they offered on economy fares at the time (instead of the 50% they usually offer now). LOL.

Originally Posted by 757 View Post
Great report! Glad that you had a good connection through MSP which is my home airport. Delta, in my mind, is the best domestic airline today. In all my flights with them, I'm impressed by the great service. The food served looks good - and I'm impressed that you got pork tenderloin on your MSP-LGA flight. I didn't realize that the CRJ-900 had an oven in FC! When I flew on one from PSC-MSP last year, only cold meals were offered.

Looking forward to your return trip.

Best,

Matthew
Thanks 757. The Minneapolis airport itself is actually a pretty nice facility. It's nice and large with a lot of natural light. I'd easily connect through here if I was given a choice.

Originally Posted by krazykanuck View Post
I generally agree with this. IMO Delta has the best domestic lounge and onboard F service of the majors. Delta edges out United, especially in the lounge department, and I feel like they are just a bit more polished. Though they both outpace AA by a mile. My domestic F flights with Delta are consistently pleasant, and until today, represented a cost effective way to credit a lot of BIS miles to AS.
Thank you krazykanuck. Delta is definitely setting themselves apart from the other carriers. Having experienced it first hand, it's a lot more pleasant than Domestic United, which tends to be a bit boring in my humble opinion.
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Old May 3, 17, 7:39 pm
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W Union Square.
Gramercy Park Neighborhood
New York


I had picked the W Union Square as the concept of the hotel had always appealed to me. The hotel is in an older building and is in the convenient Union Square neighborhood. The Union Square neighborhood was a nice place to spend a few days in Manhattan. It’s central to almost everything. It has more personality to it than the boring Grand Central neighborhood and has substantially less tourists than Times Square. I wasn’t able to get a great rate for this property, opting to spend on convenience for a short stay over a great price. I attempted to apply Suite Night Awards and they failed to clear (over a winter weekend no less).

On arrival to LaGuardia, it was twenty minutes in with the Carmel car which took 12 minutes to arrive after we had called. Carmel sent us a text confirmation as well. Our route was straight down the FDR freeway then off at 13th ave.

Some photos of hotel and area from throughout our stay. The hotel has a presiding location over the Union Square park.











It was a typical New York experience where as when everyone’s special, no one is special. We pretty much got what we paid for in terms of room assignments. On check in, our platinum status was recognized but no upgrades at all available as we are “totally full”.



The lobby has a flex space also known as “The Living Room” that doubles as a lounge, or a place to consume drinks from the Irvington restaurant that is attached to the hotel. Irvington restaurant had a contemporary feel to it.





Our assigned “Spectacular Room” #1415 was nice but not outstanding. It was spacious by NYC standards and had a very nice high 11 ft ceiling which gave it an airy feel to it.















The desk formed part of the counter for the TV.





Small snacks were also available in room.



The bathroom had the usual amenities with upscale Bliss toiletries





There were no fantastic park views from the room today. Although we were on a high floor, it was better than an alley view or a brick wall.



The bed was nice and comfortable and the room, being on a high floor, was about as quiet as you could hope for in the middle of NYC.

As part of the platinum benefits, we opted for the SPG Platinum breakfast benefit. This is a bit of an odd set up as there is only an option to take the breakfast served in your room only. This is a bit strange as the attached Irvington restaurant is open for breakfast and has hotel room charging privileges. It’s not a big deal eating in your room but the rooms are pretty small to begin with and the trays weren’t always cleared promptly. Our breakfast tray was still sitting on the floor outside our room at 2 AM one evening when we came back.

I had to sign for the breakfast bill after it was delivered which was $86.33 USD (per day) by the time the taxes, fees and service charges were all added in. The fee was wholly covered by the SPG program. Breakfast consisted of 6 pastries, 2 juices, jams and a coffee bodum. It wasn’t enough to fill you for the day but certainly enough to get you more than started.





There are several 24 hour convenience stores within a 2 block area of the hotel.

Overall, the W Union Square was a reasonable place to stay during our visit to New York. I loved the residential neighborhood feel to the area and the proximity to everything. I didn’t like the lackluster breakfast option and the so so stay experience. Our next time through New York, we may stay somewhere else. Although, if I was frank, I don't know if other properties would realistically be much better.
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Old May 3, 17, 7:59 pm
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New York City.
Day one.

The next day, we set out to explore the local area. We started at the Union Square Christmas market. There were lots of unique and artsy things for sale other than the usual wooden Christmas decorations.



















Absolutely everything was for sale here, along with some unusual Christmas decorations and art; including the funny “Peach Upset over Enabling Goldfish’s poor eating habits”









We had a mandatory stop at DSW and the Nordstrom Rack. Then uptown to the Plaza via the subway with a walk back down 5th avenue southward.





We arrived at the south border of Central Park and The Plaza hotel. We walked down 5th avenue.





We entered into the frenzy of Christmas shopping mayhem, we passed by the window Christmas displays at Berdgorf Goodman.





We passed by Trump Tower which now has a press gallery set up across the street and a protest zone with full security cordon in front of the building. Trump was identified as the president elect 5 days before our trip to New York. The NYPD were conducting full bag searches of all persons that wanted to get to the front of Trump Tower. I can’t imagine how much this will cost over a 4 year presidential term. Thankfully as a visitor to the USA, I will only have to pay when the president destroys NAFTA (laughing).









As darkness fell, fifth avenue was a fully decorated light show. We wandered down 5th avenue while we took in several shops: Uniqlo, back to Berdgorf Goodman among others.













Over to the Rockerfeller Center Christmas tree. It was absolutely packed but it had a terrific holiday look as snow started to fall in the city. There were a few people there but who's counting?













We walked over on 50th street past Radio City over to Times Square. The Christmas theme was all around.





We wandered over to Times Square which was getting ready for New Year’s celebrations. The ball was set up to drop to end 2016. This was prior to Ms Mariah Carrey's New Year's Eve performance where the lyrics were "missing".









After Times Square, we headed back home to the W for a recharge. At the Times Square MTA Subway station, there was a Post It Note protest. The walls were covered with thoughts, expressions and ideas. At the time of our visit, with Mr Donald Trump just being identified as a President Elect, most of the notes were signs against his leadership. It was a pretty interesting time reading the public disclaim against this guy and a great country overall for allowing the freedom of expression versus some countries that would dissent and suppress this kind of public expression at all costs.











Since we hadn’t made any booking reservations for dinner, we went over to Eataly for dinner. Its situated just cross the from the iconic Flatiron building just 6 blocks from Union Square up Broadway. It is a large Italian grocery superstore featuring imported olive oils and fancy pastas. I was drooling at all the fresh food supplies available.











It also offers restaurants within the area so after wandering through the varieties, we went with MrsWT73’s favorite of pizza and pasta. It was prompt service consistent with its mid grade price point.







The menu at the pizza and pasta resto inside was absolutely massive.



MrsWT73 had a capricosso pizza.



I went for the house made Angolotti pasta with rib sauce, chopped parsley and Parmesan Regianno paired with Fontafredda Barbera by the glass. Wow- it was near perfect, tasty and robust for a quick meal.





It certainly fit the bill and seemed to be mostly free from tourists on our visit, with most customers being families with kids, younger couples grabbing a bite or moms’ and daughters. A short walk and we were back to the W Union Square, with night time views of the Empire State building.

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Old May 3, 17, 9:55 pm
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Great photos from your time in NYC! Wow - over $80 for a light breakfast like that? Got to love W breakfast prices!
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Old May 3, 17, 10:08 pm
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Originally Posted by worldtraveller73 View Post
: Embrauer RJ 175
....
Lunch snack was offered consisting of a cold Prawn and Orzo salad, or chicken Bbq sliders with coleslaw and fruit. I had the BBQ sliders and they were remarkably tasty for a regional service. It was much better tasting, and a lot less bizarre, than the Alaska meals we’ve had lately.
Super sad to see how this route has gone downhill the last 10 years. I used to commute it at least 1-2 times a month, and it was an A319/A320/757 service. Now it's an ERJ with a $3 sandwich and cole slaw Not implying other options are better, just a comment on the new normal
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Old May 3, 17, 10:10 pm
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Originally Posted by worldtraveller73 View Post
There were study carrels and self pour drinks available at the end of the lounge. This was a first for me as most of the hub based lounges I’ve visited in the US usually have a bartender.
Oh Minnesnowta...where you can't buy alcohol on a Sunday, but you CAN self-pour alcohol. I almost miss my home state Thanks for the report!
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Old May 5, 17, 9:31 pm
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Originally Posted by 757 View Post
Great photos from your time in NYC! Wow - over $80 for a light breakfast like that? Got to love W breakfast prices!
Yeah 757.. The only thing missing was a $31.95 Resort Fee per day for premium internet.

Originally Posted by ironmanjt View Post
Super sad to see how this route has gone downhill the last 10 years. I used to commute it at least 1-2 times a month, and it was an A319/A320/757 service. Now it's an ERJ with a $3 sandwich and cole slaw Not implying other options are better, just a comment on the new normal
Originally Posted by ironmanjt View Post
Oh Minnesnowta...where you can't buy alcohol on a Sunday, but you CAN self-pour alcohol. I almost miss my home state Thanks for the report!
Thanks iromanjt. I don't thing this route is the only one facing this issue. The wider body aircraft North American have been weened off for these smaller jets; sometimes, but not always with higher frequencies. It seems to be getting ever more common in Canada with the trans continentals. I'd rather a once a day on a large jet than these smaller ones anytime.
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Old May 5, 17, 9:36 pm
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New York City
Day Two


We started the day by walking through the Farmers Market at Union Square. It ws a bit odd to see so much great produce out on the sidewalk in the middle of the urban city but if I lived here, I would be coming down every Saturday.











We took the Subway 6 Train to Spring Street and got off at Spring station in the Soho area. MrsWT73 wanted to shop through Soho so we walked the Canyon of Soho and I spent most of the time taking pictures. It’s a bit touristy but I can still find some things to look at in this neighborhood.











After a morning (and early afternoon) of shopping, it was time to eat. We went with the tried and tested 3 PM Brunch at Balthazar. Call it what you will: conveniently placed, a tourist trap, a place for the housewives of New York. As always, it’s an enjoyable atmosphere and a great location in the middle of shopping district. Today’s visit had it full of the housewives with Amex Platinum cards.



A solid bistro ambience inside with an authentic décor.







I had the Norwegian Eggs Benny with smoked salmon with sheer mountain of pomme frites and a glass of sparkling to go along with it. No disappointments here!



We took the train back uptown after a brief walk through Little Italy.









We took the train back to Union Square and hit up DSW warehouse one last time before a bottle of wine from Trader Joe’s Wine Shop immediately next to NYU on 14th St before we walked back to the hotel.

We were a little tired from the walking around over the last two days, so we stayed close to the hotel tonight for dinner. We opted to eat in the hotel restaurant Irvington. It had reasonable ambience, a nice décor but pretty average and forgettable service.





Some entertaining art to go along with the setting...



I had pan seared sea bass with carrots and chili. It was unfortunately pretty unexciting.



In summary, a pretty bland meal experience followed up by even blander service. The restaurant did offer room charging privileges. When the highlight of your dinner is that you’re able to charge it to a room, and earn 6X SPG points on the meal via a stay charge (4X $1 as a SPG Plat 75 + 2X on the SPG Amex Card), you know that the experience wasn’t all that outstanding.

Without being done for the evening, we did happen to walk two blocks up to a Spanish wine bar Bar Jamon. Bar Jamon is run by the Casa Momo people almost immediately next door. We had a few snacks there in a standing room only area at Bar Jamon that maybe could hold 25 people. The pictures are from the next morning.





We had some terrific Roija and Manchego cheese that was miles ahead of the food up the street. They offered fresh Iberoco ham sliced off the leg on our visit. I left the big camera at home but I’d highly recommend this place to visit if you can get in. The bar has been quoted in Wine Spectator as one of the best restaurants to get Spanish wines and the restaurant is Michelin starred, so they must be doing okay.
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