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London is famous for its fog, and it would be a charming setting if you are not trying to travel into or out of it on a plane. The fog decided to blanket both London and Paris the night before I left for NYC and it wrecked havoc with all flights scheduled to go in or out of airports for days. After hours of delays, misinformation, and redirection by the British Airways staff, I finally got on the last Virgin Atlantic flight of the night to JFK thanks to the splendid LHR agent Louise G. This was my “virgin” flight with Virgin Atlantic and they are now my favorite airline. My seat had goodies waiting for me as I boarded, including an eye mask, toothbrush with toothpaste, pen, earplugs, and slippers in a “feel good kit”, headphones, and a clever blanket which had a cutout so you could slip it over your shoulders without excess material at your neck! This was standard issue in ALL seats, with extras like pj’s in upper class (yes, you get to take the comfy pj’s with you)!

The plane also had an ingenious remote/phone combo which accessed the broad range of inflight entertainment which took six pages to describe in the in flight magazine.

The staff was as cheery and professional as I’ve ever encountered, including one steward who literally climbed up on an armrest to help me get my coat from the overhead compartment because she was as tall (or short) as I am!

I even enjoyed (and watched) the entire safety demonstration because it was so much fun; this scene is about how to properly fasten your seat beat 😉

For an 8 hour flight, there were two meals and two snacks and yes, the flavors were as good as they sounded. The only time I’ve eaten this well on a flight was on Air France’s Business Class, of course Air France had better wine, but then that is a given, non?

Not only was the food fresh and healthy, it actually had flavor!

Arriving at JFK airport, the Airtrain got me from the airport to Jamaica station (where you buy your $5 ticket before exiting), and then I connected to the subway (on the same Metro card, just add a dollar amount of $3 for each ride) which not only runs 24 hours a day, but has technology which updates where you are on the route, as well as the connections and stops along the way! After Rome, this was like being in an altered futuristic universe!

American hotels like the Hilton Midtown may seem small compared to other cities in the US, but by European standards it is huge and full of deluxe features for the price,

like a big TV,

huge shower, and plentiful FLUFFY towels!

The view from the 22nd floor wasn’t bad either!

Coming back in the US after more than 2 years in France, and being back in NYC after more than 20 years, I had certain cravings. Katz’s Deli was made famous in the movie “When Harry Met Sally“, but they are famous to me for their pastrami. There is of course a sign showing you exactly where Sally had what everyone else wanted 😉

Pickles come with every order,

and I urge you to get a knish, which in NYC, is basically a fried bit of delicious mashed potato, either filled with something or plain. This knish was bigger than both my hands:)

Classic fries always go well with a sandwich.

A sandwich is about $20 and sides all cost about $5; this is HALF of a pastrami sandwich, and if you can finish a whole sandwich in one sitting, I bow to your appetite!

The best part of any trip is seeing friends 🙂

Air Tahiti Nui is one of my favorite airlines for trips from LAX to Paris, not only are their flights ALL direct, but their crews are friendly, their coach seats have amenities most business fares offer, and their rates for excess and overweight luggage are lower than most other airlines flying this route. The only downside is that they do not fly daily, so it helps if you can be flexible with your dates of travel.

The flight was scheduled to take 11 hours, but we arrived an hour early 🙂

Inflight coach lunch was coq au vin with a choice of red, white, or sparkling wines, salad, a camembert, and a dessert (which I did not taste). It was on par with a Business class meal on American Airlines. The breakfast the following morning was terrible, so I would recommend ordering a kosher or vegetarian meal online before you travel (at no extra cost).

Every seat had its own iPad size screen with flight details, movies, Tahitian TV program, music, and games.

The only time I am truly happy in the morning is when I am awake because I am landing in a city I love, like Paris 🙂

Most buildings do not have elevators and the ones that do are usually only big enough for 2 people or 1 person and 1 piece of luggage, so be ruthless in paring down what you are packing. You might be lugging baggage up FIVE flights of stairs. For views like this, it might make the exercise worth it. If you are booking a rental, remember that the ground floor does not count as a floor, so the 1st floor in France is the 2nd floor in the US.

With open air markets several times in week in every neighborhood, you can pick up fresh fruit, bread, and local wine for a meal or picnic and live like a native.

The natives love chocolate (who doesn’t?) and sometimes the best finds are new chocolatiers who worked for famous ones befor opening up their own shops like Pascal Legac who the creative director of La Maison du Chocolat and was voted one of the 12 best chocolatiers for three years in a row.

He makes caramel (they were sold out) and chocolate eclairs (this was the last one left at 1pm), chocolate tarts, and chocolates with single origins and he will DELIVER if you are in France!

To celebrate my return to France, I picked up the last bottle of Drappier 2006 Millésime on the shelf. This full bodied velvety finish champagne was the perfect welcome home 🙂

Winter in Europe can be beautiful. If you are brave and hearty enough to withstand cold weather, you can fly to nonstop London via Virgin for only $296 each way (based on RT) between January 10 – March 26, 2012. The total including all fees & taxes for a RT is $791.40. This means your Valentine’s Day gift could be as simple as a card with enclosed etickets because this sale includes travel during that week! Hurry and book here because the sale ends at 11:59 PST September 29, 2011.

If you prefer Paris, Air Tahiti Nui has a nonstop $399 fare each way (based on RT) and they have hotel specials that start at only $75 per night in the City of Lights. The only black out dates are from Dec 29-January 12th, so New Year’s in Paris is not available at these prices, but like the Virgin sale, Valentine’s Day is covered. The RT total including taxes and fees will run about $950, and you must stay over a Sunday night. This sale ends October 5, so book here if you want to enjoy the beautiful window displays before Christmas, or the gorgeous chocolate pieces of edible art before Valentine’s Day.

At these prices, you may want to take two trips to Europe this Winter!

Virgin America is having a 3 day sale on fares that start at only $49 (to SF), for $129 you can fly to New York or Washington D.C., and for $159 you can go to Cancun between September 20 and October 5, 2011. The fares are one way based on round trip flights and don’t include taxes and fees, so if you need to get out of town do it with a Virgin deal!

For what you would normally pay for one or the other, you get both a room and an omakase dinner with this Bloomspot deal. For $500, you get a night in a deluxe room at the Peninsula Hotel and dinner for two at Nobu, featuring a six course tasting menu (with wine or sake pairings) on select dates through November.

If you want to stay in town but feel like you’re away, get this $12 deal from TravelZoo (good for the next 21 hours) for an all day pass (yes that means 24 hours) at the WiSpa in Koreatown. They have separate floors for men, women, and a co-ed floor in their 48,000 square foot spa which houses hot and cold baths, five saunas, free wifi and a rooftop terrace.

Tahiti may not be the first place you think of if you are planning a last minute trip, but with Caramageddon fast approaching, planning a trip away from L.A. may be the perfect reward for surviving traffic this week-end.

Air Tahiti Nui is offering limited tickets for only $698 Round Trip from LAX, the sale will end either July 19th or when the last ticket is sold. Travel must start between August 1-18th and you must return by September 8th from Tahiti. Tickets are nonrefundable and you must book through their website using code HOT63 (you may call 877-824-4846 to make a reservation but there will be a $15 surcharge). They have hotels starting at $150 per night, so make August in Tahiti your Los Angeles antidote!

With my upcoming trip to Greece I am getting my international travel fix soon, but like all travel addicts I am already looking forward to booking another trip.

Air Tahiti Nui has a deal for four nights at either the Radisson Plaza Resort in an oceanview room or the Manava Suite Resort in Tahiti, including airfare that starts at just $999. Both hotels include breakfast with the rate and hotel to airport transfers. The offer is good from November 1- December 11 (low season) or August 17-September 23 (high season); it rains in low season, so if you are going for sun and beach, go in high season. If four nights isn’t enough (it isn’t), you can include Moorea for 6 total nights starting at $1399 or Bora Bora starting at $2100.

With the movie “Eat Pray Love” coming out this August, many people may want to go to Bali. Singapore Airlines is celebrating its’ 30th anniversary of service to Los Angeles, so on July 26, they are having a sale, five nights hotel, flight, AND TAXES* for only $1410. The vacation package runs through August 31, 2010, but book it as soon as it goes live because once the packages are sold, you are out of luck. The packages include airport and hotel transfers, 2 nights in Singapore at the five-Star Swissôtel The Stamford, 3 nights in Bali at the five-Star Nusa Dua Beach Hotel daily breakfast in Bali, half-day city tour in Singapore; full-day tour in Bali with lunch, and complimentary “Hop-On Bus” pass in Singapore from Sept. 1 – Nov. 30, 2010 and Jan. 1 – Mar. 31, 2011. This deal is equal to the cost of a flight alone, so to stay in five star hotels for the price makes this an incredible deal.

So Tahiti, Bali or both? Hmmm that is the question (I think my answer will be the third option).

*$110 of taxes are not included.

If you still haven’t planned a summer vacation yet, you might want to consider this deal from Travel Zoo which gives you 6 nights in a 1 bedroom suite in Aruba for $629 including airfare from LAX! Price does not include airfare taxes, fees or transfers, but it is still about 40% off the regular price for the three star Aruban Resort.

Just travel between May 1- June 7, or for $60 more, from June 8 – August 30, 2010. The units all include a patio or balcony, dining area, and a kitchenette with a stove, microwave and refrigerator. the resort is across from Eagle Beach, a top rated Travel & Leisure beach destination, and the resort sports two lagoon pools, poolside grill, water slides, and a fitness facility.

Click on this link of call Travelzoo and give them code ARUBA100 by April 23, 2010.

Some of the best deals are limited in either time or stock, but if you are flexible and spontaneous enough, you can get a steal. For the next 72 hours (give or take a few hours depending on when you are reading this), C&H is having a Delta airfare sale from LAX to Hong Kong for $710. Taxes and charges add another $185, but this still means you can fly roundtrip for under $1000! You may travel between now and May 1 or from August 15 until December 9, 2010 with a maximum 6 month stay. If you are traveling from the East Coast, the fare from JFK is only $593 (plus about $185 in taxes & fees), but maximum stay for this ticket is 90 days.

If you need a place to stay they even have a 3 star hotel for only $93 a night at the City Garden Hotel, so give them a call at 866-266-5264 and book your trip while you still have this window of opportunity.

With Spring break coming up, college students may be going to sun and surf, but many families are taking advantage of their children’s time off school to take a vacation, and some couples are taking a romantic break to warm up their love lives. All this means it is a perfect time to travel to destinations that are renowned for fun, culture, and romance, in other words, it is a great time to travel to Europe.

C&H has some fares good for travel through May 15, 2010 that make International travel an affordable option. You must purchase your tickets by March 22 (coming Monday), but for fares like $461 from San Francisco to Paris or $558 to Barcelona, it is worth making a decision quickly. If you want a more off the beaten path trip, book Istanbul, Turkey for $668 or Sofia, Bulgaria for $764. Fares are ROUNDTRIP but even after adding about $300 per ticket for fees and taxes, you are still looking at less than $1000 per person for nearly every fare. C&H even has deals on hotels, like a four star in Madrid for only $93 a night.

With prices like this, you can spend your Spring in Europe and still come home to some eggs in your Easter basket.

They call today Cyber Monday; the Internet Sale day for consumers who want to get deals just like the ones in stores last Friday. I saw this deal and could hardly believe my eyes; Southwest has a fare from NYC to San Francisco for $39 each way December 7-11, 2009 (and returns on December 11-14, 2009 are also $39). Fares do not include taxes or fees, but even with those charges, this is still a great deal! If you have any friends who live in New York and they want to come visit before the holidays, you can buy them tickets to sunny (warm) California and join them in San Francisco for a holiday.

Getting from Los Angeles to San Francisco is also on sale today because Alaska, Virgin America, United, and American Airlines are ALL posting fares of $39 each way (excluding all taxes and fees). Hurry and buy your tickets now while there are still seats left and while these fares are still good; like Cinderella, they will disappear at the stroke of midnight (if they don’t get sold out by then).




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