Paris in April

Back in April of this year, I went to visit one of my lovely American friends in Paris. Here are some of my pictures.

Karen Turman was gracious enough to share her place with me while I was in town. Just check out the view out of my living room window. Isn’t it gorgeous?! Within 10 minutes of getting to her place, we were off to grab a decadent bite to eat. Later that evening, we went out with one of Karen’s classmates, argued in French with the waiter, got drunk, and stumbled home. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better first day.

The following day, Karen and I headed off to go get our hair layered at Espace Coiffure Paris. Seriously, it was the best hair cut I’ve ever had. Just check out Karen and my sexy layers!!! After an extended afternoon at the hairdressers, we swung by a market, grabbed some veggies, and then headed back to Karen’s fabulous apartment for some home cooking! Alex Dryer whipped up something delish while Fancy Dougherty entertained us with stories. Again, another delightful day in Paris.

My last full Parisian day was quite the adventure. Alex, Fancy, and I went to the Champagne Region and toured 4 champagne-eries. Needless to say, I was drunk by 11am and loving life. 🙂

Here’s a fun little story for ya: In case you didn’t know, the French are very…. French. What does that mean? Let’s take “customer service” as an example. In the States, there is an attitude of “the customer is always right” and will be accommodated in some way, shape, or form. In France, however, that is not the case. We, the group we were on tour with, had our first tour of the Champagne Region all in French. That in it of itself isn’t bad, shocking, or in anyway noteworthy other than the fact that everyone on the tour spoke English, and maybe half spoke some French. Yes, the tour guide knew that. And yes, her boss who was overseeing the tour knew that. And yet….that still wasn’t enough reason to do the tour in English. “What was the reason for that?” you ask. It was because the Tour Guide lady was in training and the boss had to check and see her performance. Yeah…. *sigh* Just as a bonus: Alex and Fancy took turns translating for me, and if the “boss” could hear something was left out, she would explain the details in (perfect) English.

So. Fucking. French. *smile

The next morning, Karen took me on a bike riding adventure around the city just moments before leaving for the airport. It was slightly stressful getting a hold of the bikes, but it was soooooooo worth it. To top it off, it was one of the few moments it wasn’t raining; the sun never seemed so glorious as the day I rode around Paris on a grey, city bicycle. 🙂

In short, I had a delightful time and I can’t wait to go back. Sure, it was super rainy and Paris is full of French people, but those things only add to the charm of the city. If you’ve been debating about going – go! Watch Midnight in Paris before you go, bring someone you can cuddle with, and wander through the city with your umbrella in tow.

Note: This is mostly written as tongue in cheek.

Frequent Flyer Plan

It pays to have a frequent flyer number. What, don’t believe me? If you fly to a lindy event at least once a month, it’s worth your while.

On average, it costs me $30 each way to check a bag. Let’s say I do one round-trip each month for a year: 12 months x $60 = $720. Holy cow, think of what you could do with an extra $700. I can think of plenty….but let’s stay on topic here.

I fly. A lot. Maybe too much. The point is, that if I am already flying, I might as well get the miles. Kevin, on the other hand, didn’t focus on this the past year and now one of us has status on two airlines, and the other has status on none (how very Dr. Seuss of me!). All I had to remember to do was when I checked in, either online or in person, I made sure my frequent flyer number was in the system, and viola, I got miles.

But who should you join? I’ve joined the major groups so that I can get miles on just about everything, minus the puddle jumper while I am in Europe.

Northwest Airlines (now owned by Delta) – SKY TEAM – partners with

I like Air France, but I don’t like the CDG airport (Paris). If you fly through here, make sure you have at least an  hour layover otherwise you might miss your flight because you won’t physically be able to get to your gate in time. I am serious….consider this your warning! KLM is a favorite. I just flew Korean Air and I liked it. The bathroom areas were hidden, so they felt a bit more private, and the soap in the restrooms smelled fantastic! They also offer complimentary tooth brushes! Final note, stay away from Aeroflot if you can. I think I’ve already written a blog about it, but it’s more like Aero-fuck if you ask me. I had a hellish time on them two years ago. Bad food, bad service, LONGass layover in Moscow. Stay away from them if you can. 😀

United Airlines – STAR ALLIANCE – partners with:

I like Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian Air, but the others I’ve flown, I don’t really like. US Airways is a little ghetto, United is snobby (yet I still have status with them), and LOT is kinda sketchy. Nonetheless, I have heard good things about bmi, Brussels Air, and Ana.

Alaska Airlines – Mileage Plan – partners with:

Mokulele Airlines
Northwest Airlines
PenAir
Qantas

“The airline’s frequent flyer program is called Mileage Plan. Alaska Airlines is not part of any of the three major airline alliances, but Mileage Plan airline partners include prominent members of SkyTeam, such as Delta Air Lines, Korean Air, Northwest Airlines, KLM, and Air France, as well as members of Oneworld, including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas.”

When I lived on the West Coast, I would fly Alaska as often as I could. I really liked them. Once I moved to the East Coast, I started using NWA more (because they were partners) and kept my miles with Alaska. Unfortunately, Alaska values a number of airlines, but the love is not reciprocal. Sigh. My Alaska account primarily gets miles from American Airlines (which I don’t particularly like flying), British Airways, and Qantas.

Long of the short of it is: if you fly on a semi-regular basis, it’s worth joining one of the airlines alliances. Get miles, use them for vacation (I’ve done 3 trips down to Argentina on miles), check your luggage for free (yup, that’s a perk….perhaps the best one), get priority seating, get a special number to call for booking and/or help, and just feel special.