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Friday, April 28, 2017

PaGA 2017: Day 33 United First Class

I never got around to filing a review of my United Airlines Polaris International First Class flight from Munich to DC Dulles, so will complement the UAL First Class flight today from Reagan National Airport to San Francisco.  To repeat from an earlier posting, all U.S. airlines have abandoned international first class.  United is the final one to phase out, and they're doing this in transition by creating something called Polaris, which is like a better business class, including a new family of executive lounges.

For now, they still have Polaris International First Class, but I might be among the last to experience this.  How good was it?  Not bad, but nothing close to what Lufthansa, Singapore and Thai Air have.  A night touch was flights of wines.  I started with three white wines:

The first course was creative and adventurous:

Clearly, this must have been tuna sashimi with takuan (pickled radish).  While it tasted like that, the fish was salmon and yellowish pieces were pickled beets.  I kind of enjoyed this dish.

The porcini mushroom soup was rather thin and lukewarm:

The salad was okay:

The rack of lamb was almost good, but overdone and lacking in character.

I skipped the dessert, but tried the cheese and port wine:

Overall, not bad at all.

There were flaws:
  • The audio-visual system was way obsolete, and because the company providing the music went bankrupt, there was none.
  • The oldest stewardess on all my flights until this one was half my age.  I would swear that a chubby white-haired lady serving first class was around my age.  She was effective, and I should be complimenting her....but.
  • No Johnny Walker Blue Label.  No caviar.  
International first class, however, is considerably better than domestic first class.  Not worth showing any food, but my flight from Reagan International to SFO had some photographic moments:

There was some airport traffic congestion, so we circled the Stanford campus.  Tomorrow, I move to the Palo Alto Sheraton and might go to a Stanford baseball game against Arizona, for the hotel is virtually across the street from the Sunken Diamond.

SFO is one of those airports where you need to go one floor up to catch the hotel shuttles.  I also noticed that the Smart Cartes cost $5.

 I'm staying at the SFO Four Points Sheraton, and my meals so far in California have been fast and simple:

Tomorrow, on to Stanford University.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

PaGA 2017: Day 32 My Day in Our Nation's Capital

I played tourist in our Nation's Capital today, beginning with lunch at Charlie Palmer:

Started with a foie gras appetizer and soup, and, as I leave for California tomorrow, had an Anchor Steam Beer and a Merlot/Cabernet from Napa:

I ordered hanger steak, which has also been called butcher's steak because you can't find it in markets, for butchers take it home.  It resembles flank steak but is more flavorful and is supposedly the most tender cut available, but needs to be served medium rare.

Japanese wagyu is the best, but hanger steak is is a lot cheaper and does have that special taste.  There was so much meat and asparagus left that they packed half of both in ice, and I'll have them for dinner in room tonight, for I still  have some bread, red wine and a whole bottle of Trader Joe's beer.

I then was planning to walk to Jefferson's Memorial and wend my way around to the White House.  Note that the Washington Monument is in the middle, while the Lincoln Memorial is to the West, the U.S. Capitol to the East, the White House north and Jefferson Memorial south.

If the temperature stayed in the 60's I could have made it, but the District had it's best day of the year so far, approaching 85 F.  As I regularly walk 18 holes I should have been able to complete the full circuit, but I guess I'm out of shape and gained too much weight.  Actually, I was lucky, for the DC high tomorrow will be 90 F and 93 F on Saturday.  My previous stop, Munich?  Rain and snow today.  Anyway, I took a shortcut and only focused on the Capitol and the Washington Monument:

I walked through the U.S. Botanic Garden and the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden:

Okay...what plant is this?

Give up?  Don't look, but...

The Metro was a mess today if you wanted to catch the Red Line, for they were fixing some tracks.  But, I made it back to my hotel with some difficulty.  Unfortunately, I got more sleepy than hungry early in the evening, but forced myself to attempt to consume a rather large feast while watching the Yankees vs Red Sox:


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

PaGA 2017: Day 31 Alexandria to Potomac

left Hawaii on March 26, so on this 26th day of April, I Metro'd from Alexandria (Virginia, not Egypt) to Potomac (the city in Maryland, not the river), which, in 2013 was identified by CNN Money as the most affluent town in the Nation, and had the largest population of any living area in the U.S. with a median income of more than $240,000.  Who lives here?  Wolf Blitzer,  Thomas Friedman, John Glenn (until he passed away), Joseph Kennedy, Ted Koppel, Sugar Ray Leonard, J.W. Marriott, Queen Noor of Jordan, Farah Pahlavi (former Queenn of Iran), Sargent Shriver, Sylvester Stallone, Mike Tyson, a whole bunch of current and former NBA stars...and Gloria and Joe Vadus.  That's their home to the left.

For a quarter century now I've joined them for a drink or two or three with fancy appetizers prepared by Gloria at their residence, followed by dinner somewhere close by.  Now that we're old, we are doing this at lunchtime, here we are with Judy and Cliff McLain.  Joe retired as Chief Ocean Technologist for NOAA, and is one of the founders of the Blue Revolution.  Cliff worked for Werner von Braun in Alabama and ARPA (now known as the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) when it was first formed.  We proposed holding a workshop on the Cascadia subduction zone a few decades ago, for he is from Oregon, and the really big one will probably not be along the San Andreas fault, but here in the ocean off the Pacific Northwest.

I should add that I show these photos because the leis were made by Charlotte Matsuda, my 15 Craigside neighbor across the hallway.  I think her purpose was for me to give them to a potential girlfriend or wife I chanced to meet on my global adventure.  As I found none, and time is running out, they got the leis, which are associated with Hokulea.  Charlotte's hula halau will dance on the ship when it returns from its around the world cruise on June 19.

By the way, Joe asked me what these name tiles were.  He found them in a Palau (which has 340 islands) cave 60 years ago when he was with the U.S. Marines.

We speculated that each piece had something to do with the Japanese soldiers who served in that cave during World War II.  The larger sizes probably denoted higher ranks.  IF ANYONE HAS THE ANSWER, PLEASE LET ME KNOW SO I CAN SO INFORM JOE.

After my two martinis, we went off to Normandie Farm, a French country restaurant:

This place is known for their popovers, and I ordered escargots plus a salad with a glass of Prosecco:

I took a couple of photos of purple flowers on the premises:

I returned to the Sheraton Suites in Alexandria via the Metro Red and Blue Lines.  I was picked up at the Reagan National Airport by the hotel van.  

Across the street (view from my room) is a supermarket:

Just another block over is a Trader Joe's:

Two-buck Chuck's now costs $3.29 here.  However, as the the hotel gave me a bottle of red wine, I just got Trader Joe's beer:

I complemented the above with some items from Harris Teeter for my dinner tonight: