After my British Airways First class experience, I was pretty much just basking in the glow of luxury. Unfortunately I was rudely awakened by the fact that since I was actually going to Paris rather than London, I would have to go through security again at LHR. I was really rueing having to unpack my bags in the event it needed to be searched, but thankfully dodged that bullet.
The Round-the-World Series
- The Kickoff
- The Bookening
- The Lodging
- The Pre-Departurening
- British Airways Galleries First Lounge
- British Airways BA292 777-200 IAD-LHR First Class
While having traveled in First on BA meant that I got a fast track through security, it really just meant that I had to wait three minutes instead of five minutes in line, thanks to the relatively fast security lines at LHR. What really got me though, was my plans to do my whole trip out of a carry-on.
To recap, after reading Lucky's take on carry-on, I decided to give it a shot.
Since I wasn't particularly keen on spending multiple hundred dollars on a new weekender bag and suitcase, I opted for a 20" Samsonite Inova hard-shell roller and used my trusty Timbuk2 Messenger Bag. The Samsonite bag was actually pretty reasonable when combined with a 25% off coupon and a $10 American Express Offers credit.
The Samsonite roller worked well (with the exception of some minor quibbles over how big 20" actually is on Etihad, which I will get into later) and the fact that "Indigo Blue" is much more purple than I was expecting... but that's life. The other issue was that the handle is a single bar rather than two, which is great for saving space, but makes it much harder to stack luggage on it when you're pulling it behind you.
I lovelovelove my Timbuk2 bag. But I guess you could say that it really didn't maximize my "hand luggage limit" space. It certainly fit under the seat in front of me when required, and slinging it over my shoulder really helped when rolling wasn't working so well (thanks to the single-barred handle).
But those issues aside, I did manage to successfully make it three weeks on a single carry-on bag and personal item. Woo!
Accomodations - Hotel Joke
Since I would be in Paris for four days, I thought what better opportunity to take advantage of the Citi Prestige's free fourth night benefit. After doing some shopping around, I decided on a non-US brand hotel, as all the big-brand hotels were really quite expensive. However, this Astotel property was pretty affordable at EUR 169 a night. When combined with the free fourth night benefit, it came out to around $540 total. Not bad for four nights in Paris.
After landing in Paris after a rather lackluster Business-class flight on BA334 from LHR to ORY (they pretty much just blocked off the center seat in a usual 3-seat coach set-up and offered a slightly nicer cold meal), I grabbed the bus/metro line to Place de Clichy, which was just a five minute walk to the hotel.
Hotel Joke is located in the 9th district of Paris, just a couple minutes from the Moulin Rouge (I was really surprised at all the adult shops until I figured that out). It was about a 20 minute walk from Sacre Coeur and the whole Montmartre area was absolutely wonderful to walk around in.
The actual hotel was very tidy, and the staff was extremely helpful and spoke English (my French was rusty enough to be mostly embarrassing). The room was small-ish, but had a desk and queen-sized bed, so wasn't too bad at all.
The entire hotel was decorated in a very lively fashion. The headboard behind the bed was full of magnets you could use to spell messages to yourself (or the cleaning staff, I guess?). The hallways were a baffling check pattern that I can only imagine would be fantastic to try and navigate if you were drunk.
It was a very quirky hotel, but for the price, I thought it was fantastic.
Other Thoughts on Paris
This was not my first time in Paris, but it was the longest (my first trip was unfortunately cut short by weather delays). Paris is absolutely a beautiful city, but I think I can say going in October isn't ideal.
That said, if you have a chance (and don't mind a bit of a line), absolutely go see The Catacombs.
Having coffee and croissants and wine is all fine and dandy, but the catacombs were a very interesting (and unique, as far as I know) thing to do that showed a different take on the history of Paris.
Though you should also have coffee and croissants and wine...
My next trip was to take the Chunnel to London, where I would be staying at the Intercontinental - London Park Lane, which I'll cover in my next blog.