Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by violist, Feb 14, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Segment run plus vacation.

    This adventure started with a sort of whimper at the Duclaw
    branded outlet at BWI, where I occasionally stop off for a
    beer or two if there's not time to dine with friends.

    The menu featured a new item, tomato pork shank with dirty
    rice, so I decided to try it along with my Misfit Red, a
    mild but quite acceptable beer, suitable for quaffing with
    a meal or when you want to do a bit of mindless drinking.

    The shank had had the bottom part hacked off, which means
    about a quarter of the meat was missing, plus most of the
    tendon, whose presence would have been welcome, as I quite
    enjoy that textury sticky aspect of the cut. It had not
    been overbrined but was still decently tender; the tomato
    sauce didn't improve things but was easy to ignore. As I
    pointed out to the chirpy young bartendresses, the dirty
    rice was altogether too clean and bore an uncanny
    resemblance to undercooked Uncle Ben's.

    There was also a vegetable medley on the plate: zucchini
    and yellow squash, yum. As I hadn't eaten any of my sides
    they offered another side, fries perhaps? I said, just a
    bottle of hot sauce would improve things, so Tabasco came,
    and I managed to choke down some of the rice.

    When the bill came, they'd taken 20% off the price of the
    dish. I told the bartendresses that I would have come back
    again anyhow, but thanks. Some of that 20% went to more tip.

    [note: this dish has since been taken off the menu]

    The shuttle to the Hampton BWI came in a timely way, and
    I was greeted as befit my gemlike condition, and the room
    was quite fine, with a very sleepable bed. The only issue
    that I had - a tiny though considerable one - was that the
    clock was set 12 hours off, so that the alarm one might set
    would ring 12 hours off from when one thought it would, and
    say no more.

    I did get up in time to bolt down a plate of the usual
    workaday breakfast offering of soggy sausage patties and
    synthetic eggs before the airport beckoned again.


    US 867 BWI CLT 0845 1019 752 3F

    This plane had the Envoy seats, which are pretty okay, with
    sleepable recline if you figure out the old-style footrests
    - mine didn't work until I coerced it, which meant kicking
    and tugging at its various appendages: entertainment and
    exercise for the price of a plane ticket.

    I was looking forward to the cinnamon crunch, but instead of
    the (relatively) nice snack basket, there was just one
    offering, a mixture of dried banana and papaya and some nuts
    and raisins; I think it was called tropical crunch, so I
    got my crunch after all.

    US2778 CLT CHS 1114 1208 CR9 2F

    US has put a first class of sorts on the bigger regional
    jets; I'm not sure how they choose what routes to put these
    planes on, but I'm relatively happy to see them when I see
    them - the seats are reasonable facsimiles of the real
    thing, and one gets snacks and free beer.

    The FA seemed inattentive; the rather pretty blonde in 1F
    tried with all her Southern wiles to get him to unfreeze,
    no success. I noticed him later talking into the closet
    while he meant to talk to 1D and figured that he must have
    some hearing deficit; though nowhere near friendly, his
    behavior then became much more comprehensible.

    Not a big deal on a 30-min flight, which provided enough
    time for a Heineken and an envelope of savory snack mix,
    the second least desirable of the snacks available on an
    airline scraping for every penny. Better than pretzels,
    worse than that tropical crunch.

    I went off into lalaland and woke to the guy in 1D railing
    at the cutie in 1F, who had foolishly revealed to him that
    she was an elected official of some sort, and worse, a Dem.

    CHS: Despite the ambiguity of the airport maps, it turns out
    that the two piers at this airport are not connected beyond
    security. There's a food court of sorts between. I tried the
    Magnolia Grill for a Palmetto pale ale (standard, and I'd
    rather have had a Sam, also on tap, but I do try to sample
    local products and support the idea of microbreweries). The
    "low country stir fry" sounded interesting: blackened shrimp
    and smoked sausage over Charleston red rice with sauteed
    cabbage. The menu description gave me this impression of
    what the plate should look like, but I was totally wrong.
    What came was a scanty assortment of little dice of sausage,
    a half dozen sizable and fresh shrimp (firm and pretty
    tasty) though the blackened (really bronzed) coating was
    bizarrely salty. The cabbage, rather greasy but familiar in
    a Chinese-restaurant way, was spread in a layer over the
    rice, which was incredibly tasteless, the proteins strewn
    messily over that. Again, a bottle of Tabasco saved the day.

    Down the way some bizarre lowlife in a Panama hat tried to
    hit on the bartendress, but being brushed off humorlessly
    turned his attention to a blonde next to him, who seemed to
    be playing along as I downed the last of my beer. I am glad
    that I was going to leave before the denouement.

    There's no PreCheck here, despite what the TSA says. If you
    get the triple beep, you are exempt from taking your shoes
    and jacket off but must still do the liquids and electronics
    dance. People react to this with some confusion, but everyone
    ends up going through the motions in goodish humor.
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  2. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA3750 CHS ORD 1409 1528 CR7 7B

    I'd been #1 on the list for a while and through the day had
    checked it to find others clearing but me still #1 on the
    list, when I came to the realization that I would never clear
    without some proactiveness, so I called the useless 1K desk
    to hear that it couldn't do anything, as my Orbitz ticket
    "wasn't even a United ticket"; eventually I came to the
    realization that I would never clear period. Not that big of
    a deal, as I got the seat I prefer anyhow, but no free beer.

    My seatmate was a cutish librarian from Northwestern who
    chatted for a while and then got lost in her Vogue or Glamour
    and then chatted another while, sort of amusing. I am not
    always the most proactive or consistent conversationalist
    either, so I can't cast too many stones.

    UA3644 ORD YUL 1620 1926 CR7 2C

    Landed off at the end of C and went full speed to the end
    of B, where I discovered we'd made up enough time to get my
    e-mail at the club before this flight.

    We had only 2 in first, the other being an incredibly
    gorgeous young girl in 2A; at the last minute a couple, Don
    and Jen, took the double in row 1.

    As they talked with the FA, whose chirpiness made up for the
    taciturnity of the guy on the other flight, they revealed
    that they were from Kansas City, whereupon I engaged everyone
    in a discussion of barbecue, which expanded into a discussion
    of everything else, and it came out that they were also
    taking the ZRH flight next day and also going on to Seoul but
    a few days after us. Interesting coincidence.

    We landed a ton early, so I hung around looking suspicious
    outside C&I for what seemed like an eternity until lili
    appeared; her flight from Dallas had been delayed. But by
    way of consolation she'd brought some leftover brisket from
    Cousins BBQ in the DFW airport. I scarfed it all down next
    to the throw away your food or else you get detained bin.

    The airport Sheraton is pretty nice, the staff friendly,
    the physical plant attractive in a retro sort of way.
    Breakfast so-called in the executive lounge so-called is

    We got a quite nice room with tons of extra floor space and
    a small not quite comfy chair where a couch may once have
    resided. A large desk and a huge window with a great view
    of the bleak rainy airport industrial park.

    We woke to the world's worst hash browns sided by the
    world's worst scrambled eggs; luckily I got the last of the
    decent chocolate croissants and sided this with a sprinkling
    of berries blue, black, and straw.

    It was a crappy rainy day, so we saved the $18 and didn't
    bother to go downtown for the morning. Based on our breakfast
    experience, we decided not to risk lunch at Eclipse, the
    hotel restaurant, and chose to go early to the airport. The
    shuttle was right on time and took 5 minutes or less.
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  3. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Being a bit hungry and having several hours before the next
    airline-supplied meal, after clearing security (fairly fast
    and grumpy but of course no precheck) into the international
    area we compared menus posted outside the restaurants; there
    were a couple places that offered burgers, but the ones with
    menu photos were automatically disqualified because of the
    visual unappetizingness of what they were supposed to be
    bragging about. We ended up at Cabine M, which offers three
    kinds of burger: lili inquired and started getting sulky
    when the available burgers turned out to be chicken, veal,
    or beef and cheese premixed, none available rare, and of
    course no substitutions - the things must have been premade.
    She chose not to eat anything at all but her attitude was
    adjusted somewhat by a decent but not overwhelming pour of
    a decent but not overwhelming Norton Malbec. I ordered pork
    belly over lentil and arugula salad, as preprepared pork
    belly is a perfectly fine thing: it had been somewhat brined
    and somewhat smoked and was in fact fine. lili thought it
    good, so I suggested she get an order of it for herself; she
    declined. The lentils were underdone and hardly seasoned at
    all. Aside from one slimy piece the salad was okay in its
    light vinaigrette.

    The Salon Feuille d'Erable (elsewhere in the world, Maple
    Leaf Lounge) was not yet open, so we strolled around for a
    while. The area is undergoing renovation, so it wasn't
    particularly inviting, and the footing in places was

    We regained the club shortly after opening, and it was
    buzzing. Lunchtime offerings included vegetable spring
    rolls, broccoli quiche bites, cream of broccoli, and
    minestrone, all borderline edible, and the famed Maple Leaf
    Lounge hummus, for which I have a substantial soft spot, as
    it is not as acidy or salty as most. I passed on the free
    flowing Glenlivet (lili did not) and instead had a bunch of
    Courvoisier VS.

    LX 87 YUL ZRH 1655 0620 333 5DG

    Round about boarding time we went to the gate area only to
    find a Gallic crush around the doors, but the agents were
    up to the task and turned people away regularly but without
    any fuss. Pros.

    Familiar faces: Don and Jen turned out to be in 5AB; we made
    our greetings but then settled into our quite uncomfortable
    seats, I guess designed for people with more posterior
    padding than we have, and socialized no more.

    These seats turned out to be okay to sleep in, especially
    for side sleepers, which I am when the situation requires.

    Touch screens and ample music and movie choices

    The Cognac is Remy VSOP, one notch above Courvoisier, but I
    am used to the latter.

    Passed on the breakfast cart.

    The arrivals lounge was hopping, several planes having come
    in around the same time. We got there in time to claim
    shower rooms, but by the time we were done, there was a line
    for these.

    I made a bacon butty with a croissant and found my taste
    buds had gone awry - I could taste the margarine and the
    bacon fat, but the salt of the bacon did not register.

    As it was nice and partly sunny and 37F we went downtown,
    about $15 each for a day pass; we took the S-Bahn train
    into town; hit the museum at 0930, but museums don't open
    that early, so we wandered around the nice but unspecial
    neighborhood until 10, whereupon we discovered that this day
    was Monday, not the Sunday that we reckoned it being, and
    pretty much all the museums and attractions were closed!
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  4. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    So we decided to continue wandering about on the trams,
    taking full advantage of our unlimited ticket (we went the
    end-to-end of most of the lines during the day). It appears
    at least from what one can see from the comfort of the
    trains to be a liveable but low-key city. At length lunch
    called; as luck would have it, the Zeughauskeller is right
    off one of the tram lines, and we ducked in and had a
    pleasant beerhall repast, which cost half again as much
    as it would have in Munich.

    I just had to have my pork shank fix, despite its costing
    a shank of my own. Though a bit too salty, it was quite
    palatable. A mountain of uninteresting potato salad
    accompanied. lili, not being a big eater, just had a bowl
    of pumpkin soup, borrowing a few bites of my Haxe for more
    sustenance: she pronounced herself satisfied.

    A fairly acceptable Sprint lager from Turbinen Brauerei
    (which proudly proclaims its lengthy heritage "seit 1997");
    lili had a quartino of very dubious Swiss red.

    As I was slowly finishing my mammoth meal, a dozen gaudily
    attired musicians and dancers trooped in and started playing
    and dancing the samba, which the burghers took in stride. I
    inquired what this was all about and was told that it was
    some peculiar Carnaval type thing, and we were lucky as this
    happened only once a year. We endured this for a while but
    left before they were finished, deciding in fact that the
    locals are lucky as this happens only once a year.

    Our tickets were good for all day, so we decided to take the
    trams around town to get a better feeling for the place. We
    rode quite a number of them, rather aimlessly, but on
    scanning the map a word caught our fancy: Seerose, which was
    coincidentally at the end of our ticket validity, so we went
    there. The place did not live up to its picturesque name.
    lili got a few nice snapshots of the north part of the
    lake, though.

    Our original plan was to take the new tram service #10 to the
    airport (scheduled at a 40 min ride) just to see more of the
    countryside, but soon it became clear that we were being
    rerouted to parts unknown. Later it turned out that a tram
    had collided with a car somewhere down the line toward the
    airport. As there was nothing to be gained by persisting in
    our course, we backtracked to the main train station and
    hopped the next Interregional, which got us to our
    destination in ten minutes flat.

    We still had several hours to waste so found our way to
    the Senator lounge. lili preceded me, and upon showing her
    (also Star Gold) credentials was shown to the business class
    lounge, sort of strange; so I flashed my white card and got
    the "oh, you are together," and we were offered to ascend
    the stairs to the lofty Senator lounge, which I believe is
    no better than the other, just more crowded.

    Things tasted.

    Rivella - this is a soft drink made of cheese by-products,
    a hallmark of Swiss efficiency I think. I braved the 35%
    whey content

    Grant's Scotch - why bother with this product? Primary
    impression was grain spirit with a slight cigar butt
    infusion. Also a bit of sweetness. Totally useless, and I
    was glad there were many other things to taste.

    Boulard Grand Solage Calvados was very appley, a lot of oak,
    prunes on the finish. I enjoyed it pretty well, the oak
    masking a bit of burn on the finish.

    Bisquit VS - a respectable brandy, nice ripe fruitiness but
    a little harsh.

    Brugal Anejo is a pretty okay product but also a tad harsh.
    Nice creme brulee nose, palate burn, rubber tires finish.
    I suspect it to be a bit young considering its Anejo claim.

    Rocca Nero d'Avola 12 - a very eh wine. Lots of overripe
    fruit in the southern style. Strange banana or plasticky
    finish, or maybe someone in the vicinity was peeling a
    banana when I tasted this. In any case, unfortunate.

    There was bitter lemon, so I hydrated with Campari and
    Schweppes, a somewhat bitter but enlightening experience.

    Beers: Feldschlossen and Cardinal, which are about the same,
    low-hopped lightish pilsners. If it had been summertime I
    might have been thankful

    Taking pride of place was a big bowl, maybe a couple of
    gallons, of chocolate mousse. I noted this for future
    reference. When I returned half an hour later, peckish for
    mousse, it had been cleared away (no longer dessert time, I
    suppose). In its place was an odd assortment of starchy
    savories, all of which I tasted in the interest of science.

    Sweet corn salad - a bit of onion, a bit of pepper, a bit
    of vinegar. An odd mayonnaisey aftertaste, but not bad.

    Risotto alla Milanese - tepid, metallic, gummy, not very

    Asian-style noodles - sweet and sour and gummy though
    sesame oiled. Also not very appealing.

    Scattered about the room were promotional sample size
    servings of various native products from the likes of
    Tobler and Ricola.
  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Next thing we knew, it was boarding time, actually past
    boarding time. We had to hustle down to the E gates, the
    only ones you can't walk to. Luckily, the shuttle trains
    run with Swiss precision, and after running down from the
    train stop to our quite distant gate, we ended up in our
    seats with 10 min to spare, enough for a glass of Duval-
    Leroy, which wasn't bad at all.

    LX 178 ZRH SIN 2245 1800 343 5DG

    This aircraft was equipped with nose and belly cams.

    Breakfast from a cart - ham, turkey, cheese, yogurt,
    fruit salad, birchermuesli. Also a hot offering of the
    English sort or some Asian thing; I just said no, as
    breakfast is not really my thing.

    We got in reasonably on time after a substantial rest and
    trooped down to our other flight.

    MH 610 SIN KUL 2120 2220 738 5BC

    Modest snacks, peanuts and the like, followed by a tuna
    salad sandwich. Given that this was coach on a 1-hr flight,
    this was impressive.

    Thanks to lili's status with OneWorld, we had lounge
    access, so we took advantage of that with half an hour in
    the Cathay Pacific lounge, where an assortment of dim sum
    and soft drinks was available. Nothing of note except that
    the place was next to empty, and I think we closed it up.

    MH 66 KUL ICN 2335 0650 333 19AB

    A fairly new, clean aircraft. Personal space in coach was
    not, shall we say, generous, but as neither of us is huge,
    it was not uncomfortable. Overhead space was sufficient
    for our carryons, the American custom of taking aboard
    everything but the kitchen sink not having been adopted yet
    over here. Tiger beer was available.

    The breakfast choice was Asian or the full English. lili
    got the latter, I the former, which was nasi lemak - decent
    shrimp and coconut rice accompanied with vegetables in some
    curry substance and a welcome little packet of peanuts and
    dried anchovies. Also Tropicana brand chili sauce, which
    tasted partway between Tropicana and chili sauce. Also
    included (I think everyone got this) were yogurt, some
    chopped fruit, and a roll with butter and jam. Enough food.

    Immigration was painless.

    The AREX train, leaving right from the airport, is very
    convenient. You get a choice of the commuter train for $4
    or the express, which shaves maybe 20 minutes off, for
    3.5x as much. We chose the slow train, which was fine; got
    to our stop in an hour with one transfer to the 5 subway at
    Gongdeok. Unfortunately Jongno station has many exits, and
    the one nearest our train exit was way far away from where
    our instructions originated from. So we got lost, and at
    some point a little old guy took us in hand; unfortunately,
    he didn't know how to read maps and initially took us in a
    completely wrong direction. This was remedied by a trip to
    the local police station, where they didn't seem to be able
    to read maps either. After some earnest conferral between
    the old guy and a whole slew of cops, the guy actually took
    the trouble to walk us to where he thought our hotel was.
    I offered to buy him a drink, but he refused and walked away
    as soon as we turned into the street where the hotel was.
  6. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The GS Hotel Jongno, in an obscure alley, is modern enough
    and in a safe enough neighborhood. For not very much money
    we got a smallish room, quite adequate; whatever had been
    budget on luxuries went to a fancy Toto-style toilet made
    by, of all companies, American Standard.

    Wandering around town using our subway credits, we ended up
    in fashionable, rather unpleasant Gangnam, which we found a
    little hilly for our elderly legs as well as bustly in an
    artificial way. Instead of the buzz that comes from an
    actual alive population, there was lots of piped-in noise.
    I suppose the place might actually come to life at night,
    but I'm no longer a night person.

    We walked a couple stations over to where we thought the
    Brooklyn Burger Place was; we couldn't find it and decided
    to bail, walking toward the river and then finding a subway
    whence we continued our random walk.

    The Bukchan hanok village sounded interesting, sort of like
    Colonial Williamsburg would be if it were populated by real
    people not in fake period costumes. I don't know how old the
    settlement is, but it has some of the ring of authenticity
    about it, plus the normal unsightlinesses of a modern lived-
    in community. There were a few interesting-looking eateries
    setting up for the evening, one having a pleasant shellfish
    aroma, one emanating an almost irresistible porky fragrance,
    but we were deemed not to be hungry enough.

    We hiked to the Jungang (Choon Ang) prep school on top of
    the hill, which architecturally resembles both my own high
    school and both of my universities, all of whom priding
    themselves on adherence to English tradition, one partially
    justifiedly, the other two total nouveaute. The playing
    fields of this would-be Eton are said to overlook an obscure
    part of one of the palaces, but by the time we got there it
    was too dark to see anything.

    At the bottom of the hill we found a hotpot restaurant that
    smelled good and had pictures out front that suggested that
    there might be something that lili could make a meal of.

    Not a word of English spoken by any of the staff, but by
    dint of gesture and smiling shrug we ended up with two very
    acceptable dishes.

    Bulgogi meat in a clay pot (apparently Pyongyang style) was
    stewed in soy and rice wine with scallions. lili thought it
    tasted boiled, which it sort of was. I thought it was fine
    with rice. A platter of smoked duck, slightly flavored with
    some mentholly wood, probably not the Chinese-style camphor,
    though, redeemed the meal for her; it was in fact delicious.

    Cass beer, fairly nasty until you get used to it, was $4 for
    500 mL, and by the time we had our meal served there were
    numerous salarymen taking advantage of this bargain.

    To find this place you leave the subway at exit 3, turn left
    at the next street (the one that leads to the school); go
    half a dozen doors, up on the left to a place with posted
    menus that include "smoked duck 8000." On the way you might
    be tempted by another little hole in the wall restaurant
    that specializes in blood products - blood sausage, blood
    cake, blood-thickened stews. I was, but my companion wasn't.
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  7. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The USO used to run a Panmunjom tour that took you more
    behind the scenes than the commercial ones do; the Internet
    showed one that still operates under its auspices but had
    been outsourced to Koridoor, a private company (which,
    judging from the demand for it on this gloomy day, must be
    sitting pretty pretty). It still leaves from the USO at
    Camp Kim, so there's a cursory security on the way in.

    It's a quick subway ride from the hotel, followed by a
    kilometer walk along some busy streets.

    You get on a bus and ride an hour and change to the border,
    crossing the Unification Bridge and the DMZ, debarking at
    Camp Bonifas (named after one of the soldiers inexplicably
    hacked to death by the North Koreans some forty years ago).
    Here we were briefed by an articulate but very detached
    public relations specialist and then sent northward on a
    somewhat ramshackle but certified explosive-free military
    bus. We trooped (dual file) through Freedom House, a
    facility designed to accommodate brief reunions and other
    such meetings between northerners and southerners, and down
    to the Conference Room, where we had the opportunity to
    momentarily step across the line into North Korea.

    It was all very weird and artificial-feeling, and even the
    taunts that one could occasionally hear from across the
    border seemed scripted, Disneyesque, almost animatronic.

    Because of construction of a new and improved surveillance
    tower, various aspects of the advertised itinerary were
    unavailable, so we rode back to camp, boarded our original
    vehicle, and were driven to the extremely weird Dorasan
    Station, built to accommodate passengers on a north-south
    railway line that has been built but apparently is never
    used. For a few thousand won one could buy a platform ticket
    (there are ticket takers for the purpose) and experience
    wandering through a deserted train station - thank you, no,
    I've had this pleasure on many occasions.

    Lunch at the station restaurant, where we had a buffet of
    north Korean goodies set up for us; one could I suppose
    go over and order a la carte from the cafeteria side with
    the Gastarbeiter and policemen, but that was discouraged.

    Beer, bought at the ticket taker's outside, was $4.

    On the table: that same kind of wet bulgogi we'd had before,
    only it tasted not surprisingly sort of steam tablish; fish
    balls and Vienna sausages; kimchi; cold broccoli that was
    almost raw; rice. It was not bad, sort of what you'd expect,
    and probably a feast for a northerner.

    There was fried bread for dessert, which after a taste I
    rejected in favor of the tangerines also available.

    Back on the bus, where we visited the Dora Observatory and
    had a chance to catch a glimpse into the wilds of the north,
    including the famous Propaganda Village. Here we joined
    loads of domestic tourists who were squealing excitedly at
    the sight of that forbidden territory.

    Then to the Third Tunnel, one of several that had been
    excavated by northern sappers for the purpose of launching
    a sneak attack on Seoul. It was supposed to accommodate a
    convoy of armored vehicles and an accompanying horde of foot
    soldiers. Two things come to mind. The vigilance of the
    Koreans seems justified when seen in this light; also the
    North Korean military must be made up of really small guys.
    At this site there is a museum of Korean War artifacts, some
    of which are pretty strange.

    We returned to camp mid-afternoon and then headed to the
    Lantern Festival at Cheonggyecheon, where nothing was to be
    seen in the daytime. We resolved to return in the evening
    and were glad of it.

    To call some of these things lanterns is to do them a severe
    injustice - they tended toward extremely elaborate sculpture
    sometimes of a monumental scale, from the abstract to the
    representational of historic or mythological events with
    everything in between. All the colors imaginable, and some
    hugely creative pieces of art. A carnival atmosphere -
    sightseers and dating couples strolling along the stream,
    hawkers selling all manner of edibles and souvenirs on the
    quay above. Police everywhere, probably looking for telltale
    signs of North Korean sappers. We spent a couple hours
    marveling at the creativity - the festival venue was maybe a
    kilometer long, and you had to walk up down one side and up
    the other so as not to miss anything -, and we were more
    than ready when time came to go home and roll into bed.
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  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Breakfast in a makeshift space next to the front desk. I had
    kimchi ramen from a cup, nice and spicy, and a Lotte Atlas
    bar, a kind of ersatz Snickers. Fruit and fruit juice, the
    former not quite ripe, the latter not quite real.

    The big palaces are within a mile or two of our hotel, so we
    decided to make a regal day of it. We walked to the nearest,
    Changdeokgung, but found a long line at the ticket window so
    went instead to the nearby Changgyeonggung, which was next
    to deserted. It's also, as it turns out, nowhere near so
    interesting but has a rather nice garden (that abuts the
    Changdeokgung "secret" garden).

    Back to the Changdeokgung compound, of which many buildings
    have been extensively restored; this was the favorite of
    many of the Joseon rulers, at which many state functions
    were performed and thus quite historically interesting.

    We paid extra for a tour of the Rear ("Secret") Garden -
    well worth it, with a fair amount of walking involved,
    including some steep inclines. The emperors must have been
    in pretty decent shape!

    Unhyeongung Palace is a few hundred meters away, by the
    Anguk subway stop; it's also not quite where the guidebooks
    have it (it's a few doors south and rather understated so
    hard to find). It's not officially a palace, because the
    emperor who lived there wasn't an emperor at the time, and
    the prince regent who lived there (his father) was never
    an emperor. It's thus somewhat less grand and - being less
    grand - has been turned into a museum of sorts, with some
    of the rooms furnished in what would have been likely to
    be found when the place housed its noble residents. There
    was a modest admission fee (less than the palace palaces),
    but I understand that has since been abolished, making it
    a no-brainer to visit.

    After which we went down Dokgokgil in the general direction
    of our hotel. The map in the DK guide shows it going
    straight into Samil-lo; instead it dead-ends into an alley
    suitable maybe for motorbike traffic in a pinch but
    certainly not a real road and not for cars. This leads
    through a district of little restaurants that offer their
    specialties in the front (tanks of eels and such). We
    picked one with pork shanks in the window and ordered large
    ($30, the medium $5 less), with beers the same price as
    usual. Our server spoke English and was very helpful, but
    he overestimated our foreigners' stomach capacity. The
    large pork shank was way too much food, especially given
    the accompaniments. Banchan were generous in quantity but
    small in selection - regular kimchi, lettuce kimchi, and
    sweet-sour head cabbage, all tasty.

    The sauces for the pork included a standard chili bean
    paste and a pungent bagoong-like baby shrimp mess, quite
    delicious actually.

    Accompaniments: miso soup with collards and of course rice.

    lili ate her usual nibbles and actually was a bit of a
    heroine, trying the sweet-sour cabbage and the soup.

    After this filling and rather pleasant meal we continued
    in the same direction, heading toward the hotel, reaching
    it the back way after threading through a fashionable
    restaurant area (some good smells) and an essentially
    deserted district of small shops.
    iolaire likes this.
  9. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Today, more palaces.

    Gyeongbokgung was the finest of the imperial palaces until
    it was razed during the Japanese occupation; at least the
    main part has been mostly restored to its grandeur; worth a
    visit, though the fakeness is evident in spots. We spent an
    hour here, then ducked into the Palace Museum, which is
    small but informative, for a while before the Changing of
    the Guard, which is a really, really silly event but kind
    of fun. Back when the Guard really was a Guard, I doubt that
    it would be changed with this much pomp and goofiness.

    Nearby Gyeonghuigung is much less restored and sort of a
    bust. This is probably owing to a focus of limited resources
    on its big sibling; anyway, we found not much here to see.
    After visiting we walked around its rather tony neighborhood
    vicinity and then down the hill to Deoksugung, rather more
    interesting, as there are more restored buildings; it seems
    to attract more locals as well. On the way out we blundered
    into yet another Changing of the Guard, which we watched for
    a while before heading out toward City Hall, where there was
    some kind of very loud political rally. We decided to skirt
    the area after noting dozens of busloads of police in riot
    gear hanging around in an anticipatory way. We walked north
    until there were no more crowds and then eastward.

    I had read about the interestingly named Patty Patty, which
    is in the basement of a sleek new office tower, and we were
    a little apprehensive that it might be closed, but as it
    turned out, there are plenty of locals who congregate here.
    Perhaps they too were seeking refuge from the events we'd
    just avoided.

    The waitstaff don't have much English, despite the signage
    and menus being largely English, so the manager, eager to
    practice his language skills, took us in hand.

    lili got the ASAP ("as simple as possible"), which actually
    has cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sauce, so it's not really
    as simple as possible; this came with seasoned steak fries
    which were intriguing but not particularly appetizing,
    the seasoning being star anise and curry spices. They were
    hot and crisp, though.

    I subsisted on Max beer, which cost a bit more than the Cass
    at the other places but was also slightly better.

    No ticket came, and I went to the cashier who charged me a
    bunch of money, which I handed over happily enough. When we
    were partway back up to the street, it dawned on me that
    we had been given the senior discount without my asking,
    which was gratifying and distressing at the same time.

    We continued eastward to Dongdaemun, the east gate of the
    old city, National Treasure #1, an imposing structure
    though in serious disrepair; wandered just a little bit
    around the edges of the famous market (noted but did not buy
    roasted silkworms), and then, as it was getting dark and
    murky, walked home. There was a stall near the hotel selling
    huge squid on a stick, but I didn't get one of those either.
    We figured we'd repair to the hotel and get some rest and
    then go out on the town, but it started to rain and thunder,
    so that plan was nixed, which was fine. There is a little
    shop almost directly across the alley from the hotel that
    sells soft drinks, snacks, and beer.
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  10. Steven36

    Steven36 Member

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    Thank you for sharing your experience with us!
  11. Flying Machine

    Flying Machine Silver Member

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    Great Trip Report. ICN is on my short Lists to try. I hear the Main Fish Market where you can tour, purchase and have your food cooked on the second floor seems quite a nice experience. Seth Miller wrote this up recently. Thanks and Safe Travels
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  12. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Thanks. I was with a nonfisheater and consumed mostly beef on this trip
    (some meals not described here owing to mundaneness).

    Severe rain early, really depressing, but after hunkering
    down under the covers until far too late, we saw some sun
    peeking out, so out we went for plan A, the N Seoul Tower,
    said to offer a spectacular panorama over the city. It was
    darn cold, probably under 40 (5C), with a howling wind, but
    that's what we'd brought hats and gloves for, right?

    The subway lets you off a few blocks from the access points
    to the place, and then you blunder around until you find
    either the cable car or the bus stop, whichever comes first.
    On the way we took note for future reference of an Outback
    Steak House, in case lili should find herself on the brink
    of starvation.

    N Seoul Tower is one of the most reasonably priced such
    attractions even if you take the cable car, with a more
    varied and interesting view than most, as it sits atop a
    high unobstructed hill (there are signs that point out
    the various landmarks, very helpful). The elevator is very
    fast and makes a satisfying whooshing noise, and after it
    disgorges you you can stay inside (restaurants, knickknack
    shops, the usual) or go out and brave the elements. A little
    of both is probably in order. After freezing ourselves for
    a sufficient time and finding the food options costly and
    otherwise wanting, we went back to the base, where next to
    the obligatory locks of love thing is the cheekily named
    Best Burger in Seoul.

    It was an okay burger, sort of overkneaded and meatloafy,
    dressed in the Big Mac style. You can also get things such
    as churros (smelled appropriate) and what was advertised as
    Max beer but came as OB Blue.

    There's a funicular from between the cable car station and
    around the Namsan 3 Tunnel, so we took that. A kind of cool
    diversion for 2 minutes, cheap at twice the price, which I
    recall being 0.

    There are passages between subway stations lined with little
    stalls and shops. You can go quite a distance underground,
    a good thing, given the fierceness of the weather. When we
    surfaced it had cleared up nicely but had gotten darn colder,
    so going out on the town was contraindicated, and we decided
    to go directly to ICN (the train was easier on the way back)
    and take the shuttle to the Airport Hotel Incheon Prince. We
    called for it and went to wait in the bitter chill. When it
    came, it turned out to be this tiny van with another hotel's
    name on it, and so we sort of wondered what we were in for.

    Though the Agoda letter said that they would accept an
    electronic copy of the confirmation, the guy behind the desk
    was nonplussed by our not having a printed voucher to give
    him. Korean is not among my languages, and English didn't
    seem to be one of his, so by various pantomimes and strange
    grimaces we seemed to agree that I would forward him the
    Agoda e-mail so he could print it out, which was agreeable
    to all. We also negotiated the purchase of beer, though the
    cafe/breakfast room was dark and the fridge locked.

    We'd been assigned near the elevator, but though I was a
    little apprehensive about a noise issue, it didn't seem
    worthwhile to go back downstairs and fuss in pantomime.
    It turned out not to matter, as the design of our moderately
    attractive digs included a little separate mud room, so
    there were two doors between us and outside. The bathroom
    was no-frills and no-heat but modern. The only trouble was
    (as noted in the Internet reviews) that the temperature
    controls were ineffective, so huddling under as many covers
    as were available (branded variously Hotel Savoy and Hotel
    Cherbourg) was in order. Turns out our place used to be
    called the Savoy, and the Cherbourg is down the street a

    In the morning, starchy and sweet things for breakfast with
    hordes of Japanese tourists spilling beyond the space meant
    for the purpose. I just had some fairly dreadful OJ, and
    then it was off to the airport shuttle. I wondered how all
    of us would fit into that wretched van. Turns out that out
    front waiting for us was a full-size tour bus, which with
    the addition of a couple Chinese and a few Indians we
    filled to the gills. Owing to traffic patterns, it was
    twice as far to the airport as it had been to the hotel.

    lili's emerald number didn't print out on her boarding pass
    this time, but she had her card with her. I was turned away
    at the Korean Airlines lounge, which Malaysia uses, though
    she would have been admitted alone. We were directed to the
    Cathay Pacific facility, where the concierge told us that
    the KAL one had rather kindly called to say to expect us.

    This lounge offered instant ramen (I chose a spicy version,
    which came with a packet of greasy red hot-garlicky stuff
    in addition to the usual instant broth envelope), a peculiar
    breakfast offering of roasted eggplant, onions, and kabocha,
    and some of the standard dim sum that had been sitting on
    the steamer for far too long. I knocked down a few glasses
    of Hwayo soju in anticipation of a long flight.
    iolaire and tom911 like this.
  13. tom911
    Original Member

    tom911 Gold Member

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    You have to admit the whole event is pretty colorful, though. I'm thinking of a trip back next month. You're doing much better with meals than I did - too much of a language challenge for me.

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  14. iolaire
    Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

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    Good write up.

    What time of year?

    Sounds like you stumbled around a bit, did you have any sort of phone map?
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  15. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Food: fools rush in, you know. Actually, a lot of people speak enough English
    for interaction to be less than daunting, and remember there's always the
    point and yammer technique. You can say "one of these and one of those"
    and pretty much everyone will understand you.

    Maps: Stumbling around is pretty much my norm, but lili had a phone, and
    I did have a couple maps, though these were contradictory (wrong street
    names, etc.) and often didn't show the landmarks I was interested in.
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  16. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    MH 67 ICN KUL 1100 1650 333 12AB

    Quite attentive crew and an abundant meal. The banchan were
    cabbage kimchi, a slice of rather sour but not spoiled
    smoked turkey, and a blob of potato salad with a weird
    flavor I couldn't place.

    Followed by a reasonable bulgogi with sesame rice and a
    glass noodle stew with zucchini.

    Dessert was strawberry Whip'n'Chill, or at least the 21st
    century Asian equivalent thereof. It was rather tart and
    somewhat not too nasty.

    A Pays d'Oc red from Dominique Duclos wasn't bad. The beer
    on offer was OB Golden, think Budweiser, maybe a little
    less sweet.

    The flight was on schedule, so we had a bunch of time to
    enjoy the Golden Lounge, which, newly reopened after
    remodeling, was neat and fairly spiffy. The food offerings
    were sparse for an Asian lounge but tasty enough, and a
    Carlsberg was welcome (but hard to come by). We whiled away
    quite a bit of time there, almost forgetting that our next
    flight was in a different terminal altogether, a train ride
    away. Almost too late, we hustled to our next gate only to
    find that the place was knotted with irritated passengers -
    apparently the equipment wasn't there yet, so we stood around
    for a while; eventually they opened up the security screening
    (a lot of really clueless passengers) and access to the plane.

    MH 607 KUL SIN 1925 2025 738 5BC

    Our hour flight offered this snack: peanuts, oddly hard-
    crunchy and almost like blister peanuts, followed by a
    surprisingly palatable chicken wrap; the meal ended with a
    Kagi, a Swiss-made chocolate-covered sugar wafer cookie that
    was just enough to satisfy an urge for chocolate and sugar.
    We landed 10 minutes or so late.

    Hotel rates in Singapore were sky-high, so I spent a bunch
    of points to use the Conrad as a sort of transit hotel; this
    turned out to be a very good choice. We hailed a taxi whose
    singularly taciturn driver got us to the hotel in record
    time for a fee of under $20, also a record.

    We were ceremoniously escorted to the executive lounge for
    check-in and relaxed with a Camus VSOP. The red wines were
    pretty mediocre; I refused lili's kind offer of a taste.

    The room was pleasant, overlooking the fountain as usual.

    We chose to have breakfast at Oscar's. It didn't look too
    busy, but we were asked whether we would accept a table
    outside, as there would be a wait for inside. Outside
    there was a deuce that I liked before, but it was reserved,
    and we were offered a couch next to that, which seemed fine.
    So we ended up sitting next to Judi Dench and her boy toy
    (not my description, nor did I recognize them).

    It was a nice morning, so we decided to visit the gardens
    at Marina Bay, which were kind of cool, even though as we
    walked the weather heated up considerably. So we eagerly
    wne back to the hotel for a shower before packing up.

    Snacks and cheap red wine were available at the executive
    lounge even after our 3 pm checkout (they would have given
    us until 6 for no additional charge). We thought of taking
    advantage of the Golden Peony's Peking duck special for $38
    ($20 for a half), but that would have involved a rigmarole
    with the billing, so we stuck with the mediocre dim sum and
    finger sandwiches before returning to the airport, where
    checkin was almost instantaneous and access to the Silver
    Kris Lounge automatic. The food here was disappointingly
    no better than that at the Conrad lounge.
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  17. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    LX 179 SIN ZRH 2335 0610 343 5AB

    This was a breakfast offering cart service of the same kind
    as on the way out: I had some kind of chow foon that was
    notable for its stickiness and its saltiness. The service
    was correct.

    As we had a bunch of time to waste, we decided to check out
    the Panorama lounge, which turned out to be crowded with
    grumpy concierges and slow wi-fi, for which only limited
    access was granted. The food offerings were kind of strange
    - turkey sandwich, tomato and mozzarella sandwich, chervil
    soup, vegetable biryani, fettuccine with spicy weird tomato
    sauce and chicken bits. I tasted the hot offerings, which
    were okay I suppose. The same boozes as at the Swiss lounge.
    Also those Kagi wafers, in a mini version.

    LX 86 ZRH YUL 1250 1515 333 5AB

    Quollfrisch was a decent pilsner. Of the food, if any, I
    remember naught, except that Movenpick chocolate chip ice
    cream was served, a somewhat decent though lowish in
    butterfat product.

    The 747 bus from the airport to downtown is a great thing.
    You can pay for your ticket beforehand at these machines
    that accept credit cards or cash.

    It was really cold out, but luckily there was a stack of
    buses just waiting for passengers. If you parked yourself
    not so close to the door, you could warm yourself easily.

    We got off at the last stop, whence it was a short but
    chilly walk to Berri-UQAM station (a main transfer point).
    Then the orange line to Frontenac and a short snowy walk to
    the Gite Ocoin, which is in a pleasant residential quartier.

    Jean-Rene, the host, was jolly and accommodating and had
    given us a rather nice room with a private facility across
    the hall. He also offers tourist advice, tea, sympathy, and
    breakfast, which consists of the usual cereal offerings
    plus yogurt, eggs of some kind, juices, fruit, and breakfast
    breads. Maps and tourist guidebooks in French and English
    are available in quantity. Or you can sort of hang out as
    long as you like - the public areas are clean and modern
    though a bit on the no-frills side. Full kitchen facilities,
    in case you want to economize and self-cater.


    One of my old haunts is The Main, across the street from the
    much more famous Schwartz's. It appears a bit more hangdog
    even than it was back when (it always played second fiddle
    to the more famous places); this time it looked sadder and
    dirtier than before. The booths, not too inviting even in
    the olden days, looked even more careworn, but the waitress
    was cheerful and welcoming.

    We split a large platter of steak et viande fumee; this
    comes with fries (overcooked but okay), cole slaw (okay),
    and a pickle (mushy but okay) - what became of the bowl that
    used to beckon on every table? The worst part is that they
    changed the recipe for smoked meat - it now has a funny
    texture, as if artificially tenderized, and a quite
    different spicing, heavy on the cloves. I don't like it.
    The steak, too, was a gristly tough thing (fine as far as
    I'm concerned) without much flavor (not fine).

    Luckily there's Boreale in two flavors, of which I had one
    of each - a blonde, okay but mild, and a rousse, okay but
    with that grainy taste that red beers often had. Red wine,
    in a little carafe, was horrid.

    The booth next to ours housed a film crew doing a feature
    on some jazz concert; we got to talking about nothing in
    particular, deciding that life in the arts was a bear, and
    the food here was not as good as it used to be.

    It was not the most satisfying of meals, so we consoled
    ourselves at the Chocolate Bar (Juliette et Chocolat),
    where a so-called intense brownie was about as intense
    as anything I've ever had. We also had hot chocolat a
    l'ancienne, two ways, and all was right with the world once
    again. Thus fortified, we walked down the hill to the subway
    and so off back to our digs.

    Jean-Rene offers extremely comfy beds and adequate heat.
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  18. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Morning dawned clear but cold, so we took an assortment of
    buses to Mont-Royal, where we enjoyed the panorama but where
    the wind nearly took our ears off. There's a lodge at the
    top, so you can duck in and thaw out by the fire; this was a
    good thing. After which we hiked partway down and then
    hopped a bus down the mountain. Got off at St. Laurent and
    walked down to Schwartz's, where the fatty smoked brisket
    was as good as it ever was, which means not so good as the
    Main's used to be but quite a bit better than the Main's is
    now. Oh, I forgot to mention that the Main is so called
    because Boul. St. Laurent is considered the "main" street of
    old Montreal.

    After a pretty satisfying meal we wandered around town a bit
    and ended up at the SAQ fancy wine store; after looking
    longingly at the $200 Burgundies and such, we crossed over
    to the regular SAQ store and got our usual, a couple bottles
    of Clancy's at under $20 per, to enjoy back home.


    Another place I'm fond of is Au Petit Extra, your standard
    bistro, only the prices are lower than what one has come to
    expect in this inflated day and age. I feel welcome and
    comfy here, a definite plus. It's just a mile from the B&B,
    another definite plus.

    One starts with cabbage soup, potee quelquechose - most
    welcome given the weather; it's seasoned with some kind of
    smoky meat product and is hearty enough in itself to serve
    as a meal (I don't know if that's an option).

    Bread is crusty and goes well.

    lili ordered the hanger steak rare with frites, one of
    those everyday wonders that you come to take for granted,
    but when you're confronted with it in the flesh as it were
    you thank your lucky stars.

    I had duck confit with gizzards and Sarlat potatoes, another
    extraordinary ordinary dish, this one of rustic Correzian
    origin. This came with a mesclun salad in a very acidy
    vinaigrette, which softened the Beaujolais d'Ys Leynes
    Plantes Gallets 09, a decent but nothing wine that offered
    notes of licorice, herbs, and plums.

    The Fine Arts Museum is decent but peculiarly skimpy for
    a city of these cultural aspirations. I don't understand.
    We spent a worthwhile hour in the European collections,
    which had some important pre- and post-Impressionist works
    but nothing of note from my favorite period (okay, one
    room with an uninteresting Monet or two and a Renoir that
    must have taken a half hour to create). I might have been
    extra grumpy this day, but to me the most notable thing
    about the place was that it was next door to the Ritz-
    Carlton. As I'd been disappointed, we headed out well
    before closing, so there was time to get more use out of
    our subway passes.

    Marche Jean-Talon is the local answer to Les Halles.
    Unfortunately, when we got there there wasn't much left
    that seemed appetizing. I had a line on a restaurant, but
    it was closed, so after wandering around a bit searching in
    vain for anything interesting, we hopped back on the Metro
    and retreated with our tails between our legs to a local
    deli that Jean-Rene had recommended, Patisserie Wawel, where
    we picked up a thing of Wawel chocolate 90% (rather grainy,
    overroasted, coffee flavors, not bad at that) and a couple
    pounds of charcuterie: baleron, a smoked shoulder product,
    very delicious, hamlike but not too salty, with ample edge
    fat, a nice pate de foie, and for me a small serving of
    thin-sliced tete de porc en gelee, which was rich with
    tongue and brain and crunchy with museau. The gelee was a
    little sour, which suited the rich meats just fine. Clancy's
    went pretty well, especially with the smoked shoulder.
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  19. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Another cold but this time clear day. Our destination was
    the Deli Snowden, thought by some to be the last bastion of
    the Montreal smoked meat art. It's kind of off in the burbs,
    tidier than the downtown places, the clientele more sedate,
    middle-class local, and Jewish.

    lili got a smoked meat sandwich medium; this came, oddly,
    not medium but rather half lean and half fat. I tasted a
    few shreds; the fat was just about right, the lean too lean
    and of an odd texture, almost like that at the Main. Still
    tastier than the Main, though.

    I had a chopped liver plate on iceberg lettuce. The liver
    was rather coarsely hacked and mixed with rather coarsely
    hacked egg and finely minced onion. It was pretty decent.

    No beer! and no Dr. Brown! so I had a Cott black cherry.

    More random walk, though more underground than I generally
    prefer, as it was getting pretty windy. We decided to go
    homeward to thaw out; our concert was going to get out late,
    the B&B was entirely agreeable, and there were still cold
    cuts in the fridge (smelling it up with garlic, perhaps to
    the discomfiture of the other guests), so dinner was taken
    care of.

    The subway worked even weller than usual, and we were at
    the arts plaza in no time flat; this gave us plenty of time
    to check out the snack situation (expensive, crowded, and
    not good-looking) and the corridor art situation (better).

    We'd gotten tickets to the OSM conducted by Jacques Lacombe;
    I'd not heard the orchestra in many years, and my impression
    is that it is perhaps even better than before, when it was
    merely respectable.

    A loud and fast version of the Corsair Overture started
    things off well and showed off the virtuosity of the group.
    It's a rather stupid piece, though, I think, and the
    program might have been a bit stronger if it had been
    substituted with a Dvorak overture or something.

    I was looking forward to the premiere of Serge Arcuri's new
    violin concerto, with concertmaster Andrew Wan doing the
    hard stuff. Sorry, there wasn't any hard stuff, and the
    piece was on the dull side, a lot of long-held high-pitched
    squeaks mostly, with interspersals of "what was the hurry
    about" sections.

    For afters, Mr. Wan offered a slightly affected but rousing
    and expertly presented Tzigane.

    The New World is a symphony I hadn't heard in decades, even
    though I used to have several vinyls of it (Vaclav Talich
    being the most prized one). This was a pleasant return to
    the tastes of my youth, mostly a predictable and standard
    version. There was a nonmeeting of the minds in the second
    movement that was kind of amusing, as the first flute
    obviously thought that M. Lacombe was taking things too
    fast, and then later the cor anglais player (I am surprised
    that the Quebecois allow this term to persist in the
    language) thought the tempo was too slow. Somehow a happy
    medium was eventually reached. The rest of the performance
    offered no surprises, and thank goodness for that. A most
    satisfactory second half of the concert.

    So back on the subway, a short spate of freezing our butts
    off, and a few blessed hours of rest.
  20. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    End of Trip

    Jean-Rene had ordered us an 0530 cab, which was there a
    few minutes early. It took next to no time to get to YUL
    despite a road works detour.

    The taxi driver gave us this song and dance about how the
    gite was outside the boundaries of the flat-rate district
    and how Jean-Rene insisted on his charging the flat rate
    anyhow, and (this part being a falsehood) how if he went
    by the meter, it wuld be 20-25 more (in fact it would be
    no more than 5 more). This was supposed to affect the tip;
    in fact, it did, and instead of giving him 25% as planned,
    I gave him 15%.

    The next order of business was to fix lili's ticket - her
    flight was delayed by 5 hours (and eventually was cancelled
    altogether); she feared the agents would be some kind of
    contract employees and cold shoulder her. As it turned out,
    they were real employees of the airline and gave her the
    royal treatment that she hoped for and deserved. Which
    included putting her in business class to Chicago and then
    on the priority waitlist for first for her onward (I'm
    pretty sure that didn't clear, as the seat map was full when
    I checked, but I didn't hear for sure). It was a complicated
    transaction that involved phone calls between American and
    Air Canada and then the agents shuttling between their
    respective desks, but eventually things got settled.

    Security was uncrowded but quite a bit slower than in the
    big airports in the US, I don't know why. Preclearance into
    the US zone, well, Global Entry didn't work for either of
    us. lili went first and got grilled; when it was my turn,
    the guy took a look at my big rejection X and said, your
    fingerprints didn't work, either? and stamped me through.

    AC7680 YUL BOS 0855 1005 CRJ 5D

    Chocolate breakfast at the Maple Leaf Lounge: muffins that
    where hugely oversodaed but with nice crispy tops and
    chocolat chaud from a machine, unconcentrated and tasting of
    nonfat dry milk and dead sweet. lili had a bowl of gruel
    and had to go, after which I poked around and found that the
    beer taps didn't open until 11, so I had a banana and some
    grapefruit juice instead, about as many calories.

    I discovered that the gate had been changed, but half the
    monitors (few and far between at this airport) didn't show
    the Boston departure at all. Optimistic, I went to the new
    gate, which was the one set up for departures for National,
    and hoped it was the "last and final"; it was, and we
    boarded up about 15 minutes later than promised.

    The flight was uneventful, and mercifully, airplanes made
    by snowmobile manufacturers being what they are, I slept
    through it all.
    iolaire likes this.

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