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This California in December thing seems to be a trend now that NPS works for a silicon valley company. What that means is a week-long delay in the start of our annual no fly nöel thing.

So how did 2018 stack up? Well the tripometer was up year over year after many years. And most of the travel was international. This year we visited:

  • London (twice)
  • Inverness
  • Stuttgart
  • Neuremberg
  • Tokyo
  • Kyoto
  • Oslo
  • Sardegna
  • Malta

Lots of time outside the confines of the broken United States and its Orange Caligula of a “President.”

Here’s the graph.

The annual tripometer. Trips are up for NPS.

Because of all of the international travel, we had some interesting impact on loyalty programs. It’s not even clear we’ll make inner circle this year at Kimpton (horrors)!

Other than the “not really Virgin America” we have no loyalty anymore for any airlines. Treat them all the same and let the chips fall where they will. Use money to “upgrade” by starting out upgraded. My my how things have changed.

A direct comparison of international business class shows United has the best service. Here are two examples.
Delta
United

Anyway, time to stay home by the fire for a while.

The Hotel Fabian has a computer now and they know I have been here before! Yay. On this nth visit I was upgraded to a very sweet suite 412. Thanks Fabian!

Room 412 has a table

Room 412 has a table

And a living area

And a living area

And a big old bed

And a big old bed

The best part of room 412 and Hotel Fabian is the incredibly great shower. I mean great. Best shower in Europe great.

412 bathroom

412 bathroom

This shower is just so good

This shower is just so good

I guess hot showers may just feel better when it is -2C outside in the morning.

The lobby downstairs is an excellent place for a glass of wine after travel (or a long day of BSIMM interviews).

The high art lobby at Hotel Fabian

The high art lobby at Hotel Fabian

Five plus showerheads for the Hotel Fabian.

A fancy pants dinner at Spis was very interesting, but more interesting than good. Subdued flavors that clim to be Nordic. Some surprising combinations. Ultimately I think the are just trying too hard. The dessert stuff was best constructed and world class.

Then it was off to Liberty or Death, a fantastic cocktail bar. (Someone needs to get them the memo that the Partrick Henry quote their name is from was hijacked by the right wing Tea Party morons in the United States…because these people are clearly liberal as all get out.) We were served by two “cocktail bastards” Andreas Cederström and Jaakko Väyrynen. Jaakko was super and in edition to making us a liberal (with red vermouth that was way too good), we tried some house made drinks.

The Red Shoe
40 ml monkey 47 gin (german)
30 ml creme de framboise
2 dashes Peychauds bitters
5 ml Raspberry red wine vinegar (house made)
1 t or less simple syrup
Mix together and then carbonate! quite a gorgeous concoction indeed. looks like we will be adding carbonation capability to the bar.

La Mancha Negra
25 ml Poli Morbida (grappa moscato)
10 ml cynar
10 ml aperol
5 ml Francaise guy (absynthe)
1 t simple syrup
3 dashes The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas bitters (a fruity thing)
shake. strain in to cocktail glass. this one is missing something in the middle but a fine start. the grappa is too think. I think working it with a harsher grappa might help. And a deeper bitters.

We had an absolute blast at Liberty or Death which is by far the best bar in Helsinki. The people at Son of a Punch do great work. They are distilling spirits (tried the gin which is very very aromatic), importing great stuff, and staffing excellent bars. Note that we did attain a new target speakeasy not yet marked or marketed (Katariinankatu).

Final thought of the night: “A tattoo without equity is madness.

Then it will drag tomorrow on my 8.5 hour United airlines international flight with no upgrade. United just sucks.

How to charge your phone (kludge) at F-Secure

How to charge your phone (kludge) at F-Secure

I flew United through Manchester on my way to Munich. Why? Because an upgrade could be guaranteed at time of ticket purchase. Those lie flat seats are too good to pass up when you travel too much. And the way United treats its frequent fliers these days, it’s best not to bet on an upgrade ever. Honest.

The flight over here was just fine on a reconfigured 757-200 with a decent BusinessFirst section. The only problem was we arrived early leaving even less time for sleep.

That transformed an already problematic four hour layover into an even longer 5 hour layover. I decided to seek a shower.

The good news is there is a Radisson Blu hotel situated between Terminal 2 (where United flies in) and Terminal 1 (where Lufthansa flies out). Popping the security perimeter for a shower is easy enough, especially if you are the second guy off the plane. Customs was a breeze.

The Manchester Airport skywalk.

The Manchester Airport skywalk.

The showers in the Radisson Blu are located on floor 0 in the gym/pool facility. I was the only person there.

Changing room.

Changing room.

The shower itself was great. Plenty of hot water and tons of room. In fact, the shower facility itself is better than the Senator Lounge shower in Frankfurt. Of course, United has no Arrivals Lounge here, but what do you expect?! It’s United!

Non-plastic shower.

Non-plastic shower.

The only problem was getting back into the security perimeter through the awful security line at Terminal 1. The line was very long. No TSApre here! Shoes off, belt off, laptop out, plastic bag of liquids separated. You know the drill (and it sucks).

Security nonsense aside, a shower on arrival in Europe is just what the doctor ordered. And the Serviceair shared lounge in Terminal 1 (the Lufthansa lounge) is just fine for waiting out the rest of the layover, especially since I am clean.

Lufthansa seems to have put me in a middle seat on the way to Munich (I switched to a window since no aisle seats are available). Wow, the star alliance is just awesome. Business class half way.