Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vacation 2009

Chip and I are so ready for a vacation. We last went on vacation to London and Paris in September 2007. We've had some small weekend trips here and there - to New Orleans mostly - but haven't been on a good, get-away-from-it-all vacation in many, many months.

For the longest time we planned to go to England again. We both wanted to go to Oxford then spend a few days in London to visit the Borough Market and some museums that we missed last time. But flight schedules from Jackson, Mississippi into London have not cooperated with us. Back in 2007 we had the most perfect flight schedule. We left Jackson around 5 PM to Detroit, then boarded the flight to London around 9 PM. I thought this was perfect because #1 - we weren't in the airport all day, #2 - the flight time from Detroit to London was less than eight hours, and #3 - we boarded just in time for a couple of nightcaps, an in-flight movie, and then some sleeping before breakfast. Because we didn't leave Jackson until 5 PM, on the day of our departure Chip had time to finish up a few things at work. I had time to get a mani/pedi and start the vacation off the right way: by relaxing.

Because of the crappy economy, tons of flights have been removed from the line up. I researched flights for weeks, and the absolute latest departure we could find from Jackson (and still make our connection) was about 11 AM. We would then sit in an airport somewhere for hours until the flight for London. Oh, and the return flights from London all left at like 6 or 7 AM. No, no. That was not going to work for me while I'm on vacation!! Sitting in an airport all day? Getting up at the crack of dawn to make it to the airport? Or worse, staying in an icky hotel right beside the airport in order to make the flight? Been there, done that (return flight on the honeymoon), and that didn't sound like "vacation" to me. Chip agreed, and we decided to postpone our return to the UK. Its really too bad because last time we went the exchange rate was like $2.10 to the GBP (super expensive, baby!). Now it is more like $1.40 to the GBP. We could save some major cash if we went now!!

So, where are we going? Well...

Our five-year anniversary is September 25th of this year. We thought - how fun would it be to make a return trip to our honeymoon spot? On our honeymoon we went to Napa Valley, San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Santa Cruz, and then to top it off we saw Annie Lennox and Sting play the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View (near the Googleplex) the last night we were there. It was a rockin honeymoon.

We've decided that we are going back to Napa Valley! We can't wait until September, so we're going earlier. April. The hotel is booked. The flights... not quite yet. I've been working my booty off to get us reservations at all the restaurants we missed out on last time. We have dinner reservations at:
Bottega Napa Valley
Ad Hoc
The French Laundry

Yes, the list is heavy on the Thomas Keller. But we didn't want to miss out on any of these restaurants. Geez, we are going to be so freakin' BROKE when we get back from this trip!

About The French Laundry reservations... It was seriously difficult to reserve a table at this restaurant. They take reservations two calendar months in advance of the date you want to dine. The reservation office opens at 10 AM Pacific each day. Beginning February 23, I called each day at exactly 9:59 AM Pacific and went through this routine: dial, busy signal, redial, busy signal, redial, busy signal, redial, etc... until I got through or until about 20 minutes had passed. There are only 15 (maybe 16?) tables, so if I was still getting a busy signal after 20 minutes, it was likely that there would be no more tables even if I got through. So, after 20 minutes I gave up. On two of the days I got through, they were closed for private events and were not taking reservations. On three of the days, Chip and I both called continuously for 20 minutes and never got through. Then, finally... Today I got through almost immediately, was placed on hold for about 10 minutes, and reserved a table for two at 5:30 PM on Tuesday, April 28th. After calling like a mad-woman for six days straight, I'm so glad we weren't disappointed.

All I can say is... what we are going to save on flights, we'll definitely end up spending on food and wine. Since Chip is in the restaurant business, I wonder if we could write-off these meals on our taxes? Ok, I am kidding about that. Kind of.


Mary Beth said...

Lisa -- thanks so much for your wonderful London suggestions! I'm saving them for our travels. And, when you head to CA, check out Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar if you have the chance. They're good people with a GREAT garden and fabulous food.

Lisa Blair said...

Mary Beth - Thanks for the suggestion! My mother-in-law said we should go to Healdsburg one day, so we'll try to visit this restaurant when we go.