Monthly Archives: March 2012

GOODBYE LEITH

In two months it will be one year since we moved to Edinburgh, to celebrate, we are MOVING!

We are saying goodbye to our top floor, right flat with no central heating and stand up shower, in dirty-tummyville and we are saying ELL-HAY EAH-YAY! to a first floor right flat, with central heating, a stand-up shower with water pressure and in addition- a dishwasher, a wood-burning fireplace (since we are in the city we have to use smokeless coal) all this PLUS a more centrally located neighbourhood in a building with plenty of charm and character.

Even with all the pluses- there is one hanging question… what do I do about my blog? We will no longer be turning over a new Leith…we will at Eyre Place, so keeping up with the punny:

I’ll Be Eyre

Eyre You Are

Eyre Tight

Any suggestions? Am I missing an even better pun?

BACK TO MSP

I love spending hour upon hour on an airplane so much so that this week, I have two long haul flights! Tuesday a flight from Almaty to London and London to Edinburgh and then two short days later from Edinburgh to Newark and Newark to Minneapolis. 

I have not been back to my home town since September 2011. This visit is extra special- my youngest brother, Will, is getting married (this first reason) to Ieva and as a result of this exciting event, it will be the first time my three brothers and have all been together in over three years! A momentous occasion. It will be a true test to see if we still enjoy each other as much as we think we do- our last visit was to surprise my mom on her 60th birthday (now you all know how old my mom is) and that weekend in New York was one of the top five-family moments I have had (others include our wedding and John and Adele’s wedding and maybe the Christmas we went to see Amistad). 

We will be back for just under two weeks and have a packed schedule- from a trip to Duluth to see my Aunt Kim and Uncle Tim to haircuts (it would not be a trip to MSP without a visit to Paul), plus Ben and I are going to be the show and tell for my godson Leo’s kindergarten class!  

I’ll keep you posted on all our Minneapolis adventures including wedding photos!

UPGRADED

OMG… As I was boarding BMI Flight …, I was handed a new boarding card. I thought it was just a new seat, maybe exit row but I boarded and realized that 5C is so much better than 34C! What a comfortable way to spend seven and a half hours. 

I think the flight attendants realized rather quickly I am new to this ra-sha-sha section of the plane. I was too fascinated by the complimentary Miller Harris hand lotion and lip salve and setting aside the socks, eye patches, ear plugs and mini-Colgate tube with toothbrush as a gift for Ben. There is even lumbar support and a velvet pillow- along with pillow with a cotton pillow case so my hair did not get frizzy.

They have a menu, there are three choices, I opted for the continental breakfast, with fresh fruit presented on a chilled plate. The champagne tasted better from the real glass tumbler. There were even warmed viennoiseries and cafe alonge with the crema in tact. I could get used to this.

This is the first time I have flown BMI- a member of the Star Alliance. Could it be my Miles and More points which got me this upgrade? I am afraid to ask, I do not want to go back to place behind the brown curtains. 

In all the flights I have taken, this is only the second time I have had the pleasure and comfort of an upgrade. The last time it was just (I say thought now, but at the time I was really excited) to premium economy, this is really so much better.

I hope for a double upgrade (travelling with Ben!) on Friday- does Continental do that?

Even the babies are cuter and better behaved in business class. 

LONDON-PART II… Words and numbers which appealed to us from around the capital.

RUSSIA REVIEW- ST. PETERSBURG

According to my taxi driver, Igor, St. Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia. Ben has already visited St.Petersburg when it was still called Leningrad during a class trip. I had a few hours to explore and was centrally located to the highlights. 

While touristing outside the Church of Spilled Blood (what an awesome name for a church-  the cathedral was built on the place where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated), I was stopped by a man, also named Igor- he spelled it for me, I-G-O-R, he was a ‘musician’ who had lived in Washington D.C. for ten years. He proved his claim and showed me his banged up french horn, sharing bag space with his livelihood, he also had a bottle of vodka and a carton of orange juice. He attempted to it cover up (I am sure my eyes were saying- real nice Igor, way to perpetuate the stereotype) by saying it was for a tooth ache, while getting a bit closer and opening his mouth. I believe you Igor!

I eventually found the Hermitage, a mint-colored building is a bold choice for a museum, but it works in St. Petersburg. Especially adding the gold accents. I only had an hour, but thought I would brave the buses of Russian school children fieldtripping for some world class art- only- the Hermitage entrance fee is 400 rubles, but the Hermitage does not take credit cards and it does NOT give change! So my art watching was foiled. I will back Hermitage and I will have the exact change and Ben- he will make a better tour guide and  he had a formative experience at the Hermitage- ask him to tell you it, I would not do it justice.

(The Hermitage- Main Entrance)

( It does not say- exact change)

(Worst self-portrait ever)

(The  main square in St. Petersburg)

(It was so cold- can’t you just see the cold? My temperature arm was going crazy)

(It would have been so fun to ice skate)

I do hope I will have another visit, there was a lot more to see.


Look Mum No Hands (LMNH) is the airy-hip bike cafe in London owned by Ben’s former classmate from grammar school Lewin Chalkley. Located in a London ‘hood that one would not think would be buzzing on a Sunday- the empty office high rises were an obvious sign, but Old Street was the perfect place for brunch.

We opted not to go out on Saturday night, feasting instead on a brown and serve baguette with cheddar and mustard- French for me, yellow for Ben- split 30/70 along with a couple of beers we ‘borrowed’ from Craig and Lesley.

By morning, our hunger levels were up, so off we went a pied. I ordered a flat white and scrambled eggs on brown toast with mushrooms, Ben went French- roasted ham and cheese croissant and a pain au raisin with a latte and double espresso. As we love to eat, we had checked the reviews and the coffee at Look Mum no Hands has received accolades for the care they take. It lived up to the coffee hype.

(Open spaces and content patrons)

The bicycle theme was everywhere. LMNH even has a shop where you can get your ride fixed while you eat. Ben and I felt a bit lame that we did not ride to brunch, but we rented Boris Bikes immediately afterwards; we hope this compensated.

(More bicycle decorations)

There was an outdoor seating area that proved popular for the cyclist finishing their Sunday morning rides. Thank you for keeping the stink outside near the ample cycle racks.

(Shiny- I would not be surprised if John and Adele already had these)

To Lewin and the LMNH gang: thanks for the warm welcome, we will be back and until then we will be tempted by the merchandise from your online shop.

ALMATY UNDER SNOW… I sat on a park bench reading this afternoon with an unbuttoned coat in the sunshine, now it is freezing and snowing. What a difference. So pleased I got out today.

ALMATY UNDER SNOW… It was beautiful and sunny today in Almaty, people were chipping the remaining ice from their sidewalks and now… SNOW!!!

  • On the beach
    On the beach
  • Near Borough Market
    Near Borough Market
  • The Tate Modern
    The Tate Modern
  • The beach near Tower Bridge
    The beach near Tower Bridge
  • A neat store front
    A neat store front
  • Love the pop of green
    Love the pop of green
  • The Hop Exchange- Nice detailing
    The Hop Exchange- Nice detailing

LONDON- PART I… Here is the first part of some of our fun photos in London. We had a great break!

RUSSIA REVIEW-THE AIRLINES

Three flights in the last week from three different Russian airlines.

FLIGHT ONE: CDG -> LED- ROSSIYA AIRLINES

FLIGHT TWO: LED->SVO- AEROFLOT

FLIGHT THREE: DME-> ALA- TRANSAERO


Rossiya Airlines was a new one for me. Not a member of any of the frequent flyer alliances I have cards for. Unless you are in Russia, flying to another Russian destination you are not able to check in online, a minor setback and due to Air France restrictions, I was also unable to check in at the Edinburgh airport. This flight was slow to get going- a two hour delay because of a technical issue does not inspire confidence especially after boarding and seeing a plane from the 80’s and still has the smell of stale cigarette smoke and a hint of cooked green peppers. I felt really packed in and I was wearing my comfortable travel jeans. 

I had flown Aeroflot before and was quite nervous about the age of the plane- it could also have been I was squeezed next a window while two jolly Russians downed vodka and tomato juice chasers. At the time I going from Moscow to Istanbul and was relatively new to international business travel. Well in the fours years since that first flight, nothing on Aeroflot has changed or been upgraded, I am just more adept to traveling and remembering to ask for an aisle.

From my seat in almost an exit row on flight three (where I compose this entry) Transaero is the best. I have already received a pre-departure hard candy, a comfort pack (slippers and eye patches). The seats are leather or a close second and my arms are not touching my neighbors. There is a screeching child just across the aisle and its (a denim on denim outfit makes it a mystery) parents did not bring any toys and it does not seem to be enjoying the in-flight magazine.

The meal is coming and I smell green peppers.

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