Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013: the Year of Travel

We had discussed going away over the holidays, but I couldn't sit down thanks to my fall in f****** Waitrose, so we stayed in London.
(Incidentally, my little finger looks as if it will be permanently damaged, so I declined Waitrose's offer of a £25 gift voucher in compensation, and will be suing them).

I do however have quite a few trips planned for 2013 (I booked them as soon as I could sit down again) - day in Paris (times x), quick trip to Marrakesh, longer trip to Istanbul, visit to Washington (someone mentioned shipping me in via Virgin Upper Class ...), 5th anniversary of a friend's elopement in Florence, possibly a quick stop in Copenhagen, and that brings us up to May.

I love love love Mr & Mrs Smith, which is one of the best travel companies around, and do a fabulous job of selecting hotels - yes, they look expensive, but they also have some real bargains especially if you sign up to be a member (50% off one of my favourite Riads in Marrakesh).

BlackSmith is free, and gives you discounts on lots of shops as well as access to travel offers; SilverSmith and GoldSmith are more, but the discounts increase, so if you travel a lot it's worth signing up.


Incidentally, since I do complain when companies cause problems, I would like to take a minute to praise Mr & Mrs Smith - a few years ago they sorted out a problem another company had caused, and got us a pretty substantial refund.

I booked two flights on British Airways through their web site. Never again. BA.com claim a "Price Promise" - ie if you find it cheaper within 24 hours they'll refund the difference - but as with John Lewis, good luck actually getting them to pay up. I found much cheaper flights to Marrakesh and to Istanbul on Opodo, took screen shots, filed the claim ... and so far BA have claimed the Marrakesh fare was a single (nope), the screen shot didn't come through for Istanbul (hardly my fault if they ask for one but their system removes attachments), that they no longer do "Price Promise" (then why is it on their web site?), they can't find the same fare on Opodo (I still can today), and so forth.

What irritates me the most is that despite having been registered as a women with the Executive Club for as long as I can remember, and having ticked "female" for the tickets, Chaitali (no surname, no number so I can't ring him as BA told me to), keeps writing to me in his strange broken English as "Mr King" ... It's the 21st century - surely women are allowed to book flights on BA? Or have we turned into Saudi Arabia? Should I pack a veil for the flight?

There's a reason I've only flown Virgin across the Atlantic for years, and avoid British Airways for European flights. Easy Jet here I come!

If you want to travel in style, Hermes is the only way to go.

They are very expensive, and their shops do not host sales, but if you're in London they will have one at the Music Rooms next week from the 10th to 12th January 2013.

I've had their Kelly (dyed everything black, and after 17 months they agreed it was faulty), I love my watch (even though it took them four attempts to put the new strap on correctly) ... so instead I went for the Brian Lichtenberg  Orange Homies Tee (sold out at Browns, but available from Kitson, although probably not to be worn on Easy Jet unless I want to look like staff ...).

If you want to do a little (time) travel without leaving London, don't forget that I'm doing a little talk about "Collecting the Parthenon" at the Wallace Collection on the 28th of January at 5.30 pm.

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