Tim Foolery

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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Olympics & More: Chase Visa VIP Lounge London Olympics

What to do while in London for the Olympics?  Well, considering I had only 48 hours in London and had tickets to the Gold Medal Soccer Match, I decided, I’d spend as much time with friends as possible.

After landing and taking the HEX and the tube to a friends house – arriving just in time for lunch, we decided to head back towards the river and hang out. We got off at Green Park and walked by Buckingham Palace and then just wandered.  We walked around, talking and enjoying the uncommon warmth we were experiencing and stumbled across the street Pall Mall.  I remembered this street not because my previous trips to London, but from an email from my bank…

A few weeks earlier I received an email from Chase Bank inviting me to the Chase Visa VIP Lounge during the Olympics. Basically it was a receptions space with open bar and food where you could meet Olympians during set hours. To gain access, you just had to have a Visa Signature Credit Card – my Chase Sapphire Preferred got us in.  If you were there during certain meal times you’d get meals prepared by Chef Morimoto.  We were not there during a meal time, so we just drank Heinekens and ate pretzels.  Most importantly, I was able sit and chat with a friend that I hadn’t seen in years. Thank you Chase and Visa.

We didn’t take any pictures while at the Chase Visa VIP Lounge, so we’ll have to view the pictures from Adam at Point me to the Plane.  We also didn’t see any Olympians — so the main reason for going to this spot we missed out on. But we did get some free beers.

If the stars and the moon aligned and I happened to be in an area where I would have access to a free open bar hosted by my bank, I would definitely stop by again — I do enjoy a free beer or two.

Did you go to the Visa VIP Lounge in London during the Olympics? Which Olympians did you meet? Did you get some great food from Chef Morimoto, or did you settle for Heinekens and pretzels like us?

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What I’m Cooking…New Mexican Grilled Fish

A couple weeks ago I made Swordfish.  I had a run in with a surly fish counter guy at Treasure Island, but he didn’t dissuade me.  I urged people to be nice to people trying to cook new things – don’t take it for granted that everyone is as great as you are.  Following my post, the Chopping Block sent me a swordfish recipe – which if you follow me on Google+, you’ve already seen it.  If not, it is below:

New Mexican Grilled Fish



  • 4 Fish Steaks or Fillets (STEAKS OR FILLETS!), skin removed
  • Grapeseed Oil for the Grill
  • Lime Juice, Freshly Squeezed to taste
  • Combine the lime juice, achiote paste and olive oil in a small bowl
  • Season the fish with salt and pepper and generously brush with the anchiote marinade. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes or more — no more than 2 hours.
  • Heat a grill over medium heat. Brush grates with grapeseed oil to prevent the fish from sticking.
  • Grill the fish on the first side until golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Turn the fish over and squeeze lime juice on the grilled side.  Continue to grill the fish until cooked through
Serve the grilled fish, topped with Fruit Salsa. What? You don’t have a recipe for Fruit Salsa. Well, the Chopping Block folks have provided that as well!

Grilling Swordfish and
Veggies for Dinner

Fruit Salsa:

  • 2 Cups Fresh Fruit, Cleaned and finely diced (pineapple, mango, papaya, strawberries or a combination)
  • 1/3 Cup Red Onion, Minced
  • 1 Jalapeno, Finely Minced
  • 1 Lime Juiced, Freshly Squeezed
  • 2 Tablespoon Fresh Cilantro, Roughly Chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together. Season to taste with Salt and Pepper, Sugar and Lime Juice. Allow to sit for one hour before serving.
I couldn’t find any good mangoes at my grocery, so I opted to get jarred mangoes. I got them home and took immediately rinsed off the sugar water. The mangoes were very soft  (too soft really), but still tasty.
I marinated my fish for about 2 hours then tossed it on the grill.

What is your favorite fish recipe?  Do you eat it plain, with a rub, or a salsa – or both?

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Hotel Porn #5

Canadian Hotel Porn? A couple weeks ago I stayed at the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville.  Of course, after checking in, I immediately take a look at the in room Porn selection.  This Marriott had a slightly different selection than the previous hotels I’ve stayed at recently.

Here are my favorite titles from this stay (Parenthetical comments are my own):

  • Hide Your Whores (From whom?)
  • Rank and Skank (How is this appealing?)
  • Tosh.Hole (Now that’s pretty funny)
  • Old and Nasty (Good to see that Marriott is open to differing tastes, eh?)
  • My Backdoor Whore
  • Sexsomnia

Read the other great titles of the porn movies here, here, here and here.

How are the porn titles at the hotels you’ve stayed at recently?  Do you see the same old titles with each visit?

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Buying Miles from the Airlines – Ever a Good Buy?

Is it smart to buy miles directly from the airlines? This is a question that several people around the office have recently asked me.  I get travel questions like this from time to time — probably because the office knows I’m a big travel nerd.

A few times a year, each and  every airline offers a 25%-100% bonus on purchased miles.  You buy 25K or 50K miles and get a huge bonus. Currently, US Airways is offering a 100% bonus on purchased miles — for $1,750 you can buy 50K points and get a bonus of 50K points for a total of 100K.  Including the taxes and fees the cost is $1,881.25 — or $0.018/mile.  This isn’t a great deal, but better than what it is usually.

Do I suggest you buy these miles now and keep them in your mileage bank? No, I wouldn’t recommend that. Buying miles on speculation – that is, without a specific award redemption in mind – isn’t a great idea.  The airlines can and have readjusted their award charts — if you buy on speculation you could be stuck with 100K miles and come to find out these miles only get you a coach ticket to Europe in a few months. Definitely not a good use of money.

On the other hand, if you have a specific award ticket in mind and need to buy all the miles or just top off your account, this could be a great promotion.  Like I always say, don’t hoard your points/miles. Use them.  They aren’t worth anything, no matter how many you have unless you actually use them. Use your miles and plan a trip like this, this, this, or this.

My advice, look at your own travel style and any upcoming trips you want to plan. Does it make sense to pay nearly $2K for 100K miles?  That just about $0.02/miles, is that a good price for what you are looking to do?

Have you purchased miles like this before?  What would make you buy these miles?  Do you buy on your regular airline or do you buy on other airlines, looking to try a new services?

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Olympics & More: Heathrow Express

United’s BusinessFirst guests get priority cards for Customs and Immigration at Heathrow. I managed to make it from the plane, through Customs and down to Baggage Claim in about 15 minutes. Amazing! I even had time to buy a new SIM card in this 15 minute window (and every time I land at Heathrow I am always at the very end of Terminal 1, too).

Since I only had 48 hours in London, I decided to take the Heathrow Express from the Airport to Paddington Station. This was my second trip to London where I used the HEX.  It really is the way to go, if you have limited time in London.  In March 2011 I used the HEX to pop into the City when I had a 10 hour lay over en route to Cape Town.

By taking the HEX you can make it from Heathrow to Paddington in just about 15 minutes.  You can also take the Tube to Paddington from Heathrow, but that takes about an hour.  The HEX is much more expensive than the Tube. The Tube will cost you about 5,30GBP or at today’s exchange rate, about $8.60USD.  The HEX on the other hand costs 18,00GBP each way, or $29.20USD.

You get on the HEX from the arrivals area and baggage claim in Terminal 1 by taking the elevators down a level.  You can purchase your ticket online before you even leave for London or, like my most recent trip, there were people at the base of the escalator selling tickets. Since I was there for the Olympics, I doubt these customer service folks will be there year round.  Of course, it goes without saying, make sure you are actually buying tickets from authorized retailers — don’t just give your money to someone who says they will sell you a ticket to anything. Be smart.

The HEX also has complimentary wifi, which is great in theory, but the ride is only 15 minutes so by the time you get your phone set up and start to sync your device(s) you’ve already arrived.

Every time I’ve taken the HEX I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes and I’ve always gotten a seat. Obviously these trains are designed for air travelers, so there are many racks to store your luggage too.  From Paddington you can easily get anywhere on the London Transport system. Easy Breezy.

If you have a limited time in London, I would definitely take the HEX. It is quite a bit more expensive, but it will allow you to experience more time in London and less on the Tube.

When visiting London do you take the Tube, the HEX or take a Black Cab?  Is the extra 10GBP worth it to you to shave 45 minutes off your transit into the City?

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