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Tim Foolery

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Monthly Archives: October 2018

Experiencing United Airlines New Boarding Process

Recently the United Boarding process was tweaked.   Their plan was to make the process and boarding area more clear. Instead of having five groups of people lined, up, only two groups would line up first then after those groups boarded, the next groups would line up.

In theory this makes sense, but as I mentioned before, I was pretty sure that people would still line up and it would be a mess. This change also altered which flyers were in which groups. This second change was what really concerned me. I usually only travel with a roller bag and I was afraid I’d get stuck putting my bag well behind my seat, meaning I’d have to fight through the crowd to collect my bag upon landing.

United Airlines' New Boarding Process

United Airlines’ New Boarding Process

Last week I took my first flight with this new boarding arrangement. I flew from Chicago to Toronto and the process was quite smooth. I chock this up to a few things 1) My flight didn’t have many elite flyers, so I ended up being the 6th person on board and 2) Canadians are nicer rule-followers. My bag was directly above my seat too.
In the boarding area people the Group 2 boarding line was relatively long, but Group 1 was very short. All of the seats in the boarding area were taken and no one was crowding the boarding door either. I’m not sure this will happen on a flight without courteous Canadians making up most of the manifest.

How have you fared in the United boarding changes? Have you been screwed out of overhead bin space at all? Do you think it makes the process any better?

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Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

I travel to Toronto for business at least once a year. Each of these trips, I am surprised at how expensive hotels are.  It’s tough to find a decent hotel in downtown Toronto for less than $400CAD.  For this trip, I searched and searched and the most inexpensive Marriott I could find downtown was the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown, on Yonge Street.  I’m just a few more nights away from retaining Platinum Status for 2019 with Marriott – so I had to choose a Marriott Property.

I’ve stayed at this hotel many years ago, during a loud and frustrating renovation.  I’ve never heard of a hotel renovation starting before 06h00, but it did. It was torture.  The renovation is now complete and the hotel is quiet again.  I arrived at 11h00 and waiting behind several people attempting to check in.  Each of those guests were reminded that check in was 16h00 and they’d have to come back.  I approached, expecting to drop off my bags and working in the lobby before my meetings.  Without missing a beat, the woman working reception told me my room was available and I could check in immediately.

The groups in front of my, who were denied a room, were still milling about the lobby and became very frustrated and pushed back up to the check in desk, demanding a room.  I quickly headed toward the elevators to the relative peace of my room.

Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

The main room of the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

The small but utilitarian bathroom of the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

I haven’t seen Paul Mitchell products in years

My room was a standard king room on the eighth floor. My view was of one of the dozens of construction sights in Toronto.

Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

View of one of the many construction sites in Toronto

I hadn’t stayed in a Courtyard Marriott in several years. I’d been focusing most of my stays with Starwood, but now that the merger is complete, I’m open to branching out across the super chain.   I slept remarkably well the two nights I was in Toronto – probably the best hotel sleep I’ve had in years.

Have you stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown before?  What is your favorite Marriott property in Toronto?  Where should I stay on my next visit?

Why I Love Toronto

I spend a bit of time each year in Toronto.  Coming from Chicago, Toronto is a very easy city to navigate.  While I do find the comparisons between these two cities to be pretty accurate, there are some things that I think Toronto gets right and Chicago fails.  Here’s why I love Toronto.

Both cities have really great food scenes.  From fine dining to casual street food you can’t go wrong in Chicago or in Toronto.  Canoe, in Toronto has an amazing view that is only matched by the food itself.  The Michelin Guide doesn’t visit Toronto, so you can’t find any official Michelin Starred restaurants, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have great options.

The transit in both Cities is great.  I don’t have a car in Chicago and I’ve never needed to rent one in Toronto.  I get everywhere I need to go by foot, streetcar or subway.  Worst case scenario, taxis, or ride share options are plentiful.

Why I Love Toronto

The 3D Toronto Sign in Nathan Phillips Square

Why I Love Toronto

The one thing that I love about Toronto, much more than Chicago, is the diversity.  Both cities have a few million people and a strong immigrant community.  When walking around Toronto, I often hear several language.  Not only do you frequently hear English and French, but it isn’t uncommon to hear Arabic, Hindi and Mandarin.  While these language exist in Chicago, I never hear them when I’m walking around in the central business district.  This worldliness gives Toronto a more cosmopolitan feel than Chicago.  This is really why I love Toronto.

What do you think about Toronto?  Is there just one thing that you really dig about the City that you can’t get back home?  What’s the one thing you suggest to people visiting Toronto?

Need Advice: Argentina Trip

Each year, we travel somewhere for Thanksgiving.  We find it a great time to leave the country as no one is traveling for business that week and most Americans are traveling domestically.  We’ve traveled to Ireland, Mexico City, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Colorado, and Oregon for Thanksgiving.  This year, we are heading south to Argentina.  This will be my first visit to the country, while it will be Mike’s second.

Thanksgiving in Argentina

Thanksgiving in Mendoza, where to go?

So far, we’ve book airfare down to and back from Argentina as well as flights inside the country.  We’ve chosen our cities to visit and the hotels in which to stay.  We’ll be staying in Cordoba, Mendoza and finally a few days in Buenos Aires.  I’ve only made reservations for one meal while we are there too – our final night in Buenos Aires, we are hitting a lovely fine dining restaurant as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

I need your help though.  I’m looking for advice from travelers and locals who can tell us great places to eat and wineries to visit.  Frequent readers know that I love a good bike tour, so any recommendations on who to ride while while in Argentina, let me know.

What is the one thing you wish you had done while you were in Argentina?  What about the one thing you wish you hadn’t done?

Open House Chicago 2018: Beverly / Morgan Park

Open House Chicago is one of our favorite weekends each year.  If you are unfamiliar with this event, take a look at their website for all the details.  High Level:  250+ public and private spaces are open to the public over a weekend in mid-October each year.  You’ll see everything from private clubs, to corporate offices to modern factories.  Have you ever wanted to see what the Groupon offices looked like?  What about a luxury hat manufacturer housed in an old fire house?  Well, you can with Open House Chicago.

2018 marked the eighth year of this event in Chicago and the idea has spread all over the world with more than 40 cities participating.  Each year, we decide to venture out of our known areas and explore an unfamiliar neighborhood (unfamiliar to us, that is).  This year, we ventured out to Beverly / Morgan Park on the far southwest side of the city. Having never really explored this area, we were very excited to welcome a new neighborhood not only into our lives, but into Open House Chicago.

Photo Journal of Beverly / Morgan Park

LaSalle Street Train Station Chicago - Headed to Open House Chicago

Hopping on the Metra Rock Island for a quick 20 minute ride down to Beverly for Open House Chicago

Morgan Park Academy

Morgan Park Academy

Morgan Park Academy

Beautiful Tiled Roof of Morgan Park Academy Alumni Hall

The grand entrance to Morgan Park Academy Alumni Hall

The grand entrance to Morgan Park Academy Alumni Hall

Morgan Park United Methodist Church

Morgan Park United Methodist Church

Morgan Park United Methodist Church

The stained glass dome at the Morgan Park United Methodist Church

Morgan Park United Methodist Church

The parlor at Morgan Park United Methodist Church

Ingersoll-Blackwelder House

Ingersoll-Blackwelder House

The Givins Castle

The Givins Castle

The Givins Castle

The Givins Castle

The Gravier-Driscol House - Ridge Historical Society

The Gravier-Driscol House – Ridge Historical Society

Beautiful Homes in Beverly Chicago

Beautiful private homes, not part of the tour.

Beautiful private homes, not part of the tour.

Beautiful private homes, not part of the tour.

107th St / Beverly Hills Station - Metra Rock Island Train

107th St / Beverly Hills Station – Metra Rock Island Train

Taking only public transit and walking, we made our way through every site in Beverly (we didn’t photo all of them though), grabbed a great lunch at the Horse Thief Hollow (104th/Western) and a beer at the end of our trip.  The weather was spectacular, the people were welcoming and the neighborhood was beautiful. If you haven’t explored Beverly, go do it. It’s a beautiful place.

Have you explored Open House Chicago (or another city)?  What are your favorite sites?  Do you have any tips and tricks for people?