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SPOTLIGHT:
ADVENTURES ABROAD
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From New York to London and back by way of Paris

by Robert Abrams
November 3, 2004

From New York to London and back by way of Paris

Robert Abrams
November 3, 2004

I went to London to check out Ballet and Swing there.

The TownCar Limousine arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule. The driver was very efficient and helpful as he placed the bags in the car. We hit some traffic on the way to Kennedy, but he clearly knew his route options and quickly found a way around the problem. We arrived at Kennedy with plenty of time. The ride was quiet and smooth. You can't really ask for more in a car service. Contact them at 212-873-4477 or www.7877777.com.

The check in area of Terminal One at Kennedy is bright and airy. The Air France check in agents all speak both English and French and were unfailingly friendly. I was quickly checked in and on my way. Keep in mind that the baggage tags Air France provides have a wide strip, instead of the thin elastic cord used by most other airlines. This different design is just as effective for use as a baggage tag, but if you are like me and use baggage tags as a substitute for the locks the TSA no longer allows, you need to remember to bring something else to prevent the pockets on your bags from accidentally opening. Fortunately, I had several left over tags from Mohonk that I had never bothered to remove from a couple of years ago wrapped around a strap of my bag that could be pressed into service.

Because I am flying in business class, I was able to use the Air France departure lounge. The lounge is spacious with many comfortable chairs. They provide flavorful finger food (filo dough filled with spinach, cheese or vegetables, and cookies and fruit) and admirably thick coffee, as well as champagne and orange juice. If you want to work (who really wants to, but these days it is hard to escape one's laptop computer) there are desks with convenient electric outlets. It might be possible to connect to the internet too, but I didn't check because when I am going away I have to draw the take the office with me line somewhere. The lounge has the feel of comfort and sophistication that air travel must have had before deregulation turned airplanes into flying buses and airports into a cross between a shopping mall and a blur. You pay for the privilege of business class, but it gives you something to strive for.

On board in business class, Air France treats you very well. The seats recline very far back and have personal video players at each seat with a selection of movies and other programs. The signature of the Air France business class experience, though, is the food. On this flight the hors d'oeuvre was scallops and shrimp served over mango with coriander. The taste was delicate yet tangy. There was a choice of entrees, even with a special of the day. I had the halibut with lemon butter and ginger julienne. This dish, which was accompanied by braised fennel with thyme, steamed baby zucchini and buttered, steamed baby carrots, was superb. For dessert there was cappuccino cake and a selection of cheeses. This excellent food was accompanied by a variety of equally excellent champagne, wine and coffee.

Even with reclining seats and expertly prepared food, flying across six time zones takes its toll. Air France provides its business class passengers with a kit to help you pass the time in comfort and make sure you are presentable when you arrive. The fuzzy socks are the height of casual style, a comfortable sleeping mask will help you catch fourty winks and toiletries like a toothbrush and razor will come in handy in case you need to go straight from the plane to a meeting.

On the way back a week later, Air France's service was just as impeccable. The departure lounge at London's Heathrow airport was decorated in the same style as the one in New York and was just as comfortable. For dinner on the flight they served Duck foie gras and country style bread with dried fruit marmalade, pan-seared lamb noisette, Provençale-style tomato and buttered sweet peas, and an assortment of desserts. I chose the chocolate pastry. Once again, the food was very good. I especially liked the sweetness of the peas contrasted with the tangy flavor of the tomato. The cheese and chocolate pastry were also superb.


Air France airport lounge at JFK Airport
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Air France airport lounge at JFK Airport
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Air France airport lounge at JFK Airport
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Legs stretched out wearing fuzzy socks on Air France New York to Paris
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Air France travel kit
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Paris Airport
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Paris Airport
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Paris Airport
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Air France Lounge at Heathrow Airport in London
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Air France Lounge at Heathrow Airport in London
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Air France Lounge at Heathrow Airport in London
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Air France Lounge at Heathrow Airport in London
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



An Air France flight taking off
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



The sky seen from above
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Coast of France
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



The Paris Airport
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Three kinds of cheese served with dinner on Air France
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



Chocolate for dessert on Air France
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams



PinkTop on an Air France business class seat (Danskin racer back tank top with inner molded contour cup bra and black piping, style 5277, $38.00)
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams




Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams

More Swing and Ballet in London, England

  • From New York to London and back by way of Paris - 11/3/2004 - by Robert Abrams. - Article sponsored by Air France.

  • Royal Ballet - Sylvia - 11/5/2004 - by Robert Abrams. - Article sponsored by Danskin.

  • The Boston Tea Party at the 100 Club - 11/6/2004 - by Robert Abrams. - Article sponsored by Air France.

  • Still Life with Apples and Orange Soda - 11/7/2004 - by Robert Abrams.

  • Royal Ballet - Requiem, A Wedding Bouquet, Les Noces - 11/8/2004 - by Robert Abrams. - Article sponsored by Danskin.

  • Swing dancing to the South London Jazz Orchestra at Club 100 - 11/8/2004 - by Robert Abrams. - Article sponsored by Danskin.

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