Monday, June 24, 2013

2013 Mid Year Review

As I mentioned last week, there hasn't been too much going on since we've gotten back to NYC earlier this month. But today, my father's going away for a quick work trip to Parkersburg, West Virginia (connecting through Cleveland).

Luckily for him, the flights are operated by United, so as a Platinum status member, he'll earn 2,000 elite qualifying miles (elites get 500 miles minimum for each segment).

However, my mother and I are going to stay home this time because it's only for one night, but my grandmother's going to come over from New Jersey. Girl's night!

But as we approach the middle of the year, I thought it might make sense to just stop and take a look back at my family's first 6 months of 2013.


Total Miles Flown:  59,402 miles on 32 flights
  • United Elite Miles Earned:  38,340 miles (earned United Silver)
  • Aegean Elite Miles Earned:  4,388 miles (earned Aegean Blue)
Total Miles Redeemed:  280,000 United miles

Hotel Nights Stayed: 96 nights
  • Starwood: 35 nights (earned Gold; 15 away from Platinum)
  • Hyatt: 28 nights (earned Platinum; 22 away from Diamond)
Points Redeemed: 583,400 hotel points used for 37 nights, including:
Rest of 2013

Now that my father's started working again, it's probably unlikely we'll continue at the same pace for the balance of the year, but we do expect to have a few more vacations.

1. July 4th in Chicago to visit my new baby friend Connor. We're flying out the Wed before and staying at our go-to-hotel in the suburbs, the Sheraton Elk Grove Village, for the rest of the week enjoying some Midwestern Americana (backyard BBQs, beers, brats and fireworks). Then on Friday, we're going  downtown Chicago to stay at the Park Hyatt Chicago for a night and meet up with some other friends on Saturday.

2. End of August in Colorado to go to a wedding. My father met some new friends Ryan and Jessica while traveling in Vietnam back in 2008. They're getting married right outside Denver. We're going with our other family friends Ben, Huyen and their baby daughter Shayna. After the wedding, we'll go up to Boulder to meet up with another of my father's friends from high school, Angus and his family. Then we'll spend 5 nights at the Westin Riverfront Resort at Beaver Creek before heading back to Denver to catch a Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field. After this game, he'll have 27 stadiums down and 3 left to go.

3. Columbus Day Weekend somewhere (maybe Las Vegas?). Unsure if we'll do anything, but my father never met a long weekend he didn't like. If anyone has any good ideas, let us know! Plus this is probably the last chance for me to fly for free as a lap child infant.

4. Christmas/New Year's in Israel to see my grandparents. It will have been almost a year since I last saw my grandparents and great-grandmother. Also, this trip will be my first after turning 2 years old (i.e., I'll have to pay for my own seat, even though we all know I'll be cuddled up in my mother's lap anyway).

Hopefully by the end of 2013, we'll hit Starwood Platinum Status (50 nights) and United Gold Status (50,000 miles) for 2014.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Q2 Credit Card Churn

Sorry that it's been a while since my last post, but to be honest, there wasn't a lot going on the past 2 weeks aside from us returning home and getting settled back into our NYC daily lives.

But yesterday was my mothers Credit Card Churn day. Recall, whenever you apply for a new credit card, the bank runs a credit check (also known as a hard inquiry). The more recent hard inquiries on your report, the more concern a bank has that you're possibly overextending yourself. I mean, would you want a babysitter who is constantly looking for a new job or one who is 100% committed to you?

But the trick is that the banks and credit reporting agencies are slow. It usually takes them 1-3 days to process the inquiry and update your report. Meaning, if you apply for 3-4 cards on the same day, none of them will see each other's inquiry!
DISCLAIMER:  Credit cards can be extremely dangerous for those who are not financially disciplined and cannot control your spending. If you cannot pay your credit card off in full at the end of every month, all the points and miles are NOT worth paying 15-25% interest. If you don't have a high enough credit score, you will be denied and lower your score even further. If you plan to take out a mortgage for a home or a loan for a car, recent inquires will impair your ability to get the best rate, or a loan at all. You don't have to earn a lot, but you do need to spend less than you earn. Please re-read this post about Credit Score FAQs.
So back in February, my father did his Credit Card Churn and received 4 new credit cards.
  • Chase Hyatt Visa - $75 annual fee, but got a $100 statement credit; 2 free nights in a suite for spending $1k in 3 months; 3x points for Hyatt spend; 2x on restaurants (Booty Call Card) 
  • Citi Thank You Preferred Mastercard - no annual fee; 6,000 Thank You points for $300 spend in 3 months; 5x points for gas, groceries and drugstores for 12 months (Marriage Card) 
  • Citi American Airlines Business Mastercard - $95 annual fee but waived the 1st year; 35,000 miles for $1,500 spend in 3 months (One Night Stand Card) 
  • Barclays US Airways Mastercard - $89 annual fee but waived the 1st year; 35,000 miles after 1st purchase (One Night Stand/Booty Call Card)
And in May when American Express ran a special 1 day promotion for 75,000 Membership Rewards for their American Express Business Gold card, my father broke protocol and applied for that card as well. Since he was going to have 1 inquiry in May, he decided to take a chance on applying for a personal card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Mastercard.

Mom's Churn
But now it was my mother's turn to churn. So as June approached, it had been almost 6 months since her last round of applications. With the mandate help of my father, she went for the following cards.
  • Chase Ink Bold (Business Card) - $95 annual fee but waived the 1st year; 60,000 Chase UR points after spending $5,000; 5x on telecom, office supply spend; 2x on gas stations and hotels (Marriage Card)
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Mastercard (Personal Card) - $95 annual fee but waived the 1st year  40,000 Chase UR points after spending $3,000; 2x on dining and travel (Marriage Card)
  • American Express Starwood (Business Card) - $65 annual fee but waived the 1st year; 25,000 SPG points after spending $5,000; 2x on Starwood hotel spend; 5% OPEN Savings at select merchants (One Night Stand Card)
  • Citi Thank You Preferred - No annual fee; 15,000 Thank You points after spending $1,000 (One Night Stand Card)
  • Discover IT - No annual fee; rotating 5% cash back categories every quarter (Booty Call Card)
In addition to applying for new cards, she needed to cancel some old cards that were coming up on their annual fee.
  • Citi Thank You Premier - $125 annual fee; allows you to use Thank You Points at 1.33 cents/pt for airline redemptions
  • Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card - $95 annual fee; provides primary insurance for car rental; United Airline benefits (free checked bag, priority security and boarding, 2 annual United Club Lounge passes)
This round was a bit mixed, but could be a great round.
  • Chase Ink Bold (Business Card) - Pending Review. My parents called the Chase Reconsideration Line for Business Cards (800-453-9719) a few hours later and were told to call back next week. Apparently the Small Business promotion that Chase is running this week (60k points instead of the usual 50k points) led to a lot of applications and their approval department is overwhelmed. We'll see what happens.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Mastercard (Personal Card) - The Mastercard version is no longer offered.
  • American Express Starwood (Business Card) - Approved instantly! She already has the Personal SPG Amex, but now she'll have the business card version. In her application, she put my father's SPG number, so now all their points from credit cards will consolidate into his account. She could have also put her number in and just transferred the points later (free for spouses), but this way is easier.
  • Citi Thank You Preferred - Approved! We did have to online chat with a Citi representative who asked a few follow up questions: What my mother does for a living (child care professional!), our total savings/investment account balances (enough), if she had a nice weekend (yes) and our monthly rent (too much!).  They approved her with a $2,000 credit limit, but offered her the option to shift $4,500 from her Citi American Airlines Amex ($15,000 limit) to the new Thank You card for a total of $6,500 credit limit.
  • Discover IT - Pending Review. I'm sure my father will call their reconsideration line later to make sure things are in order. [UPDATE:  Approved on June 19!]
  • Citi Thank You Premier - We called to cancel the card (but was hoping they'd make us an offer to keep it open). Because we knew we'd be making this call in June, we started spending on this card for the past few months to show Citi that we were active users. After explaining that the $125 annual fee was leading us to cancel the card, they transferred us to the Retention Department where they made us an offer of a $125 statement credit (to offset the fee) if we spent $4,500 in the next 3 months. My father (who never takes the first offer) explained that was a lot of spend, and they made a second offer: $75 statement credit if we spent $1,000 in the next 3 months.  Deal! So now we'll have this card for another year for $50 (net of the statement credit) after a little help from Amazon next month.
  • Chase United Mileage Plus - In our experience, Chase is pretty tough about retention offers. Meaning, they don't make any. They see value in their products and expect you to pay for them if you want them. So likely, we'll cancel this card, but have kept this open for the next week - in case our Ink Bold application chances are improved if we "sacrificed" this MileagePlus card.
So 2 Approvals, 2 Pendings, 1 Not Available, 1 Retention Offer and likely 1 Cancel.  Hopefully we'll get those 2 approvals for 4 new cards. If those get approved, then we'll have $12,000 to spend in the next 3 months. [UPDATE:  3 Approvals, 1 Pending as of June 19]

All this stuff makes a lot of people nervous, but as my father tells me, "It's all a part of the game, and it's 100% legal. The Credit Card companies WANT you to sign up for more cards." However, I still get worried watching from the sidelines that my college fund is going to quickly evaporate! But my mother tells me, "Don't worry, you're father's way too cheap to ever spend too much!"

Thursday, June 6, 2013

And We're Back...

Flight #59 – Lufthansa 404
Frankfurt (FRA) – New York (JFK)
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Depart: 5:10PM / Arrive: 7:50PM
Duration: 8hr 40min
Aircraft: Boeing 747
Seat: 24D, 24E, 24G (Business)
Earned: 0 miles (3,855 miles flown)
Lifetime Miles: 113,859 miles

By the time everyone's reading this in the morning, I should be back in NYC probably fighting some jet lag as we landed last night at 7:50PM NYC time (1:50AM Frankfurt time).

It's been an amazing past few months for me, but I think we're all looking forward to spending a few months at home. My father will go back to work and my mother will go back to teaching me how to be a proper young lady who doesn't scream at the sight of old people. But before I talk about what's coming up next (not much), let's take a quick look back at our Business Class flight back home.

Overall, our return flight home was pretty great. In addition to using United miles for our seats in business class, we had access to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge in Frankfurt Airport. Unlike many of the American lounges on United, US Airways and American that I've been to, the international carriers tend to have great lounges, especially in their home hubs (like Lufthansa in Frankfurt).

Interestingly enough, in addition to their famous First Class Lounge experience, Lufthansa had two separate lounges for their mid-tier passengers: (a) The Senator Lounge for Star Alliance Gold members and (b) their regular Business Class Lounge. After checking out both, we unanimously agreed that the Senator Lounge is always better than the Business Lounge. Probably because it takes 50,000+ miles flown a year to qualify for Star Alliance Gold, whereas any suit on a work trip can get a business class ticket and access the Business Class Lounge. But as you can see, the lounges were pretty massive and had enough seating for more.

The Senator Lounge had a wide assortment of foods (including a sandwich bar with a chef on standby, hot wings, frankfurters, soups, salads, etc) as well as a pretty good selection of alcohol and soft drinks. While the Senator Lounge had all these items, the Business Class lounge didn't have the sandwich bar or quite as large a selection of other items.

If you were more about relaxing, you could spend your time at the computer stations or the recliners. Or you could have taken a shower if you were coming off a long overnight flight and needed to freshen up.

And they had things for my mother (shopping area) as well as me (a family changing bathroom with the nicest pull out changing area I've ever seen).

By 4:30PM, we were starting to board. Unlike the U.S. carriers, Lufthansa called for passengers needing special assistance and passengers with young children to board first (ahead of first class). Since my parents can walk faster than old disabled people on the jetbridge, we were the very first passengers on board!

This 747 plane had the older configuration for First Class and Business Class, so these seats weren't quite as nice as what they're showcasing on other long haul routes, but we were used to flying economy so anything was a step up from that! This plane had 2 different business class sections separated by the galley. We wanted to sit together so we chose Row 24 in the back section (only rows 24-25).

That ended up a great decision because while we were only supposed to have 2 seats (A & C), 8 of the 14 business class seats in our back cabin was empty. So we were able to switch to the middle section (seats D, E & G), meaning I got my own seat!

The flight was pretty long but during daytime hours so we chose not to really sleep on the flight and to land tired so we'd fall asleep immediately on NYC time. I watched more of my videos on our iPad and some Disney Junior cartoons on Lufthansa's in flight entertainment system. My father had his choice of some rather mediocre movie options but went with Identity Thief (Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy), Side Effects (Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum) and Broken City (Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe).  He had never heard of the last two, but found them to be passable for an 8 hour long flight.

Dinner was served and we went with some seasonal white asparagus with a side of veal steak. Yes, the asparagus was the main course.

While they had a decent selection of wine, I went with my orange juice and milk (though not at the same time, because that would be disgusting).

My father and I skipped dessert (a selection of cheeses or mixed fruit), because we were pretty comfortable in the reclined position watching our shows and didn't want to sit up straight to eat yet more cheese and fruit on this trip.

But the best part was how great the flight attendants were about babies. Not only did they have baby food for me (they even heated it for me), but they also gave me some Lufthansa swag (nice little baby pillow and a wrist toy! My new favorite airline!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel

Hotel Stay Detail 
Hotel: Sheraton Frankfurt Airport
Dates: June 4-5, 2013
Rate Paid: $195 
Regular Room Rate: $254/night 
Upgraded Room Rate: $305/night
Total $ Benefit: $110
Points Earned: 1,865 SPG Points


As I mentioned in an earlier post, we used our miles to get two round trip award tickets to Paris with a stopover in Munich. We wanted to try flying back in business class on Lufthansa Airlines (one of the best airlines in the world), so we routed back through Frankfurt (instead of looking for a direct Paris-New York flight on United).

But since we already used up our free stopover (3 nights in Munich) on the outbound, we could only have a layover on the return. In case you're not familiar with the difference between a Stopover and a Layover, let me explain:
  • Stopover - a longer stop in between flights (from 1 day to up to 1 year)
  • Layover - a shorter connection in between flights (from 30 minutes up to 24 hours)
So on one extreme, we could have taken an early morning flight to Frankfurt and had a 45 minute connection before our morning New York flight. That would have barely been enough time to change my diaper in the airport bathroom before boarding started for the next flight.

Or on the other extreme, we could have taken the late afternoon flight, stayed over for a night, explored Frankfurt the next day, and then taken the afternoon flight to New York. If you know my father at all, you'll know which option we took.

Hotel Selection Thought Process

But now that meant we needed a hotel in Frankfurt. The traditional option would have been to book a hotel in the city center so that we could have woken up in downtown Frankfurt, ready to explore the city. But after checking out expensive city center options, we thought a little out of the box.

So instead of (a) landing at FRA Airport at 7PM, carrying our suitcases onto a train/bus to get downtown, finding a cab from the train/bus station to the hotel, and having to repeat those steps in reverse the next day, we thought we'd be better off (b) easily walking through the airport straight into the connected airport hotel, get a good night's sleep, leave our luggage at the hotel the next morning, head into the city via train and return to the airport to catch our evening flight home.

So when we landed yesterday at 7PM, we just collected our luggage and took the elevator upstairs to Departures (since we were already in the European Union, we didn't have to go through Immigration in Germany). Eventually we found signs for the Sheraton Airport hotel (as well as the Hilton). Full disclosure, the signs weren't easy to find so we had to ask someone who pointed us to the escalators leading to the sky bridge. But after a short walk over to the other building, we were inside the Sheraton.

Beat the Timer

The Sheraton Frankfurt Airport hotel was a Category 4 meaning we could have redeemed 10,000 SPG points for a free night, but it was also a European Starwood hotel which meant there was a strong chance it would be on the list for Beat The Timer.

BTT is Starwood Hotel's internal flash sale website. Various hotels (mostly European and Middle Eastern) who have high near term vacancies will offer blocks of their available rooms for some significant discounts if you book within a short window of time.

The drawbacks are that you (a) reserve only a basic room and (b) the reservation is non-refundable. They claim that your credit card will be charged at time of booking, but in our case, it wasn't charged at all until we checked out. But I'm pretty sure it was non-refundable had we wanted to cancel. But knowing the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport hotel makes frequent appearances on BTT, we got lucky and waited to book our Frankfurt hotel until we saw it on the site.

So now, we secured our hotel room for just €149/night ($195 USD), saving about $50 USD from the regular rate. Of course, my father had to re-run the math to see if it made sense to use 10,000 SPG points instead. He calculated that since it would only save him $195, it meant he was only getting 1.95 cents/point, well below his minimum redemption price of 3.5 cents/point. So a cash booking it was!

The $195 he would pay in cash would earn him 585 points (3x) for having Gold Status, plus another 390 points (2x) for using his reward credit card for a hotel, plus another 390 points (2x) for the Starwood Q2 2013 Double Take Promotion, plus another 500 points for using the SPG iPad app to make the booking. He could have earned another 250 SPG points as his Gold status welcome amenity, but opted for free wifi instead (which would have cost €9/day).

Total haul = 1,865 points, which at 2-4 cents/pt is worth $37-75. So in a way, he only paid something between $120-158 for the night. Not horrible for Europe.

The Room

Per the website, we were booked into a Classic Room (291 sq feet, seen here on the left). That would have suited our needs perfectly, because all we wanted was a clean comfortable bed and a door with a lock!

But when we arrived, we noticed that there was an empty Priority SPG Gold/Platinum check in line next to the regular check in line with about 5 people ahead of us. Apparently, they really recognized loyalty and status here! So my emboldened father walked right up to the SPG Gold/Platinum check in line, drawing multiple confused/angry stares from the regular guests who were waiting patiently for their turn. Hey, membership has its privileges.

For having Starwood Gold status (and an adorable 19 month old baby), they had upgraded us to a Superior Family Room, which went for $305/night. In addition to being 474 sq feet, it had 2 twin beds and two comfortable chairs, as well as the usual king sized bed. Plenty of space and soft surfaces for me to run around and play in. It was like an indoor obstacle course right in our hotel room!

The rest of the room was pretty basic, except that it had a big entry foyer that had plenty of space to store luggage while also filling up an inflatable baby swimming pool since the hotel didn't have a pool for me to splash around in. But as my family often does, we made do with the large bathroom that had a separate shower as well as a bathtub on the other end. When you're as small as I am, a bathtub is plenty big to serve as a swimming pool. Plus fewer people will complain if I have an accident.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Week in Paris

Flight #58 – Lufthansa 1041 
Paris (CDG) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Tuesday, June 4, 2013 
Depart: 5:55PM / Arrive: 7:10PM 
Duration: 1hr 15min 
Aircraft: Airbus 320 
Seat: 3A and 3C (Business) 
Earned: 0 miles (279 miles flown) 
Lifetime Miles: 110,004 miles

Well, my time in Paris is coming to and end and by the time you read this, we're probably at CDG Airport starting our journey back home to New York (via Frankfurt). This being my first trip to Europe, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I've had a great time enjoying just about everything this city has to offer a 19 month old lap child.

Here's a few of my favorite photos from the past week.





Love Paris, Not the Parisians

How can you not be amazed at such a beautiful city?

By talking to the locals, that's how.

Well, to be fair, it's not all bad. Several of the French people we interacted with were quite helpful, polite and genuine. It's the other 99% of them that weren't.

Example 1 - The Ring Trick Scam Artist

The days leading up to our arrival in Paris, my father explained a common scam to my mother and me. It basically goes like this. You'll stop on the street to tie your shoelace, look on your map, or checking your cell phone. A man will walk by you and suddenly stop and find a golden ring on the ground near you. He will start to get excited about the small fortune he's found. He asks around to see if anyone's lost a ring (they haven't) and then asks you to examine it verify it's worth (it has none). But it's heavy and feels like gold. Then comes the con.

He says that he's an illegal immigrant in France and cannot possibly explain how he could have come across a gold ring without raising suspicion. He then asks if you would be willing to take it and sell it. He asks for a small amount of cash in return, much less than the probable value of the ring. Sounds like a great deal, huh? Maybe if this were feudal France and people were accustomed to trade gold for goods and services, but the only gold I know is my father's Amex card.

Well, no sooner than we arrive on our first day, my mother stops on a street corner to readjust some extra diapers in my stroller, when we see a suspicious man hovering around us. My father was looking at my mother and me as the man stopped 3 feet away from us and knelt down.

He put his hand on the ground and suddenly a gold ring appeared between his dirty fat fingers. My father started to laugh and told my mother, "Look, it's the gold ring trick!" to which the man quickly slid the ring back into this palm and went away without even attempting to talk to us. Shame, because my father really wanted to take a photo of him for this blog post.

Example 2 - The Smoker

We had just finished spending time in the Louvre checking out my favorite artists, when we wanted to get some food/coffee before we went back to the hotel to rest. It was mid/late afternoon when we found a nice cafe not too far from the museum that had a great selection of well priced sandwiches including one with pate that my mother really wanted to try. We sat down at one of the open outside tables next to an older couple drinking their coffee and smoking a cigar.

It began to rain a bit, so everyone shifted their tables backwards under the cover, causing the tables to get a bit closer together, including the older man next to us. By now, we were ready to order and the waiter was no where to be seen. I was getting a little impatient at the deliberate pace of the French waiter, so I started to make a fuss as 19 month olds are prone to do. The elderly man's face changed quickly as he clearly had no patience for my Uzbek/Russian-Korean method of communication.

He began to take deeper breaths of his cigar and blow the smoke directly in our direction. My parents turned around with a shocked/frustrated expression to which he replied with his Parisian nonchalance as if he had done nothing wrong and continued to smoke his cigar. We could have said something to him, but just decided to leave and find somewhere else to eat (as he probably hoped we would).

Example 3 - The Denial Waitress

After this pleasant scene, we continued walking around the 1st Arrondissement in search of a small cafe where we could have a small snack without paying €60 ($80 USD). We came across a little plaza with about 7 different restaurants all next to one another and decided to look at the menus. My mother was now in the mood for a sandwich, and the one French bistro that had sandwiches looked promising....

...until my father came in with me in my stroller. Suddenly, all the eyes in the restaurant turned to us like we just walked into a Skinhead Rally. One of the women sitting and eating at the table stopped us from entering. She looked down at me in my stroller and told us, "The kitchen was closed, sorry."

I could see other people there eating away, so we asked again and received the same curt reply, "Sorry, closed." So we left and went back to our hotel where they'd at least pretend to like us.

Example 4 - The Shocked Waitress

Another evening, we were in search of a bistro where my mother could get a good bowl of French onion soup. We passed up a few Japanese ramen restaurants that looked very promising and relatively well-priced, but we were in search of from FOS. We found a brasserie with a bunch of other people eating outside. Given the smoker fiasco, we decided not to take any chances and looked for seats inside.

We walked in and found a table in the back corner where my occasional rants and noises wouldn't cause too much disruption. It was a typical table along the wall, with one side with booth seating and the other with pull out chairs.
Now, something about me that you should know is that I really like sitting in my stroller. It's not the most comfortable thing in the world, but it keeps me in place and lets me be close to the table without being able to reach and grab (i.e. drop/spill/break) things. Sometimes, I'll let my parents put me in a high chair, but there's nothing better than having back support while you sit. And plus, I love being able to lean back and nap whenever I feel like it (as I'm sure you adults would agree).
So as we started to sit, the waitress started to be quite adamant that I be placed on my mother's lap in the booth. My parents explained that we'd all prefer that I sit in the stroller on the outside of the table. The waitress gasped, "But why?"

"She's better off here in the stroller, right here."

"But why? She should sit inside."

"No, it's OK, she's fine here."

"Really?!?!" That was followed by some hand gestures about how a baby should sit on the mother's lap at a restaurant.

This inane back and forth with her continued and repeated itself for another 3-4 cycles. For some reason, she just wouldn't give up. But finally she relented and went away frustrated as if we just asked to be served dog food (which wasn't too far off from the actual food we were served). Apparently, people came here to drink, but rarely to eat. Lesson learned.

Example 5 - The Guard Dog Hostess

The other day, we arrived back to our hotel mid afternoon and thought it might be nice to have a coffee in the Park Hyatt's atrium courtyard where other couples and families were having coffee, tea or wine.

My father (dressed as you can see here in the photo) proceeded to walk through the front doors, down the lobby hallway and towards the atrium doors when the Park Hyatt hostess started tailing him.

"Sir, Sir. Can I help you, sir?"

"Hi, no thank you. I'm fine."

"Sir, is there something you're looking for?"

"I just want to look over there. Maybe have a coffee."


"You know I'm a guest at the hotel here."

"May I have your room number, sir?"

"It's 326."

"Oh, right this way, sir."


So now my father and mother were both convinced that the sample set of French people we met were quite horrible and possibly indicative of the general French culture towards all tourists (because we don't really look "American"). But I was set on proving to my parents that there were some good friendly French people in this beautiful city.

So the following day, I went up to various other people in the hopes of charming them and getting some reciprocal friendliness. And finally, I found a nice group sitting in the park besides the Eiffel Tower who really took a liking to me and welcomed me into their little picnic.

Unfortunately for my argument, they were all English.