Birthday Extravaganza 2019


So far 2019 has been a transcendental rollercoaster of a ride. New job, new location, new home, new personalities, yet still have the same ole stress.

With all the life changes, I’d almost forgotten 2019 marks a major birthday milestone. Yes, this year, I began a new decade of life. Which decade I won’t say, but it was a major one. Now how to celebrate this milestone?

For the answer, I turned to my trusty travel locations bucket list, and see 2019 is “Because I Want Too: French Riviera.”

Celebrating my birthday surrounded by luxury, fine dining, beautiful beaches, wonderful scenery, and handsome men?

Oh yeah, no need to think twice – Côte d’Azur, here I come.

rivera 2

Before I reached Côte d’Azur, I spent a little time in London, England For readers who don’t know, England is my second home and I try to visit every year if possible. Some years I have a “staycation” at “home,” and other years “home” is where my annual adventures begin.

For 2019, London served as the “Birthday Extravaganza” kick-off location.

After a surprisingly pleasant and comfortable flight aboard a United Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner, I arrived at London Heathrow. One of the biggest changes since my last visit was the immigration process.


The UK Government expanded the use of eGates at Heathrow to nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America. This is so amazing.

Normally, I expect at least a thirty minute to one-hour wait to process immigration, but since I was able to use the eGate, I waited longer for the Heathrow Express than I did in the processing line. AWESOME!!

This adventure also marked the first time I rode the aforementioned Heathrow Express. The ride was about 20 minutes from Heathrow to London Paddington, but it took me a good 15 minutes to walk from Terminal 2 to the Heathrow Express. I always get my exercise when I fly into Heathrow.

Nevertheless, I’m glad I decided to ride the Heathrow Express as opposed to a taxi. The ride was nice, not too crowded and I was in Central London in 20 minutes, whereas a cab ride usually takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. Add in the Heathrow Rewards points I earned, and I’m £3 away from a free magazine — Sweeeeet!


lancaster gate hotel

I chose the Lancaster Gate Hotel as my accommodations for my short stay for three reasons: (1), it met my accommodation standards; (2) it was located a short 12-minute walk from Paddington Station, thus neglecting the need for a cab; and (3) I was able to use some leftover timeshare points, thus reducing my trip’s overall lodging expenses.

My overall stay at the hotel was nice and peaceful. The room was a bit tight, as are many traditional London hotel rooms, but it was comfortable, and clean – including the tea service set, and tastefully decorated. The hotel’s customer service was fabulous, even fulfilling my request for a mini-fridge.

The bathtub/shower combo was the only minor issue I had with the room. It was a little high and I needed to take great care getting in and out without slipping or falling. I didn’t fall or slip once, but yet it was still a bit unsettling, and something I mentioned in my online review of the hotel.


The restaurant was nice and the food was filling. Additionally, my timing was impeccable because I was able to get in, eat and complete my dining experience before a huge group tour bus arrived. According to one of the tour members, the tour was arriving after a long bus trip from Edinburgh. I’ve done that trip myself and it can be very long. 


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The hotel wasn’t 5 stars, but I felt relaxed, refreshed and content.

After a moment to wash up, I headed out. There was nowhere in particular I wanted or needed to go. I just took a leisurely walk around the area and simply just enjoyed another visit home.

Upon my return to my hotel, the reminder of my evening was spent brushing up on royal protocol.


Well, one does brush up on royal protocol when one is attending Afternoon Tea with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. 


  1. Love reading about your travels. We are going to Scotland and Wales next month. Flying in to Heathrow and changing to a domestic flight for Scotland. I guess we will have to go thru passport and immigration. We have US global Entry, will that get us thru an E-Gate?

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