London Book Fair 2024 and more

[2024: London Book Fair Mar 11-14, The Shard March 15, Liquid History Tours Mar 16 – London UK]

London Book Fair (LBF) is an annual event (held in Olympia Exhibition Centre) in London. Publishers from around the world descend into London and every square inch of the convention center is filled. I went to LBF to hawk Rebecca O’Donnell’s books as well as my stuff.

The trip was interesting. At MSP (Minneapolis) airport, I boarded the Delta Airbus 330 with a Comfort+ seat (which is between the Economy section and the First Class or Delta One section). The plane was oversold of course. Some guy comes up to me and says I am in his seat. I am like, no, this is mine. So he gets the gate agent ad the gate agent takes my ticket – and returns and tells me I was upgraded to First Class! That was cool.

Pre-LBF trade show, on Monday, there was a Writer’s Conference sponsored by LBF. Met a bunch of writers from all over the world. The talks ranged from how to self-publish and get noticed (social media, social media, and social media) to how to get it published traditionally. Yeah, well, doesn’t everyone want to do it “traditionally” – which is excessively difficult, of course… Anyway, the talks were interesting. The seminar included lunch as well as a wine and mingle afterwards.

The next day at the London Book Fair, the guy who kicked me out of my seat just happened to be the VP of Sales for Lerner Publishing Group! Not missing a beat, I said I represent Rebecca O’Donnell, and here is one of her children’s books! He said he was upgraded to my seat; hence I got upgraded to first class. (He gave me his card and I contacted him a week later… he said he’ll “pass” on it – oh, well, still was cool encounter.)

So I went every day and dumping flyers on tables and trying to see who I can bump into and so on so forth. No luck of course. On the last day I saw the Alliance of Independent Authors booth and went around the corner to talk to them when I bumped into the CEO of a small publishing house. We talked for about fourty minutes and to make the long story short, she gave me her card and told me to have Rebecca O’Donnell call her! (When I got back, I told Beck to talk to her and they ‘clicked’ immediately. So now I am formatting all of Beck’s books to get it pushed through the publisher! Is that cool or what? That was a great last day.

Time to leave Olympia Exhibition Centre. And, the most annoying and worthless tube stop in London is the “Kensington Olympia” station. It’s supposed to be open on weekends and special events (oh, like the LBF) but it wasn’t open, and even when scheduled to be opened, it doesn’t. So, don’t ever count on it ever being open! Use the Overground for that station, even though it’s a pain to connect to the tube (underground). At any rate, continue with more adventures below…

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The Shard

After the London Book Fair, I went to The on a “Mastercard Priceless VIP Tour of the Shard”. (If you have any Mastercard, you can book this, just search on “Mastercard Priceless VIP Tour of the Shard”.) The link always changes, so do a search. (For general information on the building, click here: The Shard.) Go to the bottom of this page to see all of the pictures.

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Afternoon Tea in the Shangri-La Hotel

Back-to-back, went to the Ting Afternoon Tea in the Shangri-La Hotel. I had to take the elevator down from the observation deck to the ground floor, then walk around the building to the Shangri-La Hotel and take the elevator back up to the hotel level. They continually rotate the theme of the tea so you will get a different experience each time. Go to the bottom of this page to see all of the pictures.

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Liquid History Tours

Third time is a charm. I booked this tour twice before but had to cancel due to unforseen issues (conflict of events the first time and the Iceland volcano going off which may have caused flights to be cancelled on the way back…) So made it this time! And the tour stopped at the Black Friar’s Pub so that was awesome – I always walked or “tubed” past it but never went in, so that was a super cool treat. Tours are really inexpensive if you want to go (and the tour does not include drinks but plenty of time to drink at least one pint – or two half-pints.) Go here for information: Liquid History Tours. Go to the bottom of this page to see all of the pictures.

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The Pictures

Here are all of the pictures I took in chronological order, just click on the picture or link below:

During the “Liquid History Tours”, it’s an eight-TARDIS building 🙂

Key West Food and Wine Fest JAN 2024

[23-JAN-2024 to 28-JAN-2024 Key West, FL US]

As always, went to the Key West Food and Wine Fest in January. I went to the first one and every one since then, except for 2021. This time around, the festival was lower key than usual – without the trolley tours on any wine crawls; however, I got to met my best friends of the weekend like every year.

I stayed at the Hilton “Casa Marina” hotel (which was previously known as the Waldorf Astoria). The hotel itself was grand as usual; however, the exterior facing the beach still has not been rebuilt from the hurricane several years back.

I only went to two events this time. One was a stroll through Fort West Martello Garden Club on Thursday. The last thing later than night was a light dinner and I sabered my first champagne ever. I thought I would goof, but it went okay; well, other than me looking totally surprised that I did it without a hitch 🙂

Skipped Friday and walked around Key West, mainly on Duvall Street. A bunch of places were out of business but it looked like a few new ones were under construction. On Saturday, had the Grand Tasting at Fort East Martello Museum. Click on link below for all of the pics.

See all the pictures by clicking on the picture or link below:

Key West Food and Wine Fest 2024

The Key West Food and Wine Fest is every year on the last weekend of January and you can get the information here. The program for each year is posted around October of each year at the Key West Food and Wine Fest official site.

(P.S. Went to visit the old La Concha Inn which used to be an IHG Crowne Plaza hotel with a Starbucks and a wine room “Wine-O”. Well, it’s all gone and Marriott took over, everything wiped clean, and it is sell under heavy renovation with daily noise and debris so DO NOT BOOK a room there yet – the reviews are atrocious!)

Thanksgiving in New Orleans 2023

[2023 – Nov 22 through 25: Thanksgiving in New Orleans, LA, US]

I was all ready to go to London, UK for the week of Thanksgiving. However, the volcano in Iceland was about to blow it’s top so I canceled the trip (since I did not want to get stuck in England if it did spew ash into the air).

So I thought I’d just stay in my abode; however, last minute, I decided I wanted (British) afternoon tea and turkey for Thanksgiving. I searched on “british afternoon tea and restaurant open for thanksgiving” and New Orleans popped up. Did some quick sleuthing and I booked Hotel Monteleone to stay, starting on Wednesday. The hotel, although French sounding, was as British as you can get. Had the typical British umbrella in the closet. The room had both ‘still’ and ‘sparking’ water (as opposed to typical US hotels, nothing), and to top it off they had “Gilchrist and Soames” (not imported from the UK, it was made in the US – bummer) ameneties in the lou. Plus the hotel definitely had British vibes to it, like the hallway with stairs jutting out randomly in the hallway.

Once there, I visited their rotating Carousel Bar that night. The bar on the first floor of the hotel just to the right side of the front desk area is very popular. It rotates. It is cool. Never knew about it until I literally was sitting at the bar. =snort=

On Thursday, I went to hit Jack Rose for Thanksgiving Dinner. Three course dinner with wine pairing. It was awesome. For desert, I had their signature Mile High Pie 🙂

Then on Friday afternoon, walked over to Le Salon for Afternoon Tea. It was great. Bottomless tea of course! Although I do have two minor issues: (a) they did not have Pimms! Oh well, I had some minty concoction instead, which was good. And, (b) the serving tray was only a double-decker! Must be three! It doesn’t have to be, but it would have been nice. But no matter, it was great. I had, Earl Grey, hot – of course. (Although I didn’t say “hot”.)

So here are all of the pictures I took in chronological order, just click on the picture or link below:

Thanksgiving in New Orleans 2023

American Airlines Aviator MasterCard Priceless Experience OCT 2023 and more

Wow, this was a full fun packed week, here goes!

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Priceless Experience 11-Oct-2023, with Lauren
Official Pictures: National Cathedral Priceless Table 2023 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 out of 5 stars!

Okay wow, this was an event that I call spectacular! I went with my friend Lauren to the American Airlines Aviator MasterCard Priceless Experience held in Washington DC at the National Cathedral. Wow, it was decked out to the max! We had a quartet playing throughout the evening, it was amazing! We had a cocktail hour included with the four course dinner by celebrity Chef Bryan Voltaggio (Instagram).

Please note, the link to the official photographs may be removed at a future date, so I took pictures and downloaded a few select pictures from the official photos in my set of pictures (they are marked with AA logos #PricelessExperience). But I digress, it was worth way beyond what I paid in AA airmiles to attend this event! Click on the picture or link below to check out my photos along with a few select official ones:

Oh, I forgot to add, when we were leaving, we got a really really nice gift, a wooden wine box with laser etched wine bottle and a charcuterie cutlery set! Amazing!

American Airlines Aviator MasterCard Priceless Experience OCT 2023

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Dinner with Drew and Lisa 12-Oct-2023
We went to: District Chophouse and Brewery ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 out of 5 stars
The following day, had dinner with my work buddy Drew and Lisa at the District Chophouse and Brewery. Fun conversation and all. It was late so it was not crowded. I had filet mignon with asparagus. It was amazingly tender and great! In all of the excitement, I forgot to take a picture of the food, sorry!

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Another Adventure with Ed and Kathy 13-Oct-2023
We went to: Virtue Feed and Grain ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 out of 5 stars
The following day, had dinner with my college friends Kathy and Ed at the Virtue Feed and Grain in my favorite town in Alexandria, VA. Wow, it was crowded. We sat outside. It was a nice day. I got the salmon. It was nice and tasty and again, no picture of the food. So, so, sorry…

On the ominous side, Alexandria is right on the shoreline of the Potomac River. Here is a picture at night, right after dinner. That waterline should be at least 5 feet below where it is. It was so high, the water inundated parts of the sidewalk and flooded on parts the streets by where we were walking. The waters are rising! Beware…

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Motto by Hilton, 10-Oct-2023 through 14-Oct-2023
Bad concept, worse pricing: Motto by Hilton ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ 0 out of 5 stars

WARNING: It appears to me like Hilton stuffed with fake reviews. Why? Look at the “5 star” reviews that flood the site – they are one-time reviewers who just happen to just to comment on just that one hotel. And all of the bad reviews get pushed lower and lower so you don’t see them. My advice? Avoid all “Motto by Hilton”, as follows:

The “‘Motto’ by Hilton” hotels are ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ 0 out of 5 stars, avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid! The room is reminiscent of old New York hotels where there is zero space, no desk (unless you use one of the night tables as a ‘desk’ but it’s so low – at nightstand height – if you work there for 8 hours, your neck and shoulders will hurt), and no where to open plop down your carry-on bag onto a luggage rack – no space! You have to plop it onto the beg get things in/out then zip it up and put it onto the floor. and your carry-on bag.

Now, if the hotel was priced at “hostel” prices, it would be okay if you are into crammed spaces, but the cost of these micro-no-space matchbox rooms is just as ridiculously expensive as their regular full service Hilton hotels! Oh, and, I was by myself. Pity the fools if you are a couple with a huge bag or two. Mega-nightmare. With a child? Absolutely ZERO space. Zero zero zero zero zero. Hilton should immediately dump this ill-formed crammed concept. See my carry-on in my squashed pitiful room below for sizing, yeah, absolutely zero room at all:

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Secret, Secret, I have a Secret!
Pssst! This was a packed week from start to finish. I started with the best first and ended with the least last. How do I find and go to cool events like the Priceless Table? There’s more to it that I can expound on in a paragraph, but here is a hint: I got tired of searching the ‘inter-webs’ so I created my own site where all of the fun sites are at my finger tips, at

It a list of lists of fun events all across the world. Check out the “Members page” (it’s free and no need to give me your email or any of that nonsense), and see how you can grab a cool thing or two to do! A whole new world of adventure begins right there…

Atlanta Food and Wine Fest – Sep 2023

[21-Sep through 24-Sep 2023 Atlanta, GA US]

I bought tickets for the Atlanta Food and Wine Fest for Friday and Saturday.

Well, it wasn’t Food and “Wine” at Atlanta. It was Food and “Booze” on Friday night. Over fifty vendors and there was actually one wine tasting table – everything else was just alcohol. One or two other had liquid in wine-ish bottles but it was not wine. If you are at a wine fest and tasting wine, you can get loopy after about two dozen sips or tastes, even if you dump excess pours.

Now think of a booze fest with even a quarter of an ounce of hard liquor, you’d feel it rapidly and become loopy rather quickly. I mean there was even a Coca Cola booth (after all, we are in Atlanta); and, they were serving Coke but people weren’t going for that, the booth had Coke and rum; and Coke and vodka. Yeah, smooth sailing really quickly.

Needless to say, even with hyper-limited “tastes” I was done in about an hour, but hung around for two, eating a bit more food. The food options were phenomenal by the way, you can be a carnivore or a herbivore and the choices were excellent. I omnivored it through a bunch of food… So, I skipped the second day (Saturday) and went to the Trader Vic’s Tiki Bar and Restaurant at the Downtown Atlanta Hilton where I was staying instead.

Here are a some pictures from the event – click on the picture or link below for more:

Atlanta Food and Wine Festival 2023

The Atlanta Food and Wine Fest is every year in September and you can get the information here. The program for each year is posted three to six months before the event each year at Atlanta Food and Wine Festival official site.