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Edinburgh and St. Andrews

Edinburgh and St. Andrews
Edinburgh and St. Andrews
via Air France La Première
August 2022


Off to Scotland

Today I'm off to Scotland with two of my three sons.  The third one just had twins to go with a 15 month old and is likely grounded for years.  We're spending a day in Edinburgh and a day in St. Andrews where we are playing golf on the Castle Course.

• United First Class to San Francisco
• Wine tasting in Napa and lunch at Bouchon 
• Air France La Première to Paris
• Air France La Première Lounge at Paris CDG
• Air France Business Class to Edinburgh
• Waldorf Astoria The Caledonian Edinburgh
• Touring Edinburgh
• Rusacks St. Andrews Hotel
• The Old Course at St. Andrews
• The Castle Course at St. Andrews
• Air France Business Class to Paris
• Air France La Première to Los Angeles
• Delta First Class to Denver


First up is a United positioning flight to San Francisco and then Air France La Première to Paris.   PreCheck was amazingly light at 6:30am and I was in the B concourse a few minutes later.  I had initially planned to stop into the United Club but this cured me. LOL.


OK, Starbucks I can maybe understand.

Denver DEN to San Francisco SFO
United UA 2180
August 19th, 2022

Welcome to United, where ridiculously half the plane is Group 1.

United's Denver Scramble is tasty breakfast option.

Unlike LAX, SFO United Clubs enforced the no lounge access for Star Alliance Gold unless you are departing.  Did a little work in the T2 concourse and then met my LA son and we headed to Napa for wine tasting and lunch at Thomas Keller's Bouchon.

Bouchon's wonderful bread.

We both went with the fabulous steak frites with an upgrade to truffle fries.

Our driver dropped us off at SFO just before 6pm, over 2 hours before our 8:25pm departure.

Checking in at the La Première counter, someone at SFO can't spell even the most obvious words.  Sheesh.

But our amiable La Première agent escorted us thru security and to what Air France currently uses as its First Class Lounge...

... the decidedly un-First Class Virgin Clubhouse.

My SFO son arrived 15 minutes later and we passed the time catching up before we were escorted to our plane.

For those into Instagram, here are some videos of today...

Air France La Première to Paris

At T-25, a La Première rep stopped by to escort the three of us plus our cabin mate from the Virgin Clubhouse to Gate A9.

San Francisco SFO to Paris CDG
Air France AF 85
August 19, 2022
Departed 4/4


Our private jetbridge door.  And unlike other airlines, it was only used for the 4 of us and then locked thereafter.

Cabin pics from a previous flight.

​Once in the air, we closed the far curtain and enjoyed our own private three suite area.

Delicious amuse-bouche.

Showtime, La Première style.


OMG... I'm stuffed.

But not stuffed enough to pass on dessert.  Fabulous.

And my Instagram video of our fantastic Air France flight to Paris

La Première Lounge at Paris CDG

We were met at the plane door by Céline, our wonderful La Première personal assistant for the day who escorted down the jetbridge stairs to our private Mercedes van for the drive to the La Première Lounge.

Thrilled to be back home in the best First Class Lounge in the world and the only one with an Alain Ducasse restaurant.

Pics from an earlier visit.

Time for dinner, chez Alain Ducasse.

Fabulous foie gras with warm brioche starter.

And the iconic Coquillettes aux truffe/noir

And my favourite dessert.  Rum Baba ou Le Baba au Rhum.

Yay, Céline worked her magic and I have a new La Première luggage tag.

Bien sur, a glass of Paradis to finish the meal.

And my Instagram video of the wonderful La Première Lounge in Paris

Air France Business Class to Edinburgh

At around T-25, our wonderful La Première assistant Céline retrieved us for the drive around the tarmac to our gate.   

Arriving at Gate E45.

Calling for assistance to open the jetbridge door.

Paris CDG to Edinburgh EDI
Air France AF 1886
August 20, 2022

We bid adieu to Céline who had escorted us onto the plane and introduced us to tonight's cabin crew.

European "fake" Business Class... Economy seats with an open middle.  Pic from a previous flight.

While the seats may be garbage, impressive meal for 10pm.

Although we arrived at our EDI gate nearly 30 minutes early, it took 15 minutes to deplane as there was no agent available to operate the jetbridge.

Entering the UK was easy as we used the epassportentry gates.

OK, this is one tired airport.

Once outside, signage for the taxi stand was bizarrely useless.   Although we lucked out as we found a taxi in the nearby parking garage and were downtown 20 minutes later.

And my Instagram video of our Paris-Edinburgh flight.

Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian

We learned that Edinburgh Festival means that August is the busiest hotel month of the year.  Not a lot of good reasonably priced choices.  I used Amex FHR for a decent-ish rate with the usual FHR bennies including breakfast and a late check-out.   

Very nice old world hotel albeit with old world quirks.

Although a challenged front desk staff, to say the least.  The person we got made a big deal about explaining the FHR benefits, especially the complimentary upgrades.  LOL since the hotel was sold out.  And the boys were assigned a room that was already occupied... as in a couple in bed when they opened the door.  Whoa!

My first room that was about a block away down the entire length of the hotel.  Top floor but with just two tiny windows.

Nice view though.

I trekked downstairs and switched rooms, albeit not an upgrade, just a lower level room but at with normal windows.

Still a nice view but much closer to the elevator and stairs.

After we finally settled in, we headed out for a drink or two.  Just around the corner, was the lively Rat Pack Piano Bar.

Next, we headed down Princes Street to the #3 TIme-Out rated bar in Edinburgh.  It was a quite a hike and we discovered that there was a garbage workers strike and lots of piled up trash.

A queue to get into McDonald's... at 1am.  LOL

Fifteen minutes later, we're here.  Looked a lot closer on my phone.  LOL.

Nice bar and atmosphere... and some great drinks.

More trash pics on the way back to the hotel.

Next morning, breakfast...

OMG, made the mistake of being adventurous and ordering the Traditional Scottish Breakfast including haggis and black pudding.  Yikes, there's a reason there aren't a lot of Scottish restaurants... outside of Scotland.  LOL.

Instagram videos of Edinburgh...

Our Day Touring Edinburgh

Our day started at 9:30am with a 3 1/2 hour guided tour of the city.  We met our wonderful guide Allison at nearby Usher Hall.

Edinburgh Castle.

With temporary stands erected every year during thee Edinburgh Festival for the Military Tattoo.

Edunburgh Castle and the stands for the Tattoo.

Our guide Allison was quite the Edinburgh historian and regaled us with a ton of history.  She even had an 18th century guide to city prostitutes and their locations.  LOL.

With an ongoing garbage strike, this was a common scene in any otherwise lovely city.

I'm not into Harry Potter but apparently this place means something.

One of favourite pub names.

Back up the hill for lunch...

... at The Scotch Whisky Experience.

Now we're talking. 

Instagram videos of our day in Edinburgh...

Off to St Andrews and the Old Course

We departed Edinburgh around 3:45pm for the 75 minute drive to St. Andrews using an excellent St. Andrews based taxi/shuttle service that was recommended to us. Lovely scenery along the way with the best weather of the trip - sunny and 20C/68F. Our driver Tim gave us a brief tour of charming St. Andrews before heading over to our hotel Rusacks and the breathtaking and historical Old Course where The Open was played just 4 weeks earlier.

Rusacks Hotel St. Andrews is the place you'll want to stay in St. Andrews. Built in 1887 and recently remodeled, Rusacks occupies the best golf location in St. Andrews… overlooking the 18th green and fairways as well as the 1st tee and fairway and famous Swilken Bridge. Lovely hotel, excellent service and a great meal at rooftop 18 restaurant.

Lovely golf theme room...

... with a view.

After we checked in to Rusacks, we headed across the street to soak up the atmosphere.   The Old Course is open to the public to walk and enjoy every Sunday, as there is no golf that day. What a treat to walk part of the course.

The requisite photo op at famous Swilken Bridge. 


And we can say that we played the Old Course as we played the fun Himalayas putting course, which gives you a feel for the links course greens themselves.

Rusacks' rooftop restaurant 18 was a real treat. Amazing views of the Old Course from the outdoor terrace where we enjoyed a drink before dinner. Dinner was excellent with great food and service.

And a little snooker to cap the evening.

Breakfast the next morning.  No more Traditioinal Scottish Breakfast for me.

And some Instagram videos...

Golfing at St Andrews

Monday morning and we’re off to play the Castle Course, a short 5 minute taxi ride from our hotel. Today’s weather is more typical for St Andrews… overcast, dreary with occasional rain and brisk 11C/52F temps and little wind. We all generally played like crap although my putting saved me and helped me shoot a 48 on the back nine. We didn’t mind the scores and just enjoyed the atmosphere and experience on a wonderful links course, especially with a great caddie.


After our round, delicious fish and chips.

Air France Business Edinburgh to Paris


What is miserable way to start an otherwise wonderful day... once I got to Paris.

The good news is that I’m fly Air France La Première. The bad news is that I’m starting in EDI which is one butt-ugly and chaotic airport. I’ve seen better third world airports. After a 15 minute walk from the Doubletree, I arrived at a dreadful terminal. 

Inside the terminal, an ugly 3rd world mess.  Love the ceiling to floor electical connections.  Why would we want to install in-floor outlets?  LOL.

Air France’s contract agents are few and far between here, so Sky Priority check-in took 20 minutes as there was only one competent agent and he had to assist the only other agent who had a queue of nearly 100 people to deal with. Despite email assurance from La Première/LHR to the contrary, there was no La Première assistant to escort me through worst-in-the-world-UK security and to the Gate 16 Aspire Lounge (a mile away from our gate LOL)

FastTRACK security.  LOL.  Fast and UK security are oxymorons.

Someone seriously thought that this was a good idea?  LOL.

Surprise, surprise... it's broken today.  

But of course... miles of duty free just to get to the terminal.

Looks like the roof leaks... not surprising here.

This place was packed at 4:30am, and with a 30 minute wait.

The Gate 16 Aspire Lounge had a queue so long... 

... that I just used my Amex card to access the adjacent and rather pleasant Priority Plus Lounge. 

A G&T at 5am, because why not?

After a 15 minute trek from the lounge thru one of the ugliest airports in Europe and I’m at one of the ugliest gates in Europe, circa 1950 I’d guess. From Gate 4, the door to the plane was a good 1/2 mile. 

We got halfway only to find a locked pre jet bridge door. We waited 10 minutes for someone to open the door. And no Mr. Contract agent, I’m not going to walk back and tell the gate agent to come here. LOL. 

Edinburgh EDI to Paris CDG
Air France AF 1887
6:10a-9:00a (sked)
6:45a-9:30a (actual)

On board, the captain apologized for the “problems here causing a delay”.  LOL.  These “problems here” caused us to depart EDI more than 30 minutes late. And of course arrive in Paris 30 minutes late giving me a 35 minute connection to my LAX flight.​


On board, good service but WFT is that breakfast??

Instagram videos of this morning...


Air France La Première from Paris to Los Angeles


With the late arrival from Edinburgh, there was no time to enjoy the La Première Lounge. So today’s personal limo service was a basic plane to plane connection. 

Paris CDG to Los Angeles LAX
Air France AF 65
August 23, 2022
Departed 4/4
Great to be back four days later in the 2nd best First Class cabin in the skies... after Emirates new First Suites.

Excellent service today...

The best infight safety video...

Showtime, La Première style.

Et voila.

I slept soundly for nearly 5 hours.

We arrived on time at LAX.  What a wonderful flight.

Instagram video of today's flight.