The Pacific Rim - By all Means
Trip Start Apr 30, 2009
17Trip End Jun 05, 2009
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Here's a question for you: What's the difference between travel and transport?
Easy, travel is what you do and transport is how you do it!
Whilst you've been busy reading our travel adventures over the last five weeks or so, here's our transport listing for the Big Adventure 2009:
1.Marie's car to get us to Canberra airport to start our adventure. Thanks Marie!
2. Jetstar Airbus A320 to fly us to Osaka
3. Skytrain to transfer us from our aircraft to baggage collection at Osaka.
4. Shuttle bus from Osaka airport to the Sheraton hotel in Kobe.
5. Taxi from the Sheraton hotel to the cruise ship Terminal.
6. Holland America's MS Volendam to take us all over Japan, across the Pacific, through Alaska and into Canada.
7. Shuttle bus in Tokyo to take us downtown.
8. Train system in Tokyo to find markets and the Hard Rock Café.
9. Bus system in Hakodate to find the wonderful blossom gardens
10. Shuttle bus in Homer Alaska to take us downtown.
10a. The lifeboat (tender) to drop us off at the Sitka pier as the ship was too big.
11. Float plane in Ketchikan Alaska (refer to best experience below).
12. Cab to take us to Vancouver airport.
13. Air Canada Airbus A320 to deliver us safely to San Francisco.
14. Cab to weave madly through the traffic to the Orchard Hotel.
15. A cable car of course to go up and down the many hills of San Francisco.
16. A streetcar to take us from union square to Fisherman's Wharf.
17. The ferry that took us on a wonderful journey of Alcatraz
18. Another mad cab ride to get us to the even madder San Francisco airport.
19. United Airlines Embraer E70 to take us to Ontario airport in California.
20. Mike and Maz's wonderfully comfortable Lexus to drive us about.
21. Palm Springs aerial tramway, what a gorgeous view.
22. United Airlines Embraer E70 to get us back to San Francisco.
23. Don't any cab drivers in San Francisco user indicators?
24. The Muni train system to take us out to the ball game.
25. A super fast rocket boat to zoom us about San Francisco Bay..woohooooo
26. A Lincoln towncar to drive us quietly and safely to the airport.
27. Air Canada Airbus A320 to get us back to Vancouver.
28. The cab drivers here are much safer, but im sure they are all mute!
29. John, Nancy & Adams Honda van for getting us to the important landmarks in Vancouver like Costco!!
30. Our last cab driver proved that they aren't ALL mutes in this town.
31. Air Canada Boeing 777-200LR direct from Vancouver to Sydney.
32. A Toyota hire car from Sydney to Canberra, so much cheaper than paying the excess luggage on Terri's shopping. We just cancelled the domestic flight and got a credit voucher. Can you believe domestic Qantas want $10 per excess kilogram?
33. Last but not least our legs, once again we have pushed them to the limit and they have done a remarkable job. Yes, even in heels Tez.
Vancouver wins hands down. It might have something to do with Vancouver hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games for which they seem extraordinarily prepared. Free very fast wireless Internet, plenty of airport staff to help if needed and a simple, efficient check in. There's even a waterfall, river and native art. Go Vancouver! It's enough to make you want to take up curling or the luge.
Sunset Inn & Suites in Vancouver. The bed was just like at home, a PROPER kingsize pillow top with a doona, total bliss.
Without a doubt our 2.5 hour floatplane ride over the Misty Fjords in Ketchikan. Some of the most incredible scenery you could imagine.
This was a very tough one but fuss has to be made about the Orchard Hotel in San Francisco, a wonderful eco hotel in Union Square. Mention has go with the Sunset Inn & Suites in Vancouver. Well located downtown, spacious suites with separate lounge, bedroom and fully equipped kitchen.
Well if you ask me, every meal is a good meal! Hmm, ok, Vancouver wins once again. We found a great outdoor pub in the heart of the downtown "friendly community". A large beef nachos and sampler plate, doesn't sound like much, but it beat out 75 other meals to take the number 1 spot. An honourable mention goes to Bubba Gumps in San Francisco for a wonderful seafood dinner.
Premium Plaza Lounge in..you guessed it.. Vancouver airport (yes really, Vancouver is pretty good!) $30 Canadian per person from 3pm until midnight. Buffet food (yay), as much to drink as you want, alcoholic or non (yay), TV, free wifi of course, showers and napping rooms. That reminds me, time to go and refill my whisky.
Well if you ask Tez, it'll be all over the place. We're bringing 80kg of luggage back. BUT, the 100Yen stores of Japan have to win the best shopping category. They have EVERYTHING, and it really is 100 Yen, which is about $1 US. Honourable mentions for this category go to the Alcatraz Island gift store in San Francisco, Robson Street in Vancouver for gifts and clothes, Ontario Mills Outlet Centre for sunnies and shoes and the good old faves of Walgreens and Costco for the basics.
Easy. The 'high rise' model in the guest wing at Mike and Maz's house. Us long-legged giraffes love not having to bend down. Highly commended to the heated loos in Japan with the accessories. Nasty little situation with the oscillator though. Long story.
Brad's Travel Tips for the adventurous on a budget.
Lots of people ask us how we manage to travel overseas on such good deals. Study, study and more study. I can't tell you how many hours I spent on the laptop searching out the best deals.
* Once you have decided on a hotel, get in contact with them and ask them if they will include breakfast and a late check out and a free night. They want the business so they will usually say yes.
* If you wish to sightsee, use public transport, it's much cheaper than a local tour and it gives you a better perspective on how the locals do it.
* Always double and triple check prices, you never know if they will drop, and if they do, ring your wonderful travel agent and annoy her relentlessly (hi Lou).
* Sitting at airport lounges can be a boring pastime (especially if your flight is more than 9 hours away. Find a pay-by-use lounge and make the most of it, take for example the Premium Plaza Lounge in Vancouver (mentioned above in best value), the charge is for 5 hours of use, I asked if we can camp for 10 hours, done!!
* Keep a close eye on the exchange rate; its cycles are pretty easy to follow, so buy when it's high.
* This may seem old fashioned but use travellers cheques or cash. Using the plastic is of course easier, especially if you want that free sandwich maker by putting 20 grand on your card! Take a look at the fees and charges your bank places on their plastic for overseas transactions AND the conversion fee..sheesh!
* Pack LIGHT, after your 2 big suitcases are full to the brim and your carry on is overflowing, tip it all out on the bed and HALVE it. Trust me, you wont need it all, hotels have laundries and if there is something you need, buy it. You are going to need every gram for the souvenirs and associated crap your wife collects on your journey. Don't bother packing aerosols. Tell your wife she can't take hair mousse or spray (prepare for the tantrum). Just get that stuff when you get there. It's not worth the leaks into your bags.
* Make sure you have some form of sleep aid in your carry on, flights from Australia to anywhere take a LONG time, unless of course you like to look like the living dead when you arrive in a foreign country and try to navigate their wonderful customs, immigration and security. Buy the good ones in the U.S. or get your doctor to prescribe something (ours is used to us by now!)
* Tax deduct your trips, visit a garden, speak to a landscaper or if you are really desperate, attend a restorative practices conference! (Thanks hon - T)
So, from us to you, thanks for following along on our Big Adventure for 2009. Thanks to those who helped, hosted, drove us, sent footy and cricket scores and looked after pets. We hope our travels entertained and educated! See you next time!
B & T