So the last few weeks of trip planning have been going well. It has been suprising some of the things that have come my way. On the weekend I managed to change my hotel in Osaka 3 times. I was a bit unhappy with the hotel I had really booked, the Comfort Hotel in Osaka. Even though it had free wifi and breakfast, there was no gym and the rooms were UBER small. But to be honest it was cheap, really cheap. But i knew I had a bit of luck finding industry rates and all at other hotels. I gave up Breakfast & Wifi and swapped over to the Swissotel Nankai Osaka for an extra $30 total. Big step up to a much bigger room, 5 star hotel and a nice looking gym. But i also out of just shits & giggles fired off an email to the Ritz Carlton Osaka. The #1 hotel in Osaka apparently. Rates were like $800 a night and I have no idea why i even sent the email. Till i got a reply offering a rate that was only $100 MORE than the Swissotel. In total. $330 for 2 nights at an amazing hotel Im sold! But that is not the reason behind this post. I am really talking about the generosity of others. People who I have not really met but are just generous beyond words. A few people stand out that deserve to be mentioned. First off we start with a couple of twitter friends. Firstly theres @pacificairphoto (or Leighton as his real name is). He is a big spotter in Vancouver and takes some amazingly good and artistic photos. I had a day free in in Vancouver as Brad is heading off to Vancouver Island. Leighton ended up offering to take me spotting for the day. I was totally and utterly blown away by this. I would of been happy for some advice to go off and go spotting on my own but to offer to take me and show me the best spots. That is beyond fantastic. Next off we have @fidget02 & @airlinesangel (or Jus & Yvette respectively). These two lovely ladies based in the UK often organise Tweetups (pretty much people from twitter go out for a meal or to catch up etc) but the thing that blew me away was they were willing to have a Tweetup when I was in london! And to top things off, Jus decided if i emailed her a list of things to see, she would show me around for a day! The last one is what made my day yesterday. I have been reading a blog called "The Cranky Flier." A fantastic Airline blog that is just written with a great amount of humour and sarcasm at times. Brett (who writes the blog) operates a company called Cranky Concierge and I decided I would give it a shot for the trip considering there are a few days with tight connections on the flights and figured it may be usefull, plus the concept just seems really smart to me. I had been chatting back and forth with Derek who is my "concierge" for the first part of my trip about getting details of the active runway on arrival into LAX so that if everything pans out and I had the time, I could make an "In'n'Out Run" to get some good spotting photos and also tick off a spot on my trip list (visit in n out). Yesterday morning I woke up to an offer from Derek and Brett. Rather than me having to walk or use the "free" parking shuttles to get to In'n'Out, they would pick me up and take me! An afternoon of chatting about Airlines, Planes and having a Burger hopefully in the LA Sun (god it will be good to get out in some sunlight in the summer). This offer just blew me away. I agreed immediately. The generosity of some people just blows me away. This is just amazing the offers people are willing to make at times. I will definately be returning some of this generosity in kind that is for sure!
Month: June 2011
A Few days ago I made a posterous post about some of the things I like to eat in winter. Porridge and Apple. I love it!. Well I was thinking about what to have this week for a treat as there was no plans to head out and to be honest, I really felt like cooking. Well, why not combine the two things. So I decided to make a nice little blog cooking post about what I’ve done this week. I was having a massive craving for something baked, warm and yummy. So with that I show you a couple of recipes that I have made up, that I am sure everyone will love to consume and I am happy to share. The main recipe is for some Apple Compote which you can then use 2 ways to make things happier (although the 2nd part won’t be shown since I used up all the apples in the first part). Apple Compote: First off we start with some apples. This is a kilo of cooking apples that was picked up from the local green grocer for like $2 that was sitting around, so it was a good thing to use them up. First step. Peel the apples (takes a bit of time) Then we Cut, Slice & Core the apples, no need to be pretty, just get it done With all the apples cut, we put it in the pot, add about ¼ cup of water to this Pan to the stove, and collect some things to go in it. Agave Nectar, Ground Ginger & Cinnamon are what I love to put in there. I then also like to throw in a handful of Sultanas as well With everything now in the Pot We give it a good stir Put the lid on, and let it cook on medium high heat Cook for about 10 mins or so, or until the apples are nice and soft & tender, don’t over cook though (like I did) as they will lose all their shape With the apples now done. We can use these for a variety of dishes. My parents love to pair it with a bit of cake and some custard. Me, well one of my favourites is Apple Crumble. O yeah! A nice warm crunchy oaty apple crumble, with some plain vanilla ice cream. Now that’s something I can enjoy! Not having made any crumble in a while, I googled around for a few ideas, but in the end just made it up. So in a bowl you place, 1 cup plain flour, 1 cup rolled oats, ¾ cup brown sugar, Some more cinnamon and a tablespoon or two of dessicated coconut. Throw in half a cup of melted butter and you have this: Now I did something a little different before adding the butter. I mixed some Vanilla Bean Paste into the butter to help make the taste just stand out. Why Paste and not just Vanilla Extract. Well, I felt like being fancy, and the jar was getting low so might as well try and use it up! So with Our Crumble Topping and our apples ready to go Butter your dishes of choice. I picked these up at Myer for $6 each. Love em And fill them about ¾ full with apple. For these dishes this was about 3 good spoons of apple Pack on the Crumble Topping. Don’t be stingy. Just pack it on, be generous. And here they are, ready for the Oven: Last night though, as I made these individually it meant my parents could have theirs when they wanted theirs, and I could have mine when I wanted them. You need to really only heat these up and brown the crumble topping. You can leave them in the fridge overnight if you wish as they can be made ahead of time. When your ready, throw them in a Moderate oven (180c) for about 30 minutes until the apple is hot and the top looks nice and Golden Brown & Delicious. Now for part 2. Normally I would take some of the apples every morning and have them with some yummy porridge for my breakfast. But I used them up making the apple crumble. But what I will show you is the same process. You can mix in any kind of fruit though you wish. I used a banana this morning but I have also used about ½ cup of the apples or even a cup of frozen berries. First up, pretty simple requirements. Quick Oats & Water Take ½ cup Oats, ¾ Cup Water & a tiny pinch of salt (used a little to much here, use less than that) Stir to combine Throw in the microwave for 90 seconds on the highest setting. Should come out something like this: After 90 seconds, pull out, stir and back in she goes for another 90 seconds: After this last 90 seconds it should look something like this: With the cooked oats, they should be pretty thick. Give them a good stir to mix it all in again. Throw in a splash of Milk (low fat of course) and stir to combine till its smooth. It may take a little bit to start it off, as I do like my porridge thick, but of course you can add as much milk as you like to thin it out. This is where you add your fruit. Today, it’s a banana. Stir again and there you have it. My favourite winter breakfast. Now that I have shared this with you, why don’t you tell me what you like to eat during winter.
Just when I think things are all ready for my trip, it's always to good to be true. God damn. So things were all good, i had everything ready to go, my new digital toys had arrived in time, I was so looking forward to it. Today I even bought myself a new backpack to go on this trip, for the last little thing to make my trip whole. But of course things don't always go as planned. For the the last two continents on this trip (Europe & Asia) i had used quite a number of industry rates. This was a good way to take advantage of those benefits I get for work. So I had some incredible industry rates at hotels around the world, in Paris, London, Tokyo & Hong Kong. These rates were phenomenal, and as to go with it I needed a specific kind of ID to really use it. The id is called an IATA card. My current card is due to expire in July this year, so I had arranged with the local IATA office to get a new card early. So that it was going to be able to be used while I was away. I knew it would take about 4 weeks to get it done and I had it all set to go in late may. They had told me that I would definately have the card before I left for my trip. Well as this trip was getting closer and closer, I was getting worried as the card had not arrived. I got worried. So I tried calling the IATA office. No deal, their phones never go through, ever. So i lodged the email online. Then came through what I expected. "We are experiencing a delay in issuing our cards and the cards could take at least 4-6 weeks or more" Just freaking dandy. I went into panic mode. God damn. I had to try and work out what to do, organise a way to get the card to me maybe, or start getting alternative ID arrangements made. To get the card sent to me is gonna cost me $50 and really complicated, but I am probably going to do it anyway if I can. But thankfully most of the hotels, after emailing them, have told me I can just show a couple of other different forms of ID with the old card (which would of expired by that time). So thankfully that is going to be all ok now. Now to just get all these extra forms of ID fixed up. It goes to show though, don't count your chickens till they hatch.
With the last arrival of my trip digital toys, I thought it was about time I finally posted about all the things I have been alluding to over the last few weeks. For the upcoming big trip I decided I would do some upgrading since I was already spending a fairly sizable chunk of $$$ what’s a little bit more gonna do to that budget. So I set about looking at different options. For months I sat their pondering, looking at options, over and over again. Do I get this, do I get that, jeez what do I do!. I was looking at 2 different products though, going over and over the different options. So lets look at them separately. The first of the toys is the my new Pretty Digital SLR: My old digital SLR had nothing wrong with it, it was just way outdated. Its an old Pentax K10D. About 3 years old for me, maybe even older, but hell, I had used and abused that puppy during that time. I bought it 2nd hand so when I had it, it already had 5000 actuations on it. I put another 10-15,000 ontop of that in that time. She was showing her age. With the upcoming trip I had so many different options to get a new camera. I was looking at changing to a rival system (Canon or Nikon) but that would mean replacing essentially everything I own. Lenses, batteries, accessories, everything. Then there was upgrading to a new pentax, which would be cheaper in the long run but also have its disadvantages. After much to and fro for weeks, looking at pricing, options, system specs, lens specs, different websites, in the end I ended up going with purchasing a new Pentax K7 from DWI. These guys are an Australian based “Grey” importer. Essentially they import cameras direct from Hong Kong where it is cheaper and that way, dodge GST and the stupid Aussie mark ups. This meant that since I was avoiding GST, I could buy it before the 30 day mark required for the TRS scheme. Awesome++ but then the camera got held in customs, then half the shipment was out of stock, then I had to go off to STARS and WA so the camera has laid dormant for weeks. In the end the K7 was such a good choice, I love the thing. The shots are sharp and clear and the grip arrived today just in time for the trip. I was also looking at some batteries for the camera as extra’s as I never rely on just 1 battery. I could pick up batteries for $120 each locally. Or $20 each from New York and then about $60 in shipping. Well I wonder which way I went! Plus I conned dad into getting stuff in the same buy, so split my shipping in half. Throw in about 4 new memory cards and Mal is set! 2nd up is my new Tablet I had been tossing up for a while what to do with this tablet. I had been to and fro looking at Kindles or Tablets and wondering just what to do. Then one day I was trolling one of the websites I frequent and they said that there was a release of a new Android Tablet, pretty basic for $135. This was pretty much the same price as the item I was leaning towards. I was leaning towards buying an Amazon Kindle. It’s just an Ebook Reader. But with the tablet, even with a pretty low spec one, would be able to do more than what the Kindle could, and hell I could get the same Ebooks as there is a Kindle App for android! WIN!!! $135 spent. Then comes the wait of almost 2 months while it is manufactured (Kogan the company that makes it, manufactures once the whole batch is sold keeping costs lower etc). It’s a pretty sweet little tablet, it will come in handy well while travelling, as its light and I don’t need to carry a million books with me. So the tablet is set. Last up is my new Point and Shoot I ended up going for a bit of an impulse and purchased a new Canon Ixus 220HS. I love these little Ixus camera’s and it was an easy choice. Full HD video, good quality photos, small, compact, metal body, not to much bigger than the one I have now but with lots of little bits and pieces extra. This camera was purely an impulse buy. I was originally going to buy from Officeworks and add in a few extra bits and pieces to get the total price of the receipt over $300 but couldn’t get it to work due to them being out of stock of some parts. Ended up going to Dick Smith and getting lots of QF points, plus a double dip for Everyday Rewards, plus Amex was running a $50 cash back if I spent over $250 at Dick Smith. Win, Win & Win. Plus I get my tax back on the way out of the country. Win again!! Gotta love it. They even managed to bring the price down lower than what they were selling it by about $70 while still keeping my receipt over $300. Gotta love negotiating. So all up I will be carrying the following tech with me on my trip: Smartphone, Netbook, Tablet, 3 Cameras (SLR, Canon P&S, Waterproof Panasonic), 2 ipods (my normal ipod and my shuffle for running) plus all the bits and pieces that go with it, chargers, cables, batteries, memory cards, hard drives. My Camera bag will be weighed down that’s for sure!
Well managed to finish this book in like less than a week, Gotta love new print Hardcovers which have nice big text for the old folks (that’s targeted at you dad since I know you will read this). The book this time is “A Time for Patriots” by Dale Brown. The latest from this Techno thriller author in a very very very long line of Patrick McClannahan books (I think its up over 20 now) that have been going since the 80s. I absolutely love these books. They are a fantastic mix of Technology, mystery, intrigue and Planes. What is NOT to like. Although it gets quite hard to come into the series half way through or at the latest instalment as there is always references back to some of the very first books, it is a great series. Always intriguing and full of lots of fantastic unbelievable technology that if you were into it, you would love to see. Things like Single Stage to Orbit space planes, unmanned aircraft that defy logic (imagine a plane the size of a C5 Galaxy that flies itself, or a B1 bomber that is remotely controlled) to B52’s fitted with Lasers! The other thing that is does is also provide an insight into a future that you could only dream of. In the past though Dale Brown has provided something of a bit of a scary prediction. In his early book Storming Heaven he wrote about a Terrorist who was flying planes into Airports and other buildings. This was written well before September 11. He revisits that a little bit in this book (won’t give to much away) but to be honest, it does paint a scary vision of just the kinds of things terrorists could do. I love this kind of book and for me this is a perfect change in between lots of non fiction. I had to drop reading another book for this one as it was on loan from the library and my Dad still needs to read it, but its only 350 large type pages, so a good quick read, I think some people refer to them as Airport Books, as you can usually pick them up in paperback at any airport and ready for a nice flight somewhere cross country.
Well the trip is less than a month away (3 weeks & 2 days to be exact) and today i picked up all my documents and sorted them all out. I had to print off what felt like a tree with back up copies of all my hotel confirmations and tour bookings etc. As you can see here there is a hell of a lot of paperwork I need to take with me. Flight itineraries, hotel vouchers, tour vouchers, train itineraries, car hire bookings, hotel bookings, vouchers for accommodation, vouchers for tours, insurance, travelsim stuff, financial stuff, it is just never ending. But the good news is with this trip now pretty much all but paid for, foreign currency converted (that is the topic of another blog post for another day) and all the documents picked up. This trip is now just about ready to go. The only thing i can't plan 100% right now is the trains in Japan. I have my JR Pass but the only thing is the timetables only come out one month in advance pretty much, so most of that will be done on the fly, although as you can see below there is a rough outline of what trains I need to catch. So here it is, the full and final listing for this trip. 5th July 2011 – Last Day at Work 6th July 2011 – Prep, pack, get ready to leave 7th July 2011 – Goodbye Australia. Brisbane to Auckland to Los Angeles to Vancouver (yes thats all in one day. Leaving at 12pm arriving into vancouver same day at 9pm… hello JETLAG!) Brisbane to Auckland – Air New Zealand – NZ136 – 1225/1725 – Boeing 777-200ER – Business Premier Auckland to Los Angeles – Air New Zealand – NZ2 2130/1445 – Boeing 777-300ER – Business Premier (New Aircraft for airline, new type for me) Los Angeles to Vancouver – Air Canada – AC557 1855/2136 – Embraer 190 – Executive Class (New Type, New Airline, New Airport) 8th July 2011 – Vancouver – Meet Up with Brad - Vancouver Hotel - Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre 9th July 2011 – Tour Begins – Contiki Canada & The Rockies with Calgary Stampede – Link to tour here 21st July 2011 – Tour Finishes – Vancouver - Vancouver Hotel - Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre 22nd July 2011 – Vancouver – Plane Spotting with @Pacificairphoto (from Twitter) a fellow #avgeek 23rd July 2011 – Amtrak Cascades – Vancouver to Seattle – 0640/1105 - Seattle Hotel - Holiday Inn Express Seattle City Centre 24th July 2011 – Seattle 25th July 2011 – Seattle 26th July 2011 – Seattle 27th July 2011 – Pick Up Car start driving south – Overnight Portland Oregon - Portland Hotel - La Quinta Inn & Suites Portland NW 28th July 2011 – Portland to Roseburg - Roseburg Hotel - Holiday Inn Express Roseburg 29th July 2011 – Roseburg to San Francisco - San Francisco Hotel - Holiday Inn Golden Gateway 30th July 2011 – San Francisco 31st July 2011 – San Francisco 1st August 2011 – San Francisco 2nd August 2011 – San Fransisco – Morning Visit to Alcatraz/Plane Spotting Day - SFO Airport Hotel - Millwood Inn & Suites 3rd August 2011 – San Fransisco to New York City - Farewell to Brad this morning San Fransisco to Chicago O’Hare – United Airlines – UA972 1010/1625 -Boeing 767-300 – Business Class – (International Configuration Aircraft, 2 New Airports) Chicago O’Hare to New York City La Guardia – UA692 1730/2046 – Airbus A319 – First Class – (New Airports) New York City Hotel - Element New York Time Square West 4th August 2011 – New York City – UN Guided Tour Booked 5th August 2011 – Morning New York City – Birthday – Evening Flight – New York City to Zurich New York City John F Kennedy – Zurich – Swiss Airlines – LX17 1800/0805+1 – Airbus A330-300 – Business Class (New Airline, New Airport) 6th August 2011 – Zurich to Paris Zurich – Paris Charles De Gaulle – Swiss Airlines – LX634 0905/1020 – Airbus A320 – Business Class (New Airports) Meet up with Yena - Explore Paris - Paris Hotel - Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysees 7th August 2011 – Paris to Bayeux – Train – Intercités - 0910/1115 – 2nd Class Explore Bayeux - Bayeux Hotel - Château Hôtel de Bellefontaine 8th August to 10th August 2011 – Explore Normandy Region – WW2 Invasion Tours - Overlord Tours - Neptune Tour (2 Days), 101st Airborne Tour (1 Day) 11th August 2011 – Bayeux to Paris – Train – Intercités – 0841/1046 – 1st Class Explore Paris - Paris Hotel - Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysees 12th August 2011 - Explore Paris 13th August 2011 – Farewell to Yena - Paris to Berlin Paris Charles De Gaulle to Berlin Tegel – Lufthansa – LH3241 0930/1105 – Boeing 737-500 – Business Class (New Airline, New Aircraft, New Airport) Berlin Hotel - Hotel Pullman Berlin Schweizerhof Meet up with Melissa 14th August 2011 – Berlin 15th August 2011 – Berlin 16th August 2011 – Berlin to London Berlin Tegel – London Heathrow – BMI – BD842 1100/1200 – Airbus A319 – Business– (New Airline, New Airports) Heathrow Express – London Heathrow to London Paddington Station London Hotel - Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London Ceremony of the Keys at Tower of London 17th August 2011 – London 18th August 2011 – London 19th August 2011 – London 20th August 2011 – Explore London Morning – Evening Flight – London to Tokyo London Heathrow – Tokyo Narita – ANA – NH202 1935/1520+1 – Boeing 777-300ER – Business Class (New Product, New Airline) 21st August 2011 - Arrive Tokyo - Narita Express to Shinjiku - Tokyo Hotel - Hyatt Regency Tokyo 22nd August 2011 - Tokyo 23rd August 2011 - Tokyo 24th August 2011 - Tokyo 25th August 2011 - Tokyo to Yokohama to Kyoto Morning Shinkansen to Yokohama, explore city, Late Afternoon Shinkansen to Kyoto Tokyo Station to Shin Yokohama – Hikari 505 – 0833/0852 Shin Yokohama to Kyoto – Hakari 519 – 1552/1815 Kyoto Hotel - Citadines Kyoto Karasuma Gojo 26th August 2011 - Kyoto 27th August 2011 - Kyoto to Osaka - Morning Shinkansen from Kyoto to Osaka Kyoto to Shin Osaka – Hikari 503 – 1016/1030 Osaka Hotel - Ritz Carlton Osaka 28th August 2011 - Osaka 29th August 2011 - Osaka to Hiroshima - Morning Shinkansen from Osaka to Hiroshima –Hikari 495 – 0835/1019 Hiroshima Hotel - ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima 30th August 2011 - Hiroshima 31st August 2011 - Hiroshima to Narita - Morning Shinkansen from Hiroshima back to Tokyo then NEX from Tokyo to Narita. Hiroshima to Shin Osaka – Hikari 543 – 0715/0854 Shin Osaka to Tokyo Station – Hikari 510 – 0913/1210 Tokyo Station to Narita – Narita Express Explore Narita, Plane Spotting, Exploring the Temple - Narita Hotel - Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport hotel 1st September 2011 – Tokyo to Hong Kong Tokyo Narita to Seoul Incheon – Asiana Airlines – OZ103 1530/1810 – Boeing 767-300 – Business Class (New Airline, New Airport) Seoul Incheon to Hong Kong Chep Lap Kok – Asiana Airlines – OZ723 1945/2230 – Boeing 747-400 – Business Class (New Airport) Hong Kong Hotel - Novotel Hong Kong Nathan Road 2nd September 2011 – Hong Kong 3rd September 2011 – Hong Kong 4th September 2011 – Hong Kong 5th September 2011 – Hong Kong 6th September 2011 – Hong Kong to Singapore Hong Kong Chep Lap Kok to Singapore Changi – Singapore Airlines – SQ861 1540/1920 – Airbus A380-800 – Business Class (New Airport, New Airline, New Aircraft, Bucket List) Meet Up with Cat - Singapore Hotel - Royal Plaza on Scots Singapore Hotel 7th September 2011 – Singapore 8th September 2011 – Singapore 9th September 2011 – Singapore 10th September 2011 – Singapore to Brisbane (Home) - Fly Home with Cat Singapore Changi to Brisbane – Singapore Airlines – SQ245 0955/1930 – Airbus A330-300 – Business Class (New Product) 11th September 2011 – Rest 12th September 2011 – Back to Work So there it is guys, plenty of things to read about, the trip is a big one, some changes here and there but shes all good 😀
Time for two book reviews, I finished one while still reading the other (managed to smash out a book on famil in WA). First up we have: Band of Brothers by Stephen E Ambrose. I won’t talk to much about this one as I have already read this one a few times, but only really bought it to finish off the collection with the more modern covers. This is a very famous book as it is the one that the HBO Mini Series was based on. Stephen Speilberg & Tom Hanks put that series together and it is one of my favourite. This book is also one of my favourite war books. It is fantastically well written and deserving of much praise. To give you a brief run down it follows 1 unit during their time in World War 2. Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. From their creation at Camp Taccoa in Georgia, through their lead in training in both the United States and in England, through their combat jumps in France, Holland and their time in Belgium, Germany & Austria. This is a fantastic read and in my opinion a must read for anyone. Next Up we have: Tobruk by Peter Fitzsimons. This book was given to me for Christmas (see how long it takes me to read books at the moment). But was something that I was highly interested in. The reason I wanted it was because I had never really read anything about the famous “Rats of Trobruk” and figured that if this book was as good as the one he wrote on Kokoda then this would be worth it. This is a thick book, very hefty and weighed me down for almost a month. I didn’t even take it with me to WA on Famil as it was going to weigh me down way to much. Now that I am finished it, my bag was considerably lighter this morning. But in saying that, it was disappointing to finish this book because it was just so well written. I felt like I was living with the troops in Tobruk, holding the line with them. Not only that but also with the families of the troops, back home in Australia. For those that have not read one of Peter Fitzsimon’s books before, he is a fantastic author and his style is great. You feel like your on the ground with the troops or at home with their families. He can transport you back to a time when life was very different for everyone involved. In saying that, it does make the books fairly large as both Kokoda and Tobruk are very indepth books, thoroughly researched and detailed but so well written it does not feel boring. Tobruk for those that don’t know or have not heard of the “Rats of Tobruk” was fought during the early African campaign of WW2. The 9th Division AIF was sent into Tobruk along with some British Artillery and Royal Army Tank Corp to hold this area from the German Afrika Corps (yes that’s the right spelling I did not misspell Africa). They held this area for near on 7 months, with attack after attack by the german’s repulsed. With limited supplies and replacements. It was something that when they finally were replaced by British & South African troops later in the Campaign, they were over run quite quickly by the Afrika Corp. This showed the tenacity and resolve of Australian troops who back then were often treated like 2nd class troops by the British Generals/Politicians. If you have a chance you should read this book. With the 70th Anniversary
Ok with this trip now inside the 30 day mark and fast approaching the final touches have now been made. The last few things I needed to get booked was the trains in France, Japan and see what deals I could scam for the HEX (Heathrow Express) in London. Well I managed to remind myself to book the trains in France earlier this week and picked up the return train fare from Paris to Bayeux for Yena & Myself for about $65 each return. Good thing was it was an extra 8 Euros each to come back in First class on the train. Now normally i wouldn't bother with this, but considering our train is at 0845 in the morning returning to paris after 3 full on days of touring the Normandy region, I figure we can relax and chill out in comfort before smashing into some more Paris touring. My JR Pass has been booked as well, and should be ready for me to pick up next week when I get all my contiki docs, a 14 day pass was not cheap but it had to be done as 7 days just would not cut it for a 12 day trip! The HEX tickets though, that one I am kinda proud of. I managed to find a 33% off deal on the HEX for using an American Express Card. Considering I was going to use that anyway, hello scammage! Gotta love it when i Can get 33% off a fare and in essence travel in Style in First class on this train from the airport with free wifi onboard for less than the cost of what Economy would of cost me without the discount. Love it! I have to head down to Cleveland next week to pick up my docs, so when I get all this, this trip will really feel like reality then. Over the last few weeks I have been buying up some stuff to help me out on this trip (I will keep it for another post over the weekend of what I have been buying) but this trip is all coming together nicely! As for updating the blog about the trip. Expect more posts over the coming weeks, about the planning and what I am taking with me etc, I have lots to tell. This trip is really starting to sink in now, should be an amazing journey that I can't wait to experience. I will keep a lot of the trip report to start it till a day or two before the trip itself to start the whole thing. Hopefully I can make this trip report awesome 😀
A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to be able to go on a Western Australia famil. I tossed it up over an hour or so while my brain went to and fro. Do I go or do I stay at work. The famil was scheduled to be about a week after the Stars trip. What was I to do? Do I take the famil and have another couple of days out of sales or do I stay at work and try and make those extra few dollars count. I was leaning towards staying at work. I was so close to being the #1 consultant at work (a bucket list goal) and thankfully the person who I am battling the top spot with was on Stars with me. So that made me feel all the less guilty. What I was hoping for was the opportunity to just make a decision for me. Then it did. I remembered my bucket list. One of those items was "visit every state and territory is Australia". With this trip I could do this. But what about the sales, but part of me felt that I also needed to think about my sanity. I need to take a break, and I just needed to relax for a few days in the midst of all the craziness. This famil was sure to give me all of what I wanted. I could fulfill that part of my bucket list, I could get that break I needed. The avgeek part of me could have that new airports in my log book. So I said yes. It has been a great last few days. Tripping around the Margaret River region, experiencing amazing food and wine (although for me the more memorable meals were at the less memorable spots). I went running next to the indian ocean (and almost froze to death in the process). I had a great time with some great people I work with and through it all, I relaxed. I had time to chill out, to experience life like a normal person. i think this trip has meant the last few days has helped me in the process of being the normal person I want to be. One thing I have realised. Through all this hard work I have done over the last 18 months, I am not quite there yet, but I am working on it