Tag Archives: Trip
January 1, 2014

London Trip

In November I decide to book a quick 4 day last minute trip to London. I decided to go less than 1 week in advance, so I booked everything the same day. The cheapest flight I could find was on America Airlines so I booked through them. Then I went on Hotels.com and chose Melia White House Hotel. I chose this hotel because it was 4 stars , had good reviews, and was extremely close to a subway terminal. I decided to use tour guides for most of this trip. So, I went on Viator and booked 3 day trips on it.

Melia White House Hotel

So, Day 1 we arrive in London about 9AM in the morning. Flight was good, no troubles. From the airport we took the Heathrow Express, because it is by far the fastest way. A taxi would have took us about a hour and 20 minutes to get to the Hotel. Heathrow Express takes 15 minutes to get to London Paddington station which was just a couple subway stops from out Hotel.

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Note that train tickets in London are very expensive compared to any USA train. Even subway tickets in London are expensive.

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So, we get to the Melia White House Hotel, but we came to early and they said Check-in time was at 2pm. Usually I get lucky and the hotel has a room ready early, but not that day. We even came back a few hours later and the room still wasn’t ready. We really did have to wait until 2pm that day. That was the only bad experience we had at that hotel. Everything else about it was great. Very clean and nice all around.

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big ben

Anyway so the first day there, we just left the bags in the Hotel and walked to the main sites like the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace (inside is closed to the public most months). Then we went shopping at Camden Town. When we first got to Camden Town it looked like it was just a Heavy Metal and Punk shopping place, but this place ended up being my favorite shopping place anywhere in the world. This town had a ton of little side streets all with different merchandise. Unlike outdoor markets in the US that will have a hundred cell phone accessory stores and T-Shirt stores with exactly the same merchandise. Camden Town has thousands of tiny shops all with different merchandise. I recommend this place highly.

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That night we ate at Demartino Italian restaurant in London. I had a Scallop Risotto. It was very good, but not sure if it was worth the price. I don’t think any food in London is worth the price.

 

 

paris
The next day we had to get our own ride to the train station for the first trip we booked on Viator. We booked the “Luxury Paris Day Trip with Champagne Lunch on the Eiffel Tower“. I haven’t been to Paris in over 10 years. Didn’t like it back then, so I had low expectations. I’m glad I had low expectations, because I still don’t like this city. The tour started out with some famous landmark that they just told you about them as they drove by. I didn’t mind that they didn’t let us off the bus for photos, but other people did. Then we did a cruise along the River Seine. It was very cold out, but I wouldn’t have liked it in good weather either. You are supposed to listen to recorded tour guide on a phone attached to every seat. It was a sad boat and a sad tour.

 

After that they took us to lunch in the Eiffel Tower. The food was just okay, but talking to other tourist in your group is fun.

Louvre

After lunch we went to the Louvre. Where you can pay extra to go in. I’ve been to the Louvre long ago , it probably the best museum I’ve been in, but they only gave us and hour and I wanted to go to a French Bakery. So that is where we went. There were no ATMs anywhere though, and I only had British Pounds and needed Euros. So, I have to go to a money exchange place, which is always a rip-off. Anyway we got some really good bakery snacks and had to hurry back to the rest of the group to catch a ride the train station. Two time in Paris is enough for me. I don’t need to go back.

 

 

Burford

The next day we book the “Lunch in the Cotswolds” tour on Viator. This ended up being the best tour. The picked us up in a bus at our hotel. Then took us to a bus terminal to catch a big tour bus. The first stop was at Burford. Which is a very nice little town. I got some great snacks at a bakery and also a chocolate store there.

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bibury

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The next stop was Stow-on-the-Wold which is a more touristy town, and also very pretty. After that we went to Bibury. Bibury was the nicest looking town to me. There are no stores or anything. It’s just a residential town where you each lunch at the The Swan Hotel. The Lunch was pretty good, I had the trout.

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Stratford-upon-Avon
Last you go to Stratford-upon-Avon which is Shakespeare’s Birthplace. The tour at this point turn all about Shakespeare. I’m not into Shakespeare, so I wasn’t really interested, but this town is the biggest we visited that day and I would have liked to stay a full day in this town. Lots to see and eat.

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When the tour headed back they don’t drop you off at your Hotel. I thought that was weird, but it seems like all London tour companies do that. They drop you off at a Subway station and you get home from taking the subway or taxi.

That night we wanted to go to a more inexpensive place to eat. So we found a chicken place called Nando’s. We both just got a small butterflied chicken breast, but the bill was still about $45 with drinks and just 1 order of fries. So, still not worth the price.

Windsor Castle

The next day we booked the “Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Oxford Custom Day Trip” on Viator. Same deal where a van took us to a bus station. Then we had to find our own way home. The other thing is we found out the tour that we paid for shouldn’t be called a tour. It should be called a bus ticket. Because we had to pay extra to enter the castle and also extra to get into Stonehenge park.   The tour started with Windsor Castle. They give you head phones for an audio tour. It was worth the visit, but not a whole lot to say. You go in and look at the furniture and get to see a nice changing of the guard show.

 

Stonehenge

Next we went to Stonehenge. Stonehenge would have been nice if they let you get closer to the rocks. They keep you pretty far away. You stay there just 45 minutes , which was the perfect amount of time.

Last we went to Oxford. When I booked the trip I admit I had no idea Oxford was just a college. It is the coolest looking college I ever seen, but that part of the tour was the least interesting out of any art of the trip.
Well that sums up my London trip. We left very early in the morning to head back home.

May 21, 2013

So You Have Decided to Take A Big Trip …

Getting ready for a trip can be both exciting and tiring. You’re ready to go to all the places you’ve wanted to see, but being ready for another country can be a bit stressful if you take everything too seriously. All you need is a pen, a piece of paper and a little time in front of your computer.

 

First things first, where are you going? Make a list of places you want to see and don’t just rely on one site. Think outside the box, do you have to visit the places you see on a postcard or would you like to go to more exotic, unknown (but of course safe) places? Look at sites where people share travel experiences and se wht they share. There are many travel agencies that have guides or tours that you can join, just inquire and then make some plans.  Decide whether you want to be on your own or just with your companion to have your own adventure, walk around shops and bazaars and just discover things by yourself.

 

Now that you know where you’re going, you’ll know what you’ll need. Aside from the usual papers you need from the embassy or from your ticketing agency, research on what people have had to do once they land in the country. Is there something you’ll need in the airport? Aside from that you’ll need a camera (traveling without one is simply not an option anymore), your laptop, laptop and cellphone charger and maybe an adaptor. Look into roaming charges for your cell phone.

 

Then necessities such as a toothbrush, toiletries (that are allowed on the plane) and other small items – are you going to bring some along or just buy them form a store somewhere? Make a list either way. Are you traveling to a country that’s experiencing hot or cold weather? Bring suitable clothing. I love Under Armour cold weather gear. You can get some Under Armour promo codes from PromoCoder.com .

 

Take note on what cards are accepted, whether it’s better to exchange your money in your country or where you’re traveling to and if you run out, will you be able to withdraw without any problems with your card? In case you have trouble, also find out what money sending services you can use (Western Union is the best choice) and where you can find one.

 

Lastly, always have a backup plan and contact information of where you’re staying, your embassy in that country or police information and always keep it on you at all times! You never know when you may need it. You wouldn’t want to be lost and not remember the name of the hotel you’re staying in!

April 28, 2013

The Benefits of Using Online Travel Auctions

Flexibility is the keyword when it comes to online travel. Most services up for bid may be used only during specific times, typically off-season dates that travel suppliers have had difficulty selling through traditional means. This leads to on the average, sixty percent in savings off of a trip and even more. Entire package vacations have been known to go for a bid of two dollars on the Internet especially on Skyauction.com where the minimum bid is only a buck. If you are the highest bidder on Skyauction then the vacation package provider must eat the loss. Higher minimum bids are set on other auction sites.

 

Participating in an online travel auction is not that different that participating in any auction on eBay. In fact one of the biggest sources of online travel auction is eBay itself. If you are not familiar with how online auctions work in general there is plenty of information about it in the next chapter in this book.  You can also usually find tons of information about these sites in their Help and FAQ sections

 

For people who have no particular destination or date in mind, and for those who want to try to get lucky with cheap accommodations for a planned trip, auction sites are a great choice.

 

One of the nicest things about online travel auctions is that you don’t have to be the victim of any high-pressure sales tactics. There is no pushy travel agent sitting there in person warning you that a great deal is about to pass you by. Instead you will be watching bids over a set number of days, so you know exactly when that good deal on a vacation is about to expire.

 

Also you can search for deals on vacations any time of the day or night by visiting a popular site such as Skyauctions.  You don’t have to jump on the first deal that you see because when it comes to travel auctions, there are always going to be more deals surfacing online.  Another thing to remember is that many deals repeat themselves as auctions in a seasonal matter so if you miss that hot deal this year you can usually bid on it or a similar deal the following season.

 

Online travel auctions are also unique because they can provide a spark of inspiration. Many people enjoy surfing the sites do get ideas about where they would like to go next or to see just how cheap certain destination vacations can be had using this unique form of bidding. If you like to surf online and have a true love of the unpredictable as well as a flexible schedule then purchasing your vacation this way is an ideal option for you.