Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year to all our Blog Followers

Thanks for all the 800 or so hits so far. Wishing you all a Happy New Year. Click here for a musical version. View Full screen if Possible (thats the four arrows in the bottom RH corner) We are now only 4 days away from starting the RTW tour and getting ready all the time.  Thankfully the snow that could have delayed us, seems to have left the UK for the moment.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Just had to do it, Sorry.

Saw these (cheesy) crisps in Tesco and just had to
take this photo..... Sorry...
"Phileas Fogg and Passport Two"

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Boxing Day -- Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Well here we are in a part of the world where we have not been before, so I consider it part of the RTW tour. To help Iona gain a few extra miles towards her target, and because we have never been here, we decided to have our Boxing Day walk around the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Very cold as you can see from our photos....  click here and more available on Iona's blog.... found here ..... 1st Jan Update -- Iona has completed her charitable  task of walking, swimming,  jogging or running 365 miles in 365days. I'm sure any donations would be gratefully received.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas to the World

Many thanks to all those out there who have bought us RTW related presents. We have received .... a wind-up torch ... suitcase scales ... eyemasks ... insect repellant ... imodium (for Delhi belly) ... Vitamin B1 tablets (keeps mozzies away so they say) ... neck cushions ... travel plug adaptors ... first aid kit ... and a set of cards (Lingopix) covered with a range of pictures to which you point, when in shops overseas. All of which will come in really useful. Wherever you are..... whoever you are, have a really brilliant Christmas.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Tickets to fly

Yesterday we called in on Malcolm in Leek to collect all our flight and hotel vouchers that he has arranged for us. He and Sue, Ann and I, went for a great curry to get us ready for the India part of our trip. As a seasoned traveller he has offered loads of advice and helped craft our trip into a real adventure. Thanks Malcolm you have been a real asset. Click here for a novel airplane safety check.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Its Cold in the UK

For those back home......... This morning when we got into our son's car it was -10.5 degrees C. The washer liquid was frozen as was the boot lid! Click here for some music

Friday, 17 December 2010

To the UK

 Well here we are in the UK ready to start our Christmas celebrations with the family. Our 2 suitcases weighed in at 44.5kg at Menorca and 43.5kg at Barcelona.  So there you have it... Gravity is more powerful in the Balearics. Fortunately neither check in charged us for this excess.
Next morning we get up to a covering of snow.  See photos via "Today's chosen Image". Iona, our daughter, has been doing a 365 miles in 365 days challenge for charity. She is a tad behind target at the moment and as encouragement we decided to join her on her morning mile. Clicking here  will take you to her blog and further photos of this morning. For some appropriate music Click here.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Welcome or Добро пожаловать

One of the nice things about this Blogger software is that I can see where the Blog Followers come from. We now have an audience in Russia and Croatia.  So.........Welcome to our new found friends where ever you come from. I have found this site......... which translates into 325 languages some standard phrases.  Could come in useful.
So... Dobro pozhalovat  and Dobro došli to our new Followers.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Money Matters

In an attempt to get my head around all the currencies used in the countries we will be visiting, I have spent some time with . Below is a chart which should help us get to grips with the "value" of a basic block of currency.

100 Euros............ = £85
1000 Rupees .........= £14
1000 Thailand Baht. = £21
100 Singapore $..... = £48
100 Australian $..... = £63
100 New Zealand $.. = £48
100 Fiji $............. = £34
100 American $...... = £63

All values either rounded up or down to the nearest £ and exchange rate on 13th Dec 2010. Is it by chance that the US and Australian $ are the same, and the Singapore and NZ$ are the same? Or are they in some way linked? Either way, it should make our lives a little simpler.

Tipping.  I have been looking into Tipping around the world. Quite a can of worms! In some countries an absolute "must do" and in others a "must not do". To help me decide which is right, I have started reading up on the subject. Starting with a BBC offering. What is evident, is that when you arrive at an airport you must get some low denomination notes as a matter of some urgency and before you get into a taxi.  Otherwise you will end up offering far too much as a tip or nothing at all.  I have always given tips if (and only if) the service and quality of goods have been at least acceptable. If not, then the tip is not given.  If the service is outstanding and above expectation, then the tip offered is increased. As a guide I usually work on 10% (plus or minus as mentioned above). To my horror, I have discovered that to give a tip can be considered an insult in some countries. In others, 20% is the norm, always given, always expected and often for indifferent service. In the USA it is the way that some workers get their wage. Their actual wage is so low that they could not exist without tips. I'm sure we will survive, but will report any problems we encounter along the way.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

New Blog Followers

Welcome to the new Blog Followers who have recently been given the link. To get the whole picture, you are encouraged to go back through the archive to read all the postings from the beginning in October.

Packing Hints

As we get ever closer to our departure date, we are starting to consider packing the suitcases. When you consider that we have all weathers to cope with, we have something of a problem. We only have 20kg each for allowance. We have 40+ degrees and dry as a bone in Ayres Rock, 99% humidity in the rain forest around Cairns the next day, and below zero on Fox Glacier in NZ 10 days later. All countries in the southern hemisphere will be in their summer and LA, San Francisco and New York will be in their Winter.  So far we are packing some clothes that we are prepared to throw away once their job is done. Some of our India hotels are rather posh and jeans and tee shirts would not be acceptable there. So what do we pack?  If there are any seasoned globetrotters out there with hints and tips for us we would be very pleased to hear from you.

RTW or ATW ?

The Film is called "Around the World in 80 Days" as is the book.  So why is this blog "RTW"?  Well, if you type ATW into a google search, you will not get anything back that relates to going 'round the world.  However if you type RTW you will get loads of travel info. So with a nod towards grammatical correctness, I have added an apostrophe in front of RTW in this blog title.  The web address has not changed, so no need to change your link.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Some Stats

Working on a London to London basis, on our RTW tour, we will be travelling 27,650 Miles. That assumes a straight line journey between destinations on the ground like Christchurch to Auckland (470m) and LA to San Francisco (341m). Clearly it will be in excess of that as we are touring to see the sights.  Add to that 2,360 Miles to get us from home to Manchester and then to London to start the tour proper, and then the reverse at the end, our carbon footprint will be huge! We will be travelling through 8 different countries and be taking 12 Flights. We will be sleeping in 45 different beds and spend 3 overnighters in airplane seats. The Web informs me that the circumference of the earth is just under 25,000 miles, whichever way it is measured.  So clearly we will be doing some up and down as well as around.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Change of Plan

We were contacted a couple of days ago to tell us that our overnight flight from Delhi to Bangkok was now departing from Delhi at noon the next day. This means we have had to find an extra nights accommodation at Delhi. After some searching of the internet and in particular, we have found a hotel called IMPRESS and it appears that it does...... or at least so far, as it has only been going a month. The description of the restaurant left us giggling for some time..... "All types of snacks and delicacies are served so that the guests are hooked to it for a long time. From cold drinks and hot tea to crispy meals, everything is served to delight the guests for unlimited joy."....... Crispy meals? We wait and see if that is really so.......... perhaps read ...."burnt around the edges". Who knows? This really is a spitting distance from the airport runway and as we have an airport check-in at 10am the following morning it should be convienient. I hope they have good double glazing. They offer free WIFI which for a 3 star hotel is great and will enable me to update the blog after our first major stage of our RTW.  At the start of our India visit we are in the Ramada Plaza where they charge 10 US $ for one hour. I think they have something to learn from this little hotel.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Blog ?

Some Blog Followers have asked me... What is a Blog?  The word Blog comes from "Web Log", and means a log (or diary) of events published on the World Wide Web so that everyone can see. Indeed, if you know anyone who may be interested in following this Blog, then please feel free to distribute the link. This Blog was built using "Blogger" found by typing that into a Google search and following some instructions. Totally free and not that difficult.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

NZ North Island Itinerary

This was a difficult island to incorportate everything we wanted to do in a logical order. You will no doubt think.... "Why are they going there now"... when you follow the route on Google Maps. The simple answer is "Why not." We have two weeks only on North Island and we have several Gardens to see as well as the usual tourist attractions........ Rotorua, Coromandel Peninsular, Bay of Islands etc.

22nd Feb... arrive Wellington Ferry Treminal (ETA 16:20) and head to Paraparaumu for 2 nights with Ann's Brother. Pete to arrange nearby B&B.
24th Feb... Drive in convoy with Pete, Nadine and Ruben, to Hawkes Bay / Napier for 2 nights B&B accommodation arranged by Pete.
26th Feb... Drive to Wanganui where we have a night in the Paloma Garden. Yes in! ... This garden, open to the public, actually has a cottage accommodation. Once all the visitors leave, the gardens are ours for the night.
27th Feb... New Plymouth.  Famous for its parks and gardens, along with the stunning scenery of Mt Taranaki.
28th Feb ... Drive to Marotin, 20 mins north of  Lake Taupo. Farmstay.
1st and 2nd March ... Rotorua,  Motel. Day trips out and about the muddy bits.
3rd March Drive to Whangamata to get ready for the Coromandel Peninsular drive next day.
4th March... a busy day! Sure to "Fill our eyes" as Juli says. Finish late that day just north of Auckland at Waiwera on the Hibiscus Coast. (341 km the scenic route!) They have a hot tub to fall into.
5th and 6th ... Base ourselves at Whangerei to experience trips out to the corners of Northlands. To the very top to see where the Tasman Sea fights the Pacific, amongst other delights.
7th and 8th March to Auckland to get a bit of "city"..... Art Gallery, Theatre, Cinema, etc. before...........
9th March .. Drop car off at Auckland Airport for 12:50 flight to Fiji. (ETA Fiji 15:50)

Monday, 8 November 2010

Airport welcome ?

Thanks to a link from Bob on Facebook I brighten your day with this Heathrow Airport welcome. I wonder if we will get anything like this...............

Friday, 5 November 2010

Useful Web sites

On searching the Internet for information, now and then I come across really useful sites which may be of interest to other travellers. This posting will be added to as the tour progresses and any sites which you may find will also be appreciated.  Please leave a comment if you find an interesting site that could be useful and I will add it into this posting later.
On trying to find out what time it was in NZ, so that we could phone Peter, I found this site..... .... which has all sorts of interesting bits. It will tell you not only the time and date of anywhere in the world, but also under Tools it will measure how far places are apart. Our first RTW leg, London to Delhi is 6,724 Km for example. I will use this to see just how far we will have travelled by the time we have finished. Yes, I have packed the Anorak!!!
Came across this by accident. Should prove useful when on the road in NZ... the gkrt bit stands for "Great Kiwi Road Trips". It suggests detours off the beaten track to see bits otherwise possibly missed while out driving. One drive scheduled at just over three and a half hours, they suggest three days to take in the full glory of NZ.

More later.......... watch this space and please add any sites of interest into the comments option at the end of this posting by clicking on the word "Comments".

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

NZ South Island Itinerary

After a week of surfing the web, we have at last settled on a route around the South Island. The sites (tools) that I have used have been for the Hotel and Motel type accommodation. to see what everyone else thinks about possible venues. Many decisions changed or altered after refering to this, though some have been rather old postings and the management changed and /or accommodation updated recently. Worth viewing the postings in date order. There is always someone who has a gripe, and rates their stay as "terrible", often brought on by their own stupidity and they feel they need to get at someone. This is often a real lambasting for something quite trivial.  Occasionally you can find such gems as " no one mentioned the trainline 10 foot from the bedroom window". Homestay (B&B) type accommodation was found in the "Big Black Bed and Breakfast Book" sent for on our behalf by Marlene (ex Kiwi with whom we play Petanca).  Very useful Marlene, and many thanks. Your own copy from.....   Other very useful tools, Google Earth and Google Maps.  Both will show a bed symbol if you zoom in on a town and one or two overnights, were found this way.

1st Feb    Arrive Christchurch and have two nights in Pub B&B adjoining Brewery. Pub grub and real Ale! Oh Yes!!!
3rd Feb   Catch TranzAlpine train to Greymouth and pick up hire car after lunch drive up coast to Cape Foulwind for one night. Hope it does not live up to its name.
4th Feb  Drive inland via Bullers gorge and Springs Junction (the long way, but more scenic) to Reefton.
5th Feb Drive to Fox Glacier via Greymouth and Hokitika.
6th Feb Drive to Lake Wanaka via Haast and new road over the Southern Alps. ( previously impassable)
7th Feb Short drive to Queenstown for two nights.
9th Feb Day trip to Milford Sound stopping off at Te Anau on return journey.
10th Feb Invercargill for two nights. (Garden visits)
12th Feb To Dunedin via "Southern Scenic Route" which is more or less the coast road.
14th Feb Drive north to Oamaru (old architechture and strange boulders) then turn inland to stay overnight in Omarama. To view the lakes that reflect Mt Cook etc.
15th Via Geraldine to Christchurch (more on that venue later) for two nights.
17th To Nelson on smaller roads via Hanmer Springs and St Arnaud.  Three days here having day trips, here and there, but always returning to same accommodation. (Self Catering)  Must include the town of Collingwood to see if they have celebrated/commemorated the Admiral's death 200 years ago like we all did recently.
20th Blenheim for two nights. Vinyard tours and get ready for Picton Ferry on 22nd to North Island.

The only accommodation on this Island not yet booked, is the second visit to the Christchurch area (15th).
Two B&Bs investigated so far have been closed due to earthquake damage. Whilst one hopes to be up and running by January the other has been "red tagged" which means it is a no go area due to imminent collapse. (follow the Flickr  link to see images) Three enquiries for accommodation have not been replied to.  Are they still standing?   I continue to do research in this area. Update..... two nights now booked on coast south of Christchurch... north of rocky peninsular, where there are gardens to see.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Preparations v2

A few Blog followers have asked if we have finished our preparations. So here is how its all going to date....
All flights booked and paid for. A RTW ticket does not cover all the flights, as we are stopping off in some countries longer than that system allows. So the San Francisco to NY and Bangkok to Singapore legs of the journey have had to be booked separately. Other than those we will be flying on a BA and Quantas "World Traveller" ticket. All arranged by our friendly (occasional neighbour) semi retired, travel agent buddy Malcolm. Thanks Malcolm, see you at Christmas to pick up the tickets and have a few bevvies.
All hotels in major destinations found, booked and some paid for. Others will be paid for on arrival/departure. The only remainders are NZ - B&Bs which we were going to arrange as we went along. However the few NZ ones I have arranged have shown me that this may not be a good idea as several have been fully booked even this far in advance. Maybe there is something on.... other than just peak summer season. So my plan is at the moment to limit driving to about 5 hours a day and have some days when we stop over for a couple of nights in high interest places.  Also a few days between LA and San Fran not sorted yet, but Motels most likely, as we drive Highway 1 up the coast towards SF.
Cars.... Cairns to Townsville, LA to San Fran, and NZ all booked.  Still looking at Fiji, where 2 airport/resort transfers for 2 people costs more than a car for 4 nights. And you get the use of a car when lying on a beach no longer has the attraction. Market day perhaps!
Jabs.... We are told that we need jabs for India and Bangkok.  Typhoid and Hepatitis A&B. Because we are out of the 2 yrs NHS cover here and not yet in the Pensioners age bracket, and also not working here, we are under private health care.  Which means that the insurance will cover us to have the jabs, but not pay for the jabs themselves.  Typhoid = 21 Euros each and 3 x Hepatitis A&B jabs (two before we go and one when we get back) at 70 Euro a go. That works out at 462 Euros........... Long live the NHS!
Ferry ... from South to North Island NZ, Free crossing for the hire car, and 2 passengers booked to accompany car at the time of booking the car hire. Worked out cheaper and more convienient than two car hires and flights between Islands.
Trains.... TranzAlpine scenic train ride across NZ South Island from Christchurch to Greymouth now booked for 3rd Feb. Took some time this, as I was chasing the 30% discount they mentioned in the blurb for "seniors"... that is 60 yrs and over. Ann would just qualify by a few days. However there is NO WAY you can do this on line. Even when we eventually find a ticket booking site that offers a "senior" option (Thanks again Malcolm for that link) it coughs up exactly the same price as a normal adult. After an email direct, I was told that they only offer senior discount to "Flexi fares". When I checked this out, even with the discount for Seniors, it was still more expensive that a standard Adult. Is there a lesson to be learnt here, I ask myself? Just discovered that there is also a train ride to look at in Dunedin......... more later.
Welcome to all the new Blog followers, who have been given the link today, Friday 29th Oct.  Please read on down and follow the links to the photos. These will be more relevant once we get going, but these are here to check the links and show you some photos from previous hols.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Flickr link

Following Iona's Blog example, I have added a link to my Flickr account (MilfoilMan). Click on "Today's chosen image" to take you there, and then the Back button to return to the Blog. These at the moment are a selection of photos taken on previous holidays, just to test the links etc.  Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

RTW Itinerary

4th Jan 2011 ----  Internal BA flight Manchester to Heathrow
4th/5th Jan - Overnight Flight, Heathrow to Delhi
5th Jan to 11th,  Golden Triangle Tour ----  Delhi - Agra - Jaipur - and back to Delhi.
11th/12th Jan - Overnight Flight to Bangkok.
12th Jan to 15th ----- 3 Nights in Bangkok.
15th Jan to 18th ----- 3 Nights in Singapore.
18th Jan to 22nd ---- 4 Nights in Perth, Australia.
22nd Jan to 24th ---- 2 Nights in Ayres Rock  ( 22nd Ann's 60th Birthday)
24th Jan to 28th -----4 Nights in and around Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Driving to Townsville via Mission Beach, for flight to Sydney.
28th Jan to 1st Feb--4 Nights Sydney.
1st & 2nd Feb ------ 2 Nights in Christchurch, NZ.
3rd Feb---- TranzAlpine Train ride Christchurch to Greymouth. Pick up hire car and drive up coast to Cape Foulwind...... nice name eh?
4th Feb--- Drive inland through Buller Gorge and Minehaha (?) Springs Junction to Reefton (the long way round and most scenic we hope).  GoogleMaps to the rescue.
5th to 22nd ----Continue Hire Car tour of South Island NZ. (See South Island Itinerary)
22nd Feb--- Picton to Wellington Ferry.
22nd Feb to 9th March,  Hire Car tour North Island NZ  Meeting up with Ann's Brother, Pete. (See North Island Itinerary)
9th March to 13th ----- Aukland to Fiji Flight for 4 Nights. Meeting up with friends, Ros and Mac, also on a  RTW tour.
13th March (48 hour day) Fiji to LA Flight. Depart 22:00 hrs Arrive same day! 12:20 --- after a nine and a half hour fight. Should shake up the jet lag a bit.
13th to 19th March --- Slow drive the coast road to San Francisco. Last two nights in Half Moon Bay Hotel. Other nights Motels etc. as and when...........
19th Flight to NY  First night in Queens, Close to JFK.
20th to 23rd Downtown Manhattan Hotel
23rd/24th Newark to Heathrow flight overnight.
24th Last leg back to Manchester.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Sums, 79 or 80?

Just done the sums............ We leave Manchester on 4th Jan 2011 and return on 24th March, which actually equals 79 days.  However, when we fly from Fiji to LA we encounter 2 days in one, as we cross the international date line.  Thus making it exactly 80 days. We leave Fiji having had Sunday lunch and dinner and arrive in LA in time for Sunday lunch .... a nine and a half hour flight later!