Chapter 4 What’s On Your List?

Chapter 4    What’s On Your List

In Chapter 3 we talked about Making a List, or Lists…and this chapter will cover what you may want to include on that “list”….for the items on this list can “make or break” your travels. In addition to the “list”….there are some basics to include in your carry on, and I got the following from a travel blogger, Jamie.

When you think of the best parts travel, immersing yourself in new cultures and eating authentic food probably sound more appealing than flying to your destination. But, when you have the right things with you, your flight can be the ideal time to relax and dream of all the discovery to come! To make your time in the sky even more enjoyable, we reached out to Go Ahead staff to hear which products they always pack in their carry-on bags. Here are ten of their favorites to have with you the next time you take to the skies.

One thing is for sure: Digging for your passport and other travel documents isn’t nearly as fun as digging into culture. That’s why having a functional travel wallet on hand is a must—and why we love the colorful selection made by Zoppen. With well-organized pockets for your boarding pass, money, cell phone, and more, you’re guaranteed to have everything you need at the ready. Plus, the wallet’s RFID-blocking material prevents anyone from electronically nabbing ID info and credit card numbers, so you can stroll through busy terminals at ease (and in style!).

2

Water bottle
If you’ve ever arrived at an airport’s security line just in time to remember you’ll need to toss the full water bottle in your bag, this tip’s for you. Next time you pack up your carry-on essentials, bring along an empty water bottle. You can fill it once you’re through security instead of paying high airport prices for a bottle while waiting to board your flight. Then, you’ll be able to refill it during your adventure (as long as it’s safe to drink tap water at your destination). We love the Hydro Flask bottles, which are insulated to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot, making it easier to stay hydrated while quenching your thirst for adventure.

3

A good read
Far-off places spring to life from the pages of a good book, and bringing a travel-centric tale along during your flight is sure to get you dreaming of all the adventure to come. The Go Ahead team is full of top travel book recommendations, but one of our staff favorites is The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. In it, Weiner says there’s a link between inspiring destinations and overall happiness… and we can’t argue with that!

4

Noise-canceling headphones
If you’d rather catch up on a good flick while coasting through the sky, noise-canceling headphones are the way to go. While quite reprieves may be hard to come by on busy flights, these headphones help keep any outside noise (think: crying babies) at bay while you tune into your movie or music. Want an option that won’t break the bank? Check out Sony’s over-the-ear headphones, which are comfortable enough for long trips and fold up when you’re ready to pack them away.

Portable charger
Enjoy passing the time on flights by watching movies on your tablet? A portable charger is the thing to bring. One of our top picks is the Jackery Bolt, a small-but-reliable external battery charger with built-in cords. It can provide a medium-sized smartphone with up to two full charges and give tablets and other electronics with USB ports more life. Simply plug the charger in overnight to give it some juice before you take off, and all you’ll need to think about is filling up your wine glass on tour instead of running out of battery in the air.

6

Toiletry bag
Like a good travel wallet, a roomy toiletry bag is a must for wrangling all of your in-flight essentials, and one of our favorites is the Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit. The good-looking material is sturdy, the interior is roomy, and you can simply pop your plastic gallon baggie full of 3-oz liquids inside. That way, you won’t need to go rooting around in the bottom of your tote for lotion when your parched hands need some love mid-flight.

7

Antibacterial wipes
While meeting new people is one of the best parts of travel, picking up any germs (or sharing your own) undoubtedly dampen the adventure. That’s why using antibacterial wipes is always a good idea, and Purell’s travel packs are a good go-to. You can clean your hands, tray tables, and armrests in flight for a germ-free journey, and then tuck the package in a convenient place—the wipes aren’t considered a liquid so you don’t need to worry about keeping them in your gallon baggie.

8

Hand cream
An airplane cabin’s dry, recycled air can do a number to your skin, so it’s key to have a good moisturizing cream on hand (get it?). We love L’Occitane en Provence’s creams, which hydrate without feeling greasy—and call to mind bright fragrances in the South of France. If you’re hoping to sleep as you coast through the sky, opt for the lavender scent for an extra splash of relaxation.

9

Lip balm
A refreshing wake-up may be just what you need after snoozing mid-flight, and a minty lip balm should do the trick. One of our favorites is Smith’s Rosebud Perfume Co. Minted Rose Lip Balm. It hydrates while providing an invigorating kick and a light tint, all in a compact, pretty tin.

For the trip itself, let’s start with the obvious…your camera or camera phone, and the charger. Your IPad, if you use it for photos, and its charger. If you use your IPad for Kindle, then be sure you have the books you want to read downloaded while you have an internet service available. Sun glasses are always needed, and you might think about a case to keep them from breaking.  If you like to take notes of things you see, or memorable things that happen on the trip, take along a writing tablet or note pad, and a couple of pens that work. Maybe for you it is your daily Diary. Binoculars always come in handy, but get a good one. REI is where I got mine…very pleased and only $100. A small umbrella is always good to take, for even though you may be in an area where it is not suppose to rain, be prepared in case weather turns bad. Just keep it small. Sunscreen may be needed, so stick in a tube, but it has to be the right size. For the flight, air sickness or Jet Lag pills may work, and the same for sea sickness. Slippers for the long flights are often well used, as well as a neck brace and eye covers and ear plugs. Always good if you plan on sleeping on the flight. And, if you take medications, be sure you have them with you on the flight, not in your checked luggage.

We covered the correct clothes, coats, and hats previously….but also think about personal security. If you have a fanny pack or a pouch, be sure it is RFID, which protects valuables for potential theft of private information. If you carry a purse, be sure it is RFID and has a way to strap it to your body. Men’s wallets should be kept in the front pocket of pants, not in the back pocket. If you use a back pack, they are great but can be accessed from the back, and you might want to look at one that you can carry in front of you, as well as on your back. If you are in a big crowded area, keep the pack in front of you with your arms around it. Speaking of personal security.…let’s think about the credit card and cash that you carry. First, be sure and notify your credit card company that you will be traveling outside the US, and they will probably ask what countries, and the dates, so have this handy. And, be sure and mention that you may be using both a credit and debit card. Regarding US dollars, in cash, for the most part will not be accepted in stores. Use a credit or debit card. However, dollars can be used for hotel tips, etc. but again, not widely accepted. Local cash, which you can get at ATM’s, which are very accessible, is the way to go. I do not recommend keeping much cash on you (maybe $100 converted to local currency) as you can use your debit card for almost all purchases. This process is much more common outside the US than in the US. We will talk  more about getting local currency once you arrive at the in-country airport.

Now that you have done your pre trip planning, your pre-trip packing, and have your list of items to take, you are ready to depart and head to the airport. Chapter 5 will deal with “The Airport”….from getting there to taking off….stay tuned.

What to Know Before You Go…Chapter 2

Chapter 2  The Internet, Web Resources, and the Travel Agency

As you start your trip planning and you are trying to determine where you want to go, use the Internet. There are a number of travel sites, but the best way, in my opinion, is to use Google and put in such things as “vacationing in Australia, or Europe, or France, or the Caribbean, etc”. Many site will come up and you can take your time and look at all of the many places that you can see and things that you can do. On our recent trip to Australia, we knew we were going to Cairns as our first step on our journey, so my wife Googled Cairns. From Cairns, which is north on Sydney, we were able to go out to the Great Barrier Reef, rode the train up to and through the Rain Forest, then rode the Skytrain back down over the Rain Forest to sea level, and back to the city of Cairns, which in itself is well worth seeing. We found all of this on the internet….then went to our agent, who had also suggested these attractions, and made the ticket arrangements.

And, you can use a site like Expedia to get an idea of flights into almost any destination in the world. They will give you prices and times, although the prices are often on bad connecting flights , or bad times, but it gives you a very good idea of when and where you can go. Trip Advisor is another good one, as this give first hand experiences from travelers.

These sites, and many others, are great for travel information, but not always good for ticketing. As I have said, and will say many more times, the local travel agent can get the same, if not better, price….they can give you the experiences of other travelers, and they can do the “hard work” for  you, such as the reservations and ticketing. That is their job. But, you can do the pre-planning by using the Internet to get your general idea of where, when, why, and what you want to do.

A word about the Travel Agency. Only the good ones have survived the Internet. And they have survived because they can offer a service that the Internet cannot. As with almost any professional services these days, you can get almost any service on the web. But, you get what you pay for. I have planned and taken trips using nothing but the internet, with sites like www.hotels.com, and  www.expedia.com, and they were good trips. But, for the most part, I was “flying by the seat of my pants”. And, when all said and done, did not save a penny. Now we use an Agency exclusively. And, a couple of other factors as to why to use an agency….(1) some are specialists, like with Cruise Lines…(2) many of the agencies are really experienced. :Been there done that”  is true for many and this experience is passed on to you…..(3) Your individual travel agent in an agency will become “your good friend”, and they will have your interest foremost in their mind as they plan for you. This is that valuable factor…and can make the difference in your travels.

Next section is entitled….”Make a List”….and this is one of my favorites, for many do not do this until they get someplace and say, “I should have made a list of these things to bring”. Stay tuned.

Napier Notes….speaking ideas, etc

This is lk beautiful walk right along the bay in Napier. Walk from the Information Center in both directions one takes you to the museum and the other take you down through the gardens to The Little Mermaid of Napier.

My talk for Napier……and talk preparation in general….

Today we will be talking about Napier.  We will talk a bit about the history of the area the city as it was leading up to the 1933 earthquake;  a little about the earthquake itself; then the rebuilding of the city; the art deco revolution; and then a bit about how it is today. We will then talk about some local attractions and ways that you can most enjoy the city during your visit and we will then talk about some of the tourist areas for shopping and souvenirs as well as some areas to just walk and enjoy the views and the location. I see my role as an information communicator In that travelers – passengers; the  people on the ship are interested in having a good time on their cruise line;  my job is to help them enjoy their vacation more.

Therefore I want to approach the job as one who can inform passengers about the Port that they are about to enter and what they can do there; what is interesting about the port and the city and the area around the port. I can do this by talking briefly about the history and background of the port city such as Napier before the earthquake then a little about the earthquake then what has happened since the massive earthquake .Then I would transition to the port today mentioned something about the Commerce and the economy that is evident in the port and then move on to what to see and do in the port city..I would then cover the main tourist attractions such as the museums the train ride in Picton NZ and the cable car in Wellington; the Cathedral and Wellington and the museums.Then I could wrap up with shopping areas and then the shuttle back to the ship and any other practical matters about the day…So it seems like I would put the presentation into three or four segments and announce this at the beginning the background and history the main attraction the shopping and truest areas and then the practical application getting on and off etc.

We had a great half day in Napier as we were there for the art deco weekend. This is an annual classic car and 1930’s weekend.  They expect 40,000 over the weekend.  Car folks come from all over to show the cars.

Napier is a remarkable place with an exciting port and an unusual beautiful downtown area with almost all rebuilt since the massive earthquake in 1933.

There are many places to visit including the completely rebuilt downtown areas but also the walk along the water is beautiful and with the trees and flowers right on the water it’s a very impressive area.

The art deco Museum has is well worth it and has a short 20 minute presentation on what happened before and after the earthquake and what turned it into the place it is today

And across the street from the art deco museum is there history is him that has a downstairs exhibit featuring the earthquake with a 20 minute revolving film about stories from survivors

Both museums are well worth it and you can do both in about an hour

That shuttle takes you right to the Information Center and from there a lot of information about the four or five main streets with lots of shops and restaurants and bars

The aquarium is very well done and has some excellent exhibits but is about a 20 minute walk from the Information Center but again well worth it if you like aquariums

If you have limited time in the port city then it’s best to leave early as the shops will open about 9….

As you leave the information Center you can walk up to Clive Square which is at the edge of the art deco area and then come back by the Cathedral which was completely destroyed and totally rebuilt very impressive with the wood and stucco and a nice of the earthquake and the organ is spectacular.In summary Napier is very much well worth the time     very impressive and rather amazing world wide to think that the city was totally destroyed and it’s been completely rebuilt. The earthquake museum really illustrate what the city went through and how they recovered in such a short time very well done.

I think it is important to mention that if you do not want to have some fun why are you here that you are on vacation to have a good time emphasize that at every presentation

So my job is to help you enjoy your vacation have some fun learn something about the area and just have a worthwhile time on your vacation

The purpose of my talk is to give you information that would help you enjoy your vacation more

As we arrived in Napier this ship comes into the harbor and turns around and then is backed into the harbor pulled buy a tug and I have it on video free see the Navy chip in for watching us and as he watches we see the buses said to come along with Bertie and his old English sports car. It looks like and mg but we will find out for sure as he will greet us as we get off the ship

The amazing thing about this Harbor is that is very small and very close to the downtown area and the course lumber activity as well as a huge story adjacent to where the ship is

Today was a most interesting day in Wellington we have just pulled away from the doc and it was very interesting to see the tugboat help get us out of the doc area with these wins as strong as they are

Today we started by taking the shuttle into the center of town and then walked to the New Zealand museum for the Galilippo  show exhibit. It was outstanding. From there we walked back the little car and R rode the cable car to the top walked around at the top then road the cable car back down and walked to the building or the clock was b**** is an old bank building completely redone

We then walk down to the Beehive and the Parliament and the State Library then to the old Cathedral which was remarkable and then was all done in wood and was very very beautiful

We then walked by the railroad station stopped and had a McDonalds coffee and sweet then back to the shuttle

The thing about today that was worth remembering for the strong winds in downtown Wellington

Wellington is a gorgeous remarkable modern sitting with this huge Harbor Bay area and very impressive with a lot to say and really too much for just one day

 

Budapest and on to Viking River Cruise

We had decided early on to do some “catch up” on our last day so started off by going to the old Train Station that Audy had remembered. Still there and still old…but a new section built on as well as a huge underground West End Mall…that runs back under the entire busy traffic corner. Then went across the street to the Libri Department store…found a good cap for me and some clothes for Audy…great prices.

Back to the hotel to pack and get ready to board the ship…and left the room about 4 PM to taxi to the boat dock about 1/4 mile away. The greeting from Viking starts at the curb when they get your luggage and take it directly to your room (we had it all labeled in advance)….and immediately felt at home and very comfortable. The folks at the front desk were perfect…check in took maybe 2 minutes.

These Viking River Cruise boats, which are also called shipped, and referred to as a ship by the staff…..are specially made long boats made in Germany…and made for this specific purpose…to transport people up and down and around the Rivers of Europe and the world. Initially designed for the European Rivers…they now are used worldwide, and have become very popular. Viking River Cruises was one of the first to do this…and they are the largest fleet now, and voted #1 by a number of Travel rating services. Clearly #1 at this stage for us.

The first night was introductory…dinner at 7, etc…an outstanding briefing on what was planned for Monday….just a great professional opening experience to start the Viking River Cruise.

Monday started with an early sit down or buffet breakfast in the restaurant, and they only have one big restaurant, but there are options for sit down or buffet, and very well laid out. At 8 we exited the ship and boarded the Mercedes Benz busses for the 4 hour Budapest Panorama Included Tour. . Very well done, and saw areas, such as the Hero’s Square, that we had not seen before…and ended up on Castle Hill at the Matthias Church. This in itself is almost worth the trip to Budapest, but the guide gave us a complete tour of the magnificent church, which sits on the top of the Buda hill overlooking Budapest and Hungary, for that matter. Photos, of which I have many, will attest to both the indoor and outside grandeur. I know this will sound like a record, but one of the most outstanding churches we have ever seen, or been in.

So, in Budapest, 2 magnificent churches, St Stephens Basilica and Matthias Church….the overwhelming Parliament Building right on the river, and the Castle Hill area and Gellert Hill overlooking the Danube River….which is the center of the entire area as it goes under the 9 massive bridges, including the historic and famous Chain Bridge.

The 4 hour bus tour ended up about 30 miles to the north, where we caught up with the Ship and re-boarded….lunch was ready…and off we went up the River…and the days activities on the Ship began. A full schedule from lectures  to a Champaign welcome party to the Captains briefing …all very well done.

Our room is more spacious than and on the Cruise Ship….and each room has a full glass window-wall to view the river and the villages and cities  that we pass. The beds are comfortable; the rooms are so quiet….the bathroom is plenty big, and the storage areas are great.

At this point, for us…this is the nicest set up we have had on the Cruises…can’t wait for the rest of today.

And, Viking Cruises will be added to my list of Cultural Events and Activities that I will be emphasizing…as this is among the very best way to fully appreciate the culture and history of Europe and the world for that matter….this will sell, as it has over the years, and I am happy to be part of “this world”.

After the trip I will start listing the upcoming Viking Cruise Ship trips, programs, tours, etc…and having been on 3 of them within the past year…can give first hand experience thoughts…so stay tune…all for now…Tuesday morning, Dec 12th……

 

Munich…..continued

We went down to the Marriott for breakfast and the placed was packed. Apparently, the hotels put together a special package for these holiday, and the place was full. We ordered from the menu…and got much more than we could eat. We walked back to the hotel…and left at 12 to catch the train to Leipzig. We were a little late in leaving, so had to rush to the station, using the U-bahn, but made it with about 5 minutes to spare. We went on to the first car that we saw was first class non-smoking, and as it turned out it was the end car with the engineer, except that the train was going in the opposite direction. This was the new ICE train, and the engineers compartment is like a cockpit, in that he sits at a console with computer screens “wrapped” around him. He is in a highback chair that is adjustable and on air, so that in the event of a bumpy ride his seat does not move. Right behind him is a glass wall, with a door, and then 6 seats, where we sat…then a wall into the next compartment. Within a few minutes we were off, headed towards Augsburg. It was at this time that the train changed directions, and the engineer came up to our car…so we in essence were in the first car…the drivers car, if you will. Pretty exciting, for again, these trains really move, and to watch the engineer control the speeds, etc…very interesting. He used both a cell phone and a console mounted phone, and was continually watching and checking the computer screens. We tried to monitor the speed, but it was hard to see through the glass, but knew we were going fast. Five hours later we arrived in Leipzig after this exciting time for both of us on the ICE. When we got off, the station at Leipzig was almost overwhelming…new, modern, and huge. The largest in Europe, with a full mall below the main station. Wow!. We walked 1 block to the Marriott, and although it was cold, we knew we were going to enjoy Leipzig. We were upgraded to the Executive Level, so had dinner right there…fried zucchini, etc…then went out for a walk in the sludge, as it had snowed and was much colder than in Munich. Back to the room and in bed by 9. A fun day on the train for a kid like me.

 

Munich

I woke up early and went for a walk around the area…a very nice area with many Mercedes and BMW’s parked on the street. This would be a nice residential area in any city…very expensive. We went back down to the Marriott for their breakfast, as the Renaissance served only a buffet. The Marriott was great, where we got a small breakfast for about $5.00..Audy had muesli cereal. We then headed for the BMW Museum in the area of the Olympic Stadium. We got there at 11 and it was closed….many places were closed for New Years Eve Day…so we got the Metro back down town..to the center of Munich…the area known as Marienplatz, where the famous Glockenspiel is surrounded by the big downtown churches, and we both remembered this area. Very pretty, and very, very crowded this morning, with the stores closing at 2 PM. We found that the G’spiel would go off at 5 PM…so walked down to the Galeria Kasthof…a huge 5 story department store. We went up to the 5th floor and had lunch…then Audy walked around and we found the Formula 1 Calendar. We left at 2 and found that there would be a Mass at 5…so walked down the Kaiserstrasse,to the main station to take a day tour for an hour, which was very interesting. Munich has grown into a big city, with not too many “impressive buildings” like other parts of Germany. We were impressed by the pedestrian areas and the big stores, for it is a very cosmopolitan and international area. On Kaiserstrasse, you can find every imaginable shop, from Gucci to the tourist souvenir shops. Big and small, and huge crowds to go with it.

We got back to Marienplatz by 5…and for the first time, ever, we imagined…the glock did not go off. Bummer. We waited for a few minutes and then went over to the Mass…a full church, but a good service with massive organ and trumpet. The overall effect of these big churches when the organ and congregation are singing is almost overwhelming. You can almost feel the music and vibrations in the foundation of the building. Really meaningful, especially for musicians. We tried to find another service that we had read about…but no luck…so headed back to the hotel area for dinner. We stopped at a neighborhood restaurant and as we entered they asked if we had a reservation, which we didn’t. As it turns out, New Year Eve, known as Sylvester, is a big night…and the thing to do is to go out for dinner…then stay up and shoot off fireworks at midnight. After going to bed at 10…we were awakened at midnight with a huge fireworks show right outside the hotel. What happens is that people come out from the apartments to shoot …and it is a big deal. I got up and looked out, and there were probably 200 people right outside our window…all shooting off fireworks, and these are not just sparklers. This is a big night! The next morning I went out and the streets were littered with fireworks debris…almost a mess, as you had to watch where you worked. Overall evaluation of Munich is that it is a big well off city….good to visit…but we had been there before, and probably would not go back until we see everything else there is to see.