Jul 25

Flight Diary and Flying

Not too long ago I became aware of a site called Flight Diary.  On this site you can input all of your flights you have or are going to take. It’s a neat way of documenting and commemorating different trips and flights you have taken.fd-logo

The first day I signed up I added all my planned flights for the year and will be going back to add some older flights, I’ll probably start with the more interesting ones first.  My only issue with the site is that it takes quite a bit of time to set it up, you need to add in the flight number, airline, departure and arrival times. I wish it could at least pull the times from the airlines after you enter the date, airline and flight number – that would make it much easier.  But this just means that the site has room to grow.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 9.42.15 AMAfter setting that up I became aware of an App that does a similar thing, Flying. The app is currently in Beta, but does a similar thing as Flight Diary, with one distinct advantage, it syncs with the TripIt App. If you don’t have or have never used TripIt, it’s not an advantage. But, if you do – all you have to do is sync the two apps and all of your flights that are in TripIt will be imported to Flying.  Within minutes I had badges for flying across the Pacific, Atlantic, Equator…  I do want to add a few flights to it from before I had TripIt, but this was an easier start for me.  Either way, both apps/sites are a great way to commemorate your travel.

Jul 18

Pancake’s On The Rocks

While I was in Sydney I met up with a friend, we spend the day going to see Bondi Beach and the fireworks at Darling Harbor.  While in Darling Harbor she pointed out “Pancakes On The Rocks” a popular Sydney restaurant, as noted by the long line out the door.

Nellie suggested that I try and eat at the one near my hostel, the one that’s actually in The Rocks.  So, on a rainy morning when I was hoping the weather would clear up I figured I would enjoy a leisurely breakfast there.  The rain didn’t clear as fast as I had hoped it would, but at least I had a nice breakfast.

As you might expect they specialize in pancakes and they were quite good.  As I found during most of my trip the menu was a bit odd, not because it was odd but because Aussies even do breakfast different than we do in the US. As much as this picky eater pretends to appreciate different menus, it is stressful, but at least at a pancake place, you can find something in your comfort zone.

The only thing that really surprised me was that it was empty.  Granted, it was during the week when most people were starting their day at work, but it was dead inside.  The lesson there is, go during the week when people are at work, not on a Saturday night in Darling Harbor.

 

Jul 16

CarryOn Shame!

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Spud Hilton starting a new campaign to get carryon’s to meet carryon regulations – @CarryonShame

I listened to an interview (that wasn’t over edited) with him, and his heart is in the right place. He thinks that the backlash of the checked bag fees is that passengers are taking it out on each other.

The airline is making you carry your bag on, and to hell with everyone else if it means boarding takes longer and not everyone can fit their carryon on the plane, as long as I can!  With attitudes like that, the TSA isn’t the only problem with flying.

Spud is hoping to bring this issue out more and shame the airlines into enforcing their own rules (which they have started to crack down on). I know we’ve all seen those passengers with obviously too big bags and too much stuff. Lets hope his campaign works!

Oh, and one great tip he has is to take your own measuring tape when you luggage shop, apparently many bag tags lie about the size of the bag it’s attached to. WHAT? The’s BS! Maybe we should crack down on that too!

Jul 11

Novotel Brisbane Airport

Due to my wacky schedule in Australia I ended up flying into Brisbane late the night before my flight from Brisbane home, which meant I needed a place to sleep for the night. While it wasn’t the cheapest option, it was the easiest option; I stayed at the Novotel Brisbane Airport. This is the only hotel on airport property and offers a shuttle service from the hotel to the domestic and international terminals. There is a $5 charge each way, it can be paid in cash or added to your hotel bill.  If you are using this hotel you should check their website for directions on where to find the shuttle at each terminal.

The hotel was actually quite nice and geared towards the business traveler. It was also modern and stylish with lots of plugs for me to charge all my gadgets for my flight home.

The room had a Queen or King sized bed, a desk, seating area, and rack for your suitcase.  Pretty much all you would need for a quick stop over.  I think there was a coffee maker too, but don’t quote me on that.  The room wasn’t particularly large, but there was enough room to move around it.

While there I did have the opportunity to order room service (late flight and lots of repacking to do) and the pizza was actually pretty good for an airport hotel in Australia (I’m a NY Pizza snob).

There is a shopping center adjacent to the hotel. There wasn’t much open early on a Sunday morning, but there is a grocery store and a medical center there.

Check in and check out were easy, and they were happy to help me arrange my transfer back to the airport, as well as let me use all my random spare money to pay off part of my bill.  The hotel was also very aggressive with their wake up call. I forgot about my wake up call and went to the grocery store. When I returned I ran into the guy they were sending to my room to wake up me.  Opps!

The only thing I didn’t like was that they charged a fee to pay off your bill with a credit card.  Otherwise I would definitely recommend this hotel if you have an early flight, long lay over and need a place to crash for the day (they do have day rates) or even a late flight into the city.

Jul 09

Attacked in Sydney

I often find myself posting about the different places I see on this blog, occasionally an experience will jump out at me, but too often I’m posting about regular touristy stuff.  Today I thought I would post a funny experience from my time in Sydney.

Picture it, a warm, sunny day in Sydney… Ok, the weather was actually clearing after some morning rain. I had a few minutes before tracking down a walking tour of the city and thought I would grab some Hungry Jack’s.  I got two mini burgers and ate them as I walked over.

The setting for the attack (near the terminal)

Well, I took a bite out of one and then a bird swooped in and stole it out of my hand.  It was impressive really, he didn’t touch me at all! It was one of those moments when you look from your hand to the bird, to your hand, to the bird to your hand, to the bird.  You get the idea…

It’s pretty funny in retrospect. But my hiding as I ate the other burger and my fries, not so funny. Nor was the fact that I was scared of the birds the rest of my time in Sydney, and there were a lot of them.

Word to the wise, in the ferry area of Circular Quay, eat INSIDE.

Jul 02

Why I Love South Africa

Before going to South Africa I had heard it was a great place, but it’s never the same thing hearing it as it is living it.  Yet, I will still do the same thing – tell you why I loved South Africa and why you should add it to your own travel bucket list.

South Africa is Beautiful

Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula is beautiful. There is great scenery along the coastal areas and there is lots of that.  Sharp drops in the coastline, beaches, blue oceans, rocky areas, towns, and wildlife.

I did not visit the Garden Route or the wineries but I hear they are also beautiful. On our train ride we did pass some wineries, and mountainous scenery almost worthy of the 30 hour train ride.

Cape Point

Wildlife

Coming from a suburb of NYC, squirrels are wildlife.  Raccoons are dangerous animals!  In South Africa it’s very different.  There’s the Big 5, Zebra, Baboons, Ostrich and of course giraffes.  Yes, many of it is in game areas or parks, but my local “game area” is a petting zoo.

Boulders Beach Penguins

Food

The food is great in South Africa; yes, some of it is a little extreme – don’t think I’ve seen Ox Tail or Kudu on a menu here.  But for the price, I had some fabulous meals and even tried Springbuck, which was delicious.  I’m more of a casual wine drinker, but found a couple great wines there and even bought some with tall horses (giraffes) on the label.

History

South Africa has tons of history. It starts with the Dutch coming, then the English, civil war and finally Apartheid.  Unfortunately, like most history, it’s sad history.  But it adds a certain depth to the country, the type of history that makes a stronger populous.

 Hospitality

I’ve been to a lot of places in the world, and the people of South Africa were the most hospitable people I have encountered.  Yes, I found a few pushy ones.  But overall, everyone had a smile on their face and was happy to help.  When they asked how you were doing or if you enjoyed something, they did it in a way where you knew they genuinely cared, and not that they were asking because it was the polite thing to do.

Would I return to South Africa? Absolutely! South Africa is a developed nation, and a good place to start a trip through Africa, you’ll find people and places are very accommodating to Westerners.