Oct 28

What I should have packed – Galapagos Islands

The more I travel, the more I find packing to be an unfortunate and inconvenient chore. Subsequently, on my trip to the Galapagos Islands, I did a really lousy job packing. I’ll also blame the weather predictions I read about that were WRONG!

I’ll explain the weather first. The weather in Quito was forecast to be in the lower 60s and raining everyday. It NEVER rained and, I think, because of the altitude and dry conditions the temperature felt 5-10 degrees warmer.  The forecast in the Galapagos I only got for one island, Santa Cruz, and it would be in the mid 70s and foggy everyday.  The temperatures were probably in the mid 70s to lower 80s and really humid with very little fog.  Of course the forecast matched the information I read about the weather during September so I thought it would be a good gauge for packing.

So here is what I should have packed for a 7 day Galapagos Cruise:

(some of this I did actually bring and found useful)

2 pairs of shorts (preferably quick drying)

Or 1 pair of shorts and a pair of zip off pants

2-3 short sleeve shirts to wear during the day

2-3 short sleeve shirts to wear at night

LOTS of sunscreen

Bug spray (a small amount)

Sneakers/Hiking boots

Athletic sandals

Flip flops

2 Bathing suits

1 pair confortable pants or jeans

1 Sweatshirt

Hat (I didn’t wear one but most people would like a hat)

Camera with zoom lens and lots of memory

A few packaged snacks – you cannot bring organics into the Galapagos Islands and there isn’t much opportunity to purchase once on the islands.

One thing of note is that due to the humidity and the fact that you’re on a boat surrounded by water, nothing fully dries. Most of the boats seemed to have a laundry line on the top and clothing got 95% dry very quickly. But it’s best to bring things that dry quickly, you’ll get wet on the zodiacs and it’s nice for your clothes to dry in minutes. I would not bring jeans to wear during the day, only at night when lounging around. They’ll take too long to dry and aren’t practical if you have a “wet” landing (climbing into the ocean at the beach instead of from the boat to land)

Oct 21

Three Phones in the Galapagos Islands

While traveling to the Galapagos Island I traveled with not 1 or 2, but 3 different cell phones. I like to be prepared. But the results of how well they worked were a bit surprising and I thought worthy of writing a post about them. As a point of reference I was on a G Adventures tour on the Monserrat in September of 2015.

The three phones:
iPhone 6 Plus on the AT&T Network with International Plan

photo
iPhone 4s with local Claro plan for Ecuador

FullSizeRenderBlackberry Bold on the Verizon Network with International Plan

FullSizeRender (1)

Results:
Overall data service in the Galapagos Islands was severely lacking, often relying on the Edge Network. The first half of my trip was a “Southern Galapagos” itinerary and had a decent level of coverage. The second half of the trip was “Western Galapagos” and had very little cell coverage. We landed on Baltra, which did show a signal, but it was extremely weak. In Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island we had the strongest signal for our whole trip. The Island of Isabel had some weak service. Other than that, there was little to know service while in the Galapagos, just occasional spotty service. I would usually check my phones at night or in the morning when we were stopped and I think the longest I went with absolutely no coverage was around 24-28 hours.

iPhone 6 Plus:
The international plan I had included unlimited texts and 120 mb of data. I turned the data off for all of my applications to keep from accidentally using the data, this kept me to using only about 30 mb of data during my almost 2 weeks in Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands. While in the Galapagos Islands I was never able to send a text with a photo. If I had 3 or more bars of cell coverage, I was able to send texts with only words. That only happened a few times.

iPhone 4s:
At some point late in the trip my service plan ran out, that also corresponded with the period of the least internet service. But it didn’t really matter, I never used the phone for texts and outside of Puerto Ayora, it never downloaded emails, or worked on Facebook. It might have worked once with the Twitter app.

Blackberry Bold:
I only used my blackberry for email and if there was a cell signal, it would send and receive emails, including emails with smaller pictures. Aside from the 24-28 hour gap with no service, it usually worked when I checked emails in the morning and at night, though not every time, but at least one a day.

Conclusions:
When you leave for the Galapagos, let everyone know they might not hear from you. But, if you NEED to keep in contact with the outside world, take a Blackberry, it’s your best chance.

Happy Travels!

Sep 06

A Run Down on Australia

australian_flag_2This fall I will be headed to Australia for a few weeks. I have never been before, and I plan on seeing a lot, while not going overboard, or so I say.  I wanted to give a little idea of my itinerary and plans for the trip.  At some point I will also discuss my budget for the trip to, not that I ever formerly budget for a trip, but I am keeping track of expenses.

 

Day 1 and 2 – Flying from NYC to Brisbane

Day 3 Arrive in Brisbane and visit the Lone Pine Lodge Koala Sanctuary, then fly to Melbourne

Day 4-7 Melbourne – Plans include seeing the Penguin Parade, Great Ocean Road and possibly doing a wine tour.

Day 8 Fly to Sydney

Day 8-13 Sydney – Plans include Sydney Bridge Climb, Bondi Beach, Taronga Zoo, Blue Mountains

Day 14 fly up the Gold Coast and stay at Broadbeach for 2 nights.

Day 16-24 I start a G Adventures tour of the Sunshine Coast – Brisbane to Cairns Experience.

Day 24 and 25 – Fly from Cairns back to Brisbane for my flight home.

For my accomodations I’m using a mixture of things. In Melbourne I will be staying at a hostel in a private room, in Sydney I’m staying in a 4 woman dorm in a hostel.  In Broadbeach I’m treating myself to a one bedroom hotel suite which for 2 nights will cost more then my 5 night stay in Melbourne.  But, I wanted a treat before starting my tour, and it has a washer and dryer so I can get myself together laundry wise before the tour.  I haven’t stayed in many hostels in my day, but I thought it was time to push my comfort zone.

I’m open to suggestions of things to do on the trip or tips to keep myself from looking like too much of a tourist.