First time in Australia

I have lived in Europe 3 times so I’ve always been obsessed with traveling there and going back to visit my old friends, but I am now trying to venture to other places. I got to Sydney this morning. I am not fighting the jet lag yet, but it may be a rough night. 😳 I was able to sleep on the plane coming quite a bit which was nice. I wasn’t the brightest when I booked a trip for winter, but the temperature is perfect. Frankly, I didn’t know it would be winter. I keep getting asked if I am on holiday here? What in the world? My mind only processes that word one way and I’m like what holiday?? Then I just say oh yes… Translation: vacation!! Or I prefer simply to call it travel! I also got told to put on a jumper. A what?? Good thing I remembered what my old Australian friend I met in France used to call her sweater, then I figured it out. Too bad I can’t figure out how to find her despite tech. That would be one fun reunion since we met when I was 15 and she was 16 in ’91. We kept in touch for a few years, but that was a million years ago and we lost touch. image

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The worst place to go for Spring Break!!

DISNEYWORLD….

I planned a trip to Disneyworld for my daughter’s  birthday in February, but then cancelled it so our family wouldn’t miss school and booked it for spring break. With a teenager, missing school is becoming more challenging. For several weeks leading up to the trip, I didn’t want to do it since the crowds would be horrendous. Well, they were pretty terrible, but I LOVE Disney as a rare treat so we went anyway. We arrived at our hotel after 2:00 a.m. local time. (Since we live in MST, it was really only midnight.) This was actually quite nice since there was nobody on the road and it was a good chance to find our way around without traffic. We had only been to Disneyworld once, 10 years ago and it is a big place. (We are much more familiar with Disneyland.) Day 1 was going great until we saw the increasing crowds and felt the heat. IMO, Disney is best at night so I told everyone we should go back to the hotel and rest for a bit so we could make it until closing time. (Getting to the Magic Kingdom took forever from the hotel though so the plan didn’t seem very good, but we have done Disney enough to know that it is more fun at night.) We went back and had a little rest on the hotel bed and food so we could make it until past closing, which was our goal. SUCCESS! It was a great move for us and it made the hours we had much more enjoyable. The next day, we did Hollywood Studios. We had spring in our step and a much more manageable parking lot for that park. However, my feet were soon screaming in pain and the spring in my step was short lived. There is nothing worse than standing in one place for an extended period of time on your feet. With that said, wear your best shoes. I saw a lot of people in flip flops. I’m pretty sure we were all better off in our running shoes. We had a great time notwithstanding, but we got rained out a few hours early on night #2. Just when we were hoping the ride lines would be in our favor. Anyway, Disney is the worst place to go for spring break because everyone wants to go there and too many are there. The best time to go to Disneyworld is hurricane season when the crowds are LOW, but I don’t really think I’ll ever dare do that.

Disneyworld1

 (The one on the left got a 1st time pin when we bought the tickets.) 1st time Disneyworld.

Getting to Disney is never a cheap endeavor. However, if you want to do some research you can save lots of money by going off season or looking at “miles and points blogs.” Just google that and you’ll find many tips.It takes planning though!  The one in the pink is my Southwest companion pass partner which means she flew free with me. (We had to pay taxes though.)

The game of all games……

When we picked up my husband at PDX on Saturday morning, we never imagined we’d be watching our favorite UTES play that night. The UTES joined the PAC12 a few years ago and we had been trying to get down to see them play, but I had never opted to buy tickets beforehand due to the potential of local rainy conditions. #fairweatherfan Furthermore, if I’m going to pay a lot of $$$$$ I want to enjoy myself! Well, Saturday weather was gorgeous so we decided to go after we managed to find a last minute points room. It was totally meant to be because in the past they would not accept points bookings for game nights. Last minute travel can work out nicely. The room availability made the trek a lot more appealing since we wouldn’t be driving home after a tiring football game and the best benefit was that it was within easy walking distance of the famous and beautiful Autzen stadium. It was our first football game as an entire family and we made it until just after halftime until giving up from getting a bit chilly and complaining exhausted children. Then, we finished watching the game from the hotel lobby while enjoying hot cocoa. We went for the UTES and didn’t expect a win, but it turned out to be a history making game for our team. #GOUTES

From RED EYE to RED LEGS…..

I was supposed to be taking a red eye flight to DFW tonight, I was then going to be flying to Amsterdam for a day of lay over sight seeing and then on to Tel Aviv. After I finally started to solidify things and start paying for stuff, my husband found out he won an award at work. Now I am crazy about travel and I don’t want anything to get in the way of that, but career lightening may not strike twice so we were torn between 2 incredible options that overlapped each other. Let me say that I have spent years and years of my life not going out (=taking care of children and never hiring babysitters) and when I got the chance to “go out” I’d booked a trip to Jerusalem. What are the odds? To add insult to injury, a week later I heard wordpress was having a conference in Portland and I really really would like to learn more about this blogging stuff in a real world atmosphere. I never could have done online college. I’m super old school bricks and mortar; but, the wordpress conference was when I was home in Utah in March. UUGHH!!!! Originally, we were going to try to do it all since the awards soirée was the night we flew back to the States, but then reality set in and I backed out of “doing it all.” Do we really want to show up to a work function with red eyes and not looking/feeling our best? I don’t think so! After much deliberation, we cancelled our first ever trip to Israel at a loss of miles (FlyingBlue promo!!!) and $$$, but this way we get to show up and be present at the party. So……in lieu of spending my day packing today, I was able to be on my deck gettiing red legs from a sunburn instead of worrying how I’d feel tomorrow morning after the red eye.

Roomer travel….

I used to be super obsessed with hotwire.com. I always got incredible deals. I have used it for many years in Waikiki, Paris, Anaheim, Washington DC. and many other random places. I find it is very useful for cities. However, it is absolutely useless in rural landscapes where I often find myself. I am not much of a camper. It isn’t because I don’t enjoy sleeping outdoors; rather, it is because of all the tedious preparation.  (Most often, I have some family member I’m visiting anyway……) These days, I have a strange addiction to making travel plans and then changing my mind. I don’t change my mind on wanting to travel, but the destination specifics get changed frequently. I am also trying to maximize my loyalty to either earn or burn points. However, I recently decided to lock myself into something and then poof, I have a conflict. I had heard of www.roomertravel.com  so I decided to look into it. They will try to sell your non-refundable non-transferable hotel bookings. I have made my first posting resale on there, we’ll see. https://www.roomertravel.com/stories/work-requirements-may-16-in-dallas-for-less-at-the-hilton-anatole-on-roomer Anyway, it looks like a cool website to watch for deals for future travel. You can never follow too many of those. 😉

Dallas Fort Worth and then Dallas Love Field

A few weeks ago, I made some flight bookings that will be taking me through Dallas. YEE HAW! I spent a lot of my summers in San Antone growing up out in the countryside and I know and love that area pretty well. However, I’ve never been to Dallas beyond DFW. While I wasn’t intending on going there other than the airport, I am now going to be spending about 18 hours there due to a goofy flight situation. I booked a flight from DFW to PDX on Southwest airlines and unbeknownst to me, it changed the flight to DAL which is a different airport. It’s actually quite a fluke that I figured it out too. Had I not figured that out beforehand, I may have had a meltdown at the airport. : Where is my GATE????……..”You’re kind of dumb aren’t you ma’am!!??” Since I never enjoy sweating bullets about catching flights, I had actually left a fairly large window, but still I now had to go across Dallas to catch my flight home. Since my flight was booked with Southwest points, I discovered I could change the flight for FREE  and the points price had dropped too! WIN-WIN with my stupid oversight. I then decided to just depart the next day so I could enjoy a hot afternoon by the pool or some tourism.

Going home to hike, but not soon enough.

The other day, I finally got through on the British Airways US hotline. I almost had a heart attack cause I’d been trying randomly for the past few months and the blogosphere wasn’t positive about wait times of +60 minutes. I don’t have that kind of longevity. Then, because it wasn’t “my” account, the guy in India wouldn’t let me make the booking. I started telling him my story of trying to get through and I was NOT letting him off the phone with me. Finally, he told me what to do so I could book from my husband’s account and I with sadness hung up defeated that I’d never get to use my AVIOS. When I amazingly figured out how to do what the guy told me, I then decided since I got through earlier that I’d call back immediately and try to get through. #1.Busy signal #2. waiting on hold 3. got additional phone to work with 4. Got through again with backup phone! I had a few options that fell through and then decided to again try for spring break flight options. It worked with a bit of flexibility and missing one additional day off of school. The call took +40 minutes and now I can see why I could never get through. I could barely understand the kind Indian woman as she spelled out every one of our names and vital details: A as in alpha-n as in Nevada- y- as in yellow-and I was always as in India etc…..  There was a great deal of confusion on my behalf, but the emailed documents were correct. Since the flight prices have been outrageous for spring break, I had been contemplating making the 4 days drive for the 9 day break, but now my driving time has been drastically reduced thanks to PDX-SLC flights. So, if you have some awesome AVIOS, keep trying they aren’t worthless. If you don’t, you could try to get some by checking out a travel hacker blog. I have a hiker blog that hacks.

Red Cliffs, Utah

Red Cliffs, Utah

Tokyo JAPAN

Since we had free WIFI as a perk at our hotel when we were at Tokyo Disneyland, I was able to put iphone pics on the website much more timely, but some of the below photos were taken by my photog. According to information I had about going to Tokyo, free wifi was supposed to be not super easily accessed in one of the world’s tech capitals, but it was offered to us as an upgrade at the Tokyo Bay Sheraton since we achieved Gold SPG status on that stay. It was quite timely since by the end of the trek, I wasn’t really in the mood to go to the lobby to connect. Since our return, hotels have upped their game bigtime a few weeks ago for something that seems fairly standard to me. Some of the frequent travelers I follow aren’t happy about their perks being diluted due to this change, but I definitely don’t live at a hotel like some so I won’t get too excited either way. On our 2nd day in Tokyo after having FINALLY gotten a great night’s sleep, we woke up and headed to Harajuku. I’m no expert on Harajuku, but I think we should have been there later in the day, but you do what you gotta do and we were there in the morning. It was interesting, but I’m sure it would have been a different world at another hour. After that, we walked to Meiji Shrine which wasn’t too far, but on the other side of the subway. We meandered our way through some neat neighborhoods surrounding Harajuku. One thing that stood out was definitely the fancy cars. We never once saw a jalopy in Japan, but this neighborhood had exceptionally fine cars. We hit a dead end or two and since we were on a tight schedule to check-out of our luxury hotel on time, I was getting nervous, but we found our way. The weather was a cool crisp autumn day on 12/2/14, but pleasant. Meiji shrine was an interesting place. One thing that stood out to me was you could buy little wooden pieces like a Christmas ornament, write a prayer on it, and hang it with thousands of other prayers in different languages.  At one point, I think I walked out of bounds as some security guards headed toward me and I exited before I was able to ruffle their feathers. In Japan, we had already encountered a few “sticklers for the rules.” For example, we had a heckuva time getting through customs. We had to fill out our paperwork 3 or 4 times and we were very slow moving from the lack of sleep and jet lag. On the final attempt, we discovered I had marked (female) for my husband and I thought we’d never get in the country at that point. Miraculously, he was undisturbed by that mistake. So, when I saw some security looking guys heading toward me at the shrine and discovered I had somehow walked into a roped around area, I got OUT fast. We made it back to the Park Hyatt with enough time to spare for a rest before heading out to Urayasu where Tokyo Disney is located.

Harajuku

Harajuku

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine

at Meiji shrine

at Meiji shrine

subway riders (the one is green belongs to us...)

subway riders (the one in green belongs to us…)

floral shop Harajuku

floral shop Harajuku

Harajuku cookie lovers

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Mt. Fuji view from Park Hyatt Tokyo

Mt. Fuji view from Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay view

Mt. Fuji view from Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay view

Mt. Fuji view from Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay view

Mt. Fuji view from Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay view

BUD to NRT = (Hungary-Tokyo)

November 30th got started off early for us.  It wasn’t so bad for me since I had still been suffering from insomnia so when we had to get rolling at 3 a.m. it wasn’t hard as I wasn’t asleep anyway, just lying in bed. Exhaustion also helps for people who normally can’t sleep at all on airplanes; eventually, you hit a wall and can sleep on the cement or standing. We had a shuttle to catch to the airport and then we were off to Tokyo. From my experience on my 2 long cross country road treks and flights, once you are in the groove, it becomes far less painful. For example: In 1993, I did my first cross-country drive. The first day from Southern Utah to Denver was so awfully boring. The following days until the destination, I didn’t feel it anymore, I was just in a vegetative state of boredom. Of course this only works if you are NOT the driver! Drivers/pilots don’t have the luxury of being bored. So, the trek to Tokyo was not a challenge. We arrived at 9 a.m. local time on December 1st. in Narita airport. Upon arrival, we booked shuttle bus tickets with destination Park Hyatt Tokyo. I had researched all of the great and least expensive ways to get there and that wasn’t it. However, it would do the trick and after a lot of sleep deprivation swiping a credit card for certainty is far less expensive than stupidity. (ie. maneuvering more challenging routes) When we boarded our shuttle, I expected it wouldn’t be long. Boy was I wrong! I already knew the airport would be out in the rice paddies, but once we hit the city is still took FOREVER. Once we finally arrived at the awesome Park Hyatt Tokyo, I really didn’t care that I was in Tokyo for the 1st time, I just wanted a shower. Eventually, we ventured out of our hotel room on the 48th floor that day, but we didn’t get very far when the wall of jet lag hit us so we returned and told the staff we DO NOT want turn down service since we were going to sleep. Good thing I’ve lived in Belgium so I’ve had a fancy chocolate or two in my day. 🙂 We at least stayed awake until dark and had eaten some dinner. (see the post when it actually happened. It was McDonald’s, don’t h8!) https://walkhikebike.com/2014/12/01/park-hyatt-tokyo-with-kids/

view from our room. Since I prefer ranch style homes, I didn't know how I would handle being on the 48th floor. (photo by my significant other...)

View from our room……Since I prefer ranch style homes, I didn’t know how well I would handle being on the 48th floor.
(photos courtesy of my photog)

Early to bed, early to rise.

Early to bed, early to rise.

I'm not an early riser so this was awesome and without photography, I would already not remember it.

I’m not an early riser so this was awesome and without photography, I would already not remember it.