Europe 2017

The Beginning

A few months ago, just before the last ski season I decided that I would like to join some friends who travel to Japan in January and/or February for an extended ski holiday. This was fuelled, partly because I am fascinated by Japan and partly because I love skiing and the snow in Japan looks amazing.

Fast forward to my annual ski trip to Perisher and a re-think. After three days of skiing I was totally worn out so how would I survive two weeks in bigger mountains? My standard of skiing is nowhere near as good as the folk I was planning on going with so I would mostly be skiing on my own. Do I love skiing enough to spend much money skiing alone and relying on good weather—no I don’t think so.

Back in Canberra, telling my lovely partner Ann all about the week up at the snow and I had an ‘ah ha’ moment. ‘How would you like to go to Europe next year for a month?’. In a heartbeat she said, ‘Yes’. So the planning began.

Half the fun of these kinds of odysseys is the anticipation and the fun of preparing. Where to go, when to go, how to go and other equally as perplexing questions.

Watch this space.

Peter G

Travel Agent or … ?

When Ann and I decided that we were heading to Europe in Sept 17—not really being well versed on travel of any kind—we decided to head to a travel agent. First stop was Flight Centre where we spent an hour with a very affable chap who took our proposed itinerary and turned it into a quote.

Well, quote was rather a loose term for what was a list of our proposed flights, car hires, ferries and trains. There was an even bigger list of statements such as, ‘This price cannot be guaranteed …’, or ‘there may be penalties associated with …’, etc,.

Alarm bells rang. How do we avoid these penalties and still keep to our proposed itinerary. The answer was simply, ‘you can’t’. One of our proposals was to pick up rental cars at a certain location and drop off at a endpoints; sometimes even in different countries. This is not difficult in Europe where a 5 minute drive can take you to several countries.

Oh well, another rethink.

What we decided to do was just book our over and back flights at the moment and handle the land content ourselves when we fine tune the itinerary.

So, back to another travel agent.

With this plan in mind we asked for a price for fares over to London and out Rome 5 weeks later. Simple enough and the quotes came back rather quickly. There was a glaring issue though and that was one of our connecting flights only gave us 40 minutes to get from Sydney Domestic Terminal to the International Terminal, a reasonably lengthy journey with little room for error. Indeed we were actually required to be at the International Terminal 50 minutes before our next flight.

Back to the drawing board.

We decided to check if there was an earlier flight directly with the airline. This is where we experienced a remarkable epiphany. We decided to put in all our flights according to the quote and came up with, not only a correct connecting flight but a better price.

So why bother with ‘experienced’ travel agents.

TA – ‘Well, if you have a problem while you are overseas you can just call us’.

Me – ‘Are you available 24 hours a day 7 days a week’

[Silence]

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Day Three London

Thursday 14 Sept

Up with the sparrows again, (the ‘nB part of BnB seems to be a furphy) a quick cuppa in our room then a short walk to Portabello Road and a lateish breakfast in a cute little cafè at the top of the road. Portabello Road is not what I had imagined but it was early and places were just starting to open up.

Portabello road walk.jpg

On the walk to Portabello Road.

People said to us, ‘don’t drink the coffee in England’, but I have to say I haven’t had a bad one yet.

After breakfast we hit the Tube (have I mentioned how I love the tube) again and head for the city and Westminster Abbey. The Abbey is fantastic and you could spend a whole day there and not see it all.

The Abbey

Investment tip: If you have some spare cash and want to make an investment in England—scaffolding is a growth industry.

Ann is a terror in a museum, she reads every word of every exhibit, so dragging her out of the place was a trial. We eventually leave and head for the Thames (pronounced Tems for some reason) and hop on a boat for a trip all the way to Greenwich where we alight and walk to the observatory. Again, we have a terrific raconteur who gives us the story of the Thames and its various quirks.

Boat ride on the Thames

The Cutty Sark

The view back to London from the Observatory at Greenwich,
the gates to the observatory park.

The Observatory is yet another fabulous place and well worth the visit. It’s a bit of a hike from the river and uphill to boot so the legs are getting a workout.

Our next treat, after hopping on the boat and heading back to town, is a ride on the London Eye. What a fabulous view of London and its ‘interesting’ building (more about that later).

Back on the tube again I (have I mentioned … ?)

We head back to the tube near the Union Canal and search for a pub for our last supper in London. We eventually find one after a bit of a walk (Ann was about to chuck me in the canal). Dinner done and dusted we head back to our digs and a well earned rest.

  1. Day two in London Leave a reply
  2. London and jetlagging Leave a reply
  3. Blast off and a soft landing. Leave a reply
  4. Are we ready yet? Leave a reply
  5. Where did the time go? 1 Reply
  6. A month to go Leave a reply
  7. Travel Agent or … ? Leave a reply
  8. The Beginning Leave a reply
  9. I have forgotten how to do it? Leave a reply