|One of our five adorable grandsons showing me the beach at
Poole, Dorset, England.
The Return Ticket gives Poole, Dorset: Three tickets out of five
Monthly Archives: January 2016
‘Bean’ There, Done That
Victoria, British Columbia
|On a whale watching trip in Victoria, British Columbia; cold but a blast!|
The Amethyst Inn
|An amazing view of the Acropolis from the ruins of the Temple of Zeus|
The “I Amsterdam” city card
The “I Amsterdam” Pass
When travelling in Amsterdam, before you even leave the airport, stop in at the Visitor Information office and buy the “I Amsterdam” city card. There are different packages depending on how long you are visiting with lots of tips and savings.
The line ups at most attractions are very long but you are able to be fast tracked and go into a completely separate line if you have the pass. There is free public transportation as long as you swipe your pass upon entering and leaving the transit bus. We rode the bus from the airport right near to our hotel for free.
We received a free canal boat tour with the pass, there are many discounts on food and other things, and we did get to tour the unbelievable Van Gogh Museum for free as well. There was an extremely long wait outside of the museum but when they saw we had the city card, we walked right in!
The Return Ticket gives the “I Amsterdam” Pass: four tickets out of five.
My Perspective on Travel
I’ve travelled to over 9 countries & 3 of the 7 continents so far… Let’s see — Bangkok to Bath — Athens to Amsterdam to name a few… and I don’t plan on slowing down any time soon!
And I have over 37,564 readers on tripadvisor!
If you have any suggestions, comments, or if you’d like to tell me how a post helped you – please don’t hesitate to drop me a line at: email@example.com or read my contributions on tripadvisor.ca/members/ChrisFranklin
North American Adventures
|Paris & Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The pool at the Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
The Return Ticket gives Las Vegas, Nevada: four tickets out of five
This is the story of how a group of blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks became one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide.
The theatre itself was very nice and our seats were fourth row! The music and generally the whole production of this show were A-1! I loved it, the entire audience was singing and dancing and I’d see it again in a heartbeat! Buy the CD on your way out in the gift store!
The Return Ticket gives the Jersey Boys: five tickets out of five
|The Beach at Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|My amazing husband & travel companion, Andrew (&me!) atop the Eiffel Tower, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Gordon Ramsay’s newest restaurant in Las Vegas, called “steak”… have to try this place next trip|
|one view of the Harley Davidson Cafe, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Close up of the massive Harley motorcycle crashing through the Harley Davidson Cafe, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The roller coaster at the New York New York Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The Brooklyn Bridge at the New York New York Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The whole picture of the New York New York Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|One of the pools at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|THE hotel, part of the Mandalay Bay Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The Gondola at the Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The view from the Eiffel Tower tour #1, Las Vegas, Nevada|
|The view from the Eiffel Tower tour #2, Las Vegas, Nevada|
Rooms With a View
Through My Lens
|We were surprised in our room at the AVA hotel, Athens, Greece with this bottle of bubbly! The service & welcome was unbelievable!|
|The Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece… a must visit; the recovered treasures are amazing.|
|Our room at the AVA Hotel in Athens, Greece. Spotless, modern, and welcoming.|
|The Harbour in a quaint village called St. Mawes in Cornwall, England|
|Waterways Houseboats on the Shuswap, B.C., Canada|
|My amazing travel companion, my husband Andrew, and I at the Acropolis overlooking Athens, Greece
In Greece, there were many a store just like this one with quality purses, shoes, art pieces – you name it!
Experience Amazing Thailand
Inside Tales of Thailand
|The view from our room at the Chatrium Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand
(the famous Chao Phraya River)
|A temple in Bangkok|
|Famous dance of the warrior monkeys in Bangkok, Thailand|
|The Big Buddha – Phuket, Thailand(a very hot & bright day!)|
Chatrium Hotel Riverside – Bangkok, Thailand
This was a lovely stay for sure, our view of the famous Chao Phraya River was spectacular. This hotel was immaculate, quiet and the service was outstanding. When we arrived it was like we were royalty, they whisked away our luggage and a lovely gentleman named Chatchawan took us on a tour of the hotel.
We were shown the amazing office space where we could use top of the line computers and the internet for free, enjoy cocktails and canapes each evening and then our spacious room. He was very helpful and full of suggestions for us. Breakfast was included and the buffet was unreal.. anything you could want for breakfast or you could order a la carte. There is patio dining if you wish.
There’s a free small ferry that would take you down the river and back to sightsee. Unfortunately we did not get to take advantage of the beautiful pool, as we were with a Rotary Convention so had not a minute of free time, but it did look lovely.
The hotel room was spacious with plenty of space for clothing to be stored, a proper iron and ironing board; the washroom was large and well appointed; room service was quick and delicious. I would highly recommend a stay here and do hope to go back one day.
Another note: the Chatrium will help you to book a reputable dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya River as we did and the temples etc were a lit up beautifully. They serve a buffet dinner, ours was excellent, and there is entertainment. Well worth it, especially as we had taken video and to know you’ve been on this famous working waterway is priceless.
The Return Ticket gives the Chatrium Hotel Riverside, Bangkok: five tickets out of five.
NOT Good: Our experience on Virgin Airlines
Our experience on Virgin Airlines
We were so excited to try out Virgin Airlines from Vancouver to England as it is such a long trip, and as per the commercials, Richard Branson himself speaks to the luxury of his airline. However, our first experience of Virgin was less than impressive. The rows were so close together we could barely squeeze into our seats. Neither my husband or myself are large people, so can’t imagine what a taller or broader traveller would experience.
I wanted to read my tablet yet there was no space between myself and the seat ahead of me; THEN the gentleman traveller in front let his seat back. . . I was literally staring at the back of his head directly in front of my face until our first meal arrived. Our seats would not recline at all (keeping in mind this is an 8.5 hour flight) and try as we might to stretch or cross our legs, there was no way to do that. We were seated in the centre section and as we looked at the seats across the aisle from us (window seats) we realized the rows were further apart than ours…
The staff was kind and we did receive a traveller kit with mini toothbrush, toothpaste and a sleep mask. But it certainly did not make up for our discomfort.
Chances are that we would NOT choose to fly Virgin again.
The Return Ticket gives Virgin Airlines: One ticket out of five
The Right Suitcase
A good suitcase should last about 10 years, and should have a guarantee for parts such as zippers, wheels and handles. Remember, you get what you pay for! When luggage is more expensive they should be well designed and have quality components.
It all starts with size… save up… buy the set, you’ll never be sorry. Each trip is different and may require a bigger(or smaller) suitcase than the last… now you’ll have that choice. Be sure to grab the carry on duffle or bag that matches too as you can easily keep everything for the actual flight right under the seat ahead of you and not have to get out of your seat to take down the carry on suitcase from the overhead. On a long trip you’ll easily find your luggage because it all matches. I would definitely suggest buying an expanding suitcase. And a luggage strap. That’s a smart idea too, in case the zipper ever breaks.
I’ve been thinking that my next purchase of luggage will probably include spinning wheels as I have wrist issues so I think this will help me with maneuvering a large, heavy bag. Was it not for that, the stationary wheels on my current cases work just fine.
As far as handles go, just check out the stitching to be sure they look sturdy, and get the telescoping handle type.. that is a lifesaver when you also have a carry on bag. My favourite feature of my carry on is that there is a strap with velcro on the side that slips over the extended handle of the bigger case so I don’t need to worry about it falling off the suitcase while I am racing down the airport… which even the most organized traveller may have to do when your flight is changed at the last minute!
The one item I haven’t settled on yet… soft or hard sided? Mine are soft sided but have been ripped from the first trip they’ve been on. Very frustrating. My husband has a really nice (not so cheap) suitcase by Jeep that had one of the front pockets ripped right open between the time we checked it in and when it arrived at our destination. One note, I hear that hard sided cases can add up to 10 lbs in weight so that would be a problem.
I swear the most popular colour of suitcases is black. There are hundreds of them coming down the carousel at one time and people are scrambling like mad to see if it’s theirs. If you insist on having black luggage then a coloured luggage strap or piece of ribbon tied to the handle will make it easier to identify.
On one of our trips I saw something I am happy to save up for… luggage protectors or covers. There are a couple of kinds that I have seen so far. The first are clear plastic-type ones that zip up or velcro under the wheels once slipped over your case. If you happen to like the style of your suitcase then you can still see it through the cover. Or I found brightly coloured/patterned stretchy, fabric ones that velcro underneath, again, once slipped over your packed suitcase. These are smart because you can get a plain black suitcase and have any style protector you wish. These covers would also eliminate the need for a luggage strap.
The luggage lock is a bit of a debate. Some airlines don’t want you to use them now due to security inspections, and to know which airports allow them or not… well, that’s really just one more thing to have to check before leaving on a holiday. I would go to the dollar store, buy a roll of brightly coloured ribbon, and tie your zippers together. It’s secure enough to hold but easy enough to snip off when you arrive at your destination or at the security check. Don’t forget to tuck a bit of the ribbon in your suitcase to use on the way home.
Lastly, always keep a second luggage tag inside your checked suitcase, in case the one you’ve placed outside on the handle gets ripped off. Have your flight details and destination on there as well. It’s quite easy to make extra cards to switch out for each trip. Then if lost, it can be identified by airport staff or you can replace it once you’ve retrieved your baggage.
Packing it in…
I am not being overly dramatic when I say: Packing is critical. If you pack too much, you end up disorganized, lugging around heavy bags, and paying top dollar fees for over-weight baggage and if you pack too little, you’ll be on the hunt down for extra clothing when you’d rather be on an actual adventure.
These are some essential things to keep in mind when it’s time to pack.
1. Get your packing process started at least a week ahead of when you’re leaving… at the very least… make a list! This way you’ll have time to purchase any additional items you might need. Then once you’ve got the perfect list type it out check-list style and print one every time you are going on holiday… you’ll be less likely to forget things. Sometimes we forget the most obvious things… those will be the items you can’t do without! I’ll place my checklist at the end of this post (to save paper you could place this in a plastic sleeve & use a dry erase pen to mark it).
2. Go online and find out about what you can take as luggage, while most airlines allow travellers to check at least one bag at no extra charge on international flights, the majority of U.S. carriers charge big bucks for bags checked on domestic flights.
3. Along with your one piece of carry on luggage, you are usually able to bring one other personal item. It is subject to specific size requirements but something like a purse, laptop bag, or backpack is generally acceptable. I would suggest taking one, you’ll want to have at least one change of clothes in here in case your main luggage gets lost. The personal item you bring can contain your e-reader, itinerary, magazines, travel toothbrush & paste.. you get the idea. My husband and I each take a small tote style bag to place under the seat ahead of us and that way we don’t need to get up again once seated to get our books etc. Our carry on suitcases go in the overhead storage until we arrive at our destination.
4. Rolling is much better than folding.; tightly rolled clothes take up way less space than folded ones. And they are less wrinkled when you arrive at your destination, believe it or not. Also once rolled, smaller items can go inside your shoes for more space.
5. Any type of liquids should really be in plastic resealable bags. They WILL leak… it happens. Why even worry? Just pack them that way to begin with and save yourself the headache of hair gel soaked clothing, or shaving creamed shoes… My all-time favourite packing tip: you know how you get those little shower caps in hotel rooms or dollar stores? They make really good shoe covers for keeping the soles of your shoes from getting your clothes dirty! And all sizes of food storage bags (also from the dollar store) can hold all of your other like items together – hair products in one bag, lingerie in another, etc. They’re reusable & don’t take up any extra space. I even keep some in my carry on for mints, identification, earphones & medications.
6. If you’re travelling for longer than a week, you may want to wash some clothes in the hotel’s bathroom sink and hang them to dry. I always make sure to pack a travel-size packet of laundry detergent to clean my clothes on the road… there’s a method to this madness… I’ll pack less BUT have room for any new purchases I buy on our travels! I also take a small drawstring bag to use for soiled laundry, to keep it separate from the clean stuff.
7. See if you can find pants that turn into shorts or a jacket that turns into a vest, that’s another space-saving technique right there!
8. My best advise: Wear layers. Your actual travel outfit should be in plenty of layers, which will help you travel multiple climates in style and comfort. Also it gives you many more options of what to wear during your entire trip.
9. It’s really important to keep your valuable and essential belongings in your carry-on bag, not in your checked baggage. Your passport, identification, money, credit cards, jewelry, electronics, and other valuables should always be brought onto the plane with you… which leads me to >>>
10. Print triplicates of your travel info – you’ll be so glad to have done this… I make 3 copies of our itinerary (including hotels, flights etc); my husband gets one to keep with him, I get one to keep with me and I leave the last one with my mom. You never know what can happen. It’s a good plan to have another person, that’s not travelling with you, know where you’ll be and the times you’ll be gone/home.
Parliament Buildings, Victoria B.C., Canada
Home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, the Parliament Buildings are open to the public year-round. Visitors are welcome to join one of the regularly scheduled tours, stroll through the buildings on their own self guided tour, or even have a bite to eat in the Legislative Dining Room. Free guided tours are available Monday through Friday throughout the year & 7 days a week during the summer. You might even run into some political figures there & get to chat with them.
This is a very beautiful property, where you can sit & enjoy looking around the sights while relaxing. Personally, I most enjoy seeing the Parliament Buildings at night when they’re all lit up by millions of white, glittering lights… what a photo op!
Royal B.C. Museum, Victoria B.C., Canada
Step inside & experience the history of British Columbia. Since 1886, the Royal BC Museum has preserved & shared the human & natural histories of this province. Discover the famous First Peoples, Natural History & Modern History Galleries – – a feast of sights, smells & sounds of beautiful British Columbia. There are displays of ancient tools & weapons or even teepees. The Museum is also home to a cultural precinct including the BC Archives, Helmcken House, St. Ann’s Schoolhouse, the Netherlands Centennial Carillon, Thunderbird Park and Mungo Martin House/Wawadit’la. There are different floors & each has its own theme.. there is an old village on one floor that features a movie house, train station & real cobblestone streets. Another floor is filled with animals from ancient & modern times… walruses, birds, even a massive wooly mammoth!
Since I was 5 years old, this has been a place I have loved to go. My grandparents first took me then & I’ve loved to go back year after year, with my own children & now my husband, who is originally from England. Each year there is a new main exhibit, once it was about dinosaurs & most recently the artifacts from the Titanic were featured. We were humbled by the experience of portraying passengers on the ill fated ship… very real, very touching, very emotional…
Government Street, Victoria B.C., Canada
Government Street is a busy street lined with some of Victoria’s biggest tourist attractions. Always such a nice place to walk around & see what is going on… as busy as it is, there is always a chance to sit & enjoy the surroundings. Along the waterfront you’ll see boats, water taxis, larger yachts, a dragon boat festival & possibly some seals. There are plenty of vendors with handcrafted items such a jewellery, soap, clothing, art & many items that would make an excellent souvenir for you or a loved one.
For a special treat, have afternoon High Tea at the grand Empress Hotel or board a ferry for a harbour tour. There are a lot of scenic, historic walks so make sure to read the historic plaques along your way. There are even a few guided tours throughout the city & quite a few horse drawn carriages. In the warmer weather there are often musicians & performers to see like eclectic artists & one man bands… how entertaining!