100 days

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by turtlemichael, Apr 15, 2017.

  1. turtlemichael

    turtlemichael Established Member

    May 24, 2006
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    It's been a while since I did a Trip report so it is about time to try again. I enjoy writing, though I'm not particularly good at it, and when you combine it with travelling and photography then it is all good.

    Post retirement, most of our (self and OH) trips seem to be long ones. This one is 100 days and is in fact a bit shorter than usual. Over the last 10 years we have done a lot of cruising as well as land exploration and this trip combines both.

    It's still a good while until we start but I thought I'd lay the ground work in advance and update it occasionally we we get closer.

    We leave on June 30. We have a few days in Hong Kong, then it's on to Manchester. We spend a week in the Lakes District based at Grasmere, then train it to Glasgow and Edinburgh for 8 days. After that we get the train back to Leeds, to catch up with friends, for a few days then down to London for 10 more. On August 1st we head to Copenhagen and Stockholm for 5 days each. Next it is on to Silver Whisper, the Silversea ship, for 28 days through the Baltic, down to Southampton then on to Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, maritime Canada and finally Montreal on September 8.

    I'm feeling exhausted just writing it down!

    We have a couple of weeks in Canada visiting Ottawa, Toronto and Stratford ON before an overnight in New York and then the flight to Paris via Helsinki. A week in Paris follows, an overnight in London and a few more days in Hong Kong. We get back to Melbourne at the end of the first week of October, 100 days after leaving.

    All up, we fly around 45,000 km and car, train and ship another 17,000 km. At this point all accommodation is booked as is the majority of the transport. That's what comes from being an obsessive planner. :) With the exception of the flights YYZ-LGA and CPH-ARN it is all in J and all using frequent flyer miles. Obviously, to get the flights this trip has been a while in the planning. I'm using miles from QF, VA and AA liberally helped from the Amex Membership Rewards kitty. We'll be flying on CX, BA, SK, AA and AY.

    The cruise will in part be a repeat of what DRRON did on the same ship last year. I'm not sure I can match his excellent report but I'll have a shot. We'll be taking the added leg across the Atlantic.

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    I'll update this occasionally with some more information before we go covering where we are staying, what we are seeing and doing and generally what our plans are. I'll have to brush up on my photo posting skills as I have completely forgotten all that in recent times.

    I hope this is of interest to some.
     
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  2. I love to travel

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    I am subscribed
     
  3. Jacques Vert

    Jacques Vert Established Member

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    Me too; looking forward to your photos:)
     
  4. VPS

    VPS Established Member

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    me three - enjoy any TR
     
  5. TomVexille

    TomVexille Senior Member

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    Sounds great :D
     
  6. Major

    Major Established Member

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    A long trip. Looking forward to your TR
     
  7. clazman

    clazman Established Member

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    In for the ride
     
  8. kermatu

    kermatu Established Member

    May 27, 2012
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    Me too.

    Unless I win Lotto, I won't be retiring anytime soon. The idea of 100 days travelling is sadly a distant dream for me! Looks like you have a good few days everywhere so hopefully not too exhausting.
     
  9. turtlemichael

    turtlemichael Established Member

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    A big part of this trip is a voyage on Silver Whisper from Stockholm to Montreal. When the silver box arrives you know it is getting close. We leave for Hong Kong, the first stop on the trip in a week. So this is a chance for me to try to hone my photo pasting skills without doing too much damage.
     
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  10. turtlemichael

    turtlemichael Established Member

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    Next one will be a bit smaller!
     
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  11. RB

    RB Established Member

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    Just caught up with this thread & glad I did. I seem to recall you were a prolific poster around the time I joined this site & I am looking forward to tracking your holiday. I am not sure that I could holiday for 100 days-after about 6 weeks I feel like I would like a week at home to recharge & then get back into it. Looking forward to a great report & hope all goes well!
     
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  12. turtlemichael

    turtlemichael Established Member

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    #12 turtlemichael, Jul 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
    Well, we are off. It’s been a while coming but now the objective is to get out of a “getting ready and stressed” mode and into a holiday mode.
    As I set out in the original post this is a long trip with a lot happening. Thanks to some advice from Pushka I have adopted a mapping program. Unfortunately, when I enter all the details on one map it looks positively scary.

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    So I’ll break it down into sectors as we go. First up it is Melbourne to Manchester via Hong Kong.

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    As our first flight is CX 134 scheduled at 7.45am we decided to stay in a hotel the previous night so that the apartment could be left in sleep-ready condition for some visitors who are going to stay there for a short while during our absence. I’d originally chosen the Hilton South Wharf but then, when its departure from the Hilton family was predicted for the end of May, I switched to the Crowne Plaza. Then, when the departure was delayed it was back to HSW. I saw an AP rate around $150.00 and grabbed that a few weeks in advance. We were very pleased to receive an upgrade to a King Yarra suite on online check-in.

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    The room is certainly spacious and comfortable and well-maintained. However, it does look dated and it will be interesting to see if the new management does any upgrading. How they intend to distinguish it from the new Novotel opposite will be interesting. Service in the lounge at happy hour was good and the food fine. We didn’t do breakfast given the early departure. We did have dinner in Nuevo 37 which was just okay. It was used for convenience rather than a fine dining experience.

    We ruled out the option of staying at the airport because I dislike the HI and the Parkroyal was over the top in rates.

    We got to use the Cathay Business lounge at MEL for the first time. It is basic but because we were the first there (I am OCD lol) we got a seat though some later couldn’t find one. It is not the QFF first lounge by a long stretch but now that I am downgraded to Lifetime Gold because I’m not earning enough SCs to maintain WP status, it serves the purpose.

    I’d been following the departure times of CX134 for the last couple of weeks and many times its was late. It does appear to have a tight turnaround from the inbound CX135 which is itself often late. CX135 hadn’t left HKG when we went to bed. But setting the alarm for 4.15am proved overly optimistic as we awoke to find we had an extra hour to kill. In the end, the flight left 1hr 45 minutes late but, with a quick 8hr 43 min. flight time we arrived in HKG just a little over an hour later than we should have done.

    As others have mentioned, the A330s on the Melbourne run appear to have seen better days. This plane was no exception but it was comfortable enough for a day flight. Service was good and nowhere near as robotic as it can be sometimes on CX. The food was nothing to write home about (the picture of the duck does it justice!) but a superb 2014 Rockbare Shiraz made up for it. It kept me happy for several hours.

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    All up, it was a good use of QF points.

    We got to the HKG terminal at 4.30pm. After the Airport train and a taxi we were in the Conrad Executive Lounge at 5.45pm. Pretty amazing! Three nights in Hong Kong coming up.
     
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  13. turtlemichael

    turtlemichael Established Member

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    I think a few other people came across the same rates that I did at the Conrad Hong Kong.

    It was reported on AFF or FT by someone very observant about 6 months ago that all AP rates for a given period were the same. A mistake rate. In other words, you could get a standard room or the Presidential Suite for the same AP rate. I think this situation lasted a few hours before someone noticed. I thought about going for the Presidential suite but, being a scared namby-pamby I reasoned that if I had a regular harbour view suite I was less likely to have the “sorry there seems to be a problem” email than if I had the top suite at one 20th of the regular price. No email came and we kept the suite for a grand HKD2000+ per night.

    On online check-in there were only suites available on the 42nd and 44[SUP]th[/SUP] floors so we passed in the hope of getting something higher at the desk. Maybe this was my punishment? At the hotel we got the 44[SUP]th[/SUP] floor! I think the hotel was actually very full because this was the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] anniversary of re-unification and there was to be a grand fireworks display on the Saturday night. In fact, for that night the EL was moved down to the 8th floor because of a private function. I kept reminding myself that I have a good deal and be grateful!


    The room itself was great but with a limited view of the harbour.

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    Breakfast in the lounge most mornings was peaceful. We had it one morning in the Garden Court and that was pleasant. Excellent omelets. We also had the buffet one night in the Garden Court and, though over-priced, it is good. There is a good seafood selection. It was a quiet night so it was not the bun fight it can be when busy.

    The staff in the executive lounge appears to have had a substantial change since we were last here in October but there were a few familiar faces and the usual friendly professional service.


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    Despite our restricted view the reunification fireworks were spectacular. The dominant colour was unsurprisingly red!


    Weather in Hong Kong was typical of this time of year – hot, humid and wet. We had the best weather day on the Saturday and decided to walk the Ping Shan Heritage Trail as something different. We have been to Hong Kong lots of times and this was recommended to us. It is in the New Territories and accessible on the train and the trail is urban. However, it is easy to get lost because of poor signage so a good guide or map app works well. I’d describe it as low-key but you see some very interesting pagodas, temples, guest houses and learning halls.


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    One morning I also did the Bowen jogging path. My days of jogging are over but it is a good walking track but getting up the hill to it might be a problem for the aerobically challenged. I have steel buns after the climb up! It is immediately behind the hotel and took me around to Happy Valley and back, about an hour and 20 minutes.
     
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  14. mrs.dr.ron

    mrs.dr.ron Active Member

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    What a great trip ! Hope you enjoy the Whisper as much as we did !
     
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  15. Pushka

    Pushka Enthusiast

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    We will try leave the Baltics in one piece for you! Sounds like a fabulous trip. Reading your TR in a damn hot and sunny Dubai as we start our Baltic venture. Stockholm tomorrow.
     
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  16. bwhouse

    bwhouse Member

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    Boarding pass scanned, looking forward to following along. Sounds like an amazing trip.
     
  17. Welsh-Kiwi

    Welsh-Kiwi Member

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    Looking forward to this report. What mapping app did you use?
     
  18. tgh

    tgh Active Member

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    Subscribed and requesting a report on the state of the whisper as we board in New York on the 19/09/17 sailing a loop around Nova Scotia and back into Montreal
     
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  19. turtlemichael

    turtlemichael Established Member

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    Travellers Point. Very straight forward for the technically challenged like me.
     
  20. turtlemichael

    turtlemichael Established Member

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    #20 turtlemichael, Jul 6, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
    Our flight from Hong Kong to Manchester, CX 357, was not due to leave until 1.00am with a 6.50am arrival into MAN. The Conrad gave us a late check-out, initially to 3.00pm then, on the day to 5.00pm. We were also able to use the lounge until we left which we did until 8.30pm. That is phenomenal service by any standard.

    I was apprehensive about the flight getting away on time given that it had been late fairly frequently in the days before. By a clever process of elimination, I worked out the inbound flight (Flight Aware doesn’t seem to show that until the flight you are on has left) and it was only about 10 minutes late.

    We were thrown out of The Cabin at 12.30am (we are closing now sir) and got to the Gate just as boarding started. We were first on. So far so good but that changed quickly when the Captain announced that China had imposed ATC restriction and that they were insisting on a 20 minute gap between flights heading to Europe. He told us we were about 15[SUP]th[/SUP] in the queue and we’d be delayed at the gate for a while. A while turned into us being airborne 3 hours late. This may explain why this flight has often been late in recent times. Apparently this is not uncommon as most of the Chinese airspace is controlled by the military. I hadn’t heard of or experienced it before.

    It was my first flight on an A350 and was much more pleasant than the A330 up to HKG. A comfortable bed with a good space for the knees when facing the window. A good entertainment system and I used the efficient wi-fi at USD19.95 for the trip. We didn’t eat the supper and tried to sleep. The flight was fine but the food we did eat, the breakfast, was very ordinary.

    It took an hour to get through Immigration at MAN. For some, it was obviously taking a lot longer. The train in was a good mode and Manchester Piccadilly is within 2 minutes’ walk from the hotel – the DoubleTree.


    The Manchester Piccadilly DoubleTree is a typical English DoubleTree - small rooms but functional. Finding somewhere to open two large suitcases needed a furniture re-arrangement. Staff were very good at least all the ones we ran into. Breakfast was typical English and a good standard except for the black pudding that made cardboard taste good. The restaurant was closed for alterations so the breakfast was in a function room.

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    Deluxe King

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    Bathroom for one.


    We were given vouchers for 6 drinks – house wine, spirits, beer. Only managed to use two of them - a monumental failure!

    The hotel was suitable for a short 2 night stay like this which was mainly to get over the jetlag before we head off into the wilds of the Lakes District.
     
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