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Old 02-14-2016, 12:09 PM   #2601
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I just booked our first ever trip with RoadScholar, on the recommendation of a very, very fit 70 year old co-backpacker during a recent Grand Canyon backpack with the Sierra Club.

The trip we are doing, 21 days of hiking throughout New Zealand, is marked as 'Strenuous,' which our 70-year old acquaintance likened to a Level 3 with the Sierra Club. A '3' sounds relaxing after doing the Grand Canyon, which was marked as Level 4, so that along with the plusher accommodations and lectures on New Zealand's native flora and fauna has us quite excited.
In NZ now, just did the heli hike on the Fox Glacier yesterday.

Not really interested in hiking per se as going to places to take pictures. There are certainly a lot of such places. For instance, after the heli hike, I went to Lake Matheson where there is suppose to be a great view of Mt. Cook reflected over the lake.

But it was after 4 pm and there were clouds over the peaks so I hiked about 30 minutes and the first view point showed the clouds and the water wasn't smooth enough to allow any reflections anyways. Maybe took a dozen snaps in all.

Abel Tasman has all kinds of hikes but you can only enter by boat and there are specific times and points for getting on the return boat.

Yet I hiked about 8-9 miles, mostly along the coast line, around bays and lagoons.

Got a lot of pics there.

Also went out to Akaroa Harbor, which was formed by a volcano collapsing. There were narrow roads so I didn't have to hike much. But I wanted to try to reach the head of the harbour, where it met the sea. I was told the last stretch of road was all dirt so I'd need a 4wd car.

Still got some good pics.

But the South Island is really for hiking and all kinds of adventure sports, if you're willing to spend. Fortunately, the NZ dollar is only 65-70 cents on the USD.
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Old 02-14-2016, 02:13 PM   #2602
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Something to enhance the NZ dream. Hope to go back some day.
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Old 02-15-2016, 12:28 PM   #2603
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I'm planning ahead for 2017, I know it's quite a long way, but I'm thinking of Banff. Has anybody taking the train from Vancouver to Banff, I think the 3-day rail, it's pretty pricey and I'm not sure it's in Canadian dollar or US dollar. I know in my past visits to Canada, I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was Canadian dollar. Is there a cheaper way to get there? I saw the quote online was $1600-$2000. I think the website is Rockymountain.com, or something similar.


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Old 02-15-2016, 12:59 PM   #2604
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Rocky Mountainer is a fabulous way to go from Vancouver to Banff. Yes it is pricey and a once in a lifetime ride.

When you get to Banff, consider renting a car and doing the Icefields Parkway and take in the icefields and Jasper. Are you flying out of Calgary? There are lots of side trips like Radium Hot Springs, Lake Louise....
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Old 02-15-2016, 01:02 PM   #2605
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I'm planning ahead for 2017, I know it's quite a long way, but I'm thinking of Banff. Has anybody taking the train from Vancouver to Banff, I think the 3-day rail, it's pretty pricey and I'm not sure it's in Canadian dollar or US dollar. I know in my past visits to Canada, I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was Canadian dollar. Is there a cheaper way to get there? I saw the quote online was $1600-$2000. I think the website is Rockymountain.com, or something similar.
It would be cheaper to drive. Lots to see along the way, whichever route you take.
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Old 02-15-2016, 01:15 PM   #2606
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Rocky Mountainer is a fabulous way to go from Vancouver to Banff. Yes it is pricey and a once in a lifetime ride.

When you get to Banff, consider renting a car and doing the Icefields Parkway and take in the icefields and Jasper. Are you flying out of Calgary? There are lots of side trips like Radium Hot Springs, Lake Louise....

I'm thinking of flying out of Calgary. I was also thinking of paying for my two kids, that's why it's a big pricey for 4. I'm not sure they like it. But if they don't then it's just my husband and I.


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Old 02-15-2016, 01:17 PM   #2607
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It would be cheaper to drive. Lots to see along the way, whichever route you take.

It's 12 hours and my kids hate road trip. They are Millennials. So they might fly to Calgory. I check the price and it's about $200. Much cheaper. The train ride is for my husband, he loves train.

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Old 02-15-2016, 01:24 PM   #2608
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My spring 2016 vacation plans are shot now that I can't drive until mid-year at the earliest. I guess I'll save the money, or think of something really cool to do in the fall. Maybe New Zealand? Always wanted to go there but balked at the cost.
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Old 02-15-2016, 02:19 PM   #2609
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My spring 2016 vacation plans are shot now that I can't drive until mid-year at the earliest. I guess I'll save the money, or think of something really cool to do in the fall. Maybe New Zealand? Always wanted to go there but balked at the cost.
In NZ now. Expect to pay like 20 NZD for lunch and breakfast, more if you get any kind of drinks. That's under $14.

Dinners could be 30-40 NZD for good steak, venison, fish dishes.

Water is free unless you ask for bottled water.

Wine is 8-15 by the glass. NZD is .66-.70 USD now. Still motel rooms could be over $200. They are roomy though and include kitchen and sometimes washer dryer in the unit. They're clean and well run but there all about 20-30 years old. Must have been a boom in building accommodations.

A lot of tours run 75 NZD and up. Lot of adventure sports oriented tours. I didn't find too many coach tours though I see them, usually full of Chinese tourists, though I saw one full of French tourists yesterday. I chose to rent a car instead.

Stunningly beautiful country, if you like landscapes. Can get windy, would recommend going in their summer, Jan or February, especially if you visit the glaciers and the southern part of the South Island (Queenstown, Wanaka, Milford Sound).
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Old 02-15-2016, 03:14 PM   #2610
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On our upcoming trip we appear to be at an (hopefully temporary) impasse......the final ground leg of our journey is from Ourense, Spain to Porto, Portugal, via Vigo, Spain.......appears that a combination of train/bus is the most viable........we're hung up on buying bus tickets for the Vigo-Porto leg.......(since the scheduled train departures for this particular day are inconvenient).....we've tried two sites:

- Autna

- ALSA

Both sites 'demand' either our passport numbers (which we're loath to supply; not the least of our concerns being the possibility of unsecured sites), or a local ID number, which we don't have.

Anyone else encountered this situation? (As a last resort we might just arrive in Vigo and purchase the tickets in person.)
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Old 02-15-2016, 04:56 PM   #2611
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Nemo...it seems to me that we booked an ALSA bus when we dropped a car off in Seville and picked another up in Faro.

As I recall, we had a similar dilemma. I am fairly certain that I did provide our passport numbers.....but oops I transposed/changed some of the numbers. There was no physical check other than having some numbers on the on line form.


At the same time we needed a Europe address in order to take advantage of a great hotel offer(Thomson) in Albufeira. We used the address/postal of our hotel in Seville. No issue..went through with no problem.
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Old 02-15-2016, 04:59 PM   #2612
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Nemo...it seems to me that we booked an ALSA bus when we dropped a car off in Seville and picked another up in Faro.

As I recall, we had a similar dilemma. I am fairly certain that I did provide our passport numbers.....but oops I transposed/changed some of the numbers.
Did you encounter a problem when the bus driver compared your passports with the tickets issued?
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Old 02-15-2016, 07:11 PM   #2613
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No, and I cannot recall them even checking. Had it in our hands. We made the assumption that the only check would be with the passport picture and our face. They did not even do that. My guess is that it is simply a field that needs to be filled in. So we filled it in and everyone was happy.

That is why I did the transposition...just in case they actually did check.

This was four years ago. The bus zoomed by the border. There were border police standing by the road but they did not bother with the bus.
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Old 02-15-2016, 07:31 PM   #2614
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Thanks Brett.......we found a similar question/thread over on Cruise Critic, where DW posts intermittently, and the consensus was that it wouldn't be problematic.
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Old 02-17-2016, 07:08 AM   #2615
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Working on a trip to Hawaii to celebrate our 25 year wedding anniversary. We had several Hawaii trips early in our dating/marriage, but haven't been back for almost 14 years. This time we will visit Maui and the Big Island.

Maybe it's because I used to nicer hotel rooms now at prime locations, but Hawaii sure seems a lot more expensive than when we visited so often long ago.

I used Farelock to hold our flight reservations for a week. I've been trying to get past some scheduled medical tests (one for each of us), and problems aren't expected, but I hate to commit 100% until we're past that.
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Old 02-17-2016, 09:12 AM   #2616
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Leaving tomorrow for two weeks on the beach in Thailand followed by two weeks in Cambodia. All planned.

After that a month in Vietnam. Nothing planned-we will read the guide book and play it by ear. We have a general idea of where we want to go and what we want to do but will only book accommodation and travel 2-3 days out. Our only plan is to enter by land on March 14 and fly back to Bangkok on April 12.
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:53 AM   #2617
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Working on a trip to Hawaii to celebrate our 25 year wedding anniversary. We had several Hawaii trips early in our dating/marriage, but haven't been back for almost 14 years. This time we will visit Maui and the Big Island.

Maybe it's because I used to nicer hotel rooms now at prime locations, but Hawaii sure seems a lot more expensive than when we visited so often long ago.

I used Farelock to hold our flight reservations for a week. I've been trying to get past some scheduled medical tests (one for each of us), and problems aren't expected, but I hate to commit 100% until we're past that.
We are using VRBO for the first time to visit Maui for a week. The small condo we are getting seems like a nice alternative to the hotel's. We'll see.

There have been some cases of Deng fever on the big island. Not saying one should stay away though.
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Old 02-17-2016, 11:33 AM   #2618
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We are using VRBO for the first time to visit Maui for a week. The small condo we are getting seems like a nice alternative to the hotel's. We'll see.

There have been some cases of Deng fever on the big island. Not saying one should stay away though.
I'm already potentially exposed to Dengue Fever living here in The Valley, so no difference! Edited to add: OK - it looks more serious than it's ever been in The Valley, and we're headed right for the "red zone". Will take precautions.

Maui is particularly expensive. Condo will be a good way to go. There is a Costco just outside the airport that apparently has good deals on local items and tourist needs as well as having lower food prices in general.

We're not doing a condo this time. Splurging a bit for a second honeymoon, and staying at two different places on each island. But if we return we'll do the condo again. Probably back to Kauai in that case.

We're staying near Haleakala for 3 nights on Maui so we can make several volcano visits, including sunrise. And on the Big Island we're staying at Volcano House for two nights. We really enjoyed our visit to Volcano National Park last time. The rest of the time we are staying at beach resorts.
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Old 02-17-2016, 12:00 PM   #2619
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...
Maui is particularly expensive. Condo will be a good way to go. There is a Costco just outside the airport that apparently has good deals on local items and tourist needs as well as having lower food prices in general.
I'm guessing we will eat breakfasts and some lunches at the condo and then go out for dinners. DW probably would balk at making dinners. I'll just close my eyes when the bill comes for dinner. As I recall years ago, a few restaurants at the Whaler's Village near our condo have decent prices (for Hawaii).
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And on the Big Island we're staying at Volcano House for two nights. We really enjoyed our visit to Volcano National Park last time. The rest of the time we are staying at beach resorts.
We stayed there about 16 years ago. The night sky is fantastic away from the local lighting. The food prices were very high there. I'm sure you'll have a great time.
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Old 02-17-2016, 12:04 PM   #2620
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I am sure everyone is aware of this but just in case: Hawaii Vacations, Travel Guide & Information | Hawaii.com
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