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RTW 5 1/2 – The Oceania Edition

Brisbane & the Gold Coast, Australia

Posted by on Aug 23, 2010 | 1 comment

Brisbane & the Gold Coast, Australia

I was sad to leave the beautiful beaches of Fiji behind but also looking forward to a few days in the city of Brisbane Australia. After 11 days on remote islands, getting back to a big city sounded better than you’d think. Like Sydney, Brisbane is pretty expensive but I’d found an apartment hotel called the Adina Apartment Hotel for my 3-night stay. Located right next to the Story Bridge, reviewers on Trip Advisor gave the hotel high marks for its views of the bridge and the skyline. And, as you know, I’m a sucker for a great view.

When I arrived at the Adina and checked into my one-bedroom apartment, I was pleasantly surprised – it was everything I’d read it would be and more. The best part was the large deck with sweeping views of downtown across the Brisbane River. The second best part was the washer and dryer in the bathroom (may not sound like that big a deal but if you’d been living out of a carry-on suitcase for a month, you’d understand).

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Finally Finding Fiji

Posted by on Aug 18, 2010 | 0 comments

Finally Finding Fiji

After 7 nights of “roughing it” in Tonga and Samoa, I was longing for all the comforts of a 5-Star resort. Fluffy pillows, A/C, hi-speed internet, TV and the all-important hair dryer were calling my name. And after a quick 90 minute flight from Apia, Samoa to Nadi, Fiji, I was back in the land of the South Pacific tourist machine.

I’d been to Fiji once before, on RTW #2. It was the last stop on a particularly arduous trip and – to be frank – I was exhausted by the time I got there and barely left the hotel’s beach during my 2-night stay. Yet, I still claimed to have been to Fiji. Turns out, I hadn’t even come close.

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Simply Samoa

Posted by on Aug 16, 2010 | 5 comments

Simply Samoa

Trivia Question:  You’ve just landed after a one hour flight. Upon landing, you change the date on your watch but not the time. Where are you?

Well, if you started in Tonga – after a quick crossing of the International Date Line – you are now in Apia, Samoa. And after three adventurous days in Tonga, that’s exactly where I found myself…at midnight on Tuesday, no wait, Monday (landing at midnight only confused the situation further).

I will be spending 4 nights in Samoa. The first two in the capital of Apia on the main island of Upolu and the last two on Samoa’s sparsely-populated, wilder-side – the island of Savaii. Flights are not daily in Samoa but when one comes in – even at midnight – the airport is abuzz.

Despite the late hour, I am excited because I have elected to spend my two nights in Apia at a Samoan legend, the historic Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows (now known as the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s).

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The Kingdom of Tonga: Perfect Polynesia

Posted by on Aug 11, 2010 | 1 comment

The Kingdom of Tonga: Perfect Polynesia

My trip from Auckland to the South Pacific’s only remaining monarchy got off to a bit of a bumpy start. After a very pleasant 2 ½ hour Air New Zealand flight, we were just about to touch down on Tonga’s sole runway when the plane suddenly jerked upward, straight back into the night sky. It is at times like this that my desire to hear a reassuring announcement from the captain is outweighed by my concern that he has more important things on his plate at the moment.

As a frequent flier, I’ve been involved in 2 aborted landings before. The first, coming into Atlanta when another plane crossed the runway before us. And the second, coming in for a landing in New Delhi, India – where I can only assume (based on my observations in Delhi traffic) that a bull must have wandered onto the runway bringing all landings to a halt.

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Auckland at Altitude

Posted by on Aug 6, 2010 | 0 comments

Auckland at Altitude

One of the coolest things about heading to Auckland is how we got there:  on the newest edition to aviation greatness, the A380. The largest passenger airliner in the world, the A380 made its maiden flight on April 27, 2005 from Toulouse, France, and made its first commercial flight on October 25, 2007 from Singapore to Sydney with Singapore Airlines.

In addition to Singapore, it’s now flown by only 4 other airlines worldwide:  Air France, Emirates, Qantas and Lufthansa. Emirates conveniently operates a flight between Sydney and Auckland and it was too good an opportunity to pass up. (Since U.S. carriers won’t be flying it anytime soon, I figure you have to take these chances when you can.)

A couple of interesting facts about the A380:

  • The Wright Brothers’ first flight was shorter than the A380’s wingspan.
  • Airbus couldn’t find a plant big enough to build the plane, so it was built in bits in Wales, Germany, Spain and France and shipped it to an assembly in Toulouse, France.

So we headed to the airport in Sydney early Thursday morning excited not just to get to Auckland but for the “A380 experience.”

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Summering in Sydney

Posted by on Aug 3, 2010 | 1 comment

Summering in Sydney

Today, as I was harmlessly enjoying my vacation, an alert reader pointed out to me that I have been severely slacking off in the website-update department.  A quick check of the website revealed that – lo and behold – this appears to be true.  In my defense #1)  I am really bad at keeping up with the website when I’m travelling with someone else, and #2) I am on vacation.  But, my friend Shannon headed home today so I’ll try to do better from here on out. Now, on with the Sydney update!

First of all, getting to Sydney from Atlanta is the hard part.  For us, it involved a flight to San Diego, then to Los Angeles and finally a 15-hour marathon flight over the Pacific. (Could have gone direct to LA, of course, but the ticket was almost $200 cheaper thru San Diego. Go figure.) We left Atlanta on Saturday afternoon and – after crossing the International Date Line – landed in Sydney at 6:30am Monday morning. Luckily, we were able to get bulkhead seats on the trans-pacific leg so we both managed to get a little sleep. Overall, the flight wasn’t nearly as bad as expected.

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