Every year when I’m planning my Big Trip I think, “how can this ever surpass last year’s trip?” And somehow, it always does. This year was no exception. I’ve had a few days at home now to reflect on my most recent whirlwind round-the-world adventure and it’s funny how a little time in familiar surroundings can help lend perspective to what was definitely an amazing journey.
It was my longest round the world trip yet, not because it was intended to be but because when you’re dealing with mileage flights, that’s just sometimes how the availability cookie crumbles…and who am I to complain about an extra week or two? I added 10 new countries to my travel resume bringing my current country count to 115 (just typing that number gives me kind of a thrill).Read More
Still basking in the happy glow of Vanuatu, I landed in one of my favorite cities in the world – Auckland, New Zealand. But on this trip Auckland is merely an idyllic stopover on the way to my true destination, Queenstown New Zealand. I have one night in Auckland on each end of my Queenstown stop to enjoy my favorite restaurants and the summer energy of this great city. With only a one night stopover, my usual apartment rental was not an option and unfortunately the Westin I’ve stayed at before is no longer a Westin so I had to resort to the hotel I stayed at on my first visit to New Zealand, the Hilton Auckland.
Located right at the end of Princes Wharf with marvelous harbor views, the Hilton is beautiful but usually pretty expensive so I’ve avoided it on my last few trips. But thanks to Hilton’s new cash and points redemption option (borrowed liberally from one of my favorite features of the Starwood program) I was able to get a decent deal on a room.Read More
By the time my 3-hour flight from Sydney touched down on the island of Vanuatu it was approaching midnight. Despite the late hour and the almost total darkness outside my airplane window, the 30 or so people on our flight were greeted at the tiny airport by live island music played by a smiling group of locals. I love landing on tiny islands where you get a reception like that. No matter how tired you may be after the flight, it always gets you right into that island mood.
Like in Tasmania, I’d procrastinated about booking a hotel in Vanuatu and only in the past few days had confirmed where I would be staying. My top choices were the Erakor Island Resort and the Hideaway Island Resort, both on their own separate islands reachable by jetty.Read More
After a quick one-hour flight from Melbourne, I touched down on the beautiful island of Tasmania. Just under 200 miles south of the Australian mainland, the country’s only island state – nicknamed “Tassie” – has a unique and compelling history.
For more than 25,000 years, Aboriginal tribes lived here in isolation. The establishment of a British penal colony in 1803 shattered that peaceful isolation. In the years that followed, more than 700,000 men, women and children were forced to migrate to Tasmania. In addition to the convicts, hundreds of penal administrators, civil and military officers and their families arrived and made a lasting impact on the island. Tasmania’s settlements prospered from the forced labor of the convicts who suffered brutal conditions at Port Arthur. Most of the convicts shipped here worked hard and eventually won their freedom, going on to establish new colonies as free citizens. In 1856, Tasmania was granted self-government and the convict era finally came to an end. A period of economic growth followed, fueled by exports like wool, meat, fruit and timber shipped from the bustling port of Hobart.Read More
For the trip from Hong Kong to Melbourne Australia I was back on my official Skyteam Round the World ticket for the first time since landing in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago. Which also meant I was back in business class…yippee! My flight was on Delta partner China Southern and it was my first experience flying with them. After a quick 30 minute flight from Hong Kong, we landed in Guangzhou where I had a one hour layover before boarding my 10-hour redeye to Melbourne. The short flight wasn’t much to speak of but the overnight flight was pretty good. And the Guangzhou airport and China Southern Lounge were both very nice. I managed a little sleep on the flight before landing in Melbourne around 9am.Read More
It had been 6 years since my last (and first) trip to Hong Kong – on RTW #1 – so this year I decided it was finally time to go back! My first visit had fallen over the Chinese New Year holiday and while that was an incredible time to be in the city, it also meant almost everything was closed all three days I was there. I was limited to eating mostly at my hotel and don’t even get me started on the fact that I didn’t get to shop in one of the world’s best shopping cities. So, yes, it was definitely time for a re-visit to the bright lights and skyscrapers of Hong Kong.Read More