MAY 17, 2010 – Travel News
Since I returned from Europe, all airports in the UK have been closed again due to the ongoing Icelandic volcano ash cloud. The Eurostar experienced delays only hours after I completed my trip. As I was planning this round the world itinerary, I paid close attention to developing travel news, and tweeted much of what was concerning me, and seemed of interest to travelers. This attention to international news paid off. The ash cloud knock-on effect made the European train system quite busy, so I booked and reserved seats in advance. I also was very lucky with the returning ash cloud, it politely hovered over Britain as I left from France. The one big change I made in the trip was changing a stop in Bangkok to a stop in Singapore, based on reading into the news of that region. I booked my flights back in January, so the news on potential demonstrations was quite limited. But I did not want to gamble with limited time so I erred on the side of caution, and am quite glad that I did, with a major escalation in the conflicts occurring right when I would have been there.
I guess the resulting advice out of all this is not to let potential issues get in the way of your travel plans, but to monitor the news, and make adjustments where it feels appropriate, and if safety could be an issue, change the plans, it is just not worth it. I am so glad I traveled when I did, it was an off-peak time in most places I visited, and that made every stop so much more pleasant. Follow SpinFirst on Twitter, and make sure you follow the latest in international travel news. I did!
MAY 15, 2010 – Portland, Oregon
Well, the very last flight of this wonderful journey was delayed. After 3 hours on the tarmac in Washington DC, finally made it home to Portland. A trivial delay in the grand scheme of this trip through 10 countries. Rail Europe made the Europe train segment flawless. Azumano Travel made the flying segments a breeze. Expedia.com hotel booking and discounts made that part of the trip not only meet my expectations, but in most cases exceed them. I did all my research at TripAdvisor.com, which is about the most valuable travel reference site out there. I’ve learned a lot about airlines trains, airports and travel essentials, some of which has made it into the individual destination blogs, the rest will be compiled into a more comprehensive travel tips guide coming soon. Thanks for following along on this amazing trip!
MAY 14, 2010 – Paris, Charles du Gaulle Airport
Well, what a trip! Nine countries. Eleven airports. Nine train stations. Sixteen days. Paris, the perfect bookend to a wonderful spin around the world! Read all about it, latest from Paris posted in 96 Hours across Europe by train…
MAY 13, 2010 – To Paris
After an exhilarating stay in London, it’s off to Paris for the final stop of this round the world trip!
MAY 11, 2010 – London
I’m home in a way. I haven’t spent time in London in years, it’s exciting to be back!
MAY 10, 2010 – Zurich – Paris – Bruges
I’m pleased to have posted the latest phase of this trip here: 96 Hours Across Europe by Train. Tonight: Bruges, Tomorrow: London. More pictures and travel notes soon!
MAY 9, 2010 – Venice
After four excellent stops, in Hong Kong, Singapore, Cairo and Istanbul, I touched down at San Marco Airport in Venice this morning to begin the second phase of my SpinFirst.com Around the World Spin! From here, I’m taking the train via Zurich, Bruges/Brussels to London with a final stop in Paris. 96 hours…
This is a different trip style, with less time at each destination, just stopovers along the way. As I’ve already discovered in Venice, you could take a long time to explore this place, but I have to stay focused, I have a train to catch tomorrow!
Venice at night from Ponti d’ Accademia; view from room 301, Hotel American Dinesen.
MAY 5, 2010 – Istanbul.
I think I’m onto a winner here. My hotel’s location (Lady Diana Hotel, Sultanahmet) is in the middle of the oldest part of the town. From the hotel’s rooftop terrace is a perfect panorama over the incredible rooftops and minarets of the old city, reaching the shore of the sea of Marmara, which winds its way eventually to the Mediterranean. I can see the skyscrapers of modern Istanbul over on the Asian side of the Bosphorus River. I’ll take a wander down the shore there tomorrow. The streets all around me are buzzing with markets, shopping and the incredible Grand Bazaar, I just scraped the surface of it today, it’s overwhelming and will take a few visits to find my way around it.
The rooftop terrace view is priceless, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and myriad other mosques as far as the eye can see. I need to pace myself, my legs have been hurting all day, I think the after effects of entering two pyramids yesterday, the steep ascent/descent while crouched over works muscles I never knew I had, and apparently they need work.
MAY 5, 2010 – En Route to Istanbul.
Cairo is fantastic. It’s an amazing change, from the glitz and sophistication of Asia, but it is unique and incredible. You can read the full article 48 hours in Cairo here. Next stop Istanbul. I really hope I don’t buy a carpet, it’s not in my budget!
Bit of a flights hiccup at the airport, had to buy a new ticket. Odd, but not entirely surprising. Nice to be able to call your travel agent and friends late at night where they are and get help (Thanks Steve!). What would I do without the iPhone?! See you in Istanbul.
MAY 2, 2010 – En Route to Cairo.
With such an exciting itinerary, I am obviously looking forward to my next stop, Cairo. But Singapore has grabbed me. My time here, while short, has been just about perfect, and I am sorry to leave it behind.
MAY 1, 2010 – Singapore.
Coming to Singapore after Hong Kong is like arriving at Disneyland after driving through Los Angeles — it’s clean, precise, perfect and a breath of fresh, if humid, air. That’s not really a fair comparison, it’s just such a dramatic contrast from the incredible scale and concentration of humanity in Hong Kong to the bright and colorful, serenely laid out beautiful Singapore.
Singapore is an Asian treasure with surprising diversity. I mention surprising because, as stated earlier, I arrived here from Hong Kong, and if there was ever a metaphor for diversity, Hong Kong is it. But within a few minutes of walking through Singapore City, I came across more variety of international cuisines than anywhere I’ve experienced before. Pan-Asian, European, American, British, Turkish, Arabic and countless more… Read the full article: ’48 hours in Singapore.’
View from the 17th floor, Marina Mandarin, Singapore
ON THE GROUND IN HONG KONG: Wednesday April 28, 10:00 P.M.
I lost a day somewhere there. There’s a number of good inexpensive options to get from the airport to central Hong Kong, I opted for the MTL Airport Express train, efficient, costs $100 HKD and comfortable. I also opted to walk from Hong Kong Central Station, see a bit of the city en-route to my hotel (Courtyard Marriott, Connaught Road West). It was a bit of a hike in hot humid conditions, but the hotel is excellent, exactly what I needed. Hong Kong-style Seafood Curry for dinner. Turning in early for a big day of sightseeing tomorrow. Hong Kong is busy, a bit dirty, but magic. The sheer scale of this place — and I’ve only seen limited views from the Western section so far — is awesome. Hope I can find all the fun views I’m looking for!
View from 28th Floor, Courtyard Marriott, Hong Kong.
APRIL 27 7:00 P.M. Mid-Flight.
Pacific Time. Not far from Japan, about 5 hours out of Hong Kong. It just dawned on me mid-flight, with 4229 miles flown, that I have over 25,000 further miles on this trip. Really glad I got this long flight out of the way! Looks like we have a decent tailwind, so getting in a bit early. I could use it, I want at least two chances at photographing sunset from Victoria Peak, so hoping to head up there right after I dump the heavy bag in the hotel. How the heck is it 8:54 pm pacific time?! Well, I guess time flies when you’re having fun. I’ll conserve my batteries so I can watch Zombieland – I’ve been saving it for this trip! It’s raining in Portland, it’s raining in Hong Kong. I’m hopeful for a window of brilliant light for photography when I get there. I arrive about 6 pm… wonder if that gives me time to head up to Victoria Peak for sunset? Plan is to maximise photo opportunities in case weather closes in the view, may have to visit the peak a few times to get the shots I want.
APRIL 27 10:44 A.M. – SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Right, we’re off then. Just polishing off a few work items while waiting in SFO (San Francisco) for the Hong Kong-bound flight. It’s stormy here, and it’s stormy in Hong Kong – I love an adventure! So far so good, flights on time, and comfortable enough. Will let you know how I feel after 14 hours on the next one! Seriously, I promised myself I’d try to stay under 10 hours max. for flights, but you just can’t do it direct from West Coast U.S. to Asia. It’s a long time, but I’ve got fully charged batteries (me and the laptop and iPhone), and plenty to do — really hoping to grab some sleep, though! Last year I purchased a lounge pass, good for a year. It’s a really good idea when you have a lot of traveling to do, takes the edge off, allows access to free snacks and plentiful plug-ins to keep things charged. Well worth the investment, taking advantage of it right now. More soone enough, from Hong Kong…
APRIL 27 – 6:30 A.M. PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Its Travel Time! Waiting at PDX (Portland, Oregon) airport for flight to SFO (San Francisco) with connection to HKK (Hong Kong). Weather in Portland: Raining. Weather in Hong Kong: Raining with chance of Thunderstorms. As a Travel Photographer, that doesnt sound too bad at all! On-time departure from PDX, expected on-time arrival in SFO. Weather system — assuming fog — causing some delays in SFO, though not too worried, got work I can do!