Wednesday, May 30, 2012

4 - 7 Days Contiki Packing List

The hardest part of traveling is the packing, what to pack, how much to pack and when should I start packing? 

Let's start with the easy stuff: Toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, hair elastics, make up. I suggest not taking your hair straightener with you and just go to the local drug store and buy one there that way you do not end up frying your straightener and leaving you without one during your week away. (speaking from experience). 

Next step is choosing the right size of luggage to take, You do not want it to be too small that you can't fit enough clothes in nor do you want to be too big that you are oversize for the airlines/tour. This is where researching comes in handy. Which airline do you plan on flying with? Every airline has a restriction, luggage size not just for weight issues for the plane but also for their staff that have to load and unload from the plane. Here is what I did, i went on the airline's website and found the measurements of what their restrictions were and then i went to a luggage store with a tape measure and started measuring different luggage's until i found the one i liked and the one that was big enough to hold all my belongings.

Now this is just for you to initially pack because of course you will be shopping, if not daily.

There is a lot of walking involved and just simply changing your shoes daily can make you walk longer even though your feet may be sore. Having different shoes I have found helps. When i was walking ALL OVER Central London, my feet were killing me but because I changed my shoes and did not wear the same shoes back to back, my feet felt relaxed enough to keep on walking the next day ALL OVER central London.

Expect to go out every night on a Contiki. Now you do not have to but there will be some people on your tour that will. And what I mean by Formal is club wear, just exactly what you would wear to the bar.

You never know what the weather will be like where ever in the world you are traveling to, it could be the hottest place in the middle of summer and all of a sudden you get a freak rainstorm making the days chilly. So just in case pack those bottoms and sweaters! Tip: Do not wear Jeans in Los Angeles during the months of July and August 

Non clothing items to pack:  

Especially if you carry your cell phone, Ipod with you, you will need those European plugs. A cell phone isn't just good for texting, calling with an international Sim card of course but cell phone cameras make excellent cameras. My Blackberry Camera takes wonders of pictures - some of my better pictures were taken on my blackberry than my camera it self.

Might want a book to read during the Coach ride between destinations, or a phrasebook so you can practice phrases between destinations - quiz one another on the coach. Whatever passes the time right?
Or you might fill up that void with writing in your travel journal so you do not forget what you did last night in, oh say Amsterdam or London, etc. Writing it down right away will keep the memories alive! 

what are some your must haves when traveling? Feel free to share them and Leave a reply below...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Domestic Travel - who says you can't travel in your backyard

Some of the fun moments are getting in your car and going for that weekend road trip or grab the summer activities program list for your local city, even just staying home and enjoying what your city has to offer on weekends can be fun as well, as long as it gets you out of your houses and takes your mind away from the day to day life chores (Bills, house work, work, etc). Just go to your city's homepage on the web and click on Events and there will be a list of all the events taken place on the day within your city. There are a ton of stuff happening in and around your city especially in the summer. Get out and enjoy, our summer months in Canada are so short already.

Sometimes I just get into my vehicle and drive, and if i am not going to work then rest of the time I am not sure where I am headed but guarantee it takes me to some pretty picturesque places. Try it some time!

In and Around Edmonton -
  • Weekend road trip to Jasper or Banff
  • Take an adventure into the Valley Zoo
  • Roll a ball in the lion's mouth for luck at the Chinatown Gate
  • Walk along the North Saskatchewan River on one of our numerous parks trails, and take in natures finest.  
  • Sleep in an igloo at the Fantasyland hotel. 
  • Grab a latte and walk down trendy Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona
  • Take your family to the Telus World of Science to experience the fun science
  • Take your picture with the Wayne Gretzky monument. 
  • Check out Leduc #1, the oil that started it all
  • Watch a dragon blow fire at you in the Scotiabank Theatre in West Edmonton Mall
  • Stay at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald overlooking the beautiful North Saskatchewan River Valley
  • Wing it at the Alberta Aviation Museum
  • Study unique pieces of art at the Stony Plain and Legal murals.
  • for more 100 things to see and do in Edmonon 
 In and Around Toronto - 
  • Walk the underground PATH
  • Take a helicopter tour of Toronto
  • Eat your way through Toronto’s delicious ethnic neighbourhoods -
  • Browse the St. Lawrence Market.
  • Visit Kensington Market, a shopper’s dream
  • Visit the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
  • Hike Toronto Island
  • Walk down Toronto’s widest street
  • See the lake that’s like an ocean, but not. Lake Ontario is one of the Great Lakes that separates the US from Canada and is famous for its size and massive storms
  • Walk Toronto’s famous Yonge Street
  • Learn about boat making at the Pier
  • for more 100 things to see and do in Toronto
In and Around Vancouver - 
  • Zip Trek or Bungee jump whistler
  • Watch the sunset from Burnaby mountain or Cypress lookout
  • Check out the Richmond Night Market  
  • Visit one of the many Farmers Markets around town
  • take a walking tour through Chinatown, eat at Kent’s Kitchen and have
    dessert at New Town Bakery
  • Take the [very fast] elevator up to the top floor in the Marine
    Building, Vancouver’s oldest skyscraper
  • Take in some almost always excellent live music at the Railway Club.
  • Go kayaking at Deep Cove and enjoy the scenery along Indian Arm
  • Grouse Mountain
  • Seawall
  • Granville Island
  • Vancouver aquarium
  • Capilano suspension bridge and regional park

Travel Protection Plan

Someone might ask, Why do I need Travel Insurance? I was one of those people and I know this because I was the one traveling to Europe this past December and early January without Travel Insurance. I know right probably not the smartest decision but I was young and it was only a short trip, 10 days! I did not want to bother the extra money when I could use that extra money for shopping!

Here is my opinion on buying Insurance or extended warranty. Its like when you buy extended warranty for your I pod, I phone, Laptop - Is it really necessary? I think to myself because if anything would happen it would happen within the year of buying that I pod and that one year warranty is already covered so why the extra warranty.

But I know that is getting off topic because Travel Insurance is nothing like extended warranty for electronics you purchase. You are spending a lot more money for your trips, and time. I should have bought Travel Insurance right. Although traveling within Canada and the United States I would not bother because if it is totally out of your control and if you booked directly with the airline then the airline will do what they can, well they are more inclined to help. Like put you up in a hotel, free of cost for the night until you can get a flight home.

For example, my parents went down to the united states to visit my mothers folks, and when they were flying home they were late taking off in Baton Rouge, Louisiana so by the time they got to Houston, Texas they had missed their connection - But since they booked through a third party the airline is not obligated to help. The only reason the airline put them up for the night because they kept getting bumped back and forth from each ticket counter. Continental ticket counter said oh we can't help you because you have United Airline Tickets so they would go back and forth - Even though everyone knew they were one company. They could see they were getting bumped back and forth so the airline put them up in a hotel for the night free of cost. But that is very rare that the Airline will do such thing to help out stranded passengers - the circumstances has to be extreme for them to do anything.

Summaries of some travel protection plans that I have researched - It helps to get three quotes of a similar product to make a educated, best decision. That way you are not taken advantage of and you know for yourself what you are getting and not just relying on your Travel Agent to get the best deal. Be invested in your Travel plans as well and do not leave it all to a Travel Agent to handle, work with you Travel Agent. At the end of the day they are only there to make money and it is up to you to look after you!

What made me change my mind about Travel Insurance - well the fact that i will be traveling to the middle east. Yes, Egypt! not the place the you want to go to if you are an american or without Travel Insurance. Traveling teaches you to be aware of global political situations, opens your mind to new possibilities and gains your self confidence and courage. Especially if you are traveling across the Atlantic ocean to meet up friends you have yet to meet, Contiki Holidays bringing the world together one friend at a time.

AMA - Premium Package Plan $219.00 + Tax
  • Emergency hospital and/or medical services - (up to 5,000,000)
  • Flight Accident - (up to 100,000)
  • Other Travel Accident - (up to 50,000)
  • Baggage and personal effects - (up to 1,500)
  • Trip Cancellation - Sum insured
  • Trip Interruption, prepared Travel arrangements - (unlimited)
  • Trip Interruption, Return Airfare - (unlimited)
  • Trip Delay - (up to 2,500)
  • Concierge service - (included)
  • Stand by MD - (included)  
Uniglobe/ RBC - Deluxe Package $240.00 + Tax
  • Cancellations & Interruption Insurance
  • Loss, Damage or delay and personal effects
  • Emergency medical insurance
  • Flight accident Insurance
  • Travel accident Insurance
Contiki Holidays Travel Protection Plan - Trips less than $2,000: $129 per person and Trips $2,000 or greater: $169 a person + Tax.
  • Travel Arrangement Protection (Section I)
  • Trip Cancellation: Up to Total Cost
  • The Contiki Holidays "Any reason" Cancellation Waiver**.
  • Trip Interruption: Up to Total Trip Cost
  • Trip Delay: Up to C$1,000 (C$150/Day)
  • Travel Insurance Benefits (Section II)
  • Baggage protection: up to C$2,500
  • Bag Delay: up to C$500
  • Medical & Dental Expenses: Up to C$1,000,000**
  • Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation: Up to C$50,000
  • Emergency Assistance Services (Section III)
Which one will I go with? Is it that obvious or am I, ha ha!.... Contiki Holidays!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Photo of the Day [Week Quattro]

Plane spotting outside the Edmonton International Airport - Sometimes when I am early to Leduc/Nisku for work I will go over to the visitor info building and sit in the bright sun, tan and watch the Planes leave and enter the International Airport. Of course the visitor info building is underneath the flight path so the planes fly right over your head. There are a lot of Air Canada flights during the time I am going to work - I ended up snapping this perfect shot of Air Canada Jazz flying over my head. And this was taken by my Blackberry Camera - Zoomed in and snapped to get this perfect result!

Plane watching is a nice pastime - What do you do to past the time (travel related)?

My next Contiki destinations

No Contiki Withdrawals happened this time once i returned home from Paris and London. But that is maybe because I got excited looking through the brochures picking my next destinations.

First i was looking at what to do for New Years 2012 - I defiantly did not want to do another 4 day tour. So here below is what i have booked and already paid *Thumbs Up*

Contiki #4 - Egypt & The Nile 
9 Days 1 Country

I am going to explore ancient egypt, with its icons, buzzing cities & incredible sights. from the Intensity of Cairo & Cruising the Nile in style to traveling like the locals on a felucca, this will be an intense New Years of discovery.
I also get to see 3 World Heritage Sites. Only Contiki includes - pharaohs to mummies, locally guided tours of the Egyptain museum & the Pyramids of Giza. - Tour the valley of the Kings with a local Egyptian expert - Sit back & Chill as you drift down the Nile on a traditional felucca sailing boat - local villages, ancient sites & stunning scenery. And many more optional activities. But you'll have to wait to hear about them!

But why stop there - Already purchased my flight from Cairo to Madrid. Arriving into Madrid at approximately 4am! 

Contiki #5 - Spanish Spree
15 Days 2 Countries

Hola! I am going Local on this perfect intro to Sunny Spain. I will be tweeting from Gaudi's architecture & flamenco in Barcelona, cosmopolitan Madrid, Beaches & Parties in Ibiza to laid back Seville. I will show you everything that we (Contiki) and myself love about Spain & more.
Not only do i get to see  3 World Heritage Sites in Egypt, But I get to see 7 in Spain. Only with Contiki you get to explore the Palace of the Spanish royal family on their locally guided tour - while catching a flight to the world-reowned Ibiza to check out its famous clubs and beaches - locally guided tour of Granada's Alhambra Palace - While learning about the history of Spanish culture & architecture at the Mosque of Caliphs in Cordoba. Plus some regional dinners and explore more options but you'll have to wait to hear about them!

I will be tweeting again from these Fabulous Contiki Tours - @AyKate - to follow my worldwide adventures!

Let the countdown begin <3 

Top of the World

Have YOU done IT? 

The highway was much of an existences since 1955 and only open during the summer months as it is very dangerous even for snowmobiles in the winter due to lack of shelter.

also known as Yukon Highway 9

Alaska's portion of the high way is short and apparently not numbered.

Our truck and trailer was having a hard time climbing this Top of the World highway, thought we weren't going to make it in time to cross the border. As it closed at 8pm, and reopens at 8am and only in summer. 

 There is an hour difference in standard timezones at this border.

In the US, this border crossing is one of the few jointly-built single building customs ports of entry.

The Border known as Little Gold Creek in Canada (or Poker Creek).

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bunnock - The Game of Bones

Learned a new game this May Long Weekend. A starter set will come with 28 Bunnock bones. First introduced in Canada in the early 1900s by Russian German settlers. Russian soldiers posted in Siberia played with ankle bones of dead horses.

It is an economical way to pass time.

Object of the game was to knock down all of the Bunnock starting with the two guards first. The team that knocks down all of their opponents bones with the least number of throws will be the winners.

4 black guards. 40 white soldiers. 8 colored throwers. The game can be played with 2 to 8 players of any age. The black guards are set 0.4 metres from either end and 10m between throw lines.

After a coin toss to discover which team will be on which side and who will throw first behind the throw line. You can start with both feet on the line and then take a step forward when throwing, under hand (no over throwing). First you have to knock down the black guards, once the black guards are gone, you can then move onto the white soldiers until they are all knocked down, where your team wins!!

It is a little more tricky on grass (or so i have heard), preferably to be played on gravel. BUT not on cement.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Day I tried MARMITE!

After many hunts I finally found some Marmite here in Canada - which it must be the English version because New Zealand there is a shortage of the stuff from the earthquake that did something to the factory, that they are still fixing. So my kiwi friend told me, so it must be the English version of Marmite.

It was a strong, salty taste to it -

I did not even put a big spread on the toast and It was strong taste. Ingredients: Yeast Extract, Salt, Dehydrated carrots and onions, spice extracts. But I continued on eating figured I would get used to it and hopefully I will - being that I am a surrogate aussie.

Now only to find some vegemite now - which I have a feeling I will only find some when I move to Australia!

Friday, May 18, 2012

There is a first for everything!

Today I used a travel agent for the first time in 25 years. It was a nice change not to think entirely about what was on the screen and let someone else do the work for you.

But I am not so sure about the extra free - if it was worth it! 20 bucks extra for someone else to book flights for you, Is it worth the extra cash spent?

Doing it yourself - 
  • A little more time spent to search all the airline options - Price comparing
  • Have control on when you want to depart and arrive 
  • And have control on how much money to spend on airfare
Travel Agent - 
  • They make you worried, if taking a certain airline is the right choice!
  • The extra fee in booking through a Travel Agent
  • Do all the hard work for you! 

To be honest I am not too sure If i will use a Travel Agent again - I am just so used to do everything myself. Point taken on why I am the one phoning Contiki Holidays directly when I book my tours. And it is just how I network, doing such things by myself. No offense taken to the Travel Agents, I know this is your job - but I think I am just one of those travelers who needs to do it myself.

Thanks though, UNIGLOBE GEO for booking my Flight from Cairo to Madrid for January 6th, 2013. But I think I will be booking my second flight on my own!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pic of the Week [tre]

Don't look up for too long or your going to lose your balance and fall over.

Paris, France

Eiffel Tower

Everywhere you walk in Paris, you see the Eiffel Tower that is how big it is. Driving into Paris on the Contiki Coach, you know when we have reached Paris when you see the Eiffel Tower from the Coach. Pretty Cool!

Contiki Paris New Years Day Activities

What a night it was, dancing and picture taking in Sullies in Paris, France with Contiki friends. And Contiki Champagne at midnight -

Next Morning, Had no idea - Thought it would be a free day for us to explore but not entirely.

Seine River Cruise in the Morning.

Had no idea. Nice little surprise stop after the Seine River Cruise. 

MonteParnasse "Ugly Tower" But the highest tower where you can see the entire city of Paris, Gorgeous view.

And then a Visit to the Eiffel Tower.

The Only thing for being in Paris New Years Day, Nothing is open - very limited stuff is open.

later that night, after Contiki treated us to Dinner - Moulin Rouge Cabaret Show. We probably went through 3 bottles of champagne at our Table. 

After the Cabaret Show, a few of us went to a Australian pub across from Moulin Rouge for End of Tour Drinks with Ben.

Mothers Day

Mothers day is a celebration to honor mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in society.

Julia Ward Howe was the first to proclaim Mothers Day in 1870. Her Mothers day proclamation was a pacifist reaction to the American Civil war and the Franco-Prussian War. The Modern holiday was celebrated much later in 1908, where Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in America and then she started her campaign to make it a recognized holiday in the United States. She was successful in 1914 but disappointed with the commercialization by the 1920s. And now it is a holiday adopted by other countries worldwide.

 My Mothers Day Gift to my Mother. 

Orchid, the name comes from the Greek. Greek Myth of Orchis; Orchies the son of a nymph and a satyr cam upon a festival of Dionysios in the forest. He drank too much and attempted to rape a priestess. For this assult he was torn apart by the Bacchanlians. His Father prayed for him to be restored but the Gods assisted of changing him into a flower.

Most commonly found in Asia, South America, Central America. But also can be found in the Arctic Circle.

It is so hard to find the perfect card for your mother, as Hallmark makes so many but generally you can find that one perfect one that fits the right mother.

"Mom, for all the times you had to referee, I just want you to know...... It was never my Fault." Happy Mother's Day. Along with a small bag of her favorite candy.

And for all whose mother is no longer with us, does not mean you can't celebrate - put flowers on her grave. I have a feeling she'll know your thinking of her on Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mother's out there in the World -

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday's Mission

Today I went on a mission after going to Canada Place for my passport and that was to find Vegemite and Marmite. First stop of the afternoon was China. Well okay it was only China Town but still, A store called Lucky 97. Not so Lucky if i may add because the only spread that I did find was Coconut Spread. Not quite what I wanted.

Next stop of the afternoon was a little detour around Edmonton, Now i did not have TomTom with me and shockingly enough I did okay without him but I did miss him telling me where to go and which way to turn. Driving under the Legislature - always nice to see our capital prime ministers home on a nice sunny friday afternoon. Was not sure where i was going until i saw the sign for Muttart Conservatory, then I directed myself there. The pyramid at the Lourve in Paris, France was better but this was the closest thing to it in Edmonton So I accepted it. Never been to it so it was nice to drive by it up close, instead of seeing it from a far.

Heading west, realizing i was going a little too far north for West Edmonton Mall, turned around and surprisingly enough again without TomTom i found my way. I normally hate driving in Edmonton because I never know where I am going, hint why I need my TomTom all the time but I did not bad.

Thanks to @Official_WEM for directing me to the right place for Marmite. British Import Shop - Q2001 inside West Edmonton Mall towards The Bay.

Cute little store, all things British obviously. But I prefer London, England. Boy I am spoiled! I prefer this and that - Oh Contiki you have spoiled me. Giving the Travel Bug. 

But Success - I have found Marmite <3 

Mission succeeded. Now to hunt down some Vegemite - and I will. Do not give up on me yet!