Itinerary – Europe – 2019

#urowiz

The original plan was to go to Australia & New Zealand for Sept/Oct 2019 with my friend Winnie. We were hoping for a flight deal to come along. Unfortunately no deal came by the deadline we gave ourselves so we decided to go to Europe together instead. Our itinerary is all over the place zig –zagging all over Europe. We narrowed down our top 10 countries we wanted to visit in the time period we had and researched where we could fly to for a bargain. From there, we chose to go to the warmer destinations first to extend our summer. The last leg of the trip was originally going to be staying in London/UK but we decided during the trip to go somewhere warm because let’s be fair, the heat makes things happier especially being in chilly and wet weather for awhile.

Now, before you get to the itinerary (all the way at the bottom), I am posting some (hopefully) helpful tips and information that came up during our trip.

 

Money – STACK (Pre-paid Mastercard)
36 days of travelling to multiple countries with different currencies takes a lot of organizing. When I travel, I usually carry a good amount of cash on me and pay that way so I don’t incur high conversion fees using my credit card. I made sure I knew what countries I was going to and calculated roughly how much I would be spending per day and got cash for certain countries I knew I would be in for a longer duration.

I tried to average about $60CAD/day. Prior to setting off on this trip, we tried to book our Airbnb’s, car rentals and flights in advance so at least those costs were covered.

My brother told me about this card called STACK, which is a conversion fee pre-paid Mastercard. With this card, you Interac transfer money from your bank account to the card account via the app using the special custom question and answer the app provides you with. Say you decide to transfer $200 to the card, if the card gets stolen, the card is not linked to your actual bank account and if say only $200 is on the card that is the limit that can be used. This card comes as a physical card but is also a virtual card via the app.

What I liked about using this card is that it was a very fast and secure way of paying for things abroad and the app also notifies you when a transaction has been made and will convert it automatically to your main currency so you don’t have to calculate the conversion yourself. And it is conversion fee free!

I used this card more so in the Scandinavian countries because they have started to adopt the cash-less transactions method but I still used cash in many of the other countries we travelled to.

Use my referral link and you’ll get $5 in your account when you activate your card.
Download STACK now: https://getstackco.app.link/fuqEmfMNH1 (this link only works on your phone via the app once its downloaded)

 

Ryanair
Yes Ryanair has super cheap flights BUT many hidden costs or steps. We decided to go to many countries because of how cheap the flights were (12£ one-way to go from London (Stansted) to Copenhagen (CPH) is a real good price). We also booked early. These cheap tickets have many drawbacks. First off, many of the airports you fly out of or into are not usually the main airports and are usually smaller airports outside of the city centre which adds more travel time.

More recently, Ryanair changed their luggage requirements from what use to be a free carry-on (still smaller than regulation size on other airlines) and now the only free luggage you can have must be 40x20x25CM. Depending on the airport and the staff, they don’t really check the size of your bag. I got the size compliant bag (Swissgear – https://www.shopbentley.com/en/escape-collection-travel-tote-swiss-gear-1016684.html) and it sits under the seat no problem with room to spare. The staff didn’t really check so you could get away with a slightly larger bag or a bag that can squish.

REMEMBER TO ALWAYS CHECK IN ONLINE. You can do this up to 48 hours. For non-EU passengers, you must print your documents, as they will not issue you a boarding pass. I found that with flights not connected to the UK, the boarding pass will be issued to your Ryanair App however, if you are flying out of or into UK, you must print your boarding pass to get a Visa check and stamp. I have heard that if you don’t print it and ask at the check-in desk, there is an expensive fee for them to print for you.

Easyjet, Air Europa, Norwegian and Vueling are also other cheap airline operators and their restrictions are not severe as Ryanair for luggage or protocol. I usually use Momondo or Skyscanner to help me check for better deals on flights.

 

Car rentals – International Driver’s License
As a Canadian, you are required to have your International Driver’s License to rent a car in Spain.

 

Sim Card
Travelling throughout many countries in Europe for over a month, trying to find a SIM card plan that works in all the countries and for that period of time was a challenge but there are definitely options out there beside “roaming” with your phone plan back home as that can be costly.

For my 36 day Eurotrip, I purchased this 30 day SIM card that works throughout 71 European countries with 12GB + 3000 minutes + 3000 texts. You are also able to top up this plan when in the UK by purchasing in-store.

Photo & Video Storage – SSD & USB – I brought an external to back up my photos from my DSLR and my phone every night. I also bring a USB for back-up to the back-up of the external for peace of mind since my phone internal storage is not large enough to store all the photos from the trip for the entirety of 36 days. I would suggest bringing another USB (64GB should suffice) to be the back up to the back up for the phone photos so you can clear space.

You can also use cloud storage but I am not a fan of that so these are my alternatives.

 

Hikes

Alltrails is amazing for finding hikes around the world. People review or comment on each hike and also you can see the difficulty and lengths. You can also download the app.

 

Groceries
To be honest, we ate out a lot this trip. When we could, we tried to make some meals with friends. We also stocked up on snacks like fruit and breakfast (skyr, yogurt, granola etc). You will find that there are many grocery stores but some are superior to others in terms of quality for the price. Budget friendly grocery stores you should be on the lookout for are Aldi & LIDL.

 

Overview

Spain – Euro
-Tipping is not common but you can tip if you want (5-10%)

Eating times
Different times for eating. They take siesta very seriously and will take hour long lunches where the kids will go home as well to eat with family. Dinner usually starts around 8PM.
Desayuno – breakfast – 7-9AM
-a Spanish classic is a toasted baguette with olive oil and crushed tomatoes
-other breakfast foods consist of churros and chocolate or pastries like croissants.
Almuerzo – Mid-morning snack – 1030-11AM – Coffee with a muffin or a croissant with ham and cheese
La Comida – Lunch – 2-330PM – Most important meal of the day.
Merienda – Mid-after snack – 530-730PM – More about socializing – more drinks than food. Churros are popular at this time of day or a small meat and cheese sandwich.
La hora del aperitivo – Tapas Hour – 830-10PM
La Cena – Dinner time – 9-11PM – Dinner is usually much lighter than a standard dinner meal. Traditional Spanish dinners are shared plates.

-Try Clara – beer with lemonade or lemon Fanta
-Try Tinto de verano – Red wine with Sprite or Fanta (very popular in Spain) – very similar to sangria

Common Phrases
-Hola – Ola – Hello
-Adios – bye
-Si – Yes
-No – No

-Pardon or Disculpa – Excuse me
-Por Favor – Please
-Gracias – Thank you
-De nada – You’re Welcome
-Lo SIento – Sorry
-Factura – Bill
-Salud – Cheers
-Camamos – Let’s eat

 

Portugal – Euro
-Tipping is not common but you can tip if you want (5-10%)
-You need to try some pastel de nata (Portugese Egg Tarts)
-Ola – Hello
-Oi – Hi
-Tchau – Bye
-Sim – Yes
-Nao – No
-Por Vaor – Please
-Obrigado – Thank you
-De nada – You’re Welcome
-Desculpe – I’m Sorry
-Perdao – Pardon me
-Saúde – Cheers
-vamos comer – Let’s eat!

 

Sweden – Stockholm – SEK – Swedish Krone
-Open drinking on the streets is not allowed.
-Physical cash transaction is not common here.
-Tap and Swish (E-Transfer) is the common transaction types
-Stockholm is made up of many little islands connected by bridges
-Tipping is not common however, it is common to round up the total to the nearest big number as a tip.
-Access is their tap transport card – I got the 72-hour card. You can take all the forms of transportation ranging from bus, train, tram and ferry.
-Fika – an important part of Swedish culture. Fika – coffee break

-Hej – Hello
-adjö – bye
-Ja – Yes
-Nej – No
-Ursäkta – Excuse me
-snälla du – Please
-Tack or Tack tack – Thank you
-Varsågod – You’re welcome
-Förlåt – Sorry
-räkningen – Bill
-Skål – Cheers
-låt oss äta – Let’s eat

 

Denmark – Copenhagen – DKK – Krone
-Open drinking on the streets is not allowed.
-Tipping is not common however, it is common to round up the total to the nearest big number as a tip
-Biking is taken very seriously and has its own road rules just like driving a car.
-Copenhagen Card – You can use the calculator on their website to see if it is worth it to purchase this card. We purchased it but mainly for the unlimited travel. We purchased the 72 hours card. It’s sort of an honour system in a sense as you have to write in your start date and time on the card. You don’t tap it when boarding trains/buses etc but there may be a fare/ticket checker on some of your rides and must show your card. I wish we used the erasable pen we had instead so we could adjust it as we were in Copenhagen for a little bit more than 72 hours and it would have been nice to not have to purchase a day pass for the last few hours. The card gets you into many attractions and discounts on many other things.

-Make sure you check if certain attractiions are open on specific days
-Expensive country

-Hej – Hello
-adjö – bye
-Ja – Yes
-Ingen – No
-undskyld mig- Excuse me
-Vær venlig (vair-vin-lee)– Please
-Tack or Tack tack – Thank you
-Selv tak (sell tack) – You’re welcome
-Beklager (bi-clay-er) – Sorry
-regning – Bill
-Skål (skuul) – Cheers
-Lad os spise- Let’s eat

 

Germany – Euro
-Tipping is not common but you can tip if you want (10%)
-Drinking is allowed in public
-Many flea markets on Sundays!
-Many stores are closed
-Grocery stores are closed Sundays however the ones in bus/train stations are exceptions

-Hallo – Hello
-Tschüss – (choose) bye
-Ja – Yes
-Nein – No
-Entschuldigen Sie – Excuse me
-bitte – Please
-Dankeschön– Thank you
-Bitte – You’re welcome
-Es tut uns leid (astudentslight) – Sorry
-Rechnung – Bill
-Prost- Cheers
-Lass uns essen- Let’s eat

 

London – Pound – £
-Oyster Card – train/subway/bus system is very intricate but can get you everywhere.
-Tip is around 10%

 

Scotland – Pound- £
-Similar to Quebec to the rest of Canada, Scotland is the United Kingdom’s counterpart whereby at a certain point, they wanted to separate to become a country of their own.
Edinburgh
-It doesn’t really snow here but the temperature remains an average low of maybe 5C
-Edinburgh seems to be a popular for international students to study

 

Congratulations, you have made it to the piece de resistance – My Itinerary for 36 days in Europe. We did move around things we did on certain days in certain cities but for the most part, this is what we did and they are grouped by areas in each city to maximize your days.

 

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3 & 4
Week 5 & 6
All the places we went

Itinerary – Hawaii – 2018

#canasiansgetleid

06/29-07/12/18

I’m usually not one to travel in the summer due to the fact that for a short period in time, Toronto has great weather and also because I dedicate my summer travels to volleyball (9-Man). It also is prime time for work opportunities. I made an exception this time around as it all started with my friend Lulu trying to convince me to join her and Renee back in Feb/March to goto Hawaii with them. With this being said, it led to us booking a one-way ticket to Maui. With the one-way ticket purchased, it left me to planning a trip that we could do in a 2 weeks span and also island hopping.  Once my itinerary was made, I was able to convince (not very hard to) my friend Tiffany to join us making us a group of 4. I have previously been to Hawaii back in 2014 to photograph my high school friends wedding and staying in Oahu for 13 days – it was amazing and I was mistaken for a Kama’aina surfer girl (a local).

Looking at my last few trips, you can probably tell that I am a very ambitious person and my itineraries are jam-packed. This one was no different. For 2 weeks, we made it so we would island hop – Maui to Oahu to Kauai. This itinerary was made 1.5 months before the trip was to happen and a month before, I injured my leg – side note: sprained my hamstring a month before and didn’t let it rest enough – knee irritation during trip.

For good quality poke anytime, anywhere – goto Foodland.

Download the Gypsy Guide – for your most in-depth car ride. It is an off line audio guide that tracks where you are and will tell you where to stop off to get the most of the islands. It is also very informative and fills you in with all the history that makes Hawaii what it is. We downloaded it for Maui especially for the Road to Hana and also for Kauai.

And of course, last bit of advice: Check airport car rental hours before booking your flights to ensure the offices are open when you land. Late late night flights are no good if you can’t actually leave the airport.

Some facts about Hawaii:

Hawaii is one of the only places in the world that I cannot really tell ethnicity apart. That is because it is a mishmash of many ethnicities and of course tanned complexions. The reason for such mix of ethnicities comes from back in the day when the concept for having an owner and workers started. Before that, people believed they could just survive off the land and live well that way. There was a shortage of workers to work plantations once they adopted the owner and workers system. Since there was a shortage, Hawaii took in workers from different parts of the world such as China, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Puerto Ricans, and Portuguese etc.

After each ethnic group started to immigrate to Hawaii for a better life, the locals started to feel like they were taking all the jobs and started to xenophobia them over and over as a new group came in. Sugar cane plantations were a huge source of income however in 1990, 150 years of plantation ended as the introduction of high fructose sugars started being put into food and the demand for real sugar dropped.

100% Kona Coffee is one of the highest qualities however the price that comes with it isn’t always ideal.

Hawaii has also banned non-coral friendly sunscreens.

Now onto my itinerary. To make the most of our time, I tried to align each day to explore certain areas of each island and tried to alternate hiking days with beach days. I think the biggest thing I am happy to have done was reversing the Road to Hana route – Drive all the way to the end of Road to Hana and explore in reverse for optimal time at Pipiwai Trails and less tourists.

 

 

 

Itinerary – Maritimes – 2018

06/10-15/18

Maritimes in a blink of an eye. I had the opportunity to travel throughout the Maritimes with Photographer Regina Garcia for a week as a photo assistant accompanied by James – Account Supervisor from the Agency – Zulu Alpha Kilo.

We started in Halifax, Nova Scotia (with a day trip for work to Windsor & Falmouth) then drove to Moncton, New Brunswick. We continued on the road to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and finally to St Johns, Newfoundland & Labrador. In the short span of a week, we covered quite a lot and outside of working, we tried to get our fill out the East coast experience.

With not too much downtime, we managed to get a taste of each Province. I wish we had more time to explore but at least everywhere we went, we experienced the East coast hospitality that showcases Canadians and amazing food along the way.

If you are heading out East, there are an abundance of English and French speaking people and I have been told (for meat eaters) you need to try the Donair.

What I also noticed when driving in these areas, no one is in a rush anywhere. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick driving is somewhat a desert compared to Toronto traffic. They do however have 2-laned highways where you stay in the left to pass only and NO ONE REALLY SPEEDS – They go the speed limit. PEI was a little different once we made it into town. St John’s also has its cluster of traffic too but not too overwhelming.

 

06/10/18 – Halifax, Nova Scotia

-TRAVEL – Toronto to Halifax

-EAT – Five Fisherman

-DRINK- The Shoe Economy Shop

-STAY – The Prince George Hotel

 

06/11/18 – Halifax – Windsor – Falmouth – Halifax, Nova Scotia

-SEE – Citadel

-EAT – Steve O Reno’s Cappuccino

-TRAVEL – Halifax to Windsor

-EAT – Fry Daddy’s

-TRAVEL – Windsor/Falmouth to Halifax

-EAT – Bicycle Thief

 

06/12/18 – Halifax – Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia – Moncton, New Brunswick

-EAT – Bird’s Nest Cafe

-TRAVEL – Halifax – Peggy’s Cove

-SEE – Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse & Trail

-EAT – Shaw’s Landing

-TRAVEL- Peggy’s Cove to Halifax

-DRINK – Seahorse Tavern

-TRAVEL – Halifax, Nova Scotia to Moncton, New Brunswick

-STAY – Chateau Moncton & Suites

-EAT – Tide & Boar Gastropub

 

06/13/18 – Moncton, New Brunswick – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

-EAT – Café Codiac

-EAT – Notre Dame De Parkton

-TRAVEL – Moncton to Charlottetown

-STAY – The Holman Grand

-EAT – Hopyard

 

06/14/18 – Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – St John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador

-EAT – Receiver Coffee & Co

-SEE – Barkley Point Beach

-TRAVEL – FLY – Charlottetown to Halifax to St John’s

-STAY – Sheraton Hotel St John’s

-SEE – Signal Hill

-SEE – George St – a condensed street of pubs & bars

-EAT – Piatto

 

06/15/18 – St John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador – Toronto, Ontario

-EAT – Bagel Café

-SEE – Quidi Vidi

-EAT – QVFC

-TRAVEL – FLY – St John’s to Toronto

Itinerary – Africa – 2017

11/30-12/15/17

 

I usually jump onto trips because of amazing flight deals but this time around, my friend Sarah alerted myself and 2 other friends about this other special deal on a tour. We had spoken for a few years about going to Africa and twice a year, On the Go Tours runs a promotion of 2 for 1 on tours. Grab a friend and go for the price of 1 person. Regular price for our 12 days Victoria Falls to Johannesburg was $1495CAD. Meaning $747.50CAD per person for the tour.

Our flight we got for a reasonable price at $1283.90CAD. Toronto to France (CDG) (10-12 hour stopover), France (CDG) to Addis Ababa – Ethiopia (ADD), Ethiopia to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (VGA). Return is from Johannesburg (JNB) to Addis Ababa – Ethiopia (ADD), Ethiopia to Dublin, Dublin to Toronto. Originally we wanted to stay for another week to optimize our time but for $500CAD cheaper to return home on a Thursday just made more sense for us.

Would’ve loved to go into a township like the Apartheid Museum and Soweto in Johannesburg but our timing of arrival and departure just didn’t work out. I would recommend the Sightseeing hop on and off tour bus as that would have been the method we would have seen the city if we had time. Otherwise, if not renting a car, UBER is the next best way to get around – cheap and safe.

Uber discounted ride code: rosannau34ue

https://www.uber.com/invite/t0pz2w

I travelled with my friends Sarah, Jin and Louisa. #CUTYAdventures #canasianwerewolves

 

Things to do before you leave:

 

Vaccinations:

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis B

Typhoid

Cholera

Yellow Fever (Required if you are going to an area with high risk or transiting from a country with high risk (more than 12 hours) – please check websites to find out) As of 2017, there is a shortage in Yellow fever shots – certain clinics will only have partial vaccine (1 year validity) some locations have lifetime shots. Technically, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa don’t require it.

 

Prescriptions (Recommended but not all required)

Malaria Pills (take pill 2 days before and 7 days after trip)

Cinpro/Anthim in case of diarrhea

Ducarel – must be started a week or 2 before you leave

 

Visa

 

-Check to see if you need a visa for the countries you are visiting (Canadians are required a visa for Zimbabwe but can obtain on arrival – $75USD – still cheaper than obtaining prior to arrival)

*If you plan on going to Zambia as well, there is a cheaper dual visa for $50USD (For Canadians)

 

Alcohol

-Beer is roughly $2

 

Outlets

-Outlets the big round 3 prong and sometimes larger 2 round prong with flat prongs.

 

Credit Card / Debit

-Credit Card can be used in majority of all the areas minus markets.

-ATM – Better exchange rates than currency exchange with Debit Machine

 

Zimbabwe

-Zimbabwe adopted USD as their currency (bills only).

-$1USD = 362ZWD (Zimbabwean Dollars) – otherwise, currency is 1:1

-You can drink the tap water and can also ask for tap water and ice at many places.

-No Tipping as Vat is included so tax is included in prices shown. Tip is usually 10%.

-Entry Visa required

 

Botswana

-$1CAD = 7BWP (Pula)

-$1USD = 10BWP (Pula)

-You cannot drink the tap water

-Carry 2 pulas & toilet paper around for public washrooms

-Language is Setswana

-Du mella ma (female) ra (male) – hello

-LA guy – how are you

-GA taing – I’m fine

-Kea la bogaa ma – thank you

-Kea rata – I love you

-Muntle – beautiful

-Muna – single man

-Buna – 2 or more men

-Botswana people are more reserved but friendly

 

South Africa

-$1CAD = 10ZAR (Rand)

-$1USD = 13ZAR (Rand)

-You can drink the tap water

-UBER is the best and cheapest way to get around. Door to Door is key for safety

-11 Official languages; 9 of which are African

-Afrikaans – A mix of Dutch, Belgian, French & Flemish.

-Population – 20% is White & 80% is Black & Other (Indian, Korean & Chinese)

 

Below is my initial itinerary for the trip (not updated to what we did)

 

11/30 Toronto / France

FLY – 840PM YYZ-> 950AM CDG

 

12/01 France / Ethiopia

950AM

LAYOVER – 10-12 hour stopover in France
1030-1130AM

TRAIN – CDG term 2 – RER Train to Châtelet-Les Halles. Walk to Centre Georges Pompidou (45 mins – €10.30 – purchased 2 pack ticket – €20.60)

-Châtelet-Les Halles

-Le Centre Pompidou (Opens at 11AM – Place Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France)

-5 euro – panoramic ticket – rooftop view

18 min walk

1250PM

-Le Louvre – Pyramid & Carrousel Arc de Triomphe (75001 Paris, France) – Take photos outside

12 min walk

150PM

–L’ardoise (28 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris, France) (Open 12-3PM & 630-1130PM) (Pre-fixe – 38€)

2 min walk

3PM

-Louis Vuitton Maison Vendôme – 2 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris, France

14 min walk

330PM

-Galerie Vivienne – 5 Rue de la Banque, 75002 Paris, France – mosaic – rustic elegance

4 min walk

345PM

-Jardin du palais royale – 6 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France

-Les Deux Plateaux (2 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France) – Take photos outside

5 min walk

430PM

-Galerie Vero Dodat – 8 Galerie Véro-Dodat, 75001 Paris, France

-Walk La Seine River

530 – TRAIN – CDG Term 2

Châtelet – Les Halles, 75001 Paris, France -> RER BEPOLAéroport CDG Terminal 2 TGV

FLY – 945PM CDG -> 645AM ADD

 

12/02 – Ethiopia / Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls

FLY – 835AM ADD -> 1215PM VGA

Airport shuttle transfer

STAY – Shearwater Explorer Village (Wifi)

 

12/03 – Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls

-Victoria Falls

-Biking

 

12/04 – Victoria falls – Chobe River, Botswana

STAY – Thebe River Safaris Campsite (Wifi available in reception area)

– Kasane – Chobe River – Watch Elephants & Hippos

– Sunset Boat cruise

 

12/05 – Kasane – Nata Region

STAY – Elephant Sands (Wifi – very weak signal)

-Afternoon/Evening Game drive

 

12/06 – Nata Region – Maun

STAY – Sitatunga Campsites (Wifi available in bar and weaker signal around site)

 

12/07 – MaunOkavango Delta

-Overnight excursion into the Delta

-Early morning to Mokoro Poler’s Station

STAY – Mobile Tented Camp in Okavango (NO WIFI)

-Guided evening bushwalk

 

12/08 – Okavango Delta – Maun

-Morning bushwalk

-Visit local village via Pole Canoes

-Return to Maun w/ optional scenic flight over the Delta

 

12/09-10 – Maun – Palapye – Polokwane (South Africa)

-Drive to the small town of Palapye (between Francistown & Gaborone (Bostwana’s capital)

STAY – Itumela Campsite (WIFI – good signal all over site)

-Drive to town of Polokwane

STAY – Boma in the Bush (NO WIFI)

 

12/11-12 – Kruger National Park

-Morning viewpoints drive – Blyde River Canyon Region – The Three Rondavels, The Pinnacle, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, & God’s Window

STAY Nkambeni Safari Camp near Kruger National Park (20 min free WIFI at reception)

-Visit Kruger National Park

-Night game drive

-Morning Game Drive

-Buffet Dinner (optional – group decision)

 

12/13 – Johannesburg

-Hazyview – Johannesburg

-7AM-2/3PM

-Joburg Arrival – Mufasa Backpackers (21 4th Rd, Van Ryn SH, Benoni, 1513, South Africa)

3/4PM

-Check into hotel – Hyde Park Villas – 28B 3rd Rd, Hyde Park, Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa (WIFI – Complimentary 500MB each day)

-Rosebank Mall – Rosebank Art & Craft Market – Cradock Ave, Rosebank, Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa

– Open 9AM-6PM

 

12/14 – Johannesburg -> Dublin

10AM – Airport Shuttle / UBER to O R Tambo (JNB) Airport

 

FLY – 210PM JNB -> 825PM ADD

FLY 1130PM ADD -> DUB

 

12/15 – Dublin – Toronto

FLY – 530AM -> 745AM YYZ

Itinerary – Japan – 2017

0406-2017 Japan

This was my second time travelling to Japan. My previous visit was short but sweet staying in Osaka with a day trip to Nara & Kyoto for less than a week. Japan is definitely one of those countries that can and need to be explore multiple times. I travelled to Japan with Mike, Manwai, Cassie, Glenn, John, Karen & Chi with guest appearances along the way. The flight deals were too good to miss out on especially during Hanami (cherry blossom festival). We found our deal on www.nextdeparture.ca for $730CAD roundtrip to Tokyo (1 stopover in Chicago each way). Originally, it was just myself plus Mike & Manwai that booked together. As the next few weeks past and a few meals Mike & Manwai had with friends, our group became 8. During the trip, I mainly travelled with Mike & Manwai. Total of 14 days.

We booked many of our accommodations with Airbnb. If you haven’t joined and booked with Airbnb yet, follow the link and get credits for your first booking. www.airbnb.ca/c/ruu

Included in this Itinerary, I have included some helpful information to know in advance before you go.

www.hyperdia.com – This is awesome for figuring out your bus and JR routes but you need to know what stations you are leaving from and arriving to.

-Google Maps works well too. If Google Maps does not load/poor connection, enter the directions into the internet browser.

 

$$$

-100y = $1USD roughly.

-The Japanese use cash over credit for majority of their day to day living and it isn’t unusual to break a 10,000y bill on something small.

-The 2000y bill is actually quite rare in Japan as its been phased out and was started in Okinawa for unknown reasons. When exchanging money outside of Japan, you may receive 2000y bills which a few Japanese collect HOWEVER, not all the machines take 2000y bills.

-For many Japanese, they may or may not accept it at their work establishments but some will keep as a keepsake similar to Canada’s old $2 bill that is now replaced with the toonie.

-You can pay for some meals in coins alone as the largest valued coin is 500y which is roughly $5USD.

-For 14 days, I took out just over $100CAD a day. $1502.45CAD – 123000Yen

 

Book in Advanced

Studio Ghibli Museum tickets can only be purchased 1 month in advanced and sells out quickly. The 10th at 10AM Japan time of every month. Much cheaper to purchase from site than through a tour group (service charges are killer). The actual ticket is only 1000y

-JR Pass must be purchased outside out Japan. Maximum 90 days before your trip. JTB Canada is where I purchased mine. For 14 days of travel, my JR Pass was $539CAD

Sumo Wrestling Tournaments are held 6 times a year. If you have the chance to go see it, tickets will go on sale a month in advanced so be aware they are highly sought after and sell out fast. Another option if you are going during non tournament months is to go visit a Sumo Wrestling Beya (practice) at multiple locations and watch their early morning practice.

Robot Restaurant – a month in advanced.

MariCar – Must have International Drivers License (goto CAA – $25CAD (bring your own photo or take one there) + Countries driver’s license to participate in this activity.

 

WIFI Router & Sim Card

-WIFI Routers are great if you have a large group – You can rent at the airport or various locations. Highly recommend renting or bringing a portable battery pack to keep router and phone charged.

-Sim cards – unlocked phones – You can pick up a visit sim card at Yodobashi or BIC Camera/BICQLO(might be cheaper than Yodobashi). If you can find the B-mobile Visitor Sim – 5GB for 21 days (Y2,970-3,480).

-I highly recommend bringing a portable battery pack to keep your phone charge especially if you are using your phone for directions.

 

Transportation

-JR Pass holders need to go through the manned gate to get through at each station.

-You need to make reservations on certain trains but if you don’t, there are a few carts where it is first come first serve or you can sit but if the person with the reserved seats shows up, you give them the seats. The reserved seats also swivel to have 2 facing one another if preferred.

-With the JR Pass, if you miss you train, you can easily get the next one without any penalty fees.

-If you plan on reserving seats for trains for peak times, go earlier to reserve them.

-If taking the bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka/Kyoto etc – request mountainside view to see Mt Fuji!

-Make sure to purchase ekibens before your ride (bullet train specific meals that differ per region and have have seasonal regional speciality foods – all cold)

-Eating is not permitted on trains besides Shinkansen

-JR Pass does not cover all train lines – only JR lines (minus Nozomi/Mizuho/Hayabusa (Shinkansen)) and a Suica or a Pasmo card (similar to Octopus card of Hong Kong or Toronto’s Presto) are indeed very useful and refillable

Pasmo & Suica cards can also be used to pay for other things such as drink machines and whatnot.

-Pasmo can be used in Tokyo, Osaka & Kyoto (from my experience)

-There are women’s only carts depending on time of day

-Trains end around midnight-1AM. There are taxi queues.

-The Japanese are large in numbers but when walking, they don’t necessarily have a sense of urgency and the pace to my standard is slow

-The Japanese do stay in shape by the amount of stairs they need to climb each day while commuting. The train stations are floors upon floors with limited elevators and some floors have escalators while many are just stairs upon stairs.

-You stand on the left side and pass on the right on the escalators. (Although in Osaka, they did opposite)

-Walking is the same – Walk on the left side

 

Weather (From what I experience this April trip)

-It is normal for Japanese people to stay covered up even it is hot outside as they care about their skin getting dark (similar to Hong Kong) They are more conservative in terms of covering cleavage but will wear short shorts. I wore a tank top because it was hot but got looks.

-April – light jacket/trench coats (Japanese fashion trend) and umbrellas are key.

-Tokyo is humid. April – average temp – high of 20, low of 6 – chances of showers high but muggy.

-Kanazawa – chilly and windy but otherwise warm during the day, can see breathe in the evening

-Takayama – Hot during the day – really hot as in we got slightly burnt but once the sun goes down, cold and chilly.

-Kyoto – Hot! (average 21-26C during the day) but cools down at night.

-Osaka – Just right! Not too hot, not too cold; bearable to walk around in a t-shirt majority of the day.

 

Misc.

-Carry your passport around for many places you go shopping you can get tax free!

-Outlets are the Western 2 prong style instead of the american 3 prong

-There are a lot of people but they tend to move slower than the average if compared to Toronto foot traffic.

-You don’t tip in Japan – the only time you tip are in fancy high end restaurants or when you see fit.

-There are designated areas for people to smoke but the smoke still billows the streets and still litters the streets

-Smoking is not allowed while you are walking

-Smoking is allowed in certain food establishments

-There are rarely any garbage cans on the streets of Japan – 1 reason – you mainly goto establishments to eat or eat at home. 2 – in the past, terrorist attacks with packages left in garbage bins now detour garbage bins

-non combustibles and combustible garbage separation

-some wear masks but others don’t and when they sneeze or cough, they just let it out so be aware of that. Coming for Canada, where its customary to sneer into your elbow or cover your mouth, this might put you off a bit like it did me.

-Sailor moon make up by Beaute Creer – You can pick this up at Its Demo stores.

-In some cities like Takayama at night, they have flashing red lights outside of an establishment to signal that they are still open as other stores or restaurants close early.

 

Now onto my actual Itinerary. My itinerary got very extensive and ambitious with things and places I wanted to see and goto. Everyone else built their own itineraries but we made sure at certain aspects, we would all meet up in a different city for certain events such as the Takayama festival in Takayama and Temple running in Kyoto. In the span of 2 weeks, my goal was to make it through all these cities (Tokyo, Yokohama, Enoshima, Kawasaki, Kanazawa, Takayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya) but of course not all goes to according to plans and we cut out some areas to explore other areas more. This was the itinerary that actually happened. There will always be another time to visit Japan once again to get more accomplished and more land covered.

 

Some places and things I originally had on my itinerary for the surrounding area but wasn’t able to accomplish were the following:

-Baseball – much different than Western Baseball – Hanshin Tigers VS anybody – the atmosphere is completely something to take in

 

Enoshima/Fujisawa/Yokohama/Kawasaki

-Enoshima – fujisawa – cute city – view of Mt Fuji in painting

-Ramen museum (yokohama)
-Cup Noodle Museum (yokohama)

-Chinatown (yokohama)

-Kawasaki Warehouse – arcade games

 

Tokyo

-Tokyu Plaza – escalator & rooftop

-Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan – Tōkyō, Chiyoda, Sotokanda 3-15-5 Gee Store Akiba – 11AM-7PM

 

Nagoya

-Nagoya Dome – Purchase tickets – ticket booth near gate 1 – 10AM-5th inning

-Osu – The Harajuku of Nagoya

-enmusu – Onigiri style w/shrimp tempura – Senju – Nagoya-Famous

-Temmusu (めいぶつ天むす 千寿) – 4-10-82 Osu, Naka-ku, Nagoya-city – 830AM-6PM

-Miso Tonkatsu – Misokatsu Yabaton – Yabacho Restaurant (みそかつ 矢場とん 矢場町本店) – 3-6-18 Osu, Naka-ku, Nagoya-city – 11AM-9PM

-Hitsumabushi (Grilled Eel on Rice) – Atsuta Horaiken – Main Restaurant (あつた蓬莱軒 本店) – 1130AM-2PM; 430-830PM

 

-Ashikaga Flower Park – Wisteria

Itinerary – Peru & Panama – 2016

Peru & Panama 1122-120116

This trip to Peru has been in talks for years with a certain group of people and it finally happened about 3-4 years after our original discussions because a flight deal popped up on www.nextdeparture.ca to Lima, Peru (with stopover in Panama) for only $417 CDN roundtrip including taxes with COPA Airlines. Within a 2 hour span of sharing this deal with my friends, initially 2 plus myself booked the flight­ egging on others to come join.

I am usually one of the main people to do the organizing and research for my trips but this one all goes to Karen with some help from Chi. My schedule got really busy and I wasn’t able to provide my organizing skills to this trip but Karen is a 1 woman team and does a stunning job of it including her signature little booklet she makes with everything including tips, timing for buses, train, taxis to dinner reservations and other bookings.

After the initial booking, we were able to add on my brother Andrew and then Karen’s friend’s Sofia & Ronan from SF and slowly after that, Andrew’s friends Gayaanan and Partrick joined us making it a 8 person trip with the priority of time focused on the inca trail hike to Machu Picchu. We chose the 4 day 3 night hike in late November and luckily the weather was absolutely perfectly timed for us. I travelled with Karen & Chi the entire time as the rest split off after the Inca Trail trek on other adventures.

11/22

FLY – YYZ->PAN->LIM

-Parque de la Reserva – Water show

-Pardo’s Chicken

-Sleep Lima – 1900 Backpackers

 

11/23

FLY – LIM->CUS

-Inca Trail Briefing – Alpaca Expeditions

-Lunch – Chicha

-Sacsayhuaman

-Taxi to Urubamba

-Sleep Urubamba – Amaru Valle Hotel

 

11/24

-Maras Salt Mine

-Moray Ruins

-Ollantaytambo Ruins

-Dinner – El Albergue

-Sleep – Ollantaytambo – Kamma Guesthouse

 

11/25-28

-Alpaca Expedition – 4 Day 3 Night Hike – Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

 

11/28

-Arrive at Sun gate & Machu Picchu

-Sleep – Aguas Caliente

-Dinner – El Indio Feliz

-Sleep Aguas Caliente – Panorama B&B

 

11/29

-Hike Machu Picchu Mountain

-Sky train to Ollantaytambo

-Bus back to Cusco

FLY CUS->LIM

-Sleep – Lima – Los Girasole

 

11/30

-Breakfast – Manolo Churro

-Free walking tour

FLY – LIM->PAN

-Sleep – Panama – Occidental Panama

 

12/01

-Tranviatour – Panama Canal

-Casco Viejo

FLY-PAN-YYZ

Itinerary – Chicago – USA – 2016

0314-1716 Chicago

My first time actually travelling to Chicago that wasn’t just a connection. I travelled with my friends Crystle & Klarice. We did a 4 day, 3 night short trip after booking a flight and accommodation deal with Expedia.ca. This itinerary is what we intended to do but alas nothing goes according to plan and things changed. I would love to go back some other time to complete what was missed and then some.

03/14

FLY Toronto –> Chicago – 220PM – YYZ -> 307PM – ORD

Hotel – Godfrey Hotel – 127 Huron at LaSalle

-4-430PM – arrival – check-in at Hotel – CTA train to hotel – 55 minutes

-Trader Joe’s – 44 E Ontario St

-Uniqlo & Shopping – Magnificent Mile (8 minutes) 830 N Michigan Ave

-Rotofugi – 11AM-7PM

-Del Seoul – 1130AM-10PM – http://www.delseoul.com/menu.php 2568 N Clark St

-Beercade – North River (7 min from hotel) – 213 W Institute Pl – Free arcade games!

 

03/15

-morning workout

-Bow Truss – coffee beans! (opens 730AM) (10 minutes from hotel) http://bowtruss.com/ 406 N Wells St

-Skydeck – opens at 10AM

-Chicago Board of Trade Building 141 W Jackson Blvd

-Rookery Building – Frank Lloyd Wright design – 209 S La Salle St

-Federal Plaza – S Dearborn St

-Palmer House – 17 E Monroe St

-Art Institute (walk 12 min from Skydeck) 111 S Michigan Ave

-Chicago Athletic Association – Shake Shack – 12 S Michigan Ave / OR / Latinicity (11AM-9PM) http://www.latinicity.com/counters – 108 N State St

-DOUBLECHECK EXHIBITION – Chicago Design Museum – FREE – Block 37 – 108 N State St   Chicago, IL 60602 – https://chidm.com/

-Chicago Cultural Centre – 78E Washington St

-Millennium Park – the Bean (bean to Adler – 32 minutes)

-Maggie Daley Park

-Buckingham Fountain / Grant Park

-Alder Planetarium – skyline shot – don’t need to necessarily go in

-Dinner –Shaw’s Crab House – 30 E Hubbard St http://www.shawscrabhouse.com/ OR Bottlefork – 441 N Clark St OR Portillo’s (10AM-11PM) http://www.portillos.com/assets/1/6/PMenu_C_O.pdf OR Lou Malnatti’s (11AM-11PM) http://www.loumalnatis.com/our-menu#chicago___river_north__full_service_restaurant__amp__bar_

-Suite Lounge – 90 hip hop – underground lounge – 1446 North Wells Street – 15 minutes – Dearborn & Huron – bus 22 towards Howard; off at Clark & Burton / OR / The Wit – Roof – 4PM-2AM – reservations are highly recommended – 6PM Roof Live (every Tuesday) – $5 corona all night – live acoustic guitar / OR / Three Dots & a Dash – Hawaiian luau style with cool drinks – 435 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654 – http://threedotschicago.com/

 

03/16

-morning workout

-Target- 401 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60611

-Continue shopping from first day if didn’t complete – Magnificent Mile

-Chinatown – Chicago Riverwalk – to chinatown square – 22 minutes – 100 E Upper Wacker Dr – Lake Subway – red line towards 95th; off at Cermak-Chinatown

-lunch in Chinatown

-walk around chinatown

-West Loop / Wicker Park area

-Glazed and Infused – Donuts (18 W Fulton Market)

-The Publican

-Girl and the Goat for dinner – might not get without reservation – http://girlandthegoat.com/menu/ / Parachute / Longman & Eagle / The Publican / Vera / Avec

-The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge- live – 9PM-1AM – http://greenmilljazz.com/location/ – 4802 North Broadway Street – from Glazed & Infused

 

03/17

FLY – Chicago -> Toronto – 1250PM – ORD – 318PM – YYZ

-morning workout

-Portillo’s – early lunch before airport / OR / Lou Malnatti’s pizzeria – deep dish

-Check out & head to airport – 930AM – 45-50 minutes to O’Hare by CTA train.

Clark & Erie towards Harrison; off at Clarke & Lake; Clark/Lake towards O’Hare – 10AM

-GRAB GARRETT’S POPCORN

-HOME

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Waikiki – Oahu – Hawaii – 2014 – Day 1 & 2

I travelled to Oahu, Hawaii for 13 days for my friend’s (Melissa & Juan) wedding celebration. I did not plan any second of it and just went with the flow of things.

Our main group for the trip was large (15 people – many more joined afterwards). But we managed to stay in Waikiki for a week and then North on the island in Kaʻaʻawa.

081614

We flew with United Airlines to Oahu, Hawaii with a detour in Chicago. The plane ride felt like it was never-ending. The first leg to Chicago was decent but then you get corralled into groups to board the next plane. We took a Boeing 77 so it holds more people. What sucks is that even with this large amount of people and the flight alone being 8-9 hours, no food is provided unless purchased. There was also no outlet or television however they had this United wifi setup so you can view the movies and shows on your electronic devices.

We finally arrived in Honolulu and hopped on the Reliable Shuttle to bring us to our hotel for the week – Aqua Bamboo –  It’s a cozy hotel a block away from the beach which lowers costs. After we settled into the rooms, we went straight for the beach and for food. We went to this corner restaurant called Shore Fyre (2446 Koa Ave) and I got a steak and garlic shrimp platter ($14.95USD) which came with salad and brown rice – delicious.

Walked over to the beach and we just took to the water. Palm trees everywhere, bodies everywhere, the salt water was so warm and waves coming in. This is one of the more touristy areas but man this is the life. I could definitely get use to waking up and heading to the beach all golden everyday.

We stayed at the beach on the rocks watching the sun set (which came early and went down quickly) then back to the hotel to rinse off and go for food. There is literally an ABC store on every corner. It has everything you would need but apparently Ala Moana Mall has the items cheaper or head to Walmart (especially if you want the macadamia nuts). We walked to Food Pantry (2370 Kuhio Ave) which is their grocery store but also has a little food court. Right by the main entrance is one steak place called HiSteaks and you can get a steak plate (rice and egg) for $9.99USD. Melissa had noticed they had ice cream mochi but not any ordinary mochi – the have Bubbies (cantaloupe, green tea, pistachio, sakura) which I have been going on and on about. I decided eating only mochi for dinner was a bad choice so I got white truffle oil shoestring fries and 4 ice cream mochi with a small (not small at all) Fanta fruit punch ($9.91USD in total – $1.69/mochi here). Mind you, we ate only an hour or two ago so don’t judge me.

081714

We hit the beach bright and early and stationed ourselves by the beach bistro and police station. There was a surf competition so the water was filled with surfers. The area we anchored ourselves had water that was a little more choppy then the previous day but nonetheless, after you got in it was delightful. Once it rolled around to noon, the became filled with tourists as it was also a Sunday. For lunch, we went to the Hilton Hotel to Mac 24/7 which by the name is open 24/7. Man vs Wild made it known to the world as the manhole cover sized (14 inch) pancakes (3 stacks). Jaira, Melissa and myself attempted it (Pineapple, macadamia nut and coconut with maple syrup and coconut syrup) for $22USD. It was delicious but even though we divided it into 1/3 each, I was the only one able to finish my piece and that was painful to say the least.

Our friends Ronnel and Eric whose flight never left Toronto finally arrived and quickly threw their stuff into our rooms and we all headed to the beach. Took in the afternoon sun and then walked a distance as a whole group to Rainbow Drive-in (3308 Kanaina Ave) and Leonards (933 Kapahulu Ave). Rainbow Drive-in is a good ol’ local eatery – nothing fancy but they sure make some good local comfort food. I had the mixed platter plate with BBQ, chicken and ahi ahi fish with rice and mac salad ($7.95USD). Great food that tasted amazing and best part is that it is cheap! Leonard’s is a Portuguese bakery that specializes in Malasadas – Portuguese donuts with no holes that are usually filled. Even though the walk to dinner was a long one, we decided to go for a night walk and ended up at the Pier and just hung out in the dark. Its amazing how you can see the commercial part of the beach where the hotels are light up the sky but the other side has no lights so its a beautiful chiaroscuro on the ocean and you look up and the stars are so bright. We called it a somewhat early night after that.

Itinerary – British Columbia 2013

This is my 1 week trip to British Columbia (Kelowna, Vernon, Vancouver, Whistler & Squamish). The main reason for this trip in particular was for my friend Miranda’s wedding to Tom. I travelled with my friend Joanne first to Kelowna to help set-up for the annual BMO Okanagan Marathon. During our time in Vancouver, we stayed with our friend Yolande who recently moved to Vancouver and were also joined by our friend Vicky. We added on 2 day trips to Whistler & Squamish.

1009-1713 – British Columbia

10/09

FLY – Air Canada – YYZ – YVR

­Rent car
Drive to Kelowna, BC ­- volunteer for the BMO Okanagan Marathon prep

Airport ­- Kelowna ­ 398KM ­ 4h 6min

 

10/10 – Kelowna

BMO Okanagan Marathon prep

Kelowna – Vernon

 

10/11 – Kelowna – Vancouver

BMO Okanagan Marathon prep
­

Drive – Kelowna -­ Downtown Vancouver 389KM ­ 3h 58min

Pick-up Vicky from Airport

Meet for dinner with Nelson & Jordan

 

10/12 ­- Vancouver / Burnaby

­Miranda & Tom’s Wedding
Dinner reception -­ Empire Seafood Restaurant ­ #200 ­ 5951 No.3 Road, Richmond BC

 

10/13 ­ – Whistler

­

Downtown Vancouver – Whistler­ 123km 1h36min

Whistler – Treetop Trekking, Ziplining & Scandinave Spa

Whistler Museum – Visit friend Trish

­Whistler ­- Surrey ­ 150km ­ 1h 54min

Surrey – Have Thanksgiving dinner with Joanne’s extended family

 

10/14 – Vancouver – Squamish

Downtown Vancouver – Squamish ­ 63.5km ­ 53min

Squamish ­ Stawamus Chief ­ Start (Park at Shannon Falls)
­Goto Daiso in Richmond
­Drop off Vicky at Airport

Dinner with friends Lisa & Jordan

 

10/15 – Vancouver

Final clean up of BMO Okanagan stuff at BMO office
Lunch with Ben – Minato Sushi ­

Dinner with Christian & Robbin – Cactus Club

Meet up with Jamie

 

10/16 – Vancouver

­

Visit Joanne’s family friend in West Vancouver

South Richmond – West Vancouver – Steveson’s Pier

Dinner with Miranda, Tom & Nelson – Kintaro Ramen

 

10/10 – HOMEBOUND – YVR – YYZ

­Return car rental
FLY – Air Canada – YVR – YYZ

Itinerary – Hong Kong & Japan 2012

This is my 2 week itinerary for my trip to Hong Kong & Japan. 1 week in Hong Kong and 1 week in Japan. I travelled with my friends Georgina and Shela.

 

0923-101012 – Hong Kong & Japan

 

09/24 – Hong Kong

Hotel: Caritas Oswald Cheung International House

-Dinner with Georgina’s parents

 

09/25 – Hong Kong

-Causeway Bay – shopping

 

09/26 – Hong Kong

-Mong Kok – Shopping – Langham Place, Shoe Street, Ladies Market

-Dinner with Georgina’s family

 

09/27 – Hong Kong

-Victoria Peak

 

09/28 – Hong Kong

-Stanley – Stanley Park

 

09/29 – Hong Kong

-Georgina is going to cousin’s Wedding (evening)

-Shela & Rosanna – lunch with Rosanna’s “uncle Ronald & auntie Maisie”

-Shopping – Outlets

 

09/30 -Hong Kong

-Meet Shawn and Lulu at Tsim Sha Tsui – shopping

 

10/01 – Osaka, Japan

HKG-KIX – Peach Aviation

Hotel: J-Hoppers

-Rinku Outlets

 

10/02 – Osaka

-Osaka Aquarium – $25cdn/person 1-1-10 Kaigan-dori, Minato-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, JAPAN – 2000 yen

-Dinner with Kayo – Yaki niku

 

10/03 – Osaka

-City walk & Museum with Mr Yano

-Tenjinshibashi – outdoor shopping centre

-temples

 

10/04 – Osaka

-Ramen Museum

-Dinner at Tsuruhashi Fugetsu Yodobashiumeda with Kayo

 

10/05

-Kyoto – Fushimi Inari, Yasaka Jinja Shrine, Sorin-Ji Shrine

-International night at J-Hoppers

 

10/06

-NARA – Nara Deer park

-Hotel: Capsule Hotel Asahi Plaza in Shinsaibashi

 

10/07

-Osaka Castle

-Dinner with Alvin

KIX – HKG – Peach Aviation – missed flight

 

10/08-10

KIX-HKG – Peach Aviation

HKG -YYZ – Air Canada

HOMEBOUND

 

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