Saturday, January 24, 2015

Holiday Plans

As if it is not enough to plan one holiday, we are planning two. Our Friend in Japan will be in Sydney on work related business in March, so we plan to have a few days Sydney side to catch up with her and hopefully catch up with Victor and see some sights of course.

I was looking at the website of the hotel where we stayed for our last visit, unbelievably five years ago, and it is all much the same. We were upgraded from a small studio to a large studio with a balcony, so of course this is what we want this time. Although the website indicated one price, quite cheap given the standard and location, when I began booking, a different figure was coming up. I called and queried it. Amazingly the same woman is still running it the show. She explained the price was higher because of a post Mardi Gras conference. Oh well, I bit the bullet and paid the higher price. R has looked at airfares and they are very cheap. I have refused to fly Tiger as I have too many real tales of woe, not just minor whinges.

As for Canada, that part has been booked, our tour, a combination of train and coach, accommodation in Toronto, flights from Melbourne to Vancouver via Hong Kong, (avoiding LA airport), from Vancouver to Toronto, Toronto to New York, and home, again via Hong Kong from NY Newark Airport.

But we really have struggled with New York accommodation. I sought from the aforementioned Victor details of his accommodation when he and his companion stayed in NY last year. The price was very good and the two bedroom apartment looked comfortable. But the price Victor paid was very cheap compared to what we would have to pay, it being the peak of the summer season.

Our travel agent gave us many hotel suggestions which we looked at last year and thought we will worry about it after Christmas, as many do. Guess what. The prices had risen substantially, not helped by our dollar falling against the US dollar. And apparently we have a most expensive and unreasonable requirement of a hotel, two separate beds. The concept of twin share does not seem to apply at all in NY. (So the Brady Bunch was a lie? Married people in the US do sleep in the same bed?) The only option our agent and us too could find is two double beds, which added substantially to the price. It was all becoming a bit much for us as money seemed to be draining away at a rapid rate. Blood pressure and tempers rose if NY was brought up.

While we had discounted where Victor stayed, with two bedrooms being far more than what we wanted, we thought to have a look at what else this website, vrbo.com had to offer, and although we have not chosen a place as yet, there are some excellent properties at prices much cheaper than a hotel room. I have just learnt  vrbo stands for Vacation Rental by Owner, so I guess it is not so terribly different to Airbnb.

VRBO is quite good because after you choose your location, you narrow it down by filters. In our case, Times Square, three beds, which gives us separate beds,  air con, and wi-fi. We have now selected a place and we are awaiting a response from the owner, but all the info was there. We are just checking there is someone who will respond.

The price for the week is about $1000 cheaper than hotels we were looking at.

41 comments:

  1. You have got an exciting travel schedule to look forward to. I will be in Canada the first two weeks of June so if you see a white haired old biddy that looks like me then it just might be!

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    1. Damn Fun60. We will be there in the latter weeks of June, when we are assured the lakes will be full thawed. We should have coordinated.

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  2. Andrew, what a great holiday . Canada is an interesting place..

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    1. Gosia, so people tell me. We shall see.

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  3. From my experience last year, you are very wise to avoid Los Angeles airport.

    I think we were lucky with the timing of our NY visit both regarding exchange rates and accommodation and VRBO proved a better service for us than AirBnB.

    Looking forward to catching up with you and R in Sydney.

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    1. Shall we lunch Victor? Where would you suggest? Surely not that terribly posh Iceberg place at Bondi Beach? I will iron my best tee shirt.

      The exchange rate clearly has something to do with the pricing, but I also noticed two week later, the prices in NY drop.

      Yes, looking forward to seeing you again in person and R is too.

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    2. I will require you to inspect my new lounge suite - depending on when in March you are visiting. You can also look at the view if you behave.

      I will think of some suitably Sydneyish place for us to lunch.

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    3. One would hope we might sit upon your new suite. Keep lunch cheap will ya. We may have to pay for a cab back from Bondi.

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  4. Lots of excitement ahead. Canada has a lot more charm for me than Sydney though.

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    1. EC, it is a Canberra thing is it? You there all hate Sydney? Canada is bit scary to me. I know the US is very different to Australia, but Canadians are, you know, a bit like us. How much will become evident.

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    2. Lots of Canberrans love Sydney. I have never warmed to it though. I am not even sure why not.

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    3. I love Sydney to visit, but as is said by many who don't live there, I would not want to live there.

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  5. And what about airbnb.com? These are rooms rented by private people in their homes with a great variation in price and what is offered. I stayed in a hostel once in Vancouver B.C. and the $9 per night price dropped lower because I was willing to clean bathrooms, but it was very sparse, bunkbeds, roommates from afar, and a unisex bathroom/shower. It was in gas town (a section of Vancouver). I'd caught a ride up. But I had a cheap little vacation for four days at hostel rates, but it was skummy side up. That was before passports were required to cross into Canada. So now I can't go to Canada because passports cost too much. Your trip sounds fun!

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    1. Strayer, I have looked at Airbnb in the past for accommodation and I liked what I saw, but one can only spend so much time looking at options. You paid $9 a night. We are looking at US$200 a night. I didn't know about the passport for you to go to Canada? Is this to stop over the border shopping or something?

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    2. I think it came after 911, the requirement for passports to enter and leave Canada. Before that, didn't need one. It's required to cross and re enter for any reason. I was able to adopt a cat to someone in Canada, but she had to cross the border to get him. I met her in Bellingham WA. All Mickey needed was a health cert. He could cross. I couldn't. Ha! Airbnb is very time consuming that is for sure. The youth hostel I spoke of was extremely sparse and probably bug infested, but I enjoyed it, had roommates from three countries in just the few days I was there.

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    3. You should have stood one side of the border after showing the health cert, with the new owner over the other side with a tin of pilchards and calling his name.

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  6. Holidays always exciting but always expensive, have a good time.
    Merle.........

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    1. Merle, never had a bad holiday yet, whether it was a weekend away or a big overseas trip.

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  7. Have you been to Canada before? It is one of my favourite places on the planet to holiday. Of course it helps to have cousins in Winnipeg and Vancouver as I do... and ex-Melbourne school friends in Toronto .. and MIRC channel mates in Montreal, Calgary and Saint John.

    The landscape is epic and the hospitality is too.

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    1. No Hels. Never been east of Australia. Contacts are always so good to have in a foreign country. R has cousins in Canada, but he doesn't know them. I would have thought most IRC users would be dead by now.

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  8. My one caveat with VRBO is - you must google the phone number and actually call it yourself as well. I also always google image search the images.

    Unfortunately the Nigerian Scammers discovered VRBO a while back and started listing properties on there, stealing photos from legit listings, and using phone redirection services. So it pays to speak to someone voice to voice and make sure the voice does not have a Nigerian or African accent. If the phone number comes up as a rental management agency, even better.

    If you want to email me the link to the listing, I'll do the searching and send you the results. :)

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    1. Thanks Snoskred, we are being cautious, but your words are good advice. Your offer is too kind, but of course I have emailed you.

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    2. We must have been lucky Snoskred, we had no difficulty dealing through VRBO nor did we have to telephone although I did so in the final stages of the arrangements once we were in the USA and approaching New York at the request of the landlord who provided her direct telephone details.

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  9. You're going to Canada?
    CANADA??
    I'm so jealous. I'm positively green with envy.
    I hope you have a fabulous time there and hope too that your NY accommodation comes through.

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    1. River, are you catching gay shallow genes? I did mention it a while ago. I hope Canada will be nice. I so liked Europe and would like to back there.

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  10. It seems you have nice holidays in view ! I like to prepare a holiday and look for low prices but quality ! With the beds it's also a struggle in France, and UK, to get twin beds is not so easy. France is the worst the so said double bed is a single bed for us ! I don't know how people can sleep in there together. As I always travel with a friend, we want of course twin beds ! When we stayed in the Best Western in New York, the price was OK, but when we got the bill it was 1 km long, city tax, hotel tax, room tax, plus plus plus !

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    1. Gattina, I am on alert about taxes. I had forgotten about that. When you come to Australia, you book twin share and you will get separate beds, usually one double and one single. The double usually faces the tv, and I am normally in the single.

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  11. The trips sound incredible. But, in-season prices can destroy the best-laid plans. A vacation apartment next door to us goes for €800/month off-season and €3,500/month in-season. Painful!

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    1. Yo make a joke Mitchell? That is around AU$5000 a month. Lucky you live there and are not visiting.

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    2. No joke. Wow! AU$5000. Unbelievable. Fortunately, it's comparatively cheap to live here year-round.

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    3. It's about US$4000, I think.

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  12. Wow! Your holiday plans sound amazing!! For me, the worst part of a trip is all the administrative detail with planning & booking. That's why travelling without (much of) a plan in the camper trailer works so well for us!

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    1. Red, that is exactly what we are going through now. Bah, I so want to do another Aussie road trip, but R says we must do these big holidays before we are too old, and leave local stuff to our old age.

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  13. Hello Andrew,

    What exciting plans lie ahead for the coming year!

    Sadly, Europe does not seem to feature in the itinerary but we live in hope that you and R will return one day. The nightlife of Budapest still has much to offer!

    Whatever, it all sounds like great fun if not a shade exhausting. Enjoy!

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    1. JayLa, nightlife? As if I would do that, although you may recall I was in serious trouble from R for not going on to a certain Budapest establishment after we dined together.

      We are supposed to back in Europe in 2016, but it may well be 2017, and while it is a long time away, I expect we will all still be alive and catch up.

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  14. Sound wonderful your planned trip to Canada, I hear it's lovely there and so much to see as in all new places we have never been.
    I will be looking forward to seeing your photos, as it's wonderful to view what other people see.
    I bet you both can't wait!

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    1. Thanks for such a positive comment WA. It isn't somewhere I really ever wanted to see. You can be sure I will do photos.

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  15. Exciting Andrew, its always good to have something to look forwards to!

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    1. Yep Grace, always have to have things to look forward to.

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  16. Canada will be wonderful. I have a cousin who is living over there at the moment, in the cold middle section. I've always wanted to go there myself. Some day.

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    1. Fen, I'm thinking Canada will be a soft introduction to the US.

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