Friday, 31 December 2010

Suggested 1 week self drive tour from Melbourne

We've had many visitors join us in Australia and have now figured out a wonderful tour of approx 1 week taking in lots of wildlife in natural settings and different scenic spots.  If you are pushed for time you could do it in 4 days but a week is about perfect.

VICTORIA

Geelong - Waterfront bollards



  Barwon Heads - lookouts and the world famous Bells surf beach.

Discounted Air Asia in flight food and beverages on line



Having booked a budget flight we rarely take the offered meals.  However with Air Asia the prices are very reasonable.

You can order your Air Aisa in flight food and beverages on line and save up to 25%.

There are meals on offer at RM9 and RM12 and the price includes tea or coffee.

OK these prices are higher than what you would pay in Malaysia but compare this to the other low cost carriers who charge exorbitant rates for food on board.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Don't always believe what you are told - at least not the first time

We've just had a classic example of duff information.  We have friends from Melbourne hoping to come up and camp by the river near Mildura.  They phoned up Victoria Parks and Wildlife and were told the whole stretch of river is closed for camping due to the floods etc.

Yesterday we took a drive from Bruce's Bend to Psyche Pumps, the only bit of flooding was in very low ground and there were dozens of people enjoying the riverside bush camping in tents, caravans and motorhomes.  There are superb grassy spots with shade and privacy.

Mildura Murray River between Bruce's Bend and Psyche Pumps, great bush camping to be had either side of the marina

Moral of the tale, always try to check with a local rather than a distant information centre and if it is something you really want to do check with as many sources as possible before giving up.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Motorhome/Rv mishaps


Everyone makes mistakes…..

Toilet troubles

Parked at the edge of a small village we decided to visit the bar. It was in the winter and we were the only tourists so got involved in the local custom of drinking a raki (rough neat spirit) every time someone entered the bar. By the end of the evening we were both feeling rather merry as we staggered home. There are no

Sunday, 26 December 2010

How much do you need to retire early and travel ?




Many people are eager to know but embarrassed to ask us outright how we fund our lifestyle. They often begin by asking if we have won the lottery – no we didn't but we feel we live a millionaires lifestyle. 

Our life is funded by the income from a property that we have rented out in England, at the moment this is bringing in £840 (approx $1200) a month although we rarely spend more than £700 ($1000). We also have savings that we use for extra (non essential) things such as cruises. Not enough for us to travel and stay in top class hotels, go on campsites every night or fly first or business class but plenty to travel in a motorhome with lots of free camping or to back pack in less expensive countries.

GENERAL TRAVEL - Hospitality Clubs

Kevin & Ruths and our motorhome parked up in Mexico



When you travel for a number of years you may become slightly weary of all the tourist attractions and find yourself taking more interested in people culture.   On a number of occasions we have had chance meetings with local people who have invited us back to their place or offered to show us around, however you never know quite when or where this might happen.  If you join one of the hospitality clubs you may be able to pre arrange this kind of event

The groupls are based on travellers trying to help one another in any way they we can.  THEY ARE NOT GROUPS THAT YOU JOIN JUST TO GET FREE ACCOMMODATION. 

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

4 Aromatherapy oils I would not travel without

Having studied a little about aromatherapy massage I like to have a supply of ESSENTIAL oils with me.  Whilst travelling it is not practical to carry a full range but these are the ones I would not travel without plus their uses.  I carry 10ml of each and even on a 1-year trip have never run out.  Not only are they useful and light in the luggage they work out much cheaper than the many other products you would have to carry to cover all the functions these do.

Tea tree - this has great antisceptic and antibacterial properties.  Can be used neat on cuts etc but better diluted with a little water or carrier oil.  A few drops of tea tree and eucalyptus oil will get rid of odours in shoes.  Dilute with water to 5%, and use to disinfect surfaces or as a mouthwash. It can also get rid of head lice when used after shampoo or mixed in shampoo for dandruff treatment.  Many fungal infections can also be cured by regular treatment with tea tree oil.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Need inspiration to travel, check out our take on many common sayings

In order to inspire people we often quote well known sayings and then go on to explain our take on them.   

Here are some of our favourites.

NEVER PUT OFF UNTIL TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
you may enjoy it and have time to do it again.

DON'T STOP DOING THINGS BECAUSE YOU GET OLD, YOU GET OLD BECAUSE YOU STOP DOING THINGS
If you are physically capable of doing something why let age stop you.  For example we have friends who are now in their 70's who still go backpacking every year.  They say it gets easier as they get older as they are almost always offered a seat on a bus, get the best rooms at the hostels and quickly get offered a ride when hitching.

NEVER TRY TO GET ALL YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW
Before setting off on a big trip you will probably have many things that you want to put in place and get right.  However we have learnt that it is rare to achieve that status and better to aim for a specific start date rather than wait.  We have often set off with a few straggling ducks and either pulled them into place once we have got moving or left them to drift until, it has never been the wrong decision.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Backpacking trip to India next year, our travel planning


Just to give you some idea how we make up a plan I will use our up and coming backpacking trip to India as an example.

Firstly we knew we wanted to leave Australia late January and had to be back in England mid May as that is when our 1-year travel insurance runs out.  We find Air Asia  take some beating on price so when they had their last sale on we got in quick.  I had already checked out the weather in India and realised we needed to start in the south and leave the north for the latter part of the trip.  We booked to fly into Cochin and out of Delhi.  We had no intention if trying to see the whole country but to discover a few selected areas.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

We like VALUE FOR MONEY



During our every day travels we try to live within the income from our rental property in England (£800 / $1200) month.  Also out of this we pay for annual travel insurance, flights etc.

We dip into savings for special one offs like cruises, expensive tourist attractions or having the family out to visit figuring that when the savings are gone we will not repeat these treats.  We also like to think that we all benefit more from having the kids on holiday with us at a stage in their lives when they can't afford such things and we all get to share the pleasure rather than us leaving them money when we die and they probably need it less. 

No longer do we check our budget each day, week or month but simply try to do what we want to do for the best price possible.  Yes we like value for money but do realise that sometimes you are only going to be in a place once and if there is a price to paid for a tourist attraction that you want to visit you might as well pay it.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Making phone calls abroad from Australia



When travelling we tend to use a number of methods for keeping in touch with people at home.  Our UK mobile is good for free incoming texts but expensive for everything else.

To get the best rates we use different methods.

Skype seems to be one of the cheapest for sending SMS messages or phoning mobiles and did you know that free phone number throughout the world are still free on skype?

To call landlines it may pay you to buy a phone card (actually now just a till receipt) where you call a number, key in your PIN then dial the number you require.  These are not really cheap it you use the 1800 or 1300

Monday, 13 December 2010

Ladies only



When travelling it can often be a problem buying tampons or on long trips to take enough with you.

An alternative is a Diva Cup which is a kind of plastic egg cup that you insert like a tampon but resuse. Yes it sounds horrible but comes in different sizes and with practice is no more difficult than using a regular tampon.

If out for the day it tends to last longer than a tampon without leaking or if you go to a toilet where there are no sinks to rinse it through then you can just remove it, empty and wipe with toilet paper or a baby waper before re-inserting.

They are small enough to keep in your handbag so especially handy if you have irregular periods.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Travelling light



More and more airlines are reducing the carry on luggage weight making it more of a challenge to fly without checking in baggage.

So how can you get around this problems.  

Have you noticed that no one ever checks the weight of the clothing you are wearing so this may be a loophole.

It makes sense to initially wear your heaviest clothing and footwear within reason but you can still save weight by filling your pockets with small heavy things like computer power packs.


Whilst someone has already designed a full blown jacket with numerous pockets to amost act as luggage this is very expensive and bulky.  There are also smaller travel vests but with a limited number of pockets.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

LIFESTYLE - How to retire at 40 and TRAVEL the world on a BUDGET (by MOTORHOME, BACK PACKING AND CRUSING )

After 14 years on the road we have gathered lots of travel tips and advice. So many times we are asked our "secret" so maybe now is the time to let the cat out of the bag.

In the beginning my husband Steve was aged 42 and I was aged 40 when we sold our Post Office and General Store in Yorkshire. Our accommodation was also there so we had previously bought a small house to live in but first wanted to take a couple of years out travelling.

We rented out the house, bought a second hand motorhome and set off on our big adventure.

                                                                   

To jump forward a number of years the 2 year trip grew as we found many ways to live off a small income, buying and selling motorhomes in different continents and backpacking.

You can search the blog for more information on how we manage on a low income and also read a bit about our on going trip.

                                                                     

You can find information on how to find and book cheap flights and cruises, backpacking tips, motorhome info (buying, selling, exchanging, kitting out, travel tips), interesting and useful web sites and pretty much anything that may be of help to people wanting to travel full time on a low budget.

TIP

When you travel full time you have more time than money so taking the time to check out lots of options can save you money.  On many things getting 3 quotes pays dividends

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Visiting big cities, getting lost and getting out of there

The following information we apply when in our motorhome but is also good for people self driving in anything.

First we try to avoid driving into big cities by checking out public transport and then finding a car park somewhere near the end of the line but on occasions you cannot do this. If you have a choice and want to drive into or through a big city then try and pick a Sunday morning.

To do this stay nearby on the Saturday night and check out a map to work out on which road we will want to leave.  Early on the Sunday morning head into the city, cross through then find the road you intend leaving on before looking for a parking spot.  Traffic is much lighter and parking spots so much easier to find and when you are ready to leave you have already done the hard part in finding the road out.

If you do get lost at any stage one option is to flag down a taxi, tell him where you want to go and explain that you will follow him there then pay him the usual fare on arrival.  That way he is sure to drive slowly enough for you to follow.

Another idea is to find a pizza delivery shop.  Go in and order and ask if you can have a pizza delivered to either your destination or at least to somewhere on the road that you want to get out of town on.  Explain that you want to follow the driver.  Cheaper than a taxi even after giving the deliverer a tip and you get a pizza to eat as well.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sharing a vehicle and spreading the cost

TIP - If negotiating for a trip it is often cheaper to bargain for the whole vehicle and get a few friends to join you.

On our recent South Pacific cruise we docked on the island of Lugainville.  On the dock locals were waiting with their vehicles, small cars, mini buses and trucks.  Most wanted to charge a fixed price per person depending where you wanted to go.  We tried a different tactic and negotiated for a truck to take us to the Blue Hole and Million Dollar Point for $100.

Soloman said he could take up to 10 people and were already 6 so asked a few other cruise passengers and soon made it up to 9.  A great deal at less than $12 a head.  Other people off the boat paid $50 per person for the same trip, Ok so they were in an air conditioned mini bus but I reckon we had more fun and by not having to wait for the bus to fill up we got to the places before the other people arrived.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Car hire abroad

We occasionally hire a car whilst abroad and learnt our lesson from Kevin when he had trouble returning a car in Mexico.  He had declined their insurance as he was covered on his credit card.  When collecting the car the rental agent went around and ticked on a sheet the areas with damage (pretty much all the car!).

On return the agent tried to say there was further damage to the rear bumper, this way he would be able to make a claim through Kevins credit card insurance and get all the bumper damage fixed.  Kevin had a hard time standing his ground to get them to agree it wasn't his damage but from this we have learnt a lesson.

TIP - When hiring a car not only go round with the rental person ticking the damaged parts on the rental agreement but also be seen to photograph them as well and if possible get the agent in one of the shots. This way if there are problems on return you have proof of how the car started out but having seen you do this they are less likely to try it on.  

Monday, 6 December 2010

Cheap meal deals at clubs in Australia

On our first trip around Australia we saw lots of clubs like RSL's but believed them to be all member only.  We now know different.

If you find a local club, RSL, bowls, golf, surf etc pop in to sign up as a temporary member (free) and enjoy their deals. 

Meals are usually cheap and drinks are often at lower prices than local bars.

We recently visited Wentworth services and sporting club 



The location by the river is excellent and on Sundays the carvery incluidng choice of soups, salad and dessert bar at $9.50 is excellent value.  

Many clubs also offer free entertainment.

TIP Visit the local tourist office where they often supply a list of nearby clubs and the deals on offer.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

House sitting hitches!

We've had an expensive and hectic year so combatting both of these issues we are catching up with ourselves by house-sitting for friends in Mildura, Australia. As is often the case part of house-sitting duties are to look after pets or animals. Here we have 2 dogs, 5 ducks and 8 chickens to take care off.

The problem comes with the ducks in particular Denis the drake. He has a nasty habbit of attacking you by pecking at your feet and ankles. I did research on the Internet to find a solution and also posted a help entry on Facebook. Of course Facebook friends responded with the usual funnies the obvious one being to try Peking instead of pecking duck! In amongst this was a suggestion that Steve should challenge the duck by reaching up high and flapping his arms whilst hissing.

Today he went into the pen to let the ducks out and tried this tactic on Denis. As usual Denis kept coming at him so Steve stepped back but didn't realise there was a wheelbarrow behind. Now not only does he have pecked ankles but a cut arm and grazed bum where he fell over.

New tactic, leave the ducks locked up until we have finished in the garden then lock ourselves in the pool enclosure until it is time to put them away leaving Steve just one quick challenge with Denis.

TIP - When house-sitting you sometimes take things from a cupboard then can't remember exactly where to put them back. A quick and easy solution is to take a digital photo of the inside of any cupboards you are likely to use. You will be surprised how clearly you can see the contents when you bring the image up on a computer and often this helps to know where to put things back.

Free drinks on a cruise

Having just returned from a RCI cruise we found a couple of ways to get yourself a nice smoothie or milk shake for free.

Most evenings there was a cold soup on offer such as strawberry and mint.  Many people pass these over but if you take one and put it into a glass it makes a superb drink.

Fancy a milkshake, grab a glass and first fill it from the soft ice cream machine, then top up the glass with coffee or hot water and stir, just like the MacDonalds thick shakes.  You can make a few combinations depending which ice cream you use, try the mixed chocolate and vanilla with hot coffee for a mochachino, choclate ice cream and water for chocolate shake and vanilla and water for a vanilla shake.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Buying a motorhome

What to look for when buying a motorhome.  These are our thoughts as budget concious full time travellers.

Whenever we buy and sell a motorhome we are more concerned with the difference between buying and selling price than the actual cost.  Of course this assumes you have the money to invest in the first place!

I always reckon you get the best buys if the item is being sold due to one of the 3 D's.  Divorce, Death or De Bank wanting the money.

Our new Rimor Koala 48 RV/Motorhome


This time I think we fall into the latter catergory having just bought a brand new (our first new vehicle purchase ever) Rimor Koala 48 motorhome as an end of season clearance.  The Rimor factory in Italy wanted them paid for and out of the way to make space for the 2011 models and through their agents Cordoba Leisure we felt we got a good price.  Sid at Cordoba was brilliant dealing with questions and organising the deal for us whilst we were in Australia.

Just need to source a discount on an awning, LPG tank system, solar panels and alarms now - the downsides of buying new!

After buying and selling numerous motorhomes we now have it down to a fine art as to what we need rather than think we want and I will soon be posting our list for that.

On the plus side of buying new we have up to 3 years before needing to return to England for the annual MOT inspection, have warranties on the vehicle and get to pick the layout and with luck will get a good price when we sell.  Also everything will be clean and tidy when we move in, can't wait until May when we get to meet Eddie. 

Rimor Koala motorhome 48 layouts by day and night

In terms of motorhome size, as full timers we always find it best to go for a 4 or up to 6 berth vehicle not only enabling us to have visitors but also giving us a little more living and storage space although this time I doubt we will use even a quarter of the garage space but I suppose we could put the grandkids in there if they play up!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Budget hotels at bargain prices

Finally someone has hit the missing spot in the market.  TUNE HOTELS - A good quality hotel room without frills but with many extras individually priced as add ons.  The base price is a modern double fan cooled room with en-suite.

For the first day you must pay a room service charge but after that it is an optional extra.   

Mainly in Asia but with a hotel in London this looks to be the way of the future.  Add ons include air-con, breakfast, internet, towels with toiletries pack, luggage storage and hair dryer all at reasonable prices.

We shall be using the one at Kuala Lumpur LCCT to tie in with a stop over on our Air Asia flights.

A real treat for budget concious back packers and perfect for people who just want a good price on a user pays basis.  Well done Tune Hotels

Monday, 29 November 2010

Air Asia flight deals

A few days ago our friends daughter was looking for flights from Australia to Europe.  I remembered that Air Asia were just setting up a new route to Paris.

She was flexible with dates so we trawelled through the KL to Paris flights from the start date in February to March and by doing this and the same with the Melbourne to KL came up with a total through fare of $345 and that included paying extra for check in baggage.

Takes a bit of time but well worth it in terms of the saving, if you can get them the promo fares are usually the best of all.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

When is a visit to another country not a visit to another country?

Answer  - In Australia when it is a cruise of less than 30 days starting and returning to the same port.  OK so why might this be relevent.

We arrived in Australia with a 6 month multi entry tourist visa subclass 676.  At the end of 6 months the options were to a/ leave the country, b/ pay $255 to extend the visa c/ leave the country and return.

IF YOU LEAVE THE COUNTRY ON A CRUISE AND RETURN WITHIN 30 DAYS YOU ARE CONSDIERED TO HAVE BEEN IN TRANSIT AND THIS DOES NOT RE SET YOUR VISA.

Many people in immigraiton and customs are not aware of this.

Our situation panned out as follows.

Rather than spend $255 on an visa extension we thought it would be smart to put this money towards a trip abroad.  We checked with an immigration office that going abroad would include places such as New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu or Fiji and it did.  WE OMITTED TO MENTION THAT WE WERE CONSIDERING A CRUISE.

Got a good deal on a cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia and left Sydney after showing our passport and customs card on departure.  On return to Sydney there were no immigration people to stamp us for re-entry.  We arrived back the day our initial visa ran out and it was a Saturday and the immigration offices were closed.

Went to immigraiton at the airport to be told we should get on a flight to New Zealand before midnight to comply.  This was going to be very expensive and with prompting for alternatives the immigration officer said we could go to a computer and lodge a visa application on line.  This did not work for our visa type and because of this we were told (wrongly) that we could front up at an immigration office on Monday and be treated the same as if we had applied on line.

Not so.  By Monday we were illegal immigrants and had to bounce between the Melbourne visa compliance office and visa application unit.  First to be issued a free bridging visa giving us 7 days to leave the country or return with a ticket for a flight out within 14 days.  We pushed more saying we really wanted to say and were told to apply for a new visa.  THE BRIDGING VISA CANCELS ALL PREVIOUS VISAS.  This cost us $255 each plus because we had been in a TB country within the last 5 years $100 each for chest x-rays.  WE then had to go back to compliance to lodge our new visa application against the bridging visa so the bridging visa would last until the extension was processed.

A huge amount of expense and inconvenience that could have been avoided if had known the cruise situation.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Even a birthday meal warrants a coupon deal

It was Steve's birthday a few days ago and we decided it would be nice to go out for a meal with friends.  At the moment we are in Australia near Noosa on the Sunshine Coast.  Noosa is a tourist area famous for its gourmet retaurants so finding something not too expensive was going to be a challenge.

Many areas have free local newspapers and although much of the news is meaningless you will often find food coupons.  We had numerous choices and settled on Villa Noosa.  The option was "buy any meal at full price and get a second (the cheaper) meal for $5" and for our more mature friends there was a "buy 1 get 1 free seniors meals".  On the same coupon strip you could have a free garlic bread with a meal or a free dessert with a meal and the small print at the bottom said not to be used in conjuction with any other offer.

Scanning the menu we saw a seafood platter for 2 on at $38 and pushing our luck we asked whether the $5 coupon could be applied to a second seafood platter for 2.  Sure enough they were happy to do that so for $43 we got seafood platters for 4.

It gets better - we also went up with the free garlic bread coupon and got that as well!

So the moral here is check out coupons and don't be afraid to push your luck and try more than one coupon at once.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Travellers help

We are not alone in our endeavour to travel the world on a budget and it is great to link up with like minded people and share information.

Ruth contacted me through Couchsurfing as we were both in the same motor home group.  Like me Ruth is keen to help others so this is a link to her website about free accommodation for world travellers

Friday, 17 September 2010

Good things come in 3's including house sitting

We arrived in Australia in May intending to crew on a yacht for 3 months.  Having never done it before we found after 2 months that we were missing time on land so agreed with the skipper that we would leave.

Friends heard about this and told us their neighbour had just been rushed into hospital and would we like to house-sit and look after their 2 cats.  This house was in Tewantin, near Noosa on the Sunshine Coast and next door to our friends.  As if this wasn't perfect enough we had satellite TV, broadband Internet, swimming pool and use of a car.  All the owners were concerned about was having their pets cared for and the house being occupied.  So September was taken care of. 

During October we hoped to visit good friends in Ocean Grove. They told us we would be welcome but they had just booked a 3 week holiday from the middle of that month and would we like to stay on and house-sit whilst they were away.  Now Ocean Grove in Victoria is a lovely seaside town and our friends have a brand new house within walking distance of the shops and beach so that is going to be wonderful.

On a crowded bus in Vietnam we first met Jude & Garth back in 2004.  They live in Mildura and we always visit when in the area and have become good friends.  Previously we house sat and looked after their dogs, ducks and chickens and this year when we heard they were going to be away for the whole of December we glady volunteered again.  So December will see us in Mildura enjoying a swimming pool and use of a car to explore more of the area.

We have been lucky in doing these house sits for friends and word of mouth works very well (we have already had to turn down an offer of another one near Brisbane over Christmas and New Year).  However this is now big business and House Carers is just one of many sites where you can register to either find a house or find a sitter.

Many people have pets that they don't want to put into kennels so a love of animals helps but all this information is listed on the websites.  Duration varies from a few days to months at a time and these opportunities are worldwide.  We never set out to do this kind of thing but are now starting to enjoy it and may actively seek positions in the future.

Amazing Air Asia

Check out Air Asia for some amazing flight deals.  A number of times a year they have promotional fares and this is the time to get in quick and bag a bargain. 

Register as a member to be notified when these deals come up.

However a few more things will help you to be sure of picking up one of the promo fares.   

First of all explore their website and study the route map to find out where they fly.  Pretty much all their flights route through Kuala Lumpur.  So for example if you wanted to fly from Melbourne Australia to London England you would have to book 2 seperate flights, Melbourne to KL then KL to Stanstead.  Whilst Stanstead is not strictly London there you can get from the airport to London Victoria coach station easily using Easy Bus with fares as low as GBP 2.00 if you book early.

Check out which days and at what times the flights operate on your chosen route and have all this information ready for when the deals come up.  Generally mid week flights have more seats available at promo fares and it helps if you can fly a few days either side of your choice date.

Now as soon as the deals go on sale get on line and start checking out your options and if you don't find a promo fare straight away then move forwards and backwards by at least a week to see if they are only on offer on certain days.  Not all flights have promo fares so you could just be unlucky but during the last sale it was possible to buy a ticket from Melbourne to London for Aus$406 one way including taxes so it is worth spending time playing around on the site. 

We have taken 10 flights with Air Asia and they are superb value for money, but remember to some extent you get what you pay for and no matter what you do during the booking process you always seem to end up paying something extra - we travel with carry on baggage only, don't require meals or seat allocation but still got hit for a credit card fee!  Let me know if you ever get round this please.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Wizz Air extras - to pay or not to pay, that is the question

Where possible we fly with a budget airline to save money.

We booked our flight to Hungary (to visit the dentist) with Wizz Air and were offered numerous extras, baggage, priority check in, extra leg room etc.

Needless to say as cheapskates we opted for none of them (but ended up with many, read on).

We did on line web check in and arrived at Luton airport and proceeded straight through to the Wizz Air boarding gate.  So far no one had checked or weighed our bags.

We were told that you could only take 1 piece of baggage on board totalling 10kg so put the laptop inside the carry on bag but noticed people in the queue with 2 or even 3 bags.  Just to try things out we removed the laptop bag and proceeded to board with me carrying a holdall, laptop on my back and a bum bag - not a word was said.

On return we joined the boarding queue before any announcements were made.  Then heard this was for priority passnegers and those with children.  We were loathe to drop to the back so shuffled forward and proceeded onto the bus to the plane.

Wizz Air do not allocate seats so it is a bit of a free for all once you board the plane.  Having gone through with the priority passengers on the first bus we were amongst the first to board the plane.  We noticed the front 6 (extra leg room) seats where only 4 were taken, we asked the stewardess if the others were available and were told we could sit there.   

So without paying any extra we managed to take 3 unweighed bags on board, got priority boarding and extra leg rooms seats.

Flying out we were on time taking off and landing and on return 35 minutes late taking off but only 10 minutes late on landing.

Food and drink offered on board are very expensive and leg room and comfort in the regular seats is poor.  Would we fly with them again?  Yes if ther was no other budget airline going to the same destination.  Would we pay for extras - maybe the extra legroom seats as this also includes priority boarding.

Friday, 7 May 2010

A visit to Dr Death the dentist

Having just completed dental treatment in Hungary I can confirm it is of good quality and the price is right, even though we were treated by Dr Toth - the Hungarian word for death!



The main reason for coming to Hungary was that I needed at least 2 crowns replacing and knew that in England the price would be £200 - £300 each.  A very different story here.

My CROWNS were done during 3 appointments, the first to remove old crowns, clean the area and make moulds, the second to try the new crown base and the 3rd to fit the newly enameled crown.  All 3 appointments took place within a week.  Total cost HUF 16.000 (£ 52).

I also needed a filling and out of vanity opted for a white one. This was applied with great care in thin layers came out at HUF 6,000 (£19), better still the enamel was taken over the rest of the tooth giving a completely invisible filling.

Hubby Steve is not so vain so he just had the silver one for HUF 3,000 (£9.50).

At the end of the treatment we both had clean and polish at no extra charge.

With out return flights costing £62 each with Wizz Air and friends to stay with it has given us a "free" 12 day holiday into the bargain

 

,

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Yoga in Greece

We meet some really interesting people when we are travelling.  At a samba class in Sao Paulo we met an American lady called Pierra Colombato (who was wintering in South America whilst writing a book about yoga.

In the summer she lives in Greece and runs a yoga retreat and has some very good deals on classes.

I believe that from 10 - 13th July you can have 4 days of fun and health for a special price.  This will be yoga for all different body types and acupressure.

Maybe after our Aussie trip we will make time to visit and try something different.



.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

South America, our top 10

Our 7 month backpacking trip has come to and end and looking back the highlights were probably the people we met everywhere.  However the other top 10 (in no particular order) would be-

ECUADOR The Galapagos Islands
PERU Machu Picchu
ANTARCTICA Holland & America cruise from Santiago to Rio via Antarctica
URUGUAY The stunning Punta del Diablo fishing village and beach area
BRAZIL Rio do Janiero for the setting
ARGENTINA AND BRAZIL Iguazu Falls
PERU Nazca lines
PERU AND BOLIVIA Lake Titicaca
BOLIVIA Salt pans at Uyuni
CHILE Pablo Nerudas house on the coast

Sunday, 7 March 2010

A belly full in Porto Alegre and Gramado


 Trivia -
Q. Which country do the Faroe Islands belong to?




TUESDAY 2 MARCH – The football blogger arrives but speaks no English so Beatriz gets to practice her translating skills even though he and Steve manage a good bit using the international language of football which seems to involve throwing around players names.  Beatriz wants to show us the ocean beach so we head off to the coast stopping en route at “Restaurant do Renato” for a delicious all you can eat fish lunch, R12 (£4) pp.  Cassino Beach is the longest in the world at over 250km and the sand is hard and flat enough for you to drive all the way to Uruguay.   

We don’t have time for that but make it to an interesting ship wreck and also see a large dead turtle.  The Embaixador bus to Porto Alegre, $43.70 (£15) leaves at 4pm.  It is a very comfortable bus and Beatriz has told us the company is one of the best in Brazil as they treat their employees really well lending them money to buy houses and helping with their children’s education.  Arrive a little early at 7.20pm and we are really happy to see our host Daniel waiting for us as Porto Alegre bus station is enormous.  He drives us to his apartment where we have the spare bedroom with sofa bed.  Daniel is very well travelled and has been to many countries we would like to visit so we can pick his brains.  A short walk from his apartment is an Italian restaurant, Nono Ludovico.  First you visit the sushi and salad bar then sit back and wait to be served pizzas.  There’s a triangular card that you put out to indicate if you want savoury, savoury and sweet or just sweet pizzas.  The waiters come round, exuberantly describe the pizza on their tray and invite you to take a slice.   There are also lasagne and other Italian dishes so you are almost spoilt for choice.  Worse still are the desserts ones, white and milk chocolate, strawberry and meringue, condensed milk, strawberry and chocolate, pineapple and condensed milk, banana and egg, coconut, and that’s just the ones I tried.  Back home Daniels friend Vera calls round and they show us the DVD of their recent cruise to a glacier in Chile and it looks magnificent. 
PORTO ALEGRE, HOSPITALITY CLUB DANIEL

WEDNESDAY 3 MARCH – Daniel drops us in the city when he goes to work.  We set out to see the sights and find a few impressive things, the Italian style cathedral, a monument with a dragon climbing the steps and many attractive buildings.  It is still only lunchtime when we catch the bus back to his apartment.  In the evening he suggests the vegetarian restaurant “Especiarias” and the veggie curry goes down a treat although it is very quiet there and last night’s restaurant was far more entertaining.  Daniel shows us photos of his travels and his pictures of Easter Island make it look much more interesting than we thought and he also adds some islands off Venezuela to our thoughts of places to visit, will our list never end?
PORTO ALEGRE 2, HOSPITALITY CLUB DANIEL

THURSDAY 4 MARCH – After being dropped at the bus station we catch the 8.45am Canela bus to Gramado, R$26 (£9).  It takes 2 hours to travel up into the mountains to the alpine resort.  Couchsurfing hosts Brian has arranged for his Dad to take us out and about.  Evair and his girlfriend Francine arrive in the car and take us straight to the Black Lake.  They speak little English but we manage to learn a bit as we walk around the lakeside.  Brian joins us and we head to “Mini Mundo” www.minimundo.com.br owned by Evair’s friend we get in for free.  It is a model village with scale models of many places in Germany and others in South America and interesting to see.   
Next Brian takes us off to visit “Parque do Caracol” www.canela.com.br R10 (£3.50) where we see an impressive waterfall, there are also other falls and lots of walking tracks but we don’t have time to do them.  We meet up with Evair and Francine for lunch at “Belavista Café Colonial”, www.belavista.tur.br one of the typical ones for this town.  After sitting down our table is piled up with plates of food, homemade jams and cream, hot food, cold sandwiches and loads of cakes.  The minute we finish something the plate is replaced with more.  There is also red and white wine and grape juice that also gets replaced the minute they are nearly empty.  I work my way through the savoury items then just take a small slice of each of the 10 cakes. This backfires on me when I realise these are not the desserts and there is a large fridge with 22 more for you to help yourself to.  Hot chocolate and coffee round of the feast and we fairly waddle out of the restaurant.  Brian has to return to work but his Dad continues the tour taking us to the cathedral in Canela then to a lookout down the valley.  We’ve just arrived back in Gramado to look at the cathedral when the heavens open up.  Return to Evair’s home where he puts on a video about the folklore dance shows that he produces and directs.  Heading to the bus stop there is just time to look at the area where they are setting up for the weekend chocolate festival, now why didn’t I do my research and find out about it?  What a wonderful day out, lovely people, plenty of nice things to see and delicious food.  Daniel is out at masons meeting in the evening so unfortunately we don’t get to see him.
PORTO ALEGRE 3, HOSPITALITY CLUB DANIEL

   A. Denmark

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Why are Uruguayans born with a bent left arm?

Trivia -


   Q. Which African country has exactly the same name as its capital city?


There is a standing joke down here - Why are Uruguayans born with a bent left arm?  To carry the flask for their mate.

So what is this mate thing all about.

Travel around Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil and you cannot fail to come across it.  Yerba mate is a kind of

Friday, 5 March 2010

Greedy Glen in Gorgoeous Gramado

,Trivia =
   Q. Big Ben is the name of the Bell in the Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament. What is the name of the tower housing it?
 
Gramado is a delightful mountain village a couple of hours from Porto Alegre by bus.






Much of the architecture is Swiss style








There's a Germany in miniature at mini world








A very attractive Black Lake








Way too many chocolate shops




                                                                                                              And worst of all our wonderful hosts Evair, Francine and Brian took us out to lunch.  At Bela Vista Cafe Colonial they just keep bringing more and more plates of food to your table, plus re filling the jugs of wine






Following that you find out there is a dessert fridge where you can help yourself to 22 different ones, so of course we ate way too much and have to say "the diet starts tomorrow"!






A. Saint Stephen's Tower

Thursday, 4 March 2010

A visit to the longest beach in the world



   Trivia Q. Which of the continents has the most countries?



SATURDAY 27 FEBRUARY – It is a poor morning which makes it easier for us to leave. We catch the 1045am COT bus to Chuy, U$50 (£1.60). You have to ask if you want to stop at the Uruguayan border as it is about 2km before the town. After getting off the driver tells us we must make our own way onwards. Exit formalities involve a quick stamp in our passports. The official tells us it is 4km walk to the Brazilian border; there are no buses or taxis available. We set out walking and try to hitch a ride. The 3rd vehicle pulls up and he offers to take us into Chuy town. With our luggage in the back and 3 of us huddle into a 2 seater cab we set off. He speaks no English but we learn he is a dairy farmer and appears to know everyone in town judging by the number of people waving at him. He asks where we are going and we tell him the name of the city in Brazil. Next thing we know he tells us we are now in BRAZIL and a block later he drops us at a bus station. Tickets to Pelotas R$37 (£13) with the bus leaving at 1pm. Perfect timing as it is now ¼ to 12. I walk up the street to find an ATM and realise the central strip of the main “dual carriageway” is actually the border between the two countries. On each side of it cars are moving in both directions but there are no border controls. After getting my money I return and find that Steve has worked out Brazil is now 1-hour behind (3-hours behind England) so we have a 2-hour wait. Walking around we spend the last of our Uruguayan money on drinks and stuff to eat. There are few people on the bus but a couple of km out of town we pick up more at the Brazilian exit border. The driver has taken our passports and quickly deals with entry formalities. We now realise that this point would have been the 4km walk from the Uruguayan border but going into the city was a little shorter but still happy we got a lift. Our journey continues through very flat land with cattle, rice and soy fields and wetlands. The bus stops almost every 1km to pick up or drop off a local so the journey is slow. In the wetlands we see many capivara, a rodent that is as big as a pig plus and a wide variety of birds. In Pelotas we phone our host Beatrix who arrives a few minutes later. She is a 40-year old single lady and very chatty. Her home is a very old building near the centre of the city and she has given us her room and moved into the single spare bedroom. Her English is perfect as she lived in USA for 5-years working as a nanny to save money and improve her English. She could earn more money doing that than working as a lawyer here in Brazil. Now she has returned and bought a couple of houses and works as a lawyer and English teacher. In the evening she takes us for a drive around the city where we see some very nice architecture. The wealth of the city came

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Plans don't always work out

Trivia
Q. What is the largest island in the Indian Ocean?

 We love it when a plan comes together but this doesn't always happen and it is good to have a contingency plan.

So when Steve didn't get tickets for the football world cup  we figured we would have to swap South Africa Table Mountain 


 For Brazil Sugarloaf Mountain

 and hope he can get some for the world cup in 2014


A. Madagascar

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Travel for free by crewing

Fancy trying out a bit of cruising on a small personal boat without buying one?


Find a crew is a great web site where boat owners advertise for crew and crew advertise to find a boat.  You can sign up for free.



There are paid, unpaid and contribution positions.


Skilled, unskilled and just companions required.

Durations from 1 week to 1 year plus.

Boats of all shapes and sizes.


Within 3 days of placing a post we have found ourselves a catamaran travelling up the coast of Australia from May to September.


The owner wants companions and is happy to teach us sailing skills whilst we help out where needed and pay for food a drink. So this summer we will be cruising around the Whitsunday Islands, how cool is that?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Hungary to visit the dentist

Trivia -

   Q. The White House is the most visited house in the USA what is the second?






 We are no longer registered with a dentist in England so have to get our dental treatment whilst travelling.

There are many countries offering good treatment at a reasonalble price.  We have visited dentists in New Zealand, Hungary, Morocco, Malaysia and Mexico.

This year we are going back to Hungary as I need a few crowns replacing.

Luckily we have friends there so just need a flight.  Using which budget I established which cheap airlines flew to Budapest.  I then did price comparisons and found that Wizz Air offered the best deal from London Luton airport. I played around with the days and finally got return flights for less than £65 including taxes and on line payment.

The next thing we needed was a bus connection from Yorkshire.  Mega bus offered a coach from Leeds to London for £5 each and from the arrival in Victoria coach station we can connect to Luton airport.

Each crown should be over £200 cheaper there so you can see the savings and we get to visit friends as well where they will book us in with their local dentist.

There are many companies such as "save on dental care"who will organise a whole package for you including flights, hotel and treatment. 

   A. Graceland

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Stunning Punta del Diablo, Uruguay

Trivia -


   Q. Into which ocean does the river Zambesi flow?




WEDNESDAY 24 FEBRUARY – We catch the 11.10am COT bus to Punta Del Diablo, U$185 (£6).  The bus seats are closer together but comfortable and although they are supposed to have wi-fi on board we are both more in need of a snooze.  Arrival time of 2pm passes and we are still not there and around half an hour later the bus pulls over.  Mission control to Houston we have a problem, the driver walking round with the fan belt in his hand gives us a clue.  After changing buses we finally arrive just after 3pm.  Punta Del Diablo is a fishing village turned into a holiday village at the end of road.  The town roads are all dirt, go off in all directions and don’t have name boards.  Setting out to find a room we quickly realise most accommodation is privately owned cottages where you have to telephone the

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Want a cruise bargain - deals from $34.21 a day

Trivia -
   Q. In which ocean are the Canary Islands?


We always shop around when booking a cruise.

Finding a cruise deal is interesting with cruise hot sheet where there is an option to have deals listed by price per day.

Their best deal at the moment is a 14 day repositioning cruise from Galveston Texas at $479, thats $34.21 day.


Having decided which cruise you want you can then use cruise compete to find the best quote.



On 14th March we are taking a Royal Caribbean
Cruise on Splendur of the Seas.  6 nights cruising the coast of Brazil and visiting 3 islands.  Lead in price $309 but we paid more to get an outside cabin.   Total price $947 less $150 on board credit and a bottle of wine.





TIP
Get more ot of your cruise

   A. Atlantic


Friday, 26 February 2010

Spot the rich and famous in Punta del Este, URUGUAY

Trivia -

   Q. How many countries are still members of the British Commonwealth?



SUNDAY 21 APRIL – Rosanna and Nacho get up early to see us off. Nacho drives us to the main highway to connect with the COT bus that Rossana kindly booked, U$109 (£3.50) to Maldonado. We see more flooding en route suggesting that other areas got even more rain than El Pinar. Host Alberto picks us up at Maldonado bus station and takes us to his apartment where we meet his husky dog Nerea. We pop out to buy meat at the supermarket and he cooks us up a delicious lunch. In the afternoon he takes us along to Puerto Del Este where he works. He has his own real estate agency business renting out holiday apartments, http:/ He explains that the season here is really just January and February and the rest of the year the town is like a ghost town. We set out to explore the resort frequented by many famous people including Bruce Willis. It is a peninsula with beaches on both sides but once we walk around the headland to the Atlantic we are nearly