A small Banff

5 04 2008

Basically, that is Queenstown in three words. From the architecture to percentage of Japanese, from the mountains to the gondola Queenstown is basically Banff at 1/3 size. Well, other than it is not in a National Park. That is 250km away, in Milford Sound.

It is rather interesting how a a commercial district in a small mountain town can take something that looks unique and beautiful and turn it into another generic tourist village – Jackson Hole, Whistler, Queenstown, Banff – they all look the same in the end.

Jet-lag finally hit me, and had a bit of trouble waking up yesterday. Eventually got up and drove to Milford Sound in the pouring rain. Missed the last boat out into the sound 😦

Here are some photos from the trip down, they look dark on a PC. I have some better ones, but they need some work.

Off to Auckland today, hopefully the internet won’t be as expensive and or slow. I find that the internet in NZ is some of the most expensive and slow anywhere. Twice as expensive at the hotel as in the Hilton in Colombo!


In the Red Carpet Club – SFO

11 11 2007

I am comfortably ensconced in the United Airlines Red Carpet Club lounge at SFO. My flight is not for a few hours, but it is raining, and I have to charge my new headphones, so I decided to do it here. Comfortable enough. Because I am in Business, I get a couple of drink chits. Hard to believe that this is a perk 😉

SFO Red Carpet Club

Had an OK day in SFO. My hotel, the fabulously mediocre Hilton Garden Inn – South San Francisco (The Industry City), did me well enough for a 6 hour sleep, and it was a nice morning to walk the mile or so to Hertz to pick up my ride for the day.

I find myself in a tan Hyundai Elantra — this is actually a good car. Would not buy one, but would not turn one down if given. Only radio station programed in was the Gay all dance music station — that was easy! They were flogging a very interesting flight

It started to rain as I made my way up the coast to see the sights (and buy my Bose headphones). Rained harder and harder, got foggier and foggier, and I drove back to the City. I had to stop by the Macy’s to return a sweater. That done, it is 3:30 pm, it is pouring rain, and I don’t want to buy allot of stuff, so I go to Oyster Point to watch the European heavies take off whilst eating my In-N-Out Burger.

I had an appointment at the Apple Store in Burlingame to get new headphones for my iPhone. Went window shopping — found the rain jacket I have been looking for for ages, too bad it was only in small. 😦

With that done, I decided to just check in, get into the lounge, and relax before my flight, and here I am.

A rather boring day in the Bay, but given the rain and my tiredness, OK. I got done what needed to be done, and I should sleep well on the plane.

Here is one photo from yesterday that I liked — it is of some public art at YYZ:

Gate 155

One last thing: Sal, I will not forget my passport this time!

YYZ-SFO: On my way

9 11 2007

Off to NZ! Went to work this morning, with the idea that my flight is not at 3pm to Calgary (YYC) then on to San Francisco (SFO), but direct, at 6pm. I make it to my car to take me to the airport, arriving at 4:30. Because of the changes to my itinerary, I was not able to check in on-line. I find out that I do not have a seat in Executive Class (boo!).

YYZ Transborder MLL

They put me through to the gate to deal with this, as there is a later flight I can take if I want to be ensured J access — otherwise I could take this flight and sit in the back. I am on Vacation! I paid for this in points! I can wait!

A very quick run through through US customs and immigration (thanks NEXUS!), I am in the lounge for the first time. The supervisor at check in said that the Lounge would find me a way on to a J flight. Looking at the ticket as a reward ticket the first Lounge Dragon is unwilling to touch the ticket, let alone help me.

I fume over my glass of wine and then see that the Lounge Dragons have changed — the new one at the desk is willing to look, but unable to help “too much calling about the bags”.

Given the amazing help I have had in UA lounges, I am not impressed — though the food and drink selection is much better with AC.

So I go to the gate, and they are about as helpful as the second Lounge Dragon.

Eventually, I find someone very helpful to make the change. The service desk agent is a GEM! She is cheerful, helpful, and efficient. She quickly makes the change to the later flight, with the seat I want, and gets my bags checked in 30 seconds (take that MLL!)

Back up to the lounge for supper, the Lounge Dragon says “boy they sure had to work hard, didn’t they!”. I shrug and make my way for a glass of Californian Chardonnay and some cream soup for supper.

Flight is called for 20:50 — we will see.


Waiting for the upgrade

7 11 2007

2.5 days more of work, then I am off on my vacation to NZ. I think I should be more excited about it, but I am not. Well, yes, I am looking forward to it, but I am not excited.

Maybe tomorrow.

Until then I wait for my upgrade to Sydney clear, and plan my next trip, around the world via CMB 🙂

It all started with an e-mail…

11 05 2007

“Orbitz – Ua Business Class Roundtrip Sfo-akl $1480.00 All In” it said. It was early Monday morning – I just woken up…Brenda Anderson

I went onto flyertalk.com – had a look. Any time in the next 330 days, full business class to Auckland via Sydney from San Francisco or L.A. Price? $1,221.00 plus tax makes it $1,465.75. Full C class on United, any metal between NZ and AU. Being a full C fare, it is fully refundable.

By the time I was out of the shower, I decided to buy one ticket. I usually go somewhere for my birthday, why not November in NZ! I decided 10 days was all I could afford, so I leave on the 10th of Nov from SFO arriving 2 days later mid-afternoon. I come back on the 22nd of Nov in the morning.

By mid-day, the fare was still alive (!) I had e-mailed a few friends who might be interested in coming with me. Everyone but one said they couldn’t do it, and one was thinking about it. Knowing the fare could disappear at any moment, and with nothing really to lose, I booked another ticket. 10 minutes later the fare was gone!

Now what? Well figure out what to do in NZ. North Island – South Island – Australia even if the fare is good. Well, I have till November to figure it out.

PS: For those who are wondering, the fare should have been $5532.00 each way, but was in the system for $532.00 each way!

Brenda Anderson