Other Transportation tagged posts

Trip Report – Riding the French Rails: Of SNCF and RailEurope

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We spent a total of nine days in France, split between Lyon in the Rhone Valley (central France), Montpellier in the South, and Paris. It was a lot of ground to cover in that time, and we purposely picked cities that had relatively short and cheap transportation connections. (We couldn’t do an open jaw flight into, say, Lyon, and out of Paris on this trip, because Paris was technically a nine day stopover on the return of our award tickets from DC to the Seychelles and back.) In the end we did two intercity rides on SNCF, the French national rail company, and one domestic flight on Air Francet went through France included two train legs – a two hour ride on the TGV from Paris to Lyon, and a shorter one hour leg from Lyon to Montpellier...

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Croatia Trip Report: Homeward Bound: Lufthansa from Zagreb to Munich in Coach and the Zagreb Dump, I mean Airport

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Lufthansa 1713 Zagreb to Munich
Dep. 1:30PM Arr. 2:50PM
Embraer 90

From the Westin Zagreb, it was an easy trip back to the bus station, reversing my trip back on the tram.  On my way to the hotel, I hadn’t known that paper tickets had to be validated in the front of the tram.  This time, I was prepared, which was a good thing, as ticket control officers boarded to check tickets.

Zagreb Bus Station

Zagreb Bus Station

Once at the bus station, there were clear signs leading to the Croatia Airlines bus, so I went through and got on line to buy my ticket.  There’s no true public transportation to the airport, which is a ways outside the city.  But Croatia Airlines runs a bus every half hour during the day from the central bus station, taking about 30 minutes for about $5.  There were lots of Croatians on line at the ticket counter, which was for bus tickets to all destinations it seemed, and each seemed to have 1000 problems and questions.  10 minutes before scheduled departure, a man came in to usher people onto the bus, and I was starting to get worried.  But he then said – “for airport, buy tickets on the bus.”  A sign would have been helpful.

Airport Bus

Airport Bus

The bus was about half-full, and left a few minutes ahead of schedule.  As we drove through the southern, more suburban part of Zagreb, I saw a lot of Communist-era apartment buildings, which I had been surprised not to see in the city in the previous days.

As much as I liked Zagreb, the airport was a surprising dump.  (Though a major new construction project is supposedly in the works.) I was pretty surprised how much smaller and less full-service than the Belgrade or Dubrovnik airports – surprising given that Zagreb is comparable in size and is a Star Alliance hub.   There was one check-in area for all Star Alliance flights, which led to lots of lines, as there were flights on Croatia, Lufthansa, and Austrian all leaving in the next 3 hours.  I saw that my inbound aircraft was running about thirty minutes late, so was a bit worried about my connection, but figured I should still be fine.

ZAG Check-in Area

ZAG C...

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Riding the Bus from Rovinj to Zagreb

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There are no non-stop flights from Istria to Zagreb, but there are about 10 buses per day from Rovinj to Zagreb, ranging in length from 3.5 hours to 7 hours, depending on routing and number of stops, and around $30.  They are run by 5 or 6 different bus companies, and the only website I found with the all of the option’s was the Zagreb bus station site.  Tickets on the shorter routes weren’t available online.  Since I had no idea if they would sell out due to high season, I had picked up my bus ticket for one of the shorter trips at the bus station the morning before, as it was on the way from the hotel to the old town, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel.  My concerns about Croatian bus travel were misplaced, though, and it was a pretty easy experience.

My bus was scheduled for 1:...

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Trip Report: Tallinn! The Ferry from Helsinki, the Radisson Blu Tallinn, and Exploring the City

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When my boyfriend suggested we go to Finland, I knew I also wanted to squeeze in a stop in Estonia as well, as I had heard great things.  My boyfriend hadn’t heard these things, so thought it was just weird.   But there were better flight connections using Skymiles out of Tallinn than Helsinki, so we compromised on spending one night in Tallinn on the way home.  Of course, as we got closer to the trip and people started telling my boyfriend how awesome Estonia was, he got a bit more excited.  It was definitely one of my favorite cities of the trip, though we only scratched the surface.  But what we saw was beautiful, and a lot cheaper than Finland, and an easy (and fun) ferry ride from Helsinki.

We hailed a taxi to the West Harbor, for a quick 14 Euro taxi ride. A number of different boat companies operate on the Helsinki-Tallinn route, on a variety of different kinds of boats.  The high-speed catamaran we wanted had sold out when I went to book it about three weeks ahead.  So instead we had a huge cruise ship-style ferry boat that took a little longer, about 2.5 hours, and left in the early morning.

Check-in for the ferry

Check-in for the ferry

Helsinki to Tallinn Ferry

Helsinki to Tallinn Ferry

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Trip Report: Turku, Finland, and the Radisson Blu Marina Palace Review

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Given the amount of time we had in Finland, we decided we wanted to spend some time in the country outside of Helsinki.  I generally enjoy exploring small to medium-sized cities, so narrowed it down to two options – Tampere and Turku.  Tampere is a little larger, and is a more industrial city, whereas Turku is the old capital, more historic, and on the water.  We went with Turku, a city of 180,000 people (with a metro area of 300,000) about 100 miles west of Helsinki, and I am super glad I did.

Turku

Turku

I had researched the options for getting to Turku from the Helsinki airport, and there were basically two: “Expressbus” from the Airport, with a change of buses at an Ikea in Espoo for 30 euros, at 2 hours and 40 mins, or a bus to a train into the city, changing to another train to Turku,...

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YWW Does East Asia: Exploring Macau and the TurboJet to Hong Kong Trip Report

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There’s actually quite a bit to do in Macau, though we only ended up there about 24 hours as part of a traveling couple’s negotiation.   A few folks had actually told me they found it a better place to pass a few days than Hong Kong, and after doing both, I can definitely see why.  (Btw, you may notice a lack of consistency in my spelling of Macau v. Macao – an inconsistency prevalent throughout the region itself.  So, sorry.)

By the time we checked in and got to our room, it was around 9:00.  A lot of the shops and restaurants in the Sands complex were already closed, so we headed to dinner in one of the hotel’s restaurants, an alright Italian place with super slow service.  The prices were pretty high, but we used the vouchers that came with our room to offset the price.  From there we went to one of the two casinos at the complex, “Pacifica Gaming.”  It was one large casino floor, and the main attraction seemed to be Baccarat.  There were a few blackjack and craps tables and some slots, as well, but the crowds of mostly mainland Chinese visitors were mostly at the Baccarat tables.  One thing that I noticed was that, unlike in Vegas or Atlantic City, almost no one was ordering drinks from the cocktail waitresses.  Those who did were drinking water or coffee.  I played the slots for a bit, and was a big winner – about four dollars!  My boyfriend was, alas, not as lucky at blackjack.

We slept in a bit, hit the gym for a morning workout, and then grabbed breakfast at the Sheraton Lounge just before they shut the buffet down.   The Sands Cotai Central complex runs a free shuttle to the older Sands hotel and casino on the mainland part of Macau, so we grabbed that into town for a day of sightseeing.

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Free Points! Amtrak and JetBlue

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As a preliminary matter, I was going to post this yesterday, but I thought that free points pale in importance to respecting the lives of those lost in Newtown yesterday, by a man who should never had legal access to multiple firearms and had no conceivable legitimate reason to have so many.  People with guns and poor mental health care kill people.    I think its tacky (even tackier than usual) that other bloggers used yesterday to shill their credit card affiliate links to make more money.

Now, onto your regularly scheduled programming.

YWW is in the holiday spirit (mostly because he is traveling for work and therefore not stuck at Rockefeller Center with 5 million tourists searching for the Rockettes and the Tree).  But travel companies are too!

First up, JetBlue is offering a mini...

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Trip Report: Philly- Radisson Warwick and Residence Inn Center City Philadelphia Review

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Our trip to Philadelphia started late Friday evening.  The 10pm Amtrak was half the price of trains earlier in the evening, so we grabbed dinner in Manhattan after work, and then headed to Penn Station.  The train was pretty empty, although I had the misfortune of having a passenger in front of me who must have smoked an entire pack of cigarettes while the train was stopped in New York, and felt the need to repeatedly recline his seat all the way back, and then jerk it up, every 20 minutes on our 1.5 hour ride.  As usual, Amtrak’s wifi was horrible, but free.  It was a short trip, and then a short taxi ride to the Radisson Plaza – Warwick Hotel.

The Warwick is a large, older hotel, near Rittenhouse Square and close to many other hotels.  The location is great, a few blocks from great shopping and eating, and we ended up not using any transportation other than our feet our whole time.  It was nearly midnight by the time we checked in, so I didn’t get to explore the hotel that much, but it was overall fine bordering on nice, and a great value.  (My apologies for the pictures; my camera failed and I was left to my Ipod camera).

Radisson Plaza – Hotel Warwick

As a Club Carlson Gold member, we were upgraded to a room on the “Plaza Club” floor, which included lounge access.  The lounge had very limited hours though – happy hour in the early evening, which we missed, and breakfast.

Overa...

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Eight Trips, Five Months: Back to the Road (or the Air) I go

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After a remarkably long travel hiatus, I’m starting a crazy few months of travel for work and pleasure this weekend.  From now through March, I already have eight trips planned -on both coasts and three continents!  I’ll try and be a more active blogger throughout, but here is a quick preview.  I could use tips for much of the travel, so feel free to post in the comments!

November

Philadelphia: A hop on Amtrak to take advantage of Radisson’s stay night get one night free promo, using a successful Best Rate Guarantee match at the Radisson Plaza- Warwick Hotel, followed by a night at the Residence Inn Center City Philadelphia using my anniversary night courtesy of the Marriott Rewards Visa.

Dublin and Paris: Thanksgiving evening, I’ll be flying to Dublin in a food coma on a great $370 fare. I’ll spend 2 nights at the Radisson Blu Royal in Dublin, taking advantage of the BOGO rate Radisson offers on weekends in Europe for Club Carlson gold level elites.  From Dublin, I’ll head over to Paris for 25 hours, before heading back to New York on the upper deck of an Air France A380, courtesy of an equipment change and persistence.  My night in Paris will be spent at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand, for free, as a result of another successful Best Rate Guarantee claim.  I’m not quite sure how I’ll spend my time in either city. I have two full days in Dublin- anyone have experience with excursions to Belfast or the countryside? Worth going to Belfast on my own for an afternoon?

December:

San Francisco & Sonoma: I have a Frid...

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Trip Report: Train Travel – Rome to Florence and a Credit Card Lesson

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Our flight touched down at Rome’s Fiumcino Airport a little early, and I was quickly off the train and onto the monorail to the main facility.  Immigration took quite a while, as a flight from Rio de Janeiro had just arrived and there were only two agents for non-EU citizens.  Another line opened up and I made it through in about twenty minutes.  Not so bad, and I had to wait for luggage anyway (though Alitalia’s priority tag apparently works!).

I had to get to Rome’s Termini train station to catch my train to Florence.  I had purposely not booked a ticket in advance, as I had no idea what time I’d actually make it through the airport, and there is pretty frequent service...

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