Friday, November 30, 2007

The Big Day Is NEAR (Well it's actually like tmr)

Last post before I leave. Therefore last post to do with pre-trip planning. I'm excited yet strangely serene. Packing has been okay, it's been interesting to see how much crap I can fit into my suitcase without destroying it. I've gone for a combination of rolling and folding my clothes, I don't know which is better but so far the game of Tetris has been vaguely successful although dollars to donuts my jeans are going to be quite wrinkly on the other side of the world.

I've decided to forsake my 30gig MP3 player, instead I'm taking along a crappy $50 1gig one. I've decided since I never really listen to 30gigs of music anyway I'll forsake it and save some space from the charger and other odds and ends. Plus I won't have to worry about losing it or it being stolen or me dropping it into a ravine or something. I'm still taking my laptop, so I've transferred about 10gigs of music onto that and I'll mix and match. I still can't believe the amount of electronics I'm taking, I guess this is why geeks shouldn't really travel. (Yes, if you're wondering, I am taking a 4 plug powerboard with me)

my bags stuffed to the brim...how am I meant to bring stuff back?

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VIENNA

THINGS TO DO
  • Schonbrunn Palace (Schloss Schonbrunn)
  • Imperial Palace (Hofburg)
  • St. Peter's Church (Peterskirche)
  • St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom)
  • Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer)
  • Naschmarkt
  • Museum Quarter (MuseumsQuartier Wien)
  • Museum of Fine Arts - Kunsthistorisches Museum,
  • Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere)
  • Church of St. Michael (Michaelerkirche),
  • State Opera House (Staatsoper),
  • House of Music (Haus der Musik),
  • Sigmund Freud Haus Museum
  • Ringstrasse
  • Inner Ring
FOOD
  • Sachertorte
  • Apfelstrudel
EVENTS
Opera at the State Opera House

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BERLIN

...Partay like it's 1989...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New York, Munich, Fuessen, Salzburg

NEW YORK

THINGS TO DO

  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck
  • Ellis Island
  • Central Park
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Staten Island Ferry
  • Bryant Park - free ice skating
  • Chrysler Building
  • World Trade Center
  • Times Square
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Greenwich Village
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • Bloomingdale's
  • Carnegie Hall
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • Cathedral of St. John the Divine,
  • Fifth Avenue
  • Empire State Building
  • Empire State Building - the bull statue
  • Chinatown
  • Little Italy
  • Macy's
  • Actor's Studio Hell's kitchen
  • Ice Skating in Central Park/rockefellar/Wollman is best at dusk/night
FOOD
  • Bagels
  • Bialys
  • Katz's Deli - hot pastrami sarnies
  • Carnegie Deli
  • Hot Dogs - Gray's Papaya
  • Street Vendors
  • NY Pizza
  • NY burgers
SHOWS/EVENTS
  • 28th 8pm, carnegie hall concert
  • 30th 1pm, Knicks vs Bulls
  • Avenue Q
  • Blue Man Group
  • Spamalot
  • Rent
  • Altar Boyz
  • Forbidden Broadway
  • Hairspray
  • Spring Awakening
  • Les Mis√©rables
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MUNICH

THINGS TO DO
  • Nymphenburg Palace (Schloss Nymphenburg) - the place where they shot Last Year at Marianbard, the film, 1st year MAP students have to endure.
  • St. Peter's Church (Peterskirche)
  • Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche)
  • Old Pinakothek (Alte Pinakothek)
  • Staatliches Hofbrauhaus
  • Viktualienmarkt
  • Marienplatz - Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus)
  • Andechs Monastery (Kloster Andechs)
  • Deutsches Museum

REGENSBURG DAY TRIP
  • sausages near the old stone bridge
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FUESSEN
  • Fairytale Castles
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SALZBURG
  • Salzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg)
  • Mozart Residence (Mozart Wohnhaus)
  • Salzburg Cathedral (Dom)
  • Mirabell Palace and Gardens - Do-Re Mi
  • Mozartplatz
  • Salzburg's Old Town
  • Mozart's Birthplace (Mozart Gerburtshaus)
  • St. Peter`s Abbey
  • Sound of Music Locations

Monday, November 26, 2007

San Francisco

THINGS TO DO

  • alcatraz
  • golden gate bridge (walk across it, catch the ferry back from Saulsalito
  • Lombard Street
  • Fisherman's Wharf
  • Pier 39
  • Street Cars up powell st
  • Exploratorium - walk to WAVE ORGAN
  • Legion of Honor - lincoln Park
  • SFMOMA
  • Presidio Park
  • Ocean Beach - The pacific from the other side
  • Twin Peaks
  • Chinatown + Tin How Temple?
  • Union Square Shopping (window)
  • Golden Gate Park?

FOOD
  • In & out burger, Fisherman's wharf
  • Swan Oyster Depot - 1517 Polk St.

TRANSPORT
  • Buy a CITYPASS for $54.00 or a 3day/7day MUNI pass, $18/$24
  • BART is $5 from Fremont to SF
  • Muni is $1.50 for a 4 hour ride or something

Friday, November 23, 2007

When Bargain Hunting Goes Bad

So I won a $50 travel credit for expedia (At Oportos of all places). Thinking great now I can save $50 on my flight from Vienna to Berlin. Wrong, cause the voucher is only valid for hotels. So I think...fine, I'll cancel my booking in Las Vegas and rebook through expedia, since they are having a 10% sale also I'll get at least I'll get $60-70 off which is like 2 nights for the price of one. Cool I thought.

So 3 days of emailing back and fro I get my original reservation canceled by the insanely nice people at the hotel and then I go and make the booking through Expedia. I get to the last section of the booking form then BANG!!! "Your voucher has already been used"...I curse my stupidity, cause I typed in the code to try it out 2 days ago but I thought it wouldn't count if I didn't go through with the booking. HA, I was so wrong. So back to square one, no voucher. When I made the original booking with the hotel the Aussie dollar was at 0.94, today it's back to 0.86, so I've saved about $10 for all the effort I put through. Added onto that I need to wait 7-10 days until the money is refunded and by that time the Aussie dollar might have gone up again.

I also took out travel insurance with Medibank Private on tuesday, thinking that since my family are members the 10% discount would give me a good value for 3 months of cover at $460. I came back home and checked that I could get the exact same cover for $355 online. So I cancelled that and now have to wait another 5-10 days to get my money back.

So here I am, watching my bank balance go lower and lower whilst all my money has been taken hostage by financial institutions. I never seem to learn my lesson. Research before you buy and once you buy don't change your decision. It's like the detour option in the Amazing Race, I'm the perennial detour switcher and although it might stop me from coming last, I might have had the same result if I just stuck it out with one task.

Only positives currently are that I booked most of my US tickets/ebay purchases etc before the dollar crashed below 0.91. Ahahha I can't believe I think 0.86 is low. Only seemed a few years ago that we were hovering around 0.55/0.6. But I guess I didn't care then cause I wasn't travelling and ebaying.

A lesson for those who read this blog...bargain hunting is sometimes really not worth it.

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Currently I've booked everything that I need to book. Some show/event tickets I will book once I get to LA and hopefully the dollar goes up a bit. I've done most of my shopping, so for the next week or so, it's packing and researching and hopefully cleaning my room.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

LA

THINGS TO DO

  • La Brea Tar Pits - dinosaurs and fossils in tar, awesome
  • J. Paul Getty Center - it's a museum, with lots of stuff ( Including Van Gogh, Monet and Cezanne), in 6 buildings. supposedly one of the best and biggest in the US - free admission a plus
  • Grauman's Chinese Theatre - possibly the most famous cinema in the world - star prints as well
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame - can I actually be bothered tracking down the people I like?
  • Universal Studios
  • Hollywood Sign
  • Sunset Boulevard - will try and hold back the urge to belt Sir Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard whilst walking down the street.
  • Beverly Hills + Rodeo Drive
  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Garment District?
  • Mulholland Drive?
  • DISNEYLAND!!!!!!!!!!

FOOD
  • Ben & Jerry's (esp Phish Food and Chunky Monkey) + all sorts of weird and wacky junkfood
  • In & Out Burger - double double, animal style fries, chocolate shake
  • Tex-Mex
  • Pink's Hot Dogs - chilli dog + onion rings

SHOPPING
  • Winter Jacket (columbia or northface?)
  • Boots (hiking/timberland?)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Random updates

I bought a supposedly cheap ticket to the Knicks vs Bulls game on December 30th. I say supposedly cause it still set me back $60. And it's a pretty shitty seat. The minute I clicked I confirm I realised I could have gotten better and cheaper tickets through fan ticket exchange. Curse me for been impulsive.

So Current list of shows/events I already have tickets for:
- Jacky Cheung, 22/23 December
- Knicks vs Bulls 30 December
- Barrowman in Aladdin Panto 12th January
- Henry V at the RSC 14th January

Tickets I still need to get for things I've definitely am seeing:
- San Jose Sharks vs Dallas Stars 15th December

Things which need urgent attendance before I leave:
- cleaning my room
- buy SD cards for camera
- hair cut
- travel insurance
- chinese visa
- dentist
- Tel + karaoke
- suitcase
- Green Ps (booked test already)
- Extend time in Shanghai till around the 20th. - confirm and get a printout of my ticket

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Great Britain still hates me and my credit card, so I'm either going to have to phone them up or worst case scenario, cop the overpriced train tickets once we get to London. Add to that, finances currently are horrifically stretched, my original budget has been way conservative, and I'm just realising how much ACTUALLY this will cost me. It's insane.

I also decided to extend my stay in Berlin by an extra day, and cut a day from Munich. I was browsing around and realised Berlin is possibly a much cooler, cleaner, friendlier and more culturally interesting than Munich. Plus the hostels just look absolutely AWESOME.

Now that my exams are finished I can finally continue on researching the place I'm going to, so hopefully I'll be posting City specific itineraries now. I also need to start printing off maps and details for log books which will be accompanying me and helping me not get lost and into trouble or something.

2 weeks exactly left, and I'm absolutely stoked and petrified at the same time. Like OMFG, I fear I'm going to get homesick like crazy.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

O, for a muse of fire...

So I booked my ticket for Henry V at the Royal Shakespeare Company on Monday 14th January in Stratford-upon-avon. I'm a bit disappointed since I won't be able to get to the RSC for Tennant's Hamlet, oh well. But I'm still as excited as ever, watching Henry V at his birthplace, enough to make a Shakespeare nut like me slightly faint.

RSC Courtyard Theatre

I also tried to buy all the UK train tickets today but First Great Western won't take my credit card, and every other site wanted a UK address for registration, even though they had "Australia" as an option...ARRRGH, Brits and their privatised train system.

Online credit card validation systems are still far from perfect. The hotel i was meant to book in Vegas screwed up halfway through the application and for days I didn't know whether they would return the deposit to my card, even when I haven't completed the reservation. I still don't have accommodation in Stratford-upon-avon as of now, the B&B I contacted seem to check their email once a week.

Still so much to plan and do, so little time. Hmmmphfff