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dkata

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About dkata

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  1. Yes, I've been on the tour and there were no tight spaces. There was a steep, narrow staircase, but its a passageway and you only travel through.
  2. The distance from San Diego to San Pedro is 122 miles. That's going to be one huge Uber bill. have you considered the train (Amtrak) from San Diego to Santa Ana station, and then use an uber to the San Pedro? Or to Long Beach, where there may be an Amtrak bus that connects from Long Beach to San Pedro, and then an uber ride to the port.
  3. Hi GloriaF, We booked the 4 day cruise with Coral Expeditions https://www.coralexpeditions.com/au/cruises/?region=GBR&date= It's not cheap, but it was a wonderful experience and great way to see the Great Barrier Reef and get to snorkel or dive in several places. The coral was alive and colorful in the spots we were anchored. It's a small ship, so you get to know your fellow passengers. The cabins are small, but have en suites. The food is excellent and one of the highlights of the trip. Since it's a small vessel with 20-40 passengers, there is no night life, so everyone is asleep or quiet by 10 pm. And after a day of activities, we didn't need late night evenings. They had some lectures after dinner from the marine biologist, but that was the extent of the evening activities. They did have a trivia quiz after dinner on the last night there. At The spots they anchor to visit the reefs, we were the only boat there. The boat provided all the gear, (except stinger suits- you purchase those from them and get to keep it, if needed during stinger season) They have a glass bottom boat, for those who aren't swimmers or have had enough time snorkeling. And the glass bottom boat takes you to shore on their included excursions. We did both snorkeling and the glass bottom boat, and you do see a lot of things from the boat, so even if you aren't a swimmer, you won't miss out on seeing the reef marine life. One of my favorite spots, was when they anchored off Lizard Island and took us to the beach, where we could walk into the water from shore to snorkel. This was a nice easy introduction to snorkeling for those of us who weren't strong swimmers. They had beach chairs and food and drink set up on shore, so we could snorkel, rest, snack and then snorkel again. We stayed on the beach to watch the sunset before they brought us back to the ship for dinner. It isn't all about snorkeling. We took a guided walk in Cooktown to the museum. They had hiking opportunities to a peak on Lizard Island, which we did one morning instead of snorkeling. They have diving instruction also. If you are looking for a luxurious, relaxing and extended visit to the GBR, this is the way to go. We highly recommend it!
  4. When our cruise ship, the Sea Princess, visited Milford Sound, it just went in halfway, then turned around and cruised out. If your cruise description is scenic sailing and not port stop, it's not going to stop anywhere in Milford Sound. I doubt a ship that big could dock in Milford Sound.
  5. We had booked with Shore Trips and Tours at Tauranga for Hobbiton and Rotarua, but our ship encountered a cyclone and had to cancel that port stop. The company knew before the passengers did that the ship wasn't going to make the port call and emailed to tell us and gave us a full refund, no questions asked. We had great customer service for that incident!
  6. My two cents and recommendation is Darling Harbor. Read my sydney review for more:
  7. From the Travel Lodge Wynyard, you would walk over to Wynyard station and take the Wynyard walk over to Kings Wharf. Once you reached the water, turn left, walk about 300 feet and the King Street Wharf ferry dock is right there. Very easy. Very walkable from your hotel. On embarkation days, Captain Cook Cruises runs frequent ferries to the White Bay Terminal. If you want to see their schedule, go to the Captain Cook Cruises website for a more up to date schedule. but if I recall they ferries were running in the morning starting around 10 am (we could board our ship at noon) It's cash only. $AUD 9 per person. No credit cards. You buy the one-way tickets from the ferry conductor(?)/agent/service person who is there on the dock. NO need to pre-book. You will, be hauling your own luggage on/off the ferry, so you need to be able to manage your luggage by yourself. The ferry ride is very short. About 15 minutes more or less. The ferry goes to White Bay ferry dock. You will wheel your luggage up the ramps towards the dock exit, and then you will wheel your luggage 200 feet to the road way, then 350-400 or so feet along the roadway, through the parking lot to the entrance of the White Bay Terminal, where cruise ship personnel will be there to take you luggage and you go check in. The location of the White Bay Cruise Terminal is in an isolated location, so this is not the place to drop your bags off and then go back into the town for sightseeing via taxi or the ferry back to Kings harbor. Hope that helps.
  8. We stayed at Hotel Olimpia. That's my vote! Loved the hotel. Get with the breakfast option. The breakfast buffet was plentiful and good! Two doors down is Arlecchino. Santa Chiara is right by the Vaporetto stop. All are good choices.
  9. Yes, we took a walking tour with this company and highly recommend it! The historical information the guides give are top notch and the information they give on what to see and do and how to find a non-touristy restaurant are invaluable and we wish we had this info on the first day of our stay instead of towards the end. The tours this company offers visits the neighborhoods and does not go inside any major sites like San Marco or the Doges palace. You do those on your own. Our tour did walk across the Rialto Bridge, though. We having taken free walking tours in many areas of the world and we love them! We usually tip 20 for the both of us at the end if we liked the tour. I have seen people just walk away at the end and they guides don't say a word.
  10. We took the free shuttle from the ship to the CBD at 9:00 am, We had an hour to walk around Cuba street ( most shops were closed at that time of the morning), and the harbor area near Te Papa. But there wasn't enough time to visit Te papa. AT 10:30 am We took the WETA cave studio Tour (there and back- includes transport from the CBD) It was a 2.5 hour tour that left down the street from the I-site visitor center. It included the The Thunderbirds tour. Great inclusive tour. We loved it! WETA has shorter combo tours, but you will need your own transport up there and back. So if time is limited, consider taking a taxi from the Ship or CBD to WETA and take the shorter Studio Tours combo (2 hours). Then take a taxi back by 11:00am to the CBD and you'll have the afternoon to visit other areas. The tour with transport got us back to the CBD around 1:30 pm or so. We had enough leisurely time to walk over to the Cable Car at Lambton Quay and take it up, look around the museum, get pictures at the overlook and do a short walk into the garden, I felt we didn't have enough time to walk through the gardens back down to the CBD ( estimated to be 45 minutes to an hour) ., so we nixed that idea. We took the Cable Car back down, did a leisurely walk via shops in the CBD to the shuttle pickup point. We boarded the shuttle at 5 pm, as our ship left at 6pm. It was not rushed but we didn't get to see everything we wanted too. As your ship departs at 4 pm. You'd want to be on the shuttle back to the ship by 3:15 at the latest. So if you took a Taxi at 8 or 830 from the ship to WETA and left by 11:00 to back to the CBD, you'd have 3 hours to visit the CBD area to do the cable car and back or maybe Te Papa. You'd certainly have enough time to walk around the CBD and harbor area. You might also consider third party tours (not affiliated with WETA) that will pick you up from the ship, bring you to WETA. You do the short tours on your own, and then they bring you to other places in lesser time than we took. Wife and I are Lord of the Rings Fans and loved movie making in general, so WETA was #1 on our agenda. The Cable Car was #2 and everything else was icing on the cake.
  11. The area where the fountain is (Placa Espanya) is safe, but in large crowds, pickpockets abound. It's not a violence thing. Most likely you won't even know you were pickpocketed as they brush by you while you stand there watching the lights change. So just be alert. We took the Metro back to our hotel from Placa Espanya (the metro stop for the magic fountain) that late at night with no problems. But we were only two of us. Not sure what to recommend with 11 of you- as that would be several taxis.
  12. Here's what I wrote on a previous post asking about visiting Kawiti caves on your own from Paihai. It should give you details on how to find a tour once you arrive in Paihia: Here's what we did to see the Kawiti Glow worm caves at bay of islands on our own. You will take a tender from the ship to a dock outside of town near the Waitanga Treaty Grounds. Our cruise line, Princess had a free shuttle to downtown Paihia. I'm sure other cruise lines do the same thing, but check with them. There are no vendors at the tender drop off site- only a free shuttle bus to downtown Paihia In the parking lot near the Bay of Islands I-Site visitor center in Paihia, there will be tour vendors advertising trips around the area. If you are reluctant to go from vendor to vendor in the parking lot, go inside the Visitor Center and they'll give you the info on which vendor goes to where you want to go and even book it from the office. (which was 50 feet away from the outdoor vendor tables) (On our tour, half of the people had booked from inside the Visitor's Center and the other half, like us, just walked up to her table in the parking lot and asked about the tour. OR if you like having a something planned in advance before getting off the ship, Go online and Check out Shore Trips and Tours. They are a reputable New Zealand Tour company. Lots of cruise people take tours with them. They have group tours that include the Kawiti Caves. hope this information helps.
  13. Sailing the Windstar in September, 2019 and there is a stop in Santorini. we are there until 9 pm I don't have any qualms about a DIY tour, and I don't like taking ship's overpriced tours, but I want to know if people found a tour they liked that does the same sites we want to see. Or had a Do-it-yourself tour that worked for you. Here's my plan: From the dock, take the Cable car up to Top in Fira, and get rent a car. Drive to Akirotiri. (open from 8-3pm) Take tour with guide. (either find one there or book in advance) I'm into archaeology, so I'm sure we'd spend most of the morning there. Lunch: possibly Melina's Tavern on beach nearby Then drive somewhere else (what to do?) Before driving to Oia, arrive around 5 pm, for dinner at restaurant and sunset at 730 pm Drive back to Fira, return car and take cable car back down to tender back to ship before it departs at 9 pm Or I can substitute the car with taking the bus to/from Akirotiri and then bus to/from Oia? Or take this Viator tour (I know Viator is a company that just arranges the tours from others, so don't know the quality of the tour) https://www.viator.com/tours/Santorini/Santorini-Traditional-Bus-tour-with-sunset-in-Oia/d959-21977P11?subPageType=important-info Also, if I drive to Oia, am I going to find parking? And is the crowd just too much to make it worthwhile? Will I be able to drive back to Fira and return the car in time to catch the cable car down and the tender back to the ship? What has been your experience?
  14. Yes, we took the WETA workshop tour. Wellington https://www.wetaworkshop.com/visit-us/workshop-tours/ Also rode the cable cars from Lambton Quay to the top of the hill and back You could also visit the Te Papa Museum or visit Zealandia Animal Sanctuary
  15. We had a week pre-cruise in Sydney in February and March. I hope this trip review will give others ideas on what to do in Sydney. We had a blast! From our experiences, Sydney is one of our favorite cities so far. Day 1: We flew into the Domestic Terminal from Cairns where we did a 4 day live-aboard cruise around the Great Barrier Reef. From Airport to CBD/Darling Harbor There was a short walk from the Baggage Claim area to the Uber pick up area, but there were good signs pointing the way. We took an Uber (AUD $56) to the Adina Apartment Hotel on Shelley street in Darling Harbor. The route took us via the Cross-City tunnel, a toll road, so the toll cost was added to the uber bill. (There’s probably an airport fee, too,) (The Uber ride back to airport was only AUD $35 from the Hyde Park area). We had 6 days in Sydney before catching our 10-day cruise to New Zealand on the Sun Princess. As our ship would be berthed at the White Bay Terminal, there was no need to stay in the Rocks near the OPT. We decided to stay in Darling Harbor, because of the walkable access to public transportation i.e. ferries, and train. The area is upscale with lots of restaurants and bars and it is less hectic and less touristy than the Circular Quay area. We highly recommend this area as an alternative to the CQ area. Adina Apartment Hotel Because we were in Sydney for a week pre-cruise, we wanted an apartment style accommodation. Plus, there were three of us. Brother in law decided to join us in Sydney, so we needed an apartment style place. This apartment had a small kitchen w/ refrigerator, laundry facilities and a separate bedroom from the living/dining area. There was an additional cost for a hide a bed per night. Our room had a view of Darling Harbor which we paid extra for. So, there was no noise problem from the roadway on the East side of the building. The hotel was not cheap, but well worth the expense. We recommend staying in this area if you are not catching your cruise ship from the OPT. Our first night, we had nothing planned in order to recover from the flight. But BIL surprised us with Australian Relatives who drove over an hour to meet us. We had dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant with views of the harbor and we walked around the harbor area and across Pyrmont Bridge to sight see that area. My Aussie relations were impressed by the huge Australian Flag flying from the Maritime Museum flagpole. Day 2: We had breakfast at Modina Café and Bar, which is in the same building at the corner of King Street and Lime Street. Later, we would find a grocery store at Wynyard station where we bought breakfast stuff and topped off our Opal cards. We walked to Town hall Square on George street along the pedestrian walkways that cross over the A4 freeway to Druitt Street. As the walk took only 30 minutes, we had about an hour to kill before our 10:30am free walking tour, so we wandered through the Queen Victoria Building, to see the clocks, the interior of the building and the Royal Wishing Well that has a statute of a dog that talks to you. Free Walking Tour of Sydney CBD We like the “Free tour” business model, or rather tours that rely on tips at the end, and we have taken free tours in several cities around the globe. So far, the guides on every free tour we’ve taken has earned their tip. We usually tip $20 for the two of us. For a three-hour tour, the money tipped was well worth it. There were so many people that showed up, that the owner of the business came in to help the other two tour guides and made it three groups of twenty people. We took her tour and she was an excellent guide, story teller and speaker. She toured us from the Town Hall, through the QVB, through Hyde Park to the Archibald Fountain and then past Hyde Park Barracks, then to St Martin’s Place, showing us sites, art work, and monuments we never would have found on our own. The tour walked to Circular Quay and ended near Cadman’s Cottage in the Rocks Area. We liked the tour so much, we decided to do the 6pm Rocks Tour, later that day, with the same company. We had lunch on the top floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art, (free entry) with window seating and great views of the Opera House, before walking over to the Opera House. We decided not to do an expensive one hour tour of the Opera House, as we had tickets to see La Traviata, in a couple of days. After taking too many pictures of the Opera House and Harbor Bridge, we walked over to Macquarie Park. Our plan was to take the Choo Choo express over to Mrs. Macquarie’s chair, but the route was closed due to a concert, and while we could have walked it when the tram stopped at the Royal Botanical Garden, we realized that tram was full and nobody who was waiting for a return trip to the starting point could re-board. There just weren’t any empty seats. So we did the round-trip tour back to the Opera House. Free Walking Tour "The Rocks" We souvenir shopped, read the plaques in the bricks along the harbor, and people watched, and took countless more photos, until the 6pm free Walking Tour of the Rocks area starting at Cadman Cottage. We got the owner as our tour guide and again she did an excellent job again, showing us the highlights of the Rocks Area, and telling us stories of the area. This tour had a lot of uphill and stair walking, but once at the top of the hill, the views were incredible. Our tour guide showed us the stair access to the walkway across the Harbor Bridge, which we did on a different day. She ended the tour on Arygle street, near pubs and restaurants, and gave her non-pushy reminder to tip what you think the tour was worth. We gave $20 for the three of us. This was the first time, I actually saw people just walk away without tipping. The owner didn’t make a fuss or say anything. We had dinner at Ribs and Burgers, before catching the hourly F4 public ferry from CQ to Barangaroo. Lucky for us we bought our Opal cards earlier at a Tobacco shop we passed by in the morning. We didn’t have to wait in the long line of tourists in the ticket line at the dock. We tapped in with our Opal Cards, boarded the ferry for a spectacular night ride under the Harbor Bridge, over to the illuminated Luna Park, and then to Barangaroo Wharf and then tapped out at our destination. There is absolutely no need to take a private, expensive Harbor Cruise when the public ferry does the same route hourly until 11 pm. Day 3: Our plan for today was to take the ferry to Manly and then take the ferry tomorrow to the Taronga Zoo. Because we planned ahead, we found that the private Captain Cook Ferry System had a package deal that included 2 days of rides on their ferries plus a discounted Zoo ticket. When we did the calculations, this was cheaper than taking the public ferry to these two destinations and buying a separate zoo ticket. Plus, the Captain Cook ferry had a direct ferry to Manly from Kings Wharf and a direct ferry from Kings Wharf to the Zoo. There would be no need to change ferries at CQ on either journey. The Captain Cook ferries are modern and fast and we enjoyed our ferry rides up top with the sun and wind blowing on our hair as we took lots of pictures of Sydney from the water. Do the calculations and if it works out cheaper for you, this is the way to go. Manly At Manly, we walked the Corso over to the Ocean and then along the Beach Walk to Shelly Beach where we had lunch at the Boathouse and walked up to the Headlands before walking back. Someday we’ll return to visit Sydney Harbor National Park -North Head. The timing of the bus to and from North head wasn’t convenient, so we skipped it. We took the 4 pm Captain Cook ferry (the tickets are not valid on the public ferry or the other private ferry company) back, but it was a local and made a stop at Watson’s Bay, and CQ before heading back to Barangaroo. Pub Quiz with the locals The plan for the evening dinner was to walk across the Pyrmont bridge to go to the Quarryman’s Hotel for dinner and trivia. But I called to make a reservation and found the trivia night was the night before. Their website was wrong. I quickly did a Google search and found that a local pub catering to business locals called “The Office” was within walking distance, so we walked over for a decent pub dinner and first trivia night outside the US. The place was packed with trivia teams, but the waitress gave us a table near the trivia host when it became available. We did not expect to do well, as the questions were geared to Australians (example: Name the state flowers of each Australian State,) and we came in last. I did learn that I could order a beer smaller than a pint, called a schooner, but I kept calling it a “middy” (the term in Queensland), and it would be unmanly for me to order a shandy (half beer and lemonade.) We did win a $10 gift card for a totally random game called heads or tails. Day 4: Taronga Zoo We took the first Captain Cook express ferry from Darling Harbor Pier 26 to the Taronga Zoo. At the dock, we followed the dock hand’s instructions to take the Sky safari up to the top to the zoo entrance and then walk downhill from exhibit to exhibit. We were only interested in seeing the Australian animals. So we skipped all the shows and had lunch at their average café. We were there for 4 hours and caught the ferry back at 3 pm because we had opera tickets that evening. Back at our apartment, we dressed up, suit and tie, and fancy dress and took the Captain Cook ferry (we had the two-day ticket) back to CQ. We had dinner the Portside Restaurant, which offers a pre-opera dinner. The food was bland and not memorable. Eat here for the views and the convenience of being steps away from the opera house, not for the food. Sydney Opera House- interior We entered the Opera House downstairs and took the escalators up to the main lobby to pick up or tickets at will-call. I was looking forward to seeing what was so special about this place, and I was in for a big disappointment. The lobby was made of blasted concrete, like a modern underground subway station, with no embellishments or refinements. Frankly, I was not impressed with the opera hall itself or the layout. So IMHO, the outside is iconic and eye-candy. The interior is blah, humbug, I’ve seen better. Not worth the price of a one-hour tour to see this cold interior. The opera, itself, was average. We went because my B-I-L is a big opera fan and La Traviata is his favorite. They had English sub-titling on screens, so I understood the plot. But just between you and me, by the second act, I was wishing Violetta, would die already, so we could go home. The opera ended at 10:30 pm, and we rushed to the ferry dock only to find it had closed for the night. Not sure why it the schedule said the last ferry was at 11:00. But fortunately, we had a Plan B, and that was to take the train from CQ one stop to Wynyard Station. At that time of night, there were still lots of people on the train. At Wynyard station, we walked 15 minutes along the well-lit Wynyard walk that goes underground from the train mezzanine and then over the freeway to exit a few blocks from the Kings Harbor area. The area is well-lit and we felt very safe at night along this route. Day 5: Today we had nothing planned. My spouse and BIL spent the morning at the Maritime Museum before taking a train south to visit the relatives and to swim in their ocean set-aside swimming area. I decided to walk to Paddy’s Market, and shop for souvenirs, visited Chinatown, and had dim sum from the bakery, photographed the Frank Gehry designed Chau Chak Wing building at the University of Technology Sydney (an oddly designed building) and discovered an underground pedestrian mall that the students used to get to Central Station. From their I took the train to CQ, visited the Customs house, to see the city model beneath a glass floor, and then found the staircase up to the walkway across Harbor Bridge to the center for some pictures. Day 6: Free Tours Bus Tour Today, we walked 30 minutes from Darling Harbor to Hyde Park, where we met the tour for the free Tours Sydney bus tour. This tour works differently, in that you pay $18 cash per person for the bus transportation, but then you tip the guide what you think the tour was worth. We decided to do this tour mainly to be able to comment on it and we knew we could get off at Bondi Beach and not return with the tour back to Hyde Park. There are cheaper ways to get Bondi Beach if that’s your only destination. The bus tour sold out and latecomers were out of luck. The bus drove us out to Mrs. Macquarie’s chair, where we were able to get those iconic pictures of the Opera House and Harbor Bridge in the background. Since we weren’t willing to walk the distance earlier, this method of getting there was well-worth the money. From here the bus went through the neighbors of King’s Cross, Woolloomooloo, Rose Bay, and Watson’s bay along the shore line with a stop at The Gap, where we got out to take pictures, before stopping at Bondi Beach. From there it heads back to Hyde Park via the bohemian sections of Paddington and Darlinghurst. We tipped the driver and told him we were ending the tour, so he wouldn’t wait for us and got off at Bondi Beach. As it was Saturday, sunny and warm and Gay Pride Weekend, the beaches were crowded. We sat on the beach for a while, ogling the muscled-men and skimpily clad women before heading for lunch at the North Bondi RSL club. North Bondi RSL Club This member only club has a restaurant and outdoor balcony on the second floor with fantastic views of Bondi Beach. The RSL club is a private club but the restaurant is open to out-of-towners for lunch. We were assured by locals that we could eat here. We had to sign in, and show some ID. We paid non-member prices for food and drinks. The food is nothing special, but it’s cheaper than the expensive fish restaurant one floor down. But the views are fantastic! We recommend this place over all the food joints at Bondi pavilion. South Head Lighthouse walk From here, we walked up to the Bus stop and used our Opal cards to take the bus #380 to Watson’s Bay. The last stop of the route is at the Gap, so we climbed the stairs to see this geological site, before heading down through the park to Watson’s Bay. We continued our walk out to South Head to visit the lighthouse. Along the way is Lady Bay beach, a nude beach, where we got a different view of Sydney-siders. Doyle’s Restaurant at Watson’s Bay We walked back to Watson’s Bay, just in time for Doyle’s restaurant to open and had dinner there. What a disappointment. Come here for the view and the history and to say you’ve been here. The food was bland and overpriced. I had better food at the trivia pub earlier in the week and it was half the price. So at least we can say we ate at Doyle’s. Once in a lifetime experience, but never again. Doyle’s did have a memorable sunset view of Sydney, but so did the public dock. We took the last public ferry from Watson’s Bay to CQ, just as the sun was setting and then another night time ferry ride from CQ to Barangaroo under the Harbor Bridge. Last Day: We checked out and left our bags at the hotel to wander around before catching the White Bay Ferry to the White Bay Cruise Terminal. We thought we could board at noon, but we got an email stating that because of illness on the Sun Princess, they were cleaning it and nobody could board until 3 pm. So we took the train from Wynyard to Central Station and walked to Paddy’s market for more souvenir shopping and had lunch at the Queen Victoria Building to see the clocks again. AT 3 pm, we gathered our bags at the hotel, said goodbye to the B-I-L and walked the short distance to the White Bay ferry dock and rode the ferry over to the ship. Lots of other cruisers were doing the same thing. White Bay Ferry I like the idea of taking a ferry over to the ship. It was convenient and a short walk from our hotel. The cost was AUD $9 per person, so $18 for both of us. The downside is that from the dock, because of the fences, you have to walk with your luggage 200 feet out to the road, then walk 300 feet along a busy road with not very good sidewalks, to get to the Terminal Building Drop off area. Only later did I find out on our return trip that the cost of an Uber from the terminal to our Hyde Park hotel was $20. So the extra $2 would have been worth the door to curbside service. Live and learn. I hope our experiences help other people decide what they want to see and do in Sydney. We had a great experience and can’t wait to go again. On our return trip, we stayed at the Hyde Park Inn, across from Hyde Park, we also took the train for DIY overnight in Katoomba to visit the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves. We also visited the Hyde Park Barracks on a rainy day. We took the cheaper public bus from Hyde Park out to Bondi Beach for a return visit and swam in the kiddie’s ocean pool. The Uber ride back to the airport from the Hyde Park area was AUD $35, so it wasn’t cost saving for us to take the train to the airport.
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