Talk about the last minute …

April 7, 2010

We have made a last minute change to our accommodation in Luzern. We were planning on staying at the Tourist Hotel, but have now decide to switch to the Hotel Bellevue. The reason for this was two-fold. One, we worked out we had spent much less on accommodation than we had planned. And two, we decided that while at Luzern we would like to have a lake view, yet not be too far from the town. So based on tripadvisor.com reviews, the Hotel Bellevue got the nod.


Slight scare

March 31, 2010

Yesterday we had a slight scare re our trip.  Glenda has been bugging me for about a week to check our seats with Qantas as they were not showing up on our booking on their web site.  I told her not to worry so much and that they will be fine.   Yesterday she decided that rather than bug me again, she would ring them herself.  When she rang Qantas and asked if she could confirm our seats on Flight QF87 from Sydney to Hong Kong leaving at 2:20 PM, she was told “Oh, that flight was cancelled about 8 weeks ago and we moved you to a new flight leaving Sydney at 10:45 AM”  This presented a slight problem as our connecting flight from Canberra to Sydney was scheduled to arrive in Sydney at 10:40 AM.

When asked why Qantas had not advised us of the change, Glenda was told, that because we had booked through FlightCentre, Qantas had informed FlightCentre and left it to them to call us.   In fact, as it turns out, our flights had been changed twice.  When the flight was first cancelled, we were moved to a flight leaving at 9:00 PM.  Then Qantas realised we were connecting to a Swiss Air flight in Hong Kong and would therefore miss that flight if we left Sydney at 9:00PM, so they moved us to the 10:45 AM flight.

Well, those of you who know Glenda can imagine what happened next.  Yep, she got a tad worried and more than a tad annoyed.  She rang Swiss Air and confirmed our flights with them hadn’t changed, which they hadn’t.  Then she rang Qantas back and asked them to change our Canberra to Sydney flight which they did.  (We are now leaving Canberra at 7:30 AM instead of 9:50 AM).  Then she rang me and organised with me for us to go into FlightCentre at lunchtime to “discuss” why we had not been informed.

When we got to FlightCentre we spoke to one of their agents who listened while Glenda explained what the problem was and how annoyed she was.  The agent then spent about 10 mins typing at her keyboard,  probably checking all our flight details, before finally saying she was new and that we should probably talk to the Manager.  We then stood and waited about 15 mins while the Manager saw two other people, [one of whom arrived after we did, but who had an appointment].  By this stage Glenda was getting extremely frustrated, so that when we finally got to talk to the manager she let fly.  The guy was a little taken aback at the sudden onslaught and got defensive and a little annoyed himself.  Once she had calmed down, and he had calmed down, we explained the situation.  He then spent another ten minutes at his keyboard, we assumed he was checking the same facts that the previous girl had checked.  He then told us that a voice message had been left on Glenda’s phone the 2nd of February asking us to call.  Now as far as Glenda was aware she never received any message on her voice mail and its extremely unlikely that if she had received it that she would forget such an important message.   We asked him why they hadn’t called my number and he said that Glenda’s number was the only one they had on file.

He then tried to shift the blame to us and said it’s every travellers responsibility to check their flights for changes and/or cancellations.  He said the best he could do was print off the new itinerary for us which he did.  Frustrated, we left with the new itinerary and without any semblance of an apology.  It was only later that we found printed at the top of  the itinerary were not only Glenda’s phone number and our residential address, but also my phone number and email address.  Telling us that they only had Glenda’s number on file was either an outright lie or a display of total incompetence.  Also, I’m not a customer service expert, but I would imagine it wouldn’t take a lot of effort to notice that we had not responded to their original phone call and either to call us back again or to try another contact.

So the upshot of all this is that we now leave 3 hours earlier from Canberra, we have an extra 4 hours in Hong Kong waiting for our connecting flight to Zurich and have a much lower appreciation for FlightCentre.  Oh, and when bugged by Glenda to check some detail or fact, I will trust her instincts a little more.


Some Financial Links

February 27, 2010

Some quick links to exchange rates for our reference :

AUD/EUR

AUD/CHF

AUD/GBP


Itinerary Version 5

December 27, 2009

Some more tweaks to our itinerary. We have added an extra day in London and we have decided to stay in Paris for a week rather than just 3 days. The plan is to do day tours from Paris to other parts of France rather than try and move around too much.

Itinerary v5

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 16 Apr 17
Sydney Fly Fly/ Dublin Dublin Wicklow Area
Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21 Apr 22 Apr 23 Apr 24
Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Cork Area
Apr 25 Apr 26 Apr 27 Apr 28 Apr 29 Apr 30 May 01
Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Galway Area
May 02 May 03 May 04 May 05 May 06 May 07 May 08
Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Northern Ireland
May 09 May 10 May 11 May 12 May 13 May 14 May 15
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Dublin
May 16 May 17 May 18 May 19 May 20 May 21 May 22
Dublin Ferry/
Train/ London
London London London London Train/ Paris
May 23 May 24 May 25 May 26 May 27 May 28 May 29
Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Paris Train/ Bern
May 30 May 31 Jun 01 Jun 02 Jun 03 Jun 04 Jun 05
Bern Train/ Wengen Wengen Train/ Zermatt Zermatt Train/ Luzern Luzern
Jun 06 Jun 07 Jun 08 Jun 09 Jun 10 Jun 11 Jun 12
Train/ Zurich Zurich Zurich Fly/ Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong Fly
Jun 13 Jun 14 Jun 15 Jun 16 Jun 17 Jun 18 Jun 19
Sydney

Itinerary version 4

October 27, 2009

Some more minor tweaks to our itinerary. The split between Northern Ireland and the Midlands area has gone and has been replaced by a full week in Northern Ireland. We have dropped the time in Dublin the second time around to two nights only. This gives us an extra night in London. We have also decided to catch the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead and then travel by train to London. This will give us a chance to save a little money and see a little bit of Wales and England, albeit from the inside of a train.

Itinerary v4

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 16 Apr 17
Sydney Fly Fly/ Dublin Dublin Wicklow Area
Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21 Apr 22 Apr 23 Apr 24
Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Cork Area
Apr 25 Apr 26 Apr 27 Apr 28 Apr 29 Apr 30 May 01
Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Galway Area
May 02 May 03 May 04 May 05 May 06 May 07 May 08
Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Northern Ireland
May 09 May 10 May 11 May 12 May 13 May 14 May 15
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Dublin
May 16 May 17 May 18 May 19 May 20 May 21 May 22
Dublin Ferry/
Train/ London
London London London Train/ Paris Paris
May 23 May 24 May 25 May 26 May 27 May 28 May 29
Paris Paris “France” “France” “France” “France” Bern
May 30 May 31 Jun 01 Jun 02 Jun 03 Jun 04 Jun 05
Bern Train/ Wengen Wengen Train/ Zermatt Zermatt Train/ Luzern Luzern
Jun 06 Jun 07 Jun 08 Jun 09 Jun 10 Jun 11 Jun 12
Train/ Zurich Zurich Zurich Fly/ Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong Fly
Jun 13 Jun 14 Jun 15 Jun 16 Jun 17 Jun 18 Jun 19
Sydney

Flights Booked

October 13, 2009

Well, today we made our first major step … we have booked our flights.

Our flights are as follows.

Flight Departure Origin Destination Arrival
QF 87 14Apr 14:20 Sydney Hong Kong 14Apr 21:55
LX 139 14Apr 23:15 Hong Kong Zurich 15Apr 06:10
LX 400 15Apr 09:20 Zurich Dublin 15Apr 10:35
LX 138 09Jun 22:45 Zurich Hong Kong 09Jun 16:40
QF 128 12Jun 21:10 Hong Kong Sydney 13Jun 07:55

The Swiss Air Zurich-Dublin flight is a free “sidetrip” special offer. We are only taking advantage of the outward leg of this “sidetrip”. The return leg between Dublin and Zurich will be overland via ferry and train. [Though this may yet change to a flight]

The observant of you who are reading this [you are reading this aren’t you?] will realise that this changes our itinerary a little.

Itinerary v3

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 16 Apr 17
Sydney Fly Fly/ Dublin Dublin Wicklow Area
Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21 Apr 22 Apr 23 Apr 24
Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Cork Area
Apr 25 Apr 26 Apr 27 Apr 28 Apr 29 Apr 30 May 01
Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Galway Area
May 02 May 03 May 04 May 05 May 06 May 07 May 08
Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Northern Ireland
May 09 May 10 May 11 May 12 May 13 May 14 May 15
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Midlands Area Midlands Area Midlands Area
May 16 May 17 May 18 May 19 May 20 May 21 May 22
Dublin Dublin Ferry/
Train/ London
London London Train/ Paris Paris
May 23 May 24 May 25 May 26 May 27 May 28 May 29
Paris Paris “France” “France” “France” “France” Bern
May 30 May 31 Jun 01 Jun 02 Jun 03 Jun 04 Jun 05
Bern Train/ Wengen Wengen Train/ Zermatt Zermatt Train/ Luzern Luzern
Jun 06 Jun 07 Jun 08 Jun 09 Jun 10 Jun 11 Jun 12
Train/ Zurich Zurich Zurich Fly/ Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong Fly
Jun 13 Jun 14 Jun 15 Jun 16 Jun 17 Jun 18 Jun 19
Sydney

Second Draft Itinerary

September 24, 2009

Well, first snag encountered. Most cottages in Ireland are rented on a Saturday to Saturday basis. So we have moved the Irish leg of the itinerary around a little to cater for this. We have also added an extra night in Paris.

Draft Itinerary

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 16 Apr 17
Sydney Fly Fly/ London Dublin Wicklow Area
Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21 Apr 22 Apr 23 Apr 24
Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Cork Area
Apr 25 Apr 26 Apr 27 Apr 28 Apr 29 Apr 30 May 01
Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Galway Area
May 02 May 03 May 04 May 05 May 06 May 07 May 08
Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Northern Ireland
May 09 May 10 May 11 May 12 May 13 May 14 May 15
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Midlands Area Midlands Area Midlands Area
May 16 May 17 May 18 May 19 May 20 May 21 May 22
Dublin Dublin London London London Paris Paris
May 23 May 24 May 25 May 26 May 27 May 28 May 29
Paris Paris “France” “France” “France” “France” Bern
May 30 May 31 Jun 01 Jun 02 Jun 03 Jun 04 Jun 05
Bern Bern/ Wengen Wengen Wengen/ Zermatt Zermatt Zermatt/ Luzern Luzern
Jun 06 Jun 07 Jun 08 Jun 09 Jun 10 Jun 11 Jun 12
Luzern/ Zurich Zurich Zurich Fly Fly/ Sydney

Accomodation options

September 23, 2009

During our trip we plan on using a number of ‘bases’ that we can treat as home for a week.

In Ireland, we are looking at renting cottages for a week at a time, one in each area. For example, here is one place we are looking at.

Living in cottages has the advantage of being self catering, gives us a touring base that we can do day trips from and allows us to relax in our own ‘home’ each night. Most surprising is the cost — to rent a cottage is roughly the same or less than using B&Bs or hotels. We were expecting it to be higher, given that many are advertised as ‘luxury’ cottages.

In Paris, we are looking at renting an apartment for the time we are there. There is a myriad of choices of these ranging widely in price and facilities. But they appear to be much cheaper than hotels and give us the option of self catering.

The only places where we won’t be using this type of accommodation is London, Dublin and throughout Switzerland [which is another story in itself].


First Draft Itinerary

September 22, 2009

Well, last night we sat down and tried to get down on paper what has been floating around in our heads for a while. We needed to do this so that we could start looking at booking accommodation and flights where needed.

So here is the first draft of our itinerary [very much subject to change].

Draft Itinerary

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 16 Apr 17
Sydney Fly Fly/ London Dublin Dublin
Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21 Apr 22 Apr 23 Apr 24
Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area Wicklow Area
Apr 25 Apr 26 Apr 27 Apr 28 Apr 29 Apr 30 May 01
Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area Cork Area
May 02 May 03 May 04 May 05 May 06 May 07 May 08
Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area Galway Area
May 09 May 10 May 11 May 12 May 13 May 14 May 15
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Midlands Area
May 16 May 17 May 18 May 19 May 20 May 21 May 22
Midlands Area Midlands Area London London London Paris Paris
May 23 May 24 May 25 May 26 May 27 May 28 May 29
Paris “France” “France” “France” “France” “France” Bern
May 30 May 31 Jun 01 Jun 02 Jun 03 Jun 04 Jun 05
Bern Bern/ Wengen Wengen Wengen/ Zermatt Zermatt Zermatt/ Luzern Luzern
Jun 06 Jun 07 Jun 08 Jun 09 Jun 10 Jun 11 Jun 12
Luzern/ Zurich Zurich Zurich Fly Fly/ Sydney