Thanks to All of You!

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by Steven Schwartz, Nov 29, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Steven Schwartz
    Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    You guys know this game. Close your eyes and dream. Then open them and start the work. How to get the miles/points and, of course, how to spend them. Where to accumulate them so that you can actually GET to use them.

    Of course, for many of us, that means planning way ahead but after awhile, it just become the way we do things. We don't even react when people can't believe we plan so far ahead. We read blogs, MP, FT and anything else we can get our hands on in order to make those dreams a reality. It can be grueling, frustrating and aggravating but there is simply no way to explain the feeling when it all falls together. Print up all the parts of the itinerary and then some friends look at it and say, "You did this all yourself???!!!" You smile and say yes but you know it's really not true. You didn't invent it. You were guided all the way, in my case for about ten years, by a whole host of generous people who were as excited about this stuff as you became. Gary, Lucky and Brian top the list but so many are people whose names you don't even know who answered a simple questioned you posted and gave an answer that absolutely MADE the trip! You pass it forward.

    So if you're wondering where this is leading, it is to our longest trip ever and it begins this evening. We fly Business Class Cathay Pacific from Newark NJ to Melbourne Australia via HKG. Then on to the Park Hyatt Melbourne, Sheraton Port Douglas and Park Hyatt Sydney. Two flights within Australia in Business Class. Then fly to New Zealand on Emirates on Business Class. Guided private tour for 8 days in the South Island (please forgive me - we actually PAID for this! ). Finish at the Hilton in Auckland and then home but this time First Class on Cathay. 23 days start to finish. Never packed for so long, never been away for so long. For the first time, actually a bit nervous. When we did Thailand two years ago, had the same Cathay flight but leg two was only 3 hours or so - this time it's 9 (and 11 back from Auckland). Still putting on a brave face for my wife who is trying to seem excited but failing miserably and wondering how I could be so insensitive as to take her away from her grandkids for so long! Grateful for Skype and FaceTime!

    So thank you all. Thanks for your tips and your help. Thanks for sharing our excitement so many times over the years. Don't imagine I'll be posting any photos of sitting with a big friggin tiger in my lap this time but I'll try to post some highlights over these next three weeks. And then we'll return home and start planning for the next trip!
     
  2. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    Sounds like a great trip. Have a wonderful time.
     
  3. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    +1! Congratulations and safe travels! And consider you are not doing anything very different from what many dozens (perhaps hundreds) on MP and FT have already done. FYSA, attached is a travel checklist that may come in handy. Perhaps the most important item is the last one listed for "Miscellaneous" under "Travel Essentials". ;)
     

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  4. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    Don't you worry ... I'll referring them to this one! :D http://milepoint.com/forums/threads...of-the-land-of-smile.3537/page-5#post-1851598

    Have a nice trip! :)
     
  5. dhammer53
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    dhammer53 Gold Member

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    Rookie. :p

    Bolding mine. It's the every day poster that dots the i's and crosses the t's. That's what makes online travel forums great. :cool:
     
  6. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Sometimes, planning the trip is as much fun as the trip itself. Do post some pics from time to time :)
     
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  7. lapointdm

    lapointdm Silver Member

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    Have lots of fun, and like anileze says please do a write up and post some pictures later!
     
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  8. Pizzaman
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    Pizzaman Co-founder

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    Always great to read posts like these. Sharing is what has made these communities so fun for me over the years.

    I sit back and marvel at all the experiences I've been able to share with my family, all because a few folks took me under their wing on FT over a decade ago.

    I hope it's a truly great trip for you. Can't wait to hear more.
     
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  9. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    Any trip is like living your life.

    One plans for success, failing just seems to come naturally

    Enjoy the trip, Enjoy life,
     
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  10. karung99
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    karung99 Gold Member

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    We are expecting a trip report from you guys.
    Enjoy the trip and you are going to love all these wonderful hotels.
     
  11. Randy Petersen
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    Randy Petersen Founder

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    Don't forget to send a postcard. Lovely message.
     
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  12. profpeabody

    profpeabody Silver Member

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    A perfect message for the season and a reminder of all the good will there actually is out there. Safe and happy travels!
     
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  13. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Having an absolute blast. Today is our last day in Sydney and tomorrow we are off to New Zealand. Park Hyatt Sydney is all that everyone said and with a small amount of begging, we got an Opera Deluxe at the end of the hotel staring right at the bridge and the Opera. Amazing. Here's two photos. Everyone - drop what you're doing and start planning to come here!
     

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  14. Dublin_rfk

    Dublin_rfk Gold Member

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    Keep the photos coming.
     
  15. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Concur !
     
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  16. angelofflash

    angelofflash Active Member

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    Have a nice time and I wish your safe travel.
     
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  17. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    Have a great trip! In the end, that's what this whole game is about - great travel experiences.
     
  18. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Okay everyone, we're home! 11 hour flight from Auckland to Hong Kong and 15 hours more to JFK. It was an absolutely amazing trip. We had looked forward to this for so long and done so much work to make it happen, that seemed ripe for some disappointment. Pretty much no problems at all. 1 or two things over three weeks I would have done differently - not bad. So a couple of observations:

    1. The people who live in OZ and NZ are easily the nicest, happiest and most helpful people we have ever met. There is nothing they won't do for you and will often even be proactive. The moment they see you looking at a map, they come to offer help! Second to last night we were sitting at a bar at the Hilton in Auckland. Couple next to us was there to celebrate their fourth anniversary (second marriages due to both being widowed). By the time 20 minutes passed, they asked us to come across the bay to Devonport area of Auckland the next day and spend the day on their boat with them! We had to pass due to other commitments but just amazing!

    2. When you tour the South Island of NZ, you will run out of adjectives and have to use the same ones over and over - amazing, breathtaking, jaw-dropping, etc!

    3. Not to be TOOOOO much of a prima donna but the Business Class seats on Cathay's A340 are the single worst we have ever been in. You can check it out on Seatguru but there is no way to show how confining it is and how boxed in you feel. Not sure what we could have done differently other than going back to Sydney first but that would make a crazy long day even longer! I know, some nerve complaining while others are in coach but seriously, I could never have done this trip back there. Too old!

    4. Glad we chose not to drive. Others do it and good for them. Met a couple from NC while at the Wilderness Lodge in Arthurs Pass - amazing place (there I go again!) who landed in Nelson, rented a car and had an accident the first day. Car had to be replaced and they had no choice but to soldier on.

    5. If you go to Sydney, do not do the Blue Mountain tour. Started at a zoo/reserve where we fed small kangaroos and koalas - that was great, but then spent 9+ hours in a bus for three photo ops. It was excruciating and thought it would never end.

    6. Daintree Forest tour and Quicksilver Barrier Reef tour were both exceptional. We took them from our hotel - the Sheraton in Port Douglas. Sheraton was only due to points and is a sad story. As my wife said, the place has good bones but is in desperate need of a makeover. Place seemed empty and for those without points, it was pretty cheap. Not sure how they can ever get the dollars to do the makeover. Still, it was worth it for us.

    7. Do a farm tour (or if you are lucky enough to stay at the Wilderness Lodge, that can be included for free. We did one in Akaroa (and again at Wilderness) because a friend had done it and told us it was a must. Glad we listened.

    8. This began - mentally at least - as a one shot deal. Our one time to go Down Under. Don't feel a pressing need to return to Australia but would love to go back to New Zealand. That said, I think I may have ruled it out last night after 26 hours in planes! It really is a ridiculously long haul. I think the least it can be in (flight time) is 19 hours on Air New Zealand but not sure if you can do Business Class easily on miles with them.

    Summary - if you haven't done it, do it! Period. It was worth all the toil. Swain Destinations (thru AMEX) did the South Island tour for us and they did a wonderful job. Cost for the two of us for everything from Dec 11 to 19, included all transfers, hotels, sightseeing, cruising, flight (small plane) from Milford Sound back to Queenstown came to $8,000. We got a lot of much higher quotes but not sure I can think of anything that could have been better. Strong recommendation.

    If anyone has any specific questions, feel free to either post them here or send me a message. I would be thrilled to help.

    Thanks again for everyone's help and good wishes!

    Steve
     
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