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USA Travel thread #19

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#126 Jo_P

Posted 22 April 2012 - 06:27 PM

Kpingitquiet, welcome home!
I’m another one that actually loses weight when in the US. I try to eat the same food that I eat here (no reason to change) and then the amount of walking we do each day is amazing, we never walk that much at home!
Can you tell me a bit more about your Commonwealth Mastercard. What were the fees and exchange rate etc.

Taranicole, We have four kids so should be able to help you out with hotel suggestions! I would stay in Anaheim over LA as it is much more family friendly and you can’t beat being able to walk into Disneyland. Check out the Camelot Inn & Suites, Residence Inn Maingate and the one we’ve booked for this trip is del Sol Inn, we’ve gotten 6 nights for $753 for a room with 2 queens and a set of bunks.
In Las Vegas we are looking at staying one block back from the strip at the Desert Rose. And for New York we were looking at the Affina Eastgate Tower.

Yay Sungglybug!! Can't wait for the ticker to say 4mths........

#127 Peanut

Posted 22 April 2012 - 06:32 PM

Rob6712col, thank you for your post regarding tipping, its very helpful.  I'm still trying to get my head around the whole tipping process, I don't want to insult anyone while we are there!

#128 snugglybug

Posted 22 April 2012 - 07:11 PM

Jo-P all the details about the commonwealth card are on the website. I think it's pretty comparable to most other cards, I have only looked at a couple but I think ill be happy with it. We have a commonwealth account and CC so it will be handy with transferring money easier....I think! original.gif


I can't wait for our tickers to say 0 months!!!!!

Edited by snugglybug, 22 April 2012 - 07:13 PM.

#129 Coffeegirl

Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:29 AM

Hi everyone. The weathers turned wet and foul here in NY so we've headed back to the hotel for an hour or so.  

Best of the trip.

Playing footy in Central Park
Katz Deli
Customized Converse shoes for the kids
Drinks in Bryant Park last night while the kids frolicked on the grass
Day Spa for me (Dorit Baxter on 57th)
Shopping !

Tomorrow we're off to Universal in Orlando.  

Car services in New York are expensive.  We used NYLimos from JFK but I wouldn't recommend them.  Cabs are plentiful and pretty cheap.

Tipping:  we've noticed that a lot of the more touristy areas in NY have the gratuity already included on the bill. About 18%

#130 DamiansMama

Posted 23 April 2012 - 10:14 AM

Morning girls...I have loads of questions but fear it will take me all day. For now though, I have FINALLY locked in and booked our flights. Just DS and I from the 16th August - 1st September. I have to finalise the itinerary and then book transfers, hotels and shows.

Where to begin....

#131 DamiansMama

Posted 23 April 2012 - 11:46 AM

QUOTE (kpingitquiet @ 21/04/2012, 03:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If anyone needs recommendations on a wonderful San Francisco apartment, a fantastic LAX hotel, or a really great (and inexpensive-ish) hotel in Charleston South Carolina.

Excellant post!!

I would love the details of the apartment and LAX hotel. Thank you!!

#132 Katie and Bump

Posted 23 April 2012 - 12:13 PM

Peanut, flat fare is $45 from JFK to NYC...then it depends on what route you use to get to the city, as there are a few bridges.  Some are free, and some charge a toll.  The cab driver will have an E-Z Pass, so its roughly $4.80.  Driving into the city we drove over bridges that didn't charge, but going home we drove through a toll and they charged us.

For this trip, I'd say about a $5 tip will do it.  We usually tipped 10 to 15% for cab rides.  Hope this helps original.gif

#133 kpingitquiet

Posted 23 April 2012 - 12:52 PM

QUOTE (DamiansMama @ 23/04/2012, 11:16 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Excellant post!!

I would love the details of the apartment and LAX hotel. Thank you!!

Sent! original.gif

#134 Peanut

Posted 23 April 2012 - 07:51 PM

Katie, thanks for your advice it certainly does help a lot!

#135 DamiansMama

Posted 24 April 2012 - 02:09 PM

QUOTE (Jo_P @ 13/04/2012, 06:06 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Kabailz, here is a list of places we've stayed at, staying at this year or looked into staying at wink.gif
Anaheim: Residence Inn Maingate, Camelot Inn & Suites, del Sol Inn.
San Diego: Grand Pacific Palisades Carlsbad (next to Legoland, 20 min drive into SD)
San Francisco: Holiday Inn Fishermans Warf, Argonaut hotel
Las Vegas: Desert Rose Las Vegas Resort
Grand Canyon: Bright Angel Lodge
New York: Affina Eastgate Tower Hotel
Orlando: (Universal Studios)-Loews Royal Pacific, (DisneyWorld)-All Star Music family suite, and  Nickelodeon Hotel.

Have you stayed at the Argonaut Hotel or are planning to stay? If you have stayed, can you give me some more feedback. I am tossing up whether to do hotel or apartment in San Fran but this hotel looks really good original.gif

#136 snugglybug

Posted 25 April 2012 - 09:24 AM

So with the predicted interest rate cut next month, what do you think will happen to the $$? I'm wondering if I should lock in some money now or wait?

For those that have used traveljigsaw for car hoe, did you just hire the or did you get a package? I'm wondering if I should just book the car for and sort out GPS and additional drivers there or would it be better to do it all at once?

#137 Jo_P

Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:01 AM

Damiansmama, we have just looked into staying there not actually stayed there.

#138 mum2kichisao

Posted 25 April 2012 - 12:09 PM

I haven't been able to get on here with my previous name - mum2kciands.

I am flying from Perth-San francisco return with Air New Zealand - we got great ticket prices at only just over $1700. We fly out on the 13th September.

We stay 1 night at San Francisco
1 night at San Simeon
4 nights at Anaheim
3 nights Las Vegas
2 nights San Diego
7 nights Orlando
3 nights New York
7 night cruise from Boston to Quebec before flying out on the 14th October.

#139 mum2kichisao

Posted 25 April 2012 - 12:31 PM

Oh and we are in Anaheim from the 16th - 20th September staying at the Portofino Inn

#140 Katie and Bump

Posted 25 April 2012 - 12:32 PM

QUOTE (mum2kichisao @ 25/04/2012, 12:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I haven't been able to get on here with my previous name - mum2kciands.

I am flying from Perth-San francisco return with Air New Zealand - we got great ticket prices at only just over $1700. We fly out on the 13th September.

We stay 1 night at San Francisco
1 night at San Simeon
4 nights at Anaheim
3 nights Las Vegas
2 nights San Diego
7 nights Orlando
3 nights New York
7 night cruise from Boston to Quebec before flying out on the 14th October.

How exciting, looks like an exciting trip!  The cruise sounds fantastic and airfares for $1700 is a great price.  Now the frustrating wait til Sep 13 laughing2.gif

#141 ~Kee~In~Hawaii~

Posted 25 April 2012 - 01:10 PM

Hi Girls!

While I have a moment spare (the weather here in Waikiki has been cloudy, cold and raining so today has been spent inside the hotel lazing around), I thought I'd jump online and post a few things about my trip. Perhaps I should do this in order of destination ...

Vegas: BEST PLACE EVER! I loved that city! The people were friendly and everyone had a positive, happy vibe. Every question we had was happily answered and all service was excellent. Once you adjust to being able to gamble everywhere, drink alcohol while wandering on the street, film everything in casino's and smoke in all areas, then Vegas grows on you. I could happily take it with a whole no-smoking zone but within the first day we started to not notice it anymore. As non-smokers, it was a strong smell at first but we got past it quickly. The Flamingo was a great choice of hotel. It's newly renovated, the staff are friendly and helpful and we were not only upgraded to a Go room when we first went there, they also upgraded us to a top floor suite for our second stay on the way back to Hawaii. Those rooms are beautiful! The Flamingo is a great location too, right in the middle of the strip. The Canyon was breathtaking and although it was a long tour with a few things that could be improved, it was a fantastic tour and well worth the money.

Miami: This is a really lovely, laid back city - what little we saw of it. We copped crazy taxi drivers both on arrival and on departure who ignored our requests to drive around and tour South Beach. We offered a driver $100 to take us around Ocean Drive so I could snap a few photos of the Art Deco buildings and he drove us right to the airport and practically pushed us out his taxi ... 5 hours before our flight! We were really annoyed. He would have earned more showing us around rather than running back and forth to the pier and the airport.

Bahamas: Grand Bahama Island is full of lovely, welcoming locals but the islands are very run down. Some was hurricane damage that is still being fixed but the rest is just people deserting the islands as unemployment increases and people can't make a living there anymore. Around the tourist areas in Nassau there has been a coat of paint put over the run down buildings but all that does is leave you feeling like you're a cashed-up tourist being exploited for your dollars. There were lots of people mulling around saying they felt like they could only be heard if they waved wads of cash around and then they were ignored again once the money dissappeared. On all our tours there was no mention of any history or culture of the Bahamas and when we asked, no one knew any answers. Our cycle tour took us past deserted houses and hotels, dodgy backstreets and then we looked through the wire fence of the Unesco Dolphin centre to see if we could spot a dolphin in a cage. It was all rather distasteful and cost us over $100. The Bahamas could be beautiful but it would take a huge injection of cash and some national pride to accomplish it.

The cruise was badly run but still peaceful and relaxing - when we did our own thing and avoided cruise company organised games and tours. The best food came out on the last day of the cruise. It seemed like the chefs were rationing out the food and then on the last day when there was plenty left they cooked it all and presented some fantastic dishes. The staff were friendly in the dining rooms and at the customer service desks and a lot of them were from Thailand so when the earthquake and tsunami news emerged, we were marvelling at their stoic nature to carry on and serve with a smile when most of them had no idea if their own families were ok. We started a collection on board to assist with emergency aid for crews families and co-ordinated this with the Cruise Manager on board. The ship is older and a little run down so we probably won't go back to cruising with NCL again. The Pride of America is well run and kept in pristine condition but they also corner the market on Hawaiian cruises as they are the only one who leaves adn departs Hawaii to cruise each of the islands. They have to be good in a market they dominate but when speaking to other frequent NCL cruisers and from our own experience on the Sky, we won't be sailing them again around Europe etc.

NYC: New York is a crazy city. The toursits are all walking around with their mouths hanging open, looking up at the skyscrapers and generally being amazed. The locals seem to hurry around, looking annoyed and generally unhappy. We enjoyed our time once we adapted to not asking questions and discovering things ourselves. The hop on, hop off bus is a great way to see the city and get your bearings. It was easy to navigate and the busses were never full so we always got a seat. One of the drivers - Parnell - was the highlight as we had him on 3 different busses and he was hilarious. I would have to say the best part of our time in New York was jumping on the Staten Island ferry and wandering around SI. I really liked that town and we stumbled upon a college baseball game which we were invited into and we had a great time "at the ballpark". The 9/11 Memorial didn't touch me at all and I had really hoped it would. I remember sitting on the lounge late at night, chatting on the phone to my boyfriend when it happened and my tv went live tot he towers. I saw the second plane hit live and uncensored on televition and my bf and I were in stunned silence on the phone for hours while it all unfolded. The new tower is impressive and pays tribute to the structures that were there before but it all seemed so sterile and left me empty and numb.

Hawaii: Our room on the first leg of the trip at the Pacific Beach Hotel was lovely. Having an oceanfront room was a nice start to the trip. This last part of the trip, in the Ohana West, has been nice but it's our first time having a front/street facing room and it's so loud all night! It's been quite shocking seeing the plummet in the area here. There are brawls and fights most nights, the Food Pantry next to the hotel was held up the other afternoon (yes, in broad daylight!) and there were about 30 police cars lining the street. We were all kept indoors and told not to leave the hotel until the police said it was safe to do so. Last night a guy was hitting tourists who walked past him and again the police were called and blocked off part of the street to arrest him. It has gotten a lot rougher in just one year. The weather hasn't been the greatest - cloudy and rainy quite a few days in a row - but we have had some sunshine in patches that we have madly tried to take advantage of by running down to the pool or the beach. Speaking of the beach, the sand rejuvination has destroyed the beach. On top of running late so that the beach is blocked off for long portions of the day, the sand that has been replenished is full of chunks of coral that is very painful to walk on. The "pond" (as I call the beach that has the sea wall) is now full of coral and rocks on the bottom so you can't walk out into the water without the sideways-crab shuffle walk happening. I have been very dissappointed and upset about the state of the beach now. It was meant to be an improvement but it doesn't seem to be at all. They are meant to be finishing tomorrow or the day after so I'll be checking it out again before I leave to see the end result.

Jeez, I read all that and realised it sounds like I've had an awful holiday! Not at all, it's been great. There have been many, many highlights and I plan on writing a decent blog post about each place once I'm home. I guess it's true though that negative things are what spring to mind faster than anything good.

Oh, for those asking about transfers, I don't have anything good to say abotu Super Shuttle but that's just me. Our drivers were rude, nasty and one of them threw a suitcase into the van onto my head in New York. He didn't even apologise either. We were packed in like sardines and they speed like they don't care if they get you to your hotel alive or not! Pay the extra for a private ride rather than a shared ride!

The shopping is fantastic, I got the Guess bag I wanted back home that was $199.99 in Strandbags for $39 in Ross. I also got a Guess watch that was $300 for $90 on the Bahamas cruise because we were in international waters and the Bahamas don't have duty or taxes. I have lost weight because the food is terrible and the walking is never ending! I would kill for soft cooked bacon and food that doesn't come smothered in bloody cheese! I managed to find a vegetable juice bar in Staten Island but other than that, the juice bars are no better than Boost Juice bars back home (all hype and no real juice).

Please don't think I'm a negative nancy, I just keep remembering things that weren't so good. Hopefully when I get a chance to blog everything, it will all come off looing much more positive. I have the net in my room until we leave (3 more days - can you believe it?!) so if there are any specific questions, I'll try my best to answer and elaborate. Tomorrow is meant to be sunny so hopefully we can climb Diamond Head and head to the zoo for some photo op's.

I hope everyone is well! original.gif

Edited by Sicily/Kee, 25 April 2012 - 01:18 PM.

#142 mum2kichisao

Posted 25 April 2012 - 01:38 PM

Oh no Kee - after reading that you went with NCL I am now worried about my cruise - and let me guess it is the Dawn too. We are staying in a suite - so we are all together. I hope our cruise is a tiny bit better - at least I know the ports will be fantastic.

#143 baf65

Posted 25 April 2012 - 01:54 PM

I have just booked my flights, tickets should be issued by tommorow!
$1299 SYD-LAX on Virgin for 1 november

now to decide what to do with the 4weeks!  We are planning on mainly heading to florida as it will be the warmest!  Ive been to LA and SFO before so no real interest in heading back there....might have to look at others trips for inspiration!

im a former travel agent so probably the most painful type of traveller!

#144 snugglybug

Posted 25 April 2012 - 04:57 PM

Kee - you've made me super excited about the Guess stuff! I love Guess and want a new handbag and would love a watch too!

That's very sad about Hawaii sad.gif if that's the way its gone. We were there about 6 years ago and wandered around even at night and felt fine. Hope they get on top of it. We stayed at Mirimar, which I think it near Ohana West? It was above Denny's and the International Markets.

#145 Jo_P

Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:27 PM

Oh Kee, sounds like you've had a few no so great experiences over your holiday, I hope the next few days fine up and it makes up for it. I'm looking forward to read your blog once you're home to hear all of the nitty gritty details!!

baf65, I'm hanging out for flight prices like that for the end of  September!! Pushing my luck I know, but it doesn't hurt to dream wink.gif

snugglybug, I've got five Guess bags now and three purses and am seriously contemplating which one I will purchase next trip! I bought a Guess watch last time for $59, it retails for over $200 here, I think I need another biggrin.gif

mum2kichisao, I remember you from your old sig, I will update the list with your details.

Edited by Jo_P, 25 April 2012 - 05:28 PM.

#146 mum2kichisao

Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:28 PM

Where is the best place to buy genuine disneyland and disneyworld passes?

Also when is the best time to buy internal flights?

#147 Jo_P

Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:41 PM


Becca81 - 28th March - 30th May 2012, LA, Miami, Quito, Miami, Orlando, New York, LA

kee/sicily - 3rd April 2012, Las Vegas, Miami, Cruise Bahamas, New York, Hawaii

Coffeegirl - 14th-28th April 2012, LA, NYC, Orlando, LA

Isadora - 21st April 2012 - 14th May 2012, Anaheim, New York, San Diego, Las Vegas

Whipmix - 7th May - 14th June, Hawaii, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Fran, New York, LA, Hawaii

~mony - 11th May - 2nd June 2012 â€" LA, Orlando, Disney Caribbean Cruise, San Francisco

Jupiter123 - 24th - 29th May - Honolulu, Hawaii

Jorgo - 26th - 31st May Maui, 31st-4th June Honolulu

Satay chicken - 13th June - 2nd July 2012, LA, Vegas, Pismo Beach

2girlzandhoney - 16th June - 25th June 2012, LA, Anaheim

Cushla - June/July - Anaheim (Disneyland), Santa Monica, San Simeon, San Francisco, Portland

MY 3 SONS X – 5th-27th July, Anaheim, Santa Monica, NYC, Hawaii

DamiansMama - 16th August - 1st September

CTCT, 29th August 2012, Las Vegas, San Fran, Yosimite, San Fran, Monterey, Santa Barbara, LA, Anaheim

SleepyJean August 2012, Hawaii

Potato - 6th - 25th Sep 2012. Honolulu, LA, central coast California, Anaheim

kee/sicily - 8th September - 14th September 2012, Hawaii

*Marti* - 12th September 2012, New York

mum2kichisao - 13th September  - 14th October, San Francisco, San Simeon, Anaheim, Las Vegas, San Diego, Orlando, New York, Cruise from Boston to Quebec

barrington - 14th September - 8th October 2012, US/Canada

KNL909 - 15th September - 3rd October 2012, Anaheim, Disney Cruise to Mexico

cassi8 - 18th September - 3rd October 2012, Anaheim, Las Vegas, Hawaii

snugglybug - 22nd September/October 2012, Anaheim, Yosemite, Las Vegas, LA

Jo_P - 22nd September - 12th October 2012, LA, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise, Anaheim

rob6712col 25th September 2012, LA, Orlando, DC, Gettysburg, Philly, Boston, Niagara Falls, Albany, NY, LA

FionaM - September 2012, Hawaii

potato - September 2012 - Honolulu, LA, central coast California, Disneyland

Read-y - September 2012 - Hawaii (Maui, Big Island, Oahu)

Mum2KCIandS - September/October 2012 - Hawaii - Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Orlando, New York and then a cruise to Canada/New England

chobbs3 - September/October 2012, LA Grand Canyon, NY

Rowena - September 2012 - Washington DC, New York, Toronto, Banff, Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Honolulu

Peanut - September/October 2012, New York

Reader: September/October 2012 - LA, NY, LA, San Fran, Yosemite

thebarnwellb4 - 26th October, ?

Jaxxie - 30th October 2012 - 15th November

carls888 - October 2012, La, Vegas, San Francisco, Berkeley, Pebble Beach, San Diego, Seattle

maxmum - October 2012, Hawaii

baf65 - 1st November 2012, LA, Orlando

Fabulous - late November 2012 to early January 2013 - Atlanta - Charleston - Savannah - Orlando - New Orleans

Brownie22 - December 2012, Hawaii

Blonde: December 2012/January 2013 - LA, Disney

jumpingbeans – March 2013, LA

Kee - 8th April 2013-5th May 2013, South Pacific cruise, Hawaii

Nanaimo Girl: July/August 2013 - LA - Vegas - San Francisco - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver Island - Alberta

minime3: September 2013 - Anaheim, San Fran, Vegas, NY

Madlock - Sept/Oct 2013 - Disney, Disney Cruise, Texas, Hawaii - Final plans TBA

IVL - 2013, Canada, LA, Hawaii

CarnivalKid, June/July 2014 USA

Lena, Nov/Dec 2016 - San Diego, Anaheim, San Fran, Yosemite, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, New York, Niagara, Hawaii

Kabailz - Dec 2017…it’s never too early to start planning!

If there's anyone who needs to be added or anything that needs to be updated, let me know  original.gif

Anaheim dates:

Park Vue
15th-23rd Sept
30th Sept - 3rd Oct

16th-20th Sep
Portifino Inn

Disneyland Hotel
18th-22nd Sep

Howard Johnson (HOJO)
20th-23rd Sep

Park Vue 22-27 Sep
HoJo 9-14 Oct

Del Sol Inn
7th – 13th Oct

Edited by Jo_P, 28 April 2012 - 10:09 AM.

#148 baf65

Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:43 PM

mum2.....if you go on mousesavers.com and sign up for their newsletter, on the 15th of each month they email you and the newsletter has secret links and stuff to undercovertourist.com, which so far I have found to be the best prices for Disney tickets, even without the secret links its still coming out the cheapest, from the research i have been doing its reputable and no issues when you turn up at the parks

#149 Jo_P

Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:44 PM

mum2kichisao, I've only ever bought Disneyland tickets from the Disneyland website, Expedia and my Travel Agent.
For DisneyWorld I got them last year through UndercoverTourist, they are at a discounted price and you get actual tickets sent to you within 2 weeks, we had no dramas at all.
And for internal flights, it is a hard one as they have sales like they do over here for domestic so you could book it now for a great price or leave it and there might be a last minute sale you just don't know. What I did last year is just kept an eye on the prices from about 6 months out to get a rough idea on what the 'regular' price was so that when I saw a sale come up I could grab it. Sign up to the airlines newsletters so you get emailed about the sales, and also their facebook pages.

Edited by Jo_P, 25 April 2012 - 05:47 PM.

#150 Princess Leila

Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:55 PM

mum2kichisao I bought mine from disneyland.com don't know if they are the cheapest, but they were much cheaper than what the travel agent quoted me..bought a 5 day park hopper for less then the 3 day she wanted to sell me..

I got my internal US flight from orbitz.com this site was recommended by a friend who travels several times a year to the US.

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