Travel Rules

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP FOR TRAVEL!

good-news

Have you missed traveling or stayed at home due to all the restrictions imposed (not to mention current “world affairs”)?  Then there’s good news to share. More and more countries are opening their borders without quarantine mandates as conveyed in a recent column on travel site wendyperrin.com.

That’s about the best news we could hope for. This blog does not weigh in on the “politics” of travel (as in “is it ok to go to a country with policies one might find unacceptable?”). Rather the job at hand is to write about my travel plans, where we’ve been, and how to navigate and explore this world of ours with all its complexities.

Now on to the latest. First up on the most recent list (the site also links to an earlier list in February) is Iceland — our jumping off destination for this year’s big trip! Following Iceland we head to the Faroe Islands principally for two reasons: 1) When would we ever get back to see the magnificent scenery? and 2) The islands are en route to Norway, another of our planned destinations.

I’ll pause to give a brief shout out to a travel expert I’ve engaged for Iceland and the Faroes.  And that’s another reason to follow Wendy’s site, which is where I found Chris Gordon of Icepedition.

When contemplating visits to some regions, I have no problem engaging experts.  This is one of those situations.  Chris has mapped out our itinerary and secured many of the bookings for both Iceland and the Faroes.  He covers Greenland as well but advised us there’s not much to see in April.  We worked well as a team and I look forward to sharing the stories very soon!

So what’s the takeaway?   2022 is open for business in the world of travel.  There are tons of places to go, new hotels open, and an industry that is in need of support.  Make plans NOW.

“DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE WORLD ENDING TODAY  …

  it’s already tomorrow in Australia.”     ~ Charles M. Schulz

International TravelThings I LoveU.S. Travel

FAREWELL 2021; HELLO 2022

2022 image a

As has become my custom, I end the current year and begin the new year with both a wrap up and a forecast.  Planned travel is something that required fluidity in the last two years, at least if one wants to remain sane.  Practically the only thing for sure is that some aspect of a plan might change.  Following is the 2021 recap, for which travel I am extremely thankful.  Click on each destination heading for the various posts.

WHERE WE WENT

International ::

TANZANIA

UGANDA

BERMUDA

Domestic ::

CLEVELAND

DETROIT

CHICAGO

CHARLESTON

SAVANANNAH

WHERE WE’RE GOING

The big post-tax-season trip starts in Iceland followed by Norway & Sweden (traversing the southern areas by car).  From Stockholm, we fly to St. Petersburg as a visa snafu ejected us from Russia after our 2018 Moscow visit. The Russians are very serious about their visas.  After that, we meet up with our kids to enjoy Florence and Venice (they start in Rome and end in Milan).  This family trip was postponed from 2020; thus, we are very much looking forward!

Other travel (domestic) includes a wedding in Dallas, maybe a trip to New Orleans (site of this year’s Final Four), Lake Tahoe for a postponed concert (Train) and who knows what else.  Wherever we do go, I am forever grateful for readers who travel along.  April 2022 marks ten years of Travel with Teri B visiting 38 countries (out of 76 total), and I have loved every minute.

 

International TravelSnippets from the Road

BERMUDA BLISS

IMG_20210509_135723

Here’s a key piece of advice:  Factor in downtime for your travel, especially if your itinerary includes going non-stop in order to “see it all.”

One of the things the hubby and I truly appreciate is having a few days to do nothing.  That means no plans, alarms, or advance decisions on how to spend the day. Not only is that a true luxury but something one really needs.  Plus there’s the added bonus of returning home just slightly less tired.  It can be a time to reflect on the trip highpoints/lowpoints.  Since time is obviously so precious, it makes sense to evaluate what works best for you in order to mitigate mistakes or unforced errors.

Bermuda has always been on the to-do list, but it’s minimum two flights from the west coast.  With our post-Africa route through Heathrow, getting to Bermuda was just one more flight.

There are some 70,000 residents collectively in the 150+ islands, but most principally reside on the five largest.  I was surprised at the number of native Bermudians we met with families that had been there for generations.  Most other people — especially those working in hospitality — were an international mix.  Not surprisingly, tourism is the main source of revenue along with insurance and Bermuda onions (not kidding).

Below — the Rosewood Bermuda.

Bermuda is colonial in feel and sometimes in attire where men don pastel Bermuda shorts with loafers and button-down shirts.  Golf is huge; at least eight courses on the main island.  Many hotel guests send their clubs in advance via Ship Sticks.  I used them to send resort clothes ahead as African flights were limited for luggage, but the recommended timeframe to send the bag seemed ridiculously early (shipped from LA on April 16 for our May 4 arrival).

It wasn’t early at all.  The bag in fact made it to the island around April 26 but only delivered to our room on May 5.  With major custom delays (Covid strikes again), copious emails resulted between the shipper, the resort and me.  In the end, in our room there was a sight for sore eyes and a source of clean clothes.

So we took our own advice and did pretty much nothing.

At the main pool
At the beach pool
At the beach
Simple and perfect nightly dessert. Homemade.

The one big adventure consisted of a “car” from Rugged Rentals and driving to the other side of the island.  Seen below is a golf cart disguised as a Hummer with no power steering, brakes or shock absorbers.  Factor in driving on the “wrong” side in Bermuda, and my arms got a workout.

And, as with all good things, this trip came to an end … after 24 days, 3 countries, 15 flights, 6 covid tests and endless memories.  What a blessing to be on these adventures together.

Bye, Bermuda .. Until we meet again.

 

International TravelThings I Love

A SEAMLESS START

IMG_20210418_121547 (2)

When the time to depart finally arrived, I was quite nervous.  After so many blips, changes and uncertainties (see previous post), we were finally airborne.  Changing our arrival in Africa from Nairobi to Dar Es Salaam meant an extra flight, but leaving from Burbank Airport (to Seattle) is so swift and hassle free that it was worth it.   Best news is no touching our bags until the “final destination” — which is such a creepy saying.  Need to think of an alternative.  Suggestions?

Stunning Mt. Ranier from the plane

The hubby and I like to think it was an auspicious start to the trip to have the Bruin track team on the flight.  I asked if we should start an “8 clap” and that got everyone’s attention.  We chatted about the epic Final Four and in particular our allegiance to the blue & gold.  My goodness, they were so young!

For the next leg, 14 hours from Seattle to Doha (via the north pole) is daunting, but this was a pleasure.  With a half-full cabin, the staff were even more attentive.  And how can one not love an airplane bathroom where you can actually turn around (and change clothes comfortably).  Highly recommend Qatar Airways, especially if you are part of the One World Alliance (American and British Air, etc.)

My roomy and comfy cabin aboard Qatar.

 

Breakfast is served

The eight-hour Doha layover was limited to the airport per covid restrictions.  But Hamad International rivals Singapore’s Changi in facilities, albeit on a smaller scale.   The endless stream of green-jacket-wearing assistants provided carts and guidance throughout the transfer process.  Maybe it is due to my Platinum status on American or they mistook us for foreign royals, but honestly we just went with the flow.  Except when they kept offering us wheelchairs for some reason.  I later found out American thought I had requested this, which I did not.  At least it wasn’t due to assumed gimpyness of us.

Qatar Lounge
Meal #??? en route at the airport lounge

We finally arrived in Dar es Salaam, but for just two hours.   A short flight to Kilaminjaro Airport in Arusha followed with zero view of the iconic mountain due to clouds.  The flight departed as soon as everyone was on board, a good 15 minutes early.  No “we are cleared for takeoff” or “we are fifth in line for departure.”  Rev up those propellers and take off, with the Arusha arrival 25 minutes early.

Aboard Precision Air

Rivertrees Country Inn provided a perfect overnight to get our sea legs.  We loved a long chat with fellow guest Melvin from the UK.  When I asked about his itinerary, he said “I left for three weeks and that was five months ago.”  Can you imagine?  He had one small bag while buying and discarding clothes as needed per weather requirements.  Interesting way to travel, to say the least.  He traveled to Arusha from Dar es Salaam via train.  What took us just over an hour took him 22 hours with no stops in between.  We’ll stick with the planes, thank you very much.

Next stop:  safari in Central Serengeti.

Usa River
Rivertrees Country Inn

 

Snippets from the Road

PLEASE, NO MORE CHANGES!

fingers-crossed-image-for-blog-post

It’s a very good thing that I love trip planning because the time spent finalizing this itinerary has been rather inordinate.   And that’s a proverbial understatement.

Not long ago, I posted a blog (click HERE) about just how complicated it is to plan an international trip at this particular time due to Covid uncertainties.  Or maybe it’s just because of this destination.  Regardless, that itinerary became moot a week ago and a new one was suggested, agreed upon, and flights were changed.  Again.

We’re now at zero minus 2 days until departure.  Vaccinated to the hilt, results in hand, Covid tested (the first of many for this trip), we are packed and good to go.  We hope.  Maybe just a bit of praying involved.  Our new map is below.  It does look like a lot of moving about, but the flights are mostly short within Tanzania and Uganda. And it is fascinating to see the landscape between destinations.   As for Kenya, we have a brief layover  through Nairobi as they have new restrictions in place prohibiting seeing more of that country.   Trip highlights, starting from the lower right:

Tanzania:  Dar es Salaam (plane change only) to Arusha (near Mt. Kilimanjaro) to Serengeti East to Ngorongoro Crater.

Uganda:  Entebbe, Bwindi Forest, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale Forest (all in the western part).

Back to Entebbe to Nairobi to exit the continent.

 

Fingers crossed, the next post will be from on the ground in Tanzania.  Stay tuned ..

International TravelThings You Should Know

AND THE AWARD GOES TO …

FIRST PRIZE

For “Best understanding and navigating the complicated world of travel restrictions,” the award goes to :: Anyone who prevails, especially internationally.  I will gladly accept my blue ribbon (after untold hours spent).

Many of us might just cry “Uncle.”  Our family trip to Italy has been rescheduled twice since 2020 and is now calendared for November.  For me and the hubby, this year’s trip was always going to be Africa (Kenya and Tanzania), but what a ride it’s been.  And we haven’t even left yet.

Industrial-strength desire and patience is a must in the planning stages.  It might be tempting for some to think its just too much work to pull off a trip.  And is anyone truly patient?  I know I’m not.  Just when one is certain the itinerary is settled, a new wrinkle appears.  I could fill up a recycling bin with printed copies of reservations made and cancelled.

A LATE CHANGE

The biggest surprise, literally just contemplated and confirmed a few days ago, is Tanzania is out and Uganda is in.  That means in addition to the traditional “Big 5” — lions/leopards/elephants/rhinos/buffalo — we are including gorillas and chimps, oh my!  Until recently, I thought Rwanda was the only place to go for gorilla trekking.  In reality, there are some 400 of these amazing creatures in Uganda’s Bwindi Forest where we’re headed.

The staff at Africa Travel Resource have been extraordinary throughout the process.  Numerous itineraries were offered.  They weighed in with pros and cons.  They have continuously sent clients on safari in spite of the challenges from the pandemic and know the terrain extremely well.

THE JOURNEY THERE

The first hurdle?  Getting to the African continent with travel rules that change daily.  There are few routes (via American Airlines partners) where one is able to “transfer” through a destination.  That means arriving somewhere but not entering the country (i.e., outside immigration).  Instead, the onward travel to the next destination simply continues within the confines of the airport. This avoids any of the country’s quarantine requirements.  Even an overnight at an airport hotel might require quarantine; thus avoid!

A case in point of how airport transfers can become a nightmare:  We once had a plane change in Sri Lanka.  Since we weren’t technically entering the country, I didn’t apply for Visas.  Lo and behold, the Sri Lankans considered going to the baggage carousel to gather our bags for the next flight (on a different airline) to be “entering the country.”  Long lines, language barriers, and a ticking clock to the next departure equaled major stress.  Singapore Airlines more than earned their best airline status by helping us through the calamity.

By the way, if the Sri Lanka episode happens to you, be firm about not missing your next flight.  We were told that there was no way we would make it.  But because of polite persistence and some absolute insistence, we indeed made the flight.  (More about that subject is covered in a previous post linked HERE).

Thus I feel positively victorious to be flying from Los Angeles to Nairobi on just two flights in a mere 22 hours.  We have one plane change in Doha, Qatar, for two hours.  I used 75,000 AA miles per person for the flights on Qatar Airlines. Even with the first leg at 15-1/2 hours, I’m looking forward to experiencing their Q-Suites.

We’re scheduled for the required COVID test just prior to leaving Los Angeles.  Kenya requires proof of a negative test (not more than 96 hours old) for entry to the country.  From there, no quarantine is required so off we go.

The trip map

I will write more later about the rest of the journey.  I’m just happy to be able to finally focus on all that needs to be done before we leave in a few short weeks.  That is a great joy indeed.