hotels

Norway… Beautiful Women, Beautiful Scenery, Outrageous Prices

I am just now realizing that I’ve been traveling for more than a month without an update to the blog. I was in Spain, Ireland and back in London. I’ve done trip reports on Spain already and while Ireland was EXCELLENT, I just didn’t have the motivation to blog. It’s tough to set aside a few hours to update the blog when there is so much awesome shit happening away from the computer. I know you’ve all missed my posts so I am BACK with some info for you from Norway.

selfie in norway's handangerfjord road trip

The plan for Norway was to meet up with some friends from NY who would be doing a 5 country tour for work. They work in the youtube space and are hosting (along with some youtube personalities) a “Tour De Prank”. They have a couple of youtube ‘pranksters’ and they are being sponsored to tour Europe and create videos. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. There would be Keith and Paige who are from Long Island and DJ, their business partner, from Nebraska. Then they had about 5 pranksters and 2 of their wives. (more…)


Bordeaux… Each Trip, Better Than The Last

I detailed my last trip to Bordeaux so I am not going to spend too much time going into a lot of detail here. The trip was really interesting and it was a lot of family time and a lot of time spent learning more details about my grandfather (www.morhangenetwork.com) and the people who helped him during WWII. This trip was unique, though, in that it was with much of my family. My sister and brother in law, my mother and father, 2 of my cousins and my aunt all joined me on the journey and, seeing as it was there first time meeting all these great french individuals, it was quite special to be able to share that all with them.

bordeaux-pit-stop-shack-warmer-temp-1

A bunch of these photos are from my sister as I just didn’t carry my camera around all the much. So photo cred to Rachel Meyerowitz.

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Hoi An: Cooking Classes and New Friends

Our trip to the quant little town of Hoi An was a pleasant one. We stayed at the Hoi An Ancient House Village Resort and Spa, which was beautiful. It is surrounded by rice paddies and our villa (we got upgraded on arrival) overlooked the fields. It was excellent.

vietnam-hoi-an-rice-fields-sunset-blue

Trip advisor was a great resource all throughout our trip. If you haven’t used it for travel, you really should. A lot of the restaurants and group tours that we found throughout the month of traveling came off of TA. (more…)


Vespas, Wine Bars, Wind Chimes & Fancy Hats

Saigon

So I made a bit of a booboo when booking our first stop in Vietnam. I honestly had no idea that Saigon and Ho Chi Minh were the same place. I had heard not so great things about Saigon but good things about HCM (in conversations with different people who referred to the city by different names). So after I booked our trip to HCM and realized later that it was Saigon, I was a bit hesitant. However, after spending a few days there, I could not have been more pleasantly surprised.

We got to HCM around 4pm, checked into our hotel (Pullman Saigon Centre) and got up to the room. The hotel is really beautiful and modern looking with funky light fixtures, couches and tables in the rooms. There is also a beautiful pool overlooking the city and the hotel staff (namely the concierge) were excellent.  I was waiting for a replacement debit card and they kept an eye out for it and made arrangements with me incase it didn’t arrive in time. They also had plenty of suggestions for restaurants and helped set us up several times with taxis and transportation to and from the airport. A+ service.

vietnam-saigon-locksmith

We booked a Vespa tour of the city while still in cambodia and we got picked up right around 6pm. It was raining but after confirmation from the tour operator that the trip was, indeed, on, we met the guys on the vespa’s outside the hotel. They had super fancy ponchos ready for us and in a few minutes we were on our way.

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Ubud: Monkeys, Cock Fights & The MOST INSANE VILLA EVER

We left our awesome villas down in seminyak and headed into the mountains. Not knowing what to expect I was about to be pleasantly surprised. We split into 3 vehicles for the approx 2hour ride up to the villa ‘compound’ in Ubud. We stop along the way at Indus, a beautifully situated mountain side restaurant. The view overlooked a deep valley and the mountains on the other side were striking. The food was excellent and we all proceeded on towards the villa.

When I pulled up to the villa and walked around the wall obstructing the view, my jaw dropped. I tried my hardest to get a good shot on my camera, but the angles just weren’t working out. I’ve included a shot from vrbo below. The places was SICK!!! 2 huge villas connected by a tremendous infinity pool all with a view out across to a mountain in the distance. The staff working at the compound was superb and they made us dinner 2 nights and breakfast both mornings. All the food was superb and the large 20 person table was well displayed/presented with food and table settings.

ubud bali whole crew from below

Dinner the first night was chicken satay, rice, veggies, fruit and some kind of curry. All excellent. Breakfast the next morning was american style with eggs, bacon, fruit, sausage, etc.

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Cambodia: Not For Human Consumption

Visa Schmeeza

So here we sit. We are in the airport in Cambodia (siem reap), where we’ve been stranded for a few hours. Poor planning on our part, but apparently you need a visa prior to arrival for vietnam. We thought we could grab one on arrival as we did in cambodia and as you can in many places. Once we were denied checkin, we jumped online to myvietnamvisa.com to try and get our visas arranged. they have an expedited option for 79.00 for two people. After 2 hours, and having not received our email yet with our visa letter, I asked one of the agents at the desk if they could recommend another site. They said to try govietnamvisa.com. I chatted with a support rep there and they assured me we could get a visa within the hour. I canceled the request with myvietnamvisa and paid the $140 for a guaranteed 1 hr turn around. We got our new visa and, having missed our flight, rebooked for a 20$ fee for the new flight. It was an adventure and a lesson learned for sure. Just one more thing in the list of things that cambodia kicked our asses on. More to follow.angkor wat temple in cambodia at sunrise from the front hdr

Back to the start

We had two flights to take to get from Bali to Cambodia. The first was a 4+ hour flight from bali to bangkok and then about 1+ hour flight from bangkok to cambodia. The flights were pretty standard although neither had any entertainment. Getting into cambodia we needed a headshot (again, didnt know this). I happened to have a copy of my passport so they used that. After, I realized I could have just paid a $1 and they would have made a copy of my passport photo.

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Phuket, Thailand

I had been looking forward to Phuket since the very start of my trip planning. I had seen pictures of islands like Koh Phi Phi and just couldn’t wait to get there for all the great photography potential. I was also looking forward to doing some fishing (I’ve been fishing my whole life and love to do it in foreign places).

So I left Chiang Mai and took the short flight down to Phuket. The airport was about an hour from the hotel and I had arranged a pickup through the hotel (Le Meridian Phuket). It was around 230 by the time I got there so I just hit the beach for an hour or two and grabbed some dinner at the hotel buffet. I was in Phuket for 3 nights and had excursions planned for both days. I had to be up bright and early for a fishing trip the next day so I had an early night.

Koh Phi Phi Island near Phuket (more details below)koh phi phi phuket thailand boats in the waterThe pick up for fishing was around 8:15 and we picked up the rest of the guests and arrived at the pier about an hour later. Two my ‘dismay’ none of my fellow fisherman (and women) spoke english. Instead I had been teamed up with 8 burley russians. I had been in touch with the company prior to the trip and was pretty clear that I was hoping for some english speaking guests and also a good day of catching BIG fish. While the trip was fun, neither of these things happened. I wanted to catch big marlin and tunas and instead we caught little 3-5lb blue fin tunas. (more…)


Le Meridien, Chiang Rai

The ride to the hotel (Le Meridien, Chiang Rai) from the airport took about 15 minutes. The lobby was very welcoming and smelt nice. I was able to get checked in without TOO much trouble with the fact that no one spoke decent english. I chalked it up to the fact that I was in Thailand and I had prepared myself for a lack of communication. However, I was not prepared for how bad it was at the hotel. This is supposed to be a five star resort here in Thailand and it is a Starwoods property… I was very disappointed. I’m going to go on a bit of a rant so I apologize in advance.

I had several issues the first 24hours in the hotel and they were all made considerable worse by the fact that I couldn’t voice my issues to anyone in the staff and get any kind of feedback or support. After spending more than an hour on the phone with Starwoods my second night at the hotel, they told me the day manager would be in at 8am and he has a note to call me. I had a very nice conversation with Stephen, who is australian, and speaks perfect english. I really needed that and we were able to get a few things resolved.  (more…)


Paris Part 1

So there I was in Paris. Fresh off my visit with my great friends in Bordeaux, I was looking forward to the city of lights. I’d heard great things and was also getting more excited to wrap up my European part of the trip. I was also extremely excited to get to stay at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome. This is a super high class hotel that I was staying at for free (rooms start at around $1,000/night) because of a signup/spending bonus on my Hyatt card from Chase (2 free nights at any hyatt in the world after reaching the required spend)

Anyway, I’ve detailed my stay at the Vendome in THIS POST so I won’t describe the stay in this one.

After landing at ORY airport, south of Paris, I headed to the metro/shuttle that would take me right into the heart of town. I was advise prior to arrival that taxi’s from the airport can run as much as 60-70 euros (almost $100) so I figured I’d find another option. The orlyval (think thats what it’s called) runs a shuttle from the airport to a local metro stop. Then, switch to the metro and get off about a 10 minute walk from my friends place. Easy as pie.

street musicians in paris along the river seine

I met with friends and we toured around town a bit. We picked up some rabbit to cook at home and other then the weather being a bit crappy, it was a nice ‘welcome’ to the city. We got into the subway and on a bus so it helped me get acclimated for the rest of the trip.

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Park Hyatt Paris Vendome

Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome rooms are beautiful. I was able to get upgraded because of my hyatt status and have a king bed overlooking the Rue de la Paix.

The customer service here is great. I’ve been emailing with the concierge for about 3 weeks, figuring out rooming options, upgrade availability and even getting a list of places close by that might have some sort of thanksgiving menu for the holiday.

I just received a call from Melanie, one of the concierge women who I’ve been emailing with. She was not here when I checked in, but called me to make sure everything is ok. Thats true service!

The room is gorgeous. They have everything you need. Plenty of outlets, a big TV, really comfy bed, an actual ethernet cable to connect your laptop. They have a jbl iphone speaker with great sound.

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