Friday, March 17, 2017

TRIP - Lisbon, Portgual & Barcelona, Spain [2017.03]

Annual Europe visit again :)

Cities
Lisbon, Portgual
Barcelona, Spain

Flights
American Airlines Advantage Miles @ 40K/person (off-peak) before 2016/3/22 devaluation

Hotels
Airbnb for both as we are group of 6

Schedule. Google Maps
Lisbon
  • Day 1 - Belem region, Jerónimos Monastery
  • Day 2 - Santa Justa Lift, Castelo de S. Jorge
  • Day 3 - Sintra (National Palace of Pena, Quinta da Regaleira)
  • Day 4 - Downtown Lisbon (Praça do Comércio, Gelato)

Barcelona
  • Day 1 - Casa Mila
  • Day 2 - Parc Guell
  • Day 3 - Poble Espanol
  • Day 4 - Palau Guell, La Sagrada Familia


Good
  • Nice weather
  • Enjoyed/tried some interesting food, especially seafood/paella in both countries
  • Thanks to the snowstorm, our original BCN-JFK/LGA-YYZ got changed to BCN-LHR-YYZ, yah, no need to visit USA or transfer between JFK/LGA ourselves, and got home 5 hours earlier.
Bad
  • Only incident was the lost/stolen backpack at Camper store in Barcelona while we were shopping (probably got stolen by thieves pretending to be customers, which seems common as the staff told us)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

歐洲足跡 Europe


Since we're in Toronto, Europe has naturally become the top destinations to go (after USA, which we've been to all the cities we wanted to visit already. LAX [~5 times], LAS [2~3], Washington [2], NYC [2], SFO [2], SEA)

Trying to tally up where I've gone in the last few years

  • 2011 - Zurich
  • 2014 - Italy via price error. Milan, Florence, Venice (no Rome, sadly)
  • 2015 - Istanbul (Europe AND Asia), Antalya, Pamukkale
  • 2016 - Paris via price error, Prague (+Karlovy Vary)
  • 2017 - Lisbon, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Nice/Monte Carlo
  • 2018 - ?
Not in my plans - Germany, Northern Europe (too $$$)

Big thanks to Aeroplan to make these all possible, via Mini-RTW and actual Aeroplan price errors too

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

January 1, 2017

I want to wish a happy new year to everyone. May this year be better than last year
祝福大家新年快樂 今年比去年更好


Upcoming Travel Plans for 2017

  • Europe - Lisbon, Barcelona
  • San Francisco
  • Taiwan (via Amsterdam)

Thursday, September 01, 2016

TRIP for 2014/2015/2016/2017 - updated

All of these trips are results of mistake fares or wanting to get out every few months, before Logan turns 2
Sometimes I don't even know why I travel so much, especially with children :-)  Certainly memorable

2014
  • Jan - Taiwan
  • April  - Italy <- mistake fare, $300/person to Italy (Florence, Venice, Milan). No regrets
  • July - Atlanta, USA
  • Sep - LA, Las Vegas USA
  • Oct - Washington DC
  • Dec - Taiwan
2015
  • April - Seoul, South Korea <- mistake fare again ($500/person on Delta), will make it a family trip
  • May - Turkey on Aeroplan, in TK Business-class <- mistake glitch, 50K Aeroplan/person
  • Summer - Taiwan
  • November - Dubai ($200/person nonstop on Eithad price error)

2016
  • March - Paris ($300/person nonstop on AC price error)
  • July - Prague, Hong Kong, Taiwan (Aeroplan Mini-RTW)
  • November - Taiwan
2017
  • March - Portugal, Spain (AA off-peak, 40K/person)
  • April - SFO (Delta price error, $250/person)
  • July - Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Taiwan (Aeroplan Mini-RTW)
  • December - Nice (France), Taiwan (Aeroplan Mini-RTW)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

[TRIP] Prague, Hong Kong, Taiwan [2016.07]

My once-a-year trip to Taiwan is here

Booked the below Mini-RTW Economy award in Sep 2015 at 75K Aeroplan miles + ~$200/person

  • YYZ-PRG on AC Rouge, stop 1
    • ACr 767 had no IFE, we watched on Tablets via onboard Wi-Fi
    • Seat pitch/width is okay
  • PRG-ZRH-HKG on LX 77W, destination 
    • Swiss 77W is 3-4-3, but we were okay, big IFE screens
    • Loved the new ZRH Midfield E terminal *A lounge with terrances/views
  • HKG-TPE on EVA Air, stop 2 = HOME
    • 7/7 was Typhoon night, surprised BR didn't cancel, but there was no rain/wind at all
  • TPE-YYZ on EVA Air
    • Upgraded to Elite class (empty), fast flight of 12.5 hrs only

Thoughts
Czech Republic - Karlovy Vary, Prague
KV was small, warm town. The hot springs or architectures weren't that special IMO
Prague - everybody loved it, said it's beautiful. I agreed, although for some reason it didn't impress me (vs. Paris). Food is average to pricey, people are generally warm. The general atmosphere is relaxed, beautiful sights (castle, old town, river, trams)

Hong Kong
Typical HK, hot, humid, lots of food. We only visited to visit local friends

Notes

  • HKG is my destination only to cap the YQ $ on my award, which is ~$28 per AC segment. If HKG wasn't my destination, YQ would be hundreds $$
  • Originally we were flying PRG-IST-PEK-HKG (2 stops) but due to IST bombing and AC waiver, we were able to stay 1 extra day in Prague to fly Swiss PRG-ZRH-HKG
  • I changed my original return TPE-NRT,HND-YYZ to nonstop BR TPE-YYZ. Change fee was ~$100 but I got back ~$100 also, not bad, considering bus from NRT->HND would've costs $40 CAD one-way already

Monday, April 04, 2016

[TRIP] Paris 巴黎 2016.03

結束了巴黎之旅 趕快整理心得
巴黎 比我想像中吸引人 有一種魅力 無法解釋 會讓我想要再回來(當然 回來的話要順便去南法看看)
整個旅程 漸入佳境 又有一個完美的升等商務艙結尾 這應該是我們的2016旅行高潮了吧!

Good

  • YYZ-CDG round-trip flights only costs $290/adult ($247/child) during price error on 9/18/2015
    • We got 2 empty middle seats on YYZ-CDG on 787 to lie down
    • Even better, we unknowingly got upgraded on CDG-YYZ 777 into Classic Pods. 4 J seats!!!
  • Weather was forecast to be cloudy and cold, but we had many cold but beautiful sunny days
  • AirBnb hotel was lovely, well-located in busy district, walkable to many things and close to many bus routes
  • Paris is beautiful. I don't know how to describe it, Eiffel Tower and all of it just grows on you
  • Tourists, despite the Easter long weekend, were not too bad. I hear it's much much worse in summer at busy places
  • Seafood platter for 2 at Pedra Alta ($43 Euro) is huge and so good, memorable
  • Paris the city is old, beautiful, but not dirty

Bad

  • Accidentally dropped my aging Olympus camera when asking stranger to take photos of us at Chateau Versailles, oh well
  • Weather was still chilly, even had hails one day
  • Food is not cheap, as its costs, while reasonable, are in Euro (which is 1.5 CAD). $10E meal = $15 CAD

Monday, January 11, 2016

Converting USD to CAD using Norbert's Gambit in TD Waterhouse [DLR.U -> DLR]

To convert USD to CAD

TD Waterhouse

  • I bought 2000 DLR.U at $9.96 ($9.99 commission) on Tuesday
  • Call TDW to journal to CAD Margin right away (+2/3 days)
  • I see DLR in CAD Margin on Friday
  • I sold 1000 at $13.9, another 1000 at $14.1 .. guess what, it's now $14.2 ... one can never win :(
Overall, quite an easy conversion to do to save FX fees and get the best rate