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Apr 13, 2015

Cruise Travel: Gadgets and Accessories on our South America Trip

Cruise Travel: Gadgets and Accessories on our South America Trip


"Zip-it" The Sock with a Pocket - Secure Valuables When on the Go


Atitlan Leather Suede Leather Money Belt
When I first discovered a money belt, I thought it was genius idea. Though I was wondering what it would actually look and feel like. After some research online and amazon, I found this one. It looks great, quite stylish. The type of belt that I would wear on daily basis with a casual look. I ended up wearing it the entire trip. The zipper on the backside works well, though it is a very small compartment. You won't be able to fit ID or credit cards in there, but you would be able to fold and stuff some bills for quick access for tipping and such.


Eagle Creek Travel Gear Silk Undercover Money Belt
I was wearing this one most of our cruise on excursions. It is a great travel accessory to have with you. While it might not look like much, it is not a fashionable accessory, but very useful. It came in handy in countries where there are no coins given as change, just a whole lot of paper money. Instead of carrying a lot of the bills in my wallet, I placed some discreetly into my waist stash. Same for dollars, especially once we acquired some local currently, these were moved to the belt so that my wallet was not filled with them when paying for goods. This is especially helpful when looking to "negotiate" with local vendors for better prices.

Travalo Refillable Perfume Spray

Travalo Travel Sized Refillable Perfume Spray Dispenser
Yes, it is a perfume spray. However, it works just as well for cologne. I think it is a genius idea and travel accessory. Before I found out that this exists, I was wondering how I could transport my cologne without having to drag the entire bottle that also does not close very well and so usually leaks. Its not a huge problem when placed in a Ziploc bag and within my bag. My cloth just end up pre-perfumed. However, that is definitely not a desired effect. The Travalo dispenser is very easy to fill up. Just take off the cap off the perfume bottle and push the tip of it into the dispenser and the content will transfer over as much as needed. And then becomes a convenient travel sized spray

E-Scale Digital Luggage Scale

Orbsgo Precision Digital Luggage Scale w/ 110 Lb Capacity
We no longer take any trips without using and packing a luggage scale. This trip was no exception. We weighted our large suitcase many times to make sure it is up to airline's standards so we do not have to pay overage fees or have issues at the airport check-in. Well, on this trip, we still did. Since we did not realize before hand that this particular airline, LAN, was also very particular about the weight of carry-ons. At least the ticket agent we go was. The carry-ons were overweight, and we had to rearrange our belongings right there and then. Good thing my wife had a plan and was ready with a back up bag. Going forward we will be using our trusty luggage scales on carry-ons as well every time we fly.


Olympus TG-835 Tough Camera
We love this camera. We always have it with us no matter the adventure. With this camera we don't have to worry about it getting wet in the rain, so we can take pictures even if it is drizzling outside or we are on a boat. We also have with us at the pool for some great shots. And as it is also shock-proof from 5 feet, it can take some dings and keep on shooting. Panasonic Lumix is also freeze-proof to 14 degrees F, good thing for when we were sailing by Antarctica, and dust-proof.

Broken Sports Watch
We didn't start out taking along a broken watch. The sport watch we took was working OK in terms of showing time. However, when we were going through multiple time zones, we wanted to update the watch to those, and that is when we found the buttons on the watch stopped working. It was still a great gadget to have along since even if you don't want to, you have to keep track of time on a cruise. Either to get up for and catch a bus for the tour or meet up with your group or to make it to dinner, it good to have a time keeping piece. Will be looking for a replacement and will post what I found. If anyone have any recommendations, please let me know


Kindle Paperwhite 3G
My wife loaded up her new favorite series that she has been reading, which is 3 books, plus some others just in case. I also added on my book in case I get tired of watching movies and reading my magazine. All that on a small light easy to pack device. Kindles also have a very long battery life. So with full charge and average use it could last the full cruise without needing a recharge.

Earphones
There was no way I was going to be using the earphones provided on the airplane. Those are very cheaply made, nothing but plastic, with terrible sound, ear irritating devices. For the 12 hour flight that we had that won't do.


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Apr 6, 2015

Cruise Travel: TTG in South America - chilling in Chile

Cruise Travel: 
TTG in South America and chilling in Chile

South America trip has been on our bucket list for awhile. We knew it had to be a longer trip to be worth it. So this year we took a cruise on Golden Princess from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile.

We flew to Santiago, Chile and then took a shuttle to Buenas Aires. By doing this, instead of direct flight, we saved $800 per person. And it was a cry pleasnt 2 hour flight.

Buenes Aires
In Buenes Aires we took a taxi. And asked the driver for recommendation for a local preferred not so touristy place with dinner and flamingo show. We were not disappointed. The guy took us to one place that was supposed to be good, but turned out to not have a show anymore. He walked is over to another local restaurant that had one. We had a great time, great dinner, and a good bottle of wine that we not only drank there but also bought a bottle on the spot. It was an Argentine Merlot Malbec, very good red wine.


This is also were we boarded our cruise.

What we packed:
1 suitcase and 2 carry-ons for 2 weeks for 2 people. It was tight. But also, as it turns out, too heavy per bag. That is at least according to the not so pleasant ticket agent and LAN airline rules. While we checked and double checked everything while packing, we did not think about checking the weight restriction for carry-ons. Some travel advice from that, always check regulations for each airline. They all vary.

More packing info and tips here

Montevideo, Uruguay (City Drive, Winery)
At this port of call we had a bus tour of the area as there were not that many excursions offered. The tour overall was interesting. Found out a lot of information about Uruguay that changed my perception of this country. One interesting and a bit funny part of the narration was that the guide was trying to sell his country as a senior retirement resort. He several times mentioned low crime rates, great free medical services, calm and serene atmosphere.
Part of the tour was a stop at one of the larger Uruguayan wineries. There, we got a tour of the place, sampling of the wines, as well as dinner and a show. The host, the wine maker, told us that they only make fine wines at the place, that all of his is high quality wine. I don't claim to be a wine connoisseur, though we have had our sampling of wines in many travels (California Tripping, Our Last Hoorah... For Now, Winter trip to summer home of the rich and the famous (Hamptons, LI)). And this wine did not taste good. And then the statistic came out that 80% of Uruguayan wine is drank by Uruguayans. That made a lot of sense.

Puerto Madryn, Argentina (Penguins at Punta Tombo Reserve)
In Puerto Madryn was our first trip to the penguins reservation. Here the Magellan penguin come to lay their eggs from fall to early spring. We were very excited to see some penguins in real life. We had no idea just how up close we will see them. As soon as we got there, there were penguins right off the people path. The further we want the more of them were lining the road. You had to look under bushes and into holes to find some of them. One of the things the guide told us is we should look up to them crossing the path and to make sure to stop way before to let them through safely. At that time they make their trip to the ocean to hunt for food. And if prevented from crossing they will miss their meal. We had just one like that crossing in front of us. Though instead of of just crossing he decided to walk up the human path. It was awesome how he was wobbling ahead with a crowd of people following behind. See it here ...
And more pictures here (link to album)

Port Stanley, FK - Bluff Cove (4x4 and penguins)
On this trip I learned quite a bit. Such as there are islands off of South America continent called Falkland Islands. In 1982, there was a war for these islands between Argentina and Great Britain. British won as they currently have the control. The official currency is pound and language is English.
This was our second excursion to see penguins. This time the inhabitants are Gentoo and King penguins. Instead of holes or bushes these ones were out on the rocks and on the beach. To get to the beach we took 4x4 vehicles, which were all Range Rovers. It was a fun ride through unpaved terrain with many ups and downs, rocks, ditches, and other 'obstacles'. It was a fun adventurous ride in addition to the penguins observation. When we got to the Bluff Cove we saw a sea of penguins. They were running and chirping everywhere. Off to the right there was a small, but not in statue, population of King penguins. Their hatchlings were next to them or under them.



Cape Horn, CL
One of the scenic swim bys on the cruise. It was a nice view of the ridges and peaceful nature. However, neither of us thought it was magnificent. It was nice. We got some great shots and took a look for a few minutes, but that was it. It also was freezing cold there. We were wearing 3-4 layers and it was chilly.
____________________
Quotes from the trip:

Q: What country you all from (to bus group)?
A: Ohio
Tour Guide: penguins swim out to feed and get food for their babies
Q: from bus passenger 2 min later - do penguins live near water?

On tender
P1: Who painted the Mona Lisa?
P2: umm
P1: O, you know, we went to his house to see the painting...
P2: O I think it was Galileo, (me - Michael...) I mean that guy, Michaelengelo
P1: they are all like spaghetti to me
____________________

Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego) Argentina
End of the Earth. It is the most southern part of the continent. It was one of the most scenic stops on the trip. This place of dreary skies started out as a prisoners colony, but grew into residential area with skiing resorts and robust tourism.

Punta Arenas, CL
Originally, we were going to visit another penguins colony, though after seeing the last two it was a lot of penguins. And it would be Magellans once more. Instead, we did a tour of the city on own. It was interesting to see the town and we go to see more of it then most tourists. We did start of with very touristy portion, the Plaza Muñoz Gamero. It has many stalls with the local selling a ton of touristy chuchkies, "wool" clothing, magnets and so on. Around the square there were several museums. Originally we wanted to see Museo Palacio Braun Menendez, which we did. However, by a lucky mistake, we first ended up at the house of Braun Menendez, Casa Braun-Menéndez. It was a small mansion with some of the original furniture and other historic artifacts. The actual museum, is actually much smaller with less stuff in it. Right off the plaza is the restaurant, La Tasca, that is recommended, but not the easiest to find. When we came across it, we were not even sure if it was it. It is located on the second floor of a white building. And unless you can spot the small sign, you would walk right by it. When we went up their for lunch it looked like a 2 story walk up building in NY. But then on the right side is a full restaurant. There was no one there at the time. We were the first. We has a great selection of seafood and a pisco sour. As we dined, local patrons came in for lunch as well as other tourists.


We also got a great 360 degree view of Punta Arenas when we climbed up the steps in the middle of the town. The walk and the climb was well worth the view:



Amalia Glacier(scenic Cruising), CL
The weather and therefore the ocean were ruff at the time we were supposed to sail by that glacier. And captain made a call to bypass it and sail around it. While a few folks were disappointed, considering the number of green people walking around, it was the right call. Plus at dinner the night before we saw pretty awesome glaciers that looked even better from my view then the one we missed.

Puerto Montt, CL
This excursion was the most scenic and grandiose. First stop after a short bus ride was at the Emerald Lake. So named for the color of the water which looks bright green. Here we took a very scenic ride on a ferry. It lasted 45 minutes, though it seemed to go by much quicker. We sailed by the Osorno volcano. Seeing it from several sides. We later saw even more sides of it driving to next destination on the bus. The weather was crisp and sky clear, so we got a good view of its snowy top. The water was calm and just as green as the name suggested. We got a lot of great pictures:
Second stop of the tour was a lunch break on a local farm. They had great food and drinks, and we had great time chatting with other folks on the tour. They also had animals grazing near by and we got some up close shots of a bird that looked like Emu, saw sheep, hawk flying by, and goats.


Valparaiso, CL - Errazuriz Winery
Here it was a bus tour through out the area. We drove through the city making a few very short stops for pictures and stretching. One of the most scenic views was up high of the entire city.
The great part about this excursion, besides the tour, was that it also acted as our transfer from the cruise ship to the airport. At the end of the excursion, they dropped us off right in-front.




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Mar 30, 2015

12 Best Wine Travel Products and Gadgets

Wine Travel Products and Gadgets



We love wine travel. We have sampled wines from different regions in the East Coast, West Coast, and now South America. Not only do we sample, but we also bring back bottles and some of these don't always make it all the way back. We pop one open on a ranch with some homemade bread and cheese on a picnic or bring to restaurant, or in the room. A good travel bottle opener, safe travel container, and bag go a long way.

Here are some of unique, innovative and effective ways to keep a bottle of wine safe while traveling:

Ideas to keep bottles safe and free from spilling:


VinniBag Inflatable Travel Bag


Jet Bag Reusable Padded Absorbent Bottle Bags, Bio-Degradable Travel Accessory


Wine Enthusiast BottleGuard Neoprene Double Bottle Wine Protector


Tools to get it flowing:


Waiters Corkscrew by HiCoup - All-in-one Corkscrew, Bottle Opener and Foil Cutter


EDGY® Wine Foil Cutter


Suck UK Legless Pirate Bottle Opener


Drinking it well:


Basily Wine Aerator Spout Pourer


Portable Wine Aerator + Luxury Travel Case


Corkcicle Air Wine Chiller and Aerator

Packing up for trip:


Picnic Time Duet Insulated Wine and Cheese Tote


Picnic Time Malibu Insulated Aviano Picnic Tote


Teikis Wine Bottle Carrier & Cooler Bag with Corkscrew Included



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