Colleen’s Pandemic Airport Experience

With COVID-19, the travel industry has definitely taken a hit but travel within Canada is a great option!  We decided that we were going to fly to Toronto and, like everyone else, we were a little concerned about flying.  We read everything that we could find and decided to go ahead and booked flights with Air Canada.  We did our online check in 24 hours in advance and the next day we headed out to SKYXE (Saskatoon’s Airport).  Before you enter the airport, you need to put on your mask.  Make sure to have a good mask as you are going to have it on for a while.  You must sanitize your hands when you enter and then we proceeded to drop our bag.  The check in machine was able to read my boarding pass and the baggage tag was printed without me having to touch anything.  With that completed we went to security and everyone was spaced 6 feet apart. When we made it up to the screening, they hold people back until each person has gone through, picked up their baggage and moved on so it took longer than in the past so I would recommend that you get to the airport early. 

Once past security, there was nothing open.  They only had vending machines with drinks and treats so if you need your coffee you will have to have it before you enter the airport.

When our flight was called, we were spaced 6 feet apart in the line up and our temperature was taken before we boarded.  Once on the plane, there is no spacing and it was flying as usual except for the masks.  Everyone received a clean care kit that had a mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, wipes, headphones, water, and pretzels so you have everything that you need.

  The plane was so clean, and I took a wipe and wiped down my tray, but it wasn’t necessary as the wipe came up clean.  Twice during the flight, the flight attendants came by with water, pop, or coffee.  When we arrived in Toronto, I was surprised by the amount of people that were travelling but they had security going around to make sure that everyone was wearing their masks and distancing.  If they found someone with out their masks they were stopped and told to put on their masks, no other option.  There are quite a few restaurants open in the airport in Toronto and the Air Canada Lounge was also open.

Even with all the changes to flying, we would definitely do it again.  The airports and planes were so clean, and we were happy with all the things done for our protection.  Can’t wait to travel again. 

Air Canada Launches CleanCare+ Program

Air Canada has launched Air Canada CleanCare+.   This program uses new and existing preventative measures to keep you safe while travelling with the airline.

This program reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19 with mandatory pre-flight customer temperature checks, health questionnaires, seat assignment policies to allow for more personal space (in Economy Class on all flights until June 30, 2020), and even providing travellers with care with hand sanitizer and wipes.

Air Canada is also introducing electrostatic spraying of cabin interiors. Existing aircraft grooming procedures already incorporate the use of hospital grade disinfectant and specialized techniques to maintain cabin cleanliness.

waiting in the airport

“Air Canada CleanCare+ will not only provide protections at the personal level, by better monitoring our customers’ fitness to fly and providing for more personal space in Economy Class, but it also sets new standards for cabin cleanliness and ensures our employees have the best tools to maintain it. Coupled with other new safety practices we implemented earlier in response to COVID-19, Air Canada CleanCare+ will provide travellers with the confidence that they can book and fly safely with Air Canada as they consider their travel plans in the current environment.”

~ Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada.


In order to protect all customers Air Canada is introducing the following measures by May 15:

  • Air Canada travellers will be subject to an infra-red temperature check and government-mandated health questionnaire at all airports. Customers who are deemed unfit to travel will be rebooked at no cost but be required to obtain medical clearance prior to travel.
  • No Economy Class customer will be required to sit beside, unless they are required to do so to assist another passenger they are travelling with. This policy will be in effect until at least June 30, 2020.
  • Care kits containing hand sanitizers and other health items will be distributed to to all customers.
  • Air Canada was recognized by the 2019 Skytrax World Airline Awards for Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness in North America. Since then they have strengthened cabin grooming standards and will begin using state-of-the-art electrostatic sprayers to ensure a deeper clean.

To learn more about the CleanCare+ program please visit Air Canada’s webiste or reach out to our team.

Although it’s important that we all stay home and do our part at this time, brighter days are ahead. If there is a dream trip that you want to start researching or if you simply have questions about anything travel related, our team is happy to help. Feel free to reach out by phone or email and say hello. The world is waiting patiently to welcome you back and so are we.

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Air Canada Premium Rouge vs Air Canada Premium Economy

Air Canada Premium Rouge vs Air Canada Premium Economy:

I often get asked the difference between Air Canada Premium Rouge and Air Canada Premium Economy. I have flown them both before, but it was nice to fly both on this trip to get an up to date comparison.

On our flight from Toronto to Budapest we flew direct with Air Canada Premium Rouge. Rouge planes are older, but the Premium Rouge seats up front are quite roomy and similar to the old style Air Canada Business class. The seats have quite a lot of leg room, good recline, foot rests and access to the business class bathroom at the front of the plane. There was a hot meal service shortly after take-off, drink service throughout and a simple breakfast of banana bread and coffee or juice before landing. They gave us a comfort kit, blanket and pillow when we got on. The comfort kit has an eye mask, ear plugs, socks toothbrush and toothpaste. There are no seat back TVs on Rouge. You can either use your own tablet to connect to the AC app for movies etc., or if you are in Premium Rouge, they give you a tablet pre-loaded with entertainment, free of charge.


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On our flight from Vienna to Toronto, we flew Premium Economy on one of the new Dreamliners. It was my second time flying back from Europe on this aircraft and there is a noticeable difference in the air quality/humidity levels from older aircraft and the dimming lights and windows make for a nicer ambiance and atmosphere. Being a newer plane, the seats are quite a bit more comfortable. Otherwise, the leg room, seat recline, foot rests, comfort kits, blankets and pillow are almost identical from Premium Rouge to Premium Economy. Air Canada Premium Economy has seat back TVs with a wide selection of movies and entertainment. We received a hot meal shortly after take-off, drink service throughout and a warm pastry snack before landing. The food was perhaps a small bit better in Premium Economy on mainline Air Canada, but let’s face it – it’s all airplane food. Whether it’s a 6 out of 10 or a 7 out of 10, it’s not going to be fine dining.


All in all, both services were good. If I had a choice, I would opt for Premium Economy on mainline Air Canada every time – mainly for the more comfortable seats and newer aircraft. That being said, if it was a choice between a direct flight on Rouge and a connection on Mainline AC, I would opt for the more direct flight and forego a small difference in comfort for the convenience and time saving of a non-stop flight.

Want to discuss the best airline upgrade options for your next trip? Reach out to our team!


Bonnie Scotland with Correna – Part 1

March 7 2017

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My plane finally appeared through the blizzard at YXE


What a stormy winter day, I am guessing that Mother Nature didn’t know that I was supposed to be leaving this morning for Scotland.  My flight was scheduled for 11:20 but since they were concerned with planes landing because of the wind we were delayed about an hour.

The flight from Saskatoon to Toronto was pretty uneventful.  I have never flown out of Toronto before for an international flight so I did walk around a bit before heading to the Maple Leaf Lounge.  By the way the tomato red pepper soup was delish!


This was a huge trip for me as I have never been across the Atlantic.  With all my traveling it just hasn’t happened before.  My flight from Toronto to London Heathrow wasn’t too bad; we did have quite a bit of turbulence but just shut your eyes and hang on.  I did get a bit of sleep which made the flight much better.  Since I have never been to the UK before, I had to get myself around Heathrow Airport.  It was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I had to transfer from terminal 2 to 5 but there were signs everywhere and I have no problems asking for help if I need it.  The flight from Heathrow to Glasgow was another story.  There was a problem with the fuel gauge so it took them just about an hour to get the all clear.  Since the flight was sold out, I had the lovely middle seat and we just sat and waited for the hour to get going. Oh, I just about forgot that there was a footy team on our flight so it was like peddle to the metal to get them to Glasgow to get to their game.  Again turbulence and not a happy tummy, on the bright side my ear problems weren’t an issue at all!

Harry Potter LHR

Of course I had to stop at the Harry Potter Shop in London Heathrow Airport!

Joanne’s Collette tour of Britain Part 1

My adventure started on Nov 17. I flew from Calgary to London direct with Air Canada. The plane was half full so I had 3 seats to myself. I laid across all 3 seats and I think I slept for 4 hours.  When we arrived in London we were met by a representative from Collette Tours who drove us to the hotel. It took us 2.5 hours to get to hotel because the traffic is so bad here.  We are staying at a beautiful hotel in The City area. You can walk to the Tower of London and across the Tower Bridge which I did yesterday after we checked into the hotel.


Westminster Abbey

On Saturday Nov 19 we had a panoramic city tour. We were lucky to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. After lunch we had a guided tour of St Paul’s Cathedral. I walked up 257 steps to the whisper gallery at the church. What an amazing view.  Tonight we had free time so I decided to take in a show.  We went to Leicester Square and found a half price ticket booth. We decided to go to the musical Kinky Boots!! Even though we had to take single seats the show was amazing!!

Tomorrow we are off to York on the train.


Correna’s Asian Adventure – Part 1

My day started off fairly early – set my alarm for 0330, boy that hurt.  I am going to have a very long travel day and a half.  Flying from Saskatoon to Krabi via Vancouver and Hong Kong.  I am flying with Air Canada and Hong Hong Kong airlines.  My first flight with Air Canada was on a Jazz flight but I was extremely lucky and was upgraded to business class!  This never happens to me so I was pumped, they did put me in a window/aisle seat as the plane is 1 and 2.  I loved the leg room and service but pretty much froze, for people who know me this NEVER happens.  I ended up having to put on my sweater, scarf and then the flight attended gave me a blanket and hot cup of tea.  If I am ever lucky enough to be upgraded again on this flight I will make sure to make a quick trip to the bathroom  to put more clothes on. We were fed breakfast on the flight so when I arrived in Vancouver and checked into the Maple Leaf lounge I sure didn’t need their scrambled eggs, sausage and toast. It was fairly busy in the lounge so I just grabbed a chair and here I sit trying to make this entertaining, if I have failed just humor me and tell me I did a good job 😓.

My flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong was alright, I am not the best long haul flyer as I can never sleep. This flight was a lot easier as I was flying in Premium Economy with Air Canada. Only a short 13 hours and 5 minutes later we arrived in Hong Kong, woohoo I made it!  I can’t believe how much they feed you on this flight, we were served three meals and snacks!  I know you get bored on a flight by holy who can eat all that food?!

Onto Hong Kong airport! Since my next flight was with Hong Kong Airlines and I was not able to check my bags all the way through, I then had to clear customs and pick up my baggage.  I have never been through this airport before and was a little intimidated by the size.  We are not in Saskatoon anymore Toto!

I had booked myself time at the Plaza Premium lounge before I left home and since I had been awake since 3 am, all I cared about was finding the lounge, having a shower, and catching a nap.  When I travel I always ask for directions, so I stopped at the first information desk I came across to ask for directions.  To make sure I was still on the right track, I stopped again at the second one. Yes, I know overkill.  I finally found the lounge, which just happened to be under renovations so it took a little longer for my turn to shower. At that moment, the best part of my trip has been the shower.  You did have to be careful where you stood because of the reno’s but oh my it was amazing 😂.

I didn’t try much of the food at the lounge as I was still full from all the plane food, but I was able to nap a little in their big comfy chairs.  The arrivals lounge is a lot smaller and quieter than the international departure Plaza lounge, I took a quick peek while I was walking by and can pretty much guarantee that no one would have been able to nap in that place. They have a lot for food and drink options, but I was looking for some thing a lot lower key.

Once I got checked in and through security I couldn’t believe the size of the airport.  My gate was 524, yes, five hundred and twenty four. On my way to find my gat,e I was surrounded by wealth. Chanel, Gucci, Hermes and Rolex just to name a few.  I wish that these stores were in line with my travel budget!

So onto Krabi!  My flight was for 2 am, everyone just jumped in line before they even told us they were boarding and bam on the bus to make the transfer and we are on our way.  The Hong Kong Airline flight was on a smaller plane, I would compare it to an Enerjet flight that we used to have out of Saskatoon. The flight was just over 3 hours and my transfer was already waiting for me when we arrived.  That is pretty much my travel day and a half.

Colleen’s Hawaii Holiday – Part 1

Aloha from Maui.

We had the chance to fly on Air Canada’s new product Rouge. This is their no frills flight from Vancouver to Maui. There is a charge for meals with water, pop, and coffee free. It was great to be greeted by a lot of young flight attendants happy to welcome you aboard. Nothing was too much trouble for them and they were happy to get everyone settled and on our way. There are no screens on the aircraft. They do supply a wide range of movies and TV shows, but you need to supply your own tablet or smartphone. The catch is that you have to download the app before you fly. If you don’t, then your only option is to rent a tablet from them for $10.00.

We arrived in Maui 10 mins early and our luggage was off within 20 minutes. We then went off to pickup our shuttle for our car rental. We booked a car rental with Advantage, but they are not located in the car rental building so you have to go out the front doors and stand by pole 2 in order to be picked up. The shuttle comes every 10 mins and it’s not long before we had our car and went our on our way to South Kihei. We decided to rent a condo in South Kihei that was recommended to us. It is the Kihei Kai Nani and is in a great location right across the street from Kamaole Beach Park II. We are in the first building so we are literally minutes from the beach. The condo has been recently renovated and is beautiful and clean. I love staying in a condo for many reasons – one of them being that we have a separate bedroom, we can cook some of our own meals and they usually come with all the beach toys. We have beach chairs, beach umbrella, beach towels, boogie boards, snorkel equipment. There are also floaty toys and beach toys which is great if you have kids. All you need to do is show up. We are also right next door to Moose McGillycuddy’s and many other great restaurants and shops. Contact me and I can give you the details on this condo. You won’t be disappointed.

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Stephanie’s Trip to Cabos!

Earlier in February, Stephanie paid a visit to San Jose Del Cabos. Here’s her take on her trip!

Day One and Two

This is the first time either I or my husband have been to Cabo. I love being able to visit a new destination. So we started this journey in the very early hours on Monday morning, with a drive to Regina. It was easier to get flights, and saved us some money, which made it worthwhile.  Luckily the roads were good and the driver didn’t fall asleep on the way. We flew with Westjet, which was a nice change from the charters we usually take. Our luggage allowance 50 lbs, plus 22 lbs for a carry on. There is no meal service, so make sure you have a bite to eat beforehand. There are also seat back TVs with live satellite in Canada, and free movies afterwards. All the flights were on time, or at least within 30 minutes, which put us in Cabo around 3 pm.

Westjet lands in terminal 2 at the Cabo airport.  It was easy to navigate, and everything ran smoothly. Our bags were at the carousel by time we made it through immigration.  After you pass customs/security is when the madness begins.  You have to make it through 2 hallways before making it outdoors to where all the tour operators and shuttle buses are. Anyone in the hallways trying to talk to you are timeshare sellers, so unless you are interested just keep moving.  They will try to get you to go speak with someone, saying your transfer is over there. I booked us a shuttle with TransCabo (fantastic service by the way) who advise they are waiting in an orange shirt when you book. The timeshare sellers even had someone at their desk in an orange shirt in hopes you’d go speak with them. We made it outside, found the real TransCabo, and were on our way in no time.

For the week, we are staying at the Barcelo Grand Faro in San Jose Del Cabo. It’s about 20 minutes from the airport.  San Jose is quiet, with all inclusive hotels, timeshares and private residents.  If you want a more active area, head to Cabo San Lucas – that is where the cruise ships and busy clubs are. I prefer quiet, so San Jose works for me.

The hotel used to be the Hola Grand Faro last year, but Barcelo took it over in the fall. It’s not a typical Barcelo hotel, for anyone that has stayed with them before. They haven’t even changed all the signage, and many things still say Hola Grand Faro. Check in was a little slow, and our room wasn’t ready until nearly 5 pm. They did give use our wristbands right away so we could go for something to eat. Our room is on the 3rd floor, but the same floor as the lobby, so it’s nice and convenient.  The room has 2 beds instead of 1, but they are big enough for a couple to share. The bathroom is a nice size, but with only a shower. But everything is clean and in working order, so we chose to not be too picky about changing rooms.


beach view

After settling in, we went for dinner at the buffet. Each night has a different theme, which I think will give good variety through the week. The food was good, and the service was decent. We were so exhausted by the end of the night that it felt really good to crawl into bed and finally get some sleep.

The first full day at the resort was nice and leisurely.  I got out of bed around 8, and headed to the buffet for breakfast.  The breakfast and lunch buffet is fairly small, so hopefully the menu will change throughout the week. There is a great made to order omelet station that seems to be the favorite, as there is always a line.

The afternoon was spent by the pool, which was all I had planned for the first day. There are 3 pools at the hotel. The largest has the swim up bar, but is quite cold. For this reason, it’s the quietest. There is another pool on the other side of the bar, and the 3rd is an infinity pool by the ocean. Since it’s smaller, the water is much warmer. There are games in the 2nd pool throughout the day, and the hotel staff isn’t pushy to make you play. There is some waiter service around the pool, which is a nice treat I wasn’t expecting.

Dinner tonight is at 1 of the a la cartes. There are Mexican and Italian, and they alternate each night. Reservations are made on a daily basis via a phone call to the concierge between 9 and 5. We decided on Mexican for our first visit. The restaurant is very nice looking, with a great bar area. The food was pretty good, but not spectacular considering we are in Mexico.  The shrimp pozole soup was really good though – you are brought onion, avocado, cilantro and Serrano pepper to add to your liking. Unfortunately the service was poor. I think our server had one too many tables and we were the ones to suffer. We might try it again later in the week to see if things get better.

It’s early to bed tonight, as we are still catching up on sleep from our travel day. We booked an excursion for tomorrow, so hopefully all goes well on that. More to come throughout the week, so stay tuned!

Day Three and Four

It’s Wednesday morning, and we are getting ready for our excursion.  We booked an Outback Safari and Camel ride with Cabo Adventures.  The bus is coming to pick us up at 1020 am, so no sleeping in today. A quick breakfast in the buffet and off we go. The Cabo Adventures meeting point is in San Lucas, so we have a bit of a trek ahead of us. After picking up at 3 other hotels, we make it there about an hour later. We check in for the tour, only to find out we have to wait another 45 minutes before it starts. There isn’t much to do around their center. You can walk around the marina, but you just get hassled by all the sales people for water taxis, glass bottom boat tours and fishing.  The Cabo Adventures center has dolphins, but you aren’t allowed to go to them unless you have a tour.

Finally, at 12pm we are ready to go. There are about 30 people or so, which I’m thinking is pretty big. We all load onto a bus, and get ready for another 30 minute transfer to the ranch where the camels are. By this time, I’m starting to get pretty tired since busses put me to sleep. When we get to the ranch, we are split into three groups and get into the 4×4 safari busses. The ride is bumpy, as it should be, but there isn’t a lot to see besides cactus. You can take photos if you want, up until the camel ride. Then there is a professional photographer, so you have to put your own away. You take some pictures with one of the camels, but you don’t have to if you are a little nervous (they are a lot bigger than I thought). After donning a helmet the riding begins. Two people per camel, and each has someone guiding you along the coast.  It’s about 30 minutes on the camel, but you don’t go very far because they walk quite slowly. It’s pretty windy along the beach, so make sure to take a sweater.  When the ride is done, there is a short walk through some trails to the lunch area. This was probably my favorite part – eating! The food was great, with lots of selection and a little tequila information and tasting.  The guide also shows everyone how to make tortillas from scratch, which is still how most locals do it every day.


When the tour is actually over, it takes us about 2 hours to get back to the hotel, since we have to go back to the Cabo Adventure center, and then drop off everyone we picked up.

When we are finally back, it’s right to the room to get ready for diner, as we made a reservation for the Italian restaurant tonight. I wasn’t going in with high hopes, since we aren’t in Italy.  Luckily, I was wrong and it was great.  The service was much better than the previous night, which was a lot of the reason we enjoyed it more. The food was pretty good too. We shared a capresse salad and thin sliced beef for appetizers.  Each of us had soup – mine was a creamy fennel, and my husband had a great vegetable soup. Main course for me was shrimp linguini, and lamb with mint sauce for my husband.  He was going to have veal chops, but the waiter was politely honest in telling him it wasn’t any good, which he really appreciated.  By now, we are both stuffed and aren’t thinking we want any more, but we get handed a dessert menu, and decided we better try the tiramisu.  It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was pretty good.

Now I am exhausted, so it’s time for a night cap and a good, long sleep.

Thursday is our 4th day here, and there are no big plans for the day. We sleep in, and don’t go for breakfast until nearly 10. Another great omelet, and I’ve started having this crazy chip thing too – tortilla chips, red or green sauce, onion and crème fresh – delicious!

After breakfast, we decide to explore the street a little. There is construction of a new hotel to one side of us, and the Royal Solaris on the other side. Our room has a partial view of their water park, which looks nice for younger kids. A little further down the street are a few shops, but nothing great. We did find a liquor store, and decided to get some rum for our room. I think tomorrow we will explore a little further, and maybe go to MEGA, which is kind of like Wal-Mart or superstore.

Really, all we did today was lounge by the pool and get some sun. The ocean wasn’t very rough today, so we wandered down to play a bit.  It was really nice to get in the salt water and play in the waves. You can still feel the current even waist deep, so pay attention to waves and how far from the shore you are. I wouldn’t recommend the ocean for small kids or nervous swimmers.

Dinner was just at the buffet tonight, and the theme was oriental.  Nothing was overly great, except the made to order stir fry beef which was fantastic.  Personally, I’ll stick to Chinese food at home. There is a Las Vegas show at the theater tonight, but I’m so exhausted from being in the sun all day that we don’t make it.  One of these nights I will be up late enough to catch a show.

Day Five, Six, and Seven

Our last few days were very relaxed. No excursions, just time by the pool and some exploring nearby. One of these days we decided to go to Shooter’s bar, which is owned by a Canadian Couple, who are originally from Saskatchewan. It was about a 40 minute walk from the hotel, and is pretty easy to find. I’m pretty sure everyone in the bar the day we visited was Canadian. There is great food, good Staff and inexpensive beer. We had 4 tacos, chips, salsa, guacamole and 4 beers for only 20 USD

Another day we went for a walk down the beach. There was a point in the distance I wanted to reach, but it ended up being a little too far away. It was still a great 2 hour walk. We made it to the start of Puerto Los Cabos, which is the new luxury area of Cabo. On the way back, we saw some dolphins as well as a stingray. I love being able to see wildlife in their natural habitat.

The special dinner of the week was on Friday, which is the Mexican Fiesta. They set this up in the theater Area of the hotel. No reservations are required, and dinner starts around 630 pm. It is buffet style, and of course, everything is Mexican cuisine. Fresh fajitas, Mexican rice, beans, chicken mole and my personal favorite, tortilla Soup! At about 7 pm the dinner show starts with a piñata for the kids, which was absolutely adorable. Then they continue on with a mariachi band. We didn’t make it much further than this, as unfortunately my husband wasn’t feeling great that night. We called it another early night in but that is just fine with me. I’d rather have early mornings and enjoy the sunshine, since there isn’t much at home.


Our very final day was the most relaxing, with pool time and a few final hours in the Sun. I always save the last day to completely relax before the journey home.

The trip home went very well, for the most part. We were picked up by Trans Cabo right on time and the service was great again. The Westjet bus was picking people up at the same time as us, and it probably took 30 minutes longer than our transfer. We beat the rush to the airport, and were able to check in and get through security very quickly. I would compare the Cabo airport to Calgary. There is a Corona lounge, plus a few fast food restaurants and a few shops. There isn’t anything too exciting, but it is an easy area to navigate. Our flight left Cabo on time, and was an uneventful 4 hours to Calgary. We had just over an hour for our Connection, which is cutting it close. It’s about a 6 Minute walk from the gates to customs and Immigration, and it can get pretty busy if there are multiple flights landing at the same time. All went well for us, and we got through without a hitch. Since we were connecting, we had to drop our bags off, and then go through security again. Just as we were approaching Security, the fire alarms started to go off. We were ushered to the exit and found out that one of the Westjet terminals had an electrical fire. Security was shut down, and the airport pretty much came to a halt as the fire and police departments were called in to assess the Situation. Even though the small fire was out, no one was permitted through security until the police determined that the incident was isolated. The whole ordeal took about 60-90 minutes before we were on our way. Luckily, because there were about 40 people waiting for our same connecting flight our plane was held back. We made it back to Regina that night, about an hour behind. With all the mix up in Calgary, one of our bags didn’t make it. Westjet was very good about it. We filled out a report, and they said it would be shipped to us as soon as it was found. By lunchtime the next day, I got a call that it was already in Saskatoon. We chose to pick the bag up at the airport instead of having it delivered, and Westjet provided us with a $100 travel bank in return.

All in all, it was a great trip. I’d definitely go back to the area, but hopefully I get visit a few new destinations first.

Jamie’s Hawaii and Australia Adventure Part Three – Hawaiian Airlines Coming Up Roses!

First of all, I have to admit I am a terrible flyer.  Most people are surprised by this, given that I own a travel agency and I have been in the travel industry for over 15 years.  I hate flying, I am terrified of turbulence, I get sweaty hands and at can’t wait to get off the airplane at the end of a flight.  I have never flown Hawaiian Airlines before and I was a bit skeptical (and nervous)… I was sure this would be some sort of second rate-discount-airline that would not have my safety and comfort as their top priority.

However, they were the only airline flying direct Honolulu-Sydney on the days I wanted and they were a good price, so that’s how we came to have a reservation on Hawaiian Airlines.  I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised!  The check in staff was very helpful.  Please make sure to get to the airport  in Honolulu at least two hours prior as they suggest – the security lineups were very long and we stood in line about 45 minutes.  The in flight crew and staff were very friendly and polite and they took extra time to make sure Sydney was comfortable and felt special.  I had ordered a special children’s meal ahead of time for Sydney (complimentary) and it was chicken nuggets and tater tots and fruit salad – perfect for a kids meal.  The adult meal was also quite good – surprising by airline standards.  It was an Asian chicken stirfry with asparagus and rice, plus cheesecake and a salad.  They came around with a snack later in the flight which was sandwiches, cookies and macadamia nut chocolates.  They also had complimentary drinks including wine and beer throughout the flight.  In between the meal services, they had snacks for purchase in the galley.  They have personal in seat entertainment units (not standard on all flights, but I think it’s standard on most of the long haul international flights.)  They had a selection of movies, music, tv shows and games for free, plus a few new releases at an additional cost.  There was no problem finding something to pass the time.  It was an 11 hour flight…I watched three movies and read the rest of my book and we were there!

My only complaint is that the leg room was not quite what I would have liked.  If I had anything at all in my seat pocket, my knees were touching the seat in front of me.  However, the seats reclined quite a bit and had adjustable head rests which made it nice for napping.  They also gave everyone a pillow and blanket.   All in all, Hawaiian gets two thumbs up from me and I am quite happy to be flying them back to Honolulu next Friday night.

We arrived in Sydney in the evening and took a taxi from the airport to our downtown hotel (about $45 AUD).  Check in at the Four Seasons was very quick and efficient and our room was as requested with a king bed and a cot all made up for Sydney.  The room is quite large with a really nice bathroom.  They provide adaptors which is a bonus and there is a DVD player and very large flat screen TV.  They have complimentary bottled water in our room – replaced nightly and they include breakfast and WIFI.  My only complaint about the room is it seems quite dark.  The lights are all covered in a very dark shade and there aren’t enough lights in the ceiling.  Ironing was a bit of a challenge when I couldn’t see where the wrinkles were!

View from hotel room in Sydney

View from hotel room in Sydney

The included breakfast at the Four Seasons was very good – buffet style but made to order eggs and lots of fresh breads, baking, fruit, eggs benedict, bacon, pretty much everything you could want.  I am thankful for the included breakfast since the costs in Sydney have not gotten any better since I was here a few years ago.  Caesar Salad at the hotel is $28 AUD and at a restaurant on Darling Harbour it was $18 AUD.  Pasta was $24-$30AUD for lunch and a glass of wine starts at $13 AUD – beer starts around $9 AUD.  Considering the AUD is pretty close to being on par with the CAD, the prices are quite a bit higher than at home.

Tomorrow we will check out the Aquarium and do a bit more sightseeing before my conference starts on Monday.  It really is a beautiful city and the view of the Opera House out our window can’t be beat!

Joanne’s AMA Waterways Danube River Cruise – Part 1 & 2

Part 1

We survived our long flight a little bit worse for wear.  Connections were all good and the Air Canada agents were all really good.  The food on the flight was something to be desired but thankfully we brought snacks.

A gentleman from AMA Waterways meet us as soon as we left baggage claim and took us to the meeting point for our 2 hour transfer to the ship.  When we arrived at the ship our rooms were not quite ready but they had some soup, sandwiches, cookies, coffee and tea waiting for us.  Then we were taken to our rooms where our luggage was waiting for us.   The rooms are smaller than we expected but due to creative placement and completely unpacking we fit everything in.

Currently it is pouring rain here and cold however there is no snow.

Part 2

Our day started with a walking tour in Vilshofen a small village in Germany where our ship departs from.  It took us 15 minutes to walk around the town.  We then boarded our ship as we set sail for Passau.  We went through our first set of locks which was very interesting as we watched from the top deck where the captain is.

When we arrive in Passau Germany, a local guide took us on a 1.5 hour walking tour around the town.   He was quite informative with all the local history.

The weather today was sunny, cloudy, windy and cool good thing we brought warm clothes and jackets.

What we have noticed so far between oceanliners and river cruising it is more relaxed and personal.  The ships are only 3 stories tall, very long and there are only 146 guests on board.  So far the food has been spectacular and plentiful like dining in a 5 star restaurant.  With so few people there are no line ups.

Until tomorrow….stay warm