Preparation

Mauritius – Making Plans

We plan to visit Mauritius next year and have spent quite a bit of time researching the options of how to get there.  There are direct flights from Perth but we have decided to go via Singapore with an overnight stopover each way.

This is where it is.  Mauritius lies to the east of Africa in the Indian Ocean and is a similar latitude to Broome.

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Although it is just under 11 months until our travel dates we will be booking our flights this week as we have found flights with Singapore Airlines/Air Mauritius for acceptable prices on our preferred dates at reasonable times.

Since the route is not high demand or particularly competitive there is very little likelihood of getting cheaper prices so we have decided that it is best to get them while we can.

 

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Closer to Home

For the first time in 5 years we do not have an overseas trip planned for 2018.  This was a conscious decision but does not mean that we will not be holidaying.

We began early in the year with a long weekend getaway with friends in February.  We went to Ballandean near Stanthorpe and enjoyed a quiet and relaxing country weekend which included swimming in the river, a bushwalk and dining on local produce.

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The next of our short trips within Australia will be to Tasmania and is coming up soon.  This 6 day trip is my part of my ‘milestone’ birthday celebrations.  We will be spending 5 nights at a luxury Air BnB in the north-east of the island before heading south to spend a night in historic Richmond before flying out of Hobart.  We do not have any specific plans apart from having made a booking for dinner at a restaurant in Launceston on the night of my birthday.

Other plans include a week in Melbourne in August (visiting our daughter and an opportunity to see our football team playing) and a week at Mudjimba Beach for the Christmas/New Year break.

All of these domestic trips require very little planning but have plenty to plan for next year.  In April 2019 we are heading to Mauritius and I am currently researching travel options from Brisbane to Mauritius.  Our 2 choices seem to be via Perth or Singapore so we are thinking that we will probably go to Perth on the way there and home via Singapore with a couple of nights stopover in each direction.  The next question is how long to spend in Mauritius?  I am thinking about 10-12 days will be enough.

The trip to Mauritius will be a significant milestone as it will be the last holiday that we plan with consideration given to work commitments and annual leave as we both plan to retire from full-time work in July 2019.  This will leave us with an unlimited window for future travel.  Even though it is 15 months away, we are considering the possibilities of an extended trip to the UK and Europe in the second half of 2019.  As I know from planning our previous 6 week trips, you really need at least 12 months to research and plan a major trip.  So, I have begun reading and learning about some of the places we dream of visiting. The rough itinerary looks something like this – Scotland, England, Wales, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain and Italy in about 4 months.

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7 Days – Ready to Go

In exactly one week we will be enroute to Brisbane in preparation for our flight at the beginning of our UK adventure.

As far as I am aware we have done everything we need to apart from the final packing.  Most of what we are taking is sitting in the suitcases or on the bed in the spare room.

I do need to finish the minor alterations I am making to 2 pairs of trousers which GMan will be taking.

The house is relatively clean and tidy for when the housesitters are here.  I have carefully planned our meals and shopping so that there will be very little left in the freezer or refrigerator.

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There is still plenty going on in the next week but I am not overwhelmed and stressed.  I have 4 more days of work, we are going to the movies on 2 evenings as well as spending Sunday with the family to celebrate my mother’s birthday which falls while we are away.

There are still meals to prepare and a couple of loads of washing which will need to be done.

It is a far cry from the times when I was would be madly trying to squeeze a million things into the last few hours before we set off on holidays and I have to say that I much prefer this feeling.

 

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A Packing List

I have given quite a bit of thought to what clothes I might pack for the trip and today I actually sat down and made a list.

When I searched for a suitable image and found this, it reminded me that I have the packing game pretty well sorted.  Most of these tips really are no-brainers as far as I am concerned.

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Anyway, here is my list.

Bottoms

2 x jeans
2 x trousers
1 x leggings

Tops

2 x l/sleeve shirts
1 x l/sleeve tshirt
1 x rugby top
1 x cardigan
2 x cowl neck jumpers

Outerwear/extras

1 x trenchcoat
1 x down jacket
2 x scarves
1 x hat
1 x beanie
1 x pair mittens

Underwear/nightwear

4 x bras
4 x knickers
4 x socks
3 x thermal tops
2 x thermal bottoms
1 x winter pyjamas

Footwear

1 x knee high boots
1 x lace up shoes
1 x soft indoor shoes

By the time I take out what I will be wearing plus a couple of spare things in my hand luggage, the remainder (apart from shoes) fits easily into one half my small suitcase.

The other half of the case will be taken up with shoes, a small selection of toiletries, medications and electronics as well as a few things that many people would not consider packing.  These include tulle produce bags, fabric shopping bags, stainless steel drink bottle, portable clothesline (no pegs required) and a fold-up duffle bag in case I go shopping and have extra things to bring home.

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Busy with Bookings

With less than 7 weeks until we leave we have everything pretty well organised.

However, one thing that was not booked was our carparking at the airport in Brisbane.  We live 80km (50 miles) from Brisbane and have limited options of people who could take us to and from the airport.  It is just easier to drive ourselves and park the car securely.  Whilst this comes at a cost we factor it into our holiday expenses.  There are several options either at the airport or off-site and serviced by a shuttle-bus.  Thanks to a ‘hot deal’ (their words) and a discount code we managed to get undercover valet parking located 3 minutes walk from the international terminal for less than outdoor parking at an off-site facility with shuttle-bus transfers.

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The other bookings are a bit more exciting.

We had already booked tickets to the ‘Classical Spectacular’ at Royal Albert Hall which I have written about previously.  You can read the post here.  As a result of snippets of information gleaned from various sources I found and booked 2 more shows.  The first is Liza Pulman in a show titled ‘Liza Sings Streisand’ at the historic Wilton’s Music Hall.  The other is a play titled ‘The Ferryman’ which has great reviews and is playing at the  Gielgud Theatre in the West End.

I particularly love the fact that it is highly unlikely that we would have the opportunity to see any of these shows here in Australia and of course, the venues are unique to London.

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Ready to Pack

In my last post I mentioned that we had bought another suitcase online.

It duly arrived and is exactly what we wanted.  Here is all the luggage that we will be taking to the UK for the two of us for a month in November.

 

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The teal case is the new one and is about 50% larger than the blue one.  These will both be checked baggage and the backpack and camera bag will be hand luggage.  The small daypack may get packed in a suitcase for the flight if space permits.

You may wonder why I seem obsessed with the luggage we are taking.  It is certainly not because of the limits on the flight as our allowance is 30kg/person.  Our 2 suitcases will probably not even be 30kg combined weight.

We choose to depend on public transport in most instances when we are travelling so a manageable amount of luggage is critical.  During our upcoming trip we will be catching the train to and from Heathrow airport as well as catching trains between London, Swansea and Cardiff in Wales and again from London to Cambridge.  Our accommodation in London involves stairs so we need to be able to easily get our luggage to our apartment.

I will never be one to travel with just one carry-on bag but it does make sense to keep things manageable.

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Buying a Bag

Time is rocketing along and tomorrow marks 11 weeks until we depart for London.

In order to travel you need luggage and for some time we have been debating as to what suitcases we need to take.

These are the two small cases which we bought before our trip to the UK in 2014.  These have served us well for that 6 week trip and again for 6 weeks in 2016 when we went to the USA and Canada.

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Although we are only going for 4 weeks this time we felt that we needed something slightly larger as we will have winter clothes whereas both of the other trips were in the height of summer in the northern hemisphere.

So, today we ordered this bag online and it should arrive early next week.

We will take the new suitcase and the blue one pictured above which is the slightly larger of the existing ones as well as a backpack, small daypack and my camera case as hand luggage.  I will be packing a spare set of clothes for each of us in the backpack as we have learned from our experience of spending 24 hours in Los Angeles at the end of our last trip with no spare clothes.

I think we have pretty well seen the end of winter here so in the next couple of weeks I will make sure all of our winter clothes are washed and set aside ready to pack.

I will not really be taking much extra but the clothes themselves are a bit more bulky.  We will be in the one place for 3 weeks and there are washing and drying facilities.

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Staying Safe

Apart from the occasional pickpocket or bag-snatcher, safety is not necessarily a prime concern when visiting other developed countries with similar values to our own here in Australia.

However, in the light of the events in various parts of Europe and the UK in recent years, and particularly in the past few weeks and months, it would be remiss of us not to seriously consider our safety while travelling.

We are not about ditch our plans and realise that there are risks whenever you step outside the front door no matter where you are.

Nevertheless, I did say to GMan yesterday that I do not think I will be walking across any bridges while we are in London.  Pedestrians on bridges have been targeted twice in a matter of months in the UK capital.  I can only assume that the ‘reasoning’ of the perpetrators is that there is nowhere for the pedestrians to escape.  What an awful thought process!

Even though I would love to attend a Remembrance Day service in November that may be off the agenda as I feel that being anywhere there is a large gathering may be too great a risk.

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We will continue to monitor the situation over the coming months but at this stage I do not envisage making any other adjustments to our plans.

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Paris Plans

The title of this blog post seems rather odd since our trip is to the UK and primarily London.  However, GMan managed to convince me that a day trip to Paris would be a good idea.

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We have booked our return tickets on the Eurostar and done a bit of research on how to get around as well as what we might like to see and do.  It will be a long day and I know we will only scratch the surface.  I am hoping to take a stroll through Montmartre, see the Sacre Couer, visit the Musee d’Orsay as well as a river cruise and walking some historic areas of the Left Bank.  There may be time to see other sites but I am determined not to rush madly from one location to another.  I would much rather have time to just enjoy the surroundings.

The other thing we have booked is tickets to a show at Royal Albert Hall.  It is the Classical Spectacular which is staged for about 4 days twice a year – in March and November.  You can watch a preview of it here.  I stumbled upon it when I was researching tours of Royal Albert Hall so decided that tickets in the front row of the first level balcony was far superior to a tour.

It is now just over 5 months until we depart and last weekend we met with the housesitters who will be taking care of the house, garden and most importantly our animals.  That was just about the last piece of the puzzle so I feel as though we are pretty well ready to go.

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Countdown – 7 Months

I realised this week that in 7months we will be in London at the beginning of our next overseas adventure.  In the 2 months since my last post we have organised a couple more things.

We booked our accommodation for the night in Cardiff.  As usual, we aimed to find somewhere that was fairly central.  We opted for a large chain hotel which is within walking distance of the train station were we will arrive from Swansea.  It is close to the city walking tour, the stadium as well as the departure point of the cruises to waterfront.  It will be a brief look around but we are looking forward to visiting Cardiff as it will actually be the only place on the trip which we have not been to previously.  The other places on our itinerary are London, Swansea and Cambridge.

The other thing we did was buy a lightweight down jacket for each of us from Uniqlo.  They squash up and can be rolled into quite a small carry bag,

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While it is not high-end fashion, I hope the jacket will not scream ‘tourist’ as I step outside the door.  I chose a mid-grey as it will co-ordinate with the other clothes I will be packing.  I will do a separate post at a later date about what I will be packing but it is mostly black, grey and red and of course, denim jeans.

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