A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: marksrtw

Thanks for joining me on this trip around planet Earth!

I'll will be visiting Buenos Aires, Agentina - Madrid, Spain - Cape Town, South Africa - Hong Kong, China - Mumbai and Delhi, India - Perth, Australia - San Francisco, USA

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The adventure begins on March 13th 2010 on our first flight from Spokane to Seattle at 7 AM on Alaska Air 737 a brief 1 hr hop over the Cascades. Part of the fun for me will be to try to share my thoughts, perspectives and excitement in seeing places neither of us have ever been before. I want this experience to be interactive so please send me your comments, questions and most of all your excitement.

I'm connecting in Seattle to American Airlines MD-80 for a 4 hr flight to Dallas and international flight to Buenos Aires on American Airlines 777 9.5 hr overnight flight. With luck I will see the lights of the Panama canal and sunrise over the Ande's as I arrive early morning in Buenos Aires. I'll explore the historic sites and quiet cafes of Buenos Aires (Paris of South America) on my one day guided walking tour. My first night of my 2 in the Buenos Aires will include a Tango Dinner show, a great beginning to many more memories to follow.

I depart BA on March 16 on Iberia Airlines A340 for the overnight 13 hr flight to the capital city of Madrid, Spain. In Madrid I will use the hop on hop off sightseeing bus to see all the main sites including the Prado Museaum, Palace, tapa bars and the Flamingo dance of course (This trip may be taking on a "So You Think You Can Dance" theme ;-). A trip to Toledo, Spains medivel capital, is on my list but I will let things happen more spontaneously on this stop on my journey.

On March 19 I grab a quick afternoon flight on an Iberia Airlines A321 to London and after brief 2 hr layover at Heathrow I will board my British Airways 747 (upper deck seat) 11.5 hour overnight flight to Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town is one of the most naturally beautiful and remote cities in the world (much like Perth) and the mid point of my trip. I will ride the tram up to the top of Table Mountain for a spectacular panorama of the city and ocean. Can't go to Africa without experiencing a Safari so I will spend a day viewing Lions and Tigers and Giraffes (Oh My!) and finally I will drive south to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope where the stormy waters of the Atlantic reputedly meet the calming influence of the Indian Ocean. I'm looking forward to the calming influence seeing this naturally beautiful and powerful place not to mention the jet lag by then.

Next, a quick flight to Johannesberg on March 23rd where I will board my 12 hr long haul flight to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific 747 (yes, upper deck again!). I only have 7 hours to experience this crossroads of the orient. With luck and lots of coffee I will grab the transit tour of Hong Kong from the airport so I can get back for the remainder of my journey with a 7 hr Cathay Pacific A340 flight to Mumbai and on to Delhi on Jetlite 737 ( additional 2 hrs) that same evening.

This will by most challenging stop on the trip because of the 30+hr hour journey the day before and what will probably be a very short rest in my hotel in Delhi but it just didn't make sense to visit India and not see one of the great Wonders of the World the Taj Mahal in Agra outside of Delhi on March 25th. I will return same day to Mumbai and a good nites sleep.

Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is going to be a unique experience from my home base at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (where the November 8th, 2008 terrorist attack took place). Remember this is Bollywood so I will be looking for movie stars and film crews as I visit the Gateway to India, Elephanta Island, Chowpatty Beach and rub shoulders with over 15 million inhabitants speaking over 10 languages (where's my sanitizing gel?). With luck I will have dinner at "Wasabi" Iron Chef Morimoto's newly reopend restaurant in my hotel (depends on how many Rupee's $ I have left).

I will now be on the home stretch. Departing Mumbai early (very early!) on March 27th on Cathay Pacific's 777 I will pass through Bangkok and Singapore for my last stop abroad - Perth, Australia. Perth is the capital of Western Australia and a city very few Americans visit when traveling to Australia so I am excited to to see a unique part of the land Down Under. The Swan river runs throught this beautiful city. You know I will be kicking back aussie style while I sample wines and watch the scenery drift by on a relaxing river cruise. This stop will be a chance to rest, reflect and enjoy a slower more casual pace in the most friendly country on earth and one of my favorites in the world (Aussie's remind me of Alaskans). I'll throw a shrimp on the barbie for ya mate!

All to quickly it will be time to say good-bye to Perth and catch my Qantas Airways 767 flight March 31st to Sydney and very short layover before boarding the largest commercial airplane in the air today: the Qantas A380 double decker. Yes, once again I have secured an upper deck seat to enjoy this my longest flight of the trip (nearly 14 hours of a total of 100 flying hours total on this around the world journey). Plenty of time in the air to enjoy drinks, airline food that I have loved since I was a weee lad (Cindy will remember me finishing up her meals on many a flight between Anchorage and Spokane). Hopefully I can find a movie in haven't already seen on one of the 15 previous flights :-).

After arriving in Los Angeles LAX 4 hours before I left Sydney (funny how that international dateline makes time travel a reality!) I will clear customs I hope :-) and board my American Airlines flight to my last stop San Francisco, CA. I'm looking forward to seeing my dear friends Baldo and Richard. This will be the perfect ending to the most exciting trip of my life. Sharing this with my friends and family is amazing to me and I hope you will think so as well.

So Mark your calendars (couldn't resist the pun) and set your reminders, then get comfortable, grab a drink or whatever and fire up the computer daily and log in here www.marksrtw.travellerpoint.com and www.youtube.com/user/Travelguy101 for real time updates, pictures and videos as things things unfold March 13-April 1st for 20 days that will make the tv show Amazing Race look like a walk in the park.

Tim McGraws 2004 album title "Live Like You Were Dying" sums it up best for me! This trip is a 40 year dream that I never gave up hoping would come true someday. Thank you to Rick for your support and understanding and watching the kids. Enjoy March Madness while I enjoy my own version on this trip :-)

Posted by marksrtw 09:28 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (4)

Let the World Adventure Begin:

First Stop is Buenos Aires, Home of the Tango!

semi-overcast 42 °F
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I'm heading for the airport in Spokane to catch my short Alaska Air flight to Seattle and American Airlines connection to Dallas and on to Buenos Aires. I arrive in BA at around 9 am tomorrow. Don't forget to set your clocks forward.

Mark

Posted by marksrtw 05:21 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Hola from Buenos Aires!

4 Flights down only 15 to go

sunny 58 °F
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Hola my travel mates! I had to clean up some stuff and add some important things I forgot. I promise I will not subject you again to a rewrite but I feel I’m finally getting the hang of this blog stuff and I’m getting my travel rhythm. Please enjoy and I am loving your comments and don’t feel alone at all thanks to all of you routing me on! Hey, I think it easier to send my video to my youtube site www.youtube.com/user/Travelguy101.
March 13-16, 2010
March 13 - Following a very hectic week at the office trying to clean up loose ends and two nights of little sleep in anticipation of this incredible trip I am now working on my second Bloody Mary and finally relaxing and able to comprehend the journey head.
I was upgraded to first class on my trip from Spokane this morning which was great to get off on the right foot or seat in this case! I arrived on time at around 8 am at SeaTac. I had to exit the secure airport zone and check in at American Airlines ticket counter to check in for the international flight through Dallas. Nice sunny day in Seattle so had a beautiful view as expected of Mount St Helens. Hey, I have flown the entire route on FSX (that’s Microsoft Flight Simulator my alternate life) many times before this flight so was able to anticipate best seat for scenery.
This flight to DFW is 3.5 hours using an MD-80 Superliner, older aircraft with an incredible history of service. Following some clear air turbulence we increased altitude to better air and had a nice lunch of BBQ chicken salad and a little white wine. Now I’m completely relaxed and ready to get my mind and hopefully my body fully involved in the adventure.
Dallas was about a 3.5 hour layover (should have been 2 but flight was delayed (as seems very normal for just about any long haul flight I have ever flown) to catch second American Airlines 10 hr flight to Buenos Aires. The equipment is a triple 7 and flagship class cabin. It was very comfortable with great service food and drink. The seat reclined to an angled flat bed. That should sound like an oxymoron but great marketing because it is flat but not level perpendicular to the floor like a flat be would normally be thought of and they now it will make you think it is like your bed at home. Still its way better than sleeping in a nearly upright seated position arm and shoulder with the seat mates next to you. It did take some getting used to because your body wants to slowly slide down toward the floor. My seat mate next to me is the manager for Argentina, Peru, Uruguay and Chile for Apple Corp. I asked about the IPAD and he said it’s so top secret that only a handful of Apple employees are even allow to see or touch (very funny he thought).

March 14 - Arrived in Buenos Aires an hour late at 10am to sunny skies in Buenos Aires and a warm 80 degrees. Smooth sailing through immigration. They asked me for $150.00 just to enter the country so it must be good. Taxi whisked me to my hotel in the Centro district and now a shower and long nap so I’m ready for the exciting BA nightlife. P.S. This hotel is some minimal design of concrete floors and total glass shower surround between bed area and sink and toilet. Why am I mentioning this? Because the first thing I did in the room was walk forehead first in the plate glass shower wall which you don’t see when you are suffering from sleep deprivation. No concussion but a nice walnut from the encounter. I have a VIP seat at the Tango dinner show this evening (hope it’s not too cheesy).I will update tonight after I have Tangoed; Remember the theme of this trip is So You Think You Can Dance! It’s going to get a lot more exciting I guarantee! Before I got out of the hotel I noticed the whole pool area had turned into a Rave party that the hotel hosts every Sunday during the summer (stayed long enough to have a drink and glad to exit the crowd of young party goers because yes I am getting old and yes I am married!). The motto for this hotel is it’s “heterofriendly” and need I say more. The Tango show was in a very old and historic theater in BA and the tango they performed for us was what was termed classical. Here’s the cheesy part, I thought if I reserved a VIP seat I would be seated near the stage where I could easily be available to jump on stage not if but when asked. Instead, I had a balcony box above the rest of the cheap skates who obviously new there was no real advantage to paying the extra pesos. So there I was in my box up high on display by myself eating a fantastic dinner of what else Argentinean beef that literally melted in my mouth. Funny how my wine glass never emptied during the entire 3 hour performance and what a great show it was. OK, I didn’t get to tango (couldn’t have with this back if I wanted to – last time I will mention my back problems promise) but I did get a picture since I was a VIP  with the star performers of the extravaganza. My driver was waiting as promised in front of theater when I left and quickly got me home to Axel Hotel and I only remember my head hitting the pillow and I was out like a light

March 15 &16 - Beautiful sunny day in Buenos Aires this morning and I have a bit of a hangover from the Tango experience or actually the red wine. My walking tour guide Jessica (an American girl with a history major having an international experience to enhance her knowledge of Latin American history) met me in the lobby this morning and we grabbed a taxi to get us to the starting point of our all day experience exploring BA. The city is of course a mixture of very old and very new. We started with the very old. First stop was the Pink House (their White House). It’s in front of the main plaza in the Centro district of BA. Its more salmon color and pink and rumor is they did not have enough white paint so they mix cow blood into the paint (I don’t think so). This is a very famous park and building as it is the place where Evita Peron and of course Madonna made their famous appeal to the people of Buenos Aires not to fear her impending death from cancer and know that she will always be in their hearts. So, “Don’ Cry for me Argentina” kept looping in my head as I peering up at the balcony where is all took place. And behind me the park is the current location of much protest (good and bad) toward the government. This the place where the mothers of missing son’s first gathered in the 1980’s demanding the military government tell them what they had done with their sons who you should all remember is a very ugly period of Argentinean history. Their symbol is white head scarves that they wore and still do every Thursday in the plaza where they continue to seek closure. That symbol of the white head scarf is stenciled in white paint around the circular plaza as their lasting symbol for many unanswered questions. P.S. This plaza being right across the street from Pink House of the President of Argentina (by the way currently a women described by my guide very Hillary Clinton like) is home to more permanent protests the most obvious was of Falkland Island war veterans who were still ask their government to provide much needed health and social benefits for their service (sounds like their Vietnam huh!). Now back to Madonna. There was a lot of outrage that Madonna and not an Argentinean actor played the role of their most cherished Evita. My guide likened it to Britney Spears playing Mother Teresa (I would have chosen Paris Hilton). We had many great stops and views during the tour but while in the subway my blackberry was stolen and my afternoon and evening was spent cancelling phone service and changing email accounts. Feels very creepy that someone has my phone and I hope Karma does her thing on the thief who I now remember his face as he staged giving up his seat lifted the phone out of my pocket because I was trying to hold on the subway handle as I was standing up I lost my awareness of my surroundings (believe me, I know better and could kick myself).
I will share more about Spain when I have time as my taxi is waiting to take to the airport for my next stop Madrid so stay tuned. Oh, one last thing about Madonna, before I left my room they were announcing that Madonna was doing a concert in Buenos Aires March 30th. I got a grin out of that and that damn “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” started looping in my head again. See you in Madrid.

Posted by marksrtw 16:45 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (5)

Hola From Madrid!

2.5 Days in the Capital City of Madrid, Spain

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March 17- The flight from Buenos Aires to Madrid was excellent. Only 13 business class passengers in the cabin that takes over 30 so no one had some sitting next to them. It will probably be my closest feel of international first class I will ever hope to experience. Felt like a movie star! I feel asleep somewhere over the Amazon near Bahia, Brazil and I woke to see the lights of Casablanca pass under me from 34,000 feet. We arrived at around 6 am to a very quite Madrid International Airport which was just fine with me! What a cool airport, so modern with lots of glass, steel and LED lights and reader boards. I love Europe because its so far ahead of the US in so many ways but that’s another Blog I will do someday!
Arrived at Hotel Atlántico my home for 2.5 days and I couldn’t have picked a better location as it is right on the main Blvd called of course Gran Via. I had to wait a few hours for a room to become available as the hotel is full and I can see why. Great bargain by any standard. I was upgraded at no extra cost to a beautiful suite at the top of the hotel overlooking the Gran Via. Not sure why but I can turn on the charm when needed CHUCKLE. I don’t have to worry about walking into the glass shower wall in this gorgeous marble bath complete with a tub I will be soaking in tonight you can bet on that and my back will be much happier I’m sure. OK mentioned my back again but honestly, I’m an old man and have an even older back.
A quick shower and breakfast and I was off to explore Madrid. I bought a 17 Euro pass and which allowed me to hop on and off the red Double Decker bus same as they have in most major cities around the world anymore and it is so great for sightseeing. I can’t possibly describe how surreal and beautiful Madrid is. I have been to Paris, Rome, London and Athens but this city is different in all the best ways. It’s hypnotic with grand plazas and sparkling fountains. Madrid’s pride is the Prado, one of Europe’s great museums and home to Goya, El Greco and Velázquez. I toured El Palacio Real, the seat the Spanish empire and the best preserved palace in Europe and there’s a hell of a lot of them. Madrid apparently has the greatest hoard of art treasures per area around the Prado Museum of any city in the world all hidden away in the center of the city. The architecture, people and energy all come together to amaze and tickle every sensation and left me speechless and looping all day jumping on off the bus. I will let the pictures and videos speak for themselves so enjoy! Raleigh, you are so right about Madrid. Venice used to be my favorite and is still up there but I will say right now that all reading this who haven’t been yet better get it on their bucket list. You won’t regret it!

March 18 – Today I visited Toledo about 70 kilometers south of Madrid and the former center of the universe for the region before Madrid took over that role centuries ago. Toledo only has about 80,000 inhabitants compared to the millions in Madrid and so quiet and charming. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire and place of coexistence of Christian, Jewish and Moorish cultures. Many famous people and artists were born or lived in Toledo, including Al-Zarqali, Garcilaso de la Vega, Eleanor of Toledo, Alfonso X and El Greco. It was a very light rain when I arrived which was so nice as I have a bit of a sunburn from riding on the top deck of the bus and walking the plazas and gardens of Madrid yesterday. Did I mention the food? OMG, from the most delicious Gazpacho I have ever eaten to popping in Tapas bars for a quick snack. Carrey, the pastries are to die for especially when you wash them down with Chocolate a la España (Spanish-style hot chocolate) and very similar to what I also enjoyed in Buenos Aires. I really love the Churos (not sure about the spelling – the deep fried batter with a little sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on them - as they are easy to grab and snack on as you walk around and just enough to take the edge off. I have decided to avoid the tourist shows here so the Flamingo is cancelled for me tonight. My mom used to dance Flamingo for the family shows we did in Alaska (We were the Osmond family of Alaska in the 1960’s). I’m still in therapy from that experience LOL!
Well I fly tomorrow March 19 at 4:30 pm to London’s busy Heathrow to catch my British Airways flight to Cape Town. Not sure if you heard but BA is going on strike Saturday so my flight missed it by one day. Oh thank you GOD! This will be my first time flying the upper deck of a 747 and I have been in love with that plane (The Queen of the Skies as she is known). The flight crew had better not be stressed because of the impending strike or they will be in big trouble and I refuse to let anything interfere with this much anticipated experience. More from Cape Town my friends!

Posted by marksrtw 06:57 Archived in Spain Tagged round_the_world Comments (9)

Adios Madrid

March 19th Madrid Internation Airport

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Hi Gang,
Hope you are enjoying the photos I finally got uploaded. The high speed internet in Buenos Aires and Madrid was far from high speed. I'm at Madrid International Airport and checked in through to Cape Town now awaiting less than 2 hr flght to London's Heathrow Airport on IBERIA Airlines. I have a short layover in London and will continue on to Cape Town this evening. I was just thinking about fate and originally I was booked to Lima to see Machuu Pichhu but of course the mud slides forced me to cancel that stop so I readjusted to add the extra time in Madrid and so glad it worked out that way. Here the fate part, orginally I was just traveling throught Madrid and on to London on same flights I am on now only one day earlier. If I had kept the original itinerary I would have hit the first day of the British Airways strike and my demeaner would be much different as I would have been stuck their and it could have really messed up my trip. My big sister I think had a hand in this turn of events and I love you for that my dearest Gail. Now the strike does begin at midnight tonight so there is a chance they will shut off the engines at the stroke of 12 and I will end up somewhere in the jungles of Central Africa being raised by mountain Apes which would be way cool!

Love and hugs to all

Posted by marksrtw 12:17 Archived in Spain Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

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