Hello San Francisco!

Just a short update, we’ve left NZ and have arrived safely in the US.

After the long flight, our first 24hrs here have been a bit bleary but we’ve managed to have a good walk around the city. My first impressions are the absolute swarms of people everywhere (especially compared to NZ!) and the variety in the districts. We’ve wandered between upmarket neighbourhoods to more sketchy areas only streets apart.

This morning we visited a buzzing market around the Ferry Building for brunch. We walked along the waterfront to the tourist havens to Fisherman’s Wharf and the shops on Pier 39.

image

Tomorrow we’re beginning our week-long tour to LA with a San Fran city tour and then a drive to Yosemite national park. Really hope it stays dry for our first night camping!

And we’re booked!

After a few months of planning, Rob and I have booked our flights to NZ!

We leave on 1 October and will spend a fortnight in China en route. I’m lucky enough to have family that live in Shanghai, so we plan to spend approx a week staying there before heading north to Beijing. We know we want to visit major attractions of the Forbidden City and Great Wall and I’d like to see the Birds Nest Olympic stadium, but we need to research what else we’d like to do there (time permitting!) We’ll then spend a few days in Hong Kong, before flying out mid-October to Auckland.

We have booked flights and insurance through Travel Nation, our consultant has been very helpful so far and patient with our deliberations. We managed to get all 4 flights for £1228pp – thanks to a late quote from a local travel agent we managed to reduce the price a little and this was by far the best price we found without needing to compromise our route.

As flights can only be booked about 11 months in advance, we’ve booked with ‘dummy dates’ and will set the exact dates for our return flights (London via San Francisco!) for Sept 2014 with Travel Nation, when they become available.

We waited until our visas came through before booking our flights, which may have been over cautious. Mine took about a week longer than Rob’s (nearly 4 weeks), which may have been because I’ve entered the country before (sounds a bit too grand!). If you’re using the Immigration New Zealand website, keep your log in details safe as this is the only way to check the status of your application. I locked myself out and the only option was to phone NZ to reset my password, which was a pricey and tricky-to-time phonecall!

Image

I’m trying to gather recommendations and contacts from family/friends at the moment. A couple of weeks ago at a friend’s party I met her friend who is planning a similar trip to Oz with her husband, also leaving in Oct. We’ve been in touch about flights and hope to keep in contact with her as we plan our trips.

Things on current to do list include:

1) Apply for Chinese visa – the form looks quite formidable!
2) Research where to stay/visit/eat in Beijing and Hong Kong
3) Think about work options and prep CV
4) Create a yearlong, travel themed playlist 😉

If you have any tips or Q’s, I’d love to hear from you!