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Hi, I have booked flights to Hawaii in late October 201 and am thinking about doing one of the Waikiki Explorer tours as a good way to meet some people over there. I'll be there for Halloween! Just wanted to see if anyone else plans to be or is thinking about being in Hawaii around the time?
1 country \ 5 days \ from n/a per person
Ready for the ultimate vacation destination? Want to get your fill of Hawaii's unparalleled physical beauty? We'll set up with accommodation & loads of extras on our 4 night stopover! Perfect as a short holiday in itself, or as a stopover for a few days before or after your North American tour. Spend your time snorkeling, strolling the beach or enjoying a big night out!
Continuation of Wild Western Review Part 1... Day 9 - The tour went to Yosemite National Park for a day trip. I was tired and battered from Las Vegas so I took a pass on this trip. Most people did go though, and were excited because it was the first time a lot of them has seen snow (this is in early October). A couple of my roommates and I stayed in bed most of the day staying warm and watching a Kardasians marathon on E! There is a mini-spa at Bass Lake, so I booked in for a massage - exactly what my body needed. It was quite cold and drizzly, and we also spent some time in the swimming pool and hot tub. Bass Lake is beautiful - I can imagine it would be an amazing place to be in summer, with water sports and such things available to do. We had some kind of buffet dinner that night. I think the group goes to Lake Tahoe instead of Bass Lake during the winter. Day 9 - Up early and on the road to San Francisco. Arrived in San Fran about lunchtime and stopped of at Fisherman's Wharf for lunch. Lots of restaurants/places to eat. We were fortunate to be there during a week where they have an airshow, so there were stacks of people around and airshows over the harbour to look at. Pretty cool. Following lunch the bus took us on a tour of the city and pointed out key features. San Francisco is such an eclectic mix of people and sights and buildings, etc. Very cool. Also went to the Golden Gate Bridge for some photos. Stayed at Hotel Whitcombe, which was ok. Pretty amazing beds, but the hotel is in an area that isn't the best. Lots of homeless people of the streets outside, which is ok during the day, but not so safe at night. Wasn't feeling the best, so skipped the group dinner and took myself to an Irish pub for dinner, and then hung out with some locals at the bar the group came to after dinner. Day 10 - I had such big plans for San Fran when I was planning my trip. Unfortuneatly I was very broken from Vegas - my ankle was an absolute mess and for awhile I thought it might actually be broken (was actually a bad sprain), so I really struggled here. Don't let that be a reflection on the city, because San Fran is awesome. Breakfast at the hotel was pretty average... don't expect great things. Went to Alcatraz in the morning. I really enjoyed this - so much history and the tour inside the prison is just amazing. You do an audio tour which gives history behind each section of the prison. I was in so much pain, but very much worth it. After we got back from the island, went to one of the Fisherman's Wharf restaurants for lunch. Ha a great lunch, and then left the tourmates I was with to look around. Watched some of the airsho, and looked around the market, before walking into the CBD. Came across San Fran's Occupy protest, which must have been in it's very first days which was interesting. I went to the Apple store and bought my beloved iPhone. Hobbled around a bit and looked t some shops. I had really wanted to se the Picasso exhibition on at the time, but I literally could barely walk. Went back to the hotel and iced ankle/had a sleep. passed on the tour dinner in Chinatown, and ordered pizza in at the hotel. There was a leather convention in the lobby which was fascinating to people watch. Day 11 - Another full day in San Fran - still in pain, still coming down off my cocktail of alcohol and painkillers which had kept me moving from Vegas until this point. Spent the morning in bed, and then met some of the crew at a mall for looking around/shopping/lunch. The last day with one of my fav tour people, so spent ome time with him. Dinner was at an Italian place in the Castro, hich I think is the gay district. Fairly average meal, but had a good time. Pretty much everyone went back to the hotel to bed after dinner. Day 12 - Left San Fran in the morning for Carpenteria, our final night. We spent most of the day in the bus, and watched movies on the way. Went past Facebook HQ in Palo Alto which was kind of cool. Stopped in Santa Barbara mid afternoon for some free time. We went to get an icecream on the wharf and hang on the beach. Caught the bus to Carpenteria which is maybe 10 mins away (and accom substantially cheaper) and checked into hotel, and got ready for dinner. Dinner was back in Santa Barbara at a bar. Back to hotel for drinking games. Day 13 - Left Carpenteria for Hollywood. Ariived maybe lunchtime, did a mini tour of the key streets and then were let off at The Grove for lunch. Not sure how to explain the Grove. A collection of shops and restaurants, and a great market. We saw Mario Lopex (Saved by the Bell) and his tv show which he films there. Also saw Demi Lovato. Quite a cool place. After lunch stopped off at the Kodak Theatre and Hollywood Highlands. Tiger Woods was doing a promo there, so we got to see him. Another optional time. I did the celebrity homes tour, partly because when I booked it I couldn't walk and the thought of sitting down appealed to me. The homes weren't so interesting, but going around the streets was. Hollywood Hills were a lot of celebrities live surprised me. The roads were pretty potholed, and not nearly as nice as I thought they would be. Beverley Hills was very groomed. In Hollywood Highlands, the shopping centre, there is a shop called Sephora. Ladies - if you waant to buy makeup then this is the place for you. I could have easily spent many hundreds of dollars here but luckily I restrained myself. They have many top brands such as Dior and YSL at crazy prices compared to back home. Following Hollywood. we went back to the Kyoto in LA and said goodbye to a lot of people. Very sad. A couple of us went to Wokcano for dinner, which I thoroughly recommend. Post Tour Day 1 - Five of us from the tour went to Disneyland, via Starline tours. I didn't originally intend to go here, but thought may as well since I'm here. Took maybe 1.5 hours to get there on the bus. Got to Disney at maybe 9.30 am. Shockingly, th place was full of children. For some reason we didn't anticipate that! Everything is perfectly groomed and themed. We made an effort at mapping out which order to do the big rides in. There is a thing called Fast Pass (?) where ou can get tickets for the ride and they tell ou when to come back. Good way of skipping the queue, but you can only FastPass one ride at any time. Our group got separated at the Haunted House which was a shame. Did most of the big rides. Space Mountain was great. Remember, as this place is kid friendly, there rides are not thrill rides. Picked up a mandatory set of mickey mouse ears and went on It's a Small World, which was another cool ride. We stayed until maybe 6pm and met up wih the others for the bus ride back. Stopped off in Hollywood for dinner - Planet Hollywood, great food. Might have caught a taxi back to LA. Taxis pretty cheap. Post Tour Day 2 - Left Kyoto and caught a town car (I ordered a taxi!!) to the Hollywood Hostel. I miscounted the nights I needed to stayed after the tour, so booked this in at the last minute. This is a pretty good hostel. Clean, nd very central.. Met up with two of the tour people who were staying at same hostel and then went into town for a cheap and cheerful lunch. Looked around during the afternoon - a lot of costume shops on Hollywood Blvd. In the evening, my tourmate and I went to a live filing of Rove LA!!! I think he got tickets off the website or something. Anyway, went to the studios and had to wait in line for ages. Talked to some very friendly locals in the queue. Finally got admitted into the studio and seated for the show. Guests were Eva Longoria and Steve Carrell!! Rove is filmed pretty much as one take apart from ad breaks. Very cool experience. Following that we were quite hungry so when we passed Hooters on the main strip, we though why not. Bad bad mistake. Do not think this is good idea. The food is absolutely terrible. I had a hotdog which was more plastic than anything else. Friend has some dodgy chicken and maybe a burger? Picked up some cheaper alcohol on the way bad to hostel and had drinks in the front courtyard. Final day - Aim was to go to Venice Beac/Santa Monica Pier. Tour mate was very unwell from Hooters the night before. I ended up taking myself back to The Grove and just hung out. Had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory - recommend! Had a really nice time just chilling out and killing time before my flight. In the evening caught a shuttle to LAX for my flight. What a terrible airport. Really disappointing - duty free was pretty much non existent, and there were only a couple of food places. Got a full body pat down as I was wearing a loose dress. That's pretty much it! General Tips: - You can get good and healthy food here. You just might need to look for it. Don't feel like you have no choice but to eat crap food. - Talk to as many people on your tour as you can. - Do as many optionals as you can. It does add up, but what's a couple of hundred extra considering how much the whole trip is costing. - Make sure you keep plenty of $1 bills on hand for tipping. - Toilet bowls fill alarmingly high after you flush them. This is normal. The majority o public restrooms were very clean and had soap, but carry hand sanitiser with you as well - Free wi-fi is plentiful. If you have a smartphone or ipod touch bring it. - Starbucks is your friend. America has not grasped the concept of real coffee. Most places have awful filter stuff that has been stewing for hours. Starbucks is cheap and you know what you are getting. - Do not use ATMs in the casinos in Vegas. I almost did, and then realised there is a $20 transaction fee. Be warned. - You cannot and will not experience Vegas in two nights/one day. If this is the key reason for your trip, spen at least a week here. - Girls, you do not need to wear heels when you go out. Don't feel obliged, and don't let them ruin your trip like min did. - No passport, no alcohol. Everyone gets id'ed here. If you are under 21, I would recommend not coming on this tour. - Even if you have a travel adapter, the voltage has to be right. My GHD did not work. THis could have been a major, but my roommate had one (that did work) This trip was so much fun, especially the first half. I'd do it again in a flash!
Posted about 4 years ago to the Wild Western Review Part 2 discussion
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Did the Wild Western tour in September 2011. Here is a little bit of a review for you: Pre-tour - LAX doesn't do incoming duty free which was a disappointment. Stayed for two nights pre-tour at the Kyoto Grand in LA. I'm sure this hotel has the best beds in the world - such a bargain for ~$89/night. Would absolutely recommend staying a couple of nights in the States pre-tour. I was so tired after my flight. Hotel van dropped my off Downtown. Downtown LA is a dive. Please do not be tempted to walk from here to the Kyoto. I feared for my life. Went to Knott's Berry Farm on my own. It was a week day and there were very few people there which was great! Didn't have to queue at all! Absolutely recommend if you are into thrill rides. Cheaper than Disney. It was a bit of a mission to get there - but all part of the experience, Had dinner with some of the tour people after the pre-tour meeting. Good bonding experience. Day 1 - travelled from LA to San Diego. Very foggy and couldn't see much. Everyone did introductions on the microphone at the front of the bus. Approx 50 people on board, as it combined California Highlights and LA to the Bay. Arrived in San Diego about lunchtime and had lunch at a mall, and then went on the Harbour cruise. San Diego is a very clean city. I really enjoyed it. Very warm day and great to be out of the water. San Diego is a naval city, so lots of warships to look at on the harbour. Went for a cruise around on the bus before arriving at the hotel. Hotel is fairly average, but really is only a bed, so no worry. Stopped off in Old Town San Diego, which is an older area, and designed to look like the past. Lots of cool little shops. Biggest regret was Whaley's, which is one of the most haunted places in the States, was shut, so we couldn't visit. Back to hotel to get ready, and then to Fred's Mexican for dinner in Old Town. Food was ok, margaritas were amazing! Went to a bar after and most of the group tried their hand at bull riding. Alcohol is outrageously cheap - be careful when ordering spirits as it is free pour. Some bar staff can very very generious, esp when you tip well. Not a bad thing - just pays to keep your eye on them so you know how much you are drinking. Day 2 - No hangover - first optional. Half the group went to the zoo, and half to Sea World. I liked the zoo, although the Sea World crew seemed to have a better bonding experience. The zoo involved a lot of walking - be warned. A few of us arranged to meet up at "the ship" which is a retired naval aircraft carrier docked in the SD harbour called USS Midland. Unfortunately my friend and I got on the wrong bus from the zoo and missed the cutoff time to get onto the ship. Devastation, although we did a mini tour of a few naval craft on the waterfront including a submarine. Went for a ride in one of those bike taxis and looked at the "urban trees" along the waterfront, which are sculptures which are changed every year. Long day - back to hotel to shower/change. Dinner at Dick's Last Resort. The gimmick here is the wait staff are "rude" to you. Everyone got a hat with an insult on it. The portion sizes were out of control. My meal was $15 and consisted of 4 massive ribs (I could only eat two) and a pail of fries!!! Was a fun night. Went out to a bar after dinner for drinks/dancing. Day 3 - Very hungover. Headed for Arizona today. The bus stops every two hours or so, which is good. This tour was in Sept, and stepping off the bus into Arizona heat was liked walking into an oven. Very dry heat. I liked Arizona a lot. Got to Phoenix mid afternoon. Huge mall next to the hotel. Went to buy a dress to go out in, as we were told that Phoenicians (?) like to dress up. Didn't find anything, but that's a reflection on me, not the shops. Late afternoon drink before dinner. If you are offered the "surprise" dinner transportation, take it!!! So much fun! Went to a place called The Mint, which was a tapas bar. The group seemed to be unsatisfied with the amount of food in their meals, but due to dietary reasons I had my own meal - amazing!! Really great night. Very warm, but in a comfortable way. AFL Grand final was on, so the Aussie boys went to a sports bar to watch it. After that my friend and I did a mini-tour of the area on the surprise transportation. Great night. Day 4 - Woken up at 5am with the devastating news the hot air balloon was cancelled due to high winds. Travelled to Sedona in Red Rock County - got there about lunch time. Love this place - very low key vibe. Had lunch and went on the jeep tour. Recommend this as well. Such a beautiful area. Back in bus, and to the Grand Canyon - arrived at about 5pm? Quite cold due to the elevation. Found our cabins, and went to the food court for dinner. This food court is great - there are different stations and you get food from whatever station you want. Everyone was excited as they could have salad, which had been lacking to date. A few drinks back in cabin and cards, and then to bed. Day 5 - Nose bleeding a bit due to elevation. Also noticed shortness of breath, despite being fit. Breakfast at the food court - do not opt for wholemeal pancakes - yuk. Helicopter ride over GC - absolutely amazing. The colours are spectacular, and I had no idea how big it was! Once in a lifetime experience - do it! Back at the park, did a group mission to the laundry, and then went for lunch. Friend and I went to El Tovar for lunch, which is the nicest hotel in the park, right by Hopi House. We were warned it would be expensive, but it's all relative. I had the most amazing sandwich and salad, plus a glass of wine for $20. So worth it! back to the cabin for a nap. Woke up and met some tour mates and went with them to the GC for some photos and a bit of a tour. The canyon is literally a couple of minutes from the cabins. Later met up with tour manager and group for a sunset "picnic". The experience was almost spiritual. The colours and the vastness of the GC is just incredible. Of all the places I visited on tour this is the place I most want to go back to. Day 6 - Departed GC for Las Vegas. Stopped of at Route 66 for some photos and a restroom stop. Got to Vegas mid afternoon - it's amazing!!! Previous reviews I read didn't rate the hotel that highly, but I thought it was pretty good considering! Went on the hunt for a dress - went to Caesar's Place shops over the road. Spent a lot of money on a dress - worth it though. You can drink anywhere in Las Vegas. Bought a drink at a dairy type shop and just meandered back to the hotel down the Strip. So much to see and look at!! Did a tour of the strip on the Contiki bus, and stopped off at Freemont Street to see the light show. Very cool! Put $1 in a pokie machine and got $20 back. The best of my luck on the stay... if you are gambling then alcohol is free. Went to dinner at some Italian place, which was pretty unmemorable. Club time!!! We went to XS, which at the time was the top club in Vegas. Girls got free entry and two free drinks. Unsure if the guys had free entry, but they had to pay for their drinks. Very cool club! Girls - don't feel obligated to wear heels. If you are comfortable in them then fine, but if they have the potential to ruin yoiur night then don't bother. Most people wore flats. I destroyed my ankle of this night in heels and it almost ruined my trip. Day 7 - Very hungover. Went to the buffet breakfast at the hotel, which is crazy. They have most foods you can think of. I think I had two bowls of gelato before I could face proper food. Went to the discount malls on a bus. Bus not good when hungover. Lots of shopping- save up your money for this!! Lots of designer brands. If you want a good pair of jeans, shoes or a handbag, aim to pick it up here, After a few hours shopping I was soo tired - the $20 back to the hotel in a taxi was the best $20 spent in my life (taxis are very cheap)! Had a nap and a random gamble at the casino downstairs. Met a tour mate and went for a walk down the strip. Just cruised, watched, ate, drank. Got ready for dinner - dinner was an optional, so maybe only half the crew went. FYI - Planet Hollywood restaurant is not in Planet Hollywood the casino. It took my maybe an hour of stalking around Planet Hollywood (the casino) before I figured this out. Bolted after the dinner as I had booked a Cirque du Soleil show at the MGM Grand. Absolutely amazing. Definitely recommend if you have the chance!!! MGM was huge! I was walking at pace and it took over ten minutes to cross the casino floor. I missed out of the champagne and limo tour, but met the team at The Palms. Another two free drinks for the ladies. Had to say good bye to the California Highlights (?) people, which was very sad. Later went to New York New York hotel and went to the piano bar there. Very good! Recommend this as well! Piano player playing pop/hit songs. Everyone dancing and singing. So much fun. Please also check out the fountain show at the Bellagio. I think it happens every 15 minutes at night. Day 8 - Hungover and sleep. Departed LV for Bass Lake. Quite a long trip - I think 7 or 8 hours. Stopped off in Barstow around lunch time. This place is promoted as a discount shopping mecca. I disagree - I think Vegas is better. I was not impressed with the shops in Barstow. Barstow was very dusty and windy when we were there - unsure if this is normal. Got to Bass Lake around dusk - it was cold and drizzling. I can imagine this place would be amazing in summer. We were in cabins of four. Had pizza for dinner and then pretty much to bed early.
Posted about 4 years ago to the Wild Western Review - Part 1 discussion
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