New Zealand tour; transit guide recommendation, and tour of Chile and Easter Island
Report ON NEW ZEALAND
Just before the recent earthquake, my wife and I took a trip to New Zealand, Feb. 7-21, 2011. The arrangements were made by Brendan Vacations (Chatsworth, CA; 800/421-8446 or 818/428-6000).
Excluding airfare from Los Angeles, the total cost of the trip was $2,500 per person, which included first-class hotels, with breakfast; all transportation, and admission to various tours and events.
We prefer independent travel, but, although I have driven in England and Ireland, I did not want to drive in New Zealand. What Brendan arranged was just the right alternative. New Zealand has a wonderful inter-city bus system and we took full advantage of it.
In addition, Brendan arranged for pickups and deliveries, where necessary. For example, we were met at the Auckland airport and taken to our first hotel. Another shuttle took us to the bus station for our first inter-city bus trip.
They arranged for city tours in Wellington and Queenstown, a whale-watching tour and transportation on the inter-island ferry, the TranzCoastal train and more. We did nothing but enjoy the scenery and the people.
Brendan’s services are completely flexible and can be tailored for any interests. For example, we opted for a more sedate luge ride rather than parasailing! We were most happy with our trip and recommend Brendan most highly.
David E. Anderson, Meadville, PA
REPORT ON TRANSIT GUIDE
For years, I have used the printed version of “Salk’s International Airport Transit Guide” to find information on the various ways one can transit from airports to city centers. Unfortunately, it is no longer going to be printed as a book. However, the new, 25th edition is now offered as an iTunes app for $9.99 (including free updates) and can be added to one of your electronic devices.
As soon as I saw the app listed in iTunes this past December, I added it to my iPod Touch, and I’ve found it to be as good and as useful as the former printed version.
In my opinion, for those who travel a lot independently, this app is indispensable, so I would like to recommend it to everyone who has an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. I have read that the app will soon be available for BlackBerry and Android smartphones as well.
For info, visit www.airport-transit-guide.com. Happy Travels!
Suzan Algul, Sierra Vista, AZ
On CHILE & EASTER ISLAND
Galapagos Travel (Aptos, CA; 800/969-9014) arranged the truly perfect trip to Chile and Easter Island for my husband, Jerry, and me for Feb. 4-22, 2011. Land cost for two was $7,980. The cost of all our flights (New York-Santiago-Punta Arenas-Santiago-Easter Island and back) totaled $4,300.
In Santiago we stayed at the excellently located, very pleasant Hotel Plaza San Francisco. We toured Santiago, seaside Viña del Mar (modern and looks like Miami) and the charming old port of Valparaíso with its colorful buildings, artisan stores and wonderful restaurants. The highlight in Valparaíso was one of Pablo Neruda’s houses, up on a hill; he had eclectic taste, and the house has his personality.
In Punta Arenas we stayed at historic Hotel José Nogueira, built in the 1890s. Especially outstanding were its garden dining room and the Shackleton Bar. In Punta Arenas we ate at two restaurants that I would recommend: Lomito’s (Pedro Montt St.), where our lunch cost about $10 per person, and the charming La Luna (1017 O’Higgins St.; phone +56 61 22855), where dinner cost about $20 each.
Hotel Las Torres is right in Torres del Paine National Park. It offers full board (recommended) and lots of hiking and horseback riding adventures. On our four-night stay, we were very pleased with the hotel and the quality of the food and excursions. The views all around, even just from the hotel, were spectacular, and our hikes were just awesome.
On Easter Island, the six-room Aloha Nui Guest House is owned by Ramon and Josie, who are personable and knowledgeable. Josie’s grandfather, William Malloy, was one of the first archaeologists on the island.
The big surprise on small Easter Island was how much there was to see. In addition to the moai sites, we visited Orongo Volcano and the Birdman Ceremonial Village, where we attended a traditional dinner and show and had our faces painted. We spent our free day at the beach and in the island’s only town, Hanga Roa.
We were very happy that Mark, at Galapagos Travel, suggested five nights on the island.
Nili Olay, New York, NY