Pre-Flight check complete

by Jeff McNeil

The Rock of Cashel, Cahir, County Tipperary, IrelandLast night Jenn and I finished our packing and planning.  We are trying not to take as much stuff as we did in Paris this year, and even less than the previous Paris 2010 trip.  Flights begin in the morning with a stop off in Washington DC, then on to Dublin.  We will spend a few nights in downtown Dublin before getting our rental car and zipping (HA! more like leasurly stroling) through the countryside.  We have several B&Bs lined up for that country house feeling of the Irish farm.  All in all two and a half weeks around the whole country from Northern Ireland to the southern most tip.  From politically divided towns to devine crystal carings from Waterford it will be a trip to remember.  Join us by following Jenn or myself on Facebook to get daily updates on the photos and the blog posts.

Hong Kong Dollars are so colorful

by Jeff McNeil

After a short wait in line at my local Citibank branch, I was able to count my crisp new Hong Kong dollar bills.  They are so colorful and vibrant in their new state.  Why is the US dollar not so colorful?  Why must we have such boring money?  “The greenback” as they say is the international currency.  Why must it be so monotone?  One of the HKDs has a plastic window in it.  How cool!

The main concern of mine is how do I know if something is fake or not.  Vendors may give me back fake money and then I am SOL or the rest of the trip.  I know people take travelers checks, which is all well and good, but we have a… get this…. Capital One card.  They do not charge the 3% conversion fee each time that I make a purchase.  That is great for us because the USD is not the currency it once was.  It has depreciated in value during the recession.  I just hope things don’t get worse while we are there.  The HKD is currently worth $0.12 USD.  So 100 HKD is about $13.00.  Is there anything in Hong Kong that you might want?  Let us know and we can put it on a small list of souvenirs to bring back state-side.

Courtyard Tokyo Ginza Hotel

by Jeff McNeil
Courtyard Tokyo Ginza Hotel

Courtyard Tokyo Ginza Hotel

Our second stay on our Asia Honeymoon mini-moon trip will be at the Courtyard Tokyo Ginza Hotel.  It is a no frills business hotel with style and the most important thing, location, location, location. In the heart of downtown Tokyo this Marriott is only steps from one of the many subway lines in Tokyo.  It will be a quick 20 minute ride to get to the front gates of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea.  The hotel doesn’t offer a pool but it surely makes up for that with the number of restaurants it has for the tourist or business traveler.  I look forward to some sushi and other asian cuisine when we get there.  I hear noodles are all the rage these days 😛  I have done a little homework on the hotel and it did not suffer any ill effects from the earthquake in March.  Keep in mind that the most earthquake and tsunami damage was done several hundred miles away. 

I am excited about our stay here in Tokyo as I learn more about the culture and the sights to see.  Unlike Hong Kong, Tokyo has 2 Disney parks, Disneyland and DisneySea.  Jenn and I will be going to be of them on our trip.  The Disneyland park is what you would expect to see in Anaheim from the original Disneyland.  However the DisneySea park is based on different ports of call like New York in the 1920s, Venice, Moracco and other exotic places around the world.  It looked so interesting that Jenn and I will be paying a visit.

We  will have 1 afternoon, 1 day and 1 night to explore the city, asisde from our trips to the Disney parks.  We again are going to not be the museum tourists and instead trek to the Imperial Palace, the Tokyo Tower and as many local hot spots as we can find.  I have seen many photos of the Tokyo streets at night lit with all the neon signs that give Las Vegas a run for their money. I will post a little bit about those later.  For the most part I think this going to to be a photo trip for the two of us.  Jenn will bring her new camera and I will bring my old trusty Canon XT.  Who knows, maybe there will be a great sale on Canon camera when we are there in some huge electronic store.  I could get a top of the line camera for pennies on the dollar.  Eveyone has told me that the deals in both Hong Kong and Tokyo are really good.  We shall see.

Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel

by Jeff McNeil
Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Pool

Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Pool

The pool at the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott is amazing!  You can always judge a hotels attention to style by how it’s pool is designed.  When Jenn and I go for a relaxing weekend the pool is our main factor.  Does it have a bar?  Is it indoors in cold weather areas?  Do they have some sort of fun gimick?  Well this pool just looks classy as hell.  I hope that there is a bit of time where Jenn and I can relax in the pool before retiring to bed one night.  The remainder of the hotel looks to be all business class.  It will be nice to stay in such a refined location for our first few nights.  We normally go between the more locally based Courtyard or Springhill Suites for our stays since it is more economical.  However for this this stay we used our Marriott rewards points and got this excellent hotel for free!  I would like to thank all our friends and family who stayed at a Marriott down here during our wedding, you helped to contribute to our rewards points with each night stay.

The upside to the hotel, free…. the downside, it is far from the heart of Hong Kong, especially the Kowloon district.  That means that we will have to find some sort of transportation to and from the hotel each day.  It can get costly but I feel that we will find something that won’t break the bank.  The hotel will be so close to the airport we could walk to the terminals, which is good for our flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo. 

This just in, while looking for more photos of the hotel on the arriott website I have found out there is free shuttle service to the nearest MTR (metro/subway) station & Disneyland!  How awesome is that?!?  I just saved us some $60 USD on fare to and from the hotel and our outlying areas!  I need to write more blogs it seems. 🙂

If you have been to Hong Kong before, please write a comment and suggest your favorite place to visit.  I will read them and comment myself on our thoughts and prospective sights we will see.

2 Weeks to Hong Kong & Tokyo

by Jeff McNeil
Disneyland - Hong Kong

Disneyland - Hong Kong

I am getting excited, we only have 2 weeks until Jenn and I are on our way to Hong Kong and then Tokyo. For those who do not know, Jenn and I are going to all 5 Disneyland parks in 1 year. We began our trip with Disneyland in Paris on December 30th 2010. We later went to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA on April 16th. Our next park is going to be Disneyland Hong Kong on June 23rd.

The more research I have been doing for Hong Kong the more I get excited. Jenn and I will be staying at, where else, the Marriott Sky City in Hong Kong. It is near the airport which is far away from the city center, as a result we will have to learn how to take public transportation and use an Octopus card for payment. It is the size of a credit card and has a RFID chip in it to record when we enter and exit the stations. It will then charge our pre-paid account for the fare. We will change our normal trip to the museum days into walk around town days. From what I have read and heard, there is a lot to be explored in Hong Kong from the mountain top monasteries to the daily farmers markets. One person described Hong Kong to me as Chinese culture with British civility.

Like with our previous trips we will be posting on the blog each night so please stay tuned for our photos and our stories. We enjoy the comments that everyone has posted and welcome input if you have been to Hong Kong or Tokyo.

Snowing in Paris

by Jeff McNeil
Snowing in Paris - Notre Dame

Snowing in Paris – Notre Dame

It is snowing in Paris.  I am so excited!  Our Christmas trip turned romantic honeymoon is looking to be a cold one.  We have packed most of our warm things already and are looking for additional room and weight to bring the heavy winter clothes.  While layering works for upper body warmth, I have a feeling we need warmer socks to make sure our toes don’t get too cold.  Everything is in place but our seating arrangement on the flights to and from Paris.  I am also a little worried about the connecting flight in London.  If they have snow, we may be in for a long wait… cross your fingers. At least we don’t have to land on the eastern sea board where there are tons of flight delays during the winter.  I could stand to spend a night in London at the airlines expense if I had to.

I am as giddy as a kid in a candy shop.  I am also taking orders for souvenirs from Paris.  If you are looking for a shot glass or small Eiffel tower, let me know.  I will need some upfront funds but would be happy to buy it for you.  I am planning to save some room in my luggage for these little items.  The photos look amazing of more close up objects in Paris when it snows.  I have heard the fog can be a problem especially on New Years when it mutes the fireworks show.  But c’est la vie!

Tags!

by Jenn

Thanks to everyone who filled out a tag with ideas of places to go or helpful tips.  Here are a few, and we would still love more ideas if you’ve got em!  =)

Honeymoon Trips to Tokyo & Hong Kong

by Jeff McNeil
Courtyard Marriott Tokyo

Courtyard Marriott Tokyo

Thank you to all who have contributed to our Marriott Honeymoon Registry.  Jenn and I have discussed what we wanted to do for a “BIG” trip.  We have decided to go to Tokyo and Hong Kong.  This will be part of a larger overall concept of going to every major Disney Themepark within one year.  During a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim this last month, Jenn and I got to talking about what to do for our year of honeymoons.  The crazy thought came to our mind “What if we traveled to every Disneyland park in the world?”  We laughed it off for a few hours and while on the way out of the park that night, I said “Well we are going to be in Paris and going to Euro Disneyland in December. There are only 3 more parks we have to go to in order for it to happen, Tokyo, Hong Kong & Florida.”  We got excited.  Upon further research, there are some 20+ official “Disney” parks like Epcot, California Adventure, Oceanworld etc.  We narrowed our focus to Disneyland parks with castles, regular Disneylands at leach location.

Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel

Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel

That being said, we have now booked out flight & hotel reservations for Tokyo, Japan & Hong Kong, China.  The Tokyo hotel is a few miles from TokyoDisney, however the subway is easily accessible and leads right there.  We will be staying at the Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Ginza.  We will be staying several days in Tokyo to absorb some tourist sights as well as the Disney park.  We will then fly from Tokyo to Hong Kong.  We discussed making 2 trips, but the long and costly flight meant that we could save money if we made it one long trip instead of 2 trans-pacific crossings.  The second stay will be at the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel.  It is located near the airport which is on a man-made island in Hong Kong harbor.  Here again, public transportation will take us directly to the park.  We will have 4 days here including one at the Hong Kong Disney park.  Jenn and I are very excited about this trip and are looking for tips and suggestions for things to do in Tokyo and Hong Kong on our touring days.  Please reply to the post with your comments or e-mail us directly.

If you are asking yourself, what about Disneyworld or Disneyland?  We are in the process of planning Disneyworld, possibly over Thanksgiving 2011.  No booked hotels or airfare yet, but it will happen.  As for Disneyland, we have annual passes and will for sure go to the park in the next year after we return from Paris.  So no worries on those 2 parks just yet.