Destinations

Looking Back – First Time Overseas

Grand Canyon

When I look back at the last year, it ‘s hard to believe that just 12 months ago is the first time I travelled overseas. In fact, the 12-month anniversary was the 10th of October, just three days ago. I left Brisbane International Airport bound for my first stop in Vancouver, Canada. At the time it seemed like such a huge step, and yet now I have completed three overseas trips.

First Overseas Trip – The Stats

The trip was nothing small or straightforward and took a little bit of planning.

There were stops on three different continents, North America, Europe and Asia.

I visited six different countries, United States of America, Canada, Germany, England, Switzerland & Hong Kong.

The flights total roughly 42,000km (26,000miles) across ten flights and some 50+ hours in the air.

Spending 35 nights in hotels, Vancouver (10), Seattle (4), Las Vegas (9), Toronto (2), Various English towns (5), London (2) and Hong Kong (3)

I am not sure there is a better way I could have spent my first ever five weeks overseas.

Vancouver, BC, Canada

10 Nights – Empire Landmark Hotel

For some reason, I got in my mind that Vancouver was a city I wanted to visit. As such when I first decided to go overseas it was one of the three specific destinations I picked. A decision that I am happy about now.

Vancouver is a rather beautiful city, and it turns out an ideal place to start my journey. It is relatively easy to find you way around, plenty of food choices that are not too different and a lot of sights to see.

I looked to make the most of my time in Vancouver and took three different tours. There was a city tour, a visit north to Whistler and another across to Victoria on Vancouver Island. I managed to visit numerous attractions like Vancouver Lookout, Vancouver Aquarium, Capilano Suspension Bridge and Stanley Park. Plus visiting some areas such as Gas Town, The Waterfront, Granville Island and the many sculptures around the city.

Whistler - Downhill Run

Seattle, WA, USA 

4 Nights – Hampton Inn Downtown

Even though I have come to love Seattle and visited the city three times, on this trip, it was more a convenience stop. I made full use of my time in Seattle taking two tours; the first was a rather interesting city tour. The other tour turned out to be an excellent choice and visited Mt Rainier, which is about two hours south of Seattle.

Seattle did not turn out to be quite as easy to navigate as Vancouver but is not bad once you understand the layout. There were a few landmarks I managed to visit as well including the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. Although I stayed four nights in Seattle, with the two tours and travel to and from Seattle, there just was not enough time. Maybe this is the reason I have returned on my recent trips.

Overseas Seattle - Mount Rainier

Seattle – Mount Rainier

Las Vegas, NV, USA

9 Nights – Planet Hollywood

When talking about my trip with people, the question came up, “Why so many nights in Las Vegas?” Of course, this a fair question considering I hardly gamble at all. There were three days that I had booked to attend a conference, but this still left another six days. In hindsight, the extra six days might have been a little to much time.

I managed to make use of my time in Las Vegas, though, exploring the strip and the many casinos. There was also a full day tour to visit the Grand Canyon and another tour to look at Hoover Dam. For those who like gambling or shopping, there are also a lot of options, but these were not for me. Otherwise, I would have been fine with just two days in Las Vegas I think.

Las Vegas - Paris

Toronto, ON, Canada

2 Nights – Metropolitan

If my original flight plan had worked out, I never would have got this far east. However, in working with the travel agent taking the route of basically flying around the world end up working out a good option. Even than Toronto was just to be a transit stop between the USA and Europe. But a little look at my plan and I managed to squeeze in two nights.

Like the other stops, I made full use of my time in Toronto. I started with a day trip to Niagara Falls, which are just an amazing sight. The next morning I made a visit to CN Tower, one of the tallest public observation decks in the world. Spending the rest of my time just walking the city to see what is here.

CN Tower Toronto

Various Towns in England

5 Nights – Various Travelodge Hotels

I took a slightly different approach to my time in England. I did not want to spend all of my time in London but also did not want to be flying between cities. The logical choice was to rent a car and explore a little bit of the countryside.

I had only planned the first two nights when I left home, booking Travelodge Hotels in Amesbury and Devizes. Booking a night ahead each day and end up staying in Plymouth, Dartmouth and Dover. There were numerous English Heritage sites that I visited with some incredible history. From castles to ruins and made sure not to miss Stone Henge. In the end, I travelled some 900+ miles and had a fantastic time exploring England.

England - Stonehenge

London, England

2 Nights – Rydges Kensington Plaza

I could not be in England without spending at least a couple of nights in London. London did not do the best job of capturing my heart and at this point, two nights was enough for me. The traffic was terrible, and if it were not for the rain, I likely would have walked instead of catching the Hop-On Hop-Off bus.

Even with this being the case I did not lock myself in my hotel room. Although that could have been a reasonable option consider the way the media were reporting some small scale riots in the city. It turned out to be only about one block and well over two miles from the hotel.

I still managed to see some of the sites even with everything else considered. There was a visit to London’s Tower Bridge, The Natural History Museum and Harrod’s Department Store to name a few.

Hong Kong

3 Nights – Salisbury YMCA

I had planned to visit some family while in Hong Kong, but that did not eventuate. So I end up booking two different tours. One was more of a sales/shopping tour around the city, although I did get to visit Victoria Lookout which was good.

The second tour was called “The Land Between” and was a great look at the small piece of countryside between Hong Kong City and China. I had never thought of Hong Kong as having countryside, but there is a little there, and it is quite a beautiful area as well.

I also spent some time walking the city and exploring what is best described as culturally different to home. One evening I got to see the City of Lights display on Hong Kong Harbour.

Hong Kong - Symphony of Lights

One Great Trip

I am extremely pleased that my first overseas trip turned out as it did. If I was booking the trip again with hindsight, there is very little that I would change. I would take a few days off my visit to Las Vegas and add them onto either Toronto or England. However, there is in my opinion little benefit in looking back. There is only experience to use towards planning and booking future overseas trips.

Grand Canyon

 

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