Monday, June 30, 2014

Crossing the New Port Mann Bridge

It's claimed to be the second longest cable-stayed bridge in North America and the second widest bridge in the world.


Birch Bay Evening Sky

Homeward bound...


Burnaby, B.C. - Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria

Enjoyable dinner with Karen and family at
this joint, found on Trip Advisor, at the end of a busy weekend with two granddaughters all the way to Seattle and back for a performance of Teatro Zinzanni, book-ended with watching Jake play basketball in a tournament at Simon Fraser University...



Friday, June 13, 2014

How Many Countries? Some Updated Travel Stats (But Who's Counting?)

We've dabbled in the pastime of counting up the countries we've visited for some time. While it's something we get asked from time to time, ever since we ran into another couple at a cruise stop whose sole purpose in travel - if not in life - was to make stops in as many countries as possible, we cringe a little at the topic.

Like so many other aspects of life, it also depends on how you count them.  So far in 2014 it just happens that we've added two new countries to our list. Early on we spent a glorious week in the Republic of The Maldives, more commonly referred to as the Maldive Islands, or simply The Maldives.

More recently we've just returned from our first visit to Vietnam.

Based on the Century Travelers' Club list of 321 entities, we've been in a total of 94 "countries" to date. You'll notice the list includes a lot of places that aren't sovereign states, but it's one harmless way for us to keep tabs.

Pacific Ocean
Australia
French Polynesia (Tahiti,Tuamotu, Austral, Gambier)
Hawaiian Islands
New Zealand
Tasmania
North America
Alaska
Canada
Mexico
U.S. (continental)
Central America
Belize (British Honduras)
Costa Rica
Guatemala
Honduras
Panama
South America
Argentina
Brazil
Chile
Colombia
Uruguay
Caribbean
Antigua & Deps. (Barbuda, Redonda)
Bahamas
Barbados
Cayman Islands
Dominican Republic
Jamaica
Leeward Islands, French (St. Martin)
Puerto Rico
St. Barts
St. Kitts
St. Lucia
St. Maarten (formerly Netherlands Antilles)
Turks and Caicos Islands
Virgin Islands, U.S. (St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas)
Virgin Islands, British (Tortola, etc.)
Atlantic Ocean
Azores Islands
Bermuda
Canary Islands
Cape Verde Islands
Iceland
Madeira
Europe and Mediterranean
Austria
Belgium
Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Minorca)
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
England
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ionian Islands (Corfu, etc.)
Ireland (Eire)
Ireland, Northern (Ulster)
Italy
Luxembourg
Malta
Monaco
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Russia
Sicily
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey in Europe (Istanbul)
Vatican City
Wales
Africa
Egypt
Lesotho
Morocco
Senegal (plane refueling only - did not go through immigration)
South Africa
Swaziland
Zimbabwe
Middle East
None
Indian Ocean
The Maldives
Asia
China, People's Rep.
Hong Kong
India
Japan
Korea, North (DMZ tour only)
Korea, South
Malaysia
Singapore
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey in Asia
Vietnam

Here's another way to look at it. Using this source, we've visited 75 sovereign states whose combined territories cover 33.3% of the earth's surface. Obviously, we still have a long way to go.





Sunday, June 8, 2014

Premium Laurel Class Dining Aboard EVA Air

Yes, EVA Air's Premium Laurel Class really seems premium to us.

Lunch SGN-TPE

That's a four-course lunch on a 3 1/2-hour flight, considering the fruit plate and ice cream are served separately. There was a choice of three entrees and we both went with the beef.







Dinner TPE-LAX

It was quite a meal, with a multitude of flight attendants to serve us. Note the closeup of the aspic appetizer in the second photo below.

Kathy opted for the steak (too much to finish dinner) and Brian enjoyed his chicken.

Had we included a cheese plate (we skipped it), it would have added up to a six-course dinner. Five courses were more than enough for us. 











Breakfast TPE-LAX

After a great sleep, we awoke to a two-course breakfast of more food than we could handle.

The first course (we chose the 'Western' option) below - muesli, yogurt, fruit plate and croissant - contained more than enough for us.

We nibbled at the second plate. Unlike the Brits and Aussies, we're not fans of breakfast beans so it was easy to skip those. The cylindrically-shaped omelets (or frittatas?) were worth a couple of bites, but we couldn't miss the tasty, albeit greasy, hash browns.

We didn't try any of the hot inflight snacks that can be prepared in just a minute. Yes, even we have our limits.



Saturday, June 7, 2014

Home Sweet Sehome

The flight on Air Canada "Rouge" was nice for us, sitting in the rows at the front.

They block off the middle seats European-style, served us beverages and meals, and handed out iPads which linked to the inflight entertainment.

We landed on time, zipped through Immigration with NEXUS, picked up our car, and were home about an hour after getting off the plane.

Tomorrow just might be a sleeping-in Sunday.

Aboard AC Airbus 319M 'Rouge'

We enjoyed a pleasant flight aboard this self-consciously quirky (note the flight attendants' hats) Air Canada brand. The premium seats at the front offer lots of legroom, and the middle seat is blocked in the style of intra-European First Class.

They lend out iPads to access the inflight entertainment (they cost something like $10.50 back in Economy) and the meal they served on this 2 1/2-hour flight was well presented and tasty.

We would fly them again if up front.



LAX Connection

Terrific flight in EVA Business,maybe Brian's best ever, counting the great sleep.

EVA purser told us our transfer terminal 2 and gave us passes to express line after we "deplaned." We used Global Entry and walked to our terminal in less than 10 minutes.

We reprinted our  AC BPs and got TSA Pre-Check. Our best ever connection at LAX, one of our least favorite airports.

We're in the Maple Leaf Lounge and scheduled to board in 25 minutes. Next stop is YVR.


EVA - A More than Adequate Wine List

Yes, it will do nicely...


Aboard EVA Flight 2 for LAX

A Few Minutes in TPE EVA Infinity Lounge

Drinking "aseptic" water before our flight to LAX.


Late Arrival in TPE

A bumpy landing too!

EVA Gate Employees!

In Flight - Free 15 Minutes of Wifi

Friday, June 6, 2014

Boarding EVA 392 at SGN

SGN: 'Rose' Contract Lounge

Our third lounge visit in Vietnam leads us to believe that all of them feature overstuffed 1950s-style chairs.

Come to think of it, what's a "Business Class" lounge doing in a socialist republic anyway?



Shades of Sydney

 PAs happened to us at SYD two years ago, we're at the airport bright and early but the EVA counter hasn't opened yet.
Update... Fairly soon after this, an EVA team set up shop and we checked in.


On Our Way to SGN

Oh, and One Last Marvelous Croissant

InterContinental: Kathy's Last Breakfast Pho of The Trip

Ho Chi Minh City: Flying Home Tomorrow

We got upgraded on VN and enjoyed our two-hour flight HAN-SGN. From there it was a Friday rush hour ride back to the InterContinental for a welcoming check-in and an evening in the Lounge.