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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Jaro's ride through Solana Beach....

Solana Beach - this is the most popular bike route around by far - Passes through La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Solana, Cardiff, Leucadia (Encinitas), Carlsbad and Oceanside.....

 It gets fairly chilly here in San Diego county overnight - with a low of 11°C tonight.  Daily highs are closer to 20°C though.  The marine forecast says 18C......

I am building up my endurance slowly.  It is a very hilly region - no real flat parts anywhere.
The coast road up to Oceanside is about the easiest around here - that's where you see the vast majority of bikers.

They have good pasta dishes .... and you can order a glass of J. Lohr red wine to go with it.

The outflow is from a storm sewer; we had a good storm this morning. The dark sand was not there the last time I was here (3 years ago), so it must have been trucked in.

Yep.... nothing like a full stomach to cap off the afternoon!

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Staying at the Pillars Hotel, Ft. Lauderdale.........

I stayed at the Pillars Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale for two nights, and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

In the morning, the hotel had coffee in their lobby, which I enjoyed from their garden seating on their quay.  People were having breakfast on the quay - I meet a couple from England who were taking the same cruise as me.

Ft. Lauderdale is nicknamed Venice because of it's waterway connection.  The Pillars Hotel is located on the waterways, and the water taxi will pick you up - the hotel will phone the water taxi, and you wave to them from the hotel quay. 

You will see yachts, billionaire homes, people fishing, and kids all tied together and taking sailing lessons.  The captain has a little spiel - interesting.  The water taxi costs $20 for the day ($17 for seniors) and runs to about 10 at night

I took the water taxi downtown, turned left on main street, and they were lots of restaurants serving breakfast.  If you are two, split  the breakfast cause big American portions.

Look around the stores, then take the water taxi back to the hotel for a rest besides the pool.  Later in the afternoon, I took the water taxi to the waterfront, and then back again. 

I had supper at the hotel quay - really nice, and after eating, you are right at your hotel.

Unless you like stairs, stay in the downstairs rooms facing the pool.   However, there were some young people there, and they were talking the stairs two at a time.  There is a library on the 2nd floor if you like to read besides the pool. 

I was  talking with the couple from England and, like me, they had difficulties with the television.  But we said that we were not here to watch tv.

The front desk told me it was $35 to take a cab out to the cruise ship, so I split the cab with the couple from England.  The cab ride turned out to be only about $20. 

The couple from England and me both said that we would stay at the same hotel again - it was quiet and restful and very nice. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Jaro went on a bike trip to San Diego.....

 Jaro went from mid November to the end of March .  Here is his blog....

I am renting a fairly large apartment (for a single person) but it is completely unfurnished, except for kitchen appliances.   The rent is $1425, and does not include utilities, but that is not a lot extra.

Yes, California is expensive!   On the other hand, the airfare is a lot cheaper than overseas.   This year, the exchange rates for the Eurozone did not look good, so I figured it is time for a return to CA.
To help me get started, I left the wheels of my bike at home and instead put an inflatable mattress and sleeping bag into the bike case with the bike frame. 

I bought a new set of wheels here at a bike store I knew from previous years.   In fact, I ordered the wheels before departing Montreal, and then just picked them up here in Solana.   Still, when flying down, there is a $100 charge for the extra oversize luggage.

About buying furniture, I asked around a bit and got a good tip on a large, second-hand store about 20 km. north of here in Oceanside.   I dropped by on the bike last week, and bought a nice sturdy table ($25) and chair ($8).   Shipping to Solana was $25.

By contrast, the taxi from the airport to Solana was $70.    No TV, but I have high-speed internet, same as at home.

My lease is until the end of March (I haven't bought my return ticket yet).

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

My second cruise - 15 days through the Panama Canal.....

This was my second cruise -  15 days through the Panama Canal with Celebrity Millennium.  Why I picked it was because the cruise was inexpensive, I wanted to go on a shorter trip than last year, and I was looking forward to Ft. Lauderdale where I was going to spend two days.   Because I was travelling alone, and wanted to not spend too much, I took an interior cabin.

I was searching for a cruise all spring long; finally I picked the Panama Canal, and I asked my Expedia travel agent to send me the prices leaving at the end of September.   Of course, I wanted to  spend my birthday on the ship.  From what she sent me, this was the cheapest cruise, and I booked it on July 15th.   But remember that the price would be x2 this, because I was travelling alone.

The travel agent found me airfare from Edmonton to Ft. Lauderdale and then San Diego to Edmonton.  You have to pay $26.50 for a bag in Edmonton, and in San Diego,  $25 American money.

From reading my blog,  I use aeroplan miles.  On their website, under UseyourMiles, I  printed off two Expedia cruise certificates ...  $500 credit for 64000 miles, which saved $1000.

In Ft. Lauderdale, I stayed at the Pillars Hotel.  I only stayed here because it was off-season, but it was #2 on TripAdvisor, so who wouldn't.....

So here are the costs:

Cabin, taxes and tips    $ 2649.42
Flight                                554.81
Bag                                    51.50

Pillars Hotel                     446.67

 Total    $3702     less $1000 aeroplan certificates .....    $2702

Olympic Restaurant on Millennium

On Saturday, October 5th at 9:30 a.m., I flew to Houston.  I had lots of time, but still took a golf cart to my next gate and had something to eat.  I got to Ft. Lauderdale at 8 o'clock.  There was a shared ride at the airport for $11 - nice van - and it turned out to be only me riding in it.   

After checking in, I walked about 10 minutes  to the waterfront.   Very interesting, with lots of people.  Then I took a chauffeured bike ride to one of the restaurants the hotel recommended, and had an onion soup and key lime pie.

Now let's follow the cruise.....

If you would like to use my travel agent, Message me on FB.