Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Beijing Airport Layover Great Wall Tour

My son and I booked a trip to Japan with a layover in Beijing last spring. We had a 21 hour layover which had us landing a 6 pm in Beijing and leaving the next day at 3 pm. First thing I did was to talk to the airline about a hotel for the night. If you have a long enough layover some airlines will provide a transit hotel at no charge. That gave us a place to stay for the night. 

I booked the Airport Layover Tour with Tony as we had enough time to see The Great Wall before our flight. Tony was right on time (8 am) and drove to The Great Wall.  Along the way we talked about the area and history as well as how the area had transformed lately. At The Great Wall Tony got us on the cable car and rode with us to the wall. Tony also walked with us for a way explaining the history and the view of the valley below. He then let us go ahead on our own and waited there for us to get back. We then took the cable car back down and Tony drove us to the airport. One thing I didn't expect was when we got to the airport Tony didn't just drop us off. He went inside with us and made sure we knew which gate to go to. This was going well above and beyond our expectations. I would highly recommend using Tony next time you are in Beijing.
Kevin Messing Around at the Top

That's Tony in the Middle

If you want to book the tour I would contact Tony directly at beijingairporttransportation@hotmail.com .

My tips for the layover tour:

  1. If you have an overnight layover, talk to the airline about a transit hotel.
  2. In Beijing you can get a free 72 hour transit visa. Otherwise you can spend over $400.
  3. Ask which is the correct line to get the 72 hour visa. It will save you a lot of time.
  4. Give yourself at least 5 hours to tour The Great Wall.
  5. Book with Tony.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Still the Best Sunset in the World

Every time I go to Costa Rica I have dinner at Villa Caletas and watch the best sunset in the world. They have an amphitheater in the bar area where most people come to watch the sunset but I prefer to watch from a table before dinner.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Crocs Casino and Resort Jaco, Costa Rica

Another new place I checked out in Jaco was Crocs Casino Resort.  Crocs is located on the beach in Jaco and at the far northern end of the beach. They bill themselves as a Las Vegas style casino. Although it is not close to the glitter of Las Vegas it is the best casino I have been to in Costa Rica. They have a large gaming floor with Vegas style games such as blackjack, poker and slots.

The resort is beautiful and sits on the beachfront. The swimming pool area is huge with lots for the kids to do. Restaurants are great with a great selection of menu items. The wine selection was good but I had brought my own wine and paid the corkage fee. They also have a high rise hotel that from I heard from the guests I talked to was very nice. The resort is kid friendly and nice enough for a romantic get-away.

My only complaint is that it is hard to find. I asked around and was told it was on the far end of the beach. But which end? There are street signs in town but it is so far north that you wouldn't expect it to be there. There are signs on the buildings but I recommended lighted signs to make them stand out. Maybe there is an ordinance against that.

I am thinking of next trip staying there.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Pizza Shop, Jaco Costa Rica

Every time I come back to Jaco there is always something new to check out. On this trip I was turned onto a small open air pizza shop in the middle of town on the main street. The Pizza Shop is owned by a young man from the states, Kevin, who moved to Jaco recently. Where I was staying I met a group from Canada that had been there and wanted to go back so I tagged along.

Now the Pizza Shop advertises New York Style pizza which I also had and enjoyed. They also have a special only on Thursday. On Thursday he smokes a prime rib roast all day. There is limited quantities so get there early. You get a slab of prime rib with a baked potato and salad for $12. If you have never had a smoked prime I would recommend trying it. You can't beat the price.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dominical Costa Rica

Last month found me back in Costa Rica where I go to the Pacific Coast often. However, on this trip I ventured further south down the Pacific Coast to an area called Dominical. Dominical is on the Pacific Coast south of Quepos and Manuel Antonio about 45 km. Up until recently it was a long drive past Quepos as the road was not paved making the drive a lot longer. Now there is a highway down the coast and the drive takes about 30 minutes. However, once you turn off the highway into Dominical you are back on a dirt and gravel road.

Due to the inaccessibility Dominical was the home of surfers, hippies, and others wanting to get away from it all. It still has the same vibe. Once you get to the beach, which you can drive right up to, you will find hand made crafts, and open air places to eat and drink. The beach is beautiful and goes on for miles. One landmark is the whale tail feature going out into the ocean.

For me it was worth the 1.5 hour drive from Jaco.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Sierra Ski Day

Yesterday I headed up to the slopes to ski at Sierra-at-Tahoe. I usually don't ski on weekends or holidays but decided to go up as it was going to be a beautiful day. The weather was just as expected with people skiing without jackets in the afternoon. However, the warm temps meant for spring like conditions with icy spots with a soft coverage. There were a lot of people up there but the lift lines weren't that long and I got in a lot of skiing. All in all it was a great day. 

For those of you that don't know where Sierra-at-Tahoe is located it is about 1.5 hours from Sacramento  on HWY 50 and about a half hour from South Lake Tahoe. It has 14 chairlifts and 2000 acres of skiable terrain. If you are staying in South Lake Tahoe it is one of three options with Heavenly and Kirkwood as the other two options.

The pictures were taken from the top of the 360 BBQ at the top of Grandview chair. Lake Tahoe is in the background.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Zhangjiajie Park in China

I found this picture on a site that had most incredible pictures of 2016. When I visited the park I actually went on this walk. Looking at it from this view makes it look a lot worse.

This was one of my favorite places I have ever visited. It's in the middle of nowhere in China and the scenes and inspiration for Avatar came from Zhangjiajie. I would highly recommend this not only for the park but for getting away from the big cities and experiencing China for it's beauty.