RTW: Trip of a Lifetime (Part I)
Karens and I decided to do round-the-world (from now on RTW) trip as our once-in-a-lifetime adventurous (well.. sort of) honeymoon. Although both of us are opposite in many ways, we do share an interest in visiting exotic destinations. Most people do RTW trip over a course of several months or years but we only had three weeks so it all came down to efficient transportation and mastermind’s planning (thanks Karens!).
I don’t intend to create this post to be a how-to since there are many available resources on the internet. But feel free to contact me by all means if you are planning to do a similar trip. I will ask my wife for some great advice since she led most of the planning for this trip :D
To do round-the-world trip, you need to pick one airline alliance (One World, Star Alliance and Sky Team), each has different strengths and flight connections depending on where you head to. We picked One World alliance as our major destinations were in South America and One World is strong in that region (LAN/ TAM). Flight planning isn’t that hard, you can simply use the travel planner on each alliance website (e.g. One World: https://rtw.oneworld.com/rtw/) to find destinations, connections and estimated fares. Cost is calculated based on cabin class and how many continents you are visiting. For us, it’s Asia, Europe, South America and Oceania. The ticket permits 4 stops in each continent and travel from continent to continent must occur in a continuous westward or eastward direction. The itinerary can include up to 16 flight segments (of course we bought separate tickets on top of this).
Destinations (excluding transits):
Tokyo- Bangkok- Moscow- Saint Petersburg- Milan- Venice- Berlin- Rio De Janeiro- Iguazu- Lima- Cusco- Santiago- Easter Island- Sydney- Tokyo
- Late Sep- mid Oct 2015
- 24 days/ 17 flights/ 4 train trips
- 8 countries visited (excluding transits)/ 16 cities visited & passed thru
- About 37936 miles or 61052 kilometers travelled (flight based)
Within such a tight timeframe, many flights to take and destinations to visit; how much did we really cover? Well, stay tuned and judge for yourself.
Day 1: Bangkok- Doha- Moscow
We kicked off the tour in Bangkok as we had a mini get-together with my family & relatives in Thailand to celebrate our wedding. Then we officially started the trip and took Qatar flight to Moscow with a transit in Doha. Qatar Airways is amazing, period. Cabin space, services, food, sky bar, etc., they are just perfect.
Day 2: Moscow Big metropolitan, terrible road traffic. The weather wasn't cold yet, so we could still enjoy the Indian summer with lots of sunshine. We stayed at Hotel National where Vladimir Lenin used to stay when he came to Moscow, unfortunately we didnt get to stay in the very same room (No. 107). It offers a great location, just a stone throw from Red Square. For a day tour, we used a private guide service from ViKitours (https://sites.google.com/site/vikitours79161856621/), she is very knowledgable about Moscow with a comfortable command in English so things went quite smoothly throughout the day. Although I must say that we visited and saw most attractions in Moscow within a day, it was quite tiring and we were sleepy during the night car tour. The plan was a little stretch but that's all we got.
Notable sight: Moscow subway, an underground palace for everyone. Each station is decorated differently.
- Plastic wrapped your luggages when flying there. I lost two small locks during my two flights in Russia.
- Have an ample time to commute to the airport. Although we asked and confirmed with the driver to ensure about required commute time, we almost missed the flight due to unexpected traffic circumstances (accident/ construction, etc.). I mean I am from Thailand so I should have been used to this..trust me.
Photography: Fun, I love shooting in Moscow. Around Red Square is really worth exploring in early hours before tourists arrive. I used mostly 25mm in Moscow. I wish I had more time to explore the lesser known area in Moscow.
Day 3- 4: Moscow- Saint Petersburg (aka Leningrad)
Major churches in Saint Petersburg such as Church of Savior on the spilled blood and St. Isaac have very grand interior and superb decoration. I really enjoy Church of Savior on the Spilled Blood, very unique indeed. Again as soon as we landed from Moscow, the tour guide picked us up from the airport and headed for a city tour. I would recommend Feel Free Tour (http://www.feelfreetour.net/#_=_), nice guy & very skillful in driving, especially if you’re in a rush! On the next day, we set off to the suburb of the city to visit Catherine Palace and Peterhof, then finished off the day at the Hermitage (all in one day!). If we could redo this, we would have shorten the time at Catherine and Peterhof in order to have more time at the Hermitage. I really think Hermitage is much more than a museum and seriously, without going to Catherine and Peterhof, you wouldn’t miss much.
Notable Sight: The Hermitage, has lots of great pieces from famous painters like Leonardo Da Vinci and Rubens. Otherwise the place itself is truly stunning, photography is also allowed inside.
- Admission to Catherine Palace starts around 1200 and you need to get there earlier in order to queue for the ticket. We arrived early and wasted the time in the garden prior to the admission time.
- You can buy Hermitage ticket online prior to your arrival.
Photography: I personally didn’t enjoy too much photography in this city as I am not a big fan of landmarks. The layout of the city makes it hard for street photography. Somehow it just didn’t work for me. Other than that, it is a nice city with several sites to explore (churches and palaces).
-- The Journey Shall Continue --