World Tour 3
Pravin Vaghani (Photo by Unusha Vaghani)
Experiences of A World Tour
OUR WORLD TOUR
14 June 2006 to 30 September 2006
USA, Uk, Germany, India, Singapore
Pravin & Manjula Vaghani
(This is a 32 part travel-diary, originally written in Gujarati)
Manju’s brother is in the USA and her two sisters live in the UK. We hadn’t seen them for a long time, so we wanted to spend a fair bit of time with them. I have made many literary friends in these countries through my activities for the periodical ‘Matrubhasha’, a bimonthly Gujarati magazine, and I wanted to meet them. (‘Matrubhasha’ can be viewed on www.gujaratilexicon.com)
Selecting The Stops
We also wanted to spend a long time in India. Thus, in addition to touring, sightseeing and fun, we had to devote many days to these visits. We had to plan our trip taking into account our limited physical stamina and also the convenience of the people we wanted to meet. We therefore chose Los Angeles, New York, London, Frankfurt and Mumbai.
Fill The Gaps
Then we proceeded to fill the gaps. Where to go, how long to stay, what to see, hotels, local transport were all considered. We picked the date of departure and the date for return to Melbourne. On a previous all-inclusive tour of Europe, we had noted its advantages and disadvantages, conveniences and inconveniences. It was advantageous to decide on things in advance as much as possible; in particular, it was beneficial to book transport and where required, accommodation in advance. In addition, it was necessary to allow for a day of rest in each city.
First Stop LA
We had thought of staying in Los Angeles for eight days. Disneyland and Universal Studios in the city were a must see. From there we thought of visiting Mexico, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon etc. We asked the travel agent, Kit, for information. Travel agents usually have a great deal of knowledge based on experience. They know about things which are not necessarily available on the internet or in the brochures. He advised us to take a hotel in Anaheim near Disneyland rather than one in downtown Los Angeles. To see Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon he advised us to stay in Las Vegas. For the addition of a few dollars, Las Vegas can be added to the round-the-world ticket. We liked his good advice. We decided to stay the first four days in LA and next four days in Las Vegas.
No Rooms Available
The next thing was to find a hotel. No rooms at 3 or 4 stars rates were available in LA or Las Vegas during our stay according to the internet search. Moreover, we wanted to spend the weekend in Las Vegas. For some reason, the weekend rates were double the weekday rates. We asked the travel agent again. Further inquiry revealed that there was a world conference attended by 10,000 people in Las Vegas that weekend. The hotels were charging what they liked. Generally, all casinos in Las Vegas have their own hotels with a minimum of 2,000 to 3000 rooms each. So there are over 100,000 hotels rooms available. But Las Vegas is the second most popular destination for American tourists after New York and all seasons are same here.
The travel agent advised us that United Airlines which was offering us seats had no hotel accommodation but Qantas had a package tour on offer. Inquiries revealed that they also had no rooms available. After waiting for a couple of days, a cancellation allowed us to get a room in Anaheim at Fairfield Inn by Marriott and in Las Vegas at Monte Carlo and that too at fairly economic rates compared to the normal American rates.
We had made it! Both hotels were at very convenient locations. One could walk to Disneyland from Fairfield Inn and Monte Carlo in Las Vegas was in the middle of Strip which is the backbone of the city with casinos on both sides. Monte Carlo hotel had a famous casino and 3200 rooms plus a food court and over a dozen restaurants.
The tale of the hotel in New York was even more fascinating.