Monday, September 29, 2014

Budget London Trip Itinerary - 8 Days 7 Nights - Spring season

London is an expensive city to visit. However, you can do it well under budget of MYR2500 (500 Pound) for one week for food, entrance fee and within London travel expenses exclude flight if you are able to plan well. Do skip insignificant places which charges high entrance fees as London free museums are world class standard and you will need a few days just to visit them. The good thing about London is the entrance to the major museums such as British Museum, Tote Modern, Victoria & Albert museum and Natural History Museum are all free. Being a capital of United Kingdom, there are many food options, culture and attractions to visit. Do try out the food from many ethnic groups here for the unique taste.

Oyster card is a must for budget traveller in London. If you stay for one week, do consider an Oyster card and load it with one week unlimited travel on zone 1 and zone 2. Applicable for both London tube and buses.

Iconic red telephone booths.

St Pancras railway station.

Shopping area of Piccadilly Circus.

Me with the Royal palace guard. Its end of winter so the guard need to dress in thick clothing. You can only see the red guard uniform during summer.

Mummies of British Museum.

Punk and gothic area of Camden Town.

The Royal Albert Hall.

Day Morning Afternoon Evening Night
Day 1 (Wed) 1. Travel from Kuala Lumpur to London via Malaysia Airlines on Airbus A380 flight. The journey takes approximately 13 hours.

1. Check in at Palmer Lodge Hillspring hostel near Willesden Green Underground Station.

1. Japanese sashimi don dinner at Sushi-Say shop near Willesden Green Underground Station.

2. Having night view of Houses of Parliament of England by Walking around Westminster.
Day 2 (Thur) 1. Breakfast at Palmers Lodge Hillspring hostel.

2. Visiting St Pancras railway station. This railway station is known for its beautiful architecture. The King Cross station located beside St Pancras is also having great architecture view inside.

1. Joining SANDEMANs NEW Europe London Free walking tour. This a 2.5 hours tour to get a glimpse of London.

2. Changing of guards at St James Palace

3. Changing of the Horse Guards Parade
1. Late lunch at The Old Monk. Having fish and chips.
1. Visit London Chinatown by stopping by Leicester Square tube station.

2. Visit Piccadilly Circus to view London largest billboard area. This area is known as Times Square of London.

3. Visit M&M's World London

4. Roasted duck rice dinner at Four Seasons in Chinatown.
Day 3 (Fri) 1. Having Bombay potato khobez as early breakfast.

2. English breakfast at Franx Cafe in Covent Garden.
1. Visiting shops and event watching around Covent Garden.

2. Visit Camden Town. Punk and hipster of London.
1. Heading to Canary Wharf then switch to London DLR tube to go to Greenwich. Meridian Greenwich is located near the Greenwich station. This is where the international time zone starts (GMT). There are many attractions around Greenwich such as Cutty Sark ship and Old Royal Naval College.
1. Visit British Museum to view mummies and famous artifacts.

2. Fish & chips dinner at Rock and Sole Plaice in Covent Garden.
Day 4 (Sat) 1. Breakfast at Palmers Lodge Hillspring hostel.

1. Lunch at Ace Cafe London. Nice cafe with big bikes around.

1. Chelsea stadium.

2. Lewis Leather shop. Interesting shop with beautiful leather jackets.
1. Shopping in Oxford Street. You can find bargain in Primark. Working and casual shirts is so cheap here. You can't believe that you get such price in London.

2. Dinner at Beijing Dumpling in Chinatown, London.
Day 5 (Sun) 1. Visit Tower Bridge London

2. Sightseeing outside of Tower of London. You can view London tallest skyscraper (Shard) from here.

3. Famous Portobello road market. Do visit this road market specialized on food and antiques if you happen to be in London during weekends.
1. Indian food lunch at The Monsoon in Brick lane, London

2. Sightseeing around Brick lane and visit sunday Brick lane market.
1. Modern building of Lloyds of London. This is corporate body underwriters which have futuristic building during the time of completion in 1986. 1. St Paul Cathedral

2. Seafood noodles at Golden Dragon Restaurant.
Day 6 (Mon) 1. Borough Market

2. Modern arts at Tate Modern museum.
1. Millenium bridge 1. Late lunch at Bricklane Brasserie.

2. The National Gallery. Short visit as near to closing time.

3. Trafalgar Square.
1. Walking to Westminster station.

2. Vietnamese food as dinner in Viet Pho nearby Leicester Square London tube.

3. Piccadilly Circus billboard viewing and photography.
Day 7 (Tue) 1. Brought Falafel and Houmous wrap from Tesco as light breakfast

2. Proper breakfast/lunch at Regency Cafe

3. Strutton Ground with many fancy bakery shops around.
1. Victoria and Albert museum. This is a great museum to visit.

2. Royal Albert Hall.

3. Natural History Museum. This museum have a large collection of dinosaur skeletons.
1. Late lunch at Marks & Spencer Marble Arch

2. Window shopping at The Harrods. Knightsbridge tube station.

1. Dinner at Italian restaurant of Ristorante Cappuccetto

2. Sightseeing around Leicester Square.
Day 8 (Wed) 1. Burberry factory outlet visit. Not recommended to visit as price is not that cheap. Nearby Hackney Central tube station. 1. Neal's Yard cheese shop

2. Gold mine Bayswater roasted duck.
1. Back home London to Kuala Lumpur via Malaysia Airlines on Airbus A380.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Alaskan King Crab at Glacier Brewhouse @ Anchorage, Alaska

Glacier Brewhouse does not need further introduction when comes to dining in Anchorage, Alaska. This place is famous for its seafood and own brewed beer. Before, I visited this restaurant, I did read up some review about this restaurant and most of the comments were saying that they need to wait quite long and noisy. But for me, I found the experience of having dinner in Glacier Brewhouse were good as solo. The service were fast although the restaurant was quite full at that time and the service by my server were good and they are friendly. I ordered two meal during the dinner smoked salmon pesto with summer vegetables and half pound of Bering Sea King crab. Both of the meal were good and I satisfied with the meal. As for drink, I ordered raspberry wheat which is delicious and sweet.

Taste:9/10(Delicious. The smoked salmon pesto were great with tasty smoked salmon. The Bering Sea king crab with drawn butter and lemon is steamed just right and have good texture and flavour).
Price:3/10(Expensive. Smoked salmon pesto with summer vegetables at USD18.95, half pound of Bering Sea king crab at USD27.95 and a bottle of raspberry wheat at USD6.50. All of these meals and drink will set you back USD53.40).

Alaskan King crab appetizer. As long as my hand.

Even I just get the Alaskan king crab leg, its quite meaty.

My Bering/Alaskan king crab appetizer. Although it just steamed, but the crab flavour is original and meaty.

King crab meat.

Smoked salmon pesto with summer vegetables. Cooked with sweet peas, baby tomato, asparagus, basil pesto, artichoke and lemon. Tasty smoked salmon!

Environment in Glacier Brewhouse. Its party like and always full.

Plate with restaurant trademark. On going for dinner.

Can watch the brewery beside my seat.

Raspberry wheat. Sweet and tasty with red colour hue.

This is how Glacier Brewhouse look like from outside.

GPS/Coordinate: 61.217691, -149.896667
Address: 737 W 5th Ave Ste. 110, Anchorage, Alaska 99501, United States.
Public transport: People Mover Bus stop at intersection of H street and 5th Avenue.

Turnagain Arm Drive of Cook Inlet @ Alaska

During my visit to Alaska, I took the 3 day daily tour which pass by this scenic road drive. Everyday, I can see that the view surrounding the Turnagain Arm drive is different due to weather. In all weather, regardless whether it's rainy or sunny, you will get great view. During rainy day, you will see the beautiful clouds covering the top of the mountain. The road to this scenic view of Turnagain Arm is via Seward highway which link Anchorage to Gridwood in the south of Anchorage. By going south, we will pass by the Chugach mountains. The Cook Inlet is a huge body of water estimated to be four miles wide and was named after Captain James Cook who discovered it. When the tide is out, mudflats can be seen. Its dangerous to walk on mudflats as its far more dangerous than quicksand. Many signboards warning the visitors not to walk on the mudflats but there are still casualties yearly. The Turnagain Arm drive is about 80 kilometres along the Seward highway.

Beginning of Turnagain Arm road trip.

Clear skies.

Beluga Point on Turnagain Arm scenic drive. On certain days, you may view beluga whales. Not able to see any whale during my trip.

Raining at the mountain side.

Multiple mountains view.

There is rail track beside the Turnagain Arm scenic drive. I am not able to take railway trip as it ended earlier. The last railway trip was 14 Sep 2014.

Mudflats of Cook Inlet. Beware and don't walk on it.

Hanging glacier view.

Beautiful scenery!

Autumn is coming. Autumn foliage in Alaska is amazing as well.

Great mountain view.

GPS/Coordinate: 60.987088, -149.517146
Address: Seward Highway, Gulf of Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska.

Kenai Fjords Tour @ Seward, Alaska, USA

I went for the Kenai Fjords 6 hours cruise with high expectation. When I arrived Seward from Anchorage via their bus, I was warned that the seas may be rough and I may not be able to view the glacier sites. I have a choice of canceling, change day or going. Canceling and change day is out of my mind as that day was my second last day in Alaska and even if I proceed to change it to the next day, the travel from Anchorage to Seward is time consuming and I have to fork up another USD75 for the bus on the next day. I proceed of going for the tours anyway and I am expecting something nice even if the cruise converted to Resurrection Bay tour.

However, as I approach to board the boat, I noticed that the boat is quite small when compared to the boat that I took for my Prince William Sound cruise. The toilet is also quite small and the food provided is not as great as my Prince William Sound cruise. The chicken wrap and the hot chocolate cookie provided is not as good when compared to the one that I had on my previous cruise. When the boat sails to the Gulf of Alaska, the captain decided not to proceed to the glaciers site as the seas were rough. I do agree with the decision by the captain as there are many on the boat already start vomiting and the seas was rough. The captain then proceed to continue the cruise on Resurrection Bay where I can see a few otters and birds which for me is rather so-so. After the end of the cruise, I was given USD50 Mastercard gift card as refund and they told me that I can use it in restaurant or shops for purchase. With limited time in Anchorage, I trying to use the card to pay for my dinner on that night. I was told that the card is not able to use. On the next day, I tried to use the card again on the other shop and again, it does not work.

Feeling frustrated for not being able to use the card, I went to Kenai Fjords tour office in Downtown Anchorage to complaint about the matter and they have refunded me the USD50 into my card only after a few failure attempts to cash out USD47.50 being USD2.50 as service fee from a nearby bank. I am in opinion that Kenai Fjords tours should just refund USD50 in form of cash or refund directly to their credit card rather than complicates the refund process and further more customer have to call to the bank for the gift card activation or pay for service fee if they would like to cash out from bank. Please think about your overseas customers who probably don't have active phone line to call as limited service in Alaska and even if they can call, it will incur high roaming charges. I also noticed that the Resurrection Cruise tour price is USD99 vs Kenai Fjords Tour is USD149. But the Resurrection Cruise tour have better food (Alaskan salmon and Prime Rib). The USD50.00 refund does not justify as we only have chicken wrap and chocolate cookie.

Besides that, Kenai Fjords tours should have a few backup options as well if the weather is not permitting. Customers should be offered to do Exit glacier tours or tours around Seward. Do consider about your customers who are coming from Anchorage to Seward by bus. Its a 7 hours return journey by bus from Anchorage to Seward and the company should provide a few backup options to the customer rather than just cancel, change date or going. Anyway, this cruise is based on weather and if you would like to view great glaciers, I suggest that you just do Prince William Sound cruise instead. With bad weather, the chances of viewing whales or other animals is greatly reduced as well. Most of the animals are only viewable nearby the glaciers site.

Opinion: Don't take this cruise if the weather is bad or raining as you will just waste your time at the middle of the seas seeing nothing much.

Kenai Fjords tour office in Seward, Alaska.

Nice view around Seward port.

I really amaze with Alaska scenery with seas beside mountains. Great view with foggy clouds.

Other tour operators but they close the season early.

Boarding Aialik Voyager.

This is how is look like in the ship. Small!

The ship departs.

This is best wildlife that I can see during the whole trip.

Approaching the Gulf of Alaska. Super foggy day.

Can see a glacier from a far.

Lunch of chicken wrap, chips and energy bar.

The chicken wrap taste good but the portion is quite small.

White head eagle.

This is the best scenery that I can see for the whole of this cruise trip.

Wow, huge wave when approaching the Gulf of Alaska.

Hot chocolate cookies provided. Taste is ok.

Another foggy scenery.

The scenery here is quite nice with clear greenish water.

Price: USD149 per adult for the 6 hours cruise. Add USD75 per adult if you are coming from Anchorage, Alaska for return bus transport.
GPS/Coordinate: 60.117413, -149.439410 (Seward Office), 61.218705, -149.891980 (Anchorage Office)
Address: 1304 4th Ave, Seward, AK 99664, USA (Seward Office) & .509 W 4th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501, USA (Anchorage Office).


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