The advantages of early bookings…Upcoming US football season…Is Tom going to watch the Vikings games?

This view could be a tropical island anywhere in the world.

Since booking our last three cruises over these past few months, Tom has noticed those cruise fares have increased substantially: one for US $1100, AUD $1484; the second for US $900, AUD $1213; the third for US $800, AUD $1078, for a grand total of US $2800, AUD $3774. 

Throughout our travels, we’ve often been asked why we book future travels so far in advance. This is the main reason. If booking a venue at a great price, we’ve never been contacted requesting we pay a new higher price.  In other words, when booking travels the lowest price at which we can “lock-in” the price, will hold until the booking occurs.

Deadman’s Gully is an ideal habitat for crocs.

However, booking airline tickets, car rentals, or vacation homes at a higher price will seldom allow us the benefit of a price reduction which may eventually be posted online. With penalties for canceling and re-booking these types of travel accommodations, we have to face the reality that price changes will occur from time to time. 

We could hear the birds hovering over this area which also is considered a natural habitat for birds.

In booking cruises, it’s different. On several occasions, it’s been to our benefit to request a price reduction on a previously booked cruise as long as it’s before the 90-day-before-sailing window or when the final payment is due. The cruise lines and booking agencies allow one to take advantage of fare reductions. It’s up to the customer to continually check for fare reductions. The agency or cruise line will not do this for the customer.

With seven upcoming cruises booked, Tom has gotten into the habit of checking daily for price reductions. This has served us well over these past 11 cruises and hopefully will continue to benefit us going forward. Ironically, he also notices fare increases as noted above, confirming that early bookings make sense.  

The beach in this area was desolate.

The only disadvantage of booking early for any travel-related event is the usual requirement to pay well in advance, as often as two years before the event occurs. 

Often, when booking certain hotels using the links on our site we get booking perks. Each hotel night we book accumulates points toward future hotel bookings. To date, we’ve received three free nights with more pending, keeping in mind that we seldom stay in hotels for more than one night, except for a year ago when we spent two weeks each in Paris and London.

A safe walkway into the rainforest in Clifton Beach.

Once we’re situated in Fiji next month we’ll begin to work on filling the holes in our schedule when doing so requires the expenditure of more upfront cash and a better wifi connection which we’ve been assured is the case. In the past few years, Fiji has updated their wifi country-wide with a supposed good signal for all residents.

With little heavy rain in these past few weeks, this area contained little water as compared to when we visited a few months ago.

On to another timely topic…Tom’s planning to watch the Minnesota Vikings football games, beginning with the first preseason game when it’s broadcast Sunday night at 8 pm central time. 

He won’t be able to watch the game here until Monday based on the time zone in Australia. If he waits to watch it, he can avoid the commercials but bears the risk of seeing the results online. He can actually watch it live on Monday morning at 11:00 am which most likely he’ll do. Tom is one of those that really don’t like to hear the results before watching the game. 

We’d hoped to see a kangaroo pop out of these woods but no such luck.

While we’re still in Australia he can plug in the HDMI cord into the HD TV to watch the games.  n Fiji, without a TV, he’ll have to watch the games on his laptop as will be the case for all shows we chose to watch while living in Fiji. 

These grill areas are available to any who’d like to use them at no cost. It’s pleasing to see how those who’ve used them, have left them in spotless condition. One wouldn’t find this to be the case in every country.

As many viewers chose, adapting to watching movies and other media on tablets and other small screens is easy. During most of our travels, we haven’t had access to an HD TV (or any TV for that matter) and have easily adapted to watching the small screen.

As for another matter, this morning, when I prepared to shower grabbing a towel off the stack of fresh towels on the floor in the bathroom (we’d filled the intended towel drawer with toilet paper and other toiletries leaving no room for the stack of towels) there sat the largest spider I’d seen since we were in Africa. 

Clifton Beach is a beautiful sandy beach with few visitors.

Sure, I could have gone to grab the camera for a photo, but I feared that it would get away before we got back.  Although I didn’t scream, squeal, or otherwise, I did ask Tom to put on his shoes and help dispose of them.  From reading online it could easily have been the relatively harmless large Huntsman Spider is known to eat household insects. 

The mailman stopped his bike to chat with us!

However, we couldn’t be certain as to the type with literally hundreds of species in Queensland. Tom grabbed the towel with the spider still on it outdoors to the wild area in the yard, shaking the towel to release it. 

We both been surprised by how few insects we’ve spotted indoors in Australia. The biggest annoyance has been  the flies that somehow find their way indoors even though the doors and windows without screens are always kept closed. 

We weren’t sure why these boulders had been placed at this spot on the beach.

This morning, we were awakened once again at 4:51 am from the screaming birds, the Curlews, living in the bush in the yard. It’s like no noise we’ve ever heard in the past.  One would think their legs are being torn off when in fact they’re happily living their lives, most active at night.

Life is unique wherever we may be. Adapting to the differences has become easy and familiar to us. Once we arrive in Fiji, we’ll experience an entirely new range of differences to which we’ll hopefully adapt in no time at all.  We’ll keep our readers apprised of these differences.

Happy weekend to all!

                                               Photo from one year ago today, August 9, 2014:

We didn’t post any other photos than the above on this date one year ago. We were out the door early to head to the Louvre. With such a busy day, we didn’t post until the next day. See the post here.

Giving up favorite pastimes…For Tom, not the Minnesota Vikings…

Several months ago, Tom canceled his subscription to the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper due to its inability to be downloaded several days each week. 

The newspaper was available either from the StarTribune’s own website for almost $1 a day, after an initial $8 for eight weeks offer, or through Barnes and Noble for $10 a month. Of course, he chose the lower-cost subscription. Well, you get what you pay for. Downloading was a frustrating daily task, taking the fun out of reading the paper when it did arrive.

He’s been reading the StarTribune in the late 50s when only a kid when the sports section was a peach/pinkish colored paper. Do any Minnesotans out there remember that?

Thus, as an avid reader of the daily paper, this was a big change for him. I always joked that he read and memorized every word in the daily paper, even the page numbers, able to quote dates, times, and most minute details months, if not years, later.

Easily bored reading the newspaper, I’d ask Tom to tell me the news if a topic caught my attention, to which he did so verbatim, perhaps with a bit of “spin” of which I didn’t object.

Newspaper reading days are long over for him, although the upcoming Minnesota Vikings football season had frequently come to mind as he contemplated the options available for viewing the games quickly after airing on US TV.

Looking online, for apps that may be options was fruitless. Many sites offering “free” viewing of games were a hoax, many of them pirating the games through various means. 

Viewing live TV on a computer has yet to become readily available to the average viewer, although the technology will be available soon. There are various companies such as Slingbox, as recommended by son Greg, that for a fee allow a subscriber to watch live shows.  Unfortunately, such an option isn’t unavailable to viewers when outside the US. 

With our use of Graboid we’re able to download and watch primetime commercial-free shows the day after airing.  But this doesn’t include sporting events, concerts, and special events.

After considerable research, Tom discovered that the easiest, most cost-effective option available to football fans, outside the US, was to subscribe to the NFL’s online viewing program GamePass.

For US $169, he will be able to watch the Vikings all preseason and regular-season games. If by a miracle, the Vikings make it to the playoff, he will purchase an add-on to view those as well. 

Yesterday, he subscribed to the GamePass plan to begin watching the first preseason game which airs live tomorrow (Friday, the 9th).  However, this game will air online at 2:00 am here in Italy, which he won’t be interested in doing. However, he’ll be able to watch the recorded game on Saturday at his leisure. Son TJ made a good point: don’t look at Facebook or the news during the game, if he prefers the outcome to be a surprise.  Good point, TJ!

This particular subscription service is only available to viewers outside the US or US territories. Other options are available online for those who don’t have access to TV or prefer to watch the game on their computers at a later time.

Need I say this Vikings fan is rather pleased to know he won’t miss a game. Not a football fan myself, he’ll be watching on his own, which he prefers rather than be interrupted by my idle chatter. 

In any case, I’m thrilled for him and will provide a quiet, comment, and question free environment during his game viewing.

With modern technology, traveling the world doesn’t have to leave a traveler’s favorite pastime, totally beyond reach, as we see here with Tom’s Minnesota Viking viewing options. 

Go Vikings! I guess.