Part 1…New destinations and travel arrangement booked!…Exciting planning for the future as we fill in gaps in the itinerary…

Private home overlooking the sea on the drive on the beach road.

When two people start clicking on their laptops simultaneously to research the same thing, it’s a sight to see. When we decide to research a location, we do so simultaneously. 

Tom reads every word and all of the reviews. I breeze through looking for the highlights. Together, it’s a perfect match. That’s not to say that lively conversation doesn’t ensue.

Nor does it say that we may totally agree during the process, although it’s never an argument, only a discussion, among two stubborn and headstrong individuals who ultimately adore one another valuing love and harmony above all else.

Somehow along the way, often over a period of hours, as we banter back and forth, we finally meet in the middle and coalesce to each other’s wants and desires. An agreement is born.

Private pier at the Cousteau Resort.

Exhausted from the process, we sit back, high from the experience, gratified with the result, with a smile on our faces that seems to carry us into the night satisfied over a hard and successful day’s work.

When we began this journey after I’d spent 10 months sitting in a comfy chair in Minnesota four years ago, planning for 12 hours a day, while Tom worked the tail end of his 42-year job, we had no delusions that the “work” aspect of planning our travels would be an ongoing process from which we’d never be able to take a total break.

Sure, we’ll have short stretches of time here and there that require little to no bookings, payments for future rentals, flights, and cruises. It’s during those times, we totally free our minds from the responsibility which oddly, once we start up again, we totally seem to enjoy.

When I owned and ran a business most of my adult life I’d do a budget/business plan for the upcoming year. In anticipation of this time-consuming painstaking task, I suffered angst and worry for days, even dreaming about it. Once I began, I kept at it as a fire in my belly took over until completion. I’d actually end up enjoying the process.

A short area of a sandy beach.
It’s the same here. Although Tom never had to do business plans for his job, he’s wrapped his brain around this process with a passion I admire more than he’ll ever know. He’s better at certain aspects than I am with date recall, map skills, geography, and finances that is astounding. Add my odd jumble of interests and a few skills here and there and we’re a match made in heaven, able to make magic happen once we begin.

So was the case yesterday afternoon. The post was done. It was raining once again. I’d tried sitting outside for 30 minutes of sunshine, but had to come back inside after 10 when the sunny sky turned black and the rains came in buckets as has been the case every day lately. It wasn’t as if we’d planned to spend the day booking future travel.

On the calendar app on my laptop, I had marked November 30th to contact the river cruise rep we’d used at Vacations to Go to book the upcoming cruise to Vietnam in July 2016. With the cruise booked and paid, we needed to know which hotel Viking Cruise Line had booked for the on-land portion of the cruise. We planned to arrive a few days earlier than the cruise booking and didn’t want to have to change hotels.

When we originally booked the cruise, the location of the hotel portion wasn’t “cast in concrete.” Thus, we decided to wait until November 30th, the date they’d have it confirmed. The first order of business, book that hotel!

Typically, roads in this area aren’t paved other than in the village and are narrow, requiring a passing car to move to the shoulder.

Sofitel Legend Metropole” in Hanoi is the cruise line’s choice for its passengers.  See the information below:


The Hotel Metropole Hanoi is an award-winning French colonial-style hotel lying in the heart of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake and the magnificent Opera House. Boasting a classical white façade, green shutters, original wrought iron detail, wood paneling, and a lush courtyard lawn, the hotel is one of the region’s few remaining hotels of its era.

Built in 1901 by two private French investors, the hotel quickly became the rendezvous point for colonial society in the first half of the century. Following Vietnamese independence in the 1950s, the new national government opted to maintain it as the official hotel for visiting VIPs. During and after the war years, it became a base for the press and diplomats.

Ninety years after it had risen so gloriously from the swamps of ancient Hanoi, the Thong Nhat Hotel was closed for the face-lift of the century. Under the first phase, the existing hotel was refurbished over an eighteen-month period and reopened in March 1992, again called Hotel Metropole. The second phase started in 1994 when work commenced on the 135-room Opera Wing, and the four-story Metropole Center office tower above it, both of which opened in late 1996. After the reconstruction of the new Club Rooms, replaced Metropole offices, the third phase will be fully finished end 2008. The Club Metropole Lounge and Imperial Suite, opened in May 2008, introduce an impressive new oasis of charm and luxury at Metropole Hanoi.

The hotel guest list over the past years has included the Presidents of the USA, of France, of Switzerland, the Prince of Monaco, of Denmark, of Sweden, the King of Malaysia, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, the Prime Ministers from Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, France, Canada, Nigeria, Norway and Vietnam, and important business delegations such as the World Presidents Organization, the Asia Leaders Forum, the 5th Asia-Europe Meeting, the APEC 2006 Leaders Week, as well as famous people like Catherine Deneuve, Charlie Chaplin, Jane Fonda, Stephen Hawking, Oliver Stone, Mick Jagger, Sir Roger Moore amongst others. It also includes a host of corporate heavyweights and to this day the hotel’s bars remain a haunt for international and local journalists wanting to pick up the latest business news.”

Many river cruises include a number of nights in hotels in order to allow the passengers time to tour the cities. This particular cruise will include only 7 nights out of 14 actually staying on the ship, the Viking Mekong, with only a total of only 60 passengers. This will be our first cruise on such a small ship and we look forward to the experience. 

Over the Thanksgiving (USA) holiday weekend, we received several email messages from the link on our site, which we always use when booking various hotel stays. The email messages offered a number of special Cyber sales offered over the holiday weekend.

Many of these rocky sites are ideal for snorkeling.

As planned, we contacted the rep at Vacations to Go explaining we needed an answer back right away in order to take advantage of the pricing. She confirmed the Sofitel Legend Metropole as the cruise line’s selection.  

After each of us checking available rooms, pricing, and dates, we were able to book the three additional nights (two night through the cruise) we’d be on our own at a reasonable USD $180, FJD $385 per night as opposed to the lowest prices we otherwise found at USD $207, FJD $443.

Although the savings weren’t huge, it will pay for one or two meals during our own three-night stay at the hotel while the remaining meals over the two nights paid for by the cruise line are included in the cruise fare.

Another aspect that greatly influences our booking at on our site is the “buy 10 nights, get one free.” Over these past three-plus years we accumulated and used 3 free nights in hotels as a result of this rewards program. After we complete a few upcoming hotel bookings, we’ll have a few more free nights accumulated. 

With this task handled, we continued on for the next few hours, as we booked another exciting location in Asia, one that had never really been on our radar. Big cities, here we come! One can’t travel the world and avoid them. Check back tomorrow for Part 2 with more new bookings.

Four days and counting.
                                           Photo from one year ago today, December 2, 2014:

We took this last photo of the beach outside our condo in Maui the morning we flew to the Big Island. It was on this day’s post, that we included the total expenses for the six weeks we spent on that island. Please click here for the totals.