Escape the Rock: Touring Alcatraz

Friday, 7 June 2019
One does not simply go to San Francisco and not visit Alcatraz. I mean when someone even mentions the word San Francisco chances are the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz are going to be the first couple of things that pop into your head. Alcatraz is an excellent piece of history and touring the island allows you a small snippet into this infamous prison. 

When to Book
Tickets to Alcatraz can book out weeks in advance. If you think you're going to rock up the day of and find tickets, it's highly unlikely. Online, you can book your tickets up to 90 days in advance. Last time I visited San Francisco, I had been watching the website and noticed tickets were booked out 6 weeks in advance. So the second you know your travel dates, book your dang tickets. 

How to Get There
Obviously, with Alcatraz being an island, there is a ferry that takes you from the mainland to the prison. The boat departs from Pier 33; however, there is no parking here. Don't even mess with parking in Fisherman's Wharf unless you're there at the butt crack of dawn. There are a few car parks close to the Pier, but they're going to cost a fair bit of money. 

It is highly recommended you take public transport to Pier 33. Some buses and trolleys will get you there. Make sure you check the PT timetable so that you don't miss your departure time! 

The Tour
There is a Cellhouse Audio tour that will guide you throughout Alcatraz detailing the history of the island and some of the more famous prisoners. Most people know Alcatraz as a Federal prison, but very few know that prior to being a Federal prison Alcatraz was used as a US base which housed Native American inmates. There is a dark history associated with the island and getting an inside look is quite enlightening. 

Plan to spend about 4-5 hours on the island. The audio tour takes roughly an hour, but you want to make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to explore. You are also able to book a 2 hour guided off-path tour that allows you to see even more of the grounds. This behind the scenes tour gives you a more intimate look at the history of Alcatraz, enabling you to see areas of the grounds that are off-limits to the general self-guided audio tour. 

Ghost Tours
You can't be home to some of the most notorious criminals and not have a few ghosts lingering around the prison. The night tours off special programs, tours, and activities that aren't available during the day. That stop to the isolation cells will be even more chilling than if you were to shut yourself in there during the day. As very few people are allowed on the island for the night tours, it is crucial you book well in advance. 

I know it's super cheesy but I'm a massive sucker for souvenirs from historical places. There is just so much history engrained in the walls of Alcatraz that if one simply did the tours, you'd miss out on so much. If you're fascinated with history and true crime like me, you'll want to gain as much information as possible. There are also plenty of other cool gifts that will help make your time at Alcatraz more memorable. 

And until next time...
Stay curious!

How to Spend A Long Layover in Fiji

Friday, 31 May 2019
How many of you have ever had a long layover somewhere? It happens more frequently than not. Years ago, I would have been content to sit in the airport, spend WAY too much money on crappy airport food, and count down the minutes until my connecting flight was due to board. Now, I hate not making the most of my time and try to get out of the airport and explore.

Many countries actually have transit visas that allow you to leave the airport as long as your flight leaves within 24-48 hours. On my flight back from the states, I saw I had an 18-hour layover in Fiji and knew I'd be a fool to pass up exploring the island. If you have a long layover in Fiji, here are some tips to help make the most of your time. 

1. Getting Through Customs
Depending on the passport you hold, you may not need a visa to exit the airport and explore (always check visa requirements beforehand). If you hold an American or Australian passport, you'll get a free visa on arrival that allows you to explore Nadi island. The Fiji International Airport is relatively small so getting through customs is easy, breezy. All up, it shouldn't take more than 30 minutes. 

2. Storing Your Bags
There are a couple different options for bag storage depending on the length of your layover. There is an area you can store your bags within the airport. Price does vary pending the size of your baggage. But when I travelled through it cost me roughly $16USD to store two bags. 

Another option is to go across the street to the Raffles Gateway Hotel. For approximately $40USD you can book a room so that you're able to store your valuables and shower off everything from the flight. You're also able to book a whole bunch of tours to see the island. If you just want to relax, there are a couple of pools, a spa, a lovely bar, and a restaurant in the hotel. 

3. What to See
Depending on how long your layover is will probably dictate what you see during your layover. There is a short tour that takes you to the Sleeping Giant Gardens, the Mud Baths, Nadi City Centre Markets, and a Hindu temple. This is a good option if you're limited on time. Other layover options include touring one of Fiji's cultural villages, chasing waterfalls and caves, island hopping, or exploring the sand dunes. There definitely is plenty to do whilst you're in Nadi. 

4. How to Get Around
Again, how your travel around the island will massively depend on how long your layover is. There is a bus system that goes throughout the island but if you don't have a lot of time, whilst the cheapest option, you may not get to see much. 

Taxis are another option for getting around the island. If you're only planning on going to one area, this is probably the way to go. If you want to explore a lot more of the island, you may be better off hiring a car. In the long run, it will work out cheaper than taxiing around everywhere. 

If you've booked a tour, transport is usually provided. This makes it super easy to get from one spot to the next. It takes the stress away from you, eliminating the risk of getting lost. The only downside, they often pick up other people from other hotels or areas. This can add extra time to your trips which mean not getting to do everything you wish. 

5. Allocating Enough Time
Depending on what time of year you're travelling to Fiji, the weather can be quite unpredictable. As the roads can flood quite quickly, you need to factor weather into any of your trips. During a long layover in Fiji, I got stuck at the Mud Baths as the roads flooded from the rain. We had to wait to be towed out of the water (praying we weren't about to get swept away) before making it back to the city centre. Don't miss your flight because you tried to push for one more sight.  

Long layovers don't need to be dreaded, especially in Fiji. There is so much to do and see so don't allow yourself to sit and be bored at the airport. Have you visited Fiji? What was your favourite sight?

And until next time...
Stay curious!

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7 Easy Steps for Travelling Internationally with Only a Carry On

Friday, 24 May 2019
When you're trying to make the most out of your holiday time, the last thing you want to do is wait at the airport for your bag to be unloaded from the plane and placed on the baggage carousel. I don't know about you, but I hate giving over that much control to the airline. What happens if they lose my bag? 

9 Things You Must Do In San Francisco

Friday, 17 May 2019
San Francisco is an incredible city with so much to do and see. It can be quite overwhelming when trying to decide what to do and see. I've visited San Francisco several times and each time I find something new and exciting. There are always incredible shows, foods, and shops to explore. Do you want to get the most out of your San Francisco trip? Here are 9 things you must do!